OCEAN water has remarkably uniform chemical composition despite all of the various elements and creatures that reside within it. Even when controlled and uncontrolled substances are dumped into its waters, it pH level remains fairly neutral – being neither wholly basic nor acidic. So let us all – for a moment – skinny dip in the “odd waters” of Mister Frank’s OCEAN!
On Tuesday, July 3, 2012, Frank Ocean revealed via Tumblr that he was bisexual. (Lock-and-step: favorable news headlines were penned; fellow entertainers fawned over the announcement; and the singer-songwriters’ Twitter following increased substantially.) Without trivializing “the matter,” kudos is deserved to Frank Ocean for being open and honest about the man he claims himself to be. Shame on the media for treating his disclosure as some grand circus exhibition! And shame on America for failing to recall the pioneering life and works of James Baldwin – who traversed these waters decades earlier! (*sigh*) Without harping too long on shame, however, let us focus on the far more important issues – floating unnoticed, yet festering unequivocally – in Mister Frank’s OCEAN.
What entertainers say has become infinitely more important and more of a story than what they actually do. In the midst of all of this superficial, celebratory saluting, the spotlight that has been placed upon Frank Ocean’s sexuality would be better served channeling energies toward issues that affect large swaths of LGBT youth: bullying, homelessness, and suicide. If young men and women weren’t demonized as social pariahs in grade school or within their family’s household, then the “coming out” of grown men and women would start earlier, be easier, and filled with less strife. LGBT youth often have few safe havens – or the social and economic privileges of Frank Ocean – to “be fearless” and “be honest” and “be brave.” Encouragement from GLAAD is a start, but it definitely is not enough; and unfortunately, tolerance alone does not change a society’s beliefs or eradicate oppression.
The implications of homophobia have never been discussed in a national dialogue. The title of MTV’s 7/8/2012 article – How Does Frank Ocean’s Sexuality Affect Odd Future? – is beyond ridiculous! For starters, one’s sexuality is one’s own sexuality. It is not a plague, or a sickness, that is transferred from one human being to another. Then, again, does the presence of “homosexuals” evoke “symptoms” – and changes – in the people that surround them? Perhaps. According to Lil’ Scrappy, “closeted” men – men who are or once were like Frank Ocean – are simply “a doorway to AIDS, scientifically.” He applauds “coming out,” of course, so that the disease can no longer be spread to straight people. (Seriously.)
Frank Ocean’s mother – Katonya Riley – is proud of her son, but what about his father? Riley posted a message on Twitter to show her support; and Ocean had noted previously that his “absent father” has been cyberstalking him. To be certain: there are few bonds stronger than a mother’s love. Her unconditional love is heart-warming. Even so, in this paternalistic American culture, it would be quite interesting to unearth the thoughts of his father. His opinion wouldn’t change Frank’s admission of bisexuality, but it would add tremendous depth to the larger conversation about fatherhood, black manhood, and alternative masculinities.
just found out my absent father's been cyberstalking me. hi dad.—
frank ocean (@frank_ocean) June 14, 2012
My son is brave and honest and I am very proud of him. I wish more people in the world could be brave enough to be who they really are.—
katonya breaux riley (@katonya) July 04, 2012
Although bisexuality is not the same as homosexuality, the two are often lumped together and treated with similar malice. Considering Frank’s professional background, it is quite shocking that so many journalists and media outlets have given Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All – and its leader, Tyler, the Creator – a pass for their previous use of homophobic lyrics in spite of prior knowledge about their fellow member’s sexual orientation. Fervent tosses of the words “faggot,” “gay” and “sus” are apparently OK – even to Mister Ocean. Then again, this is the same nonsensical rational that people give misogynists rappers for the use of the word “bitch” and misguided people of color use for “nigger.” The times are definitely changing, so we might as well call our mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters every dirty word in the book. It’s all love, right? Of course not! Suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth is comparatively higher than among the general population.
Fucking Finally Sus Boy @frank_ocean Hahahaha, You Still Aint Got No Bitches Hahaha My Nigga Dawg—
Tyler, The Creator (@fucktyler) July 04, 2012
My Big Brother Finally Fucking Did That. Proud Of That Nigga Cause I Know That Shit Is Difficult Or Whatever. Anyway. Im A Toilet.—
Tyler, The Creator (@fucktyler) July 04, 2012
One day, when everyone stops skinny-dipping in Mister Frank’s OCEAN, perhaps they will examine and survey James Baldwin’s texts, or ponder the nuances of the ardent, quiet, behind-the-scenes support of Jay-Z revolving the publication of dream hampton’s open letter on the rap mogul’s Life + Times blog.
“Creating His Own Gravity” by Jon Caramanica [New York Times]
“How Will Frank Ocean Change Our Conversation About Coming Out?” [reader forum on ColorLines]