Ten national organizations working to prevent and treat HIV called on Charlotte rapper DaBaby on Wednesday to meet with them over his recent homophobic remarks about people living with the virus.
“DaBaby and all Americans must learn the truth about HIV and work towards defeating the stigma that keeps people from HIV prevention and life saving treatment,” Dashawn Usher of the national LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD said in a statement announcing the organizations’ letter to the rapper.
“DaBaby can be a powerful and influential voice where Black Americans need it most,” said Usher, GLAAD associate director of communities of color.
DaBaby, whose real name is Jonathan Lyndale Kirk, didn’t immediately reply to the organizations’ call for a private meeting with them.
He has twice apologized on social media over the past 10 days for what he called his “insensitive” remarks about gay people in a vulgarity-laced Instagram video.
In a video he posted July 26, DaBaby, 29, denounced critics who claimed he bashed gay fans at a music festival near Miami the previous night.
DaBaby denies anti-gay rant
“I’m going to address this weak-ass internet (vulgarity) one time, and I’m gonna get back to giving my love to my fans, because what me and my fans do at the live show — it don’t concern you (vulgarity) on the internet or you bitter (vulgarity) on the internet,” DaBaby told his 19.1 million followers in the video posted on Instagram Stories.
DaBaby said in his obscenity-laden post that he never went on a “rant” against gay people at his concert. Yet he repeated the same crude description of a sexual act when referring to his gay fans as he did at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens the previous day, Yahoo! News reported.
Referring to his words at the concert, he added in the July 26 video: “I said, ‘If you don’t got AIDS, put a cellphone lighter up ... All the lights went up – gay or straight – you wanna know why? Because even my gay fans don’t got AIDS. My gay fans, they take care of themselves ... They ain’t no junkies on the street.”
On Twitter the next day, he apologized again. “Anybody who done ever been effected by AIDS/HIV y’all got the right to be upset, what I said was insensitive even though I have no intentions on offending anybody,” DaBaby tweeted. “So my apologies.”
After his apologies, the Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago dropped him from the lineup. And celebrities and musicians the likes of Elton John, Madonna and Dua Lipa rebuked the 29-year-old DaBaby’s comments.
He apologized again Monday for his “hurtful and triggering” comments. In another Instagram post, DaBaby said “he knows education on this is important.”
Missed HIV facts
In his apologies, DaBaby also missed “important facts” about HIV treatment and prevention, according to Wednesday’s letter from the 10 organizations.
“At a time when HIV continues to disproportionately impact Black Americans and queer and transgender people of color, a dialogue is critical,” the organizations wrote the performer. “We must address the miseducation about HIV, expressed in your comments, and the impact it has on various communities.”
“Comments like DaBaby’s make it clear that we have more work to do, but we’ve never been more empowered to do that work than we are today,” Kia Colbert of Emory University in Atlanta said in the statement.
Colbert directs the COMPASS Coordinating Center at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health. The center is part of the Gilead COMPASS Initiative, a 10-year, $100-million commitment to end HIV in the South that also includes Wake Forest University, the University of Houston and the Southern AIDS Coalition.
Blacks most vulnerable
The letter to DaBaby shared what the organizations called under-reported facts about HIV/AIDS and how “stigma like the kind DaBaby spread fuels fear, misinformation and new infections, particularly in Black communities.”
Treating HIV, for instance, can suppress the virus to where it’s no longer detected, according to the organizations. About 13% of the estimated 1.2 million Americans with HIV don’t know it, however, according to the groups.
“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,” according to the statement.
And the people most vulnerable to HIV “have limited access to transportation, housing, healthcare and social support,” leaders of the group said.
“We should focus on advocating for resources in our community rather than stigmatizing women and LGBTQ people,” according to the group’s statement.