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VOICES

Odd Future’s Frank Ocean Comes Out About his Sexuality

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Frank Ocean arrives at the 16th annual GQ "Men of the Year" party in Los Angeles. On Wednesday, July 4, 2012, Ocean, the rising and highly acclaimed singer revealed on his website that his first love was a man.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Amid rumblings that his upcoming album Channel Orange contained love songs addressing a male love interest, R&B singer Frank Ocean and member of Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA) quietly posted on his blog Wednesday–on the most explosive of birthday celebration's (the nation's)–about coming to terms about a past love that gripped and shaped his world but had him cursing at the clouds.

Ocean's preferred gender pronoun of choice for describing that first love was a pronounced "he," yet the poetic tumblr post, a screenshot of a note document dated December 2011, delicately tip-toes around using identifiers like "bisexual," "gay," or "straight," that can understandably seem crippling for some taking their first steps coming out under a less-than-forgiving media spotlight.

"In the last year or 3 I've screamed at my Creator. Screamed at clouds in the sky, for some explanation. Mercy maybe. For peace of mind to rain like manna somehow," Ocean wrote. "4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too."

Ocean was 19 when he fell in love with a close friend over the summer. The friend, whom Ocean never identifies, had a girlfriend and didn't initially reciprocate when Ocean revealed his feelings. Ocean said it took three years for his friend to reveal the "truth about his feelings," but the relationship never progressed further.

Ocean said he wrote his music to keep himself "busy and sane," and credits friends and family for keeping him alive and safe.

"These folks are angels. I don't know what happens now, and that's alright. I don't have any secrets I need kept anymore," he wrote. "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."

Though Ocean's post comes just days after Anderson Cooper's "The fact is, I'm gay" coming out in an e-mail to a friend and colleague, the young singer chose to write through memories and emotions rather than assign an identity to his sexuality. The R&B singer's story is still a rarity in the hip-hop world here homophobic language and slurs still abound in lyrics and catchphrases.

It's easy to see Ocean's coming out as momentous event since he's a young black man working in an industry that seemingly has more homophobic tendencies than others music genre's. For instance LA Times music critic Gerrick D. Kennedy called Ocean's post a "groundbreaking" revelation:

The straightforward 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.

However, friends and colleagues–within that same "black music" community–have shown nothing but support for Ocean.

Friend and Odd Future label-mate Tyler, the Creator, who has used the pejorative "faggot" and anti-gay lyrics 213 times in his most recent album, tweeted support for Ocean Wednesday.

Hip-hop mogul Russel Simmons also wrote in support for Ocean, stating that "today is a big day for hip-hop."

"It is a day that will define who we really are," Simmons wrote on in a post on Global Grind. "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 l gives hope and light to so many young people still living in fear."

Ocean's announcement and the following support may be a sign of the turning of the tide in the industry, as recently several hip-hop heavyweights like Jay-Z and T.I. expressed support for same-sex marriage that incidentally came on the heels of President Barack Obama's historic admission of support earlier last month.

Regardless of how the public or the industry reacts toward Ocean's admission concerning his sexuality, his post remains a personal catharsis:

"I've never had more respect for live and living than I have right now," he concluded. "So thank you, all of you. For everything good. I feel like a free man. If I listen closely..I can hear the sky falling too."

Melissa Brown is a journalism intern for Campus Progress.

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