Vonciel Hill sparks largest rally ever in Dallas’ black LGBT community

#RevLOVE - 13

In what one longtime activist called the largest rally in the history of the local black LGBT community, about 50 people gathered in a South Dallas parking lot on Saturday morning to voice their objections to City Councilwoman Vonciel Hill’s anti-gay comments last week concerning an HIV prevention billboard.

The billboard, part of the Greater Than AIDS campaign, features a black man with his arms around another black man and says, “UPDATE YOUR STATUS.”

Hill, who is African-American and virulently anti-gay, told a TV news station that she objected to the billboard in her district because she believes it sends the message that homosexuality is “acceptable.”

Saturday’s rally, which had as its theme a hashtag, #RevLOVE, was held under temporary awnings erected in the parking lot of Abounding Prosperity, an HIV/AIDS agency in the heart of South Dallas at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and SM Wright Freeway. Harold Steward, who organized the rally, explained to those who braved 90-degree heat that the hashtag #RevLOVE is based on a line from pioneering gay black activist Joseph Beam’s book, In The Life.

“Black men loving black men is the revolutionary act,” Beam wrote.

“We have been here before,” Steward told the crowd. “If we have to we will plaster our faces and lives and our loves on every billboard in America. We will love in this revolutionary way until our haters catch up with our history.”

—  John Wright

Rising HIV-positive advocate Otis Harris to be featured in MTV AIDS special

Otis Harris, whom we profiled in Dallas Voice recently for his involvement in the Greater Than AIDS campaign, will be featured in I’m Positive, a World AIDS Day special on MTV on Dec. 1

Harris has been featured on billboards and DART buses and in local print media ads as part of the Greater Than AIDS, which addresses the disproportionate number of new HIV cases in the black community.

In our story, Harris talked about how hard it was to tell his father but how his father stuck by him.

Here’s what MTV says about Harris:

As the oldest child in a large, close-knit family, Otis feels like he has to set an example for his younger siblings. That’s why it was hard for him to tell his family he is HIV positive, after having just come out as gay the year before. Currently, Otis is in a serious relationship with his boyfriend, Kanjhe, and they are both committed to making sure that he stays HIV negative.

“He’s one of three people selected nationally, and the only man,” said publicist Robbyn Kistler, who originally got us in touch with Harris. “There’s some incredible footage! He’s a rising figure among young positive spokespeople. A treasure!”

—  David Taffet