Hol to the ler, #TeamBlaria! I’m back in town after a nice vacay with my boo
and I have a multiple question for ya. What did my bf and I do while in Puerto Rico?: A) hiked in El Yunque, which is the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest System, B) frolicked on the beach and got minor sunburns, C) while Ginuwine’s Pony played in the background, I said to him:
or D) all of the above. If you guessed “C” then you, my friends, are wrong. Eddie Murphy’s Whatzupwitu was playing in the background. Kidding! “C” didn’t happen. You guys are gross.
Moving on. A lot happened during my hiatus last week. The BET Awards, Chris Rock pissed off a bunch of people with his racial 4th of July tweet and Malia Obama turned fourteen years old. Holy shit. Seemed like yesterday that she had Rudy Huxtable pigtails and now she’s probably begrudgingly sending President Obama (or more likely, someone in his camp) to the store to get her tampons like Lucy sent her dad Rev. Eric Camden on that episode of 7th Heaven…You know that awkward moment when you accidentally out yourself for watching 7th Heaven? Anyway, that awk moment doesn’t have anything on the most amazing thing that happened last week, which was rapper Frank Ocean intentionally outing himself in a letter entitled “Thank Yous” that he posted on his Tumblr.
If you haven’t gotten around to reading his touching and beautiful letter, you can read it here. Just scroll down to the fourth post from the top on the homepage. Sure, Ocean’s letter doesn’t have the directness that’s typical of those in the spotlight. There’s no point blank “I’m gay” declaration. Yet, what his letter lacks in a ready made headline, it makes up for in its honesty and vulnerability. And there’s no denying that in an age of “no homo,” which has to be the dumbest phrase of the past couple of decades (“real talk,” a phrase I say all the time, is a close second, mainly because in R. Kelly’s Real Talk video, he’s wearing a bedazzled Tony Soprano-esque track suit and half his cornrows are undone, which is just Ignorance Maximus. Do your damn hair before you turn on the camera. That’d be like if Katy Perry had a music video that was set in the bathtub and she’s rocking a shower cap, but trying to be sexy. It’s like, “Bitch, you’re wearing a shower cap and some oil of Olay soap suds are chilling on it. Rub-a-dub-dub your ass outta here ‘cuz you jacked up my boner.” Point is, not having your hair presentation ready when shooting your music video is Code Level Ridic), and every rapper proclaiming:
it is truly a new day in the world of Hip Hop the second Frank published this letter. And not just for the reason you think.
Obviously, the gay/bisexuality factor is major and the star of the letter. Hip Hip is notorious for its homophobia. Just to be clear, I don’t classify all Hip Hop as that because it clearly isn’t. You have amazing people like A Tribe Called Quest, Kendrick Lamar, and countless others who don’t have anti-gay lyrics. Good. Now back to the point. By Frank coming forward and expressing that he had romantic feelings for a man, and even though the man was not ready to reciprocate, this is a GIANT step in there being gay and lesbian acceptance in the Hip Hop community. Soon after Ocean published this letter, Jay Z and Tyler the Creator both issued public statements of support. Would that have happened ten years ago? I doubt it. Not only do I doubt that the coming out would have happened ten years ago, but I also doubt the support from other artists because there would be concern over their support affecting their own record sales. So the fact that none of that matters in the light of the embrace of an artist revealing who he truly is no small feat.
In fact, the more I think about Frank’s letter, I’m happy he didn’t write the classic “I’m gay” proclamation. I mean, if this letter was written by a heterosexual artist, he wouldn’t write, “I fell in love with a woman. I’m straight.” It would just be “I fell in love with a woman.” Just like I don’t refer to my boyfriend as my “white boyfriend,” Frank writing about how he fell in love with a man the way he did, he’s putting it in a context, I believe, of normalcy. I met someone. I fell in love with him. I breathe air. The end. These are all things that just simple happen. But more than just normalcy, I also believe by not writing “I’m gay,” Frank actually made his coming out less of a circus. It seemed as though since he removed any chance of the media to just plaster “I’m gay” on every newspaper and website, he left them with his explanation of how heartbroken he was over being rejected by the man he fell in love, the revelation that this was his first love, and other excerpts that are frank more important than his sexual orientation. We’ve all be rejected. We all know what it’s like to be with someone and LOVE every minute of it. All of that is universal. By not writing “I’m gay,” he removed any chance of people disregarding Frank’s letter as a LGBT moment and made it a human moment. This is not to say that I don’t think there is value in people like Wanda Sykes and Anderson Cooper coming out and saying “I’m gay,” but I just think it’s refreshing that Frank went this route, unintentional or not, because he’s writing about love and that’s something everyone can relate to and doesn’t have to be categorized.
Not only is love something that’s universal, but it’s not often discussed with such truth in hip hop. Sure, there ‘s the obligatory songs dedicated to Moms and relatives who passed away. But Frank’s frank discussion about loving someone and dealing with rejection isn’t, in general, viewed as masculine behavior. It’s more like, “Yeah, you’re heartbroken. Suck it up and move on. Don’t be a pussy.” That’s what the average guy is taught, especially in male-dominated industries like rap. So by Frank doing this, he ignoring societal expectations of male behavior, which is a bold move. Not that I’m suggesting that male rappers need to turn into a bunch of Adeles, but this “all man, no homo, no emotions” isn’t the only way to be a mainstream rapper anymore. Frank is opening the door for more multidimensional artists to emerge in the future. Only time will tell how hip will change and how fast that change will happen, but I fairly certain that hip hop will not be the same as it was pre-Frank Ocean’s letter.
Tonight, Frank Ocean is going to be on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. You should check him out. Not only because it would be great for an openly gay musician to get support. But also because he’s hella talented.
In closing, I think it’s only appropriate to end this post with the video to Whatzupwitu because the song is now stuck in my head, so I want to you join me in my misery. Enjoy and I’ll see you on Wednesday for the 50th Blaria post (we got there quickly, didn’t we?) and for a super exciting ANNOUNCEMENT. My frohawk and I:
are bursting at the seams to tell you the good news! Whee!