Thank You, Frank Ocean

07.04.2012

MUSIC

Thank you, Frank Ocean.

It’s true, we are a lot alike… “spinning on blackness. All wanting to be seen, touched, heard, paid attention to.” In your opening few lines, you simultaneously established your humanity, a burden far too often asked of same sex lovers, and acknowledged that in this age of hyper self- awareness, amplified in no small part by the social media medium in which you made your announcement, we are desperate to share. You shared one of the most intimate things that ever happened to you – falling in love with someone who wasn’t brave enough to love you back. Your relieving yourself of your “secret” is as much about wanting to honestly connect as it is about exhibition. We are all made better by your decision to share publicly.

You and Anderson Cooper have the same coming out calendar week in common, but in many obvious ways, you couldn’t be more different. Anderson Cooper is an heir to one of America’s great Industrial Age fortunes and a network professional whose maleness and whiteness backed by his considerable accomplishments guarantee him work. You are a young Black man from New Orleans who fled your still struggling city. You didn’t arrive in Los Angeles with generational wealth and privilege, only the beautiful lyrics and melodies that danced through you and your dream of making it in a music industry whose sand castles were crumbling.

You are in fact, connected to one of hip-hop’s great cadres, in the tradition of Oakland’s Heiroglyphics, The Native Tongues and The Juice Crew. Your music family, like all the rest, will likely grow apart, but in this moment Odd Future bends hip-hop’s imagination with utter abandon. You fulfill hip-hop’s early promise to not give a fuck about what others think of you. The 200 times Tyler says “faggot” and the wonderful way he held you up and down on Twitter today, Syd the Kid’s sexy stud profile and her confusing, misogynistic videos speak to the many contradictions and posturing your generation inherited from the hip-hop generation before you. I’m sure you know a rumor about Big Daddy Kane having AIDS and with it, the suggestion that he was bisexual, effectively ended his career. You must have seen the pictures of pioneer Afrika “Baby Bam” from the Jungle Brothers in drag and read the blogs ridiculing him, despite the fact that he’s been leading a civilian life for nearly two decades. I know as a singer you love Rahsaan Patterson and bemoan the fact that homophobia prevented him from being the huge star his talent deserves. Only last month Queen Latifah unnecessarily released a statement denying that her performing at a Gay Pride event meant she was finally affirming her identity for thousands of Black girls. Imagine if Luther had been able to write, as you closed your letter, “I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore…I feel like a free man.”

But you’re not an activist. You’re a Black man in America whose star is on the rise, working in hip-hop and soul, where gender constructs are cartoonishly fixed. Your colleague Drake is often attacked with homophobic slurs when he simply displays vulnerability in his music. He seems to respond by following those moments of real emotion with bars that put “hoes” in their proverbial place. But you’re a beautiful songwriter (your question to Jay and Kanye, “What’s a King to a God?” on their own song on an album about their kingdom, was brilliantly sly). Your letter is revolutionary not least of all because it is about love. It is about falling in love and feeling rejected and carrying both that love and rejection with you through life. The male pronoun of the object of your desire is practically incidental. We have all been in a love that felt “malignant…hopeless” from which “there was no escaping, no negotiating.” Your promise to your first love, that you won’t forget him, that you’ll remember how you changed each other, is so full of love and grace.

You were born in the ’80s, when gay rights activists were seizing the streets of New York and other major world cities, fighting for visibility and against a disease that threatened to disappear them. The cultural shifts created from those struggles in some ways make your revelation about your fluid sexuality less shocking than it would have been decades before. Still, there are real risks with coming out as a man who loved a man. I hope you hear and are reading the hundreds of thousands of people who have your back.

We admire the great courage and beauty and fearlessness in your coming out, not only as a bisexual Black man, but as a broken hearted one. The tender irony that your letter is to a boy who was unable to return your love until years later because he was living a lie is the only truly tragic detail about your letter. A million twirls on this spinning ocean blue globe in this vast endless blackness for you my love.

  • Sam Tecle

    dream. does. it. again. This is so dope. dream helping us make sense of the limitless space blackness can occupy when we are fiercely creative, open, vulnerable and unapologetically loving.

  • http://twitter.com/SaudaAinra Dr. Khadija Jones

    This is simply beautiful and riveting. Today we just want to know “who’s getting fucked in the ass or who’s licking whose clit; we really dont want to know who one loves” Sadly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kiddcash Qux Rio

    Dynamite.

  • http://www.noveltyblend.com/ Christine Eboseta

    dream hampton. woman. well said.

  • Anonymous

    *about how

  • Anonymous

    Blessings to Frank Ocean. It’s amazing how some people are worried about this will affect his album sales. Forget all that! This must be a huge weight lifted off his spirit, and only good can come from living your truth.

  • Anonymous

    Beautifully said!

  • Thadd

    Thank you Frank Ocean for your courage and for sharing your truth with us on Independence Day. Another thank you to Dream Hampton for writing this incredible open letter in response.

  • Anonymous

    Speechless and moved. Who you love doesn’t define who are…..

  • http://twitter.com/BROOKLYNSANTORO Bk

    well written dream….

  • Mr Martelo

    this is absolutely brilliant. so well put and so sincere.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Fanon-Wilkins/610164992 Fanon Wilkins

    fist pumpin’ in the air ova here. dream you brought it!!!

  • Anonymous

    Absolutely phenomenal! Dream hampton – Absolute blessings!

  • http://twitter.com/SunSing SunSingleton

    Compassion is a cool river flowing through you, my sis! I’m ever so thankful for your voice in our hip hop culture, where we cringe, disown and point fingers as we publicly struggle with its various sexual hypocrisies, not least of which turned what was once a dialogue between genders into a posturing monologue with a strict, minstrelsy-era dress code. As you’ve brilliantly pointed out, dream, Frank is a true pioneer, and a wonderful new symbol of personal freedom, on Independence Day no less, in a culture that desperately needs to embrace the full scope of our shared humanity, let our shoulders drop and just breathe deeply. Bless you my sis!

  • http://twitter.com/theFameKING Nkechi Nwagwu

    well written

  • http://twitter.com/SheKreateLife Krea Gomez

    Dream Hampton, thank you as well.

  • http://twitter.com/MollyGreathouse Molly Greathouse

    Love this so much!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000744262872 Tre Vaughn Taylor

    Flawless , embracing such a moment to capture a beautiful moment to fondle with and enjoy! such great wordly connections he’s not a differnt man. His lyrics may increase because he can use both genders to reflect his pain , love and joy within. I still COMMEND HIM GREATLY. He didn’t have to do any of this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Minkah-Makalani/8843212 Minkah Makalani

    Brilliantly said!

  • http://twitter.com/thee_PRODIGY C. Sonnier, M.D.

    Brilliantly written!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=755239306 Rose Sadler

    Probably some of the most prolific words ever written….Frank Ocean must be feeling the weight has been lifted and his decision to come out was the best thing he has ever done…he is a young man who has more guts than so so many other guys in his position…so proud of him and of Mr Ocean….

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=755239306 Rose Sadler

    Sorry…Mr. Hampton*

  • http://www.facebook.com/torrell.bryant Torrell LaFlare Bryant

    who wrote this?? good stuff

  • Anonymous

    Frank Ocean gave us the truth and Dream Hampton replied with truth and they are both the truth and I salute them.

  • Reg Barnes

    great stuff again, Dream. the pronouns are all incidental..the love is universal.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/D5XZ6NMSFW6S3AJF7NNA7UVBEA Rap

    Leviticus 20:13 – If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

  • Phylicia Marshall

    I hate when people quote the Bible, it’s so hypocritical. As if you haven’t committed a sin before. I totally respect Frank Ocean for what he did and I also respect Jay-z for supporting him. It’s about time people began to accept everyone, regardless of their differences.

  • http://katriname.com KatrinaME

    <3

  • http://twitter.com/Reneh Rene Holder

    Show me a Christian in these times that practises Jewish Mosaic Law and I’ll take to heart their convection for what is said in Leviticus 20:13… Till then in my view their point is mute

    To Frank: Life is a 4 letter word, live your life bro don’t let a 3 letter word determine all of who you are or who you want to be

  • http://blackonpurpose.blogspot.com/ gryph

    hey dream,

    i don’t think that JAY-HOVA would be put off by the `what’s a king to a god’ line, maybe the next one ‘what’s a god to non-believer’. but given that the song was meant to be ‘revolutionary’ and about over coming social obstacles i don’t think it was really a dig at jay.

    further, how do you not mention people like kweli, prodigy or even weeks ago the very same jay-z saying that there could be space in hip-hop for a gay rapper or singer?

    there are plenty convenient ahistoicism in your piece. it seems to be more about you positioning yourself as a `godmother’ or `auntie’ of some sort rather than track the social and cultural developments that lead to frank ocean being comfortable enough to do what he did.

    frank ocean ‘coming out’, and likely the responses from people like tyler the creator, is pretty strategic. and, odds are (snicker) he’s had ss experiences that don’t at all conform to the ‘heartbreak-illicit’ love trope used in his coming out letter. yet, he didn’t share those.

    and, while you rightly went after drake, just how did you miss frank’s `brilliantly sly’ misogyny in ‘pyramid’ where THE black woman devolves from being a queen/goddess in ancient egypt to an ‘exotic dancer’ and literally a whore? hmm. selective critical thinking.

    glad that he is getting support but why talk as if the whole thing isn’t a bit contrived? i think we need more from our public intellectuals than fluffing and favor currying.

  • Anonymous

    Dream,

    Thank you for writing this piece.

  • Anonymous

    Dream,

    Thank you for writing this piece.

  • http://twitter.com/DelanorPage Tyler A. Davis

    People’s perceptions are so one minded. Everybody has their own way of living, and…quite honestly, I don’t see Frank Ocean’s any different. These types of things go on around us, everyday. But, you are telling me, just because he is a BLACK African American, star singer, that he doesn’t have a right to live how he wants? That is blasphemy. Although it might not be my preference, that doesn’t make him less of an human being. I congratulate him. It is a weight up off of his shoulders, and now…he can just watch and see how many people are going to “hate” him for doing what he FELT and not what society would expect, which is him keeping silent. I’m glad Jay-Z is supporting this type of stuff, as well. It goes to show you, these things NEED to exist. Especially, in a day and age, where so many people are killing themselves, because they do not know how to handle similar situations.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/OZQBO6XNZOVDVURP3FH6OZKYXU Dy

    Eloquent…genius with a pen

  • Anonymous

    I’m just glad he’s free. I wish Luther was alive. He took that thing to the grave. I can’t believe you called out Latifah like that. While I admit her half closet status frustrates me on behalf of her lovers that don’t get to share her many special moments in the spotlight, I respect her decision to hide. Homophobes are scary.

  • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Mrs_Rance: I don’t see it as an attack on Latifah for being closeted, so much as an attack on the idea of making a big deal of fervently denying that you’re gay – as if it’s something that needs damage control.

  • shadypotential

    Geez man. like the nigga come out with his first album before you declare him all this shit

  • Anonymous

    To Frank Ocean, I commend you for your bravery for coming to term with who you are and openly expressing it. You might have lost a number of fans who are ignorant and homophobes but fuck em…you don’t need them…. what you did just may have gained you an even wider audience anyways…count me in as one of them. Just keep on writing beautiful songs with beautiful lyrics!

  • http://www.facebook.com/paul.hanekamp Paul Pål Hanekamp

    WOW

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=619538163 Brendan Kennedy

    thank you

  • http://www.facebook.com/vanessa.carrillo.796 Vanessa Carrillo

    The positive/negative comments on here and everywhere else is only more proof that the gay revolution is here (or as I like to call it – the LOVE revolution) and it’s not going to end until things like don’t matter.. Frank Ocean’s story is as beautiful as his voice and music… Let him share it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vanessa.carrillo.796 Vanessa Carrillo

    *ratio of positve comments to negative ones

  • Lakeyetta Reed

    Amazing

  • http://twitter.com/DAtGirLTaY DatGIrLTaY

    This is why I love Dream Hampton. Very powerful letter. And Frank, be you, I love your music, no matter what your sexual preference is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tomekia-Strickland/711488587 Tomekia Strickland

    I agree with DatGIrLTaY: “This is why I love Dream Hampton.” Your courageous confident words, collective “love” energy, profound insight and compassion is both phenomenal and inspiring…

  • Robert Chapman

    But the only thing Frank Ocean came out of was the hiding, if that is the right word, is the fact that his first love was a man. This fact is not enough to define his entire identity. By us assumming that he is bisexual as you write, Dream, we erase the choice that his coming forth allows by placing his into an identity that he never claimed. One love, one experience is not enough to define a future, much less freeze an identity that should be constantly shaped by the sum of many expereinces and evole into what it is meant to be, without our defining it based on one thing. Until he claims it we should not name it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=609667397 Dustin Koda

    The crux of the matter is Frank Ocean was gonna be gay whether he put it out there or not. So when people stop buying his music on the premise that it is because he is “gay” is moot because he has been gay since he has been writing the music that you copped. The only difference is now you know what it is and NOW you gonna try to act brand new?? The only thing that changed is he came with the real and not without great risk. People always talk about keeping it real, which is exactly what he’s done and now yall wanna put him on blast? Lame. Hip hop heads is funny always rapping about Louis, Gucci, Yves St Laurent, etc; who do you think is making these clothes? For the most part, gay men? If you aren’t able to enjoy someone’s music based on something that doesn’t even concern you, it’s time for you to look a little deeper and re-examine your own life. Real recognize real. No wonder all these fake bustas is hating. Bless up Frank Ocean and Dream Hampton for honesty and this critical piece.

  • http://www.facebook.com/flowpresents Gabby Valentino

    this was a wonderfully written article. it was like music filled with substance. oh and the fact that frank ocean was the topic and coming out the backdrop made this a beautiful scenery. your writing is live!

  • Mila

    This man is a legend in the making, no doubt.

  • Faye Daigler

    this is beautiful. thank you.

  • Julia Johnson

    written very well

  • Mr.Rude

    BREAKING NEWS…….. frank ocean has made a remix called NO DICK IN THE WILD !….lmaooooooooooo

  • http://www.facebook.com/Hoecake Amanda Hellsten

    This was a beautiful letter, I am so glad he came out. It makes me look bright on the future. That a man like you, a top dog in the hip hop industry supports him is also incredible and very good to sway public opinion, Thanks man, when my brother died 3 year ago i used you music in a way to cope with the loss and pain, since he also was a huge fan and taugt me to love yur music, /amanda

  • http://twitter.com/SinnermanPrada Sinnerman

    First, the kid didn’t “come out.” He never said he was gay. He said he fell in love with a man once. That doesn’t make him gay or bi. I think his admission speaks to the fluidity of sexuality. How the hip-hop community took this “coming out” and ran with it, speaks to how we are so quick to put people in a box because its simpler to understand. Also, who is this letter for? Is it a letter to pat Jay-Z on the back for sorta being ok with a guy that may be gay? Is it a self-congratulatory letter for the hip-hop community for being “totally ok” with Ocean “coming out?” As if this is the first time we have ever though of queer or lgbt folks as humans. I feel like this has become less about Frank Ocean and more about straight people being ok with it. That is a huge problem.

  • http://twitter.com/SinnermanPrada Sinnerman

    I wrote a critique, they took it down…of course. bruised egos and shit.

  • Mike Goldby

    was talking about coopers white privilege really necessary?

  • Katrina Monroe

    It’s INCORRECT to call this man Bisexual, that is the point that many people making so called negative comments are saying. He has never had sexual relations with a man, and the only pronoun to give him is Bi Curious, if anything. Sexual fluidity is really no one’s business, and though his letter (Frank’s) is amazing and so open, it’s not enough to label him. Like we need labels anyway. And anyway, these so called fans should have known about his feelings since the Lonny Breaux Mixtape, considering he sang love songs about a boy on their anyway… You guys just weren’t listening, which is shocking considering you “love” him so much. Let the man be, let him make his amazing ass music and shut up.

  • http://twitter.com/bKnEwStAsH $t@$h -Mr. 3 Spliffs

    Its funny how ppl pick and choose what parts of the Bible to follow. God clearly destroyed Sodom and Gamorrah. But humans will overlook things just so they can live freely. Wait til he comes back and you have to explain yourselves.

  • http://www.project-management-software.net/ Dwight Smith

    I admired the article…Thanks Frank Ocean…

  • http://www.electroniccigaretteonline.org/ Mike Cosah

    Loss in the industry…Well never forget you..

  • http://www.winterolympics2014.org/ Benly Denver

    me too Dwight.. Thanks for the Article Frank Ocean

  • http://www.masseffect3.net/ Simon Lopez

    You’re right Tre. He is amazing. I love what he wrote and very interesting.

  • http://www.coffee-shopping.com/ Sophia Andersen

    King of Hip hop. He is an Idol. Frank Ocean You’re great!

  • http://www.youtube-converter.us/ James Pearl

    Very frank person.

  • Todd

    It certainly was. It helped to highlight the great risk involved in Ocean’s decision to come out through juxtaposition. Because of both his privilege and the more enlightened culture of his industry, Cooper didn’t make nearly as big a gamble when he decided to come out as Frank did. Ocean, on the other hand, works in an industry where one’s sexuality is practically the foundation of one’s career, and he’s just starting out. His courage is outstanding.

  • Mateus Prado Sousa

    how a straigh man can identify with Forrest Gump song???

  • http://twitter.com/eyeora Babelon

    yet, ‘miss frank’ was necessary?

  • http://blackonpurpose.blogspot.com/ gryph

    i made like ten different points. that’s all you go to say? lol

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