Is being black and gay still a taboo?

In the hours since Odd Future affiliate and much adored perpetrator of debut mixtape, Nostalgia Ultra, Frank Ocean posted a beautifully written notice on his Tumblr that his first love was, in fact, a man, the outpouring of reaction and support coming both from his adoring fans and from his peers – and his mother (who praised him for coming out as bisexual) – seems to suggest that perhaps the reality of the situation is becoming more a shade of grey, rather than an outright black or white situation…

And although there have been several homophobic reactions, even Odd Future boss Tyler, The Creator – who many have oft classed as homophobic had nothing negative to say, only that he was proud and to “send your bitches my way.”

In reality, the majority appear to praise Frank on his bravery, his honesty, and his “groundbreaking” admittal, which many class as a breakthrough for urban music.

Ticks to all of the above. But maybe more than all that, his admittal will prove groundbreaking not just for urban music, but for the black community in general.

CNN contributor LZ Granderson recently raised eyebrows when he announced that not only was he black, he was also gay. “I know; I should have told you sooner,” he wrote, “…But I was afraid. After all, I’ve already shared with you that I am gay and well, we all know a person can’t be both.”

There does not need to be a contradiction between the words black and gay. And maybe it takes a household name such as Frank Ocean to bring that reality to the forefront of our minds.

Terrence Dean, a former MTV executive and author of Hiding in Hip-Hop a memoir of the thriving, undercover world of the industry’s gay subculture spoke on Ocean’s admittal saying: “It makes a bold statement not only for Frank, but for the LGBT community as a whole. Everybody’s been waiting so long for the day when somebody like Frank comes out, so it’s a victory for all of us.”

In the months since Obama’s support for same sex marriage, new polling shows Black support for marriage equality actually exceeds that of the population at large, with the most dramatic findings proving that support for gay marriage has reached a new high among African-Americans, up from 4/10 to 59%. In other words, it’s increased by almost half.

Some have suggested Obama’s stance has had a halo effect on Black America and on the population in general – with many celebrities the likes of Jay Z, Floyd Mayweather and Ice Cube donning their support – as well as instigating an ever-increasing trickle of honesty. It was only this Monday CNN reporter and anchor Anderson Cooper acknowledged that he was gay, and only last month punk musician Laura Jane Grave (previously Tom Gabel) went public about her transgenderism.

Although Frank Ocean only recently took a step out of the bisexual closet, he’s been preaching equality ever since he first appeared on the scene, with lyrics the likes of: “I believe that marriage isn’t between a man and woman but between love and love.” And considering how new his standing in the industry is, his decision is all the more brave.

So yes, maybe his admittal is a break though for Urban Music, but only in so far as it will trickle down and further open up closet doors the world over.

As written for SB.TV

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