El Paso music and LGBTQ advocacy organizations are calling out the music venue Raves Club for hosting the upcoming show of the rapper Boosie Badazz, who has gained national attention for homophobic and transphobic comments.
The El Paso International Music Foundation, the Borderland Rainbow Center and the El Paso Queer Bar Association released an open letter Tuesday condemning the rapper’s March 25 concert.
“(Boosie Badazz) has encouraged gay performers to commit suicide, saying ‘If I were you, I’d commit suicide’” the open letter read, referring to a since-deleted tweet Badazz directed toward fellow rapper Lil Nas X in October 2021, who is openly gay. “We call on our city leaders, our community, our venues, and all like-minded organizations to prevent hatred in our city, and to call out not just this event and artist, but all instances that go against this collective value.”
The letter calls on Raves Club and other El Paso venues to not book acts who “go against our community values.”
Cynthia Bryant, one of the venue’s three partners, said she unsuccessfully attempted to get Raves Club out of their contract with Badazz after learning of his past hate speech, but could face a lawsuit if they cancel the show. Raves Club set the contract with the event promoter with no knowledge of who the artist would be, she said.
“I feel like such a fricking hypocrite,” Bryant said, describing Raves Club as an ally of the LGBTQ community and pointing to it having hosted Sun City Pride events in years past.
“I feel like such a failure because I couldn’t protect the one thing I stand for, and it breaks my heart. I don’t know how to fix it,” she said.
The show’s El Paso-based promoter, Mamoud Kamara, said he does not share the rapper’s opinions and has done what he can to ameliorate the situation. He said Badazz filmed an apology video, though he declined to share it with El Paso Matters.
Kamara said he has increased the level of security personnel at the show and offered to pay the wages of LGBTQ staff members at Raves Club who choose not to work the event that night.
Despite hosting the concert, Bryant said Raves Club is still a safe space. The terms of their contract with Badazz give them the right to stop the show if at any point it becomes unsafe, she said.
“This includes violence, this includes hate, this includes verbal abuse,” she said.
But Amber Perez, a consultant with the Borderland Rainbow Center and an El Paso event promoter who is a member of the LGBTQ community, said there is no way that Raves Club can be considered a safe space in light of the Boosie Badazz concert.
“That’s crazy to me to think that you can literally say, ‘Oh yeah we hosted a Pride event but we’re going to host this person who is openly homophobic and transphobic, but you’re (the LGBTQ community are) still safe here,’” she said.
Perez said that during a meeting that she had with the event promoter and venue, two LGBTQ staff members said they would not feel safe working at the event.
“By the very definition, the idea of a safe space is one where you don’t necessarily need to have bodyguards and things like that,” Perez said.
Badazz told VLADTV in February that he has experienced career repercussions for his homophobic comments.
“After all this gay sh— a lot of people moved away from me,” he said.
Feature photo: El Paso groups have condemned local venue Raves Club for hosting a concert by a rapper who is known for past homophobic and transphobic remarks. (Ramon Bracamontes / El Paso Matters)