Beyond the Down-Low

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When I was in high school I first learned about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the black community, it was presented to me as a problem that was being brought into the community by the “down-low brother” (a male who sleeps with other men in secret and then turns around and sleeps with his girlfriend/wives). This was upsetting because at that time although I wasn’t sexually active I was in the “closet” or on the “down-low”, so I naturally felt as though blaming this epidemic on people like me was hurtful and kind of deceitful. This forced me to do more research and I begin to volunteer at a local HIV/AIDS clinic in Baltimore City. After about a year of volunteering once a month I started to see the people who were coming into the clinic weren’t all members of the LGBT community, it was more lower class, less educated people of color. ImageFrom this realization and forming relationships with the people who would come into the clinic, a new passion grew within me. I quickly became involved with the organization Jacques Initiative, who deals with the intersections of race, class, and gender when dealing with HIV/AIDS treatment, prevention, and education. I still find it difficult to consider myself an activist just yet, because even though I’m passionate about these issues and I’m as active as possible, I don’t commit all of my time to this cause.

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