Introduction to Sojourner: Black Gay Voices in the Age of AIDS

Sojourner is about beginnings. For many of us, it is the beginning of our search for ways to face the day after the wakes, the funerals, the memorials of yet another friend-lover-family member. This journal is about those who are HIV-positive, have AIDS, are Black, Gay, HIV-negative, surviving, or any combination of these and other identities, those we claim and those we don’t.

This project was started as an effort to revitalize an organization severely damaged by the onslaught of HIV, AIDS, death, internalized and externalized homophobia. It was conceived to marshal the energy of a collective whose membership has been and is heavily involved in every aspect of HIV/AIDS, but no longer had the energy to plan another literary reading, attend another writing workshop, board meeting or strategy session. This journal was to be a marker in this age of AIDS. These pages were to house memories, and assist in telling our stories and those of our predecessors. These pages were to remind both the Black community and the Gay white community that Black faggots are infected/affected by HIV/AIDS! We do not get the attention of infants born to infected mothers, we are no seen on Broadway stages, nor are we invited to address major political conventions. For the glaring absence of a Black Gay face-voice-presence in the national consciousness, one could surmise we had somehow been spared this scourge. We haven’t.

I now question whether it would have mattered if this journal achieved its original intent. Creating it has, indeed, aided in healing the organization and the membership. The writings and visual contributions represented here, more importantly, act as lifelines across this country and beyond: New York, London, Seattle, Cincinnati, Toronto, Oakland, Detroit, guiding us out of isolation and silence. To my knowledge, this is the only journal in the world dedicated to exploring how Black Gay men are living in this age of AIDS.

I managed the bulk of this project and chose the writings and visual images, in consultation with genre editors, as an affected member of the community. I was affected because I adamantly refused to be tested for HIV. I have since found both the compassion and sensitivity to be tested. Now, putting the knowledge of my own seropositive status in perspective, I am sure if I were to start this project today, this book would be different.

Sojourner opens with a tribute to men we have named as ancestors. Most died of AIDS-related complications. Most of them were Gay. Most share in the legacy of the African Diaspora.

Many people will find themselves or someone they know within the lines of these pages. My brothers in Other Countries and I can take comfort in that knowledge, as well as in knowing we have served our community well. Still, any satisfaction we might derive from this publication should encourage us further in telling the stories of those who will not see themselves, or a familiar face, in these or any other pages.

~ B.Michael Hunter, Managing Editor, Spring 1993, New York

© B.Michael Hunter 1993

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