This morning Gawker, Vibe and damn near every media outlet on earth told the world something like the following sentence:
“Odd Future member and rising R&B star Frank Ocean announced tonight via his tumblr that he’s gay.”
NO! Frank Ocean has not come out. Frank Ocean has not declared his gayness, homosexuality or bisexuality. He hasn’t offered up that he is “same gender loving” “queer” or even “curious.” What Frank Ocean has done is be fearlessly, unavoidably and beautifully honest about the fact that he fell in love with a man. I’m not going to expound on his words. I can’t. I don’t have anything to offer on his words that can’t be gleaned from the gift of reading them. So please take the time to do so, again and again.
But I am concerned that the LGBT and “gay friendly” press is going to increasingly thrust the label “coming out” onto Frank Ocean. They are going to fold him into “healthy queer narrative” as Jeffery McCune recently put it. He is about to be coopted as an agent of gay liberalism and that is a shame. Because gay liberalism, as evidenced by LGBT institutions excitement over Anderson Cooper’s weak-tea outing isn’t about what Frank Ocean did. Frank Ocean is not keeping it cute and tidy. Frank Ocean has the audacity to unselfconsciously drip emotion all over the place without coming close to embracing gay liberalism’s lexicon. This is not a “classy” “outing.”
Also? Gay liberalism, until today, hasn’t given a hoot about Frank Ocean the human. Until today Frank Ocean was understood principally as part of hip hop and R&B, which means he was understood as one of the enemies of gay liberalism. Part of the “most homophobic” cultural institution in the “most homophobic” community and so the HRC was not *studying* Frank Ocean before today. So I’m preemptively annoyed about inevitable attempts by gay liberals to get Frank Ocean to “work” on the rest of the “black community.” Please do not draft Frank Ocean into labor for your political project, the man has enough work on his plate right now.
Here’s what Frank Ocean is also not doing. In choosing not to come out Frank Ocean is not justifying the behavior of any human, regardless of their fame, who is dishonest about their sexual and emotional life because they fear some form of reprisal. Whether that reprisal is an act of physical or emotional violence, the loss of a home or a lucrative job or the self-inflicted wounds of self-hatred. I’m not going to diagnose those folks, yell at those folks, or hate on those folks. All I’m saying is Frank Ocean is doing something different. He’s not avoiding risk, he’s not “working behind the scenes” and he’s not waiting until he reaches that unknown precipice of material success before he feels “safe” or “secure” enough for honesty.
What is Frank Ocean doing? Again, I’m not going to try and write about that right now. I can’t. I’m too emotional about the whole thing and I’m not a poet. I look forward to the poets reading and expanding on Frank’s letter. All I can say is how Frank Ocean made me feel, which is inspired and grateful. This morning I read Frank’s letter lying in the arms of the love of my life and I instantly recognized in Frank’s letter emotions that circulate in my world. I felt so incredibly close and connected to him at that moment. And that closeness was not born of his or my racial or sexual identification, it happened because of the truly universal categories of in-love, have-loved, was-loved, not-loved back and wanting-love. Right now all I can muster is to wish love for Frank Ocean. I really, really want to hug this man.