How Frank Ocean Unplugged My Gaydar For Good // @frank_ocean

Tuesday, July 9th was an important day in music and LGBTQ history. Famed singer and songwriter, Frank Ocean, made his television debut performing the controversial single, “Bad Religion”, on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon just moments after his album, channel ORANGE, was unexpectedly released.

In the previous week, a blogger who had gotten ahold of an advanced copy revealed that Frank Ocean was “coming out” with channel ORANGE, and she wasn’t talking about the music. The controversy that ensued caused Frank Ocean to post an open letter on his Tumblr page that was originally intended for the Thank You section of his album cover. Frank’s eloquent, heartfelt words touched the majority of its readers and inspired several of his colleagues to speak out in support of his “confession.” With a cocoon of love surrounding him, the perfect conditions were in place to catapult channel ORANGE to the top of the iTunes charts.

Between reading his letter and listening to his album, the wheels in my mind began to spin out of control — swerving off the paved road towards unfamiliar land. I felt myself growing more angry every time I heard or read the word “gay” used in reference to Frank Ocean. It made me upset, not for the conventional or expected reasons, but because the word seemed so vulgar and accusatory in its usage. It was as if people were saying, “Gotcha, sucker! You can run but you can’t hide! Now, tell us who your lover is…”

It’s not as if he’s some shiesty criminal who was engaging in illegal activity. He’s simply a young man who fell in love with another young man. If he chose to only share that part of his life with a select group of people, that’s his prerogative. Frank Ocean owes nothing to the gay community, the black community, or any other poorly constructed community. He doesn’t have to explain himself to anyone except for The One who gave him life and talent.

From what I understand, he hasn’t been chasing male tail all his life. He had an unusual connection with one person that made him question everything he believed about love and intimacy. Let’s also note that all of this happened when he was 19. From experience, I know that age 19 can be quite a tumultuous year. You’re trapped right in between adolescence and adulthood; and with the removal of juvenile constrictions, its an ideal time for self-evaluating. While looking back on that year of my life, to say I was a mess would be an understatement – disaster is more appropriate. With the breadth of emotion and experience captured in his music, sometimes it’s easy to forget that Frank Ocean is in fact a young man. He still has some living and exploring to do, as do all of us, so let’s not rush to tattoo labels on his forehead.

Until Frank Ocean uses the term “gay” or “bisexual” to identify himself, I don’t feel comfortable using either of those words to describe him. In fact, I think I’m at a place where I’m done with ____sexual labels all together. This might be a risky stance to take, but I feel like reducing people’s romantic interests to a scientific category is equivalent to distinguishing between breeds or assigning racial categories. Unless we’re describing sexual acts, I’d rather leave the word “sexual” out of the picture. After all, there’s more to life, love, and relationships than sex — although most of us are products of intercourse.

I’m proud of Frank Ocean for having the courage to open up about something so personal, especially because the other young man is somewhere watching this all unfold. I wish the vulturous masses would take a chill pill, and not try to spin this into another item checked off on the gay agenda.

As a person, I’ve gotten to a point where I view transparency as the holy grail of all human qualities. I’ll gladly shout from the mountaintop that I’m a Christian who loves Frank Ocean without segregating the various aspects of his being. He isn’t a pedophile twisting the words of scripture to establish a false sense of authority over his victims. And seeing as there are active men of the cloth who meet these criteria, I think we should be slow to judge someone for keeping it real. He’s the same artist many of us have grown to love over the past couple of years. Nothing was said in channel ORANGE that gave me the impression this was a different person, so I see no reason to stop enjoying his art now. If I have any gripe with Frank, it’s his Odd Future affiliation; but I’ve almost crossed that bridge.

 Thank you, Christopher Francis Ocean, for being the person to unplug my gaydar for good, by helping me to see the banality of obsessing over “sexual orientation”. Your  contributions to art and society are invaluable. Keep being true to yourself and your supporters.

With Highest Regards,

LoveBaby Jones <3

#JunkyardThursday w/ @MarkChappelle :: A Prelude To Forgiveness

The following is an excerpt from “A Prelude to Forgiveness” written by Mark Chappelle with personal reflections written by yours truly. To read the full article and other original works by Mark Chappelle, be sure to visit JUNKYARDSALVATION.COM. Thank you and enjoy!

I’ve thought about it often. The scenario loops in mind. It starts a few moments before my heart got broken, but plays out differently this time. Originally, I didn’t know what hit me, but this time I’m ready. My senses are keen. I discern when I’m being patronized, snowed. I know the true words from the constructed pictures. I know the sincere smiles from those stiffly pasted on top to keep me dawdling unawares. This time I’m nimble for the moment when I should parry. This time I’m just out of their weapon’s reach. Prescient of my opponent’s next move, I counterstrike and draw both blood and surprise. I pause and turn up a corner of my mouth taking in the surveyed victory.

Had my reality played this way, I wouldn’t have lost my power. So much might not have fallen out of balance. I would not have become a victim and someone’s casualty. As I step away from my imagination, I notice in running this scenario that my muscles have tensed, shoulders tight having not yet left the fantasy. My brows have furrowed and jaws clenched without prompting. The conflict has become so real during this mental exercise, that if the assailant were to appear before me physically, I could easily burst into a commotion of bared teeth and hurled furniture, expletives zipping through the air like throwing knives. It ain’t all good.

There’s just a moment to break myself out before the scene replays again from the beginning, folding another layer over on an already rugged anger. My conjured emotions have producedan ire that is very present and sizzling hot to the touch. The way I’ve rehearsed this vindication so well for so long, I become more and more confident in my ability to perform it. That scares me. That’s not the performance I wanted to perfect. I was supposed to forgive.

MY FAVORITE GEMS:

When you are wronged, you are due a reparation or an apology at the very least. These are things of value that you are rightfully owed. However, if it’s a truce you seek, it may be a good gambit to forfeit what you’re due. Don’t insist it be paid. Write it off as bad debt. Rather than considering it a loss, consider it an investment into the possibility of a future peace.
Grudges don’t hold themselves. You have to babysit them. They’re high maintenance. If you decide you never want to see someone’s face again, you have to constantly forecast to make sure you never encounter each other at public events. You have to regularly police your relationships for crossed alliances that may bring them into your path. This never lets up, never lets you rest.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS:
It might take a few minutes to read this entire article, but the inspiration and knowledge is well worth your precious time. If you’re stuck on petty, you might not be too fond of this one; but if you see the necessity for growth in your life, Mark’s words will be of great value to you. Forgiveness is good for our minds, bodies, and souls — all of which God has entrusted to us for a season. Let’s make the most of our lives by seeking restoration in every area possible. I hope these words touch you like they have touched me. (Pause)
P.S. — Be sure to follow Mark on Twitter (@markchappelle) and did you know he can SANG too? Check out his single, “It’s Heaven”, on iTunes.