Frank Ocean Comes Out, Industry Shows Support
Neo-R&B star Frank Ocean has bravely released a public admission that his first love was a same-sex relationship with a man, essentially coming out through an emotive and revealing post on his Tumblr page.
Originally intended as the liner notes to his forthcoming album, Channel Orange (one of our most anticipated albums to come in the last half of 2012), the 24-year-old writes that the Tumblr post was “intended to fill the thank you’s section in my album credits, but with all the rumours going round I figured it’d be good to clarify.” Before stating that his “what I’m about to post is for anyone who cares to read,” adding that his hope “is that babies born these days will inherit less of the bullshit than we did.”
In the brave, revealing post, Ocean never says anything as blunt as “I’m gay” or “I identify as homosexual”, instead he writes a fluid memoir that tells the story of a man the singer fell in love with in his youth:
“4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Every day almost, and on the day we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I’d see him, and his smile… Sleep I would often share with him. By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping. No negotiating with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love.”
The Odd Future and Watch The Throne collaborator then goes on to explain how music helped him cope, “I wrote to keep myself busy and sane” writes Ocean. “I wanted to create worlds that were rosier than mine.” Towards the end of his piece, he writes:
“To my first love, I’m grateful for you. Grateful that even though it wasn’t what I hoped for and even though it was never enough, it was. Some things never are… and we were.”
Before ending his narrative positively, “I feel like a free man. If I listen closely… I can hear the sky falling too.”
Following Ocean’s open letter yesterday, members of the music community have already come out in support of the artist’s honesty and personal character.
NME points out that Boy George took to twitter to express his support:
If you are gay, black & gay or just cool you should buy Frank Ocean’s album and show him that he did not elevate in vain!! I will!
— boygeorge (@BoyGeorge) July 4, 2012
While hip hop magnate and Def Jam mogul, Russell Simmons commended Ocean’s “courage and honesty”, calling it a profound day in the history of hip-hop. “I am profoundly moved,” said Simmons. “[Ocean's] decision to go public about [his] sexual orientation gives hope and light to so many young people still living in fear… His gifts are undeniable. His talent, enormous. His bravery, incredible. His actions… will uplift our consciousness and allow us to become better people.”
The most important sign of solidarity though has come from Ocean’s friend and Odd Future cohort, Tyler The Creator. Though the controversial rapper and the OFWGKTA collective have been deemed homophobic by their critics due to their derogatory lyrics (including the famous spat with Tegan & Sara), Tyler has actually thrown support behind his friend, first on his twitter:
My Big Brother Finally Fucking Did That. Proud Of That Nigga Cause I Know That Shit Is Difficult Or Whatever. Anyway. Im A Toilet.
— Tyler, The Creator (@fucktyler) July 4, 2012
Then later revealed on social media site, Formspring, that he already knew about Ocean’s sexual orientation.
“I’ve known for a while, he told me a long time ago,” writes the 21-year-old MC, “It was just funny cause I was getting bashed as a homophobe… and I kept saying, dude, how am I one? I have gay friends, like what the fuck leave me alone. That’s my nigga though, shit is hard for him but he did that.”
Ocean’s sophomore, Channel Orange, is the follow-up to his online only mixtape, Nostalgic Ultra of last year, and set for release on July 17. The album also contains a number of guest spots, including a collaboration with Andre ’3000′ Benjamin of Outkast fame, American crooner John Mayer; and fellow OFWGKTA alumni, Earl Sweashirt.
This week, Savage Garden's Darren Hayes has publicly criticised the Salvation Army for their anti-gay stance and as the awareness and support for gay rights increases and comes to the fore, more and more musicians and rockstars are coming out, or publicly showing their support for the cause. From Freddie Mercury to Judy Garland: we take a look back and celebrate some of the most iconic gay icons and pioneers in rock n' roll. Watch this slideshow »