This piece originally ran on HelloBeautiful.com:

Over the course of the past few days I read on the blogs, and saw a few tweets chattering about an R&B artist coming out. Your name surfaced, along with an interview you did overseas, and then you wrote on Tumblr about a relationship you had four years ago with a young man. You shared how it changed your life, and how that young man was your first love.

Initially, when I first heard the news about an R&B artist coming out I wasn’t moved. I actually thought it was a hoax created by someone. As we all know how well internet gossip fuels outings, pre-mature deaths, and other lies about celebrities. So, I dismissed it. I was waiting for you, or your publicist, to issue their pre-made ready-to-go written statement For Artists Who Are Considered Gay When The Rainbow Is Not Enuff: “I am not gay. I am a heterosexual man, and I love women.” However, that didn’t happen. You actually responded to your legion of fans, and the world, by announcing your love and declaration affirming yourself in a new era Hip Hop world that is drifting toward a new normal that is no longer filled with the hetero masculine machismo that despises homosexuality.
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You see, in 2008, my book was released, "Hiding In Hip Hop: On The Down Low in the Entertainment Industry From Music to Hollywood." It’s my memoir detailing my life of working in the entertainment industry, and being privy to many friendships with a number of closeted celebrities, as well as a few relationships I shared with most of them. So, the news of an R&B artist coming out and admitting his true sexuality was not a shock to me. I actually have been awaiting the day, counting down the hours and minutes as to when one of my friends, or past lovers, would be brave enough to come forward and make a public announcement (My inhale continues to expand). But, it wasn’t one of them. No. It was someone younger. Much braver. An artist who isn’t hindered by the old relics of Hip Hop, or the entertainment school of, “Don’t you come out or it will ruin your career,” and the record label politics. It was YOU. Someone who recognizes their own uniqueness and the power they have to change a world with their honesty and truth. It was you Frank Ocean.

A trailblazer. A journeyman. A true lyricist. An artist. A pioneer. A hero.

So, I want to thank you, Mr. Frank Ocean, for your courageousness. It takes a brave soul to come forth in truth, and in love, despite what the rest of the world is doing or feeling as “flavor of the week,” as legendary soul singer, Maze, recently said in a speech at the 2012 BET Awards.

The mirror image you’re reflecting to the world gives us a new vision to aspire to. Your grace and ability to stand in your truth, and BE who you are called to BE, give others the courage and strength to be unafraid and be FREE. Thank you for not playing small, or even allowing yourself to be small. You’re too BIG, and nothing can contain your SPIRIT for it is your CALLing to give us this moment. Right here. Right now. There are many young people, even mature people, who are struggling with their sexual identity, and are afraid to step out of the shadows for fear of being judged, criticized, or ridiculed. Every day the fear grips and chokes them, just as it once did to you. So, please know that they are watching, reading, and listening to you, and the declaration you’re making. A black man in Hip Hop, who looks like them, speaks like them, and realized his dreams despite of the backlash or BS others tend to hold on to because of their own prejudices against same gender loving people. You boldly refuse to be bound by others, and in that declaration you are giving others hope and courage to be their authentic selves. Being black and gay so many times we hear, “No,” and “You can’t,” or, “It’s impossible.” Yet, your music and voice is heard around the world on radio channels, you’ve performed in stadiums before hundreds and thousands of people, and club DJs bang your songs while men and women, straight, gay, and bi, bop their heads and two-step to YOUR GROOVE. Yes, that is POWER-FULL!

What many people don’t understand is that coming out is a process. Though it is a process that is formed in our BEings, and shaped into our purpose, however, it takes KNOWing SELF, and BEcoming TRUTH-FULL within one’s self in order to be able to share it with others. No one can make you do it before your time. It is not up to them. It’s up to the CREATOR, and HIS will, and the moment HE knows YOU are ready to be responsible of the task and gift to give to the world. This is YOUR time.

Your gift has, and, is being revealed right before our eyes, and we are bearing witness to it. Every time you’ve opened your mouth we’ve heard it in your songs. Your melodic, smooth, and hypnotic voice lingering gingerly with the beats blending perfectly to tell us about love, happiness, hopefulness, and starting again. Thank you for the gift of your voice, and for understanding how to use it.

I also want to thank you for being open, vulnerable, and FRANK regarding your first love with another man. What a powerful testament in bearing your soul, and being emotional, open, and so revealing for the entire world to see, especially your emotions, and feelings for another man. Your letter was truly heartfelt. Thank you for your honesty.
Yes, we all know about first loves. The ones we’d walk to the earth’s end for. The ones whose voice, smell, and touch gives us a reason to live and look forward to until the next moment we see them again. It’s hard loving someone so much and they don’t even know the depth of your love, and how you’ll give your heart to them, and even lay down and die for them. It’s hard because as you’ve stated so eloquently in your letter that when you were finally able to say the words letting that young man know how you felt about him, and his response was a pat on the back and him saying how he could not return the love, I knew that moment. I knew that experience. I could relate, as well as many of your fans who have experienced love and love lost. We’ve all been there sharing our hearts, words, thoughts, yet, the other person responds with a non-empathetic response. They don’t get it. They don’t understand that it took so much courage, and us fighting through our fears to be vulnerable and in a space where we once were afraid to go. However, for some ODD reason you felt the strength and courage to reveal all because you wanted to be free, floating, and living in that forever euphoric space that they made you feel whenever they were around. But, they tell you that they cannot love you the way you love them. They can’t be or give you what you want them to be. Your world stops. The sky falls. The earth sinks. The air goes stale, and you can’t breathe. The life has been sucked out of you and you know there will be no more tomorrows because there will be no more anything.

Yet, you’ve found the strength from a loving and nurturing support system of friends, loved ones, and family who healed you through. They lifted you, inspired you, and encouraged you. And, in the power of your BEing you were able to rise, lift the earth, and connect us to you with your symphonic music and tantalizing lyrics. Simply because you acknowledged your greater SELF which you stated at the end of your letter, “I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore…I feel like a free man.” POWER-FULL!

Just as singer, Adele, wailed with an open wounded heart on her 21 album, singing about a rejected love, and Mary J. Blige, cried out with a soulful blues of an unrequited love on her, My Life album, their vulnerability connected them with their fans. Just as you have done with your letter. And, yes, there are many artists who have made songs about former lovers, ill-fated relationships, and love lost, but Mary J. Blige and Adele touched the souls of folks like an old Negro spiritual. And, in that connectedness their truths catapulted them to superstardom. My hope and prayer for you is that your new album, Channel Orange, in which reviewers say that many of the songs are an ode to a love lost with another man, will have the same effect as 21 and My Life did on the lives of music fans around the world, and it catapult you into the superstar stratosphere where you belong.

Thank you, Frank Ocean, for inviting us into your space, and giving us the opportunity to know you emotionally, spiritually, and humanly.

Warmly,
Terrance Dean

Take a look at other celebrities who've identified as LGBT below:

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  • Anderson Cooper, 2012

    Long rumored to be gay, CNN news anchor and talk show host Anderson Cooper came out in July of 2012 via an email <a href="http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2012/07/anderson-cooper-the-fact-is-im-gay.html" target="_hplink">to the 'Daily Beast''s Andrew Sullivan</a>. Cooper wrote in part: "The fact is, I'm gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn't be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud..."

  • Frank Ocean, 2012

    Frank Ocean, an R&B singer who is part of the hip hop collective Odd Future and who has also written songs for Justin Bieber, John Legend and Beyoncé, came out on <a href="http://www.frankocean.com/" target="_hplink">his blog</a>. Ocean <a href="http://www.frankocean.com/" target="_hplink">writes in part</a>: "In the last year or 3 I've screamed at my creator, screamed at the clouds in the sky, for some explanation. Mercy maybe. For peace of mind to rain like manna somehow. 4 summer ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost... 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."

  • Jim Parsons, 2012

    <em>New York Times </em>scribe Patrick Healy confirmed "The Big Bang Theory" star's sexuality<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/27/theater/jim-parsons-prepares-for-his-lead-role-in-harvey.html?_r=1" target="_hplink"> as part of a profile</a>. The revelation came late in the article, when Healy describes the 39-year-old actor's role in the 2011 revival of Larry Kramer's HIV/AIDS crisis drama, "The Normal Heart." Wrote Healy: '"The Normal Heart" resonated with him on a few levels: Mr. Parsons is gay and in a 10-year relationship, and working with an ensemble again onstage was like nourishment, he said." Though the <em>Times </em>didn't identify Parsons' partner, he has been romantically liked with art director Todd Spiewak (pictured).

  • Anne Burrell, 2012

    "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef" host Anne Burrell confirmed she's a lesbian and in a committed relationship with a woman, just days after just days after "Chopped" host Ted Allen made a reference to her sexuality in a radio interview. "Anne doesn't feel she was outed," Burrell's rep told Page Six. "She has made no secret of her relationship." The rep went on to note, "Her significant other is a very private woman. They have been together for a couple of years and spend a lot of time together."

  • Matt Bomer, 2012

    The 34-year-old "White Collar" hunk <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/13/matt-bomer-comes-out-gay-thanks-partner_n_1272997.html" target="_hplink">thanked his partner</a> Simon Halls and his three children during Saturday's Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards, where he received the New Generation Arts and Activism Award for his work in the fight against HIV/AIDS. "I'd really especially like to thank my beautiful family: Simon, Kit, Walker, Henry," he told the crowd. "Thank you for teaching me what unconditional love is. You will always be my proudest accomplishment."

  • Gillian Anderson, 2012

    The "X-Files" actress <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/13/gillian-anderson-lesbian-relationships-out-magazine_n_1342801.html" target="_hplink">revealed she's had numerous relationships</a> with women in a 2012 interview with <em>Out</em> magazine. The 43-year-old mother of three, who's long enjoyed a sizable lesbian fanbase, told <em>Out</em> that she first had a relationship with a woman while still in high school, after moving from her native England to suburban Michigan. "If I had thought I was 100 percent gay, would it have been a different experience for me?" Anderson, who was voted "Most Bizarre" and "Most Likely to Be Arrested" in high school, ponders. "Would it have been a bigger deal if shame had been attached to it and all those things that become huge life-altering issues for youngsters in that situation? It's possible that my attitude around it came, on some level, from knowing that I still liked boys."

  • Jonathan Knight, 2011

    The New Kids On The Block singer was out-ed by fellow '80s teen pop star Tiffany in January 2011 when she revealed she dated Knight before "he became gay later." In response, Knight posted a message on his website <a href="http://www.towleroad.com/2011/01/jonathan-knight.html#ixzz1azmexp8H" target="_hplink">stating in part</a>: <blockquote>"I have never been outed by anyone but myself! I did so almost twenty years ago. I never know that I would have to do it all over again publicly just because I reunited with NKOTB! I have lived my life very openly and have never hidden the fact that I am gay!"</blockquote>

  • Ellen DeGeneres, 1997

    DeGeneres came out in 1997, both in real life and on TV, on her sitcom "Ellen." "The Puppy Episode," which aired in April 1997, <a href="http://www.afterellen.com/column/2005/4/backintheday.html" target="_hplink">featured a who's who</a> of Hollywood, including Oprah Winfrey, Demi Moore, Billy Bob Thornton, and Laura Dern as Ellen's love interest. DeGeneres's character became the first openly gay prime time character on television.

  • Zachary Quinto, 2011

    Long rumored to be gay, the actor, most famous for his roles on "Heroes" and in the recent "Star Trek" film, came out in a October 2011 <em>New York</em> magazine profile, saying: <blockquote>"In light of Jamey's [Rodemeyer] death -- it became clear to me in an instant that living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it -- is simply not enough to make any significant contribution to the immense work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality. Our society needs to recognize the unstoppable momentum toward unequivocal civil equality for every gay lesbian bisexual and transgendered citizen of this country."</blockquote>

  • Elton John, 1976

    In <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/elton-john-lonely-at-the-top-rolling-stones-1976-cover-story-20110202" target="_hplink">an interview</a> with <em>Rolling Stone</em> in October 1976, the rock star came out by saying, "There's nothing wrong with going to bed with somebody of your own sex. I think everybody's bisexual to a certain degree. I don't think it's just me. It's not a bad thing to be. I think you're bisexual. I think everybody is."

  • Clay Aiken, 2008

    After becoming a father in August of 2008, the "American Idol" runner up <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20228488,00.html" target="_hplink">came out on the cover</a> of <em>People</em> magazine in September 2008 saying, "[Coming out] was the first decision I made as a father... I cannot raise a child to lie or to hide things. I wasn't raised that way, and I'm not going to raise a child to do that."

  • Wanda Sykes, 2008

    The comedian and actress came out in November 2008 <a href="http://thestrippodcast.blogspot.com/2008/11/wanda-sykes-lv-gay-rally-im-proud-to-be.html" target="_hplink">while speaking at an anti-Prop 8 rally</a> in Las Vegas. Sykes said in part: <blockquote>"I got married Oct. 25, I don't really talk about my sexual orientation, I felt like I was living my life, I wasn't in the closet, but I was just living my life. Everybody who knows me personally, they know I'm gay. And that's the way people should be able to live our lives, really. We shouldn't have to be standing out here demanding something we automatically should have as citizens of this country."</blockquote>

  • Ricky Martin, March 2010

    In March 2009 pop star Ricky Martin <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/29/ricky-martin-comes-out-im_n_517625.html" target="_hplink">posted a message on his website</a> telling the world, "I am a fortunate homosexual man."

  • Chely Wright, 2010

    Country singer Chely Wright <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20365936,00.html" target="_hplink">came out in May 2010</a>. She told <em>People</em> magazine, "There had never, ever been a country music artist who had acknowledged his or her homosexuality... I wasn't going to be the first." But she changed her mind and said of her decision, "Nothing in my life has been more magical than the moment I decided to come out."

  • George Michael, 1998

    After being caught performing a "lewd act" in a public restroom, Michael came out to CNN in April 1998. <a href="http://www.cnn.com/SHOWBIZ/9804/11/george.michael/" target="_hplink">Michael said</a>, "This is as good of a time as any... I want to say that I have no problem with people knowing that I'm in a relationship with a man right now. I have not been in a relationship with a woman for almost 10 years." Later that year Michael spoofed the incident in the music video for his single "Outside."

  • Don Lemon, 2011

    The CNN news anchor came out to the <em>New York Times</em> in May 2011. Lemon <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/16/business/media/16anchor.html?_r=3" target="_hplink">told the paper</a>, "It's quite different for an African-American male... It's about the worst thing you can be in black culture. You're taught you have to be a man; you have to be masculine. In the black community they think you can pray the gay away."

  • Adam Lambert, 2009

    The singer's sexuality was always a topic of discussion for viewers when he was performing on "American Idol," but Lambert didn't come out until after the competition had wrapped. In a June 2009 <em>Rolling Stone</em> cover story, Lambert said, "Right after the finale [of "AI"], I almost started talking about it to the reporters, but I thought, 'I'm going to wait for <em>Rolling Stone</em>, that will be cooler,'.. I didn't want the Clay Aiken thing and the celebrity-magazine bullshit. I need to be able to explain myself in context."

  • Kelly McGillis, 2009

    When <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20275794,00.html" target="_hplink">asked by an Internet talk show</a> who she was looking to date in April of 2009, "Top Gun" star Kelly McGillis answered "Definitely a woman," and added, "I'm done with the man thing. You need to move on in life."

  • Neil Patrick Harris, 2006

    The "Doogie Howser, MD" and "How I Met Your Mother Star" came out on the cover of <em>People</em> magazine in November of 2006. <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,1554852,00.html" target="_hplink">Harris told the magazine</a>: <blockquote>"The public eye has always been kind to me, and until recently I have been able to live a pretty normal life. Now it seems there is speculation and interest in my private life and relationships. So, rather than ignore those who choose to publish their opinions without actually talking to me, I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in the business I love." </blockquote>

  • Chaz Bono, 2009

    Chaz Bono revealed his plan to transition in May 2009. TMZ.com broke the story <a href="http://www.tmz.com/2009/06/11/chastity-bono-becoming-a-man/#.TptSZ2VPkqU" target="_hplink">via a prepared statement</a> from Bono's publicist that read, in part: <blockquote>"Yes, it's true -- Chaz, after many years of consideration, has made the courageous decision to honor his true identity... He is proud of his decision and grateful for the support and respect that has already been shown by his loved ones. It is Chaz's hope that his choice to transition will open the hearts and minds of the public regarding this issue, just as his 'coming out' did nearly 20 years ago."</blockquote>

  • Chris Colfer, 2009

    The "Glee" actor came out on the "Chelsea Lately Show" in December 2009: Chelsea Handler: "Your character on the show's gay. We know that you're gay. That's good for you. Congratulations. Don't be shy about that. Seriously. You shouldn't be shy about that because every time...an actor like you is helping a zillion other people that are scared to talk about their sexuality so good for you." Chris Colfer: "Thank you. You know what my answer to that question was prior to coming out -- was that I was straight as every other actor in Hollywood."

  • Meredith Baxter, 2009

    In December 2009 Baxter, most famous for playing Elyse Keaton on '80s sitcom "Family Ties," went on the "Today Show" and told Matt Lauer that she was a lesbian. Baxter said, "Some people would say, well, you're living a lie and, you know, the truth is -- not at all. This has only been for the past seven years."

  • Lance Bass, 2006

    The 'N Sync pop star came out on the cover of <em>People</em> magazine in July 2006. When asked why he decided to come out then, <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,1219142,00.html" target="_hplink">Bass said</a>, "The main reason I wanted to speak my mind was that (the rumors) really were starting to affect my daily life. Now it feels like it's on my terms. I'm at peace with my family, my friends, myself and God so there's really nothing else that I worry about."

  • Heather Matarazzo, 2004

    The actress, perhaps best known for her role as tormented teen Dawn Wiener in the film "Welcome To The Dollhouse," <a href="http://www.afterellen.com/archive/ellen/People/82004/heathermatarazzo.html" target="_hplink">came out in August 2004</a> by telling the <em>NY Daily News</em> about falling in love with Caroline Murphy: <blockquote>"I met the person I'm so madly crazy in love with...She's not famous yet. She will be. She wants to do musical theater and stage, which is not as demoralizing as the movie business is."</blockquote>

  • Melissa Etheridge, 1993

    The rock star came out in January 1993 during the Triangle ball, the first ever ball thrown for the LGBT community during a president's inauguration, in this case Clinton's. <a href="http://www.afterellen.com/archive/ellen/column/2005/2/backintheday.html" target="_hplink">Etheridge recalls</a>: <blockquote>"I didn't even think, Oh, I'm going to come out here...It was, 'Gee, I'm really excited to be here, and I'm really proud to have been a lesbian all my life.' And a big cheer went up through the whole hall, and k.d. [lang] came out and hugged me. I remember walking back, and my friend said, 'I think you came out!'"</blockquote>

  • Darren Hayes, 2006

    The former Savage Garden front man came out by marrying Richard Cullen in June 2006. He announced the civil union on his website <a href="http://chartrigger.blogspot.com/2006/07/darren-hayes-comes-out.html" target="_hplink">saying in part</a>: "As so many of you have given me your heart and soul over the past 10 years I thought it only fitting that I too return the respect and inform you of the most significant event in my life... On June 19th 2006 I married my boyfriend of two years, Richard, in a Civil Partnership ceremony in London."

  • Lady Sovereign, 2010

    In May 2010 the British rapper came out in <em>Diva</em> magazine. <a href="http://perezhilton.com/2010-05-12-lady-sov-comes-out#.Tpt-2WVPkqU" target="_hplink">Sovereign said</a>: <blockquote>"Magazines would always ask about it but [questions about my sexuality] would get stopped by my publicists. It was my choice, too, because I was a bit worried about it but now I don't really give a shit. You can't hide away forever. It's just stupid and now I've come out I feel a lot more comfortable with myself. But it was a bit scary back then because some people do have horrible opinions."</blockquote>

  • Rosie O'Donnell, 2002

    The comedian and talk show host <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/2002/2002-02-27-rosie.htm" target="_hplink">came out by revealing</a> "I'm a dyke!" during her stand up act at the Ovarian Cancer Research benefit at Carolines Comedy Club in February 2002.

  • Portia de Rossi, 2005

    The actress had been out to friends for quite some time, but she told the entire world in the fall of 2005 in interviews with <em>Details</em> magazine and <em>The Advocate</em>. "I've had my years of being not open, many years of it... It's an honor for me to do this; it's just nice to be asked," de Rossi said in her September 2005 <em>Advocate</em> <a href="http://crispie764.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=Urgent&action=display&thread=35" target="_hplink">cover story</a>, her first with the gay press.

  • Sean Hayes, 2010

    Long dogged by rumors about his sexuality, the "Will and Grace" actor <a href="http://www.advocate.com/Arts_and_Entertainment/People/Sean_Hayes_I_Am_Who_I_Am/" target="_hplink">finally came out</a> in <em>The Advocate</em> in April 2010: "I am who I am. I was never in, as they say. Never," he said.

  • Cynthia Nixon, 2004

    The "Sex And The City" star was out-ed in 2004 when the <em>NY Daily News</em> and the <em>New York Post</em> <a href="http://www.afterellen.com/People/92004/cynthianixon.html" target="_hplink">reported she was living</a> with another woman in September 2004. Nixon half-heartedly confirmed the rumors when she told the <em>Daily News</em>, "My private life is private... But at the same time, I have nothing to hide. So what I will say is that I am very happy."