After early previews of Channel Orange, journalists began to question whether some of the lyrics on this and other tracks were addressing a male object of love. Ocean responded by blogging an open letter, in which he recounted his unrequited feelings for a man when he was 19 years old, citing it as his first true love. Ocean also commented on writing for Channel Orange after years of emotional struggle following the experience, stating, "I wrote to keep myself busy and sane. I wanted to create worlds that were rosier than mine. I tried to channel overwhelming emotions." Ocean's revelation of his past relationship with a man shed new light on this tale of adolescent love, which features such homoerotic lyrics as, "You're so buff and strong."
The song title references the titular hero of the 1994 comic drama Forrest Gump. Ocean plays on Forrest's love of running when he sings of his love interest, "You're running on my mind boy."
Asked by UK newspaper The Guardian why he used the word "boy" to describe his love interest, rather than falling back on the generic "you," Ocean replied, shrugging: "When you write a song like 'Forrest Gump,' the subject can't be androgynous. It requires an unnecessary amount of effort. I don't fear anybody at all. So, to answer your question, yes, I could have easily changed the words. But for what? I just feel like it's just another time now. I have no interest in contributing to that, especially with my art. It's the one thing that I know will outlive me and outlive my feelings. It will outlive my depressive seasons."
Ocean performed this at the Grammy Awards in 2013, where Channel Orange won for Best Urban Contemporary Album. Chris Brown, who was also nominated for Fortune, was noticeably one of the few people still sitting down as Ocean headed to the stage to collect his prize. A few weeks prior to the Grammys, they had a brawl outside a studio, during which either Brown or one of his entourage, allegedly described Ocean with a homophobic slur.