Frank Ocean Responds After A Complex Backlash To His New Club Night PrEP+

Frank Ocean has responded to criticism of his new club night PrEP+, denying financial ties to the company behind the revolutionary drug it was named after and refuting claims it was a “PR stunt”.

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Taking to his Tumblr with a lengthy statement, the musician said Thursday’s club night was named to bring attention to the medication PrEP, which can drastically reduce the likelihood of someone sexually contracting HIV when taken daily.

“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,” Ocean said.

“I’m an artist, it’s core to my job to imagine realities that don’t necessarily exist and it’s a joy to.”

He denied the club had financial links to Gilead Sciences, which produces PrEP under the brand name Truvada, saying the club night was entirely funded by his Blonded creative brand.

Ocean also appeared to respond to creative and thematic criticism of the night, which was previously billed as an “homage to what could have been of the 1980s’ NYC club scene if the drug…. had been invented in that era,” and claims it imperfectly honoured 70s and 80s queer club culture.

DJ SXYLK, who played at the event, told The FADER that surprise headline act Justice – comprised of straight, cissexual men – was somewhat out of keeping with PrEP+’s stated objectives.

“Justice was everything, but the party was lacking in actual queer underground DJs,” SXYLK told the outlet.

For Pitchfork, attendee Jesse Dorris wrote “hundreds of thousands of visionary queers and weirdo prodigies and casual romancers and hunks and femmes and dykes and people trapped in the closet and those who could never even fit inside one didn’t die just so we could stand at an exclusive party and listen to straight people play Buffalo Springfield.”

The event also fielded nuanced critiques for potentially downplaying the role of queer icons who did revolutionise culture through the AIDS crisis, and allegedly glossing over financial factors which limit many people who’d benefit from the medication from accessing it.

In his response to the complex reaction to the club night, Ocean said the “pricing strategy behind [PrEP] is malicious in my opinion,” adding “I’m happy that folks are talking about the subject in the first place.”

As for claims the whole thing was a sham, Ocean said “I saw someone say that this was a PR stunt etc etc, pshhh bitch pls come get a drink next time and I’ll put several barstools out so you can have as many seats as you need.

“All my love everybody really. Stay safe.”

You can read his full post below.