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The naked Black body takes center stage in this HIV campaign

Native Son AIDS HIV Awareness campaign
Courtesy Native Son

"I Love Myself" hopes to shift the narrative around shame and stigma in the Black HIV community.

Depictions of Black gay beauty in the media are few and far between. Add HIV to the mix, and you’ll have to work even harder to find such individuals in movies, TV, or advertising. A new campaign initiated by the nonprofit Native Son, which works to empower Black gay and bi men, hopes to fill that void with glossy depictions of this often maligned community.

The “I Love Myself” initiative features images and videos starring give men living with HIV, including Native Son founder Emil Wilbekin, a media maven who’s held high ranking editorial positions at publications like Essence, Vibe, and Afropunk. The subjects, photographed by Eric Hart Jr., are all nude — and facing the camera with a mix of joy, pride, and determination.

“It’s important that we shift the narrative around HIV and you her the stigma and shame in our community,” Wilbekin said in a statement. “These nude portraits are beautiful and show the vibrance and vitality of what it means to be Black, queer, and living with HIV today. These images give us agency and autonomy over our bodies, our health, our sexuality, and our Black Boy Joy.”

The images will be showcased on Native Son’s Instagram, Meta, and X accounts.

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Ryan is the Digital Director of The Advocate Channel, and a graduate of NYU Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing. She is also a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. While her specialties are television writing and comedy, Ryan is a young member of the LGBTQ+ community passionate about politics and advocating for all.

Ryan is the Digital Director of The Advocate Channel, and a graduate of NYU Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing. She is also a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. While her specialties are television writing and comedy, Ryan is a young member of the LGBTQ+ community passionate about politics and advocating for all.