Rev Irene Monroe

This Era of Black Women and HIV/AIDS

Filed By Rev Irene Monroe | December 01, 2008 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: African-American, black women, HIV/AIDS

December 1 is World AIDS Day and Black women are dying of AIDS. And is anyone doing anything about it?

Right here in the nation's capitol, the HIV/AIDS epidemic rivals that of many Third World countries. Washington DC, affectionately dubbed as "Chocolate City," is approximately 60 percent of people of African descent. And of its residents, one in 20 is thought to have HIV, and 1 in 50 of its residents to have AIDS. Of the 3,269 HIV cases identified between 2001 and 2006, nine of 10 were African American.

Are these statistics overwhelming?

"The Washington data is really a microcosm of what we already know: that AIDS in America today is a black disease," said Phil Wilson, founder of the Black AIDS Institute, an HIV/AIDS think tank that focuses exclusively on AIDS among black Americans.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African Americans account for half of all new HIV cases, despite comprising 13 percent of the U.S. population. Equally alarming is that HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death for African American women between the ages of 25 and 44.

At the "Women and Response to AIDS" panel at the at the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto in 2006, Sheila Johnson, founder of the Crump-Johnson Foundation in Washington D.C., pointed out that another at-risk population in the African American community is teenage girls.

Seventeen percent of the U.S. teen population is African American. In 2004, 70 percent of all teens testing HIV-positive were black. One in 10 African American teenage girls test HIV-positive in the nation's capital, the highest percentage in the country among this age group.

When asked why such a high percentage test positive, Johnson said, "As long as girls see themselves as glorified sex objects in hip-hop videos, HIV/AIDS will increase within this population."

These statistics are overwhelming!

But so, too, is the failure of leadership African Americans have faced since the epidemic began. And no group of women is as affected by the failure of leadership in this country than women of African descent. African American women and their struggle against the AIDS epidemic was never so glaringly obvious than in the 2004 vice presidential debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards. And the invisibility of my group's plight has less to do with African-American women's agency to combat the epidemic than with how the government, African-American men, the Black Church, and race and gender biases inherent in the problem collude with African-American women's efforts to get help.

Gwen Ifill, an African-American female journalist with PBS's "Washington Week" and moderator of the vice presidential debate, brought the issue of AIDS in the U.S. front and center when she asked the men to comment on its devastating impact on African-American women.

"I want to talk to you about AIDS, and not about AIDS in China or Africa, but AIDS right here in this country, where black women between the ages of 25 and 44 are 13 times more likely to die of the disease than their counterparts. What should the government's role be in helping to end the growth of this epidemic?" Ifill asked.

Vice President Cheney responded to Ifill's question by saying, "Here in the United States, we've made significant progress. I have not heard those numbers with respect to African-American women. I was not aware that it was - that they're in epidemic there."

But Edwards' response wasn't any better. Edwards deflected the question by first going back to answering the previous question. Then with the remaining seconds left, he flubbed his way through.

However, three years later in the June 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University that focused on African American issues ranging from health care and housing to Katrina relief, the economy and the environment, Black women stood on their feet as they applauded Sen. Hillary Clinton's comment about the impact of HIV/AIDS on African American women.

"Let me just put this in perspective: If HIV-AIDS were the leading cause of death of white women between the ages of 25 and 34 there would be an outraged outcry in this country."

When the color of the epidemic shifted from white to black, the inherent gender bias focused only on the needs of African-American men and rendered women invisible. And when gender became a new lens to track the epidemic, white women were the focus. The invisibility of African-American women in this epidemic has much to do with how the absence of a gendered race analysis makes African-American women invisible to the larger society.

What is also unnerving is that today African American women make up 60 percent of all AIDS cases reported among women, 64 percent of new AIDS cases among women, and are three times the number of new cases reported among white women.

Many African-American women with HIV contracted it from heterosexual sex. And two ways that the virus is contracted heterosexually is through intravenous drug use, and African-American men "on the down low." But men living on the DL is not a new phenomenon in the African-American community. Naming it, however, is. And it was J.L. King who became the country's poster boy by exposing the behavior in his best-seller, On The Down Low: A Journey into the Lives of "Straight" Black Men Who Sleep with Men.

"There are many women, too many women, in relationships with men who they think they know but really don't. He knew he had the disease, his mother knew he had the disease, his doctors knew, everyone seemed to know except me. And no one said a word," LaJoyce Brookshire wrote in the foreword of Browder's book, herself author of Faith Under Fire: Betrayed by a Thing Called Love.

While homophobic attitudes in the larger African-American community and church contribute to their behavior, African-American men are also not taking responsibility for how their behavior is killing African-American women, and putting the entire community at risk. But the disparities within the healthcare system also contribute to the disproportionately higher number of HIV cases among African-American women, which directly affects their quality of life and the spread of HIV.

While health disparities in the black community are overwhelming, so too is the failure of leadership African Americans have faced since the epidemic began.

Phil Wilson states it plainly:

"I think it's important for us to take just a moment to realize that we are where we are today because we weren't concerned when we thought it was somebody else's disease,"

However, the disease has also taught us about the various faces - across race, class and gender - who were and continue to be the face of this disease.

When The New York Native, a now-defunct gay newspaper, in its May 18, 1981, issue first reported on a virus found in gay men then known as GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency), an editorial noted that "even if the disease first became apparent in gay men, it is not just 'a gay disease.'" And HIV/AIDS, having neither an alliance to nor an affinity for queer sexualities, spread.

But where would the leadership on HIV/AIDS come from?

Let's confront the elephant in the black community, by telling the truth and shaming the devil. The biggest problem that black lawmakers have had to confront concerning the HIV/AIDS crisis in their communities is the political gag order imposed on them by their voting constituency's homophobia and animus toward any discussion of the disease.

Would the leadership on HIV/AIDS come from the black church?

When it comes to the black church and HIV/AIDS, I am always reminded of what my mayor in Cambridge, Mass., Ken Reeves, who is both African American and gay, told The Washington Blade in March, 1998, during a two-day Harvard University HIV/AIDS conference: "African American male ministers over 40 are a tough nut to crack. If we wait for the black church on this, we'll all be dead."

The Black Church continues to play a part in the death of African Americans with AIDS. While its silence on the issue is appalling and unconscionable, so too is its various forms of heterosexualized rituals and pronouncements that denigrate both LGBT people and women. A study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life showed that since 2000, African-American Protestants are less likely than other Protestant groups to believe that LGBT people should have equal rights. And since hot-button issues like gay adoption and marriage equality have become more prominent, support for LGBT rights among African-American Protestants has dipped as low as 40 percent.

Within Black Nationalist milieus like the Black Church and the Nation of Islam, African-American women with AIDS are also viewed as race traitors. In this patriarchal straightjacket, biological essentialist views are as holy and deified as the Bible itself. And with the belief that women are to multiply and bring forth new life for the perpetuation of the race, women with AIDS lose their status in the community. Often labeled as "loose" for having contracted the virus, she is viewed as not only diseased but also dangerous because her sexual wiles continue to seduce men. A woman with AIDS is a fallen woman, not only for having contracted the disease, but also for having disregarded the policing of sexual behavior by the Black Church. Therefore, women with AIDS are as unwelcome in the Black Church as LGBT people.

The feminization of this disease makes many of us AIDS activists and scholars wonder if the same amount of money, concern, communication, and moral outrage that was put into white gay men with the disease will be put into curbing its spread among black women.

The AIDS epidemic among African-American women is also symptomatic of the dialogue we need to have about our bodies and sexuality, which has been choked for centuries by a "politic of silence." Working in conjunction with the "politic of silence" is what African-American women historically created as a "culture of dissemblance" and "the politic of respectability," the silence African-American women created around their bodies and sexuality that had been exploited during slavery was viewed as a revolutionary act against the white oppressive gaze.

African-American women are no more promiscuous than white women, however, stereotypes about African-American women's bodies and sexualities prevent the proper prevention and education needed to stem the tide of HIV/AIDS.

The iconography of black women is predicated on four racist cultural images: the Jezebel, the Sapphire, Aunt Jemima, and Mammy. With the image of the strong black women who can endure anything and "make a way out of no way," her strength is either demonized as being emasculating of black men or impervious to the human condition. The Aunt Jemima and Mammy stereotypes are now conflated into what's called "Big Mamma" in today's present iconography of racist and sexist images of African-American women.

While the Aunt Jemima and Mammy stereotypes are prevalent images that derive from slavery, for centuries both of them have not only been threatening, comforting and nurturing to white culture but also to African-American men. The dominant culture doesn't see and hear African-American voices on this issue because our humanity is distorted and made invisible through a prism of racist and sexist stereotypes. So too is our suffering.


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Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | December 1, 2008 7:32 PM

Rev Monroe, I was reporting on AIDS in the late 1980's/early 1990's in the SF/Oakland Bay Area.

At that time, an under-reported news story was how the virus was moving rapidly into the African-American community. I was told by my sources that factors involved in the disease's spread included the crack epidemic (which led to risky sexual behaviors), denial and homophobia in black churches, and lack of honesty on the part of black bisexual men who failed to tell their female partners that they were also having sex with men.

It is really hard now--almost 20 years later!!!--to not see racism as a strong factor in the media's adamant refusal to cover this story and in society's turning away from committing adequate and effective resources to stop the virus’ spread.

It makes me sick and so angry that people are being infected who could have been spared.

My impression was that the black press was slow to pick this up and that black community leaders were even slower. Timeline, anyone?

All the more reason for the LGBT's to have a dialogue with the black (and Latin) church to bring more understanding and compassion. Obviously the churches homophobia and denial continue to contribute to the spread of AIDS. Where is the outrage of the gay black community?

I was in DC in 1990-1991 and working as a free-lance cameraman on George Washington U, being a part of a crew who filmed classes for satellite course takers. There was a class there on sexuality and this topic came up on African American women who contracted HIV/AIDS from their men on the DL.

From your piece here it seems like not much has changed. The women who were part of this panel each said that was how they got the disease and they struggled everyday with themselves and were courageous! It was from that albeit brief look into the lives of a few African American women which made me really see that it wasn't just a few folks doing this in the African American community but many and much unspoken.

Things haven't changed much people. Youngsters out there thinking they are invincible that HIV is an "old person's disease" when we knew back then unless someone knew every sexual partner the person they were having sex with at that time you basically were having sex with everyone the person before you had had sex with and the chain of folks very much like the genetic family tree. For example: I had sex with Suzy who had sex with Ted who had sex with Rhonda......

Youngsters who have sex with people opf their same age group unprotected because of the same lame assed excuse "oh it doesn't feel the same", " I can't find one that fits" There is no excuse for unprotected sex since we have come much farther in developing condoms for both men and women which will fit...... and men still give the same lame excuses talking girls into things and who knows where they have been before they have sex with Sally still unprotected now. Yes young folks may have sex with each other but who knows down the line who had sex with someone who was older and passed on that "gift" which has passed on to you and you will give that now to Sally?

Then "I don't want to get tested because.........
I'm not gay...... I don't sleep with men, I'm a man" That bravado insane as it is still is out there. The African American community linked as it is to church which isn't a bad thing to have faith but ignorance which can be preached about demonizing the gay community as is done by folks ministers who feel that gay men aren't real and if they are they are an abomination or lesbians are said to be as much. People will either rise up from their sleep or not. From your report it seems like "not" is what has and is still happening.. Dick Cheney not knowing about the epidemic in DC of HIV in the African American community is either incredibly stupid or could care less as it is not his immediate circle of friends.......

I have been outraged on this issue since I learned of it since I am part of the gay community and African American. I take the line of a Momma grizzly. If the topic is brought up I attack it head on. I know it is still going on and the anger of the idea of the cowardliness of the DL amkes me see all shades of red, green , purple!!! But is it not just the gays in African American Community who should be "up in arms" about this.

The thought that the gays in the African American community themselves should be up in arms only.... speaks to a funny underlying concept.

"you have your people" " I have my people" which is what the struggle has been all along. The unity in the gay community no matter the color.

People see the gay community as the white gay community because that is the face you see advertised. You rarely see a multi ethnic representation of the gay community because most of those of us with disposable incomes are not people of color. So the nation at large sees the gay community as only Those gays of one skin color and we allow that to be perpetuated.

If the premise of 10% of the human community is gay then it is not just anglo saxon looking people is it Dray? The balck gay community doesn't see itself welcome much in the "gay community" as a whole the same way Blacks do not feel apart of the community at large because most of what is seen as America is shown to be anglo looking. Pay attention to what you see in TV ads. This is overt advertising dollars and it has a subtle effect psychologically. The very fact that you made your statement shows you may not mean it to seem that way but you align yourself with the "status gay community" that i have described. The true gay community has no distinction of color. We are all gay first. Until everyone in the community gets this and opens dialog has friends, acquaintances and truly sees themselves as part of a whole gay community, we will continue allow the world to see the gay community as white, separate.

If you take a small look online even the advertising of who is hot or not on gay advertising, it is the same vein as the hetero advertising.. anglo saxon looking representation of humans and we call that advertising. We are used to letting others define who we are by advertising dollars. Then expect folks to jump on board. NO that is why Jasamyne Cannick said what she did about gay marriage prop 8. People in the African American community feel separated. You feel the LGBT community has to reach out the the African American Community because you know that you really believe that the LGBT community is monochromatic. You have your token folks Margaret Cho but you see the anglo LGBT community. The African American community sees the anglo LGBT and their own subset African American LGBT but not the whole LGBTQ all races. It is a stupid as the ethnic communities that were established when the immigrants came over and made the Irish community, the polish community etc. It may have been needed at one time in the beginning but not so much anymore. Now we have Wanda Sykes.

Our problem in DC and any other major city Atlanta, LA where ever there are large pockets of people of color is that they still feel isolated and comfortable with their own and we perpetuate it in the LGBTQ subset.

In effect we are perpetuating the same mentality as the folks who came over here who established the colonies who just happened to be the anglos from England. They started out without much and became rich, then began to get into the slave trade and got Africans to be taken not looked at as humans really to be able to do what was done to get rich off free labor.

If the LGBTQ community can get over the rich segment and embrace each other not tokenly be really then we will have something to show the world.

If you ask a LGBTQ person of color what their experience is of on line sites they may tell you they prefer sites made for them as it is not always friendly on the main stream sites, Gay.com to name one. Or if they go to bars etc.

I can tell you we had a representation of many ethnicities on the protest against 8 in Indianapolis but not many in equivalent numbers.

if we do nothing else this year, let the LGBTQ community take a page from president elect Obama's book. We are everyone, black, white, hispanic, asian, native americans, rich, poor, single, couples, religious, non religious, spiritual etc.. Let us work toward that. call it out when it is looking only one sided, work to make a whole LGBTQ and not let the advertisers and media, clubs, anyone tell us who we are.

I was in DC in 1990-1991 and working as a free-lance cameraman on George Washington U, being a part of a crew who filmed classes for satellite course takers. There was a class there on sexuality and this topic came up on African American women who contracted HIV/AIDS from their men on the DL.

From your piece here it seems like not much has changed. The women who were part of this panel each said that was how they got the disease and they struggled everyday with themselves and were courageous! It was from that albeit brief look into the lives of a few African American women which made me really see that it wasn't just a few folks doing this in the African American community but many and much unspoken.

Things haven't changed much people. Youngsters out there thinking they are invincible that HIV is an "old person's disease" when we knew back then unless someone knew every sexual partner the person they were having sex with at that time you basically were having sex with everyone the person before you had had sex with and the chain of folks very much like the genetic family tree. For example: I had sex with Suzy who had sex with Ted who had sex with Rhonda......

Youngsters who have sex with people opf their same age group unprotected because of the same lame assed excuse "oh it doesn't feel the same", " I can't find one that fits" There is no excuse for unprotected sex since we have come much farther in developing condoms for both men and women which will fit...... and men still give the same lame excuses talking girls into things and who knows where they have been before they have sex with Sally still unprotected now. Yes young folks may have sex with each other but who knows down the line who had sex with someone who was older and passed on that "gift" which has passed on to you and you will give that now to Sally?

Then "I don't want to get tested because.........
I'm not gay...... I don't sleep with men, I'm a man" That bravado insane as it is still is out there. The African American community linked as it is to church which isn't a bad thing to have faith but ignorance which can be preached about demonizing the gay community as is done by folks ministers who feel that gay men aren't real and if they are they are an abomination or lesbians are said to be as much. People will either rise up from their sleep or not. From your report it seems like "not" is what has and is still happening.. Dick Cheney not knowing about the epidemic in DC of HIV in the African American community is either incredibly stupid or could care less as it is not his immediate circle of friends.......

I have been outraged on this issue since I learned of it since I am part of the gay community and African American. I take the line of a Momma grizzly. If the topic is brought up I attack it head on. I know it is still going on and the anger of the idea of the cowardliness of the DL amkes me see all shades of red, green , purple!!! But is it not just the gays in African American Community who should be "up in arms" about this.

The thought that the gays in the African American community themselves should be up in arms only.... speaks to a funny underlying concept.

"you have your people" " I have my people" which is what the struggle has been all along. The unity in the gay community no matter the color.

People see the gay community as the white gay community because that is the face you see advertised. You rarely see a multi ethnic representation of the gay community because most of those of us with disposable incomes are not people of color. So the nation at large sees the gay community as only Those gays of one skin color and we allow that to be perpetuated.

If the premise of 10% of the human community is gay then it is not just anglo saxon looking people is it Dray? The balck gay community doesn't see itself welcome much in the "gay community" as a whole the same way Blacks do not feel apart of the community at large because most of what is seen as America is shown to be anglo looking. Pay attention to what you see in TV ads. This is overt advertising dollars and it has a subtle effect psychologically. The very fact that you made your statement shows you may not mean it to seem that way but you align yourself with the "status gay community" that i have described. The true gay community has no distinction of color. We are all gay first. Until everyone in the community gets this and opens dialog has friends, acquaintances and truly sees themselves as part of a whole gay community, we will continue allow the world to see the gay community as white, separate.

If you take a small look online even the advertising of who is hot or not on gay advertising, it is the same vein as the hetero advertising.. anglo saxon looking representation of humans and we call that advertising. We are used to letting others define who we are by advertising dollars. Then expect folks to jump on board. NO that is why Jasamyne Cannick said what she did about gay marriage prop 8. People in the African American community feel separated. You feel the LGBT community has to reach out the the African American Community because you know that you really believe that the LGBT community is monochromatic. You have your token folks Margaret Cho but you see the anglo LGBT community. The African American community sees the anglo LGBT and their own subset African American LGBT but not the whole LGBTQ all races. It is a stupid as the ethnic communities that were established when the immigrants came over and made the Irish community, the polish community etc. It may have been needed at one time in the beginning but not so much anymore. Now we have Wanda Sykes.

Our problem in DC and any other major city Atlanta, LA where ever there are large pockets of people of color is that they still feel isolated and comfortable with their own and we perpetuate it in the LGBTQ subset.

In effect we are perpetuating the same mentality as the folks who came over here who established the colonies who just happened to be the anglos from England. They started out without much and became rich, then began to get into the slave trade and got Africans to be taken not looked at as humans really to be able to do what was done to get rich off free labor.

If the LGBTQ community can get over the rich segment and embrace each other not tokenly be really then we will have something to show the world.

If you ask a LGBTQ person of color what their experience is of on line sites they may tell you they prefer sites made for them as it is not always friendly on the main stream sites, Gay.com to name one. Or if they go to bars etc.

I can tell you we had a representation of many ethnicities on the protest against 8 in Indianapolis but not many in equivalent numbers.

if we do nothing else this year, let the LGBTQ community take a page from president elect Obama's book. We are everyone, black, white, hispanic, asian, native americans, rich, poor, single, couples, religious, non religious, spiritual etc.. Let us work toward that. call it out when it is looking only one sided, work to make a whole LGBTQ and not let the advertisers and media, clubs, anyone tell us who we are.


I am fully a part of the AIDS community as a long term survivor and also of the gay community, having come out at the age of 19. I am now 60.

I'm aware of the segregation within the gay community. I've felt it when trying to enter a gay bar with a friend of color and they were hassled at the door and I was not, so we had to leave. I've also felt the eyes and heard the remarks when I have gone into a predominantly black gay bar or a black church.

I understand the rise in women of color's AIDS infections mainly comes from unsafe sex with men of color on the DL. And that most of the men that live on the DL do so because of the black church/family denial and homophobic history.

Do you think it would be effective if I were to try to convince the black community to change their ways? I think this is a educational forum that gay people of color must initiate from within.

James, I personally would join in when deemed appropriate. I don't know how to unite the races and agree that we are all the human race. I'm hoping that President-elect Barack Obama will help us to make a start. Especially if he keeps and extends his promises to LGBTQ people. There is much work to be done.

Dray,

I will confess I made my comments before I looked at your webpage and saw as you state in your response that you are 60. I apologize if I have caused you any discomfort in my response yesterday.

I fully understand what you have gone through in the personal situations ie. the bar and the church scene. I am sure you have more than that to offer.

My feeling is that we all, not just the gay people of color have to stand up to the insensitivity when we see it, because like you and me there are many in the gay community who are not prejudiced or bigoted but we have to address the situations when they arise.

As far as advertisers we could write them about their advertisements and I think we need more than one or two folks doing it.

The bar issues I was going to say stem from the fact that the microcosm the gay community is and the attitudes in it are reflective of what was learned in the home, in the community and yes call it out when it is shown. They are reflective of the larger landscape of thinking of the 90% of the population.

I know the response or unresponsiveness due to race has always had the same effect to have someone develop and promote an separate venue.

I saw the Dinah Shore weekend for lesbians and in the photos there are very few women of color though that is an event for all lesbians. I recently saw that there is a Dinah Shore weekend for women of color. Still perpetrating the fact that some people do not feel comfortable or welcome at a table. That stems from the days long ago in this country when we had slavery and the slaves were not welcome to participate in church etc. and made their own organizations AME, CME churches, even the Masons had black and white groups. Old habits die hard.

My question is in the situation in the black gay bar or church even in the uncomfortable stares did you stay put?

The deal with the hassling of your friend of color at the "white gay club" made you leave.

That was the very essence of the lunch counter revolution and protests in the 60's.

Sometimes putting things in the paper getting a reporter to shed light on this makes people talk too.

This morning I saw two things here on Bilerico articles which made me think well good people are sounding off. one was the apparent apathy of the gay community in the worlds AIDS day events, and the article on the rise of HIV AIDs in the black community from a male voice.We know that it was a hot topic in the 80's and 90's because folks were dying all around us, but now though the epidemic is far from over and still is disproportionately effecting one segment of the human community people are not on the fire as they used to be. Which might be because people are living longer.

The article in our local paper Indy Star on a mom who is suing the school district on harassment of her daughter who now has HIV shows that though Ryan White which was highly publicized even in the national spotlight in our times pretty much comes back haunt Indiana because that Ryan White case was from here Kokomo, and now sad to say Indiana at least in that Warren school district is showing that all that happened in the past was not learned well the first time. Humans have a faulty long term memory in things that make us uncomfortable or we deem "well this doesn't affect me or concern me". In not learning history we are doomed to repeat it.

So we cannot let things lie. we have to speak out.


It is an epidemic among African American women now. But I don't think it's accurate to say that people just cared about it when it was a "white gay male disease" just out of thin air. For years the media either ignored or sensationalized it, local and state level politicians used to to prove their tough-on-gays cred, and federal level politicians, like Reagan, just ignored it. People didn't start caring until gays, fueled at least partly by memories of lost privilege from the days when they were just white men and women not white gay men and women, made a stink about it.

So where's the stink this time around? I'd be willing to join in.

James
Thank you for being understanding of my experience.

And yes I did stay. Being originally from Detroit I grew up with the sounds of Mo-Town and enjoyed the music played in the black bars (what was the name of that little dive bar at the end of Christopher St. that played such great music?)

And I'll tell you a story about when I attended a church in Harlem. The woman dressed all in white took me to a seat in the middle of the church-hat ladies who you could tell always sat together every Sunday. There were some hurrumphs as I was seated and some uncomfortable shifting in their seats. But when the music started and I raised my voice with theirs making our own mini choir together...well lets just say I received some God bless and big smiles upon leaving.

It saddens me that today's gay youth continue to be among the new HIV+ numbers. And it's hard for me to understand why. And yes it appears society has become apathetic in regard to AIDS in general.

But do you agree that the homophobia of the black churches needs to first be addressed internally by the gay sons and daughters, nieces, nephews, cousins, god children, choir members and other friends of theirs?

As Act Up made popular "Silence=Death".

yes it does and some sit in those churches and say nothing, because their sense of being a part of a community is stronger than the desire of standing up to the minister who preaches hate to them. The need for spiritual sustenance is strong.

In my own case I know I was raised catholic and went away from it for years doing other christian beliefs though my own homophobia stemmed from what I had learned in church Catholic and my own parents.

Eventually I had to look up and say I am gay and it is ok, eventually giving way to I am gay and not going to participate in religion that doesn't support me being a whole person. I turned my back on that and began to live.

So when a person will remain in their relationship in their community spiritually and not acknowledge they fact they have have intrinsic right to be a whole person,
have a loving relationship with a person of the same sex and I mean full sexual relationship with them, acknowledged and respected by themselves and their community and the spiritual head of it, there is not much to be done.

As we all know you don't have to stay there in the darkness but until you have your inner strength to rise up and say no not again, you will remain where you feel safe even if it may be uncomfortable.

My own grandmother and grandfather and my older sisters were my true support group. They knew I was gay even before I did fully and protected me. I will tell you my grandmother would not have done that to you in her church and she lived in Harlem and was not like your church lady experience.

When I came out to her at 34 she told me she already knew that when I was 4 years old...LOL I had my V-8 moment!! I call it that when something you do smacks you in the forehead like "duh". I had no idea when I was four years old but she was not kidding. I know when my folks ever consulted her on things when I look back I see that she would counsel them against being hard on me.

don't get me wrong I know God exists I choose not to particiapte in non affirming religions.

To answer the question as to why the youth are being big numbers in HIV they do not think they can get HIV if they stay among their own age group. They do not learn what we know that when you have sex with one person you have sex with everyone else they had sex with and they use unsafe sex practices because they figure "my penis is too big to be wrapped, I don't get the same pleasure I do when I am unwrapped" when there is not excuse for that. The use of recreational drugs also keeps the intelligence of safe sex downplayed too, to their own detriment.

When history is not personal and learned well one is doomed to repeat it.

yes it does and some sit in those churches and say nothing, because their sense of being a part of a community is stronger than the desire of standing up to the minister who preaches hate to them. The need for spiritual sustenance is strong.

In my own case I know I was raised catholic and went away from it for years doing other christian beliefs though my own homophobia stemmed from what I had learned in church Catholic and my own parents.

Eventually I had to look up and say I am gay and it is ok, eventually giving way to I am gay and not going to participate in religion that doesn't support me being a whole person. I turned my back on that and began to live.

So when a person will remain in their relationship in their community spiritually and not acknowledge they fact they have have intrinsic right to be a whole person,
have a loving relationship with a person of the same sex and I mean full sexual relationship with them, acknowledged and respected by themselves and their community and the spiritual head of it, there is not much to be done.

As we all know you don't have to stay there in the darkness but until you have your inner strength to rise up and say no not again, you will remain where you feel safe even if it may be uncomfortable.

My own grandmother and grandfather and my older sisters were my true support group. They knew I was gay even before I did fully and protected me. I will tell you my grandmother would not have done that to you in her church and she lived in Harlem and was not like your church lady experience.

When I came out to her at 34 she told me she already knew that when I was 4 years old...LOL I had my V-8 moment!! I call it that when something you do smacks you in the forehead like "duh". I had no idea when I was four years old but she was not kidding. I know when my folks ever consulted her on things when I look back I see that she would counsel them against being hard on me.

don't get me wrong I know God exists I choose not to particiapte in non affirming religions.

To answer the question as to why the youth are being big numbers in HIV they do not think they can get HIV if they stay among their own age group. They do not learn what we know that when you have sex with one person you have sex with everyone else they had sex with and they use unsafe sex practices because they figure "my penis is too big to be wrapped, I don't get the same pleasure I do when I am unwrapped" when there is not excuse for that. The use of recreational drugs also keeps the intelligence of safe sex downplayed too, to their own detriment.

When history is not personal and learned well one is doomed to repeat it.

I agree there is youthful invinciblity involved for the high numbers of new HIV numbers. Also the fact that the new drugs available make it seem less dangerous. But there is also underneath all that a certain self-hatred that makes them not care about themselves.

But the topic is in regard to the rise of infections in straight women of color, and the cause is unprotected sex with gay/bi men of color.
What can be done to educate these women and how can we reach out to these men. And I repeat it has to start in the black community first. And then let others back you up.

As you pointed out with the Dinah Shore golf event, for every event there seems to be a separate event for people of color. I'm thinking of straight award shows, etc. too. Even our Pride events now have a separate black pride day. Although I understand why, historically, it still saddens me and makes me wonder how the human race will ever come together. Obama may be a start. I hope so.

Or we can do this. Those people who insist on promoting events which in the beginning seem to be good but really exclude part of the community should be called out. Making it obvious that to cater to one part of the community is divisive. Because the separate events are always made after the primary ones are established. We need folks to promote events good for everyone instead of catering to make it look good for a few.

Have people look at making an event that is good for everyone regardless of race. be inclusive, for music food speakers etc. because making money off the gay community and promoting secret separation is and old way of doing things.