Gay Or Bi? The Dangers Of Labeling Frank Ocean

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By: / July 5, 2012

“When it comes to fellas, there’s an undeniable, ideological discomfort in letting him roam through the valley of grayness.”

I made a mistake. As an open bisexual woman, I immediately gushed at the assumed fact that our gifted Frank Ocean was mirroring my identity. His letter, beautifully written and framed in audacity, made my emotions shoot to the chandeliers of heaven. And as you can guess, my ass went ham on Twitter. Every twelve seconds, I was aiming a barrel of exclamation points at a new “Frank Ocean Is Bisexual” news headline, while scowling at the inaccuracy of every “Frank Ocean is Gay” headline.

And then MTV’s Rob Markman (@RobMarkman) tweeted: “Frank Ocean didn’t declare that he was Gay or Bisexual. He wrote of a relationship with a man. Please report responsibly.” I stepped away from the keyboard.

Markman’s statement reminded me that it’s more than possible for sexuality to run just as fluid as my Twitter stream. However, we accept this more easily when it comes to those humans swelled with estrogen. If two women want to savor each other’s tongues because the moment feels right—there’s no query, no liability, no box (no pun). Many a times we wouldn’t even believe that an attractive gal was capable of becoming—and remaining—a lesbian. Yet when it comes to fellas, there’s an undeniable, ideological discomfort in letting him roam through the valley of grayness.

CLICK HERE TO READ FRANK’S LETTER IN FULL

Society demands a swift and permanent answer regarding the sexual orientation of men. But all that constant nagging can light a killer identity crisis that prior, would’ve never showed face. Fun fact: A prostate massage is said to be the express route to a man’s strongest orgasm. But I’m willing to bet too many men would brow-raise about their sexuality if they enjoyed this deed… even if it was their own girlfriends who did the honor.

In high school, I regularly made out with a boy who revealed to me that he had once unzipped a comrade’s Levi’s… on purpose. Before that, all his daydreams were crammed with breasts and derrieres (though occasionally he found A.J. Calloway to be attractive), a pleasant habit that’s carried on to this day of his heterosexual life. As he explained to me, the young man from his adolescence was an isolated crush, not because he wanted it to be, but because that’s just what it was.

Of course, there are many, many times where an experience will unlatch an epiphany of once foreign feelings. But it is far from the onlooker’s responsibility to detangle those emotions and plop them in their “appropriate” crates. Even if the intentions are good, our role should always be more supportive than directive. Labels were created as society’s compass, tabs to help us better understand our differences (and marketing strategies), even so we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be handicapped by them.

If Frank Ocean identifies himself as gay, awesome. If Frank Ocean identifies himself as bisexual, woot. But if Frank Ocean identifies himself as a man who once fell for another man in a hopeless place, salute his valor… Just don’t overthink it. –Tracy Garraud (@trayhova)

Photo credit: Kevin Scanlon for The New York Times