Narrative, Creativity, and HIV Inequity: A Case for Minding Black Queer Expressions

Type: Panel
Sponsor Groups: Black Geographies Specialty Group, Sexuality and Space Specialty Group, Harassment-Free AAG Initiative, Harassment-Free AAG Initiative
Poster #:
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Roosevelt 7, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Organizers: Darius Scott, Aaron Mallory
Chairs: Darius Scott


One-half of black men who have sex with men will come to live with HIV in their lifetimes if current rates persist. Meanwhile, black communities are disproportionately missing out on effective interventions (e.g. PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis and treatment-as-prevention). Scholars, clinicians, and activists have thus recognized a need to focus on the social workings of black and queer communities. Indeed, queer black productions of space are “where” HIV/AIDS interventions are needed. Such productions themselves have been shaped by the crisis. “Risk” tempers views of sex amongst black queer men and many have confronted the HIV/AIDS crisis head-on through a myriad of cultural expressions.

While queer black men’s own perspectives have been marginalized in research, a number of queer black writers, filmmakers, and artists have catalogued the continuous impacts of HIV on their lives and communities. This includes the 1980s/90s film and literary nonfiction of Marlon Riggs, Essex Hemphill, and the Blackheart Collective along with more recent writers such as Thomas Glave and Michael Arceneaux. Further, the oral histories of queer black man like those in E. Patrick Johnson’s Sweet Tea and communal creative expressions such as those considered by Bailey’s ballroom work are apt to inform future efforts. There have also been efforts to spur black queer creative expression and social connectivity by groups like Southern Fried Queer and the Audre Lorde Project. Because internalized homophobia and poor social connectivity relate to sexual health, uplifting black queer communities may very well be considered HIV prevention work.

The arrival of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s was an epochal moment for black gay men. Queer black men’s place in both rural and urban communities have since been troubled by stigma-steeped views of the crisis itself compounded with longstanding homophobia. It is not enough then to aim interventions at the black community at-large. The panel will mind narratives and creative work that recount queer black men’s particular experiences of black community. Such insight may potentiate future, catered HIV intervention. In addition, cultural expressions also confront the crisis from within black queer social spaces. Researcher Marlon M. Bailey recognizes how ballroom communities thwart the spread of HIV in the milieu of vogues and chants. This panel will also explore such creative “intraventions” that both explicitly and implicitly confront HIV/AIDS.

This panel will address the following questions:

1. What of narratives and creative work elucidates the impacts and everyday negotiations of HIV/AIDS? How might such understandings support more impactful and catered place-based interventions?

2. How can researchers intentionally navigate narratives (e.g. oral history) and creative work (e.g. film and art) in interest of supporting more impactful interventions? Are there ethical limitations to this?

3. What are examples of narrative and creative work informing catered, place-based HIV/AIDS interventions?


Type Details Minutes
Introduction Darius Scott University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 5
Panelist Aaron Mallory University of Minnesota - Minneapolis 20
Panelist Darius Scott University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 20
Panelist Xavier Livermon The University of Texas at Austin 20
Panelist Marlon Bailey School of Social Transformation 20

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