Last year in South Los Angeles, billboards overlooking Crenshaw Boulevard showed two shirtless black men standing and embracing each other on a beach. “Our Love is Worth Protecting …. We Get Tested,” read the sign.
The ads, 10 in total, were developed by Jeffrey King, executive director of the Los Angeles advocacy group In the Meantime Men. The message’s purpose, King said, was to promote love and HIV testing among black men who have sex with men.
After the billboards went up, however, “the immediate reaction of the community was shock,” said the Rev. Eric P. Lee, president of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. “It showed how we have commonly dealt with homosexuality in the community, which is ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell,’ a silence that doesn’t condemn or affirm.”