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https://www.thebody.com/article/a-look-at-black-gay-aids-activism-through-a-vetera
African-AmericansPersonal Stories

A Look at Black Gay HIV Activism, Through a Veteran's Eyes

Part One of a Two-Part Interview With Jeffery A. Haskins -- Part of the Series _This Positive Life_

    This Positive Life
    "I'm a baby boomer, a civil rights baby, a NOW woman's baby, a fight-the-Vietnam-War baby. Coming from Washington, D.C., it's all political. So, every one of the struggles, my parents were at, and they were advocates, and they took me too. And they taught me. ... HIV is \[also\] a social justice issue."
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    "Trauma is something that we don't address in our society. ... Your challenges that you overcome in life, those are traumatic. If illness is a part of life, that's traumatic. Aging is a part of life, that's traumatic. Being poor and not having enough money, that's traumatic. Being different -- lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, stigma -- that's trauma."
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    "I don't know if I'm relationship oriented. I think I am. I think I want it now, as I've gotten older. But I've been sort of a workaholic, doing two and three jobs at one time. I'd be at church, the arts, and the office, doing AIDS work. ... So when did I have time for a relationship?"
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    "You had this wonderful thing in Harlem, with all these different agencies that we developed. And you can't tell me we can't do that again in every city. You can't tell me that. Because we did it!"
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    "I've mentored so many kids over the years. I was mentored. When I came out at 19, my godfather called me over and said, 'Hey, we don't do it like that. If you gonna be a gay man, we don't do that.' And so we have to give that back to the next generation."
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    Olivia G. Ford

    Olivia G. Ford

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    Olivia Ford is a contributing editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.