This piece is written by Radhika Rajkumar, one of Spicy‘s Guest Contributors. Radhika is a journalist and photographer currently working for New York’s LGBTQ Film & Media Arts Organization, in addition to freelance writing. She is a recent graduate of NYU Gallatin, where, in a music criticism class, she was asked to choose and write about a musician she considered to be in the same league of cultural significance as Prince and David Bowie. The following is her response.
Who else? Part of me is frustrated that I chose him, but it was hard not to; Prince and Bowie gave birth to Frank’s quieter colors, his pillowy vulnerability and complicated gaze. Yes, he is pretty, liquid modern, Internet pastels and gender-bendy glitter, but what most of them don’t know is that he remakes queer history, like several thousand mirrors reflecting his blue-shadowed eyes into habitable, personalized versions, homes for all the homeless among us, whose bodies were flung far for fear of dishonor.
He is silent liberation, lean in closely so you can listen, braiding the pains of his peoples together with falsetto words strange and visual enough to be specific to all of his fragmented fandom, but to us the most. Because besides what he has already created, his fine-tuned ear always held to the ground of life holds what could be in the future, as if he would live forever just by being here now. He sounds like our kaleidoscope somewhere-else imaginations, even while speaking our rough truth.
If college girls like Drake because he gets them, queers love Frank Ocean because he gets us, is us, expands us; his pleading voice feeds our self-reflection, his tragic poems our memories of violence, rebirthing our biological right to the earth each time he writes a line or confesses love to a boy, “run, Forrest!”
I have heard the people he speaks to say he saved their lives, lives that would’ve been taken with their own hands from inside dysphoric, starved, long-neglected bodies. Frank is not echoing desperate sadness, instead endlessly contemplating, never finished with the work of combating extinction, ghostly multiplicity his only tool.
Appearing amongst flowers with a matter-of-fact stare (indeed, with the fact of his matter), his many-ness, what we in the community would call his intersections, are identities for us but only starting points for him. He ropes Foucault’s label-disregard to the boxes his body, in its black queerness, is often placed in, freeing himself without turning his back on us, the normal ones who often feel too much to speak up, so sick of being pushed away from our health just to survive, the ones who need those boxes like last resorts, the gayby inside us, squishy head bent over in almost comic sadness, who just wanted to be loved the way straight people were, the figurine we have since tried to discard with our communes and radical politics, but that still, actually, pathetically, exists. Frank, through all that he has loved, the girl with the Novacane and the Good Guy and the fleshiness of our Pink Matter, has also loved and talked with himself, reminding us to do the same.