No, the LGBT+ community hasn’t ‘forgiven DaBaby’. It isn’t that simple

A picture of dababy at the rolling loud concert at new york

Reports that the LGBT+ community has forgiven DaBaby have been greatly exaggerated.

If you’ve been on Twitter lately, you might have seen a few people sharing a story claiming that the LGBT+ community had “forgiven” DaBaby for his comments about HIV.

The TMZ article quoted Gwendolyn D Clemons, CEO of an LGBT+ organisation called Relationship Unleashed, who apparently suggested that the rapper – who has made harmful comments about queer people and HIV – had put in the work to understand the implications of his words.

A social media storm promptly ensued, with many rushing to Twitter to make the point unequivocally that no, DaBaby had not been forgiven for his anti-LGBT+ remarks. Meanwhile, Relationship Unleashed has since issued a statement saying Clemons had been “misquoted” and their words “intentionally framed in a click baiting headline to drive traffic to TMZ“.

As much as DaBaby might want to be forgiven for his past misdeeds and move on like nothing has happened, that won’t be possible for many people.

It’s worth noting, of course, that the LGBT+ community is not a monolith. There are likely many queer people out there who aren’t even aware of the degrading, hurtful comments DaBaby made at the Rolling Loud Festival in July.

It’s also possible, maybe even likely, that some LGBT+ people are happy to forgive DaBaby and move on. But that sentiment certainly doesn’t extend across the board.

For many people, the idea of forgiving DaBaby is difficult because of just how abhorrent his initial comments were – not to mention the fact that he repeatedly doubled down in the weeks afterwards.

Naturally, countless people flocked to Twitter to share their amusement – and in some cases, disgust – at the idea that DaBaby had been “forgiven” by the apparently now monolithic LGBT+ community.

DaBaby’s comments were incredibly damaging and reinforced damaging views about HIV

The entire fiasco surrounding DaBaby kicked off in July when video footage was shared on social media of the rapper on stage at the Rolling Loud Festival. Speaking to the audience, DaBaby said: “If you didn’t show up today with HIV, AIDS, any of them deadly sexually transmitted diseases that’ll make you die in two, three weeks, then put your cellphone light up.”

He continued: “Ladies, if your p***y smell like water, put a cellphone light them up. Fellas, if you ain’t sucking d**k in the parking lot put your cellphone light up. Keep it real.”

The backlash was swift. In the days that followed, HIV charities joined forces with the likes of Elton John, Madonna and countless others to condemn DaBaby’s comments about HIV.

The same point was made time and time again: DaBaby’s comments wrongly suggested that HIV is a “deadly” disease. If he had bothered to Google the subject, he would have discovered that antiretroviral treatment has been available since the late 1990s, meaning those with HIV can live long, healthy lives (as long as they can actually access treatment).

DaBaby initially doubled down, posting a string of videos to his Instagram Stories claiming his words were simply a “call to action”. He also said those who hadn’t seen his performance live should “shut the f**k up”.

To make matters worse, he continued: “My gay fans, they take care of themselves. They ain’t no nasty gay n****s. See what I’m saying? They ain’t no junkies in the street.”

He went on to suggest that his gay fans wouldn’t perform oral sex in the parking lot because they have “class”.

Days later, DaBaby – presumably sensing a fallout bigger than he anticipated – apologised. He admitted that his words were “insensitive” but claimed that the clip had been “digested” wrong.

On 28 July, DaBaby proved that his apology was completely hollow when he dropped the music video for “Giving What It’s Supposed to Give”. In the video, DaBaby holds up a sign bearing the word “AIDS” and raps the lyric: “B***h, we like AIDS, I’m on your ass, we on your ass, b***h, we won’t go away.”

But things kept swinging from bad to worse. The music video ended with a rainbow message telling those watching: “Don’t Fight Hate With Hate”.

“My apologies for being me the same way you want the freedom to be you,” another message in the music video read.

Finally, on 2 August, DaBaby issued a formal apology – but only after he had been axed from a number of festivals and had his partnership with BooHoo Man terminated. Days later, the apology perplexingly vanished from his Instagram account.

The entire fiasco appeared to finally be put to bed on 31 August when GLAAD announced that DaBaby had sat down with representatives from LGBT+ groups to learn about HIV and AIDS. The organisations said in a joint statement that the rapper had “apologised for the inaccurate and hurtful comments he made about people living with HIV”.

That might have drawn a line under it all for a lot of people, but the idea of “forgiveness” isn’t as simple as that. The reality is that, for people living with HIV, DaBaby’s comments were degrading and helped reinforce negative myths about the virus.

Because DaBaby hasn’t really made any meaningful efforts to atone for his misdeeds, it’s hard to see how he could be forgiven. There were plenty of things he could have done if he really wanted to show that he was remorseful – he could have made a hefty donation to a HIV charity, or he could have worked with HIV groups to launch an information campaign about the virus. The list of potential interventions goes on and on.

Instead, DaBaby has withdrawn apologies, doubled down and evaded responsibility at almost every turn. Meanwhile, his words about HIV remain in the public memory, still destined to spread fear and misinformation about the virus.


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