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As HIV Prevention Money Shrinks, Who Will Save Young Gay Men of Color?

August 15, 2013

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Durell Knights -- Group Facilitator, Many Men, Many Voices, GMHC

Inspiring stories of people living with HIV.

If you want to follow along with the text, begin watching the video at 5:32.

In delivering an urgent call to action for young gay men of color, Durell Knights said:

We have to get out there and make some noise. If we don't take care of ourselves, nobody else is gonna do it for us. You can't stand back and wait for handouts and wait for this one to do this for you and that one to do that for you. We have to get out there just like when it was ACT UP and all those people were doing what they had to do to get the funding that they were getting. We have to do the same thing.

Shariff Gibbons -- Participant, Outstanding Beautiful Brothers, GMHC

Inspiring stories of people living with HIV.

If you want to follow along with the text, begin watching the video at 00:52.

When describing how GMHC's program Outstanding Beautiful Brothers offers a sense of community, Shariff Gibbons said:

The key to having a sense of community for [Outstanding Beautiful Brothers' (OBB)] members, is that it provides a place for support and it lets them know that they are not alone, and that's what's important for gay men of color, because, at least from my experience, if you are a gay man of color, it's like you almost don't exist. Because the terms "gay" and "man of color" aren't two things that are connected. But, here at OBB, it says that you exist and this is your community and this is a place you can go for support. And that's one of the key things that they use as a way of keeping us safe. By letting us know that you have support here, and you're not alone, and if you need it, you have the support of the staff, but it's also important that you have the support of each other.

Dominique Crisden -- Community Health Specialist, Community Health & Research, GMHC

Inspiring stories of people living with HIV.

If you want to follow along with the text, begin watching the video at 2:03.

On discussing the disconnect between prevention materials that only push condoms and the rising rates of HIV among young gay men of color and the slash in funding, Dominique Crisden said:

So, where's the disconnect at? I believe that the disconnect is: young black men don't feel like they matter. So, how do we feel like we matter? It's organizations like GMHC, and Hetrick-Martin, Ali Forney, The Door, the HEAT programs, that shelter these people and they teach these people self-pride. They teach the youth healthy conversations, because if I don't care about myself and I don't matter, why the hell am I going to tell you "I have HIV," or why the hell am I going to use a condom? I don't care about myself, I don't care about you, because the world doesn't care about me, because the world gave up on me. And, with the cutting of all this funding, that's the signal that we're sending out -- that we don't care. And it has to stop. And it has to stop with us. Like Durell said, when I came in here, I looked at the black men and I said, "It's great. I see you guys and I see you guys helping our community, but this is about my community. Where is my community?" This room should've been filled with black men; it should've been filled with black mothers. It should've been filled with black politicians, black religious leaders. Because the community is here, and honestly, it's not going to stop until we as a whole take pride and represent our community.
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This article was provided by TheBody.


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