Why I Support Hakeem Lyon’s Choice To Avoid A Controversial Photo Op

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Bryshere Gray aka Hakeem Lyon

Bryshere Gray, who’s widely known around the world as infamous MC, Hakeem Lyon, star of the musical drama Empire, is under the proverbial gun right now for decided not to take a photo with a Philadelphia musical Collective known as Philly Drag Mafia.

Bryshere — nee Hakeem — was in town to perform at the Anti-Defamation League’s Walk Against Hate and the PDM opened up for him. So, it would only make sense that he would take photographs with this local act, seeing as though he’s such a big star, right?

According to people that were at the function, Bryshere made himself available to take photographs and selfies with various members of the audience as well as other entertainers. However, when it came time to take photos with Philly Drag Mafia, Bryshere decided against it. Now, the young lad who was once loved by everyone, is receiving hate mail and unnecessary rhetoric for the decision to avoid the obvious controversy and stigmatization that would be fused with such seemingly innocent photographs.

Young Hakeem Lyon is in the infant stages of a very successful career as an entertainer. It is vital for him to make decisions that will not only benefit him in the future but also protect him in the present. I don’t know if one of his “people” told him not to take the photo, but in my opinion, it was the best choice to make under such influential circumstances.

See, here’s the thing…

We live in the age of the internet, and everything is broadcast live, up for review at a moment’s notice, and subject to perpetual scrutiny. The life of a celebrity is now the focal point of the entertainment that they provide. The last thing he needs right now is unwanted association with groups he’s not genuinely associated with.

And for the record, I believe he would have done the same thing with a bunch of active gang members or known criminals.

These days we’re more interested in the in-house cat fighting and marital problems of our favorite singers or actors than whatever energies it is they allegedly produce for a living. It doesn’t matter who you. The Internet has aggressively and successfully bridged the gap between super-person and simple civilian, and that ultimately changed what it means to be a celebrity. Nobody’s safe.

Hakeem Lyon

Especially not Hakeem Lyon Bryshere Gray.

Was he wrong not to take a photo with these people who came out and worked for him? Possibly. But not wrong in a way that perpetuates some sort of bigoted or close-minded behavior. At the very least, I believe he was protecting himself from a foreseeable onslaught rumors, lies, and insinuations.

The media will take a picture of him standing next to a drag queen — possibly even making innocent physical contact — and turn it into a lambasted story that he wouldn’t be able to fight even if he could contact the person that started it all. (Which he can if he had to, because the Internet.) That’s because the worldwide web is an unscrupulous rabbit hole that’s easy to fall in, but difficult to emerge from. And if you make it back to the top, there’s a pretty good chance that they’ll be no rescue party waiting nor any open palms waiting to hoist you to emotional safety. But, that’s neither here nor there.

In my younger days, I probably wouldn’t have taken pictures with drag queens, either. Especially if that’s not the core demographic that I was attempting to reach out to. A fan is a fan, regardless of race, creed, color, cultural or sexual orientation and any good entertainer knows this, however that doesn’t mean you invite everyone to your party. If people eventually make their way in your direction, so be it, but that’s totally different than flashing a beacon, if that makes any sense.

This must be one of the many reasons why being famous it’s such a delicate, complicated phenomenon. First world problems.

Words by Tony Grands
Follow Tony on Twitter or visit him at home on TonyGrands.com

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