Two high-profile names in American culture revealed themselves to be gay this week; CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper, and RnB singer Frank Ocean. In the case of the silver-haired Cooper at least, the USA's improved tolerance for homosexuality was highlighted by the nationwide reaction - "Meh".
Time will tell whether Ocean's revelation that his first love as a 19-year-old was a boy will affect his career adversely. The urban music world he inhabits is notoriously macho. A stock phrase for many rap artists is "No homo", as in "Suck a dick, no homo". During the beef between rap juggernauts 50 Cent and Rick Ross, both men traded what they felt were the most insulting insults possible in an attempt to harm the other's career. 50 Cent questioned his Miami competitor's integrity by calling him 'Officer Ricky' in reference to his stint as a prison officer, whilst Ross simply questioned 50 Cent's sexuality, referring to 50 Cent's G-Unit group as 'Gay Unit'. Heterosexual Californian rapper Lil B released an album last year entitled 'I'm Gay', possibly as a marketing attempt to show off his idiosyncrasy ; "I'm not gonna stop and I'm not scared of anybody on earth. That's why I [titled the album I'm Gay] and nobody gonna stop me." He received death threats on Twitter and Facebook.
Hip-hop's aversion to homosexuality is not necessarily homophobic, but rather an aversion to the perceived characteristics of gay men; a lack of toughness, aggressiveness, and a submissive attitude, undesirable qualities to have when growing up on brutal housing projects. Frank Ocean is an RnB singer so his coming out is likely to have less of an effect than a rapper coming out, but it was still a brave thing to do. And the reaction so far has been largely positive, with rap mogul Russell Simmons stating: "I am profoundly moved by the courage and honesty of Frank Ocean". The most encouraging reaction Ocean could get however, is simply - no reaction.
Indifference is surely what every formerly oppressed minority should strive for, as it is the ultimate indicator of acceptance. Anderson Cooper has had few words of encouragement from fellow media personalities, no big displays of support from the public because simply, no-one really cares. Cooper's largely white middle-class audience are relatively unconcerned one way or the other, their sensibilities are affected neither positively or negatively. His being gay does not upset their world view, or disturb their moral code. As his sexuality does not affect his ability as a journalist, the news is largely irrelevant to most. Good for him, now let's get on with our lives.
Frank Ocean must hope his listeners and record company are open-minded enough not to give a stuff. There are signs that hip-hop is moving forward, with rappers Jay-Z, Ice Cube and T.I recently proclaiming their support for gay marriage. Kanye West has described his switch from homophobia to tolerance after he learnt one of his cousins was gay: "And I wanna just come on TV and tell my rappers, tell my friends, 'Yo, stop it (discriminating)." Fellow Odd Future member Tyler the Creator, who has provoked controversy for frequently using the word faggot in his raps, has said he's "proud" of Ocean.
But the New Orleans native would be best served with this response: "And? Lets get some lunch."