When I read that Frank Ocean had “come out” about being gay or bisexual, I thought about the difference it could make all day. I thought about how other hip-hop and R&B acts would react and whether or not we’d see any changes in the way we, on a whole, think about masculinity and manhood. I wondered if this culture would become more tolerant. I mean, if we liked Frank before, we should probably still like him, right? And if he’s gay and we like him, we should like and respect others who are similar, no? Maybe reconsider the use of the other F-word; chill with all that “pause” business.
In January, when rumors claimed Jay-Z would no longer use the term “bitch” after the birth of his daughter, Davey D tweeted: “Glad Jay-Z is retiring the use of the B word bc of his daughter..sorry his wife & mom werent strong enough influences for him..”
Then I thought: How many men recognize that their beloved mothers and sisters are women? All of them, right? Yet, many men who love their mothers seem to have no problems disrespecting and abusing women in general.
To claim that “bitch” is just another neutral word is an untruth, because if someone were to refer to your mother as a bitch (or even a “nice” bitch), you might take exception. But over the years, I’ve learned that having love for an individual who belongs to a particular group doesn’t necessarily mean that love is automatically extended to the group at large.
As brave as it was, will Frank be enough? Will one man’s “coming out” change an entire culture? —Alison Isaac