Young Black Gay Men: Be Proud, Know Your Status

Published: September 26, 2013

 Baltimore Black Pride has always been a wonderful event and a time when those of us who are black, LGBTQ, and living in the state of Maryland can celebrate our culture. We celebrate so much culture in the black LGBTQ community, but sometimes we forget that one of the biggest problems our community still faces is HIV/AIDS. 

A recent Johns Hopkins study found several key factors detailing why so many of our young black gay men, ages 18-24, are being diagnosed as HIV-positive in the Baltimore area. The study interestingly noted that many young black gay men correlated higher levels of masculinity in their sexual partner to a lower risk of HIV infection. Another reason that was pointed out was the dominance in the bedroom — a bottom oftentimes allows the top to make the decision about having sex with condoms or not. Researchers also found that young gay black men are more likely to stop having sex with condoms once they feel they are in a long-term relationship. 
In 2012 the CDC stated that 1 of 5 gay men are HIV-positive and 44 percent of them don’t know they are HIV positive. Baltimore Maryland’s gay population had the highest rates of HIV infection, at 38 percent. 
The real question that remains is why do we do these things? 
Is it possible that we are trying to emulate what we’ve grown up to believe as a “normal” relationship? As gay men living in the Baltimore-D.C. area, we must recognize that we are in one of the highest risk groups for new HIV infections in the country, and we must protect ourselves accordingly. Use condoms even if you think your relationship will last. Things happen and you never know if your relationship will last forever. Perhaps not caring about such things is the root of the problem. 
So, why are young, feminine, black, submissive men frequently letting masculinity dictate whether or not they use condoms?
This is a question that I cannot answer. Maybe it’s a mentality. Maybe it’s that same mentality that collectively thinks more masculine guys have more decision making power in relationships. Now I’m not the most masculine person there is, but what I do know is that I will not let anyone make that decision but myself. If I ask my partner to put on a condom and he refuses, then we are not having sex. Have the mindset that you deserve better for yourself mentally, sexually, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
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