Emory University, Atlanta, Ga.
Because young black gay men are not just a problem to be solved, a burden, nor mere data, we must rethink not only our approach, but our paradigm. With the "clinical turn" in HIV prevention, and the flattening of young black gay maleness into essentially an always-at-risk population, we are robbed of our ability to imagine them as anything other than risk. This serves as the most unfortunate kind of objectification, and displaces young black gay men from an identity, a community, a history, and a culture.
We must create locations for sexual health education, culture awareness, and community empowerment that exist outside of bureaucracies. Approaches rooted in popular-education models that build upon and assume the humanity and agency of young black gay men. Cultural awareness and sexual identity empowerment must also be indispensable to sexual health education and community building. The consequence of distancing young black gay men from their history, and culture, even in the service of their protection, is to save their lives but murder their souls. We must insist upon scientific and cultural innovation in the new HIV/AIDS prevention landscape.