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30 June 2008

Comments

J Matt

I read this report earlier this week...and it goes to show you that the majority of the young HAVE NO heart or passion towards society and community...and are only looking out for themselves. What a selfish generation we live in...and the only persons they are hurting are themselves. It's sad that a burden like this rests upon both the black and gay community.

Rod, thanks for posting...even if no one else has commented or prolly read the post.

Jim

Now, J. Matt, that’s a rather backwards conclusion: Young men are contracting HIV because “they are only looking out for themselves.” Do you really believe that getting HIV is a form of self-care?

Maybe, “this report earlier this week...goes to show you that the majority of the young have” experienced no heart or passion FROM society and their community.

And they’d probably be right.

When people are told all their lives that they are worthless, they usually believe it.

DR

Jim, who is telling who their lives are worthless? Discrimination and homophobia are certainly a problem in our community but less so today than 10 or 20 years ago.

IMHO, there are more reasons why young black gay men have seen skyrocketing HIV rates. Surely, they have been exposed to more safe sex information than those of us who came of age in the 70s or 80s. HIV, safe sex and condoms are discussed everywhere from television to the internet to blogs to talk shows or music videos. Then there must be a reason why many are specifically rejecting the safe sex message. Like Rod mentioned, it's probably a combination of issues, but J Matt makes a good point, they don't have anyone to blame but themselves. We have to try to get through to them, but, in 2008, surely there is no one in America who has no heard unprotected sex can spread HIV.

Jim

Damn. Has this site become some kind of outpost of the African-American branch of the Log Cabin Republicans?

DR, you are fairly close to right about this at least: “Surely there is no one in America who has not heard unprotected sex can spread HIV.”

And all that fact does is prove my point. People do not knowingly play with fire because they “are only looking out for themselves.” Nor do they play with fire because they are selfish.

People play with fire because a part of them, sometimes small, sometimes overwhelming, longs for destruction, and that self-destructive streak usually comes from being told one is worthless.

DR says: “Discrimination and homophobia are certainly a problem in our community but less so today than 10 or 20 years ago.” Well, that is true in some ways and in some segments of our community.

There are other ways in which homophobia is much more of a problem than it used to be. There are many examples of this. Some of them boil down to the fact that forty and fifty years ago, gayness simply wasn’t much talked about, except perhaps as a joke, and then not in “polite company.” As a result, it wasn’t even much thought about. Nowadays, it is something everyone has top of mind, and the preachers are up there in their pulpits preaching about it every Sunday. Nobody preached about gay people fifty years ago. Now the preachers are telling all of those virtuous, church-going straight folks that we are the enemy, and the straight folks are all too happy to believe what they are told.

Another example: Ever since at least the day when NWA came onto the music scene, we have had a popular culture that idolizes a ludicrous image of ultra-“masculine” thuggery. (In this, by the way—and as always—the less powerful portion of our society is just reflecting the thuggery that holds power up at the very top of our society.) Ignorance, extreme materialism, fondness for violence, intellectual incuriosity, inconsideration of others, misogyny, and homophobia are all held out as model attributes for our young men. Gay, on the other hand, is the most shameful thing any young man can ever be.

There is not a single day in America that a black gay man can leave the house or turn on the TV and not be told he is inferior. All too often, someone in the very house he lives in is there to remind him daily of his inferiority.

In the face of that, our ability to survive is a marvel.

DR

Jim, what is so 'Republican' about saying that at some point we have to discuss personal responsibility? Black families and churches have preached the importance of personal responsibility for generations.

IIRC, are you not the same Jim who is white? If so, it's very interesting you would lecture a black gay audience on responsibility and dismiss it as a conservative talking point. Gay white men certainly took their personal health as a matter of personal responsibility and reversed HIV rates and trends in their community. You give an interesting analysis, but, it's ultimately patronizing.

There is nothing 'Republican' or bourgeois about this blog at all, which is why I read it everyday. It's very empowering and sends the message that black gay men are not inferior. Now, maybe you want to obsess over the victimization angle, and certainly many readers do, but Rod does not. I'd rather see positive role models, read about problems we can solve, and, try to engage in solutions and a conversation on what can be done. Simply saying the 'racist, oppressive white society is devaluing young black gay men and implicitly telling them their life is worthless, and not to use condoms', is static and one-dimensional. IMHO.

Charles

I'm 23 and in my entire sexual history, I've never had a partner of any ethnicity refuse to use a condom. I have had young black male partners refuse to get tested though. My last boyfriend cited the stigma associated with HIV as part of his reason. I can't mention my regular HIV tests that I have with my mother because she'll assume I have something or am engaged in risky behavior.

The statistics in this editorial a very troubling but I don't think it's productive to just say that this generation is just too irresponsible to use condoms. I think it's rather ludicrous to say that society makes us feel so worthless that we have a secret death wish.

It's true that people my age have grown up hearing about HIV prevention. And we should have the good sense to use condoms. I'm not convinced though that our condom usage is especially low compared to the rest of the gay community or the general public.
It is also true that there is a lot negative focus on gay people in the black community, especially around HIV and AIDS. Young gay black men are still young black men. Correct me if I'm wrong but, compared to white we have less access to preventative health care. And compared to women and more mature folks, we're less likely to take advantage of preventative care.
HIV is going to spread a lot faster in a community that is too afraid or too lazy to get tested. Buying into the rhetoric that makes us into the health scourge of the black community is only going to me less likely to want to discuss my sexual acts with a doctor or volunteer at a clinic, after a condom breakage (let alone if I think everything is fine).

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