Yaw and I met when he was a freshman in college. He went from being a mentee, to being my best friend, to being one of my biggest role models (seriously, this guy is the coolest). Since being out since 2013, he has educated and dedicated himself to social justice work and simply couldn’t contain himself when he told me about his invitation to QYLTS Action Camp.I am truly proud of the man he has become (and still coming to terms with him being much cooler than me). This summer is only the beginning of a long list of great things to come from my good friend.
I ask that you please help my friend make this opportunity a reality. He is accepting donations here.
I’ve come across two major thought camps of homophobes, with one being, not surprisingly, anti-everything-that-isn’t-heterosexual-and-or-heteronormative. I wont’t waste time on a multidemensional explanation for such a shallow group of people. The second group, however, manages to be only slightly more interesting, in that they are homophobic at the core, but they’ve somehow designated themselves as diplomats. This group may consist of the people you will hear saying, ” If you’re gay, just be gay! It’s these men on the down low who are causing problems.” More on my issues with this in a minute…
Homophobia in the black community is a deep dark rabbit hole of opinions and miseducation, but for now, I’d like to focus on the subject of closeted gay men in relation to the subject of HIV/AIDS. People of all levels of anti-gayness will often use the spread of HIV as a justification for their ostracism. But mainstream and even “black” media does an excellent job of demonizing closeted queer men in addition to misrepresenting LGBTQ people (including not respresenting them at all). With total disregard to how openly gay men of color are judged and mistreated in society (and even within the gay community) and no consideration for how still very uneducated even the most educated of black people are on social issues that aren’t viewed as a “black issue”, people are still baffled at the idea that a man would go so far as to marry a woman to cover up his homosexual inclinations. It’s 2016 and people still practice skin bleaching! But I digress…
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently reported that half of all black African-American men will be diagnosed with HIV. I appreciate objective material that presents fact and encourages people to use the information to work toward more education and positive change. But I’m a pessimist (yes, I know..sorry). I am not convinced that the people sharing articles about 50% of gay black men having HIV care about the health status of the gay community. Assuming that folk actually read past the shock jock-y headline, these types of articles will likely be shared to say, “Hey! See? These gay people are at it again.”
Just as poverty in the black community isn’t as simple as “black people are lazy”, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the gay community isn’t just “DL brothers” effing things up.
(Cheating on your spouse or partner ain’t cool no matter who is doing it, but that is a matter of character, not sexual identity.)
Jiell Richardson is a web designer/developer, fat yogi padawan, and blogger based in Washington, DC, USA.