Black Gay Men, AIDS, and No Community Support

Alvin McEwen

July 6th, 2009

Alvin McEwen found an article about Black gay men and AIDS hitting really close to the gut. He posted his reaction on his blog. It’s a perspective we never talk about. I’m re-posting it with his permission. — Jim Burroway

AIDS is killing off black gay men and lack of LGBT community support may an unfortunate factor:

Black gay men have less choice when it comes to sexual partners than other groups and, as a result, their sexual networks are closely knit. These tightly interconnected networks make the rapid spread of HIV more likely. In a study looking at social and sexual mixing between ethnic groups in men who have sex with men, H. Fisher Raymond and Willi McFarland, from the San Francisco Department of Public Health in the US, show that social barriers faced by Black gay men may have a serious impact on their health and well-being.

. . . Black gay men are the least preferred of sexual partners by other races. Black men are perceived to be riskier to have sex with, which can lead to men of other races avoiding Black men as sexual partners. They are also perceived as less welcome in the common social venues of gay men in San Francisco. As a result, Black men are three times more likely to have sexual partners that are also Black, than would be expected by chance alone.

In the authors\’ view, the combination of attitudes on the part of non-Black gay men, friendships and social networks that are less likely to include Blacks, and the environments found in gay venues serve to separate Black gay men from other groups.

So the personal ad phrase “no fats, no olds, no fems, no blacks” is now taking on sinister proportions. It’s not that I’m passing judgment on people’s personal dating choices. But it does go farther than that. The LGBT community can sometimes be consumed with the gay ghetto clique mentality. And as you can see, it’s killing those who are generally not allowed to be in the “clique.”

But hey, at least the black community supports us . . . when we seem to be at death’s door. That’s when folks make these lovely speeches about “it’s not just a gay disease,” and “let’s not stop until we find a cure.”

I got an idea – how about giving us a little support while we are healthy. How about not isolating us or making our lives seem dirty by using the word “lifestyle” like it’s a pooper scooper.

So both the LGBT and black community have work to do. I can only hope the work gets done before too many LGBTs of color suffer.


July 6th, 2009

I think the closet/downlow and its greater prevalence among black gay men than among white gay men does a lot to feed the perception that black men are riskier as sexual partners. Not that I buy into that perception personally, but that seems to be where a lot of it comes from.

Timothy Kincaid

July 6th, 2009


Thank you for sharing your perspective on this article. I too found the article interesting in that while I knew that HIV rates were higher among African-American gay men, I had not considered ‘dating pool’ as a factor.

Whatever the reason, we do have to find some solutions. And I agree with you that these solutions need to address men (and women) before they become infected.

Mark F.

July 6th, 2009

Well, preventing AIDS is not rocket science. Either abstain from anal sex OR use condoms every time. It’s a pretty simple, 99% effective solution for gay and bisexual men — black, white or whatever.

a. mcewen

July 6th, 2009

I agree with you Mark to a point. But if we see a part of the population not using condoms, there must be an examination of the reasons as to why.

It’s not as simple as you put it. If it were, this would be a perfect world.

Timothy Kincaid

July 6th, 2009

I just ran across an article about a mother who “grew up in a conservative Christian world where it’s unacceptable for a black man to be gay” and wrote a book about her difficulties in coming to terms with her gay son.

This caught my attention:

Rashad, who recently graduated from Piper High School in Sunrise, Fla., says his own father won’t accept that he’s gay.

“At my graduation, he told me he’d give me $1,000 if I’d get a girl pregnant,” Rashad says. “He said he’d rather me go to prison for 20 years for drugs than be gay.”

The world needs a lot more women like Rashad’s mother. And somehow we need to find a way to reach those like his father.


August 16th, 2009

Could it be possible to conclude that the reason that African American men choose to partner with other African American men is because of desire. I believe that it is unreasonable to conclude from “survey” that these gay men “settle” for others of their own race simply because of lack of opportunity. Consider the revolutionary concept, although widely accepted among other races, that African American’s simply prefer their own.

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