On Thursday night, Frank Ocean hosted a club night called prEP+ in New York City, which he announced earlier that day. The event – named after the HIV prevention drug, pre-exposure prophylaxis – served as the first installation in a series of queer club nights intended as an “homage to what could have been of the 1980s’ NYC club scene if the drug… had been invented in that era.”
Ocean’s event attracted various criticisms the following day, regarding its demographic, its execution, its name and its goal. This morning, the 31-year-old singer-songwriter addressed many of these concerns his customary method of Tumblr post.
He started out by dispelling the rumour that the night was funded by Gilead Sciences, a company that contributes to the manufacturing of prEP+. He clarified that the night was independently hosted by Blonded, Ocean’s umbrella company that now distributes his music and also serves as the name of his Beats1 radio show. In response to those who thought the party’s theme glamorized an era that was marked by death, and not just dancing, Ocean said, “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.”
Another complaint about the event was that it was promoting a drug that is overpriced and inaccessible to many. Ocean argued that his intention was simply to raise awareness of the drug’s existence to help those who can afford it, even though he finds its pricing to be “malicious.” The motivation to name the event prEP+ arose from him realizing how few know about it and its effectiveness. “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 (who I won’t name haha) if he knew what PrEP was and his response was ‘isn’t that some type of gra 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,” he wrote.
Aside from sharing this message on Tumblr, Ocean also released new items for sale and snippets of new music on his website. There are pre-orders available for two 7″ vinyls of songs premiered at the event on Thursday – “Cayendo (Sango Remix)” and “Dear April (Justice Remix).” You can also pick from four t-shirts designs that either have the prEP+ or Blonded logos on them.