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Frank Ocean on Coming Out, Whether He's Bisexual

Frank Ocean talks about coming out in his GQ Men of the Year interview:

OceanWhatever I said in that letter, before I posted it, seemed so huge. But when you come out the other side, now your brain—instead of receiving fear—sees "Oh, sh*t happened and nothing happened." Brain says, "Self, I'm fine." I look around, and I'm touching my f*cking limbs, and I'm good. Before anybody called me and said congratulations or anything nice, it had already changed. It wasn't from outside. It was completely in here, in my head.

I had those fears [it would derail my career. In black music, we've got so many leaps and bounds to make with acceptance and tolerance in regard to that issue. It reflects something just ingrained, you know. When I was growing up, there was nobody in my family—not even my mother—who I could look to and be like, "I know you've never said anything homophobic." So, you know, you worry about people in the business who you've heard talk that way. Some of my heroes coming up talk recklessly like that. It's tempting to give those views and words—that ignorance—more attention than they deserve. Very tempting.

When asked if he is bisexual, Ocean shuts the conversation down:

You can move to the next question. I'll respectfully say that life is dynamic and comes along with dynamic experiences, and the same sentiment that I have towards genres of music, I have towards a lot of labels and boxes and sh*t. I'm in this business to be creative—I'll even diminish it and say to be a content provider. One of the pieces of content that I'm for f*ck sure not giving is porn videos. I'm not a centerfold. I'm not trying to sell you sex. People should pay attention to that in the letter: I didn't need to label it for it to have impact. Because people realize everything that I say is so relatable, because when you're talking about romantic love, both sides in all scenarios feel the same sh*t. As a writer, as a creator, I'm giving you my experiences. But just take what I give you. You ain't got to pry beyond that. I'm giving you what I feel like you can feel. The other sh*t, you can't feel. You can't feel a box. You can't feel a label. Don't get caught up in that sh*t. There's so much something in life. Don't get caught up in the nothing. That sh*t is nothing, you know? It's nothing. Vanish the fear.

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Comments

  1. His response to the bisexuality question sounds like a rambling mess to me. Why did it set him off so much?

    Posted by: Michael W. | Nov 21, 2012 9:28:08 AM


  2. I am not sure I understand why being "out" was so important to Mr. Ocean if being asked if he likes men in any capacity would upset him so much? I have noticed how the "I hate labels" crowd only says things like that when they are not completely comfortable with themselves... eh, I am old, what do I know?

    Posted by: WayneMPLS | Nov 21, 2012 9:35:57 AM


  3. I am falling in love with Frank Ocean because of interviews like this. I feel like he is letting the fame of this situation pass him by. Now would be the perfect time to don a pink afro and get a stoic male model to hang off your arm, IF you want to capitalize and become a tool. Instead he seems to just be making connections. The bi question is artfully answered not dodged. His sexuality isn't on display, you can find that elsewhere. Labeling your sexuality publicly is the opposite of that.

    Posted by: Fenrox | Nov 21, 2012 9:37:38 AM


  4. Love LOVE his music

    Posted by: Josh | Nov 21, 2012 9:41:03 AM


  5. Frank answered many questions after that question. I'm glad he didn't answer that question. He said his first love was a guy.ENOUGH SAID.If he said he was bisexual A lot people would claim he was gay because many believe bisexuality doesn't exist.His answer indicated he believes you fall in love with people not genders.If you read entire lseeinterview you will see lhe wasnt upset w interviewer.

    Posted by: KimKim | Nov 21, 2012 9:43:55 AM


  6. Incredible talent and a person who I believe has the best intentions in terms of self-acceptance and progress, as he mentioned, in black music, etc., but.....

    I can't help but work off what Michael W. said that....his response to the bisexuality question legitimately pisses me off and reeks of PR cover to avoid a sound byte for certain music demo's to grab onto.

    Is he pansexual? Does he not like the bisexual label because of associations with the label? The still lingering discussion on its validity in males adding to his insecurity? (I DO believe it exists, fyi) His defenders will claim he doesn't owe an explanation to anyone but for someone that has now claimed in several interviews the importance of honesty to yourself and others, this convenient work-around answer strikes me as VASTLY disingenuous. For someone who claims to be an advocate for self-respect and ingenuity, let's get real folks, he knows, you know, and I know, that answer was 75% bullsh*t.

    I'll keep listening to Channel Orange and nostalgia.Ultra. for now, but yeah...

    Posted by: Leo | Nov 21, 2012 9:44:59 AM


  7. "I have noticed how the "I hate labels" crowd only says things like that when they are not completely comfortable with themselves..."

    THIS!!!!!!!! THANK YOU!! I wish we had a thumbs up ability!

    Posted by: Leo | Nov 21, 2012 9:47:32 AM


  8. It's the album of 2012.

    Posted by: yonkersconquers | Nov 21, 2012 9:47:49 AM


  9. Very good interview. Unfortunately people will focus on the bisexual question rather than his thoughts on songwriting.

    Posted by: Kim | Nov 21, 2012 9:49:07 AM


  10. well, i'll have to say, the "i don't like labels" crowd tends to be the crowd that's simply not yet comfortable with them.

    it's an extension of that "i'm not defined by my being _______" thing that (nearly) every gay person says before they become comfortable enough in themselves that they no longer give a hoot if anyone else chooses to define them by ______.

    the only people who are defined by their sexuality or orientation are the ones who talk about not wanting to be defined by it.

    similarly, when one tends to give a long-winded evasive excuse on the subject of labels, it's usually because they're not yet comfortable with how they feel a PARTICULAR label, assigned or associated with them, will affect the way they're treated.

    i like the guy. he's talented and has shown much growth and grace in the last few months. but he's still very much in the beginning of his journeys as a non-straight man in the public eye.
    he's still where a lot of us were years ago. give him time. the more he comes to accept himself the more he'll move away from these types of evasion.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Nov 21, 2012 9:49:20 AM


  11. Identifying and organizing around labels made it possible for Frank to come out in his own way. The freedom embodied in his answer, though, is the logical out come of the work we've been doing for decades.

    I don't think Frank is the one avoiding reality here. To me, he is the face of the next phase in the movement. We're not yet at a point where we can safely abandon labels altogether but we'll get there one day. Frank is part of the vanguard showing us the way there.

    Don't get me wrong, I love being GAY. But I also see that our hard work is creating a society where generations to come will be a bit puzzled but the whole thing.

    That is a good thing.

    Posted by: Christopher Williams | Nov 21, 2012 10:25:04 AM


  12. in theory, i agree Christopher. Thing is, you can't get to step 20 without taking steps 1-19.

    the "issue" is the negative stigma attached to GAY or BISEXUAL>

    those of us with the confidence to do so need to visibly, audible, publicly identify with these labels. especially as "diverse" and different groups and types of people. that way people can see that there's nothing "negative" about either.

    only when there's no longer a negative stigma attached can we ever hope to be label-free - we have to identify it, and identify AS it, fearlessly, in order to show the incoming generations that it's not something to be ashamed of, feared, or hidden.

    i identify as gay. and queer. and canadian.

    i don't disagree with your post, i think you've got it - i'd simply say that it aint Ocean that's leading the way, just yet. but he very well could be at some point. on the right track.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Nov 21, 2012 10:30:47 AM


  13. Okay so after all this 'feeling wonderful' about his decision to come out...he doesn't actually come out. Obviously he has much growing and self accepting to achieve since he can't proudly say he's either gay or bi. That kind of dodging such a basic question is just stupid.

    Posted by: Geoff M | Nov 21, 2012 10:37:15 AM


  14. Maybe he is not gay ,bi or straight?

    Posted by: Kim | Nov 21, 2012 11:24:29 AM


  15. Go to GQ.com and read the interview this excerpt is taken out of context.He talks about the coming out letter, effect falling in love with Guy had on his life,homophobia, etc, dating women only was living a lie,etc

    Posted by: Kim | Nov 21, 2012 11:35:22 AM


  16. I think his response was perfect.

    Posted by: JeffNYC | Nov 21, 2012 11:57:28 AM


  17. I am with Christopher Williams and JeffNYC and others who have complimented Frank Ocean on this response.

    I am a huge Morrissey fan and I think we're meant to infer that this is roughly his position on the whole issue, too. The irony? Frank Ocean has taken a bolder, smarter stand than Morrissey by opposing labels while being up front about not being straight, confronting homophobia, and loving men. Thanks Frank Ocean!

    Posted by: Matt | Nov 21, 2012 12:56:18 PM


  18. All we know about Frank Ocean is that he wrote a letter about an unreciprocated love crush on a guy when he was 19. Has he ever dated a guy? Is he gay, bi or even straight? We don't know for sure. One thing is for sure.....this whole thing has given him great publicity.

    Posted by: napro | Nov 21, 2012 3:42:54 PM


  19. napro: that's not fair. The album was really one of the albums of the year way before it was released (and way before the letter), there was a lot of hype about it.
    Pop radio is quite hostile to gay males (in other countries there's no such problem), in the last five years, i only remember three top 40 hits from openly gay male singers (Hollywood's not america by Ferras and Whataya want from me and If i had you by Adam Lambert), in theory, Urban charts and the whole black music is even more difficult, so he take a big big riskk publishing the letter, and he even risks more with some of the lyrics of his album.
    If he wasn't attracted to guys, he didn't publsh that letter for sure. There was hype around him, and being gay or bisexual won't help him to sale albums. Publicity is one thing and sell the album is other very different.
    The truth is the album sells well, and thinking bout you is doing great in sales and airplay charts.
    Maybe he refuse to tell he is bisexual because he is gay, maybe because he doesn't want to be labeled, but he is not straight for sure

    Posted by: jjose712 | Nov 21, 2012 4:30:43 PM


  20. "All we know about Frank Ocean is that he wrote a letter about an unreciprocated love crush on a guy when he was 19."

    Yeh, so that's not true. We know he's dating a model named Willy Cartier.

    Posted by: ripper | Nov 21, 2012 4:50:37 PM


  21. Yet another reason I couldn't care less about Frank Ocean, but I do care about lesser-known LGBT artists, who are honest and not defensive in their lyrics and interviews.

    Posted by: Randy | Nov 21, 2012 7:33:08 PM


  22. I could care less. Rap is not music. It is angry poor poetry.

    Posted by: andrew | Nov 21, 2012 7:36:36 PM


  23. Oh, you guys. Appearing on Time with "Yep, I'm Gay!" floating above your head is not the only way to come out. And if he rejects labels, so what? He's clearly not straight, so embrace him as a member of our community!

    As for you, Andrew, a. Frank Ocean is an R&B artist, and b. you sound just angry enough to write a really good rap song.

    Posted by: There Goes That | Nov 21, 2012 10:20:29 PM


  24. HE'S GAY!!!!!!!!

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Nov 21, 2012 10:31:18 PM


  25. This guy is a brilliant musician. I hate it when people say he leaked that letter before his album was released as a promotional gimmick. Wouldn't admitting your gay kill album sales in this country????

    Posted by: acevedo | Nov 21, 2012 11:16:07 PM


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