Una Mullally

Society, life and culture on the edge

Frank Ocean: “I feel like a free man. If I listen closely I can hear the sky falling too.”

Over the past few days, rumours have been circulating about Frank Ocean’s sexuality, since some people who heard tracks off his new record noticed he was singing about “he” and not “she”. Yes, this is still an ‘issue’ in pop …

Wed, Jul 4, 2012, 11:10

   

Over the past few days, rumours have been circulating about Frank Ocean’s sexuality, since some people who heard tracks off his new record noticed he was singing about “he” and not “she”. Yes, this is still an ‘issue’ in pop music, and although many would just think to leave this kind of stuff to the privacy of the individual in question, hip hop remains a battleground when it comes to sexuality. There are no famous out rappers, even though there are gay ones. Gayness is a taunt used by The Game against 50 Cent, or by Beanie Sigel against Kanye. And although it’s milder territory for gay women, many rush back into the closet once fame comes over the horizon, which is why you’ll see female rappers get muddy on the topic of their sexuality even if they made bold pre-fame statements about it. Hell, Queen Latifah only got real a couple of months ago, and there must have been some serious PR scrambling when Syd The Kyd called out Missy Elliott and Alicia Keys as closeted earlier this year.

It shouldn’t matter, but it does. Coming out as gay or bi in hip hop – especially as a black man – is a big deal in a genre where raps about “faggots” are sung in unison at concerts and anything perceived to be even vaguely gay-ish is bookended with “no homo”.

Enter Frank Ocean, the critically acclaimed singer and member of Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, a group frequently derided for their occasionally homophobic and misogynistic lyrics (although their lone female member and aforementioned celebrity-outer Syd is openly gay.) No matter how loudly Tyler, The Creator shouts, Frank Ocean is the real break out star of OFWGKTA, an accomplished songwriter, who has gone from a mixtape to singing on ‘Watch The Throne’ and touring with Coldplay in just a couple of years.

On his Tumblr he delivers a coming out tale prefaced with: “we’re all a bunch of golden million dollar babies. my hope is that the babies born these days will inherit less of the bullshit 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.” The bravery, tenderness, and openness of Ocean’s words about his sexuality make for remarkable reading in any context, but in hip hop it’s major. Read them.

And now, I just can’t wait to hear ‘Channel Orange’.

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