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LIVE PERFORMANCES

DaBaby’s return to Rolling Loud ‘a slap in the face,’ HIV & LGBTQ advocates say

DaBaby is slated to perform at the Miami festival this summer, after making remarks at last year’s event about gay men and people living with HIV.

HIV and LGBTQ advocates have condemned Rolling Loud’s decision to invite DaBaby to return to its Miami music festival, almost eight months after he made controversial comments while onstage at last year’s event. 

While performing at the July festival DaBaby made remarks about gay men and shared comments about those living with HIV/AIDS.

“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 cellphone lighter up,” he said, in part, to a crowd of tens of thousands of people. 

Advocacy groups were quick to criticize DaBaby following his onstage remarks. Amid the controversy, DaBaby was also dropped from New York City’s Governors Ball Music Festival and Las Vegas’ Day N Vegas. DaBaby eventually released apologies in response to the growing backlash and agreed to a virtual meeting in August with LGBTQ media advocacy group GLAAD and eight HIV advocacy groups, including the Black AIDS Institute and the Southern AIDS Coalition.

During the meeting, the organizations said, the rapper promised to use his platform to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, donate to the cause, and collaborate with advocacy groups to offer HIV testing at his shows. 

Representatives from three of the organizations that participated in the meeting — Prevention Access Campaign, Transinclusive Group, and Normal Anomaly Initiative — told sources that DaBaby appeared genuinely engaged, receptive to their message and apologetic for his remarks. Because of that, they said, they were shocked when he never followed up on the commitments he made during the meeting. 

The advocates said they felt sidelined by the news of his return to one of the largest music festivals in the U.S. — where he previously amplified statements about people living with HIV/AIDS. 

Deondre B. Moore, director of U.S. partnerships and community engagement at the Prevention Access Campaign, said he’s disappointed with the festival’s decision. 

“It feels as though the meeting and taking time to meet with us was all just smoke and mirrors. None of the things that he talked about doing or following through with have come to fruition,” Moore said. “For us, it’s kind of a slap in the face … to see them still being able to support and push him up to be on the same stage where he made such horrible comments and degrading comments for people living with HIV.”  

Moore also added that none of the groups have received any donations from the Grammy-nominated artist.

“He also talked about working with some of us and our organizations at his concerts,” he said, “to provide testing or raise awareness and make sure that the education was put out there correctly, and then none of that has happened as well.” 

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