After losing countless loved ones to violence and drugs, suffering the hardships of Hurricane Katrina, and dealing with the day-to-day challenges of growing up gay and black in the South, it's a wonder rapper Big Freedia (born Freddie Ross) hasn't bounced out of the Big Easy. But in his new memoir, Big Freedia: God Save the Queen Diva!, the Bounce innovator — who dropped his debut LP Just Be Free in 2014, and continues to raise ratings on FUSE's hit reality show, Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce — credits New Orleans' bounce music scene with his salvation.
He's excited to bring his trademark bounce and
What can we expect from your SF Pride set?
The show is definitely going to be a lot of
What did you learn
Mostly the interaction with the fans. In choir, I had to interact with my actual
In your new memoir, Big Freedia: God Save the Queen Diva!
Growing up in New Orleans is really rough, and being black and gay is even
I started in gospel, but once I discovered bounce, it was another type of joy that I brought to people. Bouncing around different clubs, the sound of my voice would do that for a lot of different people. Over the years, I've grinded and grinded and started busting my butt show after show and then started getting recognition and the props I deserve for the hard years of work I put in. Bounce music is dedicated to where my story is now and helping me on that journey. I started meeting tons of other people in that world. But it was still a kind of feeling of bringing excitement and happiness for people. It was the same thing with
You're in a minority of male rappers that truly elevate women.
I definitely bring some stability to women and let them feel free in their space and let them know that they're protected and can be themselves. That's important to a lot of my fans, and creating that safe space for the women has always been my thing. Even when I started rapping, if boys were trying to touch the girls on their asses or slapping them on their cheeks, I would protect the girls. I will continue to be that way.
As the star of the most viewed show on Fuse, Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce, you undoubtedly keep the channel's electricity running. Why are you so watchable?
People love the interaction that I give. They respect my hustle and my grind. People respect me, in general, because of my character and who I am. So I stay humble and continue to do things off the grace of all of the blessings that He's put in front of me.
We've seen some of your ups and downs with your boyfriend, Devon, on the show. What is your current status?
We're good for right now. But today is a rough day.
Your hometown of New Orleans has certainly had its unfair share of rough years. What's life like in The Big Easy today?
It's still going through so much stuff with all of the killings and the nonsense violence that happens here. We're really pushing and praying for the city to make some positive things happen. But it's New Orleans and
How has the Charleston church shooting impacted you?
It's just very disturbing. All of the things
In 2015, how hard is it to be black and gay in the south?
Well, it definitely has changed. People are very much more open-minded. The spirit of people around gay people has changed. There will always be homophobia or some person who will have an issue with it because they have issues with themselves.
One of my fans hit me up on the DM and said, “I don't know how to deal with people picking on me and calling me 'gay' and so forth.” My advice to him was when I was young and people used to say, “Oh, you fat faggot,” or “You fat sissy,” I would say, “Thank you” and keep walking. It would shock them that I would turn it around. They thought that I would fuss with them and battle, but I would say, “Thank you” in the nicest way with the biggest smile on my face. It would mess people's heads up. There are always ways to get around stuff and still be yourself and not entertain them with the foolishness, because things are happening so quickly, and you can have your life taken just for an argument or looking at someone the wrong way. So I want my gay people to stay mindful of their surroundings and think about how they're interacting with people or
What makes you proud?
Just being myself, all of the hard work, all of the love and support, my family, my grind, and my hustle make me feel proud.
Speaking of grinding, a lot of your fans are probably going to attempt a twerk during your SF Pride set. What advice can you give them, so they don't end up looking the fool like Miley Cyrus at the 2013 VMAs?
Practice makes perfect. I tell people that using the mirror helps to see your body and the way that you can make it move. You can do a lot in the mirror with your body motions. Practice and use the mirror to create what makes you feel comfortable, sexy, and proud.
Big Freedia plays SF Pride's Main Stage at Civic Center Plaza on Sunday, June 28. Free; sfpride.org.