NBA superstar Earvin "Magic" Johnson was diagnosed with HIV in 1991. Johnson's coming out was a major international story and he was credited with helping de-stigmatize the disease at the height of the HIV/AIDS scare. Johnson wants to continue educating Black audiences about HIV and hopes to tackle another issue: Homophobia.
"I learned a lot from the white gay community because they had gotten their community, rallied them, educated them and did a wonderful job about driving the numbers down. That is the best approach that I’ve seen; it’s been the most effective. So what we try to do in our community is bring those results to us. So I’m working hard to continue to educate minorities about HIV and AIDS and we’ve got to band together. We’re too fragmented right now, but if we can do that, we’re going to do well.
As a hip-hop fan, you realize that homophobia is still an issue everywhere, but especially in the black community. When people are scared to talk about it, that’s how the disease spreads. So what have you been doing to get that risk reduced?
What we’re trying to do is reach out to the hip-hop community because they have power — power with their voice, power with that mic in their hand and power with the lyrics that they sing. I have a lot of friends in that industry and so what we’re trying to do is rally them to get behind the cause, deliver the message to these young people that HIV and AIDS is big and it’s not going anywhere. They can make a difference right away by speaking out, because they have a big fan base.
So we’re finding out that a lot of them want to be involved; they’re just looking for a group like ours to latch onto and be a part of it. We haven’t really had any push-back from the hip-hop community.
Johnson says that he has a number of major names booked for the project, but would prefer to announce all the talent at a press conference. Read the interview HERE.
Homophobia and opposition from Black churches were largely the reason why HIV/AIDS was ignored for so long in Black communities. As a result, Blacks now account for more new HIV infections, AIDS diagnoses and HIV-related deaths than any other racial/ethnic group in the U.S. Black men are particularly at risk—and Black gay and bisexual men have the highest risk in the nation.
Johnson's new project is admirable and it will be interesting to see who he recruits. Hip-hop remains the bastion of Black hyper-masculinity. Kanye West's public calls against homophobia were not embraced by the community. Lil B's I’m Gay (I’m Happy) album provoked death threats and homophobic slurs from some angry fans. To be continued ...