NEW YORK, July 7 (UPI) -- Music critics said the mostly positive reaction to U.S. hip-hop artist Frank Ocean coming out as gay is due to a cultural shift in values.
The artist announced Tuesday on his Tumblr blog that he had fallen in love with a man when he was 19 years old, something Mark Anthony Neal, a professor of African-American studies at Duke University, said never could have happened 10 or 15 years ago.
"It would have been death to his career," he told The New York Times.
But since Ocean's announcement, other musicians, including Jay Z, Russell Simmons and Solange Knowles, have announced their support of the artist. Despite the support, he has received death threats over the news.
"There is still a very nasty streak of homophobia in this country that we have to overcome," Simmons, a former owner of Def Jam, said. "I'm hoping the support by his friends and the members of the creative community will override it and, whatever he loses, he will gain more."
Joan Morgan, a music critic, said sexual orientation has become a less toxic issue for hip-hop fans and the music world in general.
"To even have a climate where a relatively young person -- he's 24 -- is comfortable enough not only to intimate this in his lyrics but to make a statement about it and put it on Tumblr says we have come a way as a society," she said.