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Frank Ocean, Dazed
Photography Willy Vanderperre, Styling Robbie Spencer

Frank Ocean defends his PrEP+ club night against critics

The event faced various criticisms, from erasure of history to the rumour it was funded by the manufacturer of PrEP+

On October 17, Frank Ocean opened his new club night, PrEP+ (named after the drug that reduces the risk of HIV transmission) in New York. However, following the club night’s debut, there have been some vocal critics. 

Ocean has since addressed these critics in another statement posted to Tumblr, beginning with the rumour that the club night was funded by Gilead Sciences, the manufacturer of PrEP, which has caused controversy with its pricing of the drug.

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

He adds: “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 then goes on to address the criticism that he’s trying to “rewrite” LGBTQ+ history with the club night (an intention that he basically stated outright in a statement before the event took place).

“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.” 

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

Again, he explains that raising awareness was another large part of the decision to name the night PrEP+, speaking from personal experience.

“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 per cent saturation’ so far as awareness. I thought he was dead wrong so I asked a friend (who I won’t name haha) 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.”

Read Frank Ocean’s full statement – titled “Re: Last night” – on Tumblr.