Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Talkback Wednesday

What do Young Gay Black Men Need?
A Sound Off from COP 24/7

On yesterday, I posted an item from Mr. Brandon Thompson whom offered some feedback in
reference to the BGM Technical assistance meet up held in 2013 and sponsored by the National Alliance of State and Territorial and AIDS Directors. I am extremely familiar with this organization and have attended other technical meetings sponsored by them. I am of the opinion that this agency has boldly approached this population with its entire BGM portfolio of initiatives addressing the challenges and barriers impacting Black gay men.

I have been impressed with an array of activities and outreach that the organization has put forward both past and present. To Mr. Thompson's point of "what's needed," I fully understand his observations and the weight of his possible disdain at what he perceived as a lack of "clarity, agency transparency, and his understanding of the interaction of mentors and or the " insider secrets," that he stated seemed to be problematic in his area. Thompson chided state health departments with the statement:

Health departments must engage the community most impacted by the epidemic at present. This means, Black and Latino youth need to be represented on every Community Planning Group (CPG), gay men’s work group, research protocol, Community Advisory Board (CAB) etc. Furthermore, youth must be cultivated and groomed – their flame must be stoked, that they may lead when their time comes.

He further explained that he was troubled by what he sees as fractures not only with in the LGBTQ community but additional fragmentation that has cause same gender loving individuals to feel  disjointed even among themselves. He makes the bold point that "we as Black gay men aren’t pushing one another to greatness anymore."

I read mesmerized as he also indicated failed mentor ship, poor guidance and the nebulousness of social media intersected with marginal intergenerational connections. His assessment of his viewpoint taunted me, enraged me yet moved me to try to feel his heartfelt "holla." Because much of what he stated is actually true but I need to have my say.

It no doubt that Thompson has valid points, however, from my vantage point I've worked tirelessly to gather and disseminate information, encourage capacity building activities and all manner of learning opportunities and certainly have made my self available as not only a resource but carried my self as an advocate for all shades of rainbow.  I can understand how he may feel some bewilderment, because the "work" that we speak of often ebbs and flows, sometimes steeped in fluid policies and interpretations.  I can see how he feels about grasping much of the complicated jargon and verbiage that could leave ones head spinning as it has often left my own.

I've challenged my fellow brothers and sister's to become engaged in deciphering how policies and procedures can have an adverse affect on their daily lives. My adage that "you are the lunch if you are not at the table," ring prophetic as many people of color can't be found, not hired or simply ignored due to many factors including racism.

Yet as he took much to task, I have to push back by stating that among many of the young black gay men that I've encountered lately I must emphasize the facts. I see no hunger for knowledge about HIV not to mention any health disparities including access to the affordable health care. I've determined that there is no sense of civic urgency as it pertains to having a seat the policy table or even being asked would they like a seat. Case in point, when we have a call for young gay black men to attend emerging leader meetings or increasing their knowledge base they are "MIA."

Although I would assume that Mr. Thompson is a man on the move, I would let him know I've witnessed much poor personal responsibility wrapped in a sense of entitlement or either folks stuck in mental disillusions of often unsafe "pay for play." Much of this lack of behavior change continues to fuel the increased infections that he cites  Overall I've become jaded to the lack of commitment of some young black gay men to just being men of their word instead of "queens of Ego towers." In my opinion  this type of attitude serves no one or significant purpose across the community spectrum.

Has all been perfect, certainly not. But I can emphatically state that there's many fighting chances afforded at great angst, financial lost and often times great disappointment. I've stopped counting the times that I've been let down by those whom I have the greatest yearning to see not only survive there current status while being acutely aware of the impact the societal disparities that befall them.

I would welcome a legion of "Mr. Thompson" like individuals ready and willing to continue to carry the torch to light the trail that I will leave to the next generation of leaders. I hear you Mr. Thompson, but I'm the chorus. I hope that your holla will be heard by those who really need to hear it!


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