I don’t know anything, & neither do you.” – Frank Ocean
These are the words that sit on singer Frank Ocean’s twitter masthead. These are also the words that unintentionally created the framework for a massive unveiling via his tumblr page, where the Odd Future member unashamedly writes about being in love with a man in a letter he penned on December 27, 2011.
“4 summers ago, I met somebody,” he writes. “I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I’d see him, and his smile. Sleep I would often share with him. By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating to the women I had been with, the ones I cared for and thought I was in love with.”
He eloquently describes the moment he broke down after confessing his love to a boy who ultimately didn’t reciprocate his affections. The boy pats Ocean on the back and then rushes away to get back upstairs to his girlfriend, leaving Ocean standing there, vulnerable and exposed. Not returning until years later.
The letter taps into a side of the songwriter that he has otherwise hidden for years. It also unleashes a controversial subject that often comes and goes within the hip-hop realm: homophobia.
Although much of the past year has been riddled with triumphs for the LGBT community – same-sex marriage is quickly spreading across the country, CNN anchors like Don Lemon and Anderson Cooper join the ranks of those who are openly gay (and proud of it), even The Game made a statement on VLAD TV advocating that gay rappers “come out.” Much of the rap and hip-hop community is still struggling to latch on to a post-progressive era where machismo, bravado, and ego don’t take the forefront.
I applaud Frank Ocean for a move like this. He originally set out to publish the letter in the notes of his upcoming album, Channel Orange, but opted to do it now after rumors began.
Whether he was persuaded by close friends like fellow Odd Future member Tyler the Creator, who took to Twitter to say he was proud of him, or whether he did it on his own volition, it will certainly prompt more artists who struggle with this to be open and honest with themselves and their fans.
As Ocean says,
“I don’t know what happens now and that’s alright. I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore.”
There has been no statement from him since he’s posted the letter.
Will it ultimately affect anything in hip-hop? We can only hope it does.