I have a confession. I don’t always pay for my music. I know, shocking right? However, I did just purchase Frank Ocean’s brand new album, channel ORANGE.
channel ORANGE is a fantastic album, destined to be on many “best of” lists come December. It sounds as if Prince and Stevie Wonder made a record with the experimental sonic sounds of Kanye thrown in and it works oh so well (listen to the stellar, genre shifting 10 minute Pyramids below). While the album and the talents of Frank Ocean definitely warrant the buy recommendation, it’s wasn’t the only reason for me.
I’d never heard of Frank Ocean until a few days ago, when the news of his coming out hit the media outlets. The news was a bit overshadowed by Anderson Cooper’s own coming out. Not to take anything away from Anderson (but come on now, who didn’t know?), Ocean’s coming out is a more significant one.
While everyone has a right to their privacy, anyone in the public eye that chooses to come out is helping to further our cause by increasing the visibility of our community. With all the bullying going on these days, it helps to let struggling gay kids know that their favourite actors, singers, athletes, writers, etc. are just like them and that there’s nothing wrong with it.
What makes Frank Ocean’s coming out braver is that he’s coming out in the r&b/hip hop community, a very macho (at times homophobic) world. Straight hip hop artists like Kanye and Nicki Minaj are helping to change that but no prominent artist in this genre has come out. Now Frank Ocean is by no means prominent (as I just stated, I hadn’t heard of him til but a few days ago), but he has been getting a lot of buzz and worked with the likes of Jay-Z and Kanye. Coming out at this juncture of his rising career could very well hinder his sales, as suggested by Target’s refusal to sell his album (Target claims it’s because the album was exclusive to iTunes first).
And that’s a huge reason why celebrities are reluctant to come out: their career. Or a lack of one, rather. The fear that coming out will somehow dampen their careers. Fewer roles. Fewer sales. At the end of the day, it’s all about the Benjamins.
So how do we encourage and support artists that come out? With our wallets. Buy their albums. Watch their movies. Show them a career can still be had.
And that’s what I did.