Posts Tagged ‘hispanic’

IN THE GROUNDBREAKING documentary “Paris Is Burning,” Dorien Corey states, “Shade is I don’t tell you you’re ugly but I don’t have to tell you because you know you’re ugly. And that’s shade…” I often see LGBTQ people tearing each other down.

With all this shade being thrown around, we need to pause to ask questions. Is it necessary? Why do we do this? What is the balance between fun and harm? Why does a community that is already fighting for so many things battle each other?

While shade can be viewed as a form of banter, it can often be taken to the point where it impacts an individual’s mental and social development and outlook on a particular community. I have many times found myself on the negative side of shade. Growing up, I felt alienated from my peers and family because of my sexual orientation, and I felt alienated from a community where being different is supposed to be celebrated, not debased. I quickly found myself feeling more alone than I had before coming out.

At that point in my life, I didn’t feel comfortable within the African American gay community (and truthfully, I still don’t at times) because that is where most of my negative experiences have occurred. As a result, I developed a distrust and found myself feeling alone, not good enough, and like I didn’t meet some sort of gay black standard of acceptance. This led to depression, self-harm, and feelings of being unworthy of love and friendship. I felt betrayed, not only by my family and society, but by a community who I thought would accept differences. Not only did I not have the family support I desired, but I also didn’t have a group of non-judgmental, young African American gay males that I could turn to for support.

In my opinion, shade is often the result of someone being jealous or self-conscious about their shortcomings. I too am guilty of throwing shade; usually it’s because I see a characteristic in someone else that I wish I possessed. For example, when I would see people who were not afraid to be themselves no matter what others thought, I would get jealous. I was not yet at that place in my life, so I would quickly pass judgment or talk about them. Secretly I wished I was that confident to be who Adrian really was.

Talking about someone without money for certain shoes or making fun of someone who happens to sleep with many people is exactly what we shouldn’t be doing. We may find it to be a joke or think of it as innocent fun, but we don’t know the person’s whole story, what their struggles are, and how our “shade” will affect them.

When I have pointed out that maybe the person has been though a deeply traumatic experience, many have responded,“Well, I have had traumatic things happen to me and I got over it.” I think it is important to understand that not everyone is emotionally or mentally strong enough to just “get over it.” Either way, this type of shade is not healthy for our LGBTQ brother or sister– and it is not healthy for our LGBTQ community.

With the growing rate of suicides, bullying, and HIV infections, it is time for us to collectively rise above all this. As we move forward, I implore each person to ask yourself: Am I helping to build up the community or am I still stuck within the narrow confines of my own individualistic concerns?

-Adrian Neil-Hobson

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BLACK VOICES: HAVING (AND USING) MY VOICE TO ADDRESS STIGMA

 

Patrick IngramMy name is Patrick, I am a gay man of color, and I currently reside in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I was diagnosed with HIV at a health department in Virginia on December 1, 2011, which happened to be World AIDS Day.

Turning my life into my life’s mission

From the moment I tested positive, I have dealt with stigma and discrimination. I dealt with friends saying they wanted nothing to do with me because of my new status.  A person who I thought was my best friend said he would be there for me when I disclosed to him. That was not the case as he began to no-show on events, activities, or previous plans to spend time together.  This made me feel unwanted and pretty much like I was transformed from a best friend to a stranger in just a 72-hour period. I turned to Facebook and YouTube to learn more about HIV and find someone to talk to, but couldn’t find someone I identified with. There seemed to be a lack of HIV-positive young people of color talking about what it’s like to live with the virus, so I started my blog, PozLifeofPatrick Exit Disclaimer. I use this site to journal my life living with HIV and address other topics related to HIV, like stigma, disclosure, and dating.

In addition to my website, I am the Testing Coordinator at the rural community-based organization, Fredricksburg Area HIV/AIDS Support Services (FAHASS) Exit Disclaimer. Through my blog, work in prevention, and advocacy I hope to reach as many people as I can to bring more focus on HIV.

 It’s so important that we have a voice.

 Stigma and rural communities

When I started at FAHASS, I was briefed on the challenges I might face trying to recruit, educate, and provide prevention services like testing to the Black community in rural Virginia. But nothing could prepare me for the reality which was how people would react to me when they found out I was HIV+. “You don’t look sick,” was something I heard a lot. Staff working for years tell me that HIV-related stigma stops so many people, particularly in rural communities, from utilizing our services because so many people that test positive in our community don’t end up successfully linking to care.

I continue to hear that stigma prevents people from testing, disclosing their status or testing frequency, coming into our agency for prevention tools like condoms, or going to the doctor and asking for a prescription for Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). Also, I’ve seen how stigma can prevent individuals who are either lost to care or newly diagnosed from being successfully linked to and remaining in care.

Engaging the community where they are

We work hard to educate and empower our Black community about HIV through outreaching to local colleges, community based organizations that serve our target populations, churches, and local health fairs. We have continued to work with the community through our Community Advisory Boards, asking clients for suggestions to better our services, coming up with additional opportunities to test, and working to engage and involve more young people of color. We have a mobile testing vehicle that we can use to reach more people in our service.

 Having (and using) my voice

In my time at FAHASS I have tested and educated many young black same gender-loving men. Through our outreach and testing efforts we have tested more people who ended up being HIV positive, the majority are people like me, men under the age of 25.

As a person living with HIV, I talk to providers on what it’s really like to live with the HIV and help debunk myths or misconceptions, including information about PrEP and PEP. I also work with the providers about how to effectively work with the LGBTQ, HIV-positive, youth, Black, and Hispanic communities to provide them with the tools to meet them where they are at on a more personal level by sharing my story through my blog and videos. Because I am a part of this community, I can help normalize HIV and equip people with the knowledge to help prevent new HIV infections and get people into care.

By being so open about my status, I’ve been able to establish “roots”. Like roots on a tree, I have a strong system network of friends. Friends they now stand up for me. Friends that support me. Together we fight stigma. And they give me strength to share my voice and share my story.

We all have a voice and something to share. Will you stand alongside me? Will you share your voice? Will you help me to be part of the solution?

This article was originally from Blog.AIDS.Gov

Check out my new series that discusses HIV in rural communities. I interview individuals who are actually on the ground leading the fight against this growing epidemic in rural Virginia. Please share and spread the word!