The Meaning of Frank Ocean

When the up-and-coming musician came out, he drew praise from celebrities and his hip-hop collaborators, and revived the question of whether gays have a place in the industry.

BY Terrance Dean

September 14 2012 4:20 AM ET

“It was sheer joy because he was the first national well-known artist to come out and announce his sexuality,” says Lloyd Thurston “Gyant” Dinwiddie, referring to Ocean as the first black artist to come out to a hip-hop audience. Gyant, the gay media personality and blogger at Gyant Unplugged, was one of the first to share the story online. “Frank Ocean is cemented in music history forever. Anyone who has walked in the LGBT shoes knows that story. His message related to people, and for him it was a weight lifted off his shoulder.”

July 4, 2012, marked a declaration of freedom for 24-year-old R&B soul singer Ocean. It was his coming-out party, and we’d all been invited to the virtual parade. His image, that of a serious-looking, handsome young man with a strong jaw line, a short beard, and a short fade haircut, was circulating along with his letter. Those who hadn’t previously heard of Ocean quickly learned that his announcement was significant, and especially significant to watchers of hip-hop. But it wasn’t a shock to everyone.

“I was like, What’s the big deal? It’s not like we all don’t know homosexuality exists and has its place in hip-hop,” says Reggie Osse, entertainment attorney, author, former TV executive, and host of The Combat Jack Show. Osse has represented artists including Damon Dash, Missy Elliott, Timbaland, Puffy, and DMX. He was instrumental in helping Jay-Z secure his first recording deal.

“I was really happy that Frank Ocean took his life and career into his own hands and made his proclamation,” says Osse. “It’s the first announcement of someone making a statement willingly. But let’s not act like this doesn’t exist.”

Frank ocean’s letter spoke of an unrequited love. More than simply coming out, Ocean was inviting the world into his emotional state at a vulnerable moment. In beautiful prose Ocean shared the raw intensity of wanting to fully experience love with the object of his affection and being met with an unwilling heart.

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.

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