Friday, July 03, 2009

Black gay men, AIDS, and no community support

AIDS is killing off black gay men and lack of lgbt community support may an unfortunate factor:

Black gay men have less choice when it comes to sexual partners than other groups and, as a result, their sexual networks are closely knit. These tightly interconnected networks make the rapid spread of HIV more likely. In a study1 looking at social and sexual mixing between ethnic groups in men who have sex with men, H. Fisher Raymond and Willi McFarland, from the San Francisco Department of Public Health in the US, show that social barriers faced by Black gay men may have a serious impact on their health and well-being.

. . . Black gay men are the least preferred of sexual partners by other races. Black men are perceived to be riskier to have sex with, which can lead to men of other races avoiding Black men as sexual partners. They are also perceived as less welcome in the common social venues of gay men in San Francisco. As a result, Black men are three times more likely to have sexual partners that are also Black, than would be expected by chance alone.

In the authors’ view, the combination of attitudes on the part of non-Black gay men, friendships and social networks that are less likely to include Blacks, and the environments found in gay venues serve to separate Black gay men from other groups.


So the personal ad phrase "no fats, no olds, no fems, no blacks" is now taking on sinister proportions. It's not that I'm passing judgement on people's personal dating choices. But it does go farther than that. The lgbt community can sometimes be consumed with the gay ghetto clique mentality. And as you can see, it's killing those who are generally not allowed to be in the "clique."

But hey, at least the black community supports us . . . when we seem to be at death's door. That's when folks make these lovely speeches about "it's not just a gay disease," and "let's not stop until we find a cure."

I got an idea - how about giving us a little support while we are healthy. How about not isolating us or making our lives seem dirty by using the word "lifestyle" like it's a pooper scooper.

So both the lgbt and black community have work to do. I can only hope the work gets done before too many lgbts of color suffer.




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11 comments :

Anonymous said...

I am white, and my partner of 6 years is Black and HIV +. I've been in love with him since I first laid eyes on him. Perhaps I'm an exception?

BlackTsunami said...

Hey my friend,

I commend for loving your partner ;p.

And stories of folks like yourself should be told to a wider audience.

Lukas said...

Likewise, I'm Asian, my partner of 9 years black, HIV+ ever since I met him -- never thought twice about loving him.

Since we both are racial minorities, we both are subject to racial favoritisms in different ways -- racial fetish, as I call them.

I can certainly attest to the more positive/desirable attitude towards Asians, frequently stereotyped as cute, little, effeminate bottom sluts, while blacks the more negative / undesirable attitudes stereotyped as big, masculine aggressive butt pirates.

I, on the other hand, never had a high regard for conventional wisdom, am grateful to have the love and devotion of the most attractive man I know.

Anonymous said...

Am real late on this article, but allow me to say this. AIDS has nothing to do with the fact that black men are less likely to be dated by non blacks. It has everything, everything, to do with personal choice.

Sex is a choice period, how we have sex is a choice, with whom, when, where, why, are all choices. Sex is not a need it is a want, a blessed act from God,
But dont tell me that the spread of AIDS in my community is due to lack of sexual partners from different races.

And I know the lack of support that the black gay community does not get, but that is still no excuse to put your body in harms way.

Love Thy Self. Just because someone does not want you or support you does not give you the right to risk yourself to AIDS or anything else.

Jesus was rejected by his own people and killed, and he asked his father to forgive them. Where is your dignity, self esteem.

No matter how many people you have supporting you in the end, YOU have to make the choice to support yourself.

AIDS can be avoided if people start taking pride in themselves. If you never have sex again that would not make you anyless of a gay man, or str8.

BlackTsunami said...

Your two cents was good but you made a huge error. it goes beyond "sexual partners." That's the point that should be made. It has a lot to do with support and self esteem. When gay men of color have no support, no one backing them up to say the very things you have said in your comments (albeit less detail regarding "sexual intercourse) they are steered into negative behaviors.

Anonymous said...

I get what you're saying, but correlating the lack of racial variety black men's dating pool to HIV make black gay men look like vectors of disease. Why would any non-black person want to touch a brotha after reading this? The glbt community is cliquish, classist, and, ahem, flat-out racist--just like the country. African-Americans must not blame others for sexual practices that lead to disease. Hell, I'm a black woman and I don't blame DL negroes for giving so many sistas HIV. Each act is a choice with consequences. Black men and women are the least likely of any ethnic group to date outside of our race. Our dating pool is small and the water is getting fetid. Love thyself enough to protect thyself. Ain't nobody gonna love us until we love ourselves first. That goes for straight, gay, or in-between. --whilome...

Anonymous said...

"I got an idea - how about giving us a little support while we are healthy. How about not isolating us or making our lives seem dirty by using the word "lifestyle" like it's a pooper scooper.

So both the lgbt and black community have work to do. I can only hope the work gets done before too many lgbts of color suffer."

EXACTLY!

"And I know the lack of support that the black gay community does not get, but that is still no excuse to put your body in harms way.

Love Thy Self. Just because someone does not want you or support you does not give you the right to risk yourself to AIDS or anything else.

Jesus was rejected by his own people and killed, and he asked his father to forgive them. Where is your dignity, self esteem.

No matter how many people you have supporting you in the end, YOU have to make the choice to support yourself.

AIDS can be avoided if people start taking pride in themselves. If you never have sex again that would not make you anyless of a gay man, or str8."


Nice saying in theory, but it is meaningless in practice without support. You know it, and I know it. You remind me of those people who say, "People are people," then don't want to do the actual work to see that people ARE ACTUALLY treated as HUMAN BEINGS.
Also, your statement has a touch of self-righteousness and arrogance that gives me cynicism.

Thank you, Anonymous, BlackTsunami, and Lucas for your support. Hopefully, you get the word out to others.

Thank you,
Faith.

Julia RN said...

My heart breaks for anyone that is affected by AIDS. The south eastern United States has experienced an exponential growth in the disease among all people but the hardest hit have been gay black males and young black females. I have cared for people as they have died of this disease that there is almost a false security that people don't die from it anymore. I am trying to get a "where the rubber meets the road" type of campaign off the ground to provide good support, good education, good healthcare, and the medications that can save lives. South Carolina government is not the answer, caring people are.

Anonymous said...

Thank You for this article. I had no idea. I being fat had no idea that other groups were feeling the way I do. I agree about the cliqueness of the gay community especially in SF. I get that our community thru no fault of our own seems to revolve around crusing spots. It leaves very few other oppurtunities for ppl to meet friends and feel supported unless you fit into the standard "castro clone" type. Now that we've progressed maybe we can start to build other ways of incorporating ALL members of our community. So we all feel apart of something. There is more to a community besides bars,gyms and sex shops. Everyone thinks San Francisco is a gay mecca when it's really a mecca for the pretty white young ones who are looking to hook up the rest of us (lesbians, fatties,other ethnic groups or even teens) See it as desert and we're dying of thrist. Where's our community for all? Why do you we have to be on the verge of death in order for us to stop acting like catty elitest queens?

Ray Engelke said...

As a white gay man, what do you suggest we do that we already aren't doing? I accept black gay men with AIDS in the sense that I won't shun them just because they're black or have AIDS... but I'm already in a committed relationship with another man.

LGBT centers do offer support.. but what can I do?

BlackTsunami said...

It sounds like you are doing what needs to be done. I think what I was saying when I wrote that piece is that a lot of times, the public images we see in gay culture is only one type and when this happens, a lot of us who are not that type feel left out.