Earlier in the week, I reported that Frank Ocean opened up about his sexuality, then I posted that Ocean revealed his first love was a man in a letter posted to his tumblr blog. Since then, some music fans and people were left confused and wondering why did he chose to come out of the closet, while others supported his decision. There has been a lot of support from his peers in the Hip-Hop community and blogspheres. The Notorious B.I.G’s close friend, Hip-Hop Journalist & Author Dream Hampton (she co-wrote Jay-Z’ book, Decoded) showed her support to Ocean in a written letter penned to him from her, which was published on Jay-Z’s Life & Times website. AllHipHop Founder/CEO Chuck Creekmur weights in as well as New York’s Power 105 Charlamagne Tha God and Russell Simmons. Read below:
Thank you, Frank Ocean.
It’s true, we are a lot alike… “spinning on blackness. All wanting to be seen, touched, heard, paid attention to.” In your opening few lines, you simultaneously established your humanity, a burden far too often asked of same sex lovers, and acknowledged that in this age of hyper self- awareness, amplified in no small part by the social media medium in which you made your announcement, we are desperate to share. You shared one of the most intimate things that ever happened to you – falling in love with someone who wasn’t brave enough to love you back. Your relieving yourself of your “secret” is as much about wanting to honestly connect as it is about exhibition. We are all made better by your decision to share publicly.
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NEXT PAGE: THE REST OF DREAM HAMPTON’S ‘THANK YOU’ LETTER TO FRANK OCEAN; PLUS MORE PEOPLE IN THE INDUSTRY SHOWS THEIR SUPPORT
You and Anderson Cooper have the same coming out calendar week in common, but in many obvious ways, you couldn’t be more different. Anderson Cooper is an heir to one of America’s great Industrial Age fortunes and a network professional whose maleness and whiteness backed by his considerable accomplishments guarantee him work. You are a young Black man from New Orleans who fled your still struggling city. You didn’t arrive in Los Angeles with generational wealth and privilege, only the beautiful lyrics and melodies that danced through you and your dream of making it in a music industry whose sand castles were crumbling.
You are in fact, connected to one of hip-hop’s great cadres, in the tradition of Oakland’s Heiroglyphics, The Native Tongues and The Juice Crew. Your music family, like all the rest, will likely grow apart, but in this moment Odd Future bends hip-hop’s imagination with utter abandon. You fulfill hip-hop’s early promise to not give a fuck about what others think of you. The 200 times Tyler says “faggot” and the wonderful way he held you up and down on Twitter today, Syd the Kid’s sexy stud profile and her confusing, misogynistic videos speak to the many contradictions and posturing your generation inherited from the hip-hop generation before you. I’m sure you know a rumor about Big Daddy Kane having AIDS and with it, the suggestion that he was bisexual, effectively ended his career. You must have seen the pictures of pioneer Afrika “Baby Bam” from the Jungle Brothers in drag and read the blogs ridiculing him, despite the fact that he’s been leading a civilian life for nearly two decades. I know as a singer you love Rahsaan Patterson and bemoan the fact that homophobia prevented him from being the huge star his talent deserves. Only last month Queen Latifah unnecessarily released a statement denying that her performing at a Gay Pride event meant she was finally affirming her identity for thousands of Black girls. Imagine if Luther had been able to write, as you closed your letter, “I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore…I feel like a free man.”
But you’re not an activist. You’re a Black man in America whose star is on the rise, working in hip-hop and soul, where gender constructs are cartoonishly fixed. Your colleague Drake is often attacked with homophobic slurs when he simply displays vulnerability in his music. He seems to respond by following those moments of real emotion with bars that put “hoes” in their proverbial place. But you’re a beautiful songwriter (your question to Jay and Kanye, “What’s a King to a God?” on their own song on an album about their kingdom, was brilliantly sly). Your letter is revolutionary not least of all because it is about love. It is about falling in love and feeling rejected and carrying both that love and rejection with you through life. The male pronoun of the object of your desire is practically incidental. We have all been in a love that felt “malignant…hopeless” from which “there was no escaping, no negotiating.” Your promise to your first love, that you won’t forget him, that you’ll remember how you changed each other, is so full of love and grace.
You were born in the ’80s, when gay rights activists were seizing the streets of New York and other major world cities, fighting for visibility and against a disease that threatened to disappear them. The cultural shifts created from those struggles in some ways make your revelation about your fluid sexuality less shocking than it would have been decades before. Still, there are real risks with coming out as a man who loved a man. I hope you hear and are reading the hundreds of thousands of people who have your back.
We admire the great courage and beauty and fearlessness in your coming out, not only as a bisexual Black man, but as a broken hearted one. The tender irony that your letter is to a boy who was unable to return your love until years later because he was living a lie is the only truly tragic detail about your letter. A million twirls on this spinning ocean blue globe in this vast endless blackness for you my love.
“I think it’s definitely important and it really signifies that there is a changing of the face of hip-hop,’’ said Chuck Creekmur, founder of the leading website allhiphop.com. He called Ocean’s announcement “a sign of the times,’’ noting Cooper’s announcement and President Barack Obama’s recent support of gay marriage.
While Creekmur stressed that Ocean’s announcement did not hold the same weight as if a rapper had come out, he said it was significant that the hip-hop community’s initial reaction was positive.
“I don’t believe that Frank Ocean revealing his gay experience at the age of 19 will cause a bunch of rappers to come out of the closet. I don’t think that we’re there yet. I do think that we’ll see a lot of support for him. … I think that it’s a process,’’ he said. “Just a few years ago, if this had happened, it could have marked the end of his career. This could mark the beginning of his career.’’
Creekmur said it was hard to determine what impact the announcement would have on its sales.
“I think to it could work to his benefit. I think he’ll definitely get more sort of praise and acclaim, and it will probably help his sales,’’ he said. “But I think a lot of men will have difficulty singing his songs knowing they may have been penned to another man.’’
New York’s Power 105 ‘Breakfast Club’ host Charlamagne Tha God shows support to Frank Ocean as well. Listen to the audio below:
Russell Simmons: The Courage of Frank Ocean Just Changed The Game
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?
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, but we know they do, and because of that I decided to write this short statement of support for one of the greatest new artists we have.
His gifts are undeniable. His talent, enormous. His bravery, incredible. His actions this morning will uplift our consciousness and allow us to become better people. Every single one of us is born with peace and tranquility in our heart. Frank just found his.
Frank, we thank you. We support you. We love you. –Russell Simmons
Def Jam President Joie Manda shared his thoughts:
Manda gave voice to his thoughts with this heartrending statement:
“Yesterday was an important day for all of us. Frank Ocean is an amazing artist and a more amazing man. The courage he displayed in his beautiful and eloquent letter was touching on many levels. Frank broke down a wall that should never have been built. The overwhelming show of support from his peers was awesome and inspiring. Island Def Jam is so proud to stand beside Frank Ocean – the artist and man – now and always.”
Singer Luke James offered his own words of support to the Odd Future member, saying:
“It takes a brave being to stand in front of thousands of strangers and recite ideas of who they are. But it takes even more courage for a soul to stand before millions and be the actual reflection of the ideas. I am happy for my bro Chris.”
Singer, Model and DJ Solange showed her support via Twitter. “I salute you, brave soul. Independence Day. @frank_ocean,” she wrote, while Rita Ora tweeted, “Once a brave soul opens up life doesn’t seem as hard as you thought it was. @frank_ocean inspirational.”
Rapper Trina Shows Her Support:
Rapper Trina tells TMZ, she fully supports Frank coming out, claiming, “He’s extremely talented and that’s what matters.” But Trina tells us, “I don’t think [Frank’s] music sales or the level of support his music obtains should be judged based on his sexual preference.” She adds, “If he’s happy and comfortable with his sexuality then so be it. I feel his decision to come forward was bold and honest. It’s his life. Let him enjoy and live it. I wish him much success and happiness.”