AceShowbiz - Frank Ocean has addressed backlash over his queer club night called PrEP+, which launched on Thursday night, October 17 in New York. The invite-only party, the first in a series of queer club nights, was meant as a "homage to what could have been of the 1980s' NYC club scene if the drug PrEP... had been invented in that era."
Following the party, Frank faced criticisms from the LGBTQ+ community, including allegations that the party was funded by Gilead Sciences, the company behind PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis - the prevention of HIV. Denying this, the openly bisexual rapper said in a statement posted on his Tumblr page, "Not funded by Gilead Sciences. Funded by Blonded, independently. Let’s just get that out of the way."
The "Novacane" hitmaker also responded to claim that the party was a PR stunt. "I saw someone say that this was a PR stunt etc etc, pshhh b***h pls come get a drink next time and I'll put several barstools out so you can have as many seats as you need," he wrote.
Some others accused Frank of attempting to rewrite history by reimagining what New York's queer club culture would have been like had the drug existed. Acknowledging that the culture has so much changed since the 1980s, the 31-year-old elaborated, "I recognize NY wasn't all lasers and disco lighting and that simultaneously, there was a lot of crime and poverty and that a huge part of club culture, the gay community, at that time were being wiped out by HIV + AIDS."
He went on defending his decision to name the party after the controversial method of HIV prevention. "I decided to name, what was otherwise going to be a night of lights and music inspired by an era of clubbing that I loved PrEP+ because while designing the club which is inside of an old glass factory basement in Queens...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 explained.
Not apologizing for the theme, he added, "I'm an artist, it's core to my job to imagine realities that don't necessarily exist and it's a joy to. A couple days before we threw the party, I was discussing this subject with my team and one of the architects I work with thought that PrEP as a drug had reached '100% saturation' so far as awareness. I thought he was dead wrong so I asked a friend...if he knew what PrEP was and his response was 'isn't that some type of viagra or something'. My ex who I was with for several years didn't know about it when we first met at a gay club in LA. Awareness isn't always what we'd hope it would be."