Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 22, No. 35, Ed. 1 Friday, January 13, 2006 Page: 24 of 60
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24 1 dallasvoice.com I 01.13.06
Black Gay Network holding
planning, information meeting
Organizers frustrated by lack of participation by African-American
organizations in meeting with health department officials
By Tammye Nash Staff Writer
HIV continues to strike black gay men in dis-
proportionate numbers in Texas' urban centers,
according to recent data from the Texas
Department of State I lealth Services.
Nearly 10 percent of all people with HTV in
Texas are black gay men, according to the health
department data. A Dallas study indicates that 32
percent of the black gay men who were tested in
Dallas are HIV positive, while a similar study in
Houston showed that 27 percent of black gay
men tested there were positive.
The problem, according to Steve Walker of the
National Alliance for Black Gay Health, is a glar-
ing lack of AIDS service and educational organi-
zations rooted in the black gay male community.
The Texas Black Gay Network, launched by the
alliance last month hopes the planning and infor-
mation meeting the network is holding Friday
night in Dallas will be a first step in filling that
"There is not a single organization in the state
of Texas funded by state and local health depart-
ments that has a black gay executive director, a
primarily black gay board of directors and a pri-
marily black gay staff," Walker said.
In the early days of the epidemic, AIDS was
seen primarily as a gay male disease. Today, the
demographics of the disease have changed and
the virus is seen as predominantly affecting eth-
nic minorities. In both cases, Walker said, black
gay men were seen only as part of the larger HIV-
That approach doesn't take into account the
differences in culture or the different needs,
"Programs targeting white gay men did not
reach black gay men. And now, most of the pro-
grams are targeting African American heterosex-
ual women. But you can't use the same strategies
to reach heterosexual African-American women
that you need to reach black gay men," Walker
said. "It's like a doughnut hole. We keep going
around and around the issue and we keep on
missing this group that should be targeted."
In early December, the alliance announced the
launch of the Texas Black Gay Network a new
coalition of black gay community leaders, com-
munity-based organizations, faith-based organi-
zations, service providers and social groups from
around the state.
The network is intended to be a statewide advi-
sory board to the alliance's current programs
addressing HTV and other critical health issues
affecting black gay men in disproportionate num-
bers, including cancers, cardiovascular disease
and hypertension as well as AIDS.
Later on in December, the alliance and the net-
work joined together to sponsor a meeting
between leaders of AIDS service organizations
based in the African-American community and
officials with the state health services depart-
ment. Walker said although the alliance was
happy to have been a part of the two-day meet-
ing, organizers were disappointed and frustrated
by the lack of participation by organizational
leaders. Only three of the 14 such organizations
in Texas had representatives at the meeting, he
"It was an historic meeting. It was the first the
state had participated in this kind of meeting with
the black gay male community," Walker said.
"But we were very disappointed, too. It gave us a
wonderful opportunity for some important dis-
cussion, but it could have been at a whole differ-
ent level if more people had participated."
Kirk Myers, the Dallas coordinator for the
Texas Black Gay Network, said those who did
not attend missed out on an opportunity to dis-
cuss new and innovative strategies for reaching
black gay men with members of the community
their organizations are intended to serve.
"These same organizations always manage to
attend meetings to discuss funding availability,"
Myers said. "I find it unacceptable that they
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Vercher, Dennis. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 22, No. 35, Ed. 1 Friday, January 13, 2006, newspaper, January 13, 2006; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth238891/m1/24/: accessed July 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.