True Stories: “I’m gay for Kanye”
Real Life Hip-Hop Confessions
“My wife found out I was gay for Kanye”
As told to Matt Sanders
“Where’s your husband tonight?” asks Julie Staples, nervously tapping her still-shiny wedding ring against a half-drained tumbler of gin. “You ever ask yourself what the one you love is doing when you’re not there with them?”
Julie knocks back the rest of her drink, sucks the alcohol through her teeth, and wipes the back of her hand across a smudgy eye. I’m a man. I don’t have a husband. But I don’t stop to correct her.
“When I was working late, I’d call home to see if James would make the supper for when I got in. We’d only been married six months. I had a new job, good prospects, but only if I put the hours in. It looked like I was going places.” She pauses to tilt her head wistfully. It’s like she’s listening to a far off melody. “But that job’s a distant memory now. I just couldn’t face people. I locked myself away.” Stopping again, Julie goes to draw her third cigarette of the past twenty minutes out of its packet. I think about reminding her that we’re in a smoke-free zone, but I remember the look she gave me when I told her the last time.
“And then Kanye took it all away from me.”
I meet James Staples at the bus stop he sleeps in, a few hours later. It’s a far cry from the smart split-level maisonette in
London’s Farringdon that Julie showed me pictures of earlier. They sold up when they went their separate ways, but James’ despair took him on a financially draining quest to meet the man who tore their life apart. Julie’s rebuilding. James is broken.
“Yeah, I still wear my ring too. I guess we’re both hoping that one day we’ll make up and get back together. I know it hit her hard. We’d only been married a few months. And I screwed it all up.” He looks at a picture in his wallet, shaking his head, tears forming. I lean forward, assuming I’ll see a grainy snapshot of James and Julie together in happier times. I don’t. I see a magazine clipping of Kanye West in a neatly pressed shirt.
James Staples, 32, and Julie Staples, 29, were childhood sweethearts who lost touch with each other when they left their home town of Sevenoaks, Kent, and only found each other again years later through a then-popular networking website. After a whirlwind year of romance, they tied the knot in the summer of 2006. By the winter of that same year, Julie was seeking a separation and James was using up his savings on flights across the world, busting the bank as he stayed in the swankiest hotels known to man. All in search of a certain Mr West.
“The first time I realised something was wrong was when the second album came out,” says Julie. “The first one came and went without so much as a ripple in our household. James heard one of the songs on the radio once, I think. You know, that one about him breaking his mouth in a road crash. Well, I can vividly remember James saying it wasn’t his cup of tea. I mean, back then he didn’t even listen to rap music. He was hooked on The Hold Steady and The Wrens. Drunk white boy rock. Hip-hop wasn’t a part of James’s life. I guess he hadn’t seen a picture of Kanye at the time…”
“It’s true,” James admits. “I never really got down with all that stuff. I still don’t really. Not that I can listen to music in my bus stop. Just a week after I moved here a tramp with a sword took my iPod. All I can do now is hum. Mmmmm, mmmmm, mmmmm, mmmm, mmmm… I ain’t sayin’ she a gold-digger…” I let James sing to himself for a short while. The nights are cold and it’s the memory of the music that keeps James warm.
“But then all the hype when the second album came out… I couldn’t avoid it. And it was a while before I saw a picture of him even then. I only saw that big funny bear in the school. But one day, I was killing time at work, back when I worked, and I was flicking around on Youtube, and I guess I wanted to hear that Diamonds song, so I typed ‘Kanye West Diamonds’ into the search bar. That was a defining moment. I just didn’t realise till then I was gay.” James stops, looking around as if to check we aren’t being eavesdropped upon. He leans in toward me. “And you know what? I still don’t think I am. Two tramps tried to suck me off the other night, and I didn’t finish. I wasn’t bothered. I think it’s just Kanye…”
“I was so stupid,” sobs Julie. I give her hand a reassuring squeeze, but she pulls it away. “So stupid. One minute we’re listening
to ‘Late Registration’ in the car, the next I come home to find James making babies with himself over the sleeve of a rare Kanye 12″. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know where to look. He tried to cover it up, but he’d already laid out a crescent of press shots on the bed. There was no escaping it. I can still hear him shouting, ‘Don’t come in!’ It rings in my ears…”
“I suppose it all happened pretty quickly after that,” James sighs, rustling under the newspaper that will shield him from yet another unfriendly night. “We tried to make a go of it, even though I’d been rumbled, but she basically couldn’t even look me in the eye. And, to be honest, I couldn’t get hard for her any more. Even if I thought about Kanye while I was scumping her. It just didn’t work. I needed to be with Kanye. I needed to scump or be scumped by him. So I left. And I tried to track him down.” Did you find him, I ask? “No. His security wouldn’t let me scump him. I don’t think he even got to know I existed. And then I ran out of money and I had to come home. And now my home is this bus stop.” I ask James if he has any regrets. “No,” he says. “None.” And with that, he curls up for another night in the piss-stink.
Kanye West was available for comment. You know the rest.
Next month in Real Life Hip-Hop Confessions: “MF Doom Murdered My Cat”