Part 5: AIDS, Black Politics and The Making of a Black Gay Community (1980-1985)

In spite of their quick response to the AIDS crisis, African American gay activists were widely ignored by African American media in their efforts to prevent HIV infections.

Upon the Chicago Black Gay Christian Conference, on December 10th 1982, David Wright, president of the NCBG – Chicago Chapter, began offering HIV education and prevention to Chicago’s African American gay community. In 1983, Foster’s, a popular gay bar, agreed to have four workshops on HIV. Later that year, activist Richard Gray and Henry Martin, owner of Martin’s Den, another gay bar, announced a series of workshops entitled “HIV and Health in the Gay Community.” Although the African American gay community of Chicago had decided to deal with the AIDS crisis, African American media turned a blind eye to their action.

As a result, on September 20th 1983, NCBG announced that the Chicago Department of Health presented a case of discrimination against lesbians and gays by the local media and Operation Push. The Chicago Defender and Chicago Metro News, both African American newspapers, had indeed refused to publish news releases submitted over the past four months concerning local African American lesbian and gay community response to the AIDS crisis.