And on Saturday, Beyonce was so moved by Ocean's confession that she posted handwritten words over a picture of him online. She wrote: " Be fearless. Be honest. Be generous. Be brave. Be poetic. Be open. Be free. Be yourself. Be in love. Be happy. Be inspiration."
After Hurricane Katrina, Ocean, whose real name is Frank Breaux, migrated to Los Angeles with not much more than gas and food money to launch his music career. Before long, he had become one of the pens behind Justin Bieber, John Legend and Beyonce. In 2009, he joined Odd Future, the outlandish, progressive collective whose own front man Tyler the Creator has been strongly criticized for anti-gay lyrics.
In 2011, Ocean released the critically acclaimed mix tape, Nostalgia, Ultra,v , a refreshing, nuanced study of personal relationships and social commentary. He wrote I Miss You on current album, Beyonce. 4, and he also offers the riveting hook on Made in America from Jay-Z and Kanye West's Throne album.
Ocean's self-identity revelation -- more an aside than announcement -- two days after CNN's Anderson Cooper came out. Over the past year, the Don't Ask Don't Tell military policy was repealed and President Barack Obama announced his support of gay marriage.
Related story:"Have You Listened to Frank Ocean's 'Channel Orange?' Listen Here"
"The climate was right. The LBGT community has shown an assertiveness and an ownership that has created a space like never before," says Kevin Powell, activist and author of Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and The Ghost of Dr. King. "This would not have happened 20 years ago."
Powell, who added his voice to the story in a Monday post to his personal blog, said his hope is that Ocean's "very simple gesture, openly applauded by pop culture royalty like Russell Simmons, Jay-Z and Beyonce., is the beginning of a much-needed conversation, in entertainment, in hip-hop, in America, on this planet, about the humanity and equality of us all, no matter who we are, no matter where we come from, and no matter who we choose to love."
More than anything, Ocean was reflecting on loving someone who didn't quite love him back -- or at least not in the way he wanted. His letter is poetry, and the fact that he used the male pronoun is almost beside the point, "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 negotiating with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love, it changed my life.
And then, he says, "I sat there and told my friend how I felt. I wept as the words left my mouth. I grieved for them, knowing I could never take them back for myself. He patted my back. He said kind things. He did his best. But he wouldn't admit the same. He had to go back inside soon, it was late and his girlfriend was waiting for him upstairs. He wouldn't tell me the truth about his feelings for me for another three years."
In the end, his words, his truth liberated his soul.
"I don't have any secrets I need to keep anymore. ... I feel like a free man," he wrote. "If I listen closely. I can hear the sky falling, too."
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