Christopher Francis Ocean, wherever you are…I’m starting to think we’re a lot alike. You see, It was only two short years ago that I myself passed through the threshold of bravery’s doorstep to free my soul of a parasitic burden, shouldered by this human being spinning in blackness, that had yet to be spoken to the world from a man who has built and is still building a life on saying so much. This man being myself of course.
The plight of the non-hetero American is still in many ways a heavy burden to carry and when you paint it Black or Brown, the amount of weight increases to a level that would cause Atlas himself to buckle at the knees. After I read Frank’s beautiful and poetic letter, for a brief moment, my world stood still. Immediately I recognized that space within myself. Anyone whose ever been in or wanted love should have. Because as a Black gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender person, there are very few examples of public success, acceptance or mainstream adoration, let alone in the hip hop community where “fag” is the end all be all of insults one can deliver. In part, this is why the Black pop culture world goes back and forth in debate about the sexuality of a certain “Queen”.
Being a Black and bisexual stand up comic, actor and TV comedy writer with the successes I’ve had in a relatively adolescent career is in its own form a rarity. Seeing how I’ve yet to cross paths with anyone openly like myself. And even though the worlds myself and Frank live in are different, they share a lot of the same commonalities as well. Hollywood is Hollywood. Being the big deal that I knew this would be when I caught wind of what I considered rumor until proven otherwise, I took to twitter to see what everyone was saying. To both my surprise and delight, for every one “Frank Ocean is a faggot” or “I can’t listen to Frank Ocean anymore” tweet there were dozens of “His sexuality doesn’t matter to me, his talent does” and “Good for you Frank, I’ll always support good music no matter what” tweets.
Why does his sexuality matter if the music is good? Is he singing the song to you? No. Are you singing the song to him? Most likely not. I thought the beauty of music is the fact that the song could be about whoever or whatever we, the listener, wanted to be about? I sing Alicia Keys, Whitney Houston, and many other female artists I love and the fact that “ideally” they’re singing to another man never stopped me from changing the pronouns if I felt it necessary. And I’m almost certain that has always been the case for you. Have you stopped listening to Luther Vandross? Let’s not pretend we didn’t know what team Luther played for.
It’s no secret that Frank has a large Black fan base so most of these comments were from Black people. But the reason I was most proud was because for the first time in my life experience within the realm of Blackness, that talent, art, and pure humanness had transcended hate, homophobia, and indifference. Many can agree that sexuality shouldn’t matter in the toils of life any more than race should but unfortunately it still does. The bravery Frank put forth, baring his soul for all to see, while immersed in the worlds of the Jay-Zs and the Tyler the Creators, who have both lyrically at one point or another either used the word faggot or alluded to the idea that being gay made you inferior, is something to be marveled at.
To the thousands of people who have stood up and shouted cheers of praise and acceptance for Frank I applaud you. But the ones who chose to belittle such a valiant effort with homophobic slurs and promises of never playing Frank’s music again? It’s time for you to grow up. Because like your own, small minds get left behind. The quest for acceptance has raged on for years and the size of the hole that Frank has kicked in the seemingly insurmountable wall of hatred and homophobia within Hip Hop and music itself, has weakened it to the core. in the words of Bob Dylan, the times they are a changin’ my friends. Get on board or be left behind inhaling the exhaust fumes from the departing train of social progress. I don’t expect everyone to buy a ticket.
Thank God, the Universe, the Heavens, or whatever you believe in for Frank Ocean and people like him. Because although institutionalized hated and separatism can be battled fiercely from the outside, it’s most effectively destroyed from the inside out. I can only hope that my own efforts along with people like Frank, we will continue to open the doors of change and progress not just for Black, but all LGBT people.
We need more people to push boundaries and break molds. The greatest pioneers of social progress have never shied away from this notion. And in extending the dialogue necessary to create that path within our own communities no matter where they are, one day we will look back at all this hatred, homophobia, and nonsense of sensationalizing sexuality as nothing more than a drop of water in the Ocean of our lives.
Hetero-normativity, hatred, racism, sexism and separation may still on some levels be king in America for now but progressive warriors like Martin Luther King Jr, Bayard Rustin, James Baldwin, and Malcolm X have proven to be historically sustainable Gods when it came to destroying these ancient relics of ideologies and in the end, what’s a king to a God?Follow @Travon