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Kevin Scanlon for The New York Times

Gay Or Bi? The Dangers Of Labeling Frank Ocean

“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

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'Empire' Actor Bryshere Y. Gray Arrested For Traffic Offense

Bryshere Y. Gray, best known for his role on Empire, was arrested in Chicago.

According to TMZ, the 25-year-old was pulled over because his temporary license plate did not match the 2014 Rolls Royce that he was driving. Karie James, Chicago Police spokeswoman confirmed the arrest with The Washington Post.

The arrest happened Thursday (June 13) but caught media attention on Monday (June 17). The actor was arrested on a misdemeanor registration charge, ticketed for driving an uninsured vehicle and failure to carry a driver's license.

He is currently not in police custody.

Gray is best known for his role in Empire as Hakeem Lyon, who lacks discipline and guidance as he tries to reach for hip-hop superstar fame, under his father Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) and his mother Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson).  He also starred as Michael Bivins, in the award-winning BET mini-series, The New Edition Story.

He was nominated for Best Actor at the 2018 BET awards.

Gray has been in the entertainment industry since 2013 performing at music festivals including Jay-Z's Made in America and The Roots' Picnic Festival. He also was an opening rap act for rappers 2 Chainz and Fabolous.

The series finale of Empire will premiere this fall. Entertainment Tonight reports, that the sixth season will return to its regular show time on Tuesdays 9 p.m. ET/PT.

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T.I. performs during VH1's Annual "Dear Mama: A Love Letter To Mom" at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on May 02, 2019 in Los Angeles, California
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T.I. Partners With Atlanta Church To End Mass Incarceration

T.I. is already set to star in a movie that covers the Flint, Michigan water crisis, but now the rapper is partnering with Ebenezer Baptist Church to address the national concern for mass incarceration.

According to The Washington Post, the conference starts June 17 to June 19th at the historic church in Atlanta, home of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

T.I. will contribute in efforts to bailing out those in jail of poor and working-class citizens. Reverend Raphael Warnock stated the goals of the conference include helping communities to fight the rise of prison industrial complex in the U.S. systems that unfairly imprison of color.

Auburn Seminary of New York, The Temple of Atlanta, and Ebenezer Baptist Church, among other interfaith partners will also be in attendance during the conference that is nationally titled, "The Multifaith Movement To End Mass Incarceration". The initiative is set to leverage the spiritual power, people power, and other resources in faith communities toward ongoing efforts on ending mass incarceration, as said by Auburn Seminary.

The initiative has two stages, the momentum phase that goes through June 2019 and the implementation phase that begins June 2019 and ends May 30, 2023.

Momentum will establish the groundwork for implementation as well as identify additional partners at the end of the three-day conference. Other agenda items during stage one include adopting policies and practices of alternatives to incarceration from the municipal, state and national operations.

Whereas, the implementation phase will provide training and resource sharing among faith-based leaders within their communities that will show a visible resistance to the prison system.

The Central Park Five, also known as the Exonerated Five will also be apart of the summit. Speaking to The Root, Yusef Salaam, explained just how the important the conference is to prison reform.

“This conference is very important in ending mass incarceration and the systemic issues around black and brown people,” Salaam said to The Root. “Since the film, When They See Us, has come out, a lot is being done to expose the trauma of being black in America; of being stigmatized in America, and I want to use my platform to expose this ugly reality, especially as it pertains to young people, so that there will never again be a Central Park Five, there will never again be a Kalief Browder, and we can finally change this system for good.”

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CNN Sparks Backlash For Article On White Woman Named LaKeisha

Over the weekend, CNN ignited a debate after they highlighted the story of a woman from a small town in western Ohio with an “ethnic-sounding” name.

LaKeisha Francis is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed bartender who did not know that her name was “stereotypically black,” as her parents believed it was just a beautiful name that they wanted their daughter to have. However, as she grew older, she realized that her “ethnic-sounding name” was making life difficult.

“I was joking with my co-worker one day and said, 'I'm just going to tell them my name is Emily so I can avoid all of this,''' Francis says of the comments she receives in response to her name, which range from snickering to disbelief from others due to her appearance.

“So if black-sounding names are looked at with such suspicion, why do some black people persist in using them?” one of the questions raised in the article read. “And where did the practice start in the first place?”

Later in the article, CNN reveals that LaKeisha is married with two kids who bear non-traditional names as well, and that she has “learned to live with being black for a minute.”

“A name doesn't make a non-Black person 'Black for a minute,' that's a trash take,” wrote one Twitter user in response to the article. Another wrote “I don’t know what you were trying to accomplish with this when black folk faced with ethnic names faced more consequences than a white chick name lakiesha.”

Where do you stand on the topic? Let us know in the comments, and check out a few opinions below.

Read it twice just to make sure I didn't miss anything the first time. And sure enough it was worse the second time around. A name doesn't make a non-Black person "Black for a minute," that's a trash take. S/n: Jamal while a somewhat common name in the Black community is Arabic. pic.twitter.com/O6HXYeM66M

— IAmDamion🎤 (@themorganrpt) June 16, 2019

I don’t know what you were trying to accomplish with this when black folk faced with ethnic names faced more consequences than a white chick name lakiesha. I’m sure with her complexion she still got the American protection!

— H Boog (@HankDon_1) June 16, 2019

I don’t know what you were trying to accomplish with this when black folk faced with ethnic names faced more consequences than a white chick name lakiesha. I’m sure with her complexion she still got the American protection!

— H Boog (@HankDon_1) June 16, 2019

I don’t know what you were trying to accomplish with this when black folk faced with ethnic names faced more consequences than a white chick name lakiesha. I’m sure with her complexion she still got the American protection!

— H Boog (@HankDon_1) June 16, 2019

I don’t know what you were trying to accomplish with this when black folk faced with ethnic names faced more consequences than a white chick name lakiesha. I’m sure with her complexion she still got the American protection!

— H Boog (@HankDon_1) June 16, 2019

She can change her name. But we can’t change the color of our skin or the hate they have for us.

— Sh (@shersweety) June 16, 2019

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