DaBaby has met with nine HIV- awareness organizations to educate himself after making homophobic comments at Miami’s Rolling Loud festival.
After backlash led to the cancellation of many of his concert appearances this month, the 29-year-old rapper listened to personal stories of those ‘living and thriving with HIV,’ according to a press release shared on Tuesday.
The musician also discussed facts about the sexually transmitted disease from the groups, which sought to ‘to call him in instead of calling him out.’
Making amends: DaBaby has met with nine HIV- awareness organizations to educate himself after making homophobic comments at Miami’s Rolling Loud festival last month; seen in June
Earlier this month, 11 prominent HIV/AIDS organizations reached out to DaBaby, hoping to talk to him after his controversial remarks.
In a statement, obtained on Tuesday by Variety, the organizations wrote: ‘The open letter to DaBaby was our way to extend him the same grace each of us would hope for.
‘During our meeting, DaBaby was genuinely engaged, apologized for the inaccurate and hurtful comments he made about people living with HIV, and received our personal stories and the truth about HIV and its impact on Black and LGBTQ communities with deep respect,’ the groups continued.
The letter went on to say: ‘We appreciate that he openly and eagerly participated in this forum of Black people living with HIV, which provided him an opportunity to learn and to receive accurate information.’
Nearly a dozen groups came together to send an open letter to the Suge rapper urging DaBaby to use his ‘platform and celebrity to heal not harm.’
The Cleveland native sparked outrage after making homophobic and factually inaccurate remarks about gay men and HIV on stage in Miami on July 23.
Since, he has been dropped from prominent festivals, including Lollapolooza, New York’s Governors Ball, Austin City Limits, and iHeartRadio music fest.
Learning from his mistakes: After backlash led to the cancellation of many of his concert appearances this month, the 29-year-old rapper listened to ‘personal stories of living and thriving with HIV,’ according to a press release on Tuesday (pictured this month)
During his set at Rolling Loud, the rapper told audiences: ‘If you didn’t show up today with HIV, AIDS, or any of them deadly sexually-transmitted diseases, that’ll make you die in two to three weeks, then put your cell phone lighter up…
‘Fellas, if you ain’t sucking d*** in the parking lot, put your cell phone lighter up.’
The backlash was swift, with celebrities like Levitating collaborator Dua Lipa and prominent AIDS activists Elton John and Madonna all expressing their dismay.
Important discussions: Earlier this month, nearly a dozen prominent HIV/AIDS organizations reached out to DaBaby, hoping to educate him after his controversial comments at Rolling Loud festival
The organizations Arianna’s Center, Black AIDS Institute, GLAAD, the Normal Anomaly Initiative, Prevention Access Campaign, Relationship Unleashed, and the 6:52 Project Foundation joined leaders from the Gilead COMPASS Initiative including Southern AIDS Coalition, Emory University, the University of Houston and Wake Forest University crafted the open letter.
In the detailed letter, they touched on the danger ‘fear and stigma’ over HIV/AIDS causes while providing information and statistics about the virus.
They also pointed to the music industry historical support for their cause, writing: ‘Music artists have historically led the way to lift up understanding of HIV and accelerate LGBTQ acceptance.’
On August 2 DaBaby – real name Jonathan Lyndale Kirk – shared a second apology, in which he said sorry for the ‘hurtful and triggering comments’ and claimed he used the backlash as a way the ‘educate’ himself about the LGBTQ community and HIV/AIDS.
Taking to social media with a black and white text post, he struck a more conciliatory tone than his first mea culpa, but still criticized the public for ‘trying to demolish’ his reputation.
Second try: On August 2, DaBaby – real name Jonathan Lyndale Kirk – shared a second apology, in which he said sorry for the ‘hurtful and triggering comments’ and claimed he used the backlash as a way the ‘educate’ himself about the LGBTQ community and HIV/AIDS
‘Social media moves so fast that people want to demolish you before you even have the opportunity to grow, educate, and learn from your mistakes,’ he began.
‘As a man who has had to make his own way from very difficult circumstances, having people I know publicly working against me— knowing that what I needed was education on these topics and guidance— has been challenging.
‘I appreciate the many people who came to me with kindness, who reached out to me privately to offer wisdom, education, and resources. That’s what I needed and it was received,’ he continued.
Adding: ‘I want to apologize to the LGBTQ+ community for the hurtful and triggering comments I made. Again, I apologize for my misinformed comments about HIV/AIDS and I know education on this is important. Love to all. God bless.’
Half-hearted: Last week, the Ball If I Want To rapper issued lackluster apology, tweeting that he had ‘no intentions on offending anybody’ and acknowledging what he said was ‘insensitive’
Sorry, not sorry: After an underwhelming initial apology, DaBaby doubled down in his self-directed music video for Giving What It’s Supposed to Give depicting him holding an AIDS sign and oral sex from a redhead
DaBaby’s second sorry was a sharp turnaround from his previous response to the backlash.
Two weeks ago, the Ball If I Want To rapper issued lackluster apology, tweeting that he had ‘no intentions on offending anybody’ and acknowledging what he said was ‘insensitive.’
Then the very next day, DaBaby doubled down in his self-directed music video for Giving What It’s Supposed to Give depicting him holding an AIDS sign and oral sex from a redhead.
The hip-hop star concluded his suspiciously-timed video with a rainbow-shaded message reading: ‘Don’t fight hate with hate. My apologies for being me the same way you want the freedom to be you.’
Open Letter to DaBaby from 11 prominent HIV/AIDS organizations
We, the undersigned, represent organizations leading the fight to prevent HIV and provide care and treatment for people living with HIV, especially Black LGBTQ people across the Southern United States.
We heard your inaccurate and harmful comments at Rolling Loud and have read your Instagram apology. However, at a time when HIV continues to disproportionately impact Black Americans and queer and transgender people of color, a dialogue is critical. We must address the miseducation about HIV, expressed in your comments, and the impact it has on various communities.
2021 marks the 40th year of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the greatest obstacles in our work to end HIV are the compounded stigmas attached to anti-Blackness, living with HIV, misogyny, and anti-LGBTQ attitudes and stereotypes, all of which are fueled by misinformation. Fear and stigma keep people, particularly Black Americans, from accessing HIV prevention or care that White Americans have historically accessed and continue to access more easily. We believe you now have an opportunity to not just move past this unfortunate incident, but to use your platform and celebrity to heal not harm.
We believe that anyone can be an HIV advocate by amplifying: how there is medication (PrEP) that can prevent people from getting HIV with one pill a day, how routine treatment stops the virus from being passed on by people living with HIV, how people receiving HIV care can survive and thrive while living with it, and how open and empathetic conversations eliminate stigma. You can be a powerful and influential voice, especially across your home base in the South, where the Black community’s needs are notoriously under-represented across every public spectrum. We encourage you to share this information with your fans and followers, and become an agent of truth and change.
Music artists have historically led the way to lift up understanding of HIV and accelerate LGBTQ acceptance. Several artists and platforms have spoken up against you. While we appreciate their stand, we also invite them to take action and to do their part to end HIV by supporting organizations like ours serving people who are Black, LGBTQ and/or living with HIV.
As mentioned in your latest apology, education is important. We agree. GLAAD and Gilead Science’s 2020 State of HIV Stigma Study found that 90% of Americans believe “there is stigma around HIV,” that “people are quick to judge those with HIV,” and “people make assumptions when someone is tested for HIV.” There were a significant number of people (40%) who did not know that HIV can be treated. Nearly 60% wrongfully believe it is “important to be careful around people living with HIV to avoid catching it.”
Here are the facts:
– People living with HIV today, when on effective treatment, lead long and healthy lives and cannot sexually transmit HIV. Treatment can suppress the virus to a point where it is no longer detected in a person’s body. When it is undetected, it is untransmittable, the key message of the U=U campaign.
– Approximately 1.2 million people in the U.S. have HIV. 13% of them don’t know it, reinforcing the need for HIV testing and to end stigma around HIV testing.
– People most vulnerable to HIV are those with limited access to transportation, housing, healthcare, and social support. We should focus on advocating for resources in our community rather than stigmatizing women and LGBTQ people.
– Black Americans account for more HIV diagnoses (43%), people living with HIV (42%), and the most deaths among people with HIV (44%) than any other racial and ethnic group in the U.S.
– The CDC states the U.S. South experiences the greatest rates of HIV and lags behind in providing quality HIV prevention services and care. According to AIDSVu, a program from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health and the Center for AIDS Research at Emory University, 31,864 people are living with HIV in North Carolina, where you were raised.
– Medications like PrEP protect people who do not have HIV from contracting it. The CDC states that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken as prescribed.
As leaders of organizations directly serving Black, LGBTQ, and HIV+ communities, we invite you to a private, off-the-record, virtual discussion with us. You stated you now understand how and why your comments were damaging. An open conversation holds the potential for you to now create meaningful impact by transforming from an adversary to an advocate.