Frank Ocean’s Def Jam debut, “Channel Orange,” won’t be released for another two weeks but the album is already making headlines everywhere. Everyone from the LA Times and the New York Times to hundreds of blogs are discussing the new album because in it Ocean uses pronouns like “him” in lyrics that include references to love.
Rumors that Ocean was bisexual began to circulate this week after a BBC1 writer who listened to an album preview took to her personal blog to point out “you can hear him [Ocean] sing about being in love and there are quite obvious words used like ‘him’ and not ‘her’.”
In a matter of hours the post went viral and Ocean responded through his blog on Tumblr.
“4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide,” Ocean wrote in part of the letter. “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…”
One of the first to back Ocean was fellow Odd Future member Tyler, the Creator, who’s own lyrics include some of those most violently homophobic rhymes in the industry. “My Big Brother Finally Fucking Did That,” tweeted Tyler on Wednesday. “Proud Of That Nigga Cause I Know That Shit Is Difficult Or Whatever. Anyway. I’m A Toilet.”
Ocean’s mother also followed up on Twitter.
“My son is brave and honest and I am very proud of him. I wish more people in the world could be brave enough to be who they really are,” Ocean’s proud mother tweeted.
She also thanked Ocean’s fans, “Thank you to all who have shown love and support. My son is the most incredible human I know. Honest, true and loving. We appreciate you!”
Russell Simmons also wrote a statement of support for Ocean on his website Global Grind.
“Today is a big day for hip-hop. It is a day that will define who we really are. How compassionate will we be? How loving can we be? How inclusive are we?” Simmons wrote.
“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. These types of secrets should not matter anymore,” Simmons went on to write.
The Los Angeles Times’ Gerrick D. Kennedy wrote Ocean’s letter “is undoubtedly the glass ceiling moment for music. Especially black music, which has long been in desperate need of a voice like Ocean’s to break the layers of homophobia. There are plenty of reasons this moment has so much weight. Too many for any single article to explore.”
“Ocean told his story on his terms and in his own words, something virtually unheard of in hip-hop and R&B — genres he has already pushed forward artistically with his work, and could push further,” Kennedy went on to say.
“Black audiences have been conditioned to understand Black gay men in only two ways: either on the “down low” or as the flamboyant queens on so-called ‘reality’ television,” cultural critic and hip-hop scholar Seth E. Davis told Ebony.com.
Ocean’s announcement comes just days after Anderson Cooper publicly announced he is gay. Rod McCullom at Ebony.com says Ocean’s coming out is more significan’t than Cooper’s because hip-hop is “where perceptions of Black masculinity are dominated by hyper-sexuality, thug swagger and a deep homophobia.”
McCullom says Ocean’s announcement is huge because “neither hip-hop nor R&B has ever boasted an openly gay or bisexual mainstream male star.”