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Monday, October 10, 2011

Opinion: CL's recent AIDS coverage way too white


In a recent cover story, Cliff Bostock reflected on his experiences during the so-called plague years of Atlanta's AIDS epidemic; the friends and lovers lost, the unnecessary pain inflicted by homophobic families, the silence that swept the gay community when the worst of the epidemic subsided.

Bostock's narrative was accompanied by Scott Henry's piece, "AIDS Redux," a look at the state of AIDS in Atlanta today.

Reader Craig Washington wrote our editorial board because he was disappointed by the dearth of black and Latino voices in the cover package. What follows is what Washington's letter said. Let us know in the comments if you also thought our coverage lacked diversity ...

In many ways, I appreciated the recent CL article, "AIDS in Atlanta: Reliving the Plague Years" by Cliff Bostock which shared a moving remembrance of the author's intimate account of the AIDS epidemic and its local impact. At a time when few periodicals cover AIDS related issues, I was pleased that this story was placed on the magazine's cover.

Given the article's title, I expected that it would be more inclusive of the experiences of black and Latino people. After reading it, I understood that Bostock's narrative represented his network and not those who are not white gay men. However, I found Bostock's speculative statement that black and latino communities "remain more homophobic than the rest of society" a groundless and irresponsible stereotyping presented without any credible basis. When I saw the inset "AIDS redux" I thought that people of color would be quoted and represented there. The "AIDS redux" inset featured quotes from two highly respected individuals, Jeff Graham and Tracy Elliott. Still, no black or latino gay men or transgender nor women of any race/ethnicity were quoted. Were any such indivduals sought? Regardless of the process, I expected that the stories of black gay men and other MSM and black women, the two population groups hardest hit by this plague would be recognized and shared by CL given your progressive values and standards.

I recommend that the editorial board consider publishing another HIV related piece that features personal dimensions of the impact of AIDS among people of color and women especially black gay men and black women ... I think that such an article perhaps presented near World AIDS Day December 1st or the week following the upcoming AIDS Walk would serve well to include voices that were not represented in this recent feature.

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