Music & Sexuality – Why Does It Still Matter?
GQ Magazine recently posted an extensive interview with Frank Ocean about everything from his upbringing, to how he came about releasing his music independently for free, to his open letter on Tumblr professing his bi-sexuality. This is only part of the interview on that subject, as an extension of this article (please go and read the full interview at GQ Magazine, it's riveting) on sexual preference in music and why it even matters. Why it does in any aspect of life, I'll never know.
Here's what Frank had to say about his open letter...
GQ: Let's talk about your open letter on Tumblr. Posting that must've felt like the hardest way.
Frank Ocean: Yes, absolutely.
GQ: So why did you do it? Were some people raising questions about the male pronouns in a few of the songs?
Frank Ocean: I had Skyped into a listening session that Def Jam was hosting for Channel Orange, and one of the journalists, very harmlessly—quotation gestures in the air, "very harmlessly"—wrote a piece and mentioned that. I was just like, "Fuck it. Talk about it, don't talk about it—talk about this." No more mystery. Through with that.
GQ: You'd written the letter back in December, for inclusion in the liner notes. Were you afraid of the aftermath when you finally posted it in July?
Frank Ocean: The night I posted it, I cried like a fucking baby. It was like all the frequency just clicked to a change in my head. All the receptors were now receiving a different signal, and I was happy. I hadn't been happy in so long. I've been sad again since, but it's a totally different take on sad. There's just some magic in truth and honesty and openness.
Music and art are supposed to be the most liberal forms of expression (as well as karaoke which doesn’t fit into either of those categories) and even in 2012, commentary on sexual preference, not to mention race, and superficial weight fluctuations still scream decibels louder than an artist’s actual music. And we encourage it!
In earlier news...
The media whipped into a suitable frenzy yesterday (4/7/12) over
Frank Ocean’s tumblr confession (where we all go to discuss personal matters these days) that his first love was a man - and taking a step back from the excess jubilation and #pride tweets – you have to wonder why this is still such a point of contention for artists, and why it still matters.
You have to wonder whether all the fuss is actually helping the cause…
Obviously in this case, what makes the story such a potent one, is the fact that Frank Ocean is part of Odd Future gang fronted by Tyler the Creator, who only last year was met with criticism over the homophobic nature of some of his lyrics.
Interestingly, he had this to tweet about it,
"My Big Brother Finally Fucking Did That. Proud Of That Nigga Cause I Know That Shit Is Difficult Or Whatever. Anyway. I'm A Toilet."
Does that mean Tyler hasn’t really been earnestly homophobic all along? If that’s the case I think I find that notion the most disturbing. Controversy sells, we all know that (Frank Ocean’s new album is out soon), but if he’s be touting slander just for the sake of it, that’s just irresponsible!
Here’s a more articulate statement released by Def Jam Records pioneer Russell Simmons today,
“Today is a big day for hip-hop. It is a day that will define who we really are. How compassionate will we be? How loving can we be? How inclusive are we? I am profoundly moved by the courage and honesty of Frank Ocean. Your decision to go public about your sexual orientation gives hope and light to so many young people still living in fear. These type of secrets should not matter anymore, but we know they do, and because of that I decided to write this short statement of support for one of the greatest new artists we have.
His gifts are undeniable. His talent, enormous. His bravery, incredible. His actions this morning will uplift our consciousness and allow us to become better people. Every single one of us is born with peace and tranquility in our heart. Frank just found his. Frank, we thank you. We support you. We love you.“
It’s a poignant and powerful statement from such a musical heavy weight… which notably calls the genre into question, rather than the entire music community.
My hope is it makes some kind of a difference and as Frank Ocean’s prefaced his statement, that “babies born these days will inherit less of the bullshit than we did".
Then maybe we can all shut up, hug and turn the music back up.