Ne-Yo is a father of seven and a Grammy-winning singer and songwriter. In his content, he tackles the day-to-day issues important to many other parents, including the hot topic of gender identity and early childhood.
He welcomed the opportunity to explore the issue openly and respectfully in an interview:
“I have no problem with LBGT … I have no problem with nobody, OK? Love who you love, do what you do,” he said. “I just personally come from an era where a man was a man and a woman was a woman. And there was two genders, and that’s just how I rocked.”
He dared to suggest that maybe, just maybe, 5-year-olds should not be making irreversible life and health decisions on their own:
“I feel like parents have almost forgotten what the role of a parent is,” he said. “If your little boy comes to you and says, ‘Daddy, I want to be a girl.’ And you just let him rock with that? … If you let this 5-year-old little boy eat candy all day, he’s gonna do that. Like, when did it become a good idea to let a 5-year-old, let a 6-year-old, let a 12-year-old make a life-changing decision for themselves? When did that happen? Like, I don’t understand that.”
These comments were met with immediate backlash from trans activists. It didn’t take very long before Ne-Yo gave into the pressure of cancel culture and issued an apology on social media—or so we thought:
Turns out, the apology was created by a publicist. Ne-Yo doubled down on his personal opinion in an Instagram video in his own words:
“This is something I feel very strongly on, and I need y’all to hear this from the horse’s mouth, not the publicist’s computer … First and foremost, I do not apologize for having an opinion on this matter. I am a 43-year-old heterosexual man raising five boys and two girls. That’s my reality. …
“My intention is never to offend anybody. However, I’m entitled to feel how I feel … I will never be okay with allowing a child to make a decision that [is] detrimental to their life … If I get canceled for this, you know what? Maybe this is a world where they don’t need a Ne-Yo no more.”
In the caption of the video, he wrote:
“If one of my 7 kids were to decide that he or she wanted to be something other than what they were born as, once they’re old enough and mature enough to make that decision…so be it. Not gonna love em’ any less.
“But this isn’t even a discussion until they are MENTALLY MATURE ENOUGH to have such a discussion. Period. Point blank.”
Ne-Yo continues to face personal attacks, both on social media and in the press. The LA Times characterized his interview as “transphobic.” Gossip news site Hollywood Unlocked claimed that he “condemns parents.” And in a big, bold headline, TMZ called his remarks “anti-trans.”
As the cancel mob continues to circle around him, Ne-Yo isn’t angry, but he isn’t backing down either. He responded to the mischaracterizations on social media:
“1st and foremost, I CONDEMN NO ONE. Who am I to condemn anybody? Your life, your kids, your choice. I was asked a question and I answered it. My opinion is mine. I’m not asking anybody to agree with me nor am I telling you what you can and cannot do with your children. I stated my opinion on a matter and that’s that.
“Why should I care if my opinion upsets you when you don’t care if yours upsets anyone? Opinions aren’t special. We all have one. People voice them regularly whether they’re asked or not. I was actually asked mine. Agreeing to disagree is not a declaration of war. Y’all do whatever the hell y’all want to. But my feelings on the matter are mine. Same way yours are yours. Meanwhile, I love everybody. Don’t agree with some of y’all’s ideals….but love you no less.”
It would have been easy for Ne-Yo to fall back in line at the slightest hint of a cancel attempt, as so many others in the entertainment industry have done. But he didn’t.