Pennsylvania: Putting Gay Black Men on Safer Path Is Their Cause
July 13, 2011
Q Spot is a Broad Street Ministry-hosted resource for Philadelphia's young black men who have sex with men (MSM). The event is held at the ministry on two Saturdays a month, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., offering HIV prevention and treatment resources to at-risk youths.
Noel Ramirez, 25, a social worker at St. Christopher's Hospital, and Quincy Greene, 32, a program manager at Brothers United, a CDC-supported HIV prevention project, connect the MSM to services ranging from academic tutoring to free and confidential HIV testing. The aim of the outreach is to meet minority MSM on their own turf, said Ramirez.
Reaching this population is "like trying to catch water," Ramirez said. "They slip through your fingertips." MSM often are stigmatized by family, he said, and many have been led to believe that being gay means being promiscuous.
Ramirez recalled that when he came out to his mother in high school, she warned him, "You'd better not get HIV. And don't trust anyone, because they'll drug you and rape you." "Talking to young people like that, sexualizing them, assuming that their identity is clustered around that disease -- it creates shame and guilt, social isolation, and unhealthy relationships," said Ramirez, though he added that his mother meant well.
Greene, whose parents are from Guyana, said his evangelist mother could not accept that he was gay. "She told me, 'Reject this. It's not real. It's the devil,'" he said.
Q Spot gives MSM the chance "to meet other HIV-positive men and talk about what we're going through," Ramirez said. "You need people you can relate to."
07.06.2011; Melissa Dribben
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