There is a very interesting billboard at an important intersection in a predominantly African American section of South Los Angeles (near La Brea and Coliseum Avenue). The billboard has the word "HOMOPHOBIA" and large black letters on a white background with a bright red ex through them. This is part of a public awareness campaign by the Black Gay group called In The Meantime Men's Group.
The campaign caught the attention of the Los Angeles Times which ran an article on the reaction of some in the black community to the anti-homophobia campaign.
It's good to see the campaign getting attention from mainstream media sources. According to the Times, it turns out that AIDS Healthcare Foundation, one of the largest AIDS service organizations in the United States (and perhaps the world) is actually paying for the billboards to go up.The new campaign aims "to address one of the key factors in why we're seeing high rates of HIV, especially among gay black men," [Executive Directory and Founder Jeffrey] King said.Although a lack of resources remains a prominent reason for the racial disparity in HIV infections among those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or still questioning their sexuality, Fielding said the attitudes some people have toward men who have sex with men are also partly to blame. Black men who have sex with men "suffer from stigma, discrimination, from a reduced rate of acceptance for their same-sex orientation, and they also have historically had less access to healthcare," he said. And, he said, they tend not to use condoms.Also, King said, many gay and bisexual black men in South L.A. are not getting tested for HIV because the very act might "out" them, while many straight black men are not getting tested because they don't want to be perceived as gay."One of the key reasons we're seeing HIV rates as high as they are is linked to homophobia in the community, which is taught from a high place, which is the church," King said.