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2 YEARS

Singer Frank Ocean Opens Up on His Sexuality: 'I Feel Like a Free Man'

In a revealing open letter, the R&B artist recalls the time he fell in love with a man.

Frank Ocean
Karl Walter/Getty Images

Frank Ocean, R&B singer and member of the hip-hop group Odd Future, has opened up about his sexuality.

On Tuesday, Ocean posted an open letter on his Tumblr website in which he stated, in honest, heartfelt and at times poetic terms, that he had fallen in love with a man he met when he was 19 years old.

Ocean, 24, writes: "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."

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The object of his affection, also his same age, was in a relationship with a woman and "wouldn't admit" his love for Ocean, says the singer.

Ocean had originally written his statement on a flight from New Orleans to Los Angeles last December but didn't make it public until now. It was intended to appear in the liner notes to his debut solo album, Channel Orange, out July 17.

"I wrote to myself to keep myself busy and sane," he observes of his music. "I wanted to create worlds that were rosier than mine. I tried to channel overwhelming emotions. I'm surprised at how far all of it has taken me. Before writing this I'd told some people my story. I'm sure these people kept me alive, kept me safe."

Thanking his mother and other supporters, he continues: "I feel like a free man. If I listen closely ... I can hear the sky falling too."

Ocean's confession, which comes two days after Anderson Cooper's announcement that he is gay, sends a bold message to the world of hip-hip, where homophobic content has frequently been condoned.

"Today is a big day for hip-hop," Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam record, said in a statement. "It is a day that will define who we really are. How compassionate will we be? How loving can we be? How inclusive are we? I am profoundly moved by the courage and honesty of Frank Ocean. Your decision to go public about your sexual orientation gives hope and light to so many young people still living in fear."

Tyler the Creator, a co-member of Odd Future, tweeted a (typically profane) shoutout of support.

"My Big Brother Finally F--King Did that," he wrote. "Proud Of That ... Cause I Know That S--T Is Difficult Or Whatever. Anyway. Im A Toilet."