Late late last night or early this AM, new-age crooner Christopher Breaux aka Frank Ocean managed to put to rest recent rumours that have been flying about his sexuality. It seems that some songs from his upcoming album, Channel Orange, notably “Pink Matter”, “Bad Religion”, and “Forrest Gump” all have references to a person he’s in love with, except he uses the pronoun him instead of she. Originally intended to be the liner notes for the project, Ocean released a letter via his Tumblr that details his journey from discovery to acceptance and he thanks those who always knew. You can read the entire thing here or by clicking the image below, but here are some choice tidbits:
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. 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…
I sat there and told my friend how I felt. I wept as the words left my mouth. I grieved for them, knowing I could never take them back for myself. He patted my back. He said kind things. He did his best, but he wouldn’t admit the same. He had to go back inside soon. It was late and his girlfriend was waiting for him upstairs. He wouldn’t tell me the truth about his feelings for me for another 3 years. I felt like I’d only imagined reciprocity for years. Now imagine being thrown from a cliff. No, I wasn’t on a cliff, I was still in my car telling myself it was gonna be fine and to take deep breaths. I took the breaths and carried on. I kept up a peculiar friendship with him because I couldn’t imagine keeping up my life without him. I struggled to master myself and my emotions. I wasn’t always successful.
Before writing this I’d told some people my story. I’m sure these people kept me alive, kept me save … sincerely, these are the folks I wanna thank from the floor of my heart. Everyone of you knows who you are … great humans, probably angels. I don’t know what happens now, and that’s alrite. I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore. There’s probably some small shit still, but you know what I mean. I was never alone, as much as I felt like it … as much as I still do sometimes. I never was. I don’t think I ever could be. Thanks. To my first love. I’m grateful for you. Grateful that even though it wasn’t what I hoped for and even though it was never enough, it was. Some things never are … and we were. I won’t forget you. I won’t forget the summer. I’ll remember who I was when I met you.
Not to push Anderson Cooper’s coming out this week aside as non-news (but it kind of was, but powerful nonetheless), Frank’s revelation touches us in a way that is personal, sincere and heartfelt. Since coming onto the scene with his nostalgia ULTRA mixtape, Ocean has managed to rally a powerful international audience that isn’t just restricted to cool kids in skinny jeans. His credibility in the urban music space as a singer and songwriter has been built on lyrics that arguably were about love and sex with both women and men. So does this mean that we look at him differently now? Some will. Does this mean that the music is any less than what it was and will be? Absolutely not. The track “Thinking About You” could be about his infatuation with a monkey and it would still be one of the best ballads of this decade, and “No Church In The Wild” would just simply not knock with out his touch.
Love is hard, and at 19 years old love is scary as shit. Imagine your first battles with love coupled with the fact that your feelings are not only freaking you out, but you can’t even express them in a manner that society deems ‘acceptable’ for a young man of color. Carry those feelings into the urban music industry which poses it’s own set of challenges and mind fucks and it’s any wonder that Frank has managed to keep it classy until now. After all, he could resort to throwing bottles in nightclubs or shacking up with a model/socialite beard.
Honestly the only difference between Frank and a few entertainers that we all love is that he’s gone a little public with his privacy, because he’s certainly not the only man with a front row full of women that is serenading another man in his mind. The wonderful thing about this is just how normal it feels. No cover of People, just “yeah it’s Wednesday and I’m gay/bi/whatever but whose having a bbq today tho?” normal.
While we shouldn’t expect Frank to be on the cover of OUT or on top of your next pride parade float any time soon, maybe his bravery and honesty can inspire more public personas to start living their lives in the open and proving that love his nothing to be ashamed of. Happy Independence Day indeed.
top image by Nabil for SPIN Magazine
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