R&B and Hip-Hop songwriter Frank Ocean has come out. Although it will be hotly contested in African American circles, some say Ocean is the first major artist to come out in both industries.
For some time there has been rumors about Ocean's down low trysts. But in Ocean's new album Channel Orange, to be released July 17, a journalist attending the listening party for the album noted that several of the songs were not heterosexual in messaging but rather they were boldly "addressed to a male love object."
"When I think about the term 'running away,' probably it's not the right one," Ocean told New York Times reporter Jon Caramanica. "It's more I decided to do something different, so that I might have a different outlook." Ocean added, "When they're emotional things you can't run away from them anyway."
One of the things Ocean has now stopped running away from when publicly confronted about is his sexuality. The 24-year-old New Orleans native posted last week on both Twitter and Tumblr that he had a same-gender loving relationship when he was 19.
"Four summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide....
Sleep I would often share with him.... There was no escaping. No negotiating with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love."
Ocean concludes the post: "I don't have any secrets I need to keep anymore. ...I feel like a free man."
While homophobia is evident in Hip-Hop, so, too, in R&B. As a rising star in both genres Ocean not stating whether he is "bisexual" or "gay" has frustrated many in the LGBTQ community, but it might speak to his need to stay afloat professionally.
At Ebony.com, Jamilah Lemieux noted that while few urban artists openly embrace homosexuality, many are in "the closet with the glass door," living a life they don't reveal in their music. "I hope that Frank Ocean doesn't become 'the gay singer,' for it would be criminally unfair for him to wear that label as so many of his peers are sleeping with and loving same gendered persons, while selling images of hyper-heterosexuality."
But that "LGBTQ" label is what many African American