Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Frank Ocean Steps Out

"I'm starting to think we're a lot alike," Frank Ocean writes in the letter to himself that appeared on his Tumblr late last night. The letter details a summer of misspent youth for Ocean, who fell for a man that couldn't reciprocate. In a heartbreaking moment, Ocean writes "he wouldn't admit the same," lamenting a love that was entirely unrequited. From there Ocean flashfowards and details the struggle to make sense of something so senseless. "The dance went on," but from the tone of Ocean's letter its clear it was a solo tango. 

The greatness of this admission cuts across many boundaries. It's the logical continuance of a line from "We All Try," which saw Ocean adamantly declaring that marriage is between "love and love." The sterling statement is picture-perfect considering Ocean's affiliation with Odd Future, who have dodged cries of homophobia from Day 1. In an austere show of support, every single O.F. member took to Twitter and expressed support for their big brother Frankie, Earl Sweatshirt laconically tweeting "Proud of frank." Likewise coming from the Rap/R&B community which has had a tenuous relationship with homophobia at best is monumental. Even seemingly intelligent, thought-provoking rappers like Common have stooped to saying "fa***t" on songs before. In a world inundated with hyper-masculinity, Ocean's move is beyond bold.

With Ocean's letter arriving less than 24-hours after Anderson Cooper finally admitted to being a gay man, this is shaping up to be a benchmark week for the LGBT-community in the celebrity-sphere. But therein lies the rub. These are celebrities we are dealing with. I don't have one iota of a problem with the statements themselves, especially Ocean's which was written in the most beautiful and poetical way possible. I take issue with the underlying fact that these are people with reservoirs of good will. Cooper is on a national news program every night of the week and Ocean has had a phoenix-like rise in music over the past year. Ocean and Cooper are two talented individuals whose throngs of adoring fans will stand by them, no matter what their sexuality is. That same cheering section isn't available to everyone. Whereas Ocean and Cooper have the luxury to step outside, many can only call the shadows home. "I feel like a free man," Ocean writes in a celebratory fashion near the end of his letter. Tragically, because of their lot in life many can never know this freedom. While it's not fair to force Ocean and Cooper to lead the march toward freedom, it's a point that must be made. We should celebrate Ocean and Cooper for further strengthening the cause of a much-maligned group. However we must remember that the two speak with voices that ring louder than most. And it's the voiceless that always need the most support. 

"We All Try"

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