Frank Ocean Tries To Clear The Air After LGBTQ Backlash Against His Queer Nightclub Series
The "Pyramids" singer took to Tumblr on Friday to respond to critiques.
After receiving criticism from the LGBTQ community in response to the inaugural launch of his queer nightclub series, Frank Ocean took to Tumblr in an effort to set the record straight.
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Called PrEP+, the first in Ocean's series of nightclub experiences to be held throughout New York, the event incited an onslaught of backlash from attendees. From an obvious slim number of people of color in the room to security's mistreatment of guests, critics insisted that the space was “missing something,” as photographer Myles Loftin described in a comment to 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,” Loftin said.
Also in attendance was MTV reality star Paige Cole, who told Out reporters that the queer dance party failed to measure up to how it was initially advertised. Instead of offering a safe, comfortable environment for LGBTQ guests to relax and enjoy themselves, rigid security measures caused the space to feel overly policed.
“I expected something similar to Battle Hymn or Ladyland due to all the 'safe space,' 'consent only,’ 'no videos’ messages that came with my ticket, but the overly tight security and lack of respect for the dark room threw me off,” Cole said.
This is a weird flex.— Dr. Steven W. Thrasher (@thrasherxy) October 18, 2019
It imagines *universal* access to PrEP at an "exclusive" party?
It imagines the club scene in the 80s MADE BY ppl living with HIV as if...if would have been better without them?
And what good is PrEP access to ppl who were homeless, jobless? https://t.co/GmZJK2XB7N
so I’m at the frank ocean prep party and I guarantee you nightlife during the epidemic was far better than this.— Jason Rosenberg (@mynameisjro) October 18, 2019
mind you there’s no sex, no prep navigators, no community orgs. not sure what he was trying to do here.
oh yeah, and security was super tight; they took my Truvada bottle out of my backpack, and opened it and I jokingly said “that’s my prep” and no laughs were received back lol— Jason Rosenberg (@mynameisjro) October 18, 2019
On Friday, the “Pink Matter” singer reportedly hopped on Tumblr to respond to his critics.
Titled “Re: Last Night,” the memo begins with Ocean bluntly shutting down any rumors related to the series' financial backing. Although the event was reportedly named PrEP+ "as an homage to what could have been of the 1980s’ NYC club scene if the drug PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) — which can be taken daily to prevent HIV/AIDs for those who are not infected but are at high risk — had been invented in that era," the similar nomenclature has reportedly caused some to speculate if the connection between the event and the TRUVADA for PrEP manufacturer runs deeper than mere adulation.
“Not funded by Gilead Sciences. Funded by Blonded, independently. Let’s just get that out of the way,” Ocean said in the Tumblr post.
When addressing the question of why the PrEP+ event was named after the prophylactic pill, which helps mitigate the risk of contracting the risk of HIV-1 through sex, Ocean provided more context regarding this decision.
“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,” he said in the post.
Additionally, he clarified the rationale behind his well-intended attempt to create a genuinely positive experience for the LGBTQ community.
"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 (shoutout to The Basement that runs a very awesome techno night on Fridays after us) 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," Ocean said via Tumblr. "I’m an artist, it’s core to my job to imagine realities that don’t necessarily exist and it’s a joy to.”
While Ocean dispelled rumors that this club night was a PR stunt, he expressed his appreciation for those who did attend, closing out his Tumblr letter with, “All my love everybody really. Stay safe.”
Currently, there is no word on when the next PrEP+ queer nightclub experience will take place.