Following the news that Frank Ocean has come out about his sexuality, the music world has erupted with reaction, opinion and debate on what this means in the typically publicly straight, macho world of western hip-hop. Want proof? One need only look at the rap troupe who Ocean associates himself with to see how any sexuality other than hetero is dealt with, Odd Future's lyrics constantly using the word "f**got" and offering sentiments like "I hate all these n****s,
and you know, that little short gay light-skinned n***a and that fata** ni** Domo".
They are just one example though, and questions will arise about why Frank Ocean is involved with someone who spouts homophobic lyrics such as Odd Future leader Tyler the Creator, unless - as has previously been stated - they are just acting like teenagers looking for a reaction. Ocean's revelations, as Russell Simmons said in his own blog post, could potentially change the game for how rappers choose to portray themselves. As big a scene as it seems, rap is a tightknit community and an insult to homo or bisexuality could now be construed by others as an insult to their own - the big question is just how supportive will the rest of the community be? The initial reaction to Ocean's coming out has been positive, but notably most of the good sentiment found on Twitter has come from musicians largely outside the hip-hop sphere. Tyler has offered his support, true, but it is Simmons who has been the most high profile on the subject.
"These types of secrets should not matter anymore, but we know they do, and because of that I decided to write this short statement of support for one of the greatest new artists we have" wrote Simmons, who will not be blinkered enough to believe that this revelation means the tide has instantly turned. For everyone like him who comes out in support of Ocean, there will be yet more who see his coming out as an affront to their music and maybe their lifestyle. These views are blinkered, of course, but that is the sad world we live in. What is heartening at the moment is that the initial response to Ocean has been so warm.