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.

Comments

  1. says

    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?

  2. Fenrox says

    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.

  3. KimKim says

    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.

  4. Leo says

    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…

  5. Leo says

    “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!

  6. says

    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.

  7. Christopher Williams says

    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.

  8. says

    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.

  9. says

    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.

  10. Kim says

    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

  11. Matt says

    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!

  12. napro says

    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.

  13. jjose712 says

    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

  14. ripper says

    “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.

  15. Randy says

    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.

  16. There Goes That says

    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.

  17. acevedo says

    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????

  18. African/Gay says

    Frank Ocean is a young black male coming to terms with his sexuality under public scrutiny. This constant measurement of people’s coming out experiences against some mythical standard of what an out gay man should be is BS. It is the exact same brand of BS found in the black community when we deal with people of mixed race heritage and focus on whether we think they are black or not.

    He is going to get called “gay” the same way Obama is generally viewed as “black”. The difference is Obama accepts his label while Frank seems to want to fight his. I can’t get mad. Being part of any minority comes with absurd expectations from the people you represent.

    @ANDREW. You don’t have to identify with the culture of hip-hop, however you belittle yourself with your obvious lack of knowledge and and hatred of it. It’s like Limbaugh being asked for his opinion on a women’s rights convention.

  19. Caliban says

    What he said doesn’t bother me. To me it seems more about privacy than anything, and not wanting to be pigeon-holed. “I want to write about sex and attraction but that doesn’t mean I’m going to tell you who I’m bumping uglies with or define it for you so you can just label me and dismiss me.”

    He’s made it clear he’s not straight. So far as he’s concerned that’s all you need to know. Like someone else once said, “My life is an open book, but don’t expect me to read it to you.”

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