Newsday (Melville) (02.12.10) - Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Ads designed to start a conversation about homophobia and
homosexuality within the black community debut this month at
nine Long Island Rail Road stations, on trains and buses, and
across a trestle in West Babylon. Bay Shore-based Long Island
GLBT Services Network is sponsoring the ads with help from a
$37,000 state health department grant.
"In the African-American community, it's taboo to talk about
gays and lesbians," said Dale Anthony Edmonston, a black AIDS
activist from Hempstead. The results have been disastrous for
the community, he said.
African Americans have the highest HIV/AIDS rates among any
racial group on Long Island, with 809.4 out of every 100,002
infected, compared with 317.1 for Hispanics and 94.9 for
whites, state health department data show. Nationally, black
men who have sex with men account for the largest number of
new HIV/AIDS cases among blacks, according to CDC.
"HIV/AIDS continues to be a major health concern for all New
Yorkers, but especially gay African-American men," said
Jeffrey Hammond, a spokesperson for the health department.
"The campaign will help to reduce the stigmas that often
create barriers for African-American gay men to seek testing
The Rev. Reginald Tuggle of Memorial Presbyterian Church in
Roosevelt said the campaign is misguided. "People who are gay
come in all races. And homophobia exists in every community,"
he said. "To say that only black people don't like black
people who are gay, that's silly." Gays, he said, are not a
topic of discussion in many African-American churches because
other issues are more relevant.