Rashawn & Beyond: Anti-Violence News for Queer People of Color

The Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund aims to establish a sustainable tribute to Rashawn that promotes critical thought about the impact of violence and intolerance, particularly upon queer communities of African descent.

Through this blog, we provide action alerts, event postings and breaking news as a means of informing these communities in ways that enable them to combat racism and homophobia.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Black Gay Network Press Conference

CONTACT: Daevon Hibbert, New York State Black Gay Network, 212.828.9393 ext 135, or cell 646.784.3726

What: Press Conference

When: Tuesday, August 22, 2006 - 10:00am

Where: NW Corner of 125th Street & Broadway, Manhattan, NY 10036

Who: Confirmed Speakers include: Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY); Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer; NY City Councilmember’s Melissa Mark-Viverito, Robert Jackson and Yvette Clarke; Clarence Patton, Anti-Violence Project; Mark McLaurin, New York State Black Gay Network; Maurice Franklin, Masons of New York

New York, NY - The New York State Black Gay Network decided to take homophobia in the Black community head on with a bold new transit/billboard campaign, which they are launching at a press conference in Harlem with Congressman Charles Rangel, Borough President Scott Stringer and other guests. The press conference is being held on 125th Street & Broadway, in front of two large Billboards that read "I AM GAY, And This Is Where I Stay." Far away from traditional gay neighborhoods like Chelsea and the West Village where many gay marketing campaigns are targeted, this campaign is being rolled out in subway stations in Black communities like Harlem, Bed-Stuy, Jamaica, Brownsville and East New York, where most Black gay men live.

"Black gay men have always been a part of every aspect of the Black community, it's not a matter of acceptance from the community of some foreign presence, it is about acknowledgement, love and respect from our own for us," said Mark McLaurin, Executive Director of New York State Black Gay Network. "If we want to stop the spread of HIV, Black gay men need to know that their lives matter in the very communities in which they live."

Twenty-five years into the HIV epidemic, Black Men who have sex with men (MSM) remain the group most impacted by the HIV epidemic. A 2005 five-city Centers for Disease Control study showed a staggering 46% of all Black men who have sex with men may already be HIV positive. Other studies have concluded that the stigma of being gay in the Black community remains one of the reasons for high rates of infection among Black MSM.

"We hope that these billboards remind our neighbors, our family members, and religious leaders that we are part of this community," continued McLaurin. "When you verbally or physically bash Black gay men, you are bashing somebody's brother, father, friend or lover."

Black gay men in New York City have also been subjected to a rash of attacks and murders. Most recently, Black gay recording artist Kevin Aviance was attacked after leaving a club. Black gay activists say that much more harassment and verbal attacks go unreported.

The transit campaign is part of NYSBGN's Campaign for Black Gay Men's Lives. To learn more about visit www.nysbgn.org . To see the transit/billboard campaign, visit www.wearepartofyou.org

Anthony R. Morgan
Director of Programs

New York State Black Gay Network

103 East 125th Street
Suite 503
New York, NY 10035
T. 212.828.9393 x137
F. 212.828.1661
C. 646.335.5696

“The day will come when you will trust you more than you do now, and you will trust me more than you do now. And we can trust each other. I really do believe that we can all become better than we are. But the price is enormous – and people are not yet willing to pay it.”
-James Baldwin


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