Men's group celebrates National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

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On the corner of Crenshaw and S. Leimert boulevards in South Los Angeles today, L.A.'s premier Black gay men's wellness organization, "In the Meantime Men's Group, Inc.," held a peaceful protest to launch their anti-homophobia campaign 'X-Homophobia.'

In honor of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, "In the Meantime" provided free HIV testing and distributed condoms to the community.

"We spend time in the black community because it's one of the communities that's most at risk in the United States. We're talking about 12% of the population that's responsible for 40% of the new infections," said James Vellequette, director of condom-provider Condom Nation.

At the protest, USC student Kai Green rallied the crowd when he spoke of how he stands with the people "who dare to fight and say I am black and gay."

Local South L.A. resident Vanessa Robinson was more skeptical of the movement because she does not want her son to grow up in "that type of environment," and says she grew up attending church.

Homosexuality has not always been accepted in the church, but Reverend Russell Thornhill, co-pastor of the Unity Fellowship of Christ Church, urged the crowd to "stand" and support this new pro-gay movement.

"It's a call that says that we won't stand for the transmission of HIV and AIDS in our community," said Reverend Thornhill.

Members of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and TrueEvolution, Inc. also spoke and urged protestors and listeners to get tested for HIV in the buses behind them.

As they chanted in front of a bus covered in a large poster with "We get tested" printed next to two shirtless men embracing, the protestors waved posters and cheered with honking cars as they advocated to end discrimination against African American gay men.

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