Ocean is certainly a revolutionary because he is the first black male singer to come clean about his sexuality and attraction to men in the midst of his rising career in the history of urban music. He is certainly not the first gay or bisexual man in urban music there are hundreds if not thousands before him but he is the FIRST large scale star to come forth and admit it. Some will say Sylvester or RuPaul were first but who didn’t know they were gay whether they said it or not? Frank could have certainly remained under the radar and had a career as a fake ‘ladies man only’ for decades like many other black male singers have done and still continue to do to this day but he was not willing to make that sacrifice. The question now becomes, how will the black audience and urban radio respond to his new project and to him as an artist?
Urban radio and the black community have a shared tendency to be unusually conservative, even at times neglecting the obvious shades of hypocrisy. Some of the greatest opposition for black gay people comes from the black community’s controversial extremes: those with criminal pasts, the religious and those who have a deep rooted psychological and unexplained hatred for black gays who they summarize as “traitors.” There are also those who know they are gay but make every possible effort to hide it even to the point of marriage and children because they are all to familiar with the extreme opposition from the black community and (what can even be the hypocritical) black church. Finally, there are those who quote the Bible on gays with opposing scripture as a weapon as they are fully aware of the black gay community’s deep rooted family ties and at the same time universal unparalleled commitment to the black church. It is often a winning effort to evoke guilt and shame for a lifestyle that is consistently under attack by the black community mostly because, unlike the white gays, black gays are often silent, invisible and unwilling to collectively fight back or take a stand. Black gays are supremely dedicated to their unparalleled historical ties to the black church as well as the black community even to a fault.
All of the above positions about the black community and black gays offer an interesting irony and dichotomy that can be debated until the end of time but urban radio is now on the front lines of an issue it has ignored for way too long. Not just about black gays but about the black community as a whole. Just how will urban radio respond to Ocean’s historical admission. Time will tell but if urban radio does not support this project or Ocean it could be a problem with (mostly white) gay community leaders, perhaps not but urban radio should be prepared to have a good explanation either way as the new album is a solid piece of work.