Two attendees of last week’s now-infamous ‘Rona Rave’ in New York City have posted statements to the community at large admitting attending the shindig was a mistake, but also denounced social media’s ‘cancel culture’ for the attacks the party-goers have experienced online.
As many LGBTQ and mainstream outlets reported, video clips of the party were posted by adult entertainment performer Ian Frost to his Instagram Story during the event. And when we say ‘videos,’ we mean 31 videos were shared tagging many of the attendees with their Instagram handles.
In the clips, you can see the 30+ party-goers were not of a mind to keep ‘social distancing’ practices in place, nor was anyone seen wearing a face mask amid the purple/pink party light.
Twitter user Phillip Henry downloaded some of the clips and shared them with his followers. And quickly, news of the event went viral.
People are fucking dying left and right and the gays are having full on house parties on a Monday night in NYC. JAIL pic.twitter.com/6f8Q2YzAJf
— Phillip (@MajorPhilebrity) May 5, 2020
Two minutes ago!!!!! Andrew Gillum bout to show up any minute!!!! pic.twitter.com/FLMvr0GUaT
— Phillip (@MajorPhilebrity) May 5, 2020
Many were angry that, with New York City being THE hotspot in the U.S. for COVID-19, the party seemed reckless and dismissive of the efforts of frontline workers.
Chris Weaver, who performs drag under the stage name Nedra Belle and is a past contestant on NBC’s The Voice, began his video message on Facebook saying that he respects all those medical and essential workers. In fact, he shares he has friends “serving on the front lines,” and he’s “reached out to a couple of them to let them know that if they need anything, I’m there and would love to help in any way I can.”
He then segues into the social media “dragging” aimed at the party-goers and adds that there’s now a “call for us to be ‘canceled.’”
“I’m a human,” says Weaver. “I make mistakes just like you make mistakes. It’s life.”
“I fully understand that I have to deal with the repercussions of what I did and that it’s just a reality that we have to face,” he adds. “But, I won’t be scared or run into a hole or a box because you don’t agree. Okay?
Admitting that attending the party was ‘dumb,’ Weaver says in hindsight, “If I had to do it all over again, would I have attended the event? I would have not.”
“Everybody’s all up in arms and so upset – that I can understand,” he continues. “There are thousands and thousands of people who have perished from this, and that is unfortunate.”
“But I didn’t go out with the intent to hurt anyone,” explains the singer. “I didn’t go out with the intent to say, ‘Oh I’m gonna go out to this party and not wear a mask to get the virus and to spread the virus.’ That’s not what I did, that’s not what I plan on doing and that’s not who I am.”
Weaver also shares that he’s suffered his own personal loss during the COVID-19 health threat as his 31-year-old cousin succumbed to the disease last week.
“So, for all these negative comments, let me tell you something about the gay community, the LGBTQ+ community,” continues Weaver. “What we do is we are so good at building each other up. But we’re even better at tearing each other down. And the problem with that is, we can drag and drag and drag folks all day and all night, but there’s never a chance – where is the chance for redemption? Where’s the chance for somebody to make up for their mistakes or to get it right? We don’t give that, but we wanna cancel folks.”
“People can issue an apology, and people are never satisfied,” he adds, although there’s no apology in the 11-minute video. “People just want something to attack people on. If you want to cancel me, cancel me, I mean that’s, it is what it is. And I’m hoping that you open up your hearts, not just for me but for those who you have attacked. Please know that your reaction causes reaction. Think about the person on the other side.”
“And so I love you all,” he says concluding his message. “And for those of you who are still on this train with me, thank you. For those of you who aren’t, I’ll see ya.”
He then sings an a cappella “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and signs off with a call to keep practicing social distancing. “It’s hard, I know. I just needed a moment, y’all.”
The DJ who was captured in one of the videos, Alec Brian, also posted a video with similar sentiments saying he regrets accepting the gig. He admits he took the job, on the spur of the moment, because he’s unemployed and had the opportunity to avail himself of some needed money to pay his bills.
Since then, he says he’s been attacked on social media by people who didn’t bother to learn the “whole story.”
Again, there was no ‘apology’ to anyone but he does say he used the money he earned at the party to buy 300 face masks that will be donated to those that need them.
“The REAL story behind that party on Monday night,” Brian wrote on an Instagram post with a snip of his video. “Not all the fake news you Cyber Bullies read about online and are brainwashed to believe.”
According to the New York City Health Department, at the time of the party, there were 171,723 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the city; 43,383 hospitalized, 13,724 confirmed deaths and another 5,383 probable deaths.
Today, those numbers have escalated to 178,766 confirmed cases. 44,812 hospitalizations, 14,753 confirmed deaths, and 5,178 probable deaths related to COVID-19.