By Guest Contributor Sikivu Hutchinson; originally published at Feminist Wire
(Excerpt from the forthcoming book Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels)
For the past several months, Crenshaw Boulevard, in predominantly black South Los Angeles, has featured a series of striking billboards condemning homophobia and its role in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The billboards are the work of the black gay activist group In the Meantime Men, headed by Jeffrey King. Sounding a “code red alarm” on the raging HIV/AIDS epidemic among African Americans, King said, “The staggering rates of increased teen suicides in the last five years, and the uncontrollable increase of teen homelessness in America have awakened our senses to the damaging effects of homophobia in the Black community. Every year, thousands of Black LGBT people are displaced from their homes, families, churches, and communities due to their sexuality, gender, gender identity, and gender expression. This has resulted in a mass influx of homeless youth on the streets of Los Angeles and other cities throughout the nation.” [King will be a panelist at the upcoming “Confronting Homophobia in the Black Church” roundtable hosted by Black Skeptics Los Angeles at Zion Hill Baptist Church on February 27th] With African Americans comprising the majority of new HIV cases in the U.S., the epidemic has devastated black communities nationwide. Yet the refusal of mainstream black America to seriously confront how homophobia and black religiosity drive homelessness and HIV only deepens the killing fields.