On July 4, the rising urban-music star—who earned his stripes guesting on tracks for platinum acts including Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Kanye West, and has a much anticipated debut album out this month—took to his Tumblr blog to detail how his first love had been a man.
The intimate posting describes how Ocean emotionally struggled with the relationship and how his boyfriend ultimately spurned the singer’s attempts to justify their love. “I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after together. Every day almost,” Ocean wrote. “Sleep I would often share with him. By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating with the feeling, no choice. It was my first love. It changed my life.”
Now that the news has had time to register, support for the rising R&B star has come streaming in from across the cultural spectrum, with more than a few urban-music icons giving Ocean, 24, major props for abandoning the closet and tearing down the boundarythat has required gay men to live on the “down low” in hip-hop.
Such positive response to the singer’s unprompted and wholly unexpected revelation is another tangible indication that the genre is making great stridestoward abandoning its long-entrenched posture of homophobia and gay bashing. “Today is a big day for hip-hop,” urban music mogul Russell Simmons wrote in an open letter to Ocean on his Global Grind website Wednesday. “Your decision to go public about your sexual orientation gives hope and light to so many young people still living in fear.”