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Elton John, other celebrities respond to rapper DaBaby after anti-gay comments go viral

The 29-year-old rapper is receiving widespread criticism for his comments about HIV, AIDS and the LGBTQ community.
/ Source: TODAY

Musical icon Elton John is speaking out against anti-gay comments the popular rapper DaBaby made over the weekend at a musical festival in Miami.

While performing at Rolling Loud, the 29-year-old rapper told the crowd, “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, put your cellphone light up."

Hot 107.9 Birthday Bash 2019 - Concert
DaBaby performs onstage during Hot 107.9 Birthday Bash at State Farm Arena on June 15, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. Paras Griffin / Getty Images

He also made several crude and disparaging comments about women and gay men. As captured in a now-viral video of his performance, DaBaby doubled down on his comments.

“All the lights went up, gay or straight,” he said. “You wanna know why? Because even my gay fans don’t got f---ing AIDS, stupid a-- n-----s. They don’t got AIDS. My gay fans, they take care of themselves. They ain't going for that thing ... They ain’t no junkies on the street.”

Tuesday, the "Masterpiece" rapper shared an apparent apology on Twitter, while seemingly reiterating his sentiments toward the LGBTQ community.

"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," he said. "So my apologies."

He added, "But the LGBT community... I ain’t trippin on y’all, do you. y’all business is y’all business."

On Wednesday, John, a longtime advocate for HIV and AIDS, shared his thoughts on social media in a Twitter thread about the rhetoric.

"We've been shocked to read about the HIV misinformation and homophobic statements made at a recent DaBaby show," the 74-year-old "Rocket Man" singer began. "This fuels stigma and discrimination and is the opposite of what our world needs to fight the AIDS epidemic."

2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Radhika Jones - Arrivals
Elton John attends the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Feb. 24, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images

"The facts are: HIV has affected over 70 million people globally: men, women, children and the most vulnerable people in our communities," he continued. "You can live a long and healthy life with HIV. Treatment is so advanced that with one pill a day, HIV can become undetectable in your body so you can’t pass it onto other people."

John added that a gay Black man has a 50% lifetime chance of contracting HIV.

"Stigma and shame around HIV and homosexuality is a huge driver of this vulnerability. We need to break down the myths and judgements and not fuel these," he said. "Homophobic and HIV mistruths have no place in our society and industry and as musicians, we must spread compassion and love for the most marginalized people in our communities. A musician’s job is to bring people together."

"Queer Eye" beauty guru Jonathan Van Ness, who revealed in 2019 that he is HIV-positive, also spoke out against the comments.

IMDb LIVE Presented By M&M'S At The Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party
Jonathan Van Ness speaks onstage at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party on Feb. 9, 2020.Rich Polk / Getty Images

The 34-year-old said on Twitter, "This stigma of HIV/AIDS is what is killing folks & it’s spread by this kind of misinformation that then people go believe #UequalsU."

The hashtag "UequalsU" stands for "undetectable equals untransmittable." According to the LGBTQ media advocacy organization GLAAD, this means that "if someone with HIV is adhering to their treatment, their viral load is undetectable with effectively no risk of transmitting HIV."

"The rhetoric that DaBaby used is inaccurate, hurtful, and harmful to the LGBTQ community and the estimated 1.2 million Americans living with HIV,” DaShawn Usher, GLAAD associate director of communities of color, told TODAY via email.


“It is critical that DaBaby and his fans learn that people living with HIV today, when on effective treatment, lead long and healthy lives and cannot transmit HIV. While DaBaby has made haphazard attempts to ‘apologize,’ actions need to be taken for full accountability and changes to do better in the future," Usher added. "It further confirms what GLAAD reported last year in the State of HIV Stigma Study that stigma and misinformation around HIV is widespread, and there is much work to be done to educate the public, including entertainers.”

In 2020, that study found that only half of American adults feel knowledgeable about HIV and that high levels of perceived stigma around the virus still exist. About 90% of American adults agreed “there is stigma around HIV,” “people are quick to judge those with HIV,” and that “people make assumptions when someone is tested for HIV.”

Osheaga Music And Arts Festival
Dua Lipa performs at the Osheaga Music and Art Festival at Parc Jean-Drapeau on August 5, 2018 in Montreal, Canada. Mark Horton / Getty Images

Recently, DaBaby has been topping the charts along with pop star Dua Lipa for their collaborative remix of her song "Levitating." The version featuring DaBaby has been on the Billboard Hot 100 for the past 42 weeks, currently reigning at the No. 3 spot after peaking at No. 2.

Lipa, who boasts a huge LGBTQ following, spoke out on Tuesday against her musical partner.

“I’m surprised and horrified at DaBaby’s comments,” the 25-year-old pop star wrote on her Instagram Story. “I really don’t recognize this as the person I worked with. I know my fans know where my heart lies and that I stand 100% with the LGBTQ community. We need to come together to fight the stigma and ignorance around HIV/AIDS.”

Singer Demi Lovato echoed those sentiments by sharing an infographic about the incident with a photo that reads "HIV is not a gay disease."

"hot people listen to the original version of levitating," Lovato captioned the post, seemingly encouraging fans to skip the remix with DaBaby.

A representative for the rapper has not returned TODAY's request for additional comment.