R&B singer Frank Ocean, who posted an essay on Tumblr in 2012 saying his first love had been another man, wrote a new piece Tuesday reflecting on the recent mass killings in Orlando, Florida, where a gunman opened fire inside a gay nightclub.
Saying, “I heard on the news that the aftermath of a hate crime left piles of bodies on a dance floor this month,” Ocean, 28, expressed solidarity with LGBT individuals. “I read in the paper that my brothers are being thrown from rooftops blindfolded with their hands tied behind their backs for violating Sharia law,” he wrote, referring to the Islamic religious legal system, which considers homosexual acts illegal. “I heard the crowds stone these fallen men if they move after they hit the ground. I heard it’s in the name of God. I heard my pastor speak for God too, quoting scripture from his book. Words like abomination popped off my skin like hot grease as he went on to describe a lake of fire that God wanted me in.”
Ocean, who won two Grammy Awards in 2012, including best urban contemporary album for his “Channel Orange,” recalled his first exposure to homophobia, at age 6, “when I heard my dad call our transgender waitress a [homosexual slur] as he dragged me out [of] a neighborhood diner saying we wouldn’t be served because she was dirty. That was the last afternoon I saw my father and the first time I heard that word, I think, although it wouldn’t shock me if it wasn’t.”
He went on to say, “Many hate us and wish we didn’t exist. Many are annoyed by our wanting to be married like everyone else or use the correct restroom like everyone else,” an apparent reference to laws such as those in North Carolina that restrict transgendered people to restrooms of their birth sex. “Many don’t see anything wrong with passing down the same old values that send thousands of kids into suicidal depression each year,” Ocean wrote. “So we say pride and we express love for who and what we are. Because who else will in earnest?”
He ended on a religious note, saying, “We are all God’s children, I heard. I left my siblings out of it and spoke with my maker directly and I think he sounds a lot like myself. . . . I’m scared to know but I wanna know what everyone hears when they talk to God. Do the insane hear the voice distorted? Do the indoctrinated hear another voice entirely?”