Recently, a study revealed that 1 in 2 Black gay and bisexual men will become HIV positive in our lifetime. This is a note from the Organizing Committee of YBGLI.
We must not become encumbered by the gullet of stigma and discrimination that continues to birth HIV. It is a horrible desecration of our activism, our art, our advocacy, our politic, our movement, our momentum, our organizing, our planning, our goals, if we regard docile statistics as the monotony of our lives.
HIV is not the heritage of Black gay and bisexual men. It is not our reckoning. It is not our sacrament. It is not our suffering. It is not our tradition. It is – in no small measure – the plight of systems and institutions that cannot bear the consequences and realities of men whose lives are layered by the intersectional marrying of our identities. This virus is the harvesting of banal social, political, and research frameworks that for far too long have devalued the worth and work of Black men. But make no mistake: Black gay and bisexual men are not made unwoven by the presence of HIV in our community.
It is indisputable: we are suffering emotionally, psychologically, and politically. We are bearing the brunt of an epidemic that does not allow us to see beyond the flesh of numerical data and into a world where demons reveal the other trauma that we anguish through: substance use, issues of mental health, homelessness, the displacement of our familial networks, and pervasive homophobia.
We are often tethered by these circumstances – sometimes it drives our ambition, and other times it tries to suffocate our progress. In whichever case, it is our right to heal, and our mandate to take care of one another, to commune with each other, to live beyond the arms of social and cultural dispossession.
Yes – the forecast is that 1 in 2 of us will become HIV positive in our lifetime, but we cannot become victims of this pessimism. Our work and our worth will not be deterred, nor will it be impoverished or steadied by an estimate.
We are not retreating.
YBGLI is a volunteer-ran national organization that advocates on pertinent issues that affect young Black gay, bisexual, trans, and queer men of diversity.