Last week, PGN’s editorial looked at the fun events in the LGBT community for the rest of the summer. This week, the editorial will get back to the tough stuff.
There are a lot of critical issues facing the local LGBT community, from HIV infection rates among African-American men who have sex with men, to crystal meth use and abuse, to neighborhood crime, to violence against women. (To be sure, there are a host of others, but security of body, employment and health rank as more necessary on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.)
Last week, the CDC released HIV-infection rates from 2006-09, which show that young African-American MSM (ages 13-29) are contracting the virus at disproportionately high rates. Considering that HIV/AIDS has been on the radar for 30 years now — longer than this age group has been alive — its unconscionable that HIV-prevention messages are not being communicated and heard. Certainly, the stigma around HIV/AIDS has eased. No longer is the gay community the only one being hit by the disease.
Tangentially, MSM crystal-meth users are more than twice as likely to test positive for HIV than MSM who do not use the drug. While whites may be more likely to use crystal meth, what’s relevant here would be the underlying causes of risky behavior in both sex and drug use for gay men. (We can talk about smoking and alcohol abuse another day.)
Which brings us to crime and violence against women. On the surface, it may seem that the two are unrelated. But in recent weeks, there were several attacks in the Gayborhood vicinity on women. If one is inclined to disrespect another’s property and person (male or female) with theft, robbery and assault, it isn’t too much further to disrespect a woman’s body with sexual assault. (Yes, the suspect had a prior record, including theft, robbery, purchase of a controlled substance and assault.)
Certainly, Midtown Village and the 13th Street corridor have come a long way in terms of safety, both for LGBTs and non-gays. And it is important, however unfortunately, to take steps to protect yourself and your property in 2011 Philadelphia. But we, as a culture, need to stop blaming victims, period.
And this doesn’t speak to this culture of criminality, where it is OK to call a relative and ask him to shoot a fellow SEPTA rider because you didn’t like what he said to you. Nor it is OK to take someone’s iPhone because you want it — and this is the only way you think you can get one.
At some point, it comes down to being a contributing member of society and taking responsibility for one’s actions.