Frank Ocean Says Opening Up Made Him a Better Artist

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com November 20 2012 4:52 PM ET

Frank Ocean says that opening up about his first relationship was one of the most difficult steps in his life, but it also made him a better artist.

Ocean posted a message on his Tumblr blog earlier this year, revealing the experience of his first love, a man he was with at age 19. He told GQ that he initially worried about sharing his experience and how it might affect his career, especially as a successful songwriter and solo artist. But he later realized that opening up made him better.

"I was looking at it like an athlete then — like I just wanted to be better than everybody else. I hadn't gone through anything emotionally yet," he said. "I had never been in love. I had never been heartbroken. When that happened, that's really what changed everything. That turned me into a real artist."

Ocean declined to state whether he is gay or bisexual, saying "you can't feel a label." He said, though, that he knew it would be wrong for him to just deny his feelings and solely date women.

"Some people said, 'He's saying he fell in love with a guy for hype,'" he says. "As if that's the best hype you can get in hip-hop or black music. So I knew that if I was going to say what I said, it had to be in concert with one of the most brilliant pieces of art that has come out in my generation. And that's what I did. Why can I say that? Why I don't have to affect all this humility and shit ... because I worked my ass off."