Imagine your deepest, darkest secret being laid bare in the public square. Imagine how you would feel if something that you have been struggling with in shame, in private, was exposed and held up to public judgment and ridicule. Could you stand there with your head held high and admit to something so difficult for you to process that you couldn’t imagine telling your family and friends, yet now, the entire world knows? Imagine what that would be like.

If you can, then maybe you can understand what DJ Mister Cee, a staple in hip-hop for over two decades, is feeling right now. The New York-based deejay, who was the DJ for Big Daddy Kane, instrumental in the discovery of the Notorious B.I.G. and who has been spinning on Hot 97 for 20 years, had to admit, after two arrests and an audiotape of him propositioning a transsexual surfaced that he enjoys receiving oral sex from transsexual men. Cee, born Calvin Lebrun, made the admission live on the radio with Hot 97 program director Ebro Darden.

“I like getting fellatio from transsexuals,” Cee told millions of New York City listeners this Wednesday. Cee, who is not married, denies that he is gay and says that he’s only received oral sex, but has not had full-on sex with any transsexuals. As you can imagine, this prompting an outpouring of support, outrage, and shock from a variety of listeners, and social media as people went to Twitter, Facebook and the Hot 97 website to express their views.

Although most listeners were supportive, there are gay men angry that Cee has not “come out” as a gay man. There are fans who admire the courage it took for him to finally admit what many already knew. There are others who derided him for his looks, for not telling the truth before now and for shaming his family and hip-hop.

But truly, what Cee did is an increasingly rare thing. Yes, he was forced into it. He was backed into a corner and practically had to come out. He tried to resign from Hot 97 As extraordinary as Cee’s confession is the public support he received from another Black male. Risking his own reputation, Darden accepted Cee without judgment, telling him he supported him both as a man and an employee and refused to accept his resignation. Ebro did not force him to admit that he’s gay, nor did he interrogate him about details of any encounters.

That a public conversation could take place between two black men on a national platform \ that supportive, particularly given popular sentiment about black male homosexuality and/or transsexuals, who are murdered with impunity, was significant. To put a public face on a compulsion or preference that many people still don’t understand and to have that face be a Black male in hip-hop can do more to create tolerance than a thousand public service announcements.

If it were you – if you had to confess your most personal, most shameful secret in public – could you do so? Or would you be like other people in public life who will deny, deflect and dodge? It took enormous courage for Cee to face his own very personal demons live on the air to a hip-hop audience of millions.

Whatever you might feel about Cee, his choices or his life, he is at last free now to live as he chooses and hopefully to continue doing the job he loves. He says he’s in therapy and will apparently resume his 12 noon Monday through Friday and Friday night 8-10 p.m. radio shows. Tweets and posts to Cee, including some from other musicians and deejays like Spinderella, Hot 97’s website and Darden were overwhelmingly positive, but obviously hip-hop still has some growing up to do.

It remains to be seen if Cee’s ratings and reputation will take any significant hits. But the events of these past day suggest that the industry has taken at least a step in the direction of compassion and tolerance. Before you rush to judgment and despite what you may personally feel about his actions, imagine yourself, alone, facing the court of public opinion with your most private secret on display. Could you handle it? Cee has. Now let’s let the music play.

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