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21Sep/110

Why HIV infection rates are up for young black males 2

In the brilliant film, Change, the protagonist is charming, sweet, young and conflicted.

As a young, black male, he struggles with his sexual identification. The people who know and love him see gays as problematic. He doesn't come out or share his feelings for other young men and the cost is brutal.

This leads to the next problem that occurs in the fight to keep our young men healthy and uninfected. The stigma surrounding being young, black and male in our society is astounding. In our efforts to (lessen the stigma) and encourage young males to both claim their sexual identities and not be bound completely by them, we have created the very convenient and somewhat confusing term "men who have sex with men" (MSM).

This definition restigmatizes homosexuality and homosexual men by limiting their identity to what they do (sex) and confines male sexuality to only the physical and shameful.

Perhaps this definition will encourage young males to get tested. If so, I am all for it. However, it seems that this is another red herring in our discussion of men who may or may not desire/love/ lusts for other men. This severely limits the possibilty of honest discussions surrounding male desire and its expression.

None of the hustlers I know identify themselves as gay or even bi.

They all refer to it (sex with men) as "slingin cock" and basically state that for the right price they don't give a shit where they put it. It is hard not to have your head turned when someone puts a price on your physical nature and offers something you truly desire.

If an individual is not willing to take on a certain identity for whatever the reason, he probably is not going to listen when you offer solutions for a problelm this identity has and how to solve it. There won't be the need to get tested, stay healthy, negotiate safe sex and limit sex partners if he is not gay is a top or only has sex with men who have wives and girlfriends.

Shockingly, I have heard all of these excuses for having unprotected sex and not getting tested.

With a healthy dose of self contempt , it is damn near impossible to realize your worth and examine why certain actions are allowed. When I struggled to give up self hate and disappointment in myself because I was now one of "them", I was pretty repulsed by the images that presented themselves as "gay".

In my battle for an identity, I had nothing but contempt for the gay representations placed before me.

If our young males are grappling with anything, it is probably identity formation. If you are something that gets persecuted and regulated to second class citizenry, you probably won't jump at the chance to become a member of that community.

Perhaps there is a way to ensure our young folks that identities can and should be fluid and self inflicted.

Perhaps we can assure young males that it is their job to self define.

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