Why Kendrick Lamar’s “Auntie Diaries” Has Polarized the LGBTQ+ Community

After a five-year wait, Pulitzer and Grammy-winning artist Kendrick Lamar has returned with a highly-anticipated double album, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers. While the album has received near universal critical acclaim, one song has proven polarizing among its listeners: “Auntie Diaries,” a nearly five-minute ode to two of Lamar’s relatives, both of whom are trans. Sounds good in theory, but many have taken issue with the song’s execution.

For starters, the titular “auntie” is a trans man, and the first lyric is “My auntie is a man now.” The song’s narrative structure progresses chronologically, following the rapper’s progression in terms of coming to understand his uncle and cousin, and ultimately apologizing for his past missteps. But along the way, Lamar misgenders and deadnames both his uncle and transfeminine cousin, and — perhaps most controversially — repeatedly says the word “faggot” in order to demonstrate the errors of the homophobia and transphobia of his early years.

While “Auntie Diaries” was ostensibly meant to be supportive of the trans community, Lamar’s audience has had a decidedly mixed response to these lyrics. Many felt as though the harm of deadnaming and misgendering trans people in a widely-listened song outweighed any potential benefits. In viral tweets, one listener referred to “Auntie Diaries” as “a song made for straight ppl to congratulate themselves for having the ‘conversation” while another pointed out the hypocrisy of straight people reaching to explain why Lamar’s repeated use of “faggot” was a “good thing.

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