I spent last summer immersed in Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange. He’d spoken out loud something that someone in the public eye, someone who sells concert tickets and has girls who throw their panties at him, isn’t supposed to say. He said that he’d fallen in love with another man. And then he came to DC and the girls still threw their panties at him and people still came to the concert and it didn’t matter. He’s good. Who he loves isn’t his talent and his talent isn’t who he loves.
For whatever reason, I’m just now getting around to reading some of the press he did in the aftermath. I think some of what he says in the interview is worth just straight up quoting:
GQ: You’d written the letter back in December, for inclusion in the liner notes. Were you afraid of the aftermath when you finally posted it in July?
Frank Ocean: The night I posted it, I cried like a fucking baby. It was like all the frequency just clicked to a change in my head. All the receptors were now receiving a different signal, and I was happy. I hadn’t been happy in so long. I’ve been sad again since, but it’s a totally different take on sad. There’s just some magic in truth and honesty and openness.
GQ: Exactly how did your perspective change?
Frank Ocean: Whatever I said in that letter, before I posted it, seemed so huge. But when you come out the other side, now your brain—instead of receiving fear—sees “Oh, shit happened and nothing happened.” Brain says, “Self, I’m fine.” I look around, and I’m touching my fucking limbs, and I’m good. Before anybody called me and said congratulations or anything nice, it had already changed. It wasn’t from outside. It was completely in here, in my head.
Something scary happened this weekend. Terrifying in fact. And its still in play. It’s going to be in play for an indefinite period of time, which only adds to the terror. It is a shared unknown, and there is something brand new about it. Because it’s been acknowledged. And owned. And not run away from. Not manipulated, not patched over. It’s been called by its name and given a place to sit for the duration.
Oddly, bewilderingly, it’s not that bad of a monster, this uncertainty. It’s still scary. I’m still afraid of it. But it was bigger before it got a name. It’s teeth were sharper before it was acknowledged. It’s claws lost their vicious curve when we opened the door and gave it a corner to sit in and something to drink.
Okay, fine. It isn’t as visceral a situation as owning your right to love who you love. But maybe practicing on the every day fears is just as important as taking on the soul-shattering fears. Maybe any fear that you’re willing to meet out in the open and sit with counts.
…know what fear does to your strength. You don’t even feel smart or capable. You just feel broken—and not just your heart. Just a broken person. (From his interview with GQ)