Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Frank Ocean takes the power of gay hate away

Frank Ocean gave the world one big you can kiss my behind.  I love it when people do that.  It takes guts to stand in the midst of potential retaliation to embrace your freedom.
For those who have been hiding under a rock, Ocean is the talented songwriter who will soon release his debut studio album.  Ocean shocked the world with lyrics about his love for a man, and announced to the world he is gay. 
It’s the type of news that has destroyed the careers of some of the top male R& B crooners of all time.  Tevin Campbell was on top of the music world until he was arrested after soliciting a lewd act from an undercover male police officer during a sting operation in Van Nuys, California. Maxwell was a walking hit machine until rumors circulated that he is gay. 
It’s an issue that has plagued many in the business.  The media’s gaydar has become a source of contention for any black male with talent and a line of women waiting to throw panties on stage when they sling that voice.  Consider the list.  Neo, Chris Brown, Trey Song, Usher, the list of those accused of being gay is too long to remember.  Virtually everyone with a few hits and some whip appeal gets called out for not being a real man.
It’s happened to Will Smith before the breakup with Jada Pickett Smith.  The rumor makers claimed the Fresh Prince got kicked to the corner due to his love for men.  It’s the type of brutal attack that people ache to hear.  Gossip conductors like Black Planet and the Russ Phar Morning Show website carry the load on their train of destruction.
Ocean’s decision not to play the game deserves two GRAMMY’s and a lifetime achievement award.  In coming out he has taken the power away from those who use rumors to invalidate the music of men in love with other men.  Ocean shouldn’t have to pretend by singing songs about his love for women.  Doing that makes his music more about a role play than an authentic expression of what he feels when belting out those tunes.
My concern is that Ocean will be punished by those unwilling to embrace the significance of gay love.  His talent is unquestionable.  He has written songs for Beyonce', John Legend, Justin Bieber and Brandy.  He’s working with Kanye West and Jay-Z on their collaboration project. His debut mix tape Nostalgia, Ultra was met with critical acclaim with two singles, Novacane and Swim Good achieving chart success.
But how will the public receive him now?  I’m hoping he doesn’t fall into that category of amazing talents who underachieve because of hatred.  It’s maddening that Rashaan Patterson, who is openly gay, has failed to become a household name.  No one denies that Meshell Ndegeocello is one of the most talented music makers in the business.  She’s a singer, songwriter, poet, bassist and vocalist who incorporates funk, soul, hip hop, reggae, R&B, rock and jazz in her work.  Ndegeocello has teen career GRAMMY Award nominations, but has not gone home with the trophy. 
Her project Bitter shares her pain after the breakup with her girlfriend.  Peace Beyond Passion delved into the agony of gays and lesbians due to the teachings of the church.  The song Leviticus: Faggot is one of the most gripping songs I have ever heard.  Despite her talent you get the feeling that Ndegeocello suffers due to her lyrics and gender identity. 
Patterson, Ndegeocello and Ocean are making a statement to those listening to their music.  It’s a bold declaration followed by a series of exclamation marks.  They’re saying this is who I am, and I really don’t care how you feel about it.  Listen to my music for the music. Stay out of my business.
Maybe it’s the first step toward destroying the nation’s obsession with who’s gay.  It would help if others would follow.  The power needs to be taken away to enable people to be free.
Give that man a GRAMMY for courage.  Pull out a couple for Rashaan Patterson and Meshell Ndegeocello while you’re at it.  They have been punished long enough.
Just listen to the music.

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