Being gay in the hip-hop world is not exactly accepted, but singer Frank Ocean, member of the musical collective Odd Future (full title: Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All or OFWGKTA) has taken a bold, brave step and publicly announced that he is gay — or at least bisexual.
Rumors began to spread that Ocean reveals his sexuality on his upcoming album, “Channel Orange,” out July 17, by using the pronoun “him” instead of “her” in certain songs, so the singer decided to make his own statement on the matter.
Before posting a long missive, he told his Twitter and tumblr followers, “my hope is that the babies born these days will inherit less of the bull—- than we did. anyhow, what i’m about to post is for anyone who cares to read. it was intended to fill the thank you’s section in my album credits, but with all the rumors going round.. i figured it’d be good to clarify.”
Ocean then posted a beautiful ode to his first love — a man — for whom he fell head over heels at 19. Unfortunately, they couldn’t actually be together — societal issues and all. In a truly touching open letter, Ocean writes:
“Four 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 days we were together, time would glide. 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. There was no escaping, no negotiating with the feeling. No choice. 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 reminisced about the sentimental songs I enjoyed when I was a teenager…the ones I played when I experienced a girlfriend for the first time. I realized they were written in a language I did not yet speak.”
Prominent members of the hip-hop world have been quick to rave about Ocean’s bravery. Def Jam honcho Russell Simmons calls Ocean’s coming out day “a big day for hip-hop.”
“I am profoundly moved by the courage and honesty of Frank Ocean. Your decision to go public about your sexual orientation gives hope and light to so many young people still living in fear,” he writes. “These types of secrets should not matter anymore, but we know they do, and because of that I decided to write this short statement of support for one of the greatest new artists we have.”
He continues: “His gifts are undeniable. His talent, enormous. His bravery, incredible. His actions this morning will uplift our consciousness and allow us to become better people. Every single one of us is born with peace and tranquility in our heart. Frank just found his.
Frank, we thank you. We support you. We love you.”
As Simmons alludes to, there’s even a name for hiding one’s sexuality in the hip-hop world, called “being on the down low.” Canadian/CW soap “The L.A. Complex” has deftly tackled that topic during its first season as one of its characters, a popular rapper, struggles to reconcile his public image with the love he has for a man.
Ocean’s Odd Future groupmate Tyler, The Creator, who has notoriously refused to stop using gay slurs (like the f-word) and frequently slips in the word “gay” as a derogatory term in his music, tweeted his support for his friend, writing, “My Big Brother Finally F—ing Did That. Proud Of That N—a Cause I
Know That S— Is Difficult Or Whatever. Anyway. Im A Toilet.”