NEW YORK: Anderson Cooper and Frank Ocean made revelations about their sexuality this week, but Ocean’s could end up being the more significant announcement.
Ocean – the rising R&B singer behind the single Novacane and the album nostalgia, ULTRA, which critics heralded as among the best of 2011 – announced on his Tumblr page on Wednesday that his first love was a man. He also tweeted a link to the post.
Earlier this week, CNN’s Cooper acknowledged that he was gay.
But the admission from the 24-year-old Ocean – who is part of the hip hop collective Odd Future and was prominently featured on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch the Throne album – is noteworthy because he inhabits the world of rap, where anti-gay sentiments have long been part of the vocabulary. Gay epithets are used in lyrics – one of Lil Wayne’s catchphrases is “no homo”.
“I think it’s definitely important and it really signifies that there is a changing of the face of hip hop,” said Chuck Creekmur, founder of the leading website allhiphop.com.
He called Ocean’s announcement “a sign of the times”, noting Cooper’s revelation and President Barack Obama’s support for gay marriage.
Ocean wrote: “Four summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide.”
Ocean concludes the post: “I don’t have any secrets I need to keep any more… I feel like a free man. If I listen closely, I can hear the sky falling too.”
While Creekmur emphasised that Ocean’s coming out did not have the same weight as a rapper’s would, he said it was significant that the hip hop community’s initial reaction was positive.
“I don’t believe that Frank Ocean revealing his gay experience at the age of 19 will cause a bunch of rappers to come out of the closet. I don’t think that we’re there yet,” he said.
“I do think that we’ll see a lot of support for him… I think that it’s a process,” he said.
“Just a few years ago, if this had happened, it could have marked the end of his career. This could mark the beginning of his career.”
Creekmur also noted that Odd Future is known for being progressive, despite its leader – Tyler, The Creator – having been fiercely criticised for his use of anti-gay lyrics in songs. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation described Tyler as “irresponsible”.
Tyler expressed support, in typical crude fashion, for his friend on Twitter, saying being gay was difficult to acknowledge and he was proud of him.
Ocean’s new album, Channel Orange, comes out on July 17. Creekmur said it was hard to determine what effect Ocean’s announcement would have on its sales.
Ocean said he had intended his post to be part of his album credits, but as there had been recent rumours about his sexuality, he decided to post it on his Tumblr page.