Once rampant speculation begins, the stereotypes aren’t far behind.
Even now, in the wake of Ocean writing about love in ways men and women, gay or straight, often cannot express so candidly, a lot of the media coverage has been led by the most effeminate picture of Frank Ocean one can find. Such feminizing, done unconsciously or not, is problematic. A shout out should go to the likes of Sylvester, one of the few who stood tall and proud, but not all men who love or have loved men are the same.
Frank Ocean adds much needed nuance to conversations about the kind of black men who can love other men.
Not surprisingly, one of the most vocal supporters of Frank Ocean’s decision to convey this outlook is his Odd Future brethren, Tyler the Creator.
“F**king Finally Sus Boy @frank_ocean Hahahaha, You Still Aint Got No B*tches Hahaha My Ni**a Dawg
My Big Brother Finally F**king Did That. Proud Of That Ni**a Cause I Know That Sh*t Is Difficult Or Whatever. Anyway. Im A Toilet.”
Some would suggest irony given Odd Future’s rampant use of gay slurs. However, much like Bassey Ikpi, who once wrote in defense of Odd Future’s right to free expression, I never actually found the group to be homophobic. With another gay member in tow who shares the group’s use of inflammatory lyrics, I found them all to be a bunch of kids who say stupid things for sport and attention. That’s something they learned from the likes of Eminem, various ’90s rockers, the dominant culture overall, and you know…the Internet.
Tyler is right, though, when he says, “that sh*t is difficult or whatever.”
It’s difficult because black male sexuality is still portrayed painfully linearly; difficult because he runs this risk of being stupidly typecast as “the gay singer;” difficult because something seemingly so simple like this is always complicated by people with prejudices.
Fortunately, he opened up anyway.
In the precursor to the “outing” post, Ocean wrote “my hope is that the babies born these days will inherit less of the bullsh*t than we did.”
Should they, it’ll be thanks in part to people like him.
Follow Michael Arceneaux on Twitter @youngsinick