Frank Ocean’s Coming Out Finally Brings Minorities In Consequence of Sound When we as a society talk about what it means to be homosexual, or what it means to be homophobic, we’re generally talking about how white people perceive gayness and bigotry. It’s not a hardened rule. But the increasingly noisy national conversation on LGBT issues does seem to unintentionally[?] exclude minority voices. Frank Ocean‘s much-discussed bombshell Tumblr post on Wednesday, in which the 24-year-old Odd Future member admitted to falling in love with a man, enables us on some level to have a more panoramic discussion, a more inclusive consideration of what same-sex attraction means. Internet pundits spent the better part of July 4th (and the morning after) breaking down Ocean’s moving memo and how it will affect his career, affect hip hop, and they’ve done it well. That path has been well-traveled, and I’ll simply hand out Kudos bars and say ‘job well done.’ Whereas Anderson Cooper’s coming-out letter was lauded as a helpful guide to gay youth, hopefully Ocean’s coming-out letter will be lauded as an equally helpful guide to straight minorities. (Note: Ocean never even said he was gay, just that he was in love with a man — of course, that’s all part of the discussion.) SEE ALSO: There Is No R&B, There Is Only Frank Ocean Lord knows God-fearing white folks have a long way to go towards acceptance. They don’t get a free pass. And while this is admittedly a tough card for a white dude sitting in white Williamsburg to play, it’s stone-cold fact that minorities, specifically within the black community, have long held odd notions of homosexuality, which is a contributing factor as to why hip hop and sports are the last bastions of accepted prejudice against gay people. I don’t share this to disparage black people with respect to LGBT issues. And I’d never suggest the black community is some monolithic entity. But there’s enough misconception out there to warrant saying that education about the issues, exposure to gay people and inclusion in the conversation is exactly how understanding happens. It’s how acceptance happens. This is the opportunity Frank Ocean’s sudden admission affords. What happens when swaths of people are left out of the discussion? Odd notions. Since we need an example, other than sweeping generalizations and murmurs about the now-mainstream Down-Low, let’s look at this through the Sandusky Prism. If you did a Twitter search about Jerry Sandusky’s sex abuse conviction, you’d find hundreds of tweets calling the former coach a “fag” or “faggot.” An overwhelming majority (literally: nearly all) of those tweets came from non-Caucasian faces. Here’s a small sample of some recent tweets: Breaking news: People on Twitter are ignorant, right? Right. But this was a special case: Here, it was almost as if black Twitter users couldn’t discern the difference between homosexuality and pedophilia, almost as if Jerry Sandusky molested those boys because he was gay, not because he had a predilection for touching defenseless boys. This is, ultimately, about education, exposure, acceptance. So far the right people have said the right things — Ocean’s bandmate Tyler, the Creator, who often uses the words “fag” and “faggot,” tweeted a congratulatory note that got 15,000+ retweets; Def Jam’s Russell Simmons said Ocean “changed the game” in a positive way for hip hop. But will it trickle down? SEE ALSO: Tegan and Sara Take Issue With Odd Future’s Tyler, The Creator’s Misogyny & Homophobia Marriage equality legislation is passing in many states. As I wrote back in February, one of the main reasons for this is that lawmakers are actually meeting the people whose lives they’re legislating. They’re learning this is about life, not lifestyle. In Maryland, Republican Wade Kach came face-to-face with gay couples next to the witness table during a special joint committee before the key vote in the House of Delegates. He voted for the bill, and it made a huge difference in its passage. In New York last June, Senator Mark Grisanti was one of the four Republicans who voted with 29 of 30 Democrats in favor of the legislation. His vote changed after he “met with so many people and groups” about the issue, he said. Education, exposure, acceptance. It’s not exactly clear whether marriage equality legislation is driving acceptance of homosexuality or the other way around. But acceptance is easier when we talk about this openly, when people stand up and tell other people that it’s okay to be gay. That’s the first step. The next step is the conversation — not the preachy, Sorkin kind, but the kind that happens naturally — which ultimately leads to the understanding, what being gay actually is and what it isn’t. That’s what’s been missing most. Everyone is talking about what Frank Ocean’s letter means for his career, for hip hop. That’s great, truly. But Frank Ocean’s letter is also a huge opportunity to simply draw minorities into a discussion we’ve been having without them for years, the benefits of which can be life-altering. Slade Sohmer is editor-in-chief of HyperVocal. Tweet him @SladeHV. SEE ALSO: A Letter To My Closeted Friend Follow us Follow Us Slade Sohmer Slade Sohmer is editor-in-chief of HyperVocal and co-host of SiriusXM's daily "Politics Powered By Twitter" program. Tweet him at @SladeHV.