Earlier this week, we chatted up Evan Ross' dramatic turn in HBO's Life Support, which debuts tonight on HBO. It's a plumb role—Evan is cast as a gay, HIV positive drug user who also addresses the ongoing issues surrounding homophobia and violence toward young black LGBT persons.
Nelson George directs the project which is based upon the life of his sister. In an interview at After Elton, George echoes previous statements made here on the role of homophobia in increasing black HIV rates:
"If a more open and rational dialogue could be held in the black community around homophobia, I believe significant progress could be made in lowering the rates of new infection. Central to this dialogue is the black church, a place where “don’t ask, don’t tell” has been practiced for decades. Without a more tolerant posture toward gays and a willingness to promote condom use on the part of black pastors, it will be difficult to turn the tide any time soon."
The movie and George's comments come on the same weekend the National Black Justice Coalition holds its Second Annual Black Church Summit. Pam Spaulding is live blogging from the event and her coverage includes an in-depth interview with John Amaechi, who has received mixed reviews from gays, straights and many blacks since coming out.
Amaechi makes some good points; he wants to use his multicultural background and newly-out status as a "bridge the divide between the black community and the gay community and I'm going to talk about those issues at every opportunity I get. And I'm going to talk about real dangers. The black churches where people with powerful voices spill forth rhetoric like rotten fruit from their mouths, and I'm going to challenge those people."
Nelson George's interview is fairly substantive. The only point of contention are his talking points on the "down-low" fueling the "tremendous rise of HIV infection rates in heterosexual black women." Just this week, Keith Boykin crunched some new epidemiological data that once again proves this is not the case. However, the director admits he is not an expert on such issues, and, the important point of Life Support is that is thankfully has very little to do with the popular misconceptions surrounding closeted gay black men and HIV.
Life Support [Saturday 3/10 @ 8P on HBO]
A Short Chat with Nelson George [After Elton]
Say Goodbye To The Down Low [Keith Boykin]
NBJC Black Church Summit [Pam Spaulding]
Did You Read ... ?Evan Ross in "Life Support" [R20] Bulging "Pride" [R20] First Look: "Pride" [R20] Jody Watley on Black Homophobia [R20] "Urban Rally Against AIDS" [R20] Jonathan Perry in "The Advocate" [R20] Ending Black Homophobia Will Reduce HIV [R20] A Conversation with Keith Boykin [R20] Jason Steed on Homophobia [R20] NBA Reprimands Hardaway [R20] Michael K. Williams / "The Wire" [R20] "Out of Control: AIDS in Black America" [R20] Have Black Gay Roles Gone Beyond the "Sassy Sidekick"? [R20] Coming to a Megaplex Near You [R20] On the Next "Passions" [R20] Passions on the "Down-Low" [R20]