S-Endz, AKA Casey Rain The Neosoulja. Songwriter, vocalist, producer, rapper, leader of NEOFUNK. Vegan. Member of electropop band Swami, co-wrote and performed on songs like 'DesiRock', 'Electro Jugni', 'Sugarless' & all songs from our upcoming album, "Upgrade". Sometimes I make documentaries.
I released my new solo EP "Chapter 0: REINKARNAL" recently and you should click here and listen to it. If you don't, you may die, of unrelated causes.
Like many people, I had discussions today about Frank Ocean coming out of the closet. In one online discussion, someone remarked that “it wasn’t brave” because most people “don’t care” about anyone’s sexuality and that it was not “a Rosa Parks moment”.
Here’s what I wrote in response. There was more I wanted to say, but I’m going to keep it succint for now. Feel free to engage me more.
“It was brave. How many out-of-the-closet males are there in contemporary hip-hop and R&B? With Frank and Syd both being openly gay I would say that OFWGKTA are now THE most progressive group in hip-hop. I already thought they were artistically anyway.
In liberal communities like you and I live in, of course we don’t care. We understand it doesn’t matter, but it isn’t like that in all communities. Think about religious communities that are conservative. That’s much of the black community in the US - Frank’s main fanbase.
And while it may not be a “Rosa Parks moment” as Ocean is hardly the first openly gay black r&b singer, it’s certainly considerable that he chose to do so just as his major label debut album launches - there’s room to be cynical about that too, but the fact remains that as little as perhaps 10 or 15 years ago it would have almost CERTAINLY had a detrimental effect on sales. People like Luther Vandross and Queen Latifah were never able to come out of the closet because it would have damaged their careers. It’s hardly a secret that Luther was gay and Queen Latifah is, but the general opinion of the time didn’t allow for them be open about it.
There’s some interesting points about artists such as Tracy Chapman and Me’Shell N’Degeocello not being accepted by the black community due them being lesbians. Me’Shell was one of the earliest torchbearers of what became the neosoul movement yet the credit generally gets given to her heterosexual peers - Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, etc. There’s some great points about that here.
In many ways, the struggle for gay rights and gay equality IS comparable to the civil rights movement. On a Western level, gay people have less rights and are legally treated as lesser beings. On a global level there are still many countries that kill people who are gay. This is most likely going to go down in history as the defining human rights factor and paradigm shift of our generation.
So whether it’s Frank Ocean coming out, Lil B releasing an album called I’m Gay (to show that “words don’t mean anything” without context) or even a show like Glee having openly gay characters in the main cast and storylines that deal with their issues as well as those of the straight characters…… these things weren’t happening on a mainstream level to such a high degree in previous decades.
So you can’t downplay it as not being brave or think that it’s not going to be an issue or talking point for people. That’s not giving the move the credit it deserves. It may not deserve as much discussion as it is warranting, on it’s own….. but it’s indicative of a large-scale and long overdue paradigm shift that frankly should be discussed - and heralded - as much as possible, given the fact that the struggle for equal rights for gay people is something that is ongoing. Just as we look down on the people of the mid-20th century for inhumane treatment of minorities, future generations will look down upon THIS society for continued homophobia and discrimination. It’s a total indictment on humanity as a whole and hopefully within 15-20 years won’t be an issue for anyone.”