I feel like a free man.

Several days after Frank Ocean made the somewhat shocking, definitely courageous, casual announcement, via his Tumblr account, revealing he once fell in love with another man, Frank drops a song for us to download and take in. It is Sweet Life and it is off of his upcoming album Channel Orange.

We all received the tweet a day before 4th of July, a link to a thank you letter that was supposed to be included in the liner notes of his next album. The confession, which is immortalized on the Internet as a screenshot of his Word on Mac doc, was personal, as it was heartbreaking. This might be a bit of an oversell, but from my standpoint of observation, it shocked the hip hop, music and pop culture world to its core. Ocean trended for hours, days.

I pride myself at being an open-minded person, I don’t think I am homophobic, I wouldn’t say “many” but I have a healthy amount of friends who are gay. It’s 2012, and that is no big deal. But if I am being honest, I would admit that part of me was disappointed at first, my instant reaction was, “What a waste of all that tail he could have gotten,” my friend and I commiserated as we were being shallow, sarcastic, immature and glib. Part of me also wondered how a recent favorite track of mine (It made Sam‘s Best of 2011!), Thinking About You (video), would change given the shift in context. I thought, “Dude is singing about a dude to a dude,” I didn’t know what to feel about that classic song now. We are selfish and want to vicariously live through him and his conquests. But it doesn’t really matter what I feel, I have to deal with my own little hangups. A good song is a good song is a good song. “Judge the message not the messenger,” I say.

Odd Future, who liberally use the word “fag” and “faggot” indulge in what could be construed as sometimes misogynistic lyrics. They have been deemed homophobic/misogynistic in the recent past. Now they have two openly gay members who are major facets of the OFWGKTA camp; Frank Ocean himself and open lesbian Syd The Kid, who is one half of the production duo The Internet and Golf Wang’s in-concert DJ. They are both major contributors if not big stars on their own. Even GLAAD who led the Odd Future witch hunt, are now singing Ocean’s praises. Oh, what a difference a year makes. Or maybe a decade.

If you read the letter (below) it seems as if an enormous burden has been lifted off of Frank’s shoulders. It is interesting, intriguing and cathartic. I am happy for the artist. I just watched Busta Rhymes in a video from MTV (link and video below) where he pays great respect to the young singer. It almost made me cry. Busta’s reaction definitely would not have happened ten years ago. And that, my friends, is fucking progress.

@teemunny

After you download the song, check out Frank’s letter in full and supportive tweets from his Odd Future family below…

 

 

 

Whoever you are, wherever you are, I’m beginning to think we’re a lot alike. Human beings spinning on blackness. All wanting to be seen, touched, heard, paid attention to. My loved ones are everything to me here. In the last year or 3 I’ve screamed at my creator. Screamed at clouds in the sky. For some explanation. Mercy maybe. For peace of mind to rain like manna somehow. 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. Most of the day I’d see him, and his smile. I’d hear his conversation and his silence … until it was time to sleep. Sleep I would often share with him. By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiation with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love, it changed my life. Back then, my mind would wander to the women I had been with, the ones I cared for and thought I was in love with. I reminisced about the sentimental songs I enjoyed when I was a teenager … the ones I played when I experienced a girlfriend for the first time. I realized they were written in a language I did not yet speak. I realized too much, too quickly. Imagine being thrown from a plane. I wasn’t in a plane though. I was in a Nissan Maxima, the same car I packed up with bags and drove to Los Angeles in. I sat there and told my friend how I felt. I wept as the words left my mouth. I grieved for them, knowing I could never take them back for myself. He patted my back. He said kind things. He did his best. But he wouldn’t admit the same. He had to go back inside soon. It was late and his girlfriend was waiting for him upstairs. He wouldn’t tell me the truth about his feelings for me for another 3 years. I felt like I’d only imagined reciprocity for years. Now imagine being thrown from a cliff. No, I wasn’t on a cliff. I was still in my car telling myself it was gonna be fine and to take deep breaths. I took the breaths and carried on. I kept up a peculiar friendship with him because I couldn’t imagine keeping up my life without him. I struggled to master myself and my emotions. I wasn’t always successful.

The dance went on … I kept the rhythm for several summers after. It’s winter now. I’m typing this on a plane back to Los Angeles from New Orleans. I flew home for another marred Christmas. I have a windowseat. It’s December 27, 2011. By now I’ve written two albums, this being the second. I wrote to keep myself busy and sane. I wanted to create worlds that were rosier than mine. I tried to channel overwhelming emotions. I’m surprised at how far all of it has taken me. Before writing this I’d told some people my story. I’m sure these people kept me alive; kept me sane … sincerely, these are the folks I wanna thank from the floor of my heart. Everyone of you knows who you are … great humans, probably angels. I don’t know what happens now, and that’s alrite. I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore. There’s probably some small shit still, but you know what I mean. I was never alone, as much as I felt like it … as much as I still do sometimes. I never was. I don’t think I ever could be. Thanks. To my first love. I’m grateful for you. Grateful that even though it wasn’t what I hoped for and even though it was never enough, it was. Some things never are … and we were. I won’t forget you. I won’t forget the summer. I’ll remember who I was when I met you. I’ll remember who you were and how we’ve both changed and stayed the same. I’ve never had more respect for life and living than I have right now. Maybe it takes a near death experience to feel alive. Thanks. To my mother, you raised me strong. I know I’m only brave because you were first … so thank you. All of you. For everything good. I feel like a free man. If I listen closely … I can hear the sky falling too.

 


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