*By Larry R. Hygh, Jr., Ed.D.
The Black AIDS Institute (BAI) in partnership with the AMAAD Institute (Arming Minorities Against Addiction and Disease), Minority AIDS Project, and God’s Property recently hosted a community forum called #ForOurOwnProtection at BAI’s MacArthur Park office. The forum’s goal was to create a community action plan to protect the lives of Black gay men in LA.
The forum came about as BAI staff gathered to respond to the death of a second gay Black man in the home of West Hollywood resident Ed Buck. This is the second death of a Black gay man at Buck’s home since the summer of 2017. Gemmel Moore was found dead in Buck’s home in July 2017, and Timothy Dean, another gay Black man, was found dead in Buck’s home on January 7.
“The predatory actions Ed Buck subjects Black gay men to exemplifies the need to approach HIV holistically. To end the HIV and AIDS epidemic we must respond to the racism, misogyny, substance use, classism and other factors that drive HIV’, says Raniyah Copeland, BAI’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Buck is well-known for fetishizing Black men, yet the police and district attorney have not brought him to justice and protected the lives of Black gay men.” She added, “This is happening in West Hollywood, a supposed safe haven for gay men…. Ending violent acts against Black bodies is a critical act to helping to end HIV in Black America.”
The goals of the forum were to examine the overall health and wellness of Black gay men; insert the Black gay experience in policy, funding, and media spaces; effectively engage and educate families and friends; create spaces for people to share their stories; and, humanize the Black gay male experiences in media. Next steps include continued meeting and engagement, holding local media accountable, contacting sites in which the groups sees predators, and holding local and organizational leaders accountable for prioritizing the needs of the population.
Moore’s mother, LaTisha Nixon, was present for the forum.
BAI is in conversation with their community partners about ways to protect the lives of Black gay men in LA from predatory actions. BAI stands with others demanding the West Hollywood City Council, police, district attorney, and elected officials thoroughly investigate these two deaths and bring Ed Buck to justice.
Gerald Garth, Manager of Programs and Operations for the AMAAD Institute says, “We felt it was a necessary response to partner especially since the incident has deeply impacted our community. There is strength in collaboration and partnering.” He further stated, “We realize collectively how these issues affect our community…I hope this begins a long standing collaborative effort to address issues that affect gay Black men. He added, “We recognize that the response from our leadership will be important as we call on West Hollywood elected officials to hold Ed Buck accountable and make sure this happens.”
BAI is committed to supporting the efforts of organizations and organizers working to get justice for Timothy Dean and Gemmel Moore, as well as, continuing the dialogue and action plan to keep Black gay men safe.
BAI has been, and always will be, a resource and welcoming space for Black gay men.
*Hygh is Senior Communications Manager for the Black AIDS Institute.