Frank_Ocean_Rosa_Parks

Frank Ocean: The Rosa Parks Of The Gay Hip-Hop Movement


From here on, Caushun will forever be known as the Claudette Colvin of Hip-Hop. Caushun was unabashedly out when he was thrust upon the Hip-Hop community as one of the first rappers to be presented as openly gay and embraced by the powers that be. He was also covered heavily in the media as one that would have waved the rainbow flag inside the otherwise open doors on the House of Hip-Hop.

As the story was told in the mid-2000s, he was signed to Baby Phat Records and touted through of the music elite’s insider parties. Russell and Kimora Lee Simmons took the fabulously flamboyant Caushun under their mighty marital wing and introduced him to the world.

Jason Herndon, Caushun by his real name, has to be somewhere in the deep recesses of obscurity, stewing. Pissed. Crushed even.

Frank Ocean stole his moment.

Frank Ocean, when history is told and re-told, will be regarded as the Rosa Parks of the Gay Hip-Hop movement. Mark these words. If you have a chisel handy, etch them in stone.

He’s not a rapper, some are going to argue. Was Nate Dogg a rapper? What about TJ Swann of the Juice Crew? We all love Mary J. Blige. They and others like them are unquestionably Hip-Hop. Caushun was a rapper, but there was nothing truly Hip-Hop about him. Frank, albeit a singer, is undoubtedly a part of the Hip-Hop community, because of the manner in which his music resonates and his affiliations.

Rosa Parks, who was down with the NAACP, was heralded as a heroine of the Civil Rights Movement for her unwillingness to give up her bus seat to a White man as she rested on her weary feet on that fate-filled day in a 1955 Alabama. But her move was a well-timed act as well, as it was a supremely strategic move. Enter Claudette Colvin.

Before Rosa Parks, there was Claudette Colvin. Colvin was a 15-year-old G from what I’ve gathered. She was a young, scrappy, and militant kid when she refused to give up her seat to a White person, a full nine months before her elder counterpart, Parks. Colvin was studying the injustices that were going on in 1955, analyzing the life of Black leaders and was ready for whatever was to come.

[READ: 2011: The Gayest Year In Hip-Hop History]

In her 2009 book, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, she explained why Parks was selected. To NPR, she said, “Her skin texture was the kind that people associate with the middle class. She fit that profile.” Parks was also the secretary for the NAACP and had the backing of the local chapter to start the boycott that would cripple the racist busing system.

So, Frank Ocean is the Gay Hip-Hop Movement’s Rosa Parks, whether dissonant voices admit it or not. Rosa Parks wasn’t the first to get arrested for not giving up her seat. But, she was the first, some say, to fit an ideal that matched the delicate needs of the Dr. Martin Luther King-led push for equal rights. And, like Parks, Ocean is relatively safe, whereas Colvin was a militant that eventually relocated to Harlem in the midst of a cultural revolution living among the likes of Malcolm X.

Caushun was presented as an effeminate gay stereotype, a sort of person that’s overtly flamboyant and ultra outrageous to the commoner. Caushun and several other Gay Hip-Hop heads pre-dated the Odd Future affiliate’s announcement that his first love was with another teen boy. But those Homo Hip-Hop heads were not the ONE. Frankie Baby is. Frank Ocean rose quickly through the ranks digging his roots deep, but revealing his sexuality at the right time in the right climate.

The door is opening and Frank Ocean – whether he’s Gay, Bisexual, or Something Else – helped open it. It doesn’t really matter. He’s already worked with Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Brandy, Beyonce, and Jay-Z. And now, 50 Cent wants to work with Ocean post-Gay announcement, and Fif hasn’t historically been all that progressive. In fact, just a couple of mixtapes ago, he waged war against soft rap and “smedium” clothing, and now, he still wants to work with the leader of this new school. Like Obama, that’s a shift in position. There has been little to no backlash from the Hip-Hop community, whose homophobia is the stuff legends are made of.

But times have changed quite considerably. Attitudes have changed, but a lot of folks just aren’t choosing to fight that fight.

On top of it all, Frank (and his team) mastered this moment.

[READ: Can Hip-Hop’s New Generation Master The Moment?]

Frank Ocean played it perfectly, and there will always be some level of speculation on the timing of the revelation that his first love was a boy. Frank made his gi-normous reveal about his sexuality a week before his album dropped – a sharp contrast from CNN reporter Anderson Cooper, who could have easily capitalized by announcing he was gay during sweeps. He middle-fingered everything and even made the “announcement” through an email to a friend. Whatever.

This is the business of Hip-Hop and impact is about timing and relevance.

Frank Ocean is inexplicably a part of an untold underbelly of African American history – gay people were in Hip-Hop from the very beginning. (Gasp!) If you don’t know, you don’t know. If you know, you’re probably not saying a lot.

Frank Ocean threw caution to the wind and said what he had to say, in song, letter, and deed.

And his timing couldn’t have been better. Just like Rosa Parks.

[Editor’s note: When it was all said and done Caushun turned out to be a joke. He even had a ghost writer. Oddly enough, by today’s Hip-Hop standards, he would have still had a shot at stardom. Claudette Colvin was no joke. Read up on her.]

Many thanks to my muse for this piece. I appreciate your inspiration.

  • I don’t think that it’s right for him to advertise his sexuality just so he can sell records and or get attention….Artists are always asking for the world to stay out of their private lifes, and his should apply in any lifestyle Gay, Bi or anything else….I just think that because artists can’t sell records like they did in the past, now they are milking any-and-everything just sell…………Nicki Minaj did it and she cashed in nicely, now everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon.

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  • please don’t ever, ever, ever, ever compare frank ocean to rosa parks ever again! that is all

  • NICK HAMILTON

    This has got to be one of the most ignorant headlines for this story I have ever seen. smh.

  • jigsaw are you gay ? how dare you make the analogy between 2 gay guys trying to exploit being gay to sell records to ROSA PARKS a real champion of the civil rights movement WOW YOUR ARTICLE IS NOT ONLY IGNORANT BUT DANGEROUS you devalue all that your community has fought so you can give young hip hop fans mixed signals so they can “test the waters” you are an agent of disinformation & deceit it’s official ALLHIPHOP.COM + GAY RAPPERS = JIGSAW’S HEAVEN

    • Norrin Radd

      I think he is, I think the reason him, and alot of other industry people who came out to support dude is because they have their insecurities, they don’t have the balls to come out and be real, because deep down inside, they know, HOMOSEXUALITY AIN’T RIGHT. they know they mom or pops don’t agree, maybe. Or maybe they do! The Gay Rights Movement are just as guilty as a bible thumping christian they cry about. YOU ARE SUPERIMPOSING YOUR BELIEFS ONTO PEOPLE WHO DON”T BELIEVE WHAT YOU BELIEVE!! I don’t care what you do with your life, but don’t come to my house disrespecting! Hip Hop Is My House, and I don’t respectfully condone destructive conduct!

  • HipHopFan

    Disgusting article! Him being gay has nothing to do with the black struggle for Civil Rights, nor is what he did heroic by any means. I really hope the ninja that wrote this isn’t black! What a way to tarnish Mrs. Parks legacy and the black Civil Rights Movement you j*ck*ss!

    • Norrin Radd

      NEWSFLASH! HE IS!!

  • $18592567

    This article is wack af. Civil Rights and Gay Rights are apples and oranges. Ocean did the right thing by being true to himself but I think it’s highly irresponsible journalism to perpetuate this terrible argument.

  • timwest1000

    Blame it all on Gaga. She started using peoples alienation as a weapon for record sales. Every freak and outcasted gay person supported her. She even gave them names like monsters and they ate it up. Call it what you want , its a gimmick. Nicki and her Barbs, etc. Its all lame. Frank O is being gassed the hell up everywhere., His music is just OK and he sings like an Usher/Drake hybrid with a hint of Maxwell off key.

  • Lion King

    I wish people would stop trying to act like there’s a correlation between black rights and gay rights. This article is trash.

    • Lamonte Johnson

      MANN READ MY COMMENT ABOVE CUZ I TOTALLY AGREE AND ELABORATED ON THE WHOLE THING. ALL HIP HOP AND WORLD STAR RESPONSIBLE FOR ALMOST EVERY ISSUE IN RAP/HIP HOP TODAY. THEY TOTALLY TRY TO LABEL EVERYTHING THEY CAN AS A MOVEMENT OR TEAM. ITS COMPLETE BULL SHIT. THEIR LIKE IRESPONSIBLE PARRENTS THAT RAISE THEIR KID CARELESSLY THEIR WHOLE LIVES THEN WHEN THEY BECOME A BAD ASS THEY SIT WITH THE “DAMN IDK HOW THAT HAPPENED” FACE SMH

      • Norrin Radd

        YES MY DUDE!! THATS A GOOD ANALOGY!! YO CHUCK, WE RAISING KIDS OUT HERE FAM! STOP THE NONSENSE!!

    • toreal

      It’s all human rights. No one should not hire you because you are black and no one should not hire you because you are gay. Same thing.

      • YOU BETTER NOT BE BLACK SAYING THIS SH**!! REAL TALK. IF YOU ARE KILL YO SELF!!!!!! LOL DO HOMOS GET TREATED LIKE THEY’RE NOT HUMAN OR IS THEIR “LIFESTYLE” TREATED NOT NORMAL?
        NEXT THING YOU KNOW PEOPLE WHO F**CK ANIMALS AND PEOPLE WHO LIKE SLEEPING WITH UNDER AGE “HUMAN BEINGS” ARE GONNA START COMPARING THEIR “UNNATURAL” “LIFESTYLE” TO THE PLIGHT OF A WHOLE RACE OF PEOPLE. OOOOOH I WISH I COULD PUNCH YOU IN THE FACE RIGHT NOW. DON’T EVER SAY THIS AROUND BLACK FOLKS THAT ARE SANE AND KNOW THEIR HISTORY. HOW DARE YOU COMPARE SOME DUDES RUBBING BEARDS AND STICKING EACH OTHER IN THE AZZ TO PEOPLES DAMN NEAR 1,000 YEAR STRUGGLE TO BE LOOKED AT AS HUMAN BEINGS. F**CK YO WIERD LIFESTYLE YOU TRYING TO PASS OFF AS NORMAL. YOU CAN HIDE BEING A FUDGE PACKER BUT YOU CAN’T HIDE YA RACE.OR WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE

      • toreal

        I have 2 degrees. You need to educate yourself. The rights you are trying to deny gays are the same ones your grandparents had to fight for. Only religious fools have a problem with this. You as a black person should be ashamed for acting like a stupid inbred cracka about gay rights.

      • LOL MAN I DON’T GIVE A FLAYING F**K ABOUT YOUR DEGREES!! YOU CAN HAVE A MILLION DEGREES AND THAT WONT MAKE YOU HAVE COMMON SENSE. LETS BE CLEAR HERE DUMB SMART GUY.

        YOU ARE COMPARING PEOPLE WHO LIVE A WEIRD AND UNNATURAL “LIFESTYLE” TO MASS GENOCIDE & HATRED OF A “RACE” OF PEOPLE. A LIFESTYLE IS NOT A RACE OF PEOPLE MR 2 DEGREES LOL LIKE THAT’S SUPPOSE TO IMPRESS SOMEBODY. LAST BUT NOT LEAST, WE ARE TALKING ABOUT GAY S**T AND BLACK INJUSTICE/HIP HOP NOT HAVING ANYTHING TO DO WITH EACH OTHER. SO STOP SPITTING ON MY PEOPLE AND MY CULTURE TRYING TO COMBINE THE TWO.

        I AS A BLACK MAN HAVE NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF WHEN IT COMES TO NOT “ACCEPTING” A WEIRD/UNNATURAL “LIFESTYLE”. IF THAT’S YOUR LIFESTYLE THAN DO YOU BRUH. JUST DON’T TRY TO SHOVE IT IN MY FACE(NO HOMO) AND MAKE ME ACCEPT IT AS NORMAL.

      • toreal

        I’m not talking about slavery jackass. I’m talking about not having the right to vote, sit in the front of the bus, drink out of the same water fountain all because of the color of your skin. White people said the same things about blacks. They were unnatural, not human, weird etc… Gay people are going to be here, there is no need to hate them because they ain’t going anywhere just like black did not go anywhere in the 60’s. Gay people don’t want your dumb ass to accept them, they are just asking for the same rights as everyone else. They are humans. I may not agree with their lifestyle but that’s them.

  • Mongo Slade

    I ECHO THE SENTIMENTS OF REALLY 23, HIP HOP FAN, SAL, NICK & ANDRE 100% as a huge fan of AHH I’m extremely disappointed with such a stupid article. The fact that a funny looking dude decided to get on some Earnie & Burt shit would only be seen as heroic by descendants of the VILLAGE PEOPLE. As for those of us who are descendants of CHATTEL SLAVES and great men and women who sacrificed their lives so we could have a better future we see this type of comparison as a HUGE DISRESPECT to the serious African American person that knows their history.

  • AfricanSoul

    I think the intent of the article was suffocated by the article’s lack of focus. Correct me if I am wrong, but the author’s intent in drawing a comparison between Rosa Parks and Frank Ocean has more to do with timing (and to his credit, the author did mention the importance of “timing & relevance”) it just wasn’t neatly shaped as a cohesive argument.

    Honestly, I am more disappointed by the editor’s note on the bottom. Why would an editor plug in a note that debases a rapper as a “joke”. He had a ghostwriter? So does P. Diddy. Being a “hip hop” website doesn’t mean you can keep insulting your reade’s intelligence…well, not if you have a little bit of self-respect, at least.

  • Lamonte Johnson

    I hate all hip hop when they make the title for their articles. They always dumb shit down to the lowest common denominator. Like this one where it says “Frank Ocean and The Gay Hip Hop Movement” first off I could care less if this guy is gay or if he trying sneak gain from his new album by dropping hints. That means nothing to me. What means something to me is how everythign is be littled down to a movement, or a team. It’s complete bull shit yeah its mad gay ppl in rap now adays. Ocean, Asap, Lil B, even some of them other odd future niggas. PPL gonna stay doing shit to get arouse or attention when you stay labeling shit like this. It’s like the ppl who run this and world star dont’ beleive that celebs come on here and see what’s being said and viewed by them and ultimately form their career around these articles, vids, and comments. If you think they don’t then as a website TEAM you should no better. STOP TRYING TO PUT A LABEL ON EVERYTHING! YOUNG PPL GOOD AT PLAYING VICTIM AND DUMB AND THATS ALL THAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DO THAT

  • Lamonte Johnson

    GAY PPL IN THIS COUNTRY BE ON SOME BACKWARDS SHIT AS IT IS. THEY DON’T WANT NOBODY TO JUDGE THEM YET SOME OF THEM GO OUT THE WAY TO DO “LOOK AT ME I’M GAY, ACCEPT IT” BULLSHIT. YOU KNOW WHAT KINDA GAY PPL…NO SCRATCH THAT…YOU KNOW WHAT KINDA PEOPLE I RESPECT. PPL THAT DON’T TRY TO GET AROUSE BY DRAWING ATTENTION TO THEMSELVES BY WAVING THE I’M DIFFERENT FLAG. AND THAT FLAG DOESN’T JUST EXIST WITH GAY PPL IT’S WIT ALL KINDS OF YOUTH AND OLD FOLKS WHO TRY AND BRING WHAT THEY FEEL TO LIGHT BY MAKING A SCENE WHICH IS MORE GAY THAN BEING GAY..TO ME

  • WOW at this ignorant shit…….JUST WOW

  • I was gonna say that Caushun was a fraud, musically, which as Chuck noted, isn’t a barring offense in Hip Hop…anymore. Frank Ocean is like Rosa Parks, but Caushun had more backing, his music was just doo doo grits, regardless of his sexuality.

    Average Hip Hopper just wants good music.

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  • Daniel Freeman

    When did R&B artist become “the hip-hop movement”???? And as for comparisons to Rosa Parks??? Really??? FAIL!!!!

  • @jigsaw

    Man, I been rocking with you for like 12 years on this site. I can’t feel you on this one for one simple fact. FRANK OCEAN IS AN R&B ARTIST!! HE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HIP HOP!!! LOL!! He is nothing like nate dog and others you named. He is one of the few r&b artist out that’s straight up R&B. WHY ARE Y’ALL TRYING TO ASSOCIATE THIS CAT WITH HIP HOP? R&B singers been gay or suspect so that’s why nobody in HIP HOP cares. You should have brought up tevin camble instead of RAPPERS, G FONK, AND NEW JACK SWING type artist lol.

    What straight man wants to hear about dudes in love or what they do with each other sexually in a “hip hop” song? Jigsaw, I know you just jumping on this and holding your tongue because of the position this site is in now. But for the life of me, please stop comparing some weird unnatural “LIFESTYLE” with the atrocities that us black human beings went through with white folks!! You don’t see jews bringing up a “lifestyle” with the holocaust now do you? LOL AT THE OVER USAGE OF THE WORD “HOMOPHOBIA”. THAT IS A FEAR OF GAYS, AINT NOBODY SCARED OF NO DAMN FAIRIES LOL!! NOT AGREEING WITH SOMETHING, THINKING SOMETHINGS WEIRD, OR NOT WANTING TO ASSOCIATE WITH SOMETHING IS NOT A PHOBIA!!!!!!!!

    I SAID THIS BEFORE AND I’LL SAY IT AGAIN. AS OF 2008 Y’ALL SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN RID OF THE HEADING OF THE SITE OR CHANGED IT.

    “THE WORLDS MOST DANGEROUS SITE”

    LOL Y’ALL AINT BEEN THAT FOR YEARS! Y’ALL SO P.C NOW IT AINT FUNNY. SO IT’S COOL TO BE SOFT AND HOMO IN HIP HOP NOW? MIGHT AS WELL CALL HIP HOP SOMETHING ELSE NOW. BECAUSE HIP HOP WASN’T CREATED FROM NON OF THAT.

    (DROPS MIC AND STEPS OFF PODIUM)

    • Negro Peligro

      Yo thats real talk.

    • Norrin Radd

      COSIGNNNN!!!!!!! The World’s Most Dangerous Site” That’s Laughable!

  • This is some dumb ish right here. Stop sensationalizing whatever’s in the moment and take a step back.

  • Negro Peligro

    I’m not the person that subscribes to the notion that Gay rights and Black rights are all that different. BUT WHAT ROSA PARKS DID WAS PUT HERSELF IN HARMS WAY. What this guy did was vaguely confess in a magazine or a lyric or something at a time when its acceptable.

  • Harrison Boateng

    The Rosa Parks of the Gay Movement??? Please Stop , just stop it

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  • markjtuggle

    the comparison of frank ocean with rosa parks is disingenuous, although i can appreciate the provocative metaphor. the term gay was adopted in the early 50’s by a few, white, male homosexuals. the gay movement never intended to benefit the lives of same gender-loving men & women of african descent. their movement became successful after they co-opted the strategies & tactics of the civil rights movement.

    these men used boycotts, demonstrations, marches, protests, rallies & sit-ins to ultimately achieve economic & political power. the gay movement gave people a sense of community, equality, identity, pride & unity which did not exist nationally for white, male homosexuals during jim crow. the resulting cultural, legal & social changes have altered our sexual landscape: when you think of a homosexual you think of a gay person.

    but being gay is a choice, being homosexual is not.

    much like james baldwin in the late 50’s – who never identified as a gay man, despite the historical myths on pbs – ocean did not make a decision to join the gay movement. his sexual disclosure is personal, not political. moreover, baldwin understood the power of white male capitalist patriarchal supremacist thought. he refused to be used as a token negro & would not compromise his integrity, or manhood, because his love for black people was greater than his love for dead presidents.

    unfortunately, when it comes to black people & sexuality, especially with the onslaught of social media, our actions become politicized whether we like it or not. manhood is a commodity in the black community. hip hop is notorious for promoting images of hyper-masculine & hyper-sexual black men. yet the language black men generally use to describe their romantic & sexual behavior is overwhelmingly violent.

    how often do we hear artists talk about, “i’m gonna hit that,” or, “i’m gonna pound that,” or, “i’m gonna smash that?” didn’t nas brag about banging bitches in john jay? but when ll cool j became vulnerable & sang,”i need love,” folks said he was soft. why do artists tend to associate love, sex & romance with agresssion, control & toughness? perhaps we need a new love paradigm?

    mumia abu-jamal & marc lamont hill wrote a powerful book entitled, the classroom & the cell: conversations on black love in america. among other issues, they explore black love, black masculinity & hip hop with honesty, passion & sensitivity rarely viewed in most literary circles. they kept it real.

    kevin powell recently wrote a brilliant essay on manhood, mental illness & the colorado massacre. his essay highlighted the need for discourse in our community, particularly the hip hop community, on how we view our humanity, how we treat ourselves & each other. what is the model for manhood? where do go to nurture our spirit? why don’t we feel safe in our neighborhoods? he kept it real.

    before we become hyper-reactionary, ocean is not starting a homo-revolution. still, i respect ocean for speaking truth to power. he expressed his affection for another man without fear of reprisal. he opened his heart without corporate sponsorship. he touched my spirit because i can identify with his youthful innocence. he kept it real.

    regardless of our cultural, familial, religious &/or spiritual beliefs, we know brothers who engage in same-sex behavior & don’t talk about it. we know their sexual behavior is sometimes fueled by alcohol & other drugs. we know secrecy, shame & stigma keep brothers feeling like prisoners of their own mind, condemned by their own guilt.

    we also know homosexuality was not discovered by christopher columbus. we know homosexuality was diagnosed as a mental illness until 1969. we know black men who love other black men don’t get no love from their boyz in the hood. frank ocean is my hero. i affirm his freedom of speech & look forward to celebrating his ongoing musical jouney. holla!

    • Sparky Flinstone

      ur a fag and it was a mental illnes until 1972 then the laws were changed to popularize this misguided lifestyle

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  • Slaughtr

    People can feel how they wanna feel and comparing gay shit to civil rights
    nigga please we talking human rights not ass rights!!

    • Sparky Flinstone

      WORD! tooo many bitch ass nigga’s out here

      • Slaughtr

        least somebody knows the real

  • Slaughtr

    There has always been on th dlo gay niggaz running hip hop u know who u are

  • Slaughtr

    niggaz go to college and still stupid remember that Kanye verse

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  • Norrin Radd

    This Is “NIGGA” Shit, And “surprisingly”, (Sarcasm), It was written by a college educated Boule frat brother, huh? I Must have Missed It, What does this really have to do with Hip Hop? The Way i see it, This article was WRITTEN to bring attention to your website by using this dudes homosexual disclosure as a catalyst. Again, ALLHIPHOP, NOT SURPRISING. And what does your college education have to do with this? Because Most Proud Fraternity Brothers (Education Masons) promote bullshit (Look up PLIES, LUDACRIS, LIL JON, If you noticed, these brothers are educated, but have DUMBED DOWN THEIR CONTENT for the sake of street cred, and funny, none of these dudes, including JIgsaw, are from the hood.)

    I don’t like what ALL HIP HOP promotes (Mcdonalds, Dr. Pepper, rick ross, grey goose = Poison), THIS AIN’T HIP-HOP. Fraternities are NOT HIP-HOP. STOP LYING TO THE PEOPLE!!!!

  • cresreefer

    m sick of this poor gay rapper, truth is if he made sh*ty music he’d be a F*gg, now that he makes dope stuff, every heterosexual rapper want a pis of him, its all about gettin up, somewher around these messy world, some straight person likes it in the a*S, r they gay? SHUT THE F UP AND LISTEN TO MUSIC NOT PEOPLE SEXUAL LIFE

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