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August 22, 2005

Its about time: responsible AIDS action

For once I can congratulate the black gay (male) community on something. Taking ownership and personal responsibility for their actions. Over and over we have heard vitrolic accusations against the "black church" and societal "homophobia" as the culprits behind the ever growing AIDS epidemic among black homosexual men.

Finally, someone has decided that they are primarily responsible for their own health and welfare. A letter has been released rebuking black gay men for passive response to the crisis facing them:

"What will it take? How many Black gay men have to get infected, get sick and die before we —- not CDC, not the Congressional Black Caucus, not the large AIDS organizations, but us -- mobilize and take action?"
The letter even chided a black gay summit for having gay marriage, not AIDS on the agenda.
"While equal rights, including the right to marry, are certainly worthwhile goals, they are not very useful to us if we are dead. Keeping us alive long enough to enjoy the rights we deserve should at least be on the list."
Incidentally, this same group of black gay male (39 in the first, 50 in the second) professionals released another letter entitled A Call to Action. (You will need to scroll down.) In the 2003 letter it seems that the idea of personal responsibility hadn't caught on yet as the letter demanded "that we as a Black community call upon our own resources and our government to take appropriate and targeted action to combat the epidemic in our communities."
Signers of the letter must have noticed that their demands were falling on deaf ears --most likely because it was misdirected.

The black community wasn't directly responsible for AIDS deaths in young black male homosexuals. Neither was the black church. Perhaps the case could be argued for some indirect responsibility, but what was needed was for black gays to step up and say if we don't stop this, no one will. I agree, the buck should stop there. This letter, in clear terms, states just that. Let's hope this time, those who hold the greatest power of stopping AIDS in the black gay community --the men themselves-- will listen and heed.