Hunders gather outside the Staples Center to voice their displeasure over the controversial rapper's duet with openly gay star Elton John...

Anti-EMINEM protesters gathered outside the STAPLES CENTER in LOS ANGELES last night (February 21) to make their voice heard as the controversial rapper duetted with gay icon ELTON JOHN on ‘STAN’.

LA police confirmed to NME.COM that 170 people took part in the peaceful demonstration to protest at Eminem’s lyrics, staged by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance at the venue – the size of Milton Keynes new town in the UK – in downtown Los Angeles. None of

the protestors came close to coming face-to-face with Eminem.

One protester, 14-year-old Todd, travelled from Santa Monica because, “Every day I get

called fag. Some Eminem fans broke into my locker and wrote ‘fag’ and ‘faggot’ all over my books.”

Asked by NME.COM what he would say face to face to Eminem or Elton John, the entertainment media director of GLAAD Scott Seomin, said: “I would say ‘Why?'” to both of them.”

There had been speculation that Madonna might do the duet with Eminem. But when Seomin contacted her agent Liz Rosenberg, he was told: “You know her better than that.” Despite his attempts to speak personally to John, who had been awarded the GLAAD lifetime achievement award, he was rebuffed by John’s PR Fran Curtis, who appealed to Seomin not to stage the protest.

US vice-president Dick Cheney’s wife Lynne joined the chorus of disapproval, telling CNN she was dismayed that the 28-year-old

bad boy of American rap might walk away with several awards, and that she was even more upset that John, as an openly gay musician, should appear to be sanctioning Eminem’s allegedly violent stance.

GLAAD were joined by women’s and religious groups, including The Family Violence Prevention Fund, whose slogan was “Say no to Eminem”.

A handful of Eminem supporters (average age 14) led a spiritedly pointless heckle of GLAAD with “Pussy Rules.”

They were not the only group using the world’s focus on the awards as a soapbox. A band of Napster supporters carried signs demanding the right to download.

The gathering, organised by the Bomaye Company, an LA-based public relations firm, was more of a support rally than a protest, to try to convince the music industry to work with Napster. “What do we do now?” said one of the

Napsterites after some banner waving. “I dunno”, said the other. “Stand around I guess.”