By James Montgomery
In his first in-depth interview since the revelation, Ocean spoke to The Guardian about the media attention he’s received in the weeks since he first detailed the relationship, and the courage he displayed in doing so. And while he’s happy to have been received the way he has, he doesn’t feel all that brave for doing it. He just feels free.
“A lot of people have said [it was 'courageous'] since that news came out. I suppose a percentage of that act was because of altruism; because I was thinking of how I wished at 13 or 14 there was somebody I looked up to who would have said something like that, who would have been transparent in that way,” he said. “But there’s another side of it that’s just about my own sanity and my ability to feel like I’m living a life where I’m not just successful on paper, but sure that I’m happy when I wake up in the morning, and not with this freakin’ boulder on my chest.”
In fact, Ocean doesn’t think his revelation was all that different from anything he’s done in his still-young career. Starting with his decision to give away his Nostalgia, Ultra debut for free, he’s actively gone against the grain, doing things because he felt the need to do them.
“People are just afraid of things too much. Afraid of things that don’t necessarily merit fear. Me putting Nostalgia out … what’s physically going to happen?” he said. “Me saying what I said on my Tumblr last week? Sure, evil exists, extremism exists. Somebody could commit a hate crime and hurt me. But they could do the same just because I’m black. They could do the same just because I’m American. Do you just not go outside your house? Do you not drive your car because of the statistics? How else are you limiting your life for fear?”
And that fearlessness extends to songs on his new Channel Orange album, too: Take, for example, the song “Forrest Gump,” in which he boldly plays with gender roles, and doesn’t shy away from singing about a boy who’s “so buff … and so strong.” And, after years of keeping his past a secret, Ocean definitely feels empowered by his newfound freedom.
“When you write a song like ‘Forrest Gump,’ the subject can’t be androgynous. It requires an unnecessary amount of effort. I don’t fear anybody at all,” he said. “So … yes, I could have easily changed the words. But for what? I just feel like it’s just another time now. I have no interest in contributing to that, especially with my art. It’s the one thing that I know will outlive me and outlive my feelings. It will outlive my depressive seasons.”