Common Questions

Question and Answer

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All Black Gay men are on the Down Low

Men on the Down Low, or men who identify as straight while still having sex with other men, are present in every community, including the Black community. The media has chosen to exaggerate the incidence of this in the Black community, overshadowing the fact that there are large numbers of Black, African and Caribbean men who choose to openly identify themselves as gay or bisexual. These men lead full lives, hold down jobs, and contribute to their communities, and are not ashamed of who they are, and who they love. The stigma and violence towards gay men in Black communities may in part explain the number of men who have chosen to remain closed about their sexual orientation. As community attitudes become more open, it's more than likely so will men living on the DL.

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There are no Healthy Gay and Lesbian Relationships

Some people incorrectly assume that gay, lesbian and bisexual people are not capable of acquiring or maintaining long-lasting, healthy relationships. This is not the case. Gay and lesbian people are as capable of creating great friendships and romantic relationships as heterosexual people. Thanks to changes in our government's attitude towards LGBTQ people, many gay, lesbian and transgender couples are married, are able to adopt, raise birth children of their own, and/or are part of larger "chosen" families. Chosen families are large networks of birth family, friends, and allies who come together to create a supportive community in the lives of gay and lesbian people. These communities give many gay and lesbian people the loving support that families should, but are not always able to provide.

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Gay men all have HIV/AIDS

Some, not all, gay men have or will acquire HIV/AIDS. Many African and Caribbean heterosexual people have or will acquire HIV/AIDS also. However, HIV/AIDS is not a "gay disease" - it's a sexually transmitted one. In fact, HIV/AIDS is as big a problem in Black, African and Caribbean communities among straight women and men. Having unprotected sex is responsible for the spread of HIV/AIDS in communities across the world, not gay men. HIV/AIDS is not an inevitable outcome for men who have sex with men (MSM). Because of myths like this, some gay Black men walk around with the thought, "I'm going to get AIDS no matter what I do so what's the point of safer sex?" The majority of gay men do not have HIV/AIDS, and for those that do, medical treatments are helping them to live longer, healthier lives. The other sad fact of this myth is that straight people in our communities are unaware of their own risk of getting HIV/AIDS and not always protecting their health. 

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Being gay or lesbian is a problem

Gay and lesbian people are not a "problem" but are people who happen to love others of the same sex. There are gay and lesbian people in every community, culture and ethnic group. Homosexuality is not a "white" thing or a Black thing. It simply is.

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Homosexuality is ruining the Black community

The Black community is not one community but a vibrant collection of many communities of people from different parts of the world, with strong histories, speaking different languages, with unique cultures, customs and lifestyles. Gay and lesbian people are part of all of these communities. Our collective communities have many issues to address such as systemic racism, poverty, unemployment, gang violence and the impact of collective trauma as a result of a shared history of slavery. Homosexuality does not cause these challenges faced by our communities.

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Lesbian women just need to meet the right man!

People often believe that women who identify as lesbian are simply confused about their sexuality, have experienced sexual abuse, and/or just need to meet the "right" man. This is not the case. Sexuality is confusing for most young people, but this confusion usually goes away eventually and works itself out. Believing that you can "cure" homosexuality through finding the "right" man (or woman in the case of gay men) is false and usually a wasted effort.

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Sexual Abuse during childhood makes people gay or lesbian

While it's true that some LGBTQ people have experienced sexual violence in their childhood, there is no relationship between this and sexual orientation. Childhood sexual abuse is unfortunately fairly common in every community,, although historically there's not been as much discussion around this issue in Black communities. Sexual violence is not a determinant of whether or not someone will later identify as being gay or lesbian, but it may determine whether or not someone is able to feel a personal sense of control and safety within the relationships they choose to have in the future.

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