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Sharpton calls out black homophobia and addresses HIV

“Black churches have not stepped up to the plate o?n HIV. Black preachers walked arm in arm from Selma to Montgomery. Arm in arm we were beaten, jailed, humiliated and dehumanized…o?n the issue of HIV many Black ministers have become the oppressor…I’m going to challenge the homophobia in our own backyard,”

— Reverend Al Sharpton

He’s been one of the lonely black voices out there for a long while taking this on. Rock on, Al. May the Willie Wilsons, Keith Butlers, Harry Jacksons, and all the rest of the AfAmTaliban take note. What are they doing about the rise of HIV in the black community? From the BlackVoiceNews:

“There is latent homophobia in our community,” says the Reverend Al Sharpton. [It’s not latent any more!] In classic Sharpton style the outspoken civil rights activist is pointing the finger directly at what historically has been a sanctuary for Black people: ‘the church’.

…Alarmed by the staggering number of new cases of HIV/AIDS in the African-American community, Rev. Sharpton is set to launch a grassroots initiative designed to take the gloves off homophobia, a problem, he says, has undoubtedly contributed to the spread of HIV among Blacks. Sharpton’s national campaign is aimed at educating the public about HIV/AIDS, while using his bully pulpit to caution against discriminating against gays and lesbians. “We’ve turned our backs o?n many of the very folks early civil rights activists fought and died for.”

Sharpton plans to begin airing public service announcements o?n BET and radio stations with predominately Black audiences that will train a spotlight o?n the epidemic, a leading cause of death among African-Americans, especially Black women. “I’m calling o?n Black preachers to step to the line in confronting the issue of homophobia among African-Americans.” A topic long considered taboo, especially in the Black religious community.

“This is an enormous leap for the Reverend to take,” said Allen Roskoff, a gay rights activist. Roskoff has known and worked with Sharpton for more than 20 years. “It’s high time that we all stand together to fight bigotry and homophobia.” He said Sharpton’s decision o?n the HIV issue will generate national attention to the epidemic and save lives in the long-term.

…”Rev. Sharpton’s national challenge encourages his peers to speak out,” says 32 year old Marcy Craig of San Bernardino. Craig was diagnosed with HIV in 2003. Her husband of 8 years died of AIDS in 2004. Craig believes Sharpton’s initiative will turn the spotlight o?n pastors who preach homophobia.

It’s painful to sit in church and hear a pastor preach that HIV is a “consequence of sinful behavior.” Craig said, such uncompassionate ministry encourages many African-American gays and lesbians, to hide their sexual identity for fear of being rejected.”

Marjorie Fields-Harris, the executive director of Sharpton’s National Action Network, will spearhead the fight homophobia initiative. “It’s a lot larger than preaching biblical doctrine and passing out condoms,” said Harris. “We have to address the social factors. We intend to go into the churches and the community to address this issue from a grassroots perspective.”

During his presidential race last year, Sharpton was o?ne of the o?nly candidates who publicly supported gay marriage, and earlier this year at the request of Brian Ellner, an openly gay candidate running for New York’s Manhattan borough president, Sharpton marched in the city’s Gay Pride Parade.

“Rev. Sharpton can do enormous good o?n this issue.” said Ellner “When the Reverend speaks people listen. We need to get past the myths and phobias. We are faced with the African-American community’s greatest challenge: Survival.”

Also, where is Mr. Showboat for buxxx, Jesse Jackson, on this anti-homophobia front? He’s MIA.

Key: black pastor

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding