The hip-hop world doesn't have a reputation for being the friendliest place for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Homophobia has popped up in lyrics and tweets from rappers like 50 Cent and Tyler the Creator and though superstar Nicki Minaj has toyed with bisexuality and rapper Fat Joe has shown support for the LGBT community, we've yet to see a hip-hop star with a mainstream audience actually come out of the closet.
Azealia Banks, the 20-year-old rapper being pegged as the "next big thing" in the industry, came out as bisexual in a new interview with the New York Times. What's more -- she did it with little fanfare, the admission taking up just two lines that appear near the end of the story:
"Ms. Banks considers herself bisexual, but, she said: "I'm not trying to be, like, the bisexual, lesbian rapper. I don't live on other people's terms.'"
Though Banks has yet to release her debut album, which is due later this year, her sexually-charged songs and unique style have already secured her the adoration of some the most influential people in music and fashion.
Pitchfork named her song "212" its #9 song of 2011 and she's one of five people that Kanye West follows on Twitter.
And as the NYT notes, she's appeared in V magazine, GQ, Elle, and famed photographer Terry Richardson recently snapped her for a T: the New York Times Style Magazine spring fashion spread. Her track "Bambi" played during the Mugler fashion show last month and Banks treated legendary fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld and his guests to a performance of "212" -- the video for which has over 3.3 million views on YouTube -- at his home in Paris last week.
Could Banks's revelation be the impetus needed to nudge other hip-hop stars to come out -- or be the example that will inspire would-be LGBT rappers to work even harder for mainstream success? We certainly hope so.
Below see 25 other stars who came out of the closet: