Reactions to Frank Ocean's Coming Out
The good, the bad, and the ugly.
We reported yesterday that rapper and Odd Future member Frank Ocean had come out via a letter posted to his Tumblr. Because the world wide web is such a large and scary place, especially in times of announcements of queerness, let us now break down the who, what, and WTF of Frank Ocean commentary.
First up, we have Def Jam records co-founder Russell Simmons who wrote a blog post called, 'The Courage of Frank Ocean Just Changed the Game!'. He writes from the heart, saying:
"Today is a big day for hip-hop. It is a day that will define who we really are ... I am profoundly moved by the courage and honesty of Frank Ocean. Your decision to go public about your sexual orientation gives hope and light to so many young people still living in fear. These types of secrets should not matter anymore, but we know they do, and because of that I decided to write this short statement of support for one of the greatest new artists we have."
Not all comments by music-types were that optimistic, however. Country singer Chely Wright (the first openly gay star in her genre) has talked about Frank's news in relation to her own coming out, to TMZ. She explains that her album sales dropped to a third of what they were before her coming out, and that certain venues no longer book her because they don't want to risk a protest. She still commends Frank though, and says he's forging a path for other artists to follow, saying, "I can't think of a better way for Frank to celebrate Independence Day."
Complex puts Frank's coming out in the context of other musician's who have come out, citing a few examples, like David Bowie who outed himself as bi in a Melody Maker interview in 1972, but later said it was the "biggest mistake I ever made." And gay icon Ellen DeGeneres, who came out in 1997 after which her ratings dropped off the charts and then took years to get her career back on track. And other icons like Elton John, George Michael and Freddie Mercury, who only came out once they were well and truly established in music and comfortable enough to deal with the possible backlash.
Frank's Odd Future cohorts were along the first to support him (despite being constantly criticised for their use of homophobic lyrics):
Earl Sweatshirt summarised his feelings as succinctly as a Mum using SMS:
Other musicians also tweeted support for Frank, such as Chromeo, Solange Knowles, A-Trak, and Action Bronson, as well as hip hop news website Missinfo.tv:
Author/Journalist Dream Hampton:
Rapper Action Bronson:
Some sort of Canadian teenaged Chris Brown advocate:
Hot 97's Miss Info:
And, then of course, there were the random jerks:
We say screw the jerks, and big ups to Frank for making himself visible as a gay man, especially in mainstream hip hop culture where it's a rarity. We can't wait for his debut album to come out! (Channel Orange, set for release 17 July.)