You may not know who Frank Ocean is, but chances are you have bobbed your head and/or danced to one of his songs; he has written for Justin Beiber, John Legend, and countless others. His most successful US single is probably Novacane, which was featured in the Densely Washington/Ryan Reynolds movie SAFE HOUSE.
Earlier this week the singer, songwriter, rapper came out to America as Bisexual.
This is huge on several levels. First, he is an R&B singer. Although we have all speculated from time to time about the sexuality of many mainstream R&B men from Little Richard to Prince to Miguel, to my knowledge Frank Ocean is the first to actually confirm the fans whispers and tabloid innuendo by releasing a statement. He even went into detail about his first experience falling in love with Mr. Wrong. Aside from the news being a shake up to the R&B world (I mean, you have to imagine that if he has slept with other closed cells, they may be shaking in their boots with questions about just how 'open' Ocean is willing to be), this is also a really big shake up in the African American community in general. African Americans - ESPECIALLY African-American males - are notoriously non accepting of the concept of being gay. As a community, we have not been as accepting of homosexuality or bisexuality as the white community is. This is why so many men are "On the Downlow"...because they do not feel comfortable coming out to their friends, team mates, family members, or church.
So what does Frank Ocean's coming out mean for the African-American community?
It means that we have a new opportunity to talk about what it means to be gay or bi-sexual and black. It means we have chance to have the conversation, and at least begin to realize that his sexual preference has not diminished his ability to create great music.
You should read his "coming out" letter via Google. It is written so eloquently and beautifully, it almost feels like you're reading a book or a beautiful poem.
There's no denying the man has talent. The question is, can we as African-Americans learn to look past his sexuality - not just 'forgive' him for being gay (which is totally missing the point in my eyes), but to be able to look past it, regardless of your feelings, and support his musical endeavors anyway?
That remains to be seen.
Until next time, be tolerant of yourself. And each other.