Soulful vocalist Frank Ocean of hiphop collective Odd Future has opened up about his sexuality in a revealing post on his personal blog.
Starting with the line, “Whoever you are, wherever you are. I’m beginning to think we’re a lot alike”, Ocean goes on to describe his first encounter with love as a teenager in a quite beautiful and true portrait of what first love is, the all-consuming nature of that love and the inevitable all-consuming pain that eventually follows.
He writes: “4 summers ago I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too… Most of the day I’d see him, and his smile. I’d hear his conversation and his silence. Until it was time to sleep. Sleep I would often share with him.
“By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless… It was my first love, it changed my life. Back then, my mind would wander to the women I had been with, the ones I cared for and thought I was in love with.
“I don’t know what happens now, and that’s alrite. I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore. I was never alone, as much as I felt like it … as much as I still do sometimes. I never was. I don’t think I ever could be.
Thanks. 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. I won’t forget you. I won’t forget the summer. I’ll remember who I was when I met you. I’ll remember who you were and how we’ve both changed and stayed the same.”
Frank Ocean’s revelation is a significant public statement, particularly within the context of the hiphop industry where the existing stigma against gay people, men specifically, is still very much at large.
With rap’s history of homophobia – where accusations of homosexuality are used as maximum impact disses from the arsenal of dueling rappers – this move sets a precedent for gay hiphop artists to be forthcoming about their sexuality, and, importantly, acts as an ‘It Gets Better’ style message for hiphop fans who struggle with their own sexual identity due in part to the onslaught of negative messages contained in both the lyrics and the homophobic hate speech that’s long been part of the rap culture.
Odd Future’s most visible member, Tyler, The Creator, who last year was singled out by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for lyrics deemed derogatory toward gay people, has bolstered Ocean’s announcement tweeting his support:
Good for Frank Ocean. For not only having the courage to come out, but for sharing his intimate story so beautifully. His album Channel Orange will be released on July 17th.
Image by Karl Walter, Getty Images.