You’ve probably read or seen DaBaby’s distasteful comments about HIV. I blogged about it, deciding to shine a light on a musician (Bfb Da Packman) who gets how harmful stigma is for people living with HIV. Advocates leading the fight against stigma have written an open letter to DaBaby, offering him the opportunity to learn more about why his words pose a real danger to people living with HIV. And yesterday on Instagram, Miley Cyrus added her name to the mix.
Here’s the gist of what Miley Cyrus had to say: “The internet can fuel a lot of hate & anger and is the nucleus of cancel culture... but I believe it can also be a place filled with education, conversation, communication & connection.”
Many moons ago in 2013, I blogged about a targeted online attempt to embarrass Miley that involved a lie that suggested she was living with HIV, authored by anonymous, misogynistic cowards online. And then again in 2014 when she teamed up with Rihanna to raise money (and eyebrows!) for HIV/AIDS. Miley’s heart is clearly in the right place, and I applaud her for being such a solid ally to the HIV/AIDS community. I also support efforts to reach out to people who could use enlightening. Even if DaBaby ends up offering a self-serving only apology (he’s suffered some financial consequences for his words) and never speaks publicly about HIV again, then that’s a win. The hope for anyone that has a hateful attitude towards gay people and those living with HIV is that they examine the nature of that negativity. And then realize that there is no point in causing psychological distress for a community that, by nature of the world we live in, has enough of that to deal with already.
Will DaBaby respond to the open letter by HIV/AIDS advocates who specialize in combating stigma in the African American community? Will he respond to Miley’s DM?
Who knows. That’s on him. What I do know is that I’m proud to be a part of the HIV/AIDS community, which always seems to rise to these kinds of occasions. Truthfully, these situations distract from the already monumental task of educating the public. But they also provide an opportunity to educate that goes beyond the individual that made this conversation necessary. And in a strange, fucked up way, we need the kinds of strange, fucked up commentaries that came from DaBaby. It’s a reminder of how people still feel about us, even after all of these years... after all of the progress.
We’ll never achieve universal acceptence for people living with HIV. Society has offered too many couch cushions for people to cozy up with their narrow views of others that they perceive as flawed. Or unworthy. But there’s no harm in reaching into those nasty corners of the couch in an attempt to find a little change. And there’s no harm in trying to turn an adversary into an ally when the opportunity presents itself.