I’m so glad I asked. I knew you’d have valuable input, Sam.
I’m thinking of my young friend Chase in Detroit. He’s a successful attorney and newly minted community activist and organizer.
He attends church every Sunday with his boyfriend. He tells me that he grew up in black churches and that he considers church to be a critical part of living a fulfilled life as a black man.
(The fact that he’s pretty sure he doesn’t believe in God adds an interesting dimension to the conversation, but perhaps it’s getting a bit far afield.)
Chase tells me he feels a lot of acceptance and affirmation in Detroit and rarely experiences overt homophobic bigotry, even though he is completely out of the closet.
On the other hand, he and I often talk about the problem of HIV among young black men in Detroit.
In fact, we recently met a doctor who invited us to visit an AIDS ward at his hospital in Detroit.
An AIDS ward isn’t something you’d expect to find in the US today, not with testing so available and treatment so effective and accessible.
This physician told us that men (often young men) frequently show up at the hospital with PCP pneumonia, KS lesions, and wasting, having no idea they’re HIV positive.
Chase is working to raise money to launch education campaigns directed at young, gay black men in Detroit.
I don’t know why they’re particularly at risk.
I don’t think Chase does either. I think figuring out why would be an excellent way to start to end the problem.
If you have any ideas, we’re all ears.