Frank Ocean Responds To PrEP+ Party Criticism

Image via Instagram @blonded

Frank Ocean has released a new single.

The new song, titled “DHL,” was dropped as Ocean hosted a new episode of his Beats 1 radio show blonded, along with fellow hosts Vegyn and Roof Access. The song seems to be a merger between Ocean’s original alternative R&B sound and the Club scene-inspired music that Ocean expressed interest in developing.

The lyrics for the song speak of the euphoria of enjoying the materialistic side of life. The song mentions the Kawasaki car brand, Amazon, DHL, and several other brands or services.

And this isn’t the first time that the singer has mentioned DHL in public. In an interview with GQ, after being asked his best night of his 2018, he said:

“I don’t wanna give y’all the exclusive exclusive, but you know what? The new Christmas for me that makes me feel like a youngster is the night I come home from a long trip and I have boxes in the entrance to my apartment of things I forgot I had ordered or things people send me. That’s the new Christmas. I feel very blessed, grateful, and excited, happy chemicals rushing through my veins, when I walk into my apartment and I’ve got FedEx, DHL, UPS boxes, Worldnet boxes. As simple as that is. My box cutter is greasy from all the tape.”

The song then follows that mentality of living large.

But unfortunately for Ocean, it seems that LGBTQ people aren’t feeling the vibes he’s setting. Especially after his PrEP+ party.

We shared with you a couple of days ago that Frank Ocean had teamed up with Gay Letter to create an exclusive LGBTQ night club event named after the HIV-preventive drug. The event was meant to honor the LGBTQ club scene of the 1980s and imagining how it would have thrived, if not hit with the AIDs epidemic.

But as several people noted after the event took place, the event wasn’t respectful of its own premise.

“frank ocean really said ‘the AIDS epidemic, but pretend it never happened,’[sic]” wrote one Twitter user.

“The language around Fr*nk Oce*n’s party leaves a weird taste in my mouth. Imagining how ‘cute’ parties would have been if people weren’t dying during a plague is kinda gross and discounts the way nightlife was a refuge for queer people during the AIDS crisis. But go off,” wrote another.

Some people who actually attended the party also noted how its exclusivity and high price range made it only accessible to white gay men and straight fans. This ironically mirrored the situation around actual PrEP where queer people of color have less access to the drug than their white, rich, and/or heterosexual peers.

“I had a lot of fun dancing with my friends, and the venue was pretty cool but it was missing something,” photographer Myles Loftin told Mikelle Street at Out. “There were a lot of straight people there, and a lot of the DJs were straight and white. I just wish that it felt more like a queer New York party.”

“Frank Ocean’s tone deaf theme for a party became even more arrogant when I arrived and sat through three hours of a techno beat in rooms full of cis white people who knew fuck all about the movement his fantasy night was shitting on,” shared one partygoer on Twitter.

Dr. Steven W. Thrasher, a notable educator in the journalism field, then wrote a thread on Twitter expressing how Frank Ocean’s party erased the 1980s and 1990s queer night scene in a money-grab and attempt at status.

That latter note of a capitalistic cash grab only gets worse when you consider that Frank Ocean was also selling $60 t-shirts with the word “PrEP” written on it. Many questioned why Ocean was selling the shirts and also why he hadn’t specified if they were going to a charity or just directly to his pocket.

Keep in mind, many have forgotten that Frank Ocean wasn’t alone in the making and marketing of this party. The party was co-hosted by LGBTQ publication Gay Letter. Yet, it seems that Gay Letter was forgotten and ignored in this public pushback of the party. Instead, media sources and social media users decided to focus solely on Frank Ocean.

But how did Frank respond to the public criticism? He took to his Tumblr account on Friday to write a statement defending himself.

“Not funded by Gilead Sciences. Funded by Blonded, independently. Let’s just get that out of the way,” Frank wrote.

Frank then stated that he meant to honor and acknowledge the club scene of the time as well as the realities of the AIDS epidemic on the LGBTQ community.

“I started to imagine in an era where so many lives were lost and so much promise was lost forever along with them, what would it have been like if something, anything had existed that in all probability would’ve saved thousands and thousands of lives,” he wrote. “I’m an artist, it’s core to my job to imagine realities that don’t necessarily exist and it’s a joy to.”

“Now in 2019, there’s a pill you can take every day that will at a better than 90% chance prevent you from contracting HIV,” he continued. “This pill was approved by the FDA in 2012. The pricing strategy behind it is malicious in my opinion and so it’s public perception is marred and rightfully so. But the fact remains that despite price being a very real barrier to this potentially life saving drug for some, the other very real barrier is awareness.”

Sources: Rolling Stone, Aazios, Genius, Buzzfeed, Pride

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