On the heels of Anderson Cooper’s highly publicized statement that he is gay, Frank Ocean of the Los Angeles hip hop collective Odd Future has opened up about his homosexuality. In a passage on his personal Tumblr page, Ocean talks of falling in love for the first time with a man and the ensuing emotional turmoil. The post was originally intended for the liner notes of his new solo album, but Ocean felt the need to share it on Tumblr as a response to recent rumors about his sexuality.
The way Ocean chose to address his sexuality contrasts with the standard formula of coming out many celebrities employ. He didn’t go through journalists, press agents, or major media publications. Instead, he communicated directly with the public through social media. His original intention, to come out via his new album, represents an even more unorthodox and low-key approach, suggesting that Ocean may not have seen the revelation as worthy of a public statement, but rather a facet of his latest artistic endeavor.
Also in contrast to the typical coming out ritual, Ocean never once uses the words gay, straight, or bisexual. While some may perceive this as cowardice, there’s something revelatory about the notion that one doesn’t have to attach a label to their sexual identity, even while discussing it openly.
Ocean’s decision to come out via social media may signal a cultural shift, that homosexuality is no longer perceived by the younger generation as such a volatile issue that a celebrity coming out requires careful orchestration through the mainstream media by agents and handlers, but can simply be a fact shared directly with fans via social media. Or maybe we’re starry-eyed optimists and Frank Ocean’s coming out was a publicity stunt planned months in advance with Tumblr as a convenient medium. What do you think?