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Frank Ocean, the rising R&B singer/producer, who has earned heaps of praise lately, revealed that his first love was a man. In a post on his Tumblr, Ocean never actually says whether he considers himself gay or bisexual (or none of the above) but the 24-year-old describes the confusion and hurt that came with realizing that he had fallen for a man at 19. The whole thing is worth a read, but a key excerpt:
4 summers ago, I met somebody. 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.
By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping. No negotiations with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love. It changed my life.
Coming days after Anderson Cooper confirmed he’s gay, Ocean’s news might not seem like a big deal. But once you consider the fact that in the world of rap artists, homophobia and misogyny seem to come standard, it seems clear Ocean’s words could have a big impact, writes the Associated Press.
Russel Simmons was quick to identify the significance of the move, writing that he was “profoundly moved by the courage and honesty” displayed by Ocean. “Your decision to go public about your sexual orientation gives hope and light to so many young people still living in fear,” Simmons writes in GlobalGrind.
The truth is “the stakes are higher for a young black singer,” writes Brad Wete in Complex. Indeed, the Guardian’s Tim Jonze points out that Ocean’s bandmates in the hip-hop collective Odd Future “have become notorious for misogynistic and homophobic lyrics.” And that’s why some are seeing it as particularly significant that he came out so early in his career.
The emotional words that Ocean posted on Tumblr were first supposed to appear in the credits of his new album, Channel Orange. But he apparently decided to post it online after one reviewer pointed out that Ocean used “him” in several of the album's love songs instead of “her,” which led to lots of talk about his sexuality online.