A nice surprise. Rockmond Dunbar covers the latest issue of HIV Plus. The wide-ranging interview with the actor covers everything from his newest series Sons of Anarchy to homophobia in Black Hollywood.
Of note: The star of Prison Break and Soul Food says that he was "punished" for working on Patrik-Ian Polk's critically acclaimed feature PUNKS.
You had a really well-received role in the indie film Punks, a film about black gay men. What was the reaction to it? I was punished for taking that role. Equally applauded and parodied.
Did that change how you felt about the role? I still believe you do a role because it will change someone’s life. Regardless of the stones that are thrown, I did it with no regrets. I am an artist.
At the time, you told The Advocate that other actors wouldn’t take the role because of the kissing scene with another man. That was a decade ago. Is that fear still there among actors? Yes, the fear never goes away when your concern is how you will be perceived in the industry.
What kind of support have you gotten from the gay community? Tons of support. The most inspirational support was from E. Lynn Harris, a great writer and human being. I was invited to his house for dinner, and not only did he welcome me, but he was overt in his support and celebration of me as a heterosexual actor and the work I had done on-screen.
You played a closeted gay man with HIV on Private Practice. That was a really interesting arc. Did you empathize with the character? Yes, because being who you are and living freely is the most important thing we can do as people. His wife knew that he was sad because he was living a lie, and all she wanted for him was to embrace the truth—be who he was and she would still love him.
One of the charities you work with is the Black AIDS Institute. Why that organization in particular? The Black AIDS Institute is headed by Phill Wilson. Here is a man who not only talks the talk but also walks the walk. He’s a survivor for over 20 years with HIV. He knows what it means to be tested and receive that call. He also knows that hope can be found and full, productive lives created with the support of organizations like the Black AIDS Institute and the community at large. As they say, we are Greater Than AIDS.
Dunbar made a guest appearance on the second season of Noah's Arc, the short-lived series created by Polk on LOGO that has been critically-acclaimed and gained a cult following. The actor also played gay as the lead character in Maurice Jamal's Dirty Laundry. See our review and interview in The Advocate.
Get into the full interview HERE.
The epicenter of the domestic HIV epidemic remains in Black America. Blacks represent only 12% of the nation’s population but account for 44% of all new HIV infections, according to the Centers for Disease Controls.
There has been a soaring number of seroconversions among Black men who have sex with men. The trend has been particularly “alarming” among Black MSM aged 13 to 19, according to the CDC. New infections have increased by 48 percent between 2006 and 2009. Black poz MSM are also least likely to be aware of their status—59 percent unaware vs. 26 percent for white MSM. The numbers for positive younger Black MSM are even more startling: 71 percent are unaware of their infection.
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