Friday, July 6, 2012

On Frank Ocean, and Why 'Gay' Shouldn't Even Matter Anymore

I know I wasn't the only near-sighted person to almost have a seizure trying to read this.

BBQ's aren't my really forte. You can invite me to a barbecue, though. I might go. But most likely I'll think about going, and either go hang out with my closest friends or bury myself in books and reruns of Chopped. It's not that I don't enjoy the prospect of grilling food with family, friends, and an assortment of complete strangers. It's that small talk gets boring. 'Where are you working?' 'How's your mom?' 'Are you going back to school?' 'How about those Yankees?' 'You see what Mitt Romney did last week?' 'What was Evelyn thinking on last week's episode?' There are always some topics that get breached constantly in loose small talk.

This Independence Day, among the hordes of hamburger-fancying twenty-somethings, the subject at hand was Frank Ocean's heartfelt message to accompany his upcoming album Channel Orange. There were toasts to Frank's liberation, to his prowess as an artist, and to the open-mindedness of Odd Future for accepting his status. Frank Ocean was the man of the hour everywhere without being anywhere.

For a loose interpreter wary of Frank's (in addition to OF as a whole) knack for picking archaic language and rosy prose over strict meaning, such as myself, I found everyone taking Frank's letter as a coming out with mixed feelings. Nowhere in the letter did the OF crooner say the word gay, bisexual, or anything related to sexual orientation. He just said he loved a man. I think in this day and age, no thanks to Anderson Cooper, everyone is jumping to find a revolutionary idol of sorts: someone who, for them, can represent everything positive about a marginalized group and serve of a bastion of the group's accomplishment within the greater majority. The letter gave hope and shouting rights to fighters of sexual liberty. That it happened on Independence Day only served to amplify the fact that a post-sexual society is on the horizon, but not here yet.

One of the things I ponder a lot is whether we're even really in a post-racial society. Yeah, my President is black and my Lambo is blue. But since the man's taken office, there's been more working against him than for him. Birthers, Tea Partiers, Mitt Romney, and Bible Belters will say that nothing about their hatred for Barry O has to do with race, but the undercurrent is too great to ignore. I think as long as the construct of race still exists in that it can be used as a basis for anything other than physical identification, we're not in a post-racial society. In the same way, as long as society keeps mentioning 'gay' or 'straight' or 'bisexual' or 'bath salt users' as a delineation, instead of a trait of the greater person, we're not past sexual preference as an issue.

It's like the old saying, 'It's not what they call you, it's what you answer to.' Frank Ocean's sexuality shouldn't even be an issue. If there wasn't a name for a sexual preference or any stigma attached to it, would it be an issue? In this day and age, where flashes in the pan are the norm, it suffices to say that there'll be another celebrity to come out of the closet and everyone will laud their bravery at barbecues and in between meetings and at happy hours. It will become the small talk of that week, and that person's status will be debated hotly because sexual preference still is a taboo topic. Not in a post-sexual society.

In this post-sexual society I imagine, your spouse will be your spouse, male or female. People won't shudder at two fathers, and there won't be a 'down low'. The words 'transgender' and 'transexual' won't mean anything anymore. Two women utilizing in vitro fertilization will be widely accepted. Post-sexual society will affect more than sexual preference, too. No one will give a damn about abortions, or womb rights, or being pro-life or pro-choice. Just like the M and F you cross out on forms, anything related to sex will become an afterthought. If we don't even mention it, it will cease to be important. It might even become one of those 'don't touch' topics like politics or religion that polite, civilized people scoff at in public (that's another post in and of itself) and hold strong opinions about behind closed doors. Who knows? The only sure thing is that Frank Ocean loved a man. Any person with a father, brother, uncle, cousin, mentor, or friend can say the same. I think that's the first step to sexuality not mattering: letting love be, regardless of who or what the target is. Lord knows we loved Frank Ocean's music before.


Shawn Caliber said...

Man, I couldn't have said this any better myself. You nailed it. Everyone went to judge him immediately without realizing that he didn't say a word about sexual preference. He loved a man (BIG DEAL). We all love people from both sexes. The love itself, not the type or who it's meant for, is what matters at the end of the day.

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