Music’s most elusive act, Christopher Edwin Breaux, also known as Frank Ocean, has taken the world of music to new depths with not only his incomparable lyricism, but the vulnerability that he expresses through them.
Throughout his career, Ocean has become more open with expressing his sexuality through his art. In July of 2012, Ocean decided to make his first statement addressing his sexuality through an open letter on his . He explained that his first love was indeed a man and gave a detailed account of his loss of love they experienced.
Shortly after his letter was published, his debut album, “Channel Orange,” was released. The letter quickly came into play when listening to the the lyrics on the album’s second song, “Thinkin Bout You.” The lyrics are speculated to be a reference to the first male love discussed in the letter— “You know you were my first time, a new feel.”
With this being the second song on the album, Ocean left room for him to expand on his exploration of his sexuality throughout the rest of the album.
On track 16, “Forrest Gump,” fans were quick to point out that Ocean was singing from the perspective of Jenny, Forrest Gump’s love-interest. Taking inspiration from the infamous, “Run Forrest, Run,” Ocean sings “you run my mind boy/running on my mind boy.”
“Channel Orange” was only the beginning of Ocean being transparent with his sexuality. After a four year hiatus, Ocean came back with a visual album titled, “Endless,” a zine titled, “Boys Don’t Cry” and a second studio album, “Blonde.”
Afterward, Ocean linked his fans to an unexpected eerie livestream of an empty warehouse where he began to build a wooden staircase that became the visual album, “Endless.” The visual album featured a song titled “Comme des Garçons,” the seventh track on the visual album that translates to “likes boys” in French. This became a favorite of many of Ocean’s fans, and a testament to the queer themes throughout his music.
These themes are also prevalent throughout “Blonde” as well. The most noticeable being the difference between the official title of the album and the title on the album art. The long awaited album’s official title is “Blonde,” with an “e,” a word that describes a female with fair hair. The title on the album art is “Blond” without an “e,” which describes a male with fair hair. And although these differences are subtle, they are very intentional to Ocean’s artistic vision and the queer/gender-fluid themes throughout his entire discography.
When he dropped “Nikes,” the first single off of “Blonde,” he accompanied it with a music video. In the music video, Ocean bares a glittering face and eye makeup that showed Ocean’s feminine side, rather than the masculine side he normally portrays. Throughout the rest of the album, queer themes continue.
He is no longer shying away from his authentic self, and it shows not only in his art, but in the different people he inspires.
Ocean’s lyrics and art are some of the most intentional and in depth pieces of work that I have ever experienced as both an appreciative fan and open listener. A listener who is open to and welcomes queer themes and gender fluidity, a listener who would have little to no knowledge about it otherwise. I’m thankful for the conversation that he has opened up around freedom of expression of yourself and themes that would not be relevant in hip-hop and R&B otherwise.
For other artists that incorporate queer themes throughout their music, follow the Daily Lobo Spotify account for our LGBTQ+ playlist that includes Frank Ocean, Kevin Abstract and a few others.
Shayla Cunico is the culture editor and music writer for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ShaylaCunico.