It’s doubtful Frank Ocean will forget this week. The R&B performer used his Tumblr account to describe a passionate relationship with a man.
Thus far, as reported by the New York Times, the response to Ocean’s coming out has been met with encouragement. He is swimming in new territory because none to few mainstream R&B singers have been out. However, the muted reaction to his confession shows there has been a major shift in attitudes.
‘Ten or 15 years ago Frank Ocean could never have come out,’ Mark Anthony Neal, a professor of African-American studies at Duke University, said to the newspaper. ‘It would have been death to his career.’
Joan Morgan, author of ‘When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: My Life as a Hip-Hop Feminist,’ echoed Neal.
‘To even have a climate where a relatively young person — he’s 24 — is comfortable enough not only to intimate this in his lyrics but to make a statement about it and put it on Tumblr says we have come a way as a society,’ Morgan said to the newspaper.
Outside of changing mores, it doesn’t hurt to have two musical titans in your corner. Jay-Z and Russell Simmons both have given Ocean kudos for his announcement.
However, as the article notes, the 24 year old is in the music business. What his coming out means will be judged by record sales. Later this month his debut album, ‘Channel Orange,’ will be released.
‘It’s going to be a kind of litmus test,’ filmmaker and author Nelson George said to the Times. ‘You can’t really know the real impact of this for six months to a year.’