I do this thing, and I know I’m not the only one, where I think I know the artists whose work I admire. I speculate about what our friendship would be like or things they might say in response to some of my silly behaviors. There are certain artists whose words have spoken for me again and again, perfectly describing the moments in my life that have changed me, the people in my life that I have loved deeply, and the feelings I have felt as I have grown. It’s amazing how someone can write a song and get it so right that millions of people connect to what they sing. It’s no wonder that fans feel so connected to artists. Lyricists truly amaze me. It is a gift that they have and it is a gift that they give us every time they get personal, explore themselves, and unleash something beautiful into the world.
I only know Frank through his music but still, I feel that it allows me to know him well. He came out recently. It was beautiful, it was brave, and it was big. It takes a special kind of courage to be open enough to let the world in on who you love. A lot of people refuse to acknowledge that love is love, that sexuality is one part of many that make up who a person is, and that all love is glorious. The world becomes a little more accepting every time someone of influence makes the bold decision to reveal their sexuality. Frank has opened so many doors for so many folks; for artists who fear being dehumanized and delegitimized by their industries, for those who struggle with their identities and the severely limiting boxes everyone tries to put them in, and for people who would believe that sexuality could in anyway limit a persons’ personhood. If you’re ever going to say one person can’t change the world, think again.
Amidst the outpouring of support for Frank, there have been some comments, however, that have deeply disturbed me. Surprisingly, it hasn’t been the bigoted statements (of which I have seen very few) that have expressed homophobic sentiments. Unfortunately, I expected those. Rather it has been statements of support that have left me with something of a bad taste in my mouth. Many of the comments I have read sound something like this,
“Frank, I still have mad love for you.” “I knew there was a reason I liked your music.” “I have so much more respect for you.”
While seemingly supportive, these kinds of comments mask something that I feel continue to hinder our collective path toward acceptance. I hate that we live in a world where, as a fan, I have to state that regardless of an artists’ sexuality, I still love them - as if their sexual preferences could in anyway limit their creative genius. I like their music because it speaks to me on a personal level and again, their sexual orientation does not change the immensity of the gift they have given me - us - with their words. All people deserve respect. Respect just means I acknowledge your personhood and your right to live free of my judgment or of limitations regardless of your race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Once you have my respect, you have it. It is unquantifiable. I can’t give you more or less of it, I can only give you my respect. I guess in short, what I mean to say is that it seems to me that these comments reify the notion that being LGBTQ could place any kind of limit on love, on respect, on artistry, or on someone’s humanity.
Frank, you are brave and it’s not just because you came out publicly. Every single one of your songs are personal and dazzling in their own way and it takes real courage to share them. You have truly touched people with your music. Whoever you deem worthy of your love is blessed. As a fan, you have always had my respect, love, and support. I look forward to the moments where only your words will be able to describe what I am feeling and where your songs will provide the soundtrack to my life. Thanks for everything.