Frank Ocean Comes Out and the Courage it Takes to be Revolutionary, Plus a Homophobic Backlash
If I could speak to him directly, I would say “Frank Ocean you have become revolutionary.” Every person that breaks normative ideas of sexuality and gender becomes a revolutionist. These paradigm shifters become life changing for every little boy that grew up wanting to put on a ballerina dress but couldn’t because of the fear of being made fun of at school. They become life changing for every little girl who grows not quite feeling like the body they have is consistently with the person they are inside, but couldn’t admit this because of the fear of being tagged as a dike. Each person that stands up –in the name of universal unprejudiced love— makes a mark on the lives of those young people who deliberate between suicidal thoughts and self-internalized homophobic tendencies.
Revolutionaries’ cannot hold that title without taking risk. They cannot impact the beliefs of the multitudes without putting themselves, their safety, their clout, their careers, their fame, their finances, their health, their well being, their dignity, their lives, their entire lives, on the line. Thus, when Frank Ocean decided to release a song in which he wrote a song to his first love that was identified with masculine pronouns, he did just that, put his life on the line. When he released a beautifully written letter about his first love, he put his life on the line and became revolutionary.
The Internet reveals blatant, honest, and sometimes ignorant truths. So when Frank Ocean revealed that he loved a man, we all watched closely as a tirade of homophobic comments were spewed into the twitter and facebook realms. These are Individuals who were hatefully typing out the names of the queer, the gay, the lesbians, the dike, the homosexual, and most famous, the faggot. Some spoke as if they felt disgusted to even have a same sex loving man on their itunes list. Others showed no mercy and attacked his life, his character, and his music.
Yes, even though there are many positive and empowering things that come from the Internet, the hate speech has got to be one of the worst residual effects. However, this hate does not take away from the power that Frank Ocean now has on young boys and girls who might be struggling to figure out who they are in a society that already oppresses them for identities that were chosen while they were still nestled in the womb. The negativity displayed on twitter cannot and will not take away from the lives that will be saved, the confusions that can be brought into clarity, and the once silenced role models now coming into the spotlight. Role models that I wish I had found when I was an 8th grader struggling with my sexuality.
Frank, you are now a role model for many. I hope others in the world (but more specifically the hip-hop and R&B world) follow your example and continue to break gender norms in multiple ways.