Frank Ocean – We All Try
A couple of hours ago, I got completely blindsided by my emotional reaction to a piece of news, gossip really. The R&B and Hip Hop blogosphere has been buzzing over a Tumblr post by Frank Ocean in which he, in poetry and elipses, comes out as gay or bisexual (the Tumblr post is a screenshot of a TextEdit window, click here for a more readable version). And I was immediately flooded with such happiness.
I think it’s really hard to get a read of what a person is like from their music. It’s so much easier to convey an attitude, a pose, to name your opposites. To really convey what your soul is like… that’s more difficult and is possibly too revealing, too open for some artists. But when Frank Ocean sings, “i still believe in man/a wise one asked me why/cause i just don’t believe we’re wicked /i know that we sin but i do believe we try” in “We All Try,” I completely believe him. And his enjoyment of life, in as-is condition, permeates his best songs* (We All Try, Strawberry Swing, Song for Women, Novacane).
*Caveat: based on his one record that I’ve listened to, nostalgia,ULTA.
He is also a capital-R Romantic. And that comes through in his post:
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 negotiation with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love, it changed my life.
and that too made me happy. Because as acceptance has grown, coming out has become increasingly a non-event, and you hear so many repeated ideas (I’m gay, but that’s only a part of who I am as a person; I’m proud, but don’t consider myself a spokesperson; I never really considered myself in the closet) that it’s really refreshing to see Frank Ocean cut right to the heart of what separates us: falling in love with a man.
I sometimes think about what a ridiculous idea it is, that people that share a sexual orientation are a community. I shouldn’t have anything in common with gay people than I have with brown eyed people, or 6’1″ tall people. But we’re linked together by our time and context, by other’s assumptions and by our journeys to know ourselves. So though I may have little else in common, Frank Ocean speaks for me too when he says:
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 alright. I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore… I feel like a free man.
Happy Independence Day, Frank.