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Not coming out

"I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together... And on the days we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I'd see him, and his smile. I'd hear his conversation and his silence."

I've had Frank Ocean's epic, hypnotic Strawberry Swing on repeat all year. It contains the lyrics: "Spaceships are lifting off of a dying world / And millions are left behind / While the sky burns / There wasn't room for you and I / Only you / Goodbye, goodbye..."

It is pure perfection.

Now we hear that Ocean is gay, or bi, whatever. He doesn't make any such statement - he hasn't "come out", as pop stars like Will Young were forced to - just tells us a story about a boy he loved. Maybe he was never in.

Or maybe it's all a big hoax, and we'll later learn that his Tumblr (on which he wrote of his summer of love) was hacked. I hope not. This news - and the matter-of-fact manner in which Ocean has chosen to break it - is so, so important.

We've had successful black artists "come out" before - David McAlmont and Kele Okereke, to name two - but they were British, and part of a more accepting indie world.

Ocean is African-American, and part of the more mainstream hip-hop/R&B/"urban" genre. In fact, his band Odd Future have been accused of homophobia, with their lyrics causing them to be dropped from Australian festival Big Day Out last November. But following Ocean's post, fellow Odd Future member Tyler the Creator wrote on Twitter: "My big brother finally fucking did that. Proud of that nigga cause I know that shit is difficult."

(Perhaps it's time to be a bit more clever about policing the use of the word "faggot".)

Ocean's words are incredibly eloquent; lyrical, you might say. And as far as gay role models for the youth go, it doesn't get better than this. The puerile media shit-storm that will engulf him will be tough to weather, and a test of how far we've all come. I hope his bravery is rewarded.

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