Thursday, February 23, 2012

AIDS in the Gay Community- Jessica Fernandez

AIDS in the Gay Community
One of the biggest controversies around homosexuality is HIV/AIDS, when it was first seen in the United States there was a wide spread belief that it only affected homosexuals, particularly homosexual men. Although it is fully recognized that the HIV virus can be caused by heterosexual sex, still to this date most cases of HIV in the United States come from homosexual or bisexual men and it is more prominent among racial minorities. In this blog I will analyze how AIDS has affected gay men, in particular minorities like Filipinos, Latinos, and people living on the down low (although they are not a racial minority they still constitute a minority).
            In the article Searching for Community Filipino Gay Men in New York City by Martin F. Manalansan IV the author takes a look at AIDS in the Filipino community. AIDS is coined as Tita Aida or Auntie/Aunt Aida among Filipinos and it is a common phenomenon among the Filipino Gay Community. However what is interesting is that it has provided a coalition among the Filipino community here in the United States. The article states, "AIDS has created a common experience from which gay Filipinos in New York build and create new discourses and practices" (Manalasan, 278). This is a big step because it shows the Filipino community working together to raise awareness about this fatal disease. Efforts like drag parties and symposiums about AIDS in New York have created awareness among the community. These collective efforts signify unity among the Filipino gay community, people infected with HIV are sometimes looked down upon but these negative connotations towards people with AIDS are changing. (Manalasan)
            The Latino community has responded in a similar way, in the press release Innovative Social Strategies to Promote Healthy Behaviors Among Latino Gay Men, it talks about the annual Mr. Latino event that is created in New York City to raise awareness about AIDS among the Latino gay community. The article states that the purpose of such event is to "inform Latino gay and bisexual men about HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections, in a fun and accessible way that always meets the diverse needs of its members" ( This event consists of 14 contestants representing 12 Latin America countries. The contestants are out and proud, and are engaging and what would normally be thought of as feminine behavior. This shows how Latinos are not only becoming more tolerant but also more accepting; they are teaching awareness about AIDS in way that does not compromise these men’s sexuality .However I did notice that both communities, the Filipinos and Latinos, reside in New York. This raises an important question, would Latinos and Filipinos in other areas, perhaps in more conservative communities, be as supportive? New York is known to be a queer friendly city which makes it easier to create events like Mr.Latino. However this does not dismiss the fact that rural communities also need to teach their youth about the consequences of unprotected sex (
            AIDS is also common among the people living on the down low, that is men who consider themselves to be heterosexual but have sex with other men. The reason why these people are susceptible to AIDS is because these men are usually in a relationship with a woman and they do not think they are at risk to contract sexually transmitted diseases so they do not use protection. Furthermore AIDS is stereotyped as the disease that affects "gay men", these men identify as straight and perhaps do not think that they are at risk for the disease. Unlike the communities mentioned above, people living on the down low usually are not told about the risks of having unprotected sex, the main reason is because their identity is invisible to many. (Bradshaw, Letukas).
            AIDS can affect anyone, whether you are straight, a person of color, rich, or poor. Many people think that it cannot happen to them and this is a terrible misconception. Communities are working together to raise awareness about this fatal disease that knows no boundaries. So whether you are Latino, Filipino, or living on the down low it’s important to always take precautions.

Bradshaw John, Letukas Lynn “The Low Down on the Down Low: origins, Risks and   Identifications” IN Health Sociology Review Vol. 19, Issue4 December 2010.
"Latino Commission on AIDS." Innovative Social Strategies to Promote Healthy Behaviors Among Latino Gay Men Celebrates Its Third Annual “Mr. Latinos D” Contest On October 15th. Web. 23 Feb.2012.
Manalasan IV F Martin “Searching for Community: Filipino Gay Men from New York Ciry”. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. Routledge Chapman Hall, 1993.

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