Will Frank Ocean's Coming Out Damage His Career or Broaden Hip-Hop's Perspective?

When Odd Future's Frank Ocean came out last night, people praised his method — Ocean wrote about a man he'd been in love with on his Tumblr — and his choice to be honest about his sexuality.

But country singer Chely Wright, the first openly gay star in her genre, cautions about the persecution she has faced. While she does commend Ocean on his decision ("I can't think of a better way for Frank to celebrate Independence Day"), she also suggests that being a gay R&B singer, like being a gay country star, won't be easy.

According to Wright, her album sales have dropped to a third of what they were. And she's no longer booked at certain venues that don't want to risk a protest if they invite Wright to perform.

Since Wright came out, no other country star has stepped forward. But she still believes that someone has to be the first in order to encourage more people to be honest about their sexuality, regardless of the stigma among their peers.

When it comes to the hip-hop community, Def Jam co-founded Russell Simmons feels the same way. In his short blog post, "The Courage of Frank Ocean Just Changed the Game," Simmons begins, "Today is a big day for hip-hop."

It is a day that will define who we really are. How compassionate will we be? How loving can we be? How inclusive are we?

Simmons goes on to praise Ocean's "courage and honesty." He continues, "These types of secrets should not matter anymore, but we know they do, and because of that I decided to write this short statement of support for one of the greatest new artists we have."

Only time will tell if the seal of approval from the third-richest figure in hip-hop has an effect on any future coming-out decisions.

[Image via AP]