While I was preparing to celebrate the 4th of July, I noticed an intriguing discussion on my Twitter timeline. A few of my friends and people I follow were tweeting about Frank Ocean reportedly coming out of the closet via his Tumblr account. Some were expressing great dismay about his revelation while others were felt that it was simply irrelevant. After reading Frank Ocean’s blog post for myself, I have a few ideas that I would like to add to the overall conversation.
1. Frank Ocean is not a household name.
After reading Ocean’s blog post, I made a point of talking about it with my family. I figured they would be able to let me know whether or not my overall stance was too controversial. Instead, I ended up with a surprising response from my cousin and my mother.
“Who is that?” they asked.
“He’s the guy with that song Novacane,” I responded.
“What song?” they asked again. Their expressions made it clear to me that they had no clue what I was talking about.
“He also did that song at the end of that Awkward Black Girl episode,” I continued, “The one when J was on the date with White Jay and she ran into Fred.”
“Oh,” my cousin responded, “I was too into the episode to remember that song.”
In an effort to plead a case for Frank Ocean’s musicianship, I decided to play “Thinking About You,” for them. The response was also mixed.
“This was a hit?” my mother asked in amusement. She was a bit more receptive to Bridget Kelly’s less popular version. (For the record, I actually appreciate Frank Ocean’s artistry. Besides, us baritones have to stick together.)
One could easily write this off as a plain case of the generation gap, but it still proves my point. My mother and my cousin are older than I am, but they are still familiar with a lot of current artists. We had just finished watching The Roots, Queen Latifah, Common, and Lauryn Hill perform on Philadelphia’s annual televised 4th of July concert together only a few days after tearing the BET Awards to shreds with the rest of the family. Frank Ocean may be talented, but his name does not carry the same weight as Jay-Z, Kanye, Chris Brown, Rihanna, Beyonce, or even Rick Ross (who made quite a horrible impression on the women in my family years ago for his insistence upon showing the world just how much he needs to go to the gym by performing shirtless at award shows.)
People were making it appear as if Frank Ocean’s announcement about his sexuality was going to make a big impact on the music industry due to his status, but the reality is that Frank Ocean a niche artist whose star is on the rise.
2. Frank Ocean’s sexuality still is not clear.
Based on the tweets and articles written about Frank Ocean’s sexuality, I assumed that he pulled an Anderson Cooper and went on record saying that he was gay. He didn’t. Instead, he told a well-written story about his first love being a man. It was a rather sentimental story about Ocean realizing he had fallen in love and confessing his feelings to his male friend who abruptly shut him down and went back home to his girlfriend only to admit that the feelings were mutual three years later. The story was meant to be included in his album credits as a means of giving his fans some insight into some of the personal experiences that inspired his music. Still, there was nothing in the story about what Frank Ocean is doing now and his admission to falling in love with a man only means that he could be bicurious, bisexual, or reformed DL instead of gay.
For those of you who are wondering why Frank Ocean is relevant to this blog, the answer is simple: some of the most disturbing comments I saw about Frank Ocean’s story came from church folk. As Christians, we are supposed to be showing God’s love to everyone—even those we don’t agree with. Unfortunately, Frank Ocean’s revelation just gave a lot of legalistic church folk the opportunity to spew hatred in the name of God.
This is problematic because there are a lot of people like Frank Ocean within our congregations. There are plenty of men and women who go to church every week and hide their personal struggles out of fear of what would happen to them if their problems ever were revealed. I am not only talking about the men and women out there whose sexual orientation is at odds with what many churches teach or even those involved in other forms of sexual sin. There are people who are caught up in situations involving physical abuse, mental illness, substance abuse, criminal activity, and other serious problems. However, they have no intention of stepping forward and asking for prayer because they have seen what happened to the few people who had enough courage to do so. The church is supposed to be a spiritual hospital, but no healing can take place without people admitting that they are in need of treatment.
In closing, I encourage everyone who reads this to examine whether or not our collective actions as the church are actually creating barriers for the spiritual healing of those in need.
Check out Frank Ocean’s blog post here.
“Thinking About You” – Frank Ocean – Please feel free to explain this video in the comments. I’m lost.