rodney1In an effort to connect and engage his audience, Chester opened the forum to a Q & A session. When asked about extreme images of femininity put out in the media about Gay Black men Rodney responded by telling the story of other frustrated Gay Black men who asked similar questions. The actor explained that he confronted this particular issue by asking fans and critics if they knew anyone resembling any of the characters on the show Noah’s Arch. After most of the audience responded yes that they have in fact known people like the characters from the show Chester replied “Then you relate…” This comment particularly stood out as the theme behind Chester’s talk is relationship.

Chester made it clear that communicating with and educating one another as well as practicing safer sex every time is the only way we will overcome HIV. Chester also used the word “promiscuous” when describing the sexually behavior of some people. The term itself carries a great deal of shame and secrecy and is often attributed to the HIV stigma that serves as a barrier to HIV testing, like many of us the actor is using the only tools he has to create positive change. Rodney Chester also uses his celebrity to bring awareness to the issue and initiates a much needed dialogue.

Rodney explained to audiences that Noah’s Arc was a great opportunity and he appreciated the series creator Patrik-Ian Polk for allowing Rodney to play a character that showcased a compassionate public health worker, supporting the community and Gay men in navigating health related issues. Rodney briefly discussed how important the show has been to many different people and not just the Black Gay community. Chester also explained that before the cancellation of the popular show that even Black Hollywood veterans had been asking to be a part of the show and just as negotiations and even filming had began with veteran actors such as Vivica Fox, Diane Caroll and Jennifer Lewis on board, the Logo “powers that be” ended the show abruptly.

Despite the show’s cancellation Rodney continues to pursue his passions. Before getting into acting, Rodney was a professional dancer, traveling the country to dance with many musical acts. Today Rodney is still acting in popular shows and will even be making an appearance in the upcoming season of True Blood. Rodney is also a proud entrepreneur. His company, Trio Talent Agency, has allowed him to represent dancers and choreographers who perform with top musical acts such as Rhianna and Beyonce. He also mentioned the need for the Black Gay owned businesses in supporting one another and how that creates a sound presence for us. While Rodney may not be articulate around all the complexities of HIV/AIDS in the Black Community, he is clearly passionate about supporting the end of AIDS and as a visible Black Gay man in Hollywood he takes his position very seriously, being active in the community, providing opportunities for Gay Black men and shedding more light on the fight to end AIDS.

*Brought to you by Michael and Aunsha Hall-Everett of Intimacy and Colour,*


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