Frank Ocean's Poetic Letter About Orlando Will Leave You In Tears
When Frank Ocean released his iconic debut album Channel ORANGE back in 2012, he was deemed the first openly gay rapper in history—and, in doing so, sent shockwaves through the world, and in particular, the stereotypically hyper-masculine hip-hop community. With tracks like “Pink Matter” and “Bad Religion,” Ocean doused the public with his electrifying, confessional lyrical style, and shined a spotlight on issues like internalized homophobia—issues that riddle gay men of color, but are often deemed too taboo to talk about. Now, in the wake of the senseless and tragic shooting in Orlando, Ocean penned an emotional and poetic open letter last night on Tumblr with the hope of drawing attention to the issues that, he believes, are being neglected by the media. And, of course, along the way, broke our hearts with anecdotal tales of the trials he’s endured as a black gay man.
Despite receiving incessant hounding by his fans, begging him, imploring him, to release a new album, Ocean took a free opportunity to instead address the Orlando shooting, as well as the rampant homophobia throughout the world that LBGTQ individuals face on a daily basis. You can read the stream-of-consciousness post in full below:
I read in the paper that my brothers are being thrown from rooftops blindfolded with their hands tied behind their backs for violating sharia law. I heard the crowds stone these fallen men if they move after they hit the ground. I heard it’s in the name of God. I heard my pastor speak for God too, quoting scripture from his book. Words like abomination popped off my skin like hot grease as he went on to describe a lake of fire that God wanted me in. I heard on the news that the aftermath of a hate crime left piles of bodies on a dance floor this month. I heard the gunman feigned dead among all the people he killed. I heard the news say he was one of us. I was six years old when I heard my dad call our transgender waitress a faggot as he dragged me out a neighborhood diner saying we wouldn’t be served because she was dirty. That was the last afternoon I saw my father and the first time I heard that word, I think, although it wouldn’t shock me if it wasn’t. Many hate us and wish we didn’t exist. Many are annoyed by our wanting to be married like everyone else or use the correct restroom like everyone else. Many don’t see anything wrong with passing down the same old values that send thousands of kids into suicidal depression each year. So we say pride and we express love for who and what we are. Because who else will in earnest? I daydream on the idea that maybe all this barbarism and all these transgressions against ourselves is an equal and opposite reaction to something better happening in this world, some great swelling wave of openness and wakefulness out here. Reality by comparison looks grey, as in neither black nor white but also bleak. We are all God’s children, I heard. I left my siblings out of it and spoke with my maker directly and I think he sounds a lot like myself. If I being myself were more awesome at being detached from my own story in a way I being myself never could be. I wanna know what others hear, I’m scared to know but I wanna know what everyone hears when they talk to God. Do the insane hear the voice distorted? Do the indoctrinated hear another voice entirely?
By delving into homophobia, and the religious teachings and scriptures that much of it is rooted in, Ocean addresses, head-on, the very framework that’s keeping homophobia alive. Although he doesn’t seem hopeful of real change coming anytime soon, he urges his readers to unite more aggressively than ever in times of hate—to, essentially, combat hate with love—and, in doing so, reminds us why we love him.
Stay tuned to Milk for more thoughts on Orlando.
Images via The Independent.