By Ryan Velez
The Pulse Nightclub Massacre in Orlando became a moment not only for many to outpour their feelings of sympathy for the tragedy but also for many members of the LGBT community to share their stories. Singer Frank Ocean was one of the celebrities that took part, reflecting on some of his experiences growing up. These include his pastor saying that gay people belonged in a “lake of fire,” as well as an experience he had when he was six with his now-estranged father.
In the post, Ocean wrote: “I was six years old when I heard my dad call our transgender waitress a f****t as he dragged me out of a neighborhood diner saying we wouldn’t be served because she was dirty.” He went on to write, “That was the last afternoon I saw my father and the first time I heard that word, I think, although it wouldn’t shock me if it wasn’t.” This post has led to a $15 million libel lawsuit from Calvin Cooksey, Ocean’s father. In the lawsuit, he claims that the post damaged his career, costing him “future financial opportunities in the film and music industries.”
However, looking at the initial filings of the suit reveal strange logic and even stranger language. For example, Cooksey mentions at one point that he “never had a problem with any member of the ‘LBGT’ [sic] in Plaintiff’s life, with the acceptation [sic] of Defendant.” An NPR article covering the case suggests that this statement may contradict Cooksey’s claim of holding no discriminatory views, which the whole case was based on. Cooksey also calls his son’s friendship with rapper Tyler, the Creator into question, saying that he should have also been accused of homophobia due to his lyrics. Cooksey also accuses his son of deceiving the Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization, as well as Ellen DeGeneres — a “very good dancer.”
In an email to Rolling Stone, Cooksey would add, “The events that defendant describes on June 21st, 2016, that I called a transgender waitress F*****T NEVER HAPPENED … The defendant is a scam artist, a fraud and a hypocrite who deceive[d] the LGBT community on June 21st, 2016 for the financial success of [Ocean’s album] Blonde.”
Another thing to note is that this is not the first time that Cooksey has filed a libel lawsuit. In 2014, he sued mogul Russell Simmons for $142 million after Simmons called him a “deadbeat dad” in an interview. The lawsuit would be thrown out of court later that year.