Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Frank Ocean

When the Grammy Awards nominations were announced earlier this month, openly gay/bi singer/songwriter Frank Ocean was nominated in six categories:

1. Best new artist
2. Album of the Year (Channel Orange)
3. Best Urban Contemporary Album (Channel Orange)
4. Record of the Year (Thinking Bout You)
5. Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (No Church in the Wild)
6. Best Short Form Music Video (No Church in the Wild)

The Grammy Award winners will be announced on February 10, 2013.

Ocean, who was born Christopher Breaux (known as Lonny to close friends), is twenty five years old. As a teenager in New Orleans he washed cars, mowed lawns and walked dogs to save up enough money to rent studio time. In 2005 Hurricane Katrina destroyed his recording facility, so he dropped out of college and moved to Los Angeles, where he made a living writing lyrics for Justin Bieber, Beyoncé and John Legend. Just a year ago he conceived and recorded his singing debut album – Nostalgia, Ultra – inventing a new persona. Songwriter Lonny Breaux became singer Frank Ocean (a tribute to Frank Sinatra and Ocean’s 11). Nostalgia, Ultra, an R&B album, was released in February, 2011 as a free download.

With the mid-2012 release of his first studio album – Channel Orange – Ocean came out on his blog, making reference to an unrequited love for a man (Ocean was nineteen at the time of this same sex longing). Ocean says he “cried like a baby” when he made the July, 2012 Tumblr blog post revealing his gay past: “I don't know what happens now, and that's alrite. I don't have any secrets I need kept anymore... I feel like a free man.”

On the songs Bad Religion, Pink Matter and Forrest Gump, Ocean sings about being in love, but the word used to identify the lover is “him” and not “her.” Thus Ocean became one of the first major African-American music artists to announce that he had fallen in love with someone of the same sex, notable because the industry is known for expressions of homophobia. In this instance, however, Ocean's sexual revelations were met with praise and support from throughout the music industry.

Channel Orange debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200, selling 131,000 copies in its first week, The album garnered rave reviews from music critics, who praised its idiosyncratic production, musical scope, and Ocean's songwriting. It was promoted with four singles, including Ocean's highest charting single "Thinkin Bout You", and his North American supporting tour in July 2012. At present the album has sold approximately 400,000 copies.

Bad Religion (Channel Orange) is a makeshift therapy session about unrequited love, taking place in the back seat of a taxi:

(sampling of lyrics)

It's a bad religion to be in love with someone who could never love you.
This unrequited love – to me it's nothing but a one-man cult & cyanide in my styrofoam cup.
I can never make him love me, never make him love me.

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