Contributing blogger Darian Aaron is an Alabama native who now calls Atlanta home. He’s the creator of Living Out Loud with Darian, a blog that offers his take on social, political and religious issues that impact the LGBT community.
Journalist Karen Ocamb has penned a thought provoking piece on Tavis Smiley’s annual State of the Black Union. During the 10th anniversary of Smiley’s much lauded and well attended think-tank, the presence of openly gay black leaders and issues affecting the black LGBT community were once again the elephant in the room.
“It’s hard to believe, given the explosion of HIV/AIDS in the black community, that the 10th annual State of the Black Union (SOTBU) symposium, held last Saturday and broadcast on C-SPAN from Los Angeles, had not a single guest on to discuss that topic — or the controversy over Proposition 8 and homophobia the black vote, both real and perceived”, notes blogger Pam Spaulding.
As expected, much of the conversation centered around economics, but their is no logical explanation for the omission of the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS in the black community during the dialogue. Our silence over the past 25 years has not been the solution to curbing the epidemic and has only fueled new infections.
Ocamb also observes that their has been no representation at SOTBU by openly gay leaders since Phil Wilson of the Black AIDS Institute and Keith Boykin of the Daily Voice were invited in 2005.
Black Americans represented 45 percent of people newly infected with HIV in 2006, despite being just 13 percent of the population. Men who have sex with men accounted for 53 percent of all new infections in 2006, and young black men were particularly hard hit. And AIDS is still the leading cause of death for black women aged 24-34; 65% of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses among women in the U.S. are black; and black women are 23 times more likely to be diagnosed with AIDS than white women.
So why was this not on Tavis Smiley’s agenda? And why does it seem that the black community is determined not to address the issues of sexuality, HIV/AIDS, and equal rights for LGBT individuals despite the intense political climate we’re in and the deadly consequences resulting from our silence?
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