AJC Series Featuring Counter Narrative Project wins GLADD Media Award



Johnnie Ray Kornegay III
Organization: The Counter Narrative Project
Email: johnnie.kornegay@counternarrative.org

May 15, 2018 – Atlanta, GA – The Counter Narrative Project (CNP) congratulates Gracie Bonds Staples on winning the coveted 2018 GLAAD Media Award for “Outstanding Newspaper Article.” Hosted by the GLAAD in New York City on May 5th, following star-studded ceremonies in Los Angeles in April, the 29th Annual Awards ceremony honored her critically acclaimed coverage of the HIV epidemic’s impact on Black gay men in the South. Published last August in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), the five-part series, “The Silent Epidemic: Black Gay Men and HIV,” featured Rev. Duncan Teague, Craig Washington, Dr. David Malebranche, Daniel Driffin, as well as CNP Executive Director Charles Stephens.

“So often the portraits of Black gay men living with HIV are one-dimensional caricatures of saints or sinners, victims or predators,” said Stephens. “Staples was able to totally capture the complexities of both the epidemic and the rich tapestry of who our southern brothers living this far too common experience are in all their bravery, brilliance, and all too human frailties. That’s quite an achievement.”

It’s one in a life filled with notable achievements for Ms. Staples. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Staples has been a lifestyle writer for AJC for nearly 20 years, following tenures at such esteemed papers as the Fort Worth-Star Telegram, the Sacramento Bee, and the Raleigh Times. Staples has often spent her AJC beat covering the lives and experiences of marginalized people throughout the South with keen observations and an audible compassion for her subjects.

It was Staples’ bold pen and signature empathy that was needed to tackle the often-hushed subject of HIV in the South. When one in two Black men who have sex with men will receive an HIV diagnosis in their lifetime, the urgent alarm Staples sounded throughout her series proved timely and necessary in a region where the response to the epidemic has been slower, the infrastructure to address the growing need weaker, and the attitude about the darkened face of HIV today apathetic, at best. Through the media blitz covering the GLAAD Media Awards, a welcome spotlight has been returned to the series, its inhabitants, and the epidemic itself, widening the audience among those curious to see how a series about such an all but forgotten subject in the mainstream has come to earn such award-winning praise.

“Hopefully, other journalists and media outlets will take the time to observe this celebratory moment for Ms. Staples and AJC and walk away with an understanding that Black gay lives are both a worthy subject for serious journalistic inquiry and that taking the time to accurately portray us pays off for the journalist, the outlet, and the community,” says Stephens.

To read or revisit Ms. Bonds award-winning series, visit http://specials.myajc.com/black-men-HIV/.