The separation between a musician’s personal life and their art is one we try to make. When Adele announced she was pregnant, we avoided the story. It holds little bearing on her music and even less culturally. But there are always exceptions, like when Tom Gabel came out as Laura Jane Grace, a courageous admission.
Frank Ocean’s situation is much the same. Last night, perhaps as a reaction to rumours or maybe because he was simply ready to share, the Odd Future crooner came out and talked about the first time he fell in love with a man.
To be specific, because he wasn’t, Ocean did not come out as a gay man. He didn’t come out as a bisexual, either. It’s not our business whether he likes dudes or ladies, but for Ocean to hint against our expectations is a pretty big deal for a number of reasons.
First, there’s the whole genre bias. Frank Ocean sings songs spun from the silk of the 90s, inspired by dudes often seen standing in their videos outside of a woman’s house, or workplace, or whatever, arms aloft and words flying at them. These are sensual tracks, and when rumours started flying that he was using “him” instead of “her” on his upcoming Channel Orange album, it was a surprisingly big deal. Not because people were bothered, but because they were surprised. Not only is Frank Ocean a key cog in the return of one of music’s most heteronormative genres, but he’s also part of one of the most notorious music collectives going in music today.
Odd Future’s early days were bereft with criticism. While figurehead Tyler, the Creator argued his liberal use of the word “faggot” was anything but homophobic, when paired with the violent imagery of their first releases, it led to an onslaught of controversy.
And then Syd the Kid came out. She said she was a lesbian and Odd Future said they’d known it all along. We realized that maybe they weren’t homophobes. That maybe, like most teenagers, they were just assholes. Not the best consolation for them, but then that was always the point. Like with Syd, who’s currently better known as one half of The Internet, Tyler’s come out in support. “My Big Brother Finally Fucking Did That. Proud Of That Nigga Cause I Know That Shit Is Difficult Or Whatever. Anyway. Im A Toilet,” he tweeted. Earl Sweatshirt, Odd Future’s youngest member also had something to say, tweeting “Proud of Frank” at 3 this morning.
Last night, when Ocean wrote “my hope is that the babies born these days will inherit less of the bullshit than we did” before posting a lengthy letter on his tumblr, the world hopefully listened.
Read Frank Ocean’s entire letter below (click for full size). Channel Orange is in stores July 17th.