Thursday, July 5, 2012
Author Terrance Dean Writes A Letter To Frank Ocean
Best-selling author, Terrance Dean, who wrote about down low and gay celebrities in his memoir, “Hiding In Hip Hop,” has penned an open letter thanking Frank Ocean on his courage to stand up and be proud.
Read an excerpt below:
"An open letter to Frank Ocean:
Over the course of the past few days I read on the blogs, and saw a few tweets chattering about an R&B artist coming out. Your name surfaced, along with an interview you did overseas, and then you wrote on Tumblr about a relationship you had four years ago with a young man. You shared how it changed your life, and how that young man was your first love.
You see, in 2008, my book was released, Hiding In Hip Hop: On The Down Low in the Entertainment Industry From Music to Hollywood. It’s my memoir detailing my life of working in the entertainment industry, and being privy to many friendships with a number of closeted celebrities, as well as a few relationships I shared with most of them. So, the news of an R&B artist coming out and admitting his true sexuality was not a shock to me. I actually have been awaiting the day, counting down the hours and minutes as to when one of my friends, or past lovers, would be brave enough to come forward and make a public announcement (My inhale continues to expand). But, it wasn’t one of them. No. It was someone younger. Much braver. An artist who isn’t hindered by the old relics of Hip Hop, or the entertainment school of, “Don’t you come out or it will ruin your career,” and the record label politics. It was YOU. Someone who recognizes their own uniqueness and the power they have to change a world with their honesty and truth. It was you Frank Ocean. A trailblazer. A journeyman. A true lyricist. An artist. A pioneer. A hero.
So, I want to thank you, Mr. Frank Ocean, for your courageousness. It takes a brave soul to come forth in truth, and in love, despite what the rest of the world is doing or feeling as “flavor of the week,” as legendary soul singer, Maze, recently said in a speech at the 2012 BET Awards.
There are many young people, even mature people, who are struggling with their sexual identity, and are afraid to step out of the shadows for fear of being judged, criticized, or ridiculed. Every day the fear grips and chokes them, just as it once did to you. So, please know that they are watching, reading, and listening to you, and the declaration you’re making. A black man in Hip Hop, who looks like them, speaks like them, and realized his dreams despite of the backlash or BS others tend to hold on to because of their own prejudices against same gender loving people. You boldly refuse to be bound by others, and in that declaration you are giving others hope and courage to be their authentic selves. Being black and gay so many times we hear, “No,” and “You can’t,” or, “It’s impossible.” Yet, your music and voice is heard around the world on radio channels, you’ve performed in stadiums before hundreds and thousands of people, and club DJs bang your songs while men and women, straight, gay, and bi, bop their heads and two-step to YOUR GROOVE. Yes, that is POWER-FULL!
Your gift has, and, is being revealed right before our eyes, and we are bearing witness to it. Every time you’ve opened your mouth we’ve heard it in your songs. Your melodic, smooth, and hypnotic voice lingering gingerly with the beats blending perfectly to tell us about love, happiness, hopefulness, and starting again. Thank you for the gift of your voice, and for understanding how to use it.
I also want to thank you for being open, vulnerable, and FRANK regarding your first love with another man. What a powerful testament in bearing your soul, and being emotional, open, and so revealing for the entire world to see, especially your emotions, and feelings for another man. Your letter was truly heartfelt. Thank you for your honesty.
Yet, you’ve found the strength from a loving and nurturing support system of friends, loved ones, and family who healed you through. They lifted you, inspired you, and encouraged you. And, in the power of your Being you were able to rise, lift the earth, and connect us to you with your symphonic music and tantalizing lyrics. Simply because you acknowledged your greater SELF which you stated at the end of your letter, “I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore…I feel like a free man.” POWER-FULL!
Just as singer, Adele, wailed with an open wounded heart on her 21 album, singing about a rejected love, and Mary J. Blige, cried out with a soulful blues of an unrequited love on her, My Life album, their vulnerability connected them with their fans. Just as you have done with your letter. And, yes, there are many artists who have made songs about former lovers, ill-fated relationships, and love lost, but Mary J. Blige and Adele touched the souls of folks like an old Negro spiritual. And, in that connectedness their truths catapulted them to super stardom. My hope and prayer for you is that your new album, Channel Orange, in which reviewers say that many of the songs are an ode to a love lost with another man, will have the same effect as 21 and My Life did on the lives of music fans around the world, and it catapult you into the superstar stratosphere where you belong.