An Open Letter To Frank Ocean

Mister Ocean.
It is your turn to read something…

Thank you, Frank Ocean.

It’s true, we are a lot alike… “spinning on blackness. All wanting to be seen, touched, heard, paid attention to.” In your opening few lines, you simultaneously established your humanity, a burden far too often asked of same sex lovers, and acknowledged that in this age of hyper self- awareness, amplified in no small part by the social media medium in which you made your announcement, we are desperate to share. You shared one of the most intimate things that ever happened to you – falling in love with someone who wasn’t brave enough to love you back. Your relieving yourself of your “secret” is as much about wanting to honestly connect as it is about exhibition. We are all made better by your decision to share publicly.

You and Anderson Cooper have the same coming out calendar week in common, but in many obvious ways, you couldn’t be more different. Anderson Cooper is an heir to one of America’s great Industrial Age fortunes and a network professional whose maleness and whiteness backed by his considerable accomplishments guarantee him work. You are a young Black man from New Orleans who fled your still struggling city. You didn’t arrive in Los Angeles with generational wealth and privilege, only the beautiful lyrics and melodies that danced through you and your dream of making it in a music industry whose sand castles were crumbling.

You are in fact, connected to one of hip-hop’s great cadres, in the tradition of Oakland’s Heiroglyphics, The Native Tongues and The Juice Crew. Your music family, like all the rest, will likely grow apart, but in this moment Odd Future bends hip-hop’s imagination with utter abandon. You fulfill hip-hop’s early promise to not give a fuck about what others think of you. The 200 times Tyler says “faggot” and the wonderful way he held you up and down on Twitter today, Syd the Kid’s sexy stud profile and her confusing, misogynistic videos speak to the many contradictions and posturing your generation inherited from the hip-hop generation before you. I’m sure you know a rumor about Big Daddy Kane having AIDS and with it, the suggestion that he was bisexual, effectively ended his career. You must have seen the pictures of pioneer Afrika “Baby Bam” from the Jungle Brothers in drag and read the blogs ridiculing him, despite the fact that he’s been leading a civilian life for nearly two decades. I know as a singer you love Rahsaan Patterson and bemoan the fact that homophobia prevented him from being the huge star his talent deserves. Only last month Queen Latifah unnecessarily released a statement denying that her performing at a Gay Pride event meant she was finally affirming her identity for thousands of Black girls. Imagine if Luther had been able to write, as you closed your letter, “I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore…I feel like a free man.”

But you’re not an activist. You’re a Black man in America whose star is on the rise, working in hip-hop and soul, where gender constructs are cartoonishly fixed. Your colleague Drake is often attacked with homophobic slurs when he simply displays vulnerability in his music. He seems to respond by following those moments of real emotion with bars that put “hoes” in their proverbial place. But you’re a beautiful songwriter (your question to Jay and Kanye, “What’s a King to a God?” on their own song on an album about their kingdom, was brilliantly sly). Your letter is revolutionary not least of all because it is about love. It is about falling in love and feeling rejected and carrying both that love and rejection with you through life. The male pronoun of the object of your desire is practically incidental. We have all been in a love that felt “malignant…hopeless” from which “there was no escaping, no negotiating.” Your promise to your first love, that you won’t forget him, that you’ll remember how you changed each other, is so full of love and grace.

You were born in the ’80s, when gay rights activists were seizing the streets of New York and other major world cities, fighting for visibility and against a disease that threatened to disappear them. The cultural shifts created from those struggles in some ways make your revelation about your fluid sexuality less shocking than it would have been decades before. Still, there are real risks with coming out as a man who loved a man. I hope you hear and are reading the hundreds of thousands of people who have your back.

We admire the great courage and beauty and fearlessness in your coming out, not only as a bisexual Black man, but as a broken hearted one. The tender irony that your letter is to a boy who was unable to return your love until years later because he was living a lie is the only truly tragic detail about your letter. A million twirls on this spinning ocean blue globe in this vast endless blackness for you my love.

-dream hampton



Author: jamari fox

the fox invited to the blogging table.

23 thoughts on “An Open Letter To Frank Ocean”

  1. Love it. I am just in awe at the amount of support that has been shown to him…especially from ppl in the industry and the black community. Just brings a smile to my face. 🙂

  2. Dream is such a gifted writer, I am always in awe of people who have the gift to put magic to pen and paper, and after further researching Mr. Ocean music, I see he is a gifted writer as well. I seen a lot of negativity from the ghetto blogosphere but thats to be expected, the fans of these sites(and you all know the ones) never seem to have anything positive to say about anyone unless its some ratchet behavior that they seem to hold up, but I have also seen a lot of positive support. This single courageous act may actually knock some doors down that I thought I would never see opened.

  3. So true Tajan. The way she wrote this gave me a mental orgasm lol…it was very well written. I think negativity is to expected, especially when dealing with homosexuality…which is sad but some people are just negative nancys! He has enough support that he dont even have to worry about the negative. Barriers has been broken and a heavy weight has been lifted off his chest…so i’m sure he is not worried about the nay sayers!

  4. At first I thought this was Jamari’s writing & I was gonna give him mad props. I love melodic writing like this…very well put.

  5. Dream Hampton make my brain bust a serious nut!

    While I am happy people are supporting and showing love towards Frank O., I am not shocked and I always felt like this is the era of TRUTH.

    Don’t be surprise to see more star wolves/foxes come out in the next couple of months/years

    When I read this, I thought of Lil Richard.

    I wished Sylvester, Luther Vandross & many that were before Frank O. who are no longer here, were alive to see this.

    We are living in a new world baby! Frank O. will forever be a hero of mines!

    1. I doubt that anyone else will come out unless they are a new artist rising to fame. I don’t want to hear anything about Trey Songz, Ne-yo, John Legend, or Miguel wanting to come out the closet. It’s too late for those niggas, and nobody is going to show them love because they had their chances to come out. After what Frank has done, most people in the industry who have had rumors and now TRAPPED because they had the opportunity to come out, and people will think they are doing it for attention.

      1. Seriously, if any of them come out it will still be an act of bravery. This comment is so problematic on so many levels i don’t know where to begin! There is not even a possibility for a black man in the industry to come out for “attention” because there is no guarantee that you will have a career afterwards. But then again you seem to be a very jaded individual so it explains the holes in thought expressed in your comment.

      2. How will it be an act of bravery when they all have lied multiple times, especially Trey Songz and Ne-yo. Now I don’t think Ne-yo is down, but after all the times he’s denied the rumors who would want to hear him come out? I most def. wouldn’t. Trey songz has been saying in interviews for years that he’s not gay as well, so they can both save the bullshit for someone who cares. Artist do things for attention all the time if it ends their career or not.

      3. @TheMan
        First of all, your making assumptions about these means…so your pointed tone is kinda unnecessary don’t you think. And really I say fuck anybody who wouldn’t be sympathetic to those men if they came out eventhough the may be contradicting themselves. Being queer is a hard life to live, especially if your black and in the spotlight. I personally understand why they would lie about it even if I don’t agree, because not only is it professional suicide its also a very deep and personal matter. As well, none of these men are openly against homosexuality as far as I know so its not like they are condemning it, they are just trying to protect themselves. Not everyone is as strong as Frank Ocean…he is not the standard for black gay entertainers. He is just living his truth. No one should be forced out of the closet, or should be “reprimanded” for not coming out.

      4. Well I guess we are just going to agree to disagree, but it really doesn’t matter because I doubt any of them would come out anyway.

  6. He was brave enough to do what Ne Yo, Trey Songz, Omarion, Ginuwine, and Tyrese could never do…Hell, not even me.

      1. Tyrese and Ginuwine are diddy exes. Tyrese got his start on mens casting couches trying to be a model/singer

  7. I can’t to hear the studio version of Forrest Gump. I can’t believe he’s actually singing about another dude, those lyrics are crazy. “You’re so buff and strong…” Damn he wildin’ lol

  8. Forrest Gump lyrics by Frank Ocean.

    I wanna see your pompoms from the stands
    Come on, come on

    My fingertips, and my lips, they burn from the cigarettes
    Forrest Gump
    You run my mind boy
    Runnin’ on my mind boy, Forrest Gump

    [verse 1]
    I know you, Forrest
    I know you wouldn’t hurt a beetle
    But you’re so buff, and so strong

    I’m nervous Forrest, Forrest Gump
    Now my fingertips, and my lips, they burn from the cigarettes
    Forrest Gump

    I saw your game, Forrest
    I was screaming run 44 but you kept runnin past the end zone
    Oh, where’d you go, Forrest?

    Forrest Gump
    And my fingertips, and my lips, they burn from the cigarettes
    Forrest Gump
    You run my mind boy, yeahhh
    Runnin on my mind boy, Forrest Gump

    Forest green, forest blues, I remember you
    This is love, I know it’s true
    I won’t forget you…youuuu
    Ohhhhhh, you you
    It’s for you, Forrest
    I love, you, you, oh you, you
    It’s for you, Forrest

    This is love, oh, it’s true

    1. Sounds like that first love…my guess is quite a few people felt that he was singing from the perspective of a woman — nope! lol

  9. looool at leas he came out, now wait and see the rain of sexual declarations and come outs that will fall down in a couple of year , next !!!! jeremia and trey dick lover songz

  10. He posted the word “Forrest Green” on Twitter the other day. It’s a reference in the song about the dude he fell in love with that summer. I’ve been reading a few threads on those Hip Hop message boards and the comments are pretty brutal. But props to Frankie for being brave though. I was and will always be a fan.

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