Back in 2006, before he was "Congressman" McNerney, Jerry and I
attended a "Stop the Violence" forum coordinated by NAACP as part of
their Martin Luther King birthday weekend celebration. I wrote a piece about
the event for the Say No To Pombo blog, here. One of the startling takeaways for me
during this event was the disproportionate amount of AIDS/HIV cases within the
African American community here in San Joaquin County.
This year, Stonewall has decided to take an active role in addressing this discrepancy and have partnered up with the University of Pacific and the Human Rights Campaign in planning April 25th's Toward Harmony: A Discussion on Race, Religion and Sexuality. I am proud of our club for taking on such an important issue for the LGBT and African American communities. Despite recent local comments ( Rev. Bob Hailey please take your walk of shame now!), these two groups have a lot more in common than some would like to publicly confess. In fact, Black Panther leader Huey P. Newton actually campaigned on behalf of gay civil rights during the 60's and 70's.
In an inspiring and controversial -for its time- speech, Mr. Newton shared the following, "I do not remember our ever constituting any value that said that a revolutionary must say offensive things towards homosexuals, or that a revolutionary should make sure that women do not speak out about their own particular kind of oppression. As a matter of fact, it is just the opposite: we say that we recognize the women's right to be free. We have not said much about the homosexual at all, but we must relate to the homosexual movement because it is a real thing. And I know through reading, and through my life experience and observations that homosexuals are not given freedom and liberty by anyone in the society. They might be the most oppressed people in the society." Amen Brother Newton, amen!
So, I hope you join me in sitting in the audience at the Janet Leigh Theater on April 25th as we listen to community leaders and HRC's Sharon Groves discuss our differences, similarities, shared challenges and hopes for a better tomorrow.
Speaking of a better tomorrow, did you know San Joaquin County has its own AIDS Walk? Furthermore, did you know that the SF AIDS Walk only benefits the County of San Francisco? Sadly we still have a way to go to declare our fight against HIV/AIDS over. Almost 50 percent of AIDS cases in San Joaquin County result in deaths. Our battle continues. So this year, please help win the war by attending UOP's forum on April 25th and San Joaquin's AIDS Walk on May 1st. Too many of our friends died during the battle for us not to take part.
Have you lost a friend to the fight against AIDS/HIV? Please share your story and thoughts with us.