Sonya: Erasing Stigma 1 Church at a Time

When HIV/AIDS first came out in the public eye, a lot of people of color automatically stigmatized HIV as a gay white disease. So they went around with this notion in their heads that they couldn't possibly contract HIV.

As time went on, that notion was proven wrong. In the Black community, HIV/AIDS grew and grew and grew. And now we are living in a modern epidemic, in which 46% of Blacks are infected with HIV/AIDS. Every 9 ½ minutes someone in the United States is infected, and if the truth be told, Florida is #3 among the states, along with a waiting list for people who are positive for HIV medication!

Black male residents between the ages of 40 and 49 make up most of the residents that are infected, with nearly a 7 percent rate of infection. Why are we not getting the message to protect ourselves and each other?

Let's try to start from the beginning. Back in the days of slavery, the church was a place of salvation for Black people; because it was the only place we as Black people could make the rules of our own place of worship. It was a place of sanctity for Black people to let loose life's stresses and the stresses of working in the fields or homes of their owners.

Even years after slavery has ended, that place of worship still has remained a place to call home, a place to let go of life's burdens and feel love and acceptance. But being gay quickly changes that love into hatred and that acceptance into rejection in the Black church. Today many Black gays don't feel that the Black church provides that love and acceptance they so long to have.

If a Black gay person is born and raised in a church and that church rejects him or her, there may be damage that has to be repaired. There may be some self-esteem issues that the individual needs to deal with.

Think about it: The one institution that you held near and dear to your heart, mind and spirit has left you in the cold to suffer and die (spiritually). When that happens, sometimes people like to get their pleasures from other things like drinking, drugs or sex. Having your self-esteem diminished by an institution that you've trusted for so long can have powerful consequences -- it can obliterate you from the inside out.

Unfortunately homophobic Black churches abound and you hear whispering like "any time somebody got to slap some grease on your behind, and stick something in you, it's something wrong with that. Your butt is not made for that. [In the background, the church audience voices its approval.] You got blood vessels and membranes in your behind. And if you put something unnatural in there, it breaks them all up. ...Lesbianism is about to take over our community. ...We live in a time when our brothers and sisters have been so put down, can't get a job, lot of the sisters making more money than brothers. And it's creating problems in families. That's one of the reasons our families' are breaking up. And that's one of the reasons many of our women are becoming lesbians."

What I want to know is how can a church like this receive HIV/AIDS prevention grant money? Instead of spouting this sort of ugly hatred of gay people, what these churches need to do is help gay black men and women stand up and say, "I love myself too much to hurt myself or anyone else." This is my plea to these churches -- please help my brothers and sisters love themselves! And most importantly understand that we will be here to help and LOVE them!

Erasing Stigma One Voice At A Time!




Cynthia Meg's picture

Sonya, good post. So do you think that homosexual sex can cause the STD though? As a Christian, I actually do not have a problem with homosexuality, but am trying to gain perspective.


Tiffany's picture

Sonya, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am often conflicted when I hear discussions about what the church is doing around HIV. I am conflicted because we as the congregation are the Church. Yes there is a leader who guides the spiritual teachings and I would hope the holistic issues that we all face.Sometimes it takes people like us to hold that sacred place accountable (leader, pew member, ourselves) and sometimes it means helping our fellow believers find a place that offers a safe place for them that may or may not be in their current place of worship. I included link if in your travels you come across churches you see trying to do something and those who are not and need a push in the right direction.


sonyamallard's picture

Hi Cynthia,

thanks in regards to a good post, but I would like to ensure that you are clear in what I was saying. I do not have a problem with homosexuality at all, and I do not think homosexual sex is the cause for STD's. I do think, however that unprotected sex whether its heterosexual, or homosexual or anything is the true reason for the spread of STD's and HIV. My perspective is that whether you are a Christian or follow any other religions, we are not the judge nor can we point a finger when we need to clean up around our own doors :)


sonyamallard's picture

Tiffany, thank you so much for the link, inwhich we can assist and push the churches in the right direction. I will be keeping an eye out, and the link memorize to offer.


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