Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Deadly Homophobia: The Former Georgia State Representative and Ex-Head of the NAACP Says Fighting Homophobia Is Key to Progress in the Struggle against HIV/AIDS among Blacks

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Deadly Homophobia: The Former Georgia State Representative and Ex-Head of the NAACP Says Fighting Homophobia Is Key to Progress in the Struggle against HIV/AIDS among Blacks

Article excerpt

What are you doing to address homophobia among the black population?

I look at the women's movement, the movement of lesbians and gays, the Hispanic movement, the Native American movement--all these movements say they took their cues from the African-American civil rights movement. But in this case, the African-American movement against AIDS is taking its cues from the gay movement, hoping to adapt some of the militancy, some of the tactics, demonstrations, and protests.

How big a role does homophobia play in the spread of AIDS among black people?

They definitely go hand in hand. I live in Washington, D.C., and over the past six months or so, two very prominent black ministers here have issued the most appalling [antigay] statements. The good news is that they were quickly and loudly denounced. The bad news is that they made these statements at all. Homophobia is one of the major obstacles to black Americans coming to grips with this disease in the ways that we should. It is awfully disturbing. It's a refutation of what the movement for civil rights stood for. It's disgraceful.

Is that changing at all?

It is more possible to have rational and decent discussions about the issue and to talk about prescriptions for change. …

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