Today, Frank Ocean turns 27. Frank Ocean is one of the most influential and socially forward-thinking artists of our generation, undoubtedly helping the human rights war we face. His songs take liberal stances on subjects such as sexism and gay rights. Take, for example, the “Frank Ocean Effect.”
Personally, I think the Frank Ocean Effect is one of the greatest, most progressive moments our generation has ever seen.
Ocean came out on Tumblr as having “once loved a man”; however, he refused in a GQ interview to refer to himself as bisexual, saying he may have loved a person of the same sex but didn’t want titles.
Because of Ocean’s refusal to be labeled, hundreds of LGBTQ people stopped labeling themselves, starting blogs and posting on social media about the importance of not stamping society.
I distinctly remember hearing about Ocean’s interview with GQ, and being annoyed that he wouldn’t just admit to being bisexual or gay. In retrospect, my response was exactly the reaction he was seeking to avoid.
I sought to label him, but he just wanted to be seen as a human, no stereotyping or judgment involved. Frank Ocean was right in his convictions, and the statement me made was effective in altering the “societal norm” of labeling.
I cannot stress the importance of Frank Ocean’s decision. He turns 27 today, and even if you aren’t a fan, you have to respect him for his strength and convictions.
When he decided not to label himself with a sexuality, he severed social cues, fought the flawed system in which gays can only marry in certain states and freed himself of labels and stereotypes.
We live in a world defined by our stereotypes and labels. You are pretty, gay, bisexual, Latino. You are caucasian, overweight, an introvert. Frank Ocean is Frank Ocean. He is a rapper, but you cannot define him by his dating choices because he refuses to accept a label.
If we were all like Frank Ocean, the world would have fewer labels, less stereotyping and more freedom. When GQ asked Ocean if he was bisexual, he refused to provide a direct answer, instead saying one of the most profound (if not profane) quotes by an artist of our generation:
You can’t feel a box. You can’t feel a label. Don’t get caught up in that sh*t. There’s so much something in life. Don’t get caught up in the nothing. That sh*t is nothing, you know? It’s nothing. Vanish the fear.
Frank Ocean is a member of rap group Odd Future, an epically diverse and forward-thinking crowd. He is one of the most well-known artists within the group, and as he turns 27, today becomes the perfect opportunity to embrace and celebrate his effect on our generation and how we view stereotyping.
As a rapper, Frank Ocean is most well-known for his album, Channel Orange, which was released in 2012 and had positive responses from music critics.
He raps about the social and emotional struggles he faces, as a minority and sexually unlabeled person. To be fair, he also raps about large breasts and hooking up with women he doesn’t know, much as other rap artists do.
In many ways, Ocean’s music mirrors that of his genre and Odd Future friends, so the full spectrum of his life is represented in the music he produces.
Happy 27th birthday, Frank Ocean. May this year be one full of opportunity and success. Keep rapping, and keep pushing society to conduct new ways of thinking, far away from the norm.
Photo Credit: Wenn