Rapper Wale was to be the first heterosexual male to perform at DC Black Pride in the event’s 20-year history. Instead, he has become the first performer to cancel an appearance at the event.

DC Black Pride announced May 14 that Wale would be the headline performer at its May 30 event at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. He was scheduled to perform for 45 minutes and earn $18,000. Wale pulled out four days later, citing his desire to spend more time with family.

Board member Earl Fowlkes, speaking on behalf of DC Black Pride, expressed skepticism. “Wale lives in Bowie. It’s not like his family lives in California or something.”

Instead, Fowlkes thinks that attention from gay media deterred the rapper. “In my opinion, I think he started to get cold feet when Metro Weekly called. They called him for an interview Monday, and the next day he backed out.”

Fowlkes said that it is common for black heterosexual male performers to distance themselves from the LGBT community. “They’re afraid that if they appear in front of a gay audience, they will be perceived as gay, and it will affect their fanbase,” said Fowlkes. “But whatever they lose from the straight community, they would gain in the gay community. It’s bad from a business perspective.”

Organizers were clear about the nature of the Black Pride event when booking Wale, according to Fowlkes. “If you don’t tell a performer who his audience is, that’s a recipe for disaster,” he said.

Aware that the rapper might be sensitive to some of the attention surrounding the event, Fowlkes said DC Black Pride organizers were planning to limit their promotion of Wale’s performance. “We tried to anticipate some of his needs,” he said. “We weren’t going to put him on the cover of our program.”

R&B singer J. Holiday , whom event organizers have booked in Wale’s place, is now set to become the first male heterosexual to perform at DC Black Pride.

Following yesterday’s e-mail exchange with Metro Weekly, Jesse Kirshbaum, a talent agent representing Wale, said that he was unable to further comment on the story.

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