Overnight on July 3rd, Frank Ocean posted a message on his Tumblr that sent immediate shockwaves throughout the urban music industry, not so much because someone openly announced their sexuality, but moreso who.
As far as singer/songwriter/producers go, Frank Ocean is the 'it' guy right now in the business. Ocean has written for everyone from Justin Bieber to Beyoncé Knowles and has also been a hit parade in his own right, both with his massive hit single "Novacane" and as a feature in the Jay-Z/Kanye West hit "No Church in the Wild".
His status is unquestionably high in the world of hip-hop where the culture of "no homo" still reigns. It took a lot of courage for Ocean to admit all of this in the face of that. However, the issue of people of color coming out in and of its self transcends Ocean because of that culture.
It's interesting how many people of color generally react to any other sexuality other than heterosexuality and many times, that reaction will be a negative one even though our first African American president recently lent his support for gays to have equal rights.
You really have to go back in the history of this country and its treatment of people of color to understand the current plight of the LGBT community. On a week where we celebrate this country's birth, our 236 year history has not come without its flaws.
In 1787, legislation was introduced in this country called the Three Fifths Compromise. Slaves were considered three-fifths of a person and were not allowed to vote, marry, own land, or allowed to do much of anything without their master. It wasn't until 1967 that laws against interracial marriage were deemed unconstitutional.
While it's not exactly the same, many of those in the LGBT community feel like second class citizens because they're not allowed to marry who they want to and are not entitled to the same benefits. Up until last year, the military had a policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".
Listen, no one's asking you to become gay or bisexual just because there are laws that are introduced to protect those who are. They simply want to be treated as an equal and be entitled to the same rights that all Americans are entitled to. Whether you like it or not, this is the civil rights battle of our generation.
The reaction on Frank Ocean's post has generally been positive and I believe it's a small step in the right direction to acceptance. Acceptance will never be universal, but here's hoping that one day that we don't look at 'coming out' as a big deal.