R&B singer Frank Ocean writes the most moving, poetic coming out letter

I didn’t know who this guy Frank Ocean was either, in case you’re wondering, but he seems to be an up and coming R&B artist and songwriter on the brink of something. He’s just 24, and has already collaborated with Jay-Z and Kanye on Watch The Throne. He’s also opened for Coldplay and appeared at Coachella. GQ named him “Rookie of the Year” late last year in their “Men of The Year” issue, and he’s got his first solo album, “Channel Orange,” coming out July 17. (Videos for two of his songs are below, but they’re earlier singles and are not on this new album.) In the liner notes of his “Channel Orange,” Ocean comes out either as a gay or bisexual man, it’s hard to specify, by telling a moving story about falling in love with a male friend at the age of 19. He should be writing books. Normally we wouldn’t cover a story about someone coming out when they don’t have big name recognition, but this is just so well written that I couldn’t pass it up. Ocean posted this to his Tumblr in response to speculation over the lyrics to his music.

4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I’d see him, and his smile. I’d hear his conversation and his silence … until it was time to sleep. Sleep I would often share with him. By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love, it changed my life. Back then, my mind would wander to the women I had been with, the ones I cared for and thought I was in love with. I reminisced about the sentimental songs I enjoyed as a teenager.. The ones I played when I experienced a girlfriend for the first time. I realized they were written in a language I did not speak yet. I realized too much, too quickly. Imagine being thrown from a plane. I wasn’t in a plane though. I was in a Nissan Maxima, the same one I packed up with bags and drove to Los Angeles in.

I sat there and told my friend how I felt. I wept as the words left my mouth. I grieved for them, knowing I could never take them back for myself. He patted my back. He said kind things. He did his best, but he wouldn’t admit the same. He had to go back inside soon. It was late and his girlfriend was waiting for him upstairs. He wouldn’t tell me the truth about his feelings for me for another 3 years. I felt like I’d only imagined reciprocity for years. Now imagine being thrown from a cliff. No, I wasn’t on a cliff, I was still in my car telling myself it was gonna be fine and to take deep breaths. I took the breaths and carried on. I kept up a peculiar friendship with him because I couldn’t imagine keeping up my life without him. I struggled to master myself and my emotions. I wasn’t always successful.

[From Frank Ocean's Tumblr via D-Listed]

That made me cry. It gets better, it’s so lovely and poetic and he thanks the people who have helped him. He seems to have come to an understanding about why his friend rejected him, and about who he is as a person. He has gratitude and a sense of knowing now. I can’t remember being as moved by something I read as I was by these passages. Here’s more:

The dance went on. I kept the rhythm for several summers after. It’s winter now. I’m typing this on a plane back to Los Angeles from New Orleans. I flew home for another marred Christmas. I have a windowseat.

It’s December 27, 2011. By now I’ve written two albums. This being the second. I wrote to keep myself busy and sane. I wanted to create worlds that were rosier than mine. I tried to channel overwhelming emotions. I’m surprise at how far all of it has taken me. Before writing this I’d told some people my story. I’m sure these people kept me alive, kept me safe. Sincerely, these are the folks I wanna thank from the floor of my heart. Everyone of you knows who you are.

Great humans, probably angels. I don’t know what happens now. And that’s alrite. I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore. There’s probably some small shit still, but you know what I mean. I was never alone, as much as it felt like it. As much as I still do sometimes. I never was. I don’t think I ever could be. Thanks.

To my first love, I’m grateful for you. Grateful that even thought it wasn’t what I hoped for and even thought it was never enough, it was. Some things never are. And we were. I won’t forget you. I won’t forget the summer. I’ll remember who I was when I met you. I’ll remember who you were and how we’ve both changed and stayed the same. I’ve never had more respect for life and living than I have right now. Maybe it takes a near death experience to feel alive. Thanks.

To my mother. You raised me strong. I know I’m only brave because you were first. So thank you. All of you. For everything good. I feel like a free man. If I listen closely, I can hear the sky falling too.

[From Frank Ocean's tumblr via OMGGhana]

That’s beautiful, right? I wish Ocean all the success in the world, and very little of the negativity. I get the impression that he’s above it all anyway. I’m going to pay a lot more attention to this guy from now on, and so is the rest of the world.

Update: After I wrote this story, I found this glowing profile of Ocean in the NY Times, published yesterday.

Here’s his song “Novacane.” It has F bombs and is NSFW. He basically says he’s screwing a lot of women and just can’t feel anything. Here’s a link to the lyrics.

And “Swim Good,” about heartbreak.

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53 Responses to “R&B singer Frank Ocean writes the most moving, poetic coming out letter”

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  1. NeNe says:

    Good for you man!!! As many haters as there are, I know there are just as many supporters. Love is love. You are feel to love whomever you choose to love!! As for the haters (homophob), they can take a flying leap off a short cliff.

  2. Sarah says:

    Honesty is a beautiful thing and so is the love he and his mother have for each other

  3. Deniz says:

    He’s a beautiful human being. Love his music.

  4. Naye in VA says:

    Better song for you CB “Thinking Bout You”. Have a listen, youll love it.

  5. marie says:

    That was beautifully said and I wish him all the luck in the world..

    • Maguita says:

      “Imagine being thrown from a plane”, seems quite clearly to me Frank’s realization that he is gay.

      African American men are more often challenged to live up to the player lifestyle. The straight player lifestyle, to be most accurate.

      Imagine spending the first 19 years of your life following that motto, and one day, realizing that you’ve fallen in love with a man. It is like a vertiginous fall off a cliff. With no back-up security parachute.

      What’s even more, rappers, R & B singers, are NOT ALLOWED to be gay. They are supposed to look and act like players. No matter their disgusting treatment of women on film, and for some, behind the scenes.

      Love has no sex. Only hatred puts boundaries.

      Why people still don’t understand that and accept it as natural is beyond me. All those “normal” societal and acceptable gender dictated behaviors put upon men and women is not only unacceptable, but truly illogical!

      How many times have you met couples where the man is delicate, and the woman is tough? How many times were you surprised that a man takes care of household chores, and his female partner, the breadwinner, takes care of all things that our Eastern society dictates as “manly”?

      A true couple is one that balances out each other. No matter societal gender-descriptive behavior. No matter one’s physical “wrappings”.

      Besides, if by gender-descriptive societal behavior of what a man should act and look like, and what his wife should act and look like, well… Wouldn’t that make Michelle Bachman’s marriage to Marcus Bachman null and void, in the eyes of those same laws dictating gender-appropriate behavior within a “marriage”?

      Bravo to Frank. And on a snarky CeleBitchy note, I bet Kanye is jealous. Maybe he won’t want to be a K! no more?

      Frank might give a lot more men in the industry, the courage to come out! I will be buying/downloading his songs from now on, that is for sure.

  6. Laura says:

    God for him I guess. Never heard of this guy before, he sure got a lot of attention for this…

  7. Kim1 says:

    Be strong, Frank .Yesterday I visited about twenty blogs and websites mostly hiphop sites comments were about 60% positive
    Some calling him a DL brother because he dated women or hypocrite because his group lyrics were sometimes homophobic using antigay slurs.We will see how he is received.I have some Gay friends who are going to buy cd even though they are not fans of his type of music

  8. cupidityrox! says:

    That was really moving. I wanna give him a hug.. It’ll get better Frankie.. Believe

    • Naye in VA says:

      I love what he says here
      “Grateful that even thought it wasn’t what I hoped for and even thought it was never enough, it was. Some things never are. And we were. I won’t forget you.”

      It sounds like he found peace with the situation, which is wonderful.Thats exactly how i now look at the love i lost. Grateful for the experience although it couldnt be what i wanted, it happened and im better because of it. He’s right. Some people never get that feeling.

  9. Jayna says:

    This is gutsy because he’s not in the twilight of his career where it doesn’t matter as much. Plus, in this genre it’s a bold move to admit it. Great letter.

  10. miriam says:

    This is exactly the type of positive story the LGBTQ community needs to help break down those barriers and pressures that face people who feel that they are alone and too afraid to be their true selves. Well done to this guy and good luck to him.

  11. Samigirl says:

    There is so much homophobia in the African American community (or so my gay “black” friends tell me), so I am really pleased to see this. The way he went about it was beautiul, and I kind of love him for it. I’ll buy some of his stuff just for support :)

    • Mimi says:

      Yeah especially for him being in the music industry, it can be even harder to come out. I am happy for him and wish him the best.

      • Laura says:

        Yes, black people are generally considered (through polling and anthropological data) to be the most homophobic ethnic/racial group in the world.

      • T.C. says:

        Blacks are more homophobic than Catholic Hispanics and Muslim Middle-Eastern people? I don’t know about that. The Black Church has a lot to do with homophobia in that community. Haven’t met a non religious African-American who is homophobic.

      • littlemissnaughty says:

        Really? I don’t know about that. It’s a pretty strong statement. Are we really talking all over the world? As in, black people (let’s go with race to make it clear) ALL over the world are the most homophobic? I seriously doubt that there is data to back this up, especially for African countries.
        But even if it were true, that suggests it has something to do with race when it doesn’t. It’s always a cultural thing.

      • Xas says:

        I don’t know if this is true around the world, but I know some cases, where is a true statement in a limited social environment.

        Yes, the catholics and muslims have the theorical stigma of the religion but in the case of African American community we have the religion and the race. In the case of race, there’s a relation between homosexuality with “white decadence” – As if the homosexuality is only exclusively for the white people. Also, the catholic and muslim homosexual have the advantage of a secret double life if this person made his/her responsabilities: Marrying and having kids. The African American have to face this and the stigma of his/her identity.

        Again, I don’t say this is the only truth… It’s only an interpretation of diferents experiences I had. Maybe they’re other answers to that question.

        BTW: Good for Frank Ocean…

        P.S.: Sorry for my English…

  12. jackie says:

    That was beautiful and I hope to one day live in a world, for me or my kids, where people can live and love without stigmas placed on them. All the best to him, I too will be looking for him and appreciate the bravery it took for him to share a bit of his soul.

  13. Agnes says:

    that’s very sweet and moving. good for him. wish him the best of luck! :)

    • Kim1 says:

      We are more religous as a group the Black Church has been the foundation of our community.The more religious a group is the more likely to be homophobic.I still find that more of my White Gay friends have been rejected or disowned by their family than my Black gay friends.

      • Trollontheloose says:

        I grew up in France and one of my friend was a lesbian. And Muslim. It tormented her. Not knowing how to come out or even IF she could/should come out. Then we went to college together and we shared a tiny apartment. One day I suggested she cut her hair few inches, she cut the whole thing! Then she started to dress just a bit differently, less feminine clothes. I think what she couldn’t tell to her parents she mirrored her own image thru clothes. A mini rebellion. 2 years later she came out to some friends and it was liberating. When she told her parents it went down the hill. I couldn’t bare her pain. Then gradually they start to heal together. Her parents are not supportive of her lifestyle but they kind of tolerate it. In this type of situation you are never a whole, you are half in one side and half in the other. I mean the amount to avoid some situations, or introducing your girlfriend and on an on..

  14. Sassypants says:

    This makes me like him and Kanye West all the more. How brave and beautiful! You see Frank is Kanye’s protege, one of his most talented stars. I’m really proud that Kanye obviously didn’t give a shit about it and STILL collaborated with him heavily on Watch the Throne with JayZ and on his upcoming cd (the one he has songs discussing his relationships with men supposedly). Good music is good music but I’m glad he has such support, it makes me think he won’t have such a hard time….

    • lw says:

      Frank Ocean is FANTASTIC. And a lot of Kanye’s crew is openly gay. Kanye is the one who should come on out of the closet instead of shamming it up with KK. Ye may not be gay, but no one can convince me he is not bisexual at the very least.

  15. sarahtonin says:

    Good luck to him. I also wish him all the success in the world, and the strength to focus on the positivity from well wishers and ignore the haters. Hope he inspires others to find the courage stand up as well when they feel it is their time.

    Love is love.

  16. Jordan says:

    Good for him. It was a beautiful letter. I hope his new album does well. He is a better singer than Chris Brown, although up to now, his songs haven’t been as catchy which is why he is not as known. But he is definitely talented.

  17. Darlene says:

    Good for him. I wish him well and I hope his career goes well.

  18. Bayarealife says:

    There is a lot of homophobia in the black community indeed but I’m from San Francisco and have yet to have a gay black friend or family member be disowned by the family. They don’t like it but they deal. Our community is known for some true ignorance but disowning is not a common thing. I am a huge frank ocean fan. Thinking about you is one of my favorite songs of all time. His coming out really didn’t change a thing. I don’t have an opinion of him being gay positive or negative because so many guys are gay anyway. The actual coming out is brave as hell but he’s in the best possible social climate to do it.

  19. Snark says:

    I don’t think I’ve read anything that honest and heartfelt and articulate in ages. It made me, and hopefully many others, think about how intolerant the world still is, and how we might be able to make it better by applauding someone who bravely puts his real self out there. I wish I could always live my life that authentically and I’m not facing anything that controversial. Bravo, Frank Ocean, I’ll be watching out for your work now.

  20. jesstar says:

    If his music and lyrics are as moving as that letter, he should have great success. That took a lot of courage.

  21. Alyna Tse says:

    Stay strong and brave. hopefully more well-known people will come out…strenght in numbers.

  22. kate says:

    I wish we lived in a world where this wasn’t a story.

    It doesn’t matter who he loves. His beats, lyrics and voice are SICK. This was Courage Frank…I will be buying your album and I hope people will too.

    Channel Orange is the name of his debut solo album. If you are interested click here to an Amazon link to preorder…..http://tinyurl.com/7uv5myu

    PS i am not affiliated with Frank Ocean in any way. I am just a huge fan and hope that this bravery does not negatively affect his budding hip hop career.

    Stay true Frank!

    • Alyna Tse says:

      “I wish we lived in a world where this wasn’t a story.” you and me both.

    • Kasey says:

      See THIS is the thing I struggle with! Why can’t G/Ls just live their lives freely and not have to make announcements? I don’t have to announce that I’m heterosexual. I am and my lifestyle reflects it to the degree of privacy I’m comfortable with. G/Ls doing the same is what I consider real equality.

      The other thing is this big push of the G/L community that in support of anti-bullying more high profile G/Ls need to publicly ‘come out’ or they’re ‘outting’ them. Considering the need for celebs’ privacy and safety always being a concern, I honestly consider that to be a form of bullying as well.

      • muppet_barbershop says:

        I feel that temporarily, perhaps for another generation or so, coming out will continue to be an important part of the lives of many (but not all) LGBT people. Some of us feel invisible without doing it, but honestly, I think coming out as an overall phenomenon is more a product of needing to respond to homophobia.

        We feel it very keenly all the time. Most people who have come out in the States, including me, are white. So there’s the whole thing of feeling marginalized when we were raised to feel like the privileged majority…. that’s another discussion, but I think it adds to white people’s tendency to come out.

  23. Nicole says:

    I have been a fan of his since last summer. I couldn’t care less about his sexuality.

    Pyramids is an awesome song.

  24. Jovia says:

    Thank you, I enjoyed reading his letter because I liked the writing.

  25. Beatriz says:

    I read this story yesterday and was very touched; the way he worded everything is just so beautifully heartbreaking. I can’t help but admire him, it takes so much courage to come out of the closet, much more so if you are black and an R&B star. Russell Simmons said it right, it’s a big day for hip hop. Maybe he will inspire some other black male stars to come out (I’m looking at you Dre and Diddy).
    If you don’t know Frank Ocean, you might know him by association-He collaborates with Tyler the creator and is a part of his group Odd future.

  26. Adrien says:

    That was wonderful and brave considering he worked with a big homophobe, Tyler the creator.

  27. Camille (The original) says:

    Very moving and his music has now made me a fan!

  28. Anon says:

    I guess that Luther Vandross & Tracy Chapman are/were straight. If one makes good music and appeal to the base one will succeed; irregardless of one’s sexuality. His music is probably BLAH. I am sure that there is more to his “outing”. One cannot hate whom one does not know exsist. All of a sudden another pathologhy is being foisted upon blacks. I am absoluted sure that the 30 + million black folks in North America did not invent/create Stone….. and will ever agree on any matter much less this man’s sexuality. Never heard of him. End of.

  29. kk says:

    beautiful. I will buy the cd because i want to support him…love honesty in artists.

  30. Alexander says:

    My first visit here and i liked it from the beggining