So R&B singer-songwriter Frank Ocean publishes confessions. For those who can’t read it:
what i’m about to post is for anyone who cares to read. it was intended to fill the thank you’s section in my album credits, but with all the rumors going round.. i figured it’d be good to clarify..
Whoever you are, wherever you are, I’m beginning to think we’re a lot alike. Human beings spinning on blackness. All wanting to be seen, touched, heard, paid attention to. My loved ones are everything to me here. In the last year or 3 I’ve screamed at my creator. Screamed at clouds in the sky. For some explanation. Mercy maybe. For peace of mind to rain like manna somehow. 4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I’d see him, and his smile. I’d hear his conversation and his silence … until it was time to sleep. Sleep I would often share with him. By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiation with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love, it changed my life. Back then, my mind would wander to the women I had been with, the ones I cared for and thought I was in love with. I reminisced about the sentimental songs I enjoyed when I was a teenager … the ones I played when I experienced a girlfriend fo rthe first time. I realized they were written in a language I did not yet speak. I realized too much, too quickly. Imagine being thrown from a plane. I wasn’t in a plane though. I was in a Nissan Maxima, the same car I packed up with bags and drove to Los Angeles in. I sat there and told my friend how I felt. I wept as the words left my mouth. I grieved for them, knowing I could never take them back for myself. He patted my back. He said kind things. He did his best. But he wouldn’t admit the same. He had to go back inside soon. It was late and his girlfriend was waiting for him upstairs. He wouldn’t tell me the truth about his feelings for me for another 3 years. I felt like I’d only imagined reciprocity for years. Now imagine being thrown from a cliff. No, I wasn’t on a cliff. I was still in my car telling myself it was gonna be fine and to take deep breaths. I took the breaths and carried on. I kept up a peculiar friendship with him because I couldn’t imagine keeping up my life without him. I struggled to master myself and my emotions. I wasn’t always successful.
The dance went on … I kept the rhythm for several summers after. It’s winter now. I’m typing this on a plane back to Los Angeles from New Orleans. I flew home for another marred Christmas. I have a windowseat. It’s December 27, 2011. By now I’ve written two albums, this being the second. I wrote to keep myself busy and sane. I wanted to create worlds that were rosier than mine. I tried to channel overwhelming emotions. I’m surprised at how far all of it has taken me. Before writing this I’d told some people my story. I’m sure these people kept me alive; kept me save … sincerely, these are the folks I wanna thank from the floor of my heart. Everyone of you knows who you are … great humans, probably angels. I don’t know what happens now, and that’s alrite. I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore. There’s probably some small shit still, but you know what I mean. I was never alone, as much as I felt like it … as much as I still do sometimes. I never was. I don’t think I ever could be. Thanks. To my first love. I’m grateful for you. Grateful that even though it wasn’t what I hoped for and even though it was never enough, it was. Some things never are … and we were. I won’t forget you. I won’t forget the summer. I’ll remember who I was when I met you. I’ll remember who you were and how we’ve both changed and stayed the same. I’ve never had more respect for life and living than I have right now. Maybe it takes a near death experience to feel alive. Thanks. To my mother, you raised me strong. I know I’m only braved because you were first … so thank you. All of you. For everything good. I feel like a free man. If I listen closely … I can hear the sky falling too.
Days after admitting to myself that I’d fallen in love with a man came the sense of liberty and some peace. Not at the time. It was closer to watching a sinkhole before your eyes. Closer to this: “It was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiation with the feeling. No choice.” For all its linguistic and punctuation liberties Ocean’s letter doesn’t feel extemporaneous; each sentence stings, not the least from the lacuna in this one: “The dance went on … I kept the rhythm for several summers after. It’s winter now.” This isn’t a “coming out” — Ocean hasn’t done anything quite so reductive. These are admissions whose clarity scythes through much LGBT cant. Male bisexuality remains misunderstood, as Luke Turner reminds us.
As for Ocean’s music, it’s tempting to relisten to his songs Looking For The Signs. A reductive exercise though. To regard interpretation as autobiographical correspondence was a grievous fallacy even before Twitter and Facebook greased the wheels. Better to accept the silences in “I Miss You,” the song Ocean wrote for Beyonce, or in his own “We All Try.” Songs written in languages that Ocean can speak and we can understand.