Why Nicki Minaj Blocked Me On Instagram

LGBT fans: Beware of false prophets.

Photo via nickiminaj/Instagram

On August 28, comedian Kevin Hart posted a video on Instagram challenging celebrities to donate to his Hurricane Harvey fund. Nicki Minaj took him up on the challenge.

She reposted the video to her account that same evening with a pledge to donate to $25,000 herself. A flurry of heart emojis and fans calling her “DeGeneres Queen” — a self-imposed nickname first debuted in her Remy Ma clapback “No Frauds” — quickly filled the comments section.

For the uninitiated, Nicki’s profile is best described as a fascinating, sometimes-cloying mix of self-promotion and vanity. Her almost 83 million followers are responsive to everything from a series of six posts of the same outfit to endless boasts about her latest Billboard chart entries.

Monday’s unusually humanitarian break in modus operandi caught my eye. Inspired by both concern and curiosity, I decided to test out a theory that has been swarming around “The Kingdom”: that Nicki will block, or at least unfollow, anyone who even mentions the Pulse tragedy to her.

It all started last June when fans came after her for remaining mum on the whole 49 people being killed in gay bar in Orlando thing. Not only did she refuse to tweet anything about a mass shooting that actively targeted an LGBT haven, but she unfollowed a fan who asked for an explanation and apparently blocked another.

I took to the comments section with what I thought was a very level-headed reply.

“Have you thought about donating to other causes like the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence or the Pulse victim’s fund?” I wrote.

After a long Tuesday, I decided to make “Skrrt On Me” the soundtrack to my triumphant post-workday strut to my car. I remembered my comment earlier in the day and promptly checked her Instagram to see if I had gotten any kind of reply. (Nicki is known for being glued to Instagram and even responding if a comment is fairly particular).

Sure enough, her profile was there but her posts were gone. Any attempt to press the blue “Follow” button was futile.

I should probably mention that, yes, I am (or used to be) a huge Nicki fan. I remember my sophomore year of high school, smiling through “I’m the Best” the morning after the album’s release after sneaking a headphone up to my ear. The inspiring beat and cathartic lyricism made me so proud to be a small part of what I knew was the beginning of a burgeoning and impactful career.

I’ve seen her in concert in Miami. I have a list of rebuttals whenever someone tries to minimize her artistry or cultural relevancy. Once, I almost cried in an elevator just thinking about how much joy she’s brought my little gay heart with her animated expressions, cocky attitude and expertly-referential lyrics. My devotion could verge on embarrassing at times. In short, I basically grew up with this woman as an icon.

But more importantly, I’m a reporter who spent the month of June 2016 working alongside some of the bravest and most talented people in Orlando journalism as they covered this harrowing tragedy. The Pulse shooting is more than just a headline to me. I’ve actually spoken to moms of kids who were killed in the club. I’ve written about my experience coping with the aftermath of the shooting. I’ve been outside the club both as a drunken patron and as a citizen of Orlando paying my respects at the one-year anniversary memorial.

My reaction to her block ranged from shock and disappointment to willful ignorance. How could one of my biggest idols be so insensitive to such a tragedy? What does that say about who I admire?

To say that my heart sank when I noticed the block is an understatement. Of course I was hurt.

But this was about way more than just me. Nicki is leaving a lot of questions unanswered.

Do you not care at all? Are just you sick of hearing about what has been dubbed as “the largest mass shooting in modern American history?” Is something surrounding the tragedy uncomfortable to you? And if so, why single out those who wish to discuss it by blocking them instead of starting a dialogue?

I acknowledge that Ms. Minaj has every right to use her social media as she pleases. We should feel safe when logging into any one of our accounts, especially as life is increasingly lived on both virtual and physical planes. And to be fair, she has been known to block Twitter followers for things as benign as complaining about Tidal-only releases.

But my comment included no profanities or personal attacks. It was simply a suggestion that she use some of her well-documented generosity to offer condolences to the community that propelled her to stardom, one that has its own name within her fan base: Ken Barbz.

To actively block people mentioning Pulse is an attempt at erasure.

LGBT fans are notoriously loyal, and they’re a big reason for Nicki’s success. It’s now obvious that Nicki welcomes her LGBT fans promoting her features on their accounts and buying concert tickets to her shows, but she’s not okay when they want her to chime in on an issue that threatens their very safety and existence.

I can’t confidently say that I will no longer be listening to Nicki Minaj’s music. To be honest, I already feel like listening to “Regret In Your Tears” while shedding a few myself. What I can say with certainty is that I will no longer look to her with the same level of admiration and respect that I used to.

Quite honestly, my first reaction to this move was disgust. Could mentions of Pulse bother her so much that she feels a need to virtually exile anyone who brings it up?

Some readers of this piece will say that I goaded her, prodding her to make a statement about a year-old tragedy in the midst of a more pressing matter. But can’t we think about more than one thing at a time?

Others might ask what I’m so mad about. Getting blocked by Nicki?

I’m not mad. I don’t know her, and I can only speculate about her intentions based on years of observation as a fan. She very well may just be done with the Pulse issue, not wishing to come back to something that got her so much negative press.

Still, addressing the Pulse tragedy and blocking people who keep bringing it up would be one thing. In the same vein, not addressing the issue but letting fans ask you about it is another. They both present problems, but neither are as shady as keeping quiet about the massacre while actively shutting down any conversation about it.

At best, Nicki’s bizarre penchant for ignoring the existence of the Pulse tragedy (and for cyber-punishing those who bring it up) shows an utter lack of sensitivity and sympathy for LGBT people. At worst, it stinks of homophobia. The picture is ugly no matter what angle it’s looked at from.

Nicki has never been political. In fact, she often chooses to avoid polarizing issues, if not choosing to be on the wrong side of them altogether. (She continuously collaborates with Chris Brown and posts selfie after selfie with her brother despite his indictment for having sex with a 12-year-old girl.)

This specific silence-and-persecution combo isn’t very comforting when the current administration is slowly chipping away at LGBT rights.

I’m willing to sacrifice a few rap verses and Instagram thirst traps for my own piece of mind. After all, I guess I have no choice.

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