Can we talk about the problem of homophobia in the African American community now?

At least 3 percent of District residents have HIV or AIDS, a total that far surpasses the 1 percent threshold that constitutes a "generalized and severe" epidemic, according to a report scheduled to be released by health officials tomorrow.... "Our rates are higher than West Africa," said Shannon L. Hader, director of the District's HIV/AIDS Administration, who once led the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's work in Zimbabwe. "They're on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya."


Black men, with an infection rate of nearly 7 percent, carry the weight of the disease, according to the report.... Men having sex with men has remained the disease's leading mode of transmission. Heterosexual transmission and injection drug use closely follow, the report says. Three percent of black women carry the virus, partly a result of the increase in heterosexual transmissions.

The same polls that showed that African Americans voted for Prop 8 by wider margins than any other racial group—somewhere between 58% and 70%, depending on whose analysis you want to believe—also showed that African American women supported Prop 8 by wider margins than African American men. A lot of factors fuels the AIDS epidemic in the African American community—poverty, a lack of access to medical care, poverty, underfunded outreach efforts, poverty, institutional racism, poverty—but the inability of African American men to come out of the closet and live as openly gay men within their own communities is a huge contributing factor. The homophobia that makes that impossible is stoked by the African American church, and that homophobia kills gay black men and straight black women.