Some alarming facts about HIV and those most at risk popped up in my Facebook newsfeed. The article came from The Advocate and it’s basically an entire op-ed series called #6in10. #6in10 points to stats that reveal 6 in 10 black gay and bi-sexual men in the US will test positive for HIV by the time they’re 40 years old. Reading those words as a black guy is heartbreaking to say the very least. And even more fucked are some of the contributing factors. Some really out of the norm stuff. Like gay dating racism. Who thought this could be as far reaching? I surely didn’t.
But my lapse in judgement proves just how easily we tend to ignore the struggles of black and minority LGBTQ people. I don’t know whether to feel guilty for my ignorance or upset that the issue isn’t more to the forefront of LGBTQ battle lines. Like AIDS was in the 80’s. Or like how Transgendered and Marriage Equality is today. Where the AIDS crisis was weathered by the entire community, the re-emerging threat to the black gay community is weathered in silence and shame.
CDC stats list young black gay and bi-sexual men between ages 13-24 as “especially affected by HIV“. I remember when I was 13 and how terrifying it was to think that I’d simply get AIDS and die for being gay. Imagine being that 13 year old and reading this now. But not seeing any real concentrated focus on the issue. It’s no secret that the black community is a long way from accepting but what are we doing as a wider queer community for at risk minority groups within our own circles?
Can’t say much about the US but here in Toronto it’s hard to prove that you’re more than a skin tone. Doesn’t matter how smart you are or how much of a nice person you might be, fellow gays usually only see you as black. Period. You can be an accessory, like “oh I’m down with black queens” or you can be a sexual commodity, like “you must have a BBC”. Dare you challenge this and you’ll be told shit like “it’s just a preference” or “you’re too sensitive” or “you’re playing the race card”. I even got kicked off of a volunteer board for challenging the ideas a few white lesbian women had of black gay men. Speak up and you’re labelled an angry black queen- regardless of your diplomacy.
While gay black communities aren’t as aided by wider queer communities as we should be, our culture, mannerisms and overall fierce sense of identity continues to be widely duplicated for white queer consumerism.
I just want to see us take care of our own and stop allowing ridiculous notions about race, superiority, class and all that shit get in the way of protecting each other.
The struggle is fucking real.
To learn more visit www.6in10.org