The Odd Future clan has done surprisingly well at avoiding falling victim to the idea that black men aren’t allowed to express their emotions. So, I was not all surprised when Tyler’s lyrics of his most recent album Flower Boy suggested that he’s been struggling with his sexual identity and that he might not even be straight. Check out “911/Mr. Lonely” on Spotify and Apple Music.
This song has everybody on it: Steve Lacy, Frank Ocean, Anna of the North, A$AP Rocky and Schoolboy Q. All the greats. Lacy, who I’ve already identified as a genius producer, sings my favorite lines of the song:
Call me sometime,
Please bang my line
Call me sometime,
Please bang my liiiiiine
Uncle Charlie himself would appreciate this sampling of The Gap Band’s “Outstanding” melody. Enlisting the vocals of fellow Odd Future alum, Frank Ocean, is incredibly fascinating. In 2011, Ocean penned a letter on his Tumblr, which was essentially him coming out before Channel Orange was released. Channel Orange also makes references to romances with men, so having Ocean on the track reflects that he may have had some influence on Tyler.
Odd Future is such a family, but Tyler still feels lonely. He has a few of his close friends featured on the track, just to further indicate that his problems are internal. He’s stated multiple times over the years that he’s tried to come out and either no one cared or they wouldn’t believe him. Understadable that they wouldn’t believe him, seeing as though he and his cohorts gained notoriety through heavy use of homophobic slurs and misogyny.
I finally ask, Why all the gay humor? “Because I’m gay as fuck,” he says, without a flinch. Seriously, are you gay? Are these repressed feelings? “No, but I am in love with ’96 Leonardo DiCaprio,” he says. “I one hundred percent would go gay for ’96 Leo. Oh, and Cole Spouse.”
-Ernest Baker, Rolling Stone, 2015
However, I believe it’s all one giant defense mechanism. He is forthright and casual with his sexuality. He hasn’t shown much of the torture closeted individuals tend to endure, because he seems to mask his truth in a “joke,” so that he doesn’t feel like he’s lying to himself. This is an after school special cliché, but a little more sophisticated and layered. I’m happy that a queer black man is finding peace and growth.
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