Sydney rapper Spanian has been dropped by management company, One Day Entertainment, after making a series of homophobic and transphobic rants on social media.
Amid this year’s WorldPride celebrations currently taking place in Sydney, the rapper also known as Anthony Lees took to Instagram last Saturday (February 25) with an aggressive rant against gay pride. In the video, which is no longer available on Instagram, he said: “I’m fucking sick of this fucking perverted, putrid shit, like a bunch of deadset pedophiles hiding behind some fucking gay pride – whatever the fuck youse are doing.”
Lees made reference to a painted mural on Wynyard Street in Sydney (which has since been vandalised) that appeared to represent bear culture; it showed a heavy-set man wearing a harness and briefs (through which genitalia appeared to be visible) with a teddy bear’s head superimposed onto his.
“It’s forcing it upon our kids,” Lees said in his rant, arguing that public displays of queer imagery have “gotten to the point [that] there’s a fucking pornographic images in the streets with gay flags, big homosexual teddy bears.” He continued: “Do you think we can’t see what’s going on? This time’s coming to an end. All of these child groomers hiding in plain sight, the time’s coming to an end, I’m not copping it no more. I’m fucking over it. I’m calling it out.”
The artist – who also promotes himself as an actor and kickboxer, and published a memoir in 2021 – then compared the mural to a recent ad campaign by Balenciaga, which was widely criticised for its portrayal of children, prompting an apology from the luxury brand. Lees said in his rant, “It’s no fucking different [to the Balenciaga campaign], what they’re doing.”
Lees also made an unrelated jab at the transgender community, saying earlier in his rant: “Everyone’s too scared to say something. ‘We’re not even men, we’re not women, we’re fucking this, we’re that, we’re 100 different things…’ Forcing it upon us. We say nothing, everyone’s too scared to fucking say something.”
Within hours of the video being posted, several artists and music industry figures called Lees out for his widely disproven attacks on the queer community. Mallrat, for example, wrote in a comment that she “didn’t realise [Lees was] so ignorant and hateful”, while fellow rapper Urthboy called the rant “utter bullshit” and pointed out that the “vast majority of child sexual abuse happens from family and trusted friends”.
MAY-A was another artist to speak out against Lees, writing in one comment that he’d displayed “a sad, gross point of view”, and expounding in another: “The support from verified creators in the comments… scary. This isn’t a comment to protect children, this is straight up radically incorrect information to support homophobia. Sad [and] disgusting. Hope you find some love in your life and change your perspective man.”
Elsewhere, Dobby wrote that “masking your homophobia with pedophilia fear mongering in the queer community don’t make you a real man” and told Lees that he’s “not fooling anyone”, while Boy Soda said: “Hopefully your team educates you on why this is so dangerous and disgusting before they drop you.”
The hip hop collective One Day have in fact dropped Lees from their agency roster, with a statement on the company’s own Instagram page reading in part: “We strongly condemn Spanian conflating issues around child-grooming and pedophilia in connection to the LGBTQIA+ community during WorldPride in a recent Instagram video. This is very problematic – we understand that this language has a long history of being used to discredit and vilify the LGBTQIA+ community.
“We believe in free speech and people’s rights to express themselves; we do not require that our clients and partners share the same views or beliefs as us. What we cannot tolerate though, are actions and speech which (whether intended and not) incite hatred and are harmful and dangerous to people, especially marginalised communities.
One Day went on to argue that Lee’s “power always lay in lifting up his community, those who grew up in the streets, in social housing, and being an ally to the disenfranchised”, but made it clear in their view that “he has done the opposite in this instance”.
The statement said in closing: “Spanian’s commentary on these issues in no way reflect our values as a company and as individuals. We have been deeply upset by Spanian’s actions over the past [three] days and we acknowledge the harm caused by his Instagram video. Our company is no longer representing Spanian, effective immediately.”
Spanian has since released another video on Instagram talk about being dropped by his management, saying: “My managers left, they were woke. They were good managers, they were just woke. They were like ‘what you said is like sort of homophobic, kind of, if you take it the wrong way. I think people took it the wrong way, and it was sort of offensive. We gotta to distance ourselves from you’. That’s all, they’re replaced. Spanian’s on a roll, brother. Spanian’s more famous than ever.”
In response to the backlash to his first video, Lees posted another one yesterday (February 27) that saw him double down on his homophobic talking points. In the video, which has since been removed from Instagram, he branded his critics “nothing but apologists and deflectors” and continued to label queer people as “putrid maggots” and “pedophiles hiding behind the gay, fucking, LGBT fucking flag”.
Closing out his second video, Lees took made more derogatory comments about the transgender community: “I just don’t like the fact that these motherfuckers have wormed their way into primary schools [and] high schools, ban anything about God – evil God – and they teach kids that men can become pregnant. [They] teach kids that they can choose whatever sex they are and adults don’t have any say in it. Go fuck yourself.”
Like the first, that video was met with pushback from several prominent figures. Camp Cope bassist Kelly-Dawn Helmrich called it “such an ignorant [and] dangerous rant” – pointing out that “there are many societies that recognise more than two genders” – while frontwoman Georgia Maq challenged the allegations that Lee made against the queer communities: “Give us an example. One example. Find me the newspaper article.”
In a statement made on Twitter, Hau Lātūkefu – rapper, ex-triple J presenter and director of Forever Ever Records – wrote: “On a weekend that was meant to be about love, inclusion, self-worth, and pride, it was bloody disappointing to see Spanian’s rant. Equally disappointing to see those from our music community like and comment in support of it. Very telling. More love [and] power to my queer family.”
On a weekend that was meant to be about love, inclusion, self-worth, and pride, it was bloody disappointing to see Spanian’s rant. Equally disappointing to see those from our music community like and comment in support of it. Very telling.
More love & power to my queer family.
— Hau (@hauiebeast) February 27, 2023
For help, advice, support and information for the LGBTQ+ community:
Pride Foundation Australia
Rainbow Health Australia