“Not funded by Gilead Sciences. Funded by Blonded, independently. Let’s just get that out of the way,” Frank wrote, referring to the company that makes Truvada, a drug used for PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis — the prevention of HIV. He also acknowledged that Seventies and Eighties club culture was not all glitz and glam — it was full of drugs, poverty and AIDS-related deaths, too — and asserted that he meant the club night to be a tribute to both the culture and lives lost.
“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 wrote. “I’m an artist, it’s core to my job to imagine realities that don’t necessarily exist and it’s a joy to.”
“Now in 2019, there’s a pill you can take every day that will at a better than 90% chance prevent you from contracting HIV,” he continued. “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.”
In a press release, the mysterious event was marketed as an “ongoing safe space made to bring people together and dance,” where “globally celebrated DJs” would spin. The house rules for the night were simple: No photos or videos are allowed, consent is mandatory, zero tolerance for racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, ableism or any form or discrimination, and the dance floor is for dancing.
A day after the event, Ocean has faced backlash and critiques from attendees and members of the LGBTQ community ranging from the theme of the night to security mistreating some of those in attendance. “I had a lot of fun dancing with my friends, and the venue was pretty cool but it was missing something,” photographer Myles Loftin told Mikelle Street at 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.”
Read the full statement on Ocean’s Tumblr.