St. Louis AIDS Organization Loses Remainder of $96,000 Federal Grant Over Allegations It Paid for Male Stripper at Sex Education Event
The City of St. Louis Department of Health on Thursday said it will cancel the remainder of a $96,000 grant to Blacks Assisting Blacks Against AIDS after allegations that the group hired a gay adult film star to strip at a sex education event, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (O'Neil, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 11/1). Kevin Coleman, BABAA's former youth center director, who said he was "let go" on Oct. 4 after filing a sexual harassment charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, told the St. Louis Civil Rights Enforcement Agency and the health department that Edgar Gaines, an actor in gay pornographic movies, appeared wearing only a towel and boots, stripped naked and allowed people to "fondle" him at an event held at the home of BABAA Executive Director Erise Williams. Bruce Hopson, an attorney representing BABAA, said that the group paid Gaines $500 from the organization's $96,000 CDC grant to fight syphilis to speak at the event but added that Gaines "did not strip for anybody, and nobody touched him." Hopson conceded that Gaines was wearing only a towel and boots but "[t]hat doesn't mean he stripped." According to Coleman, approximately 24 men, most of whom were members of BABAA's Harambee Empowerment Center for Youth, which includes members as young as age 13, attended the event with Gaines. Hopson said that no members under age 18 attended the event (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/31). St. Louis Health Director Hugh Stallworth said the department cancelled the remainder of the grant, which expires Dec. 31, based on what Gaines wore during the meeting and not on his profession or the allegations that he stripped and had sexual contact with some BABAA members. "We believe the individual did have a limited amount of clothes on, and we deemed it an inappropriate use of federal money. It shouldn't have been spent on the way the individual did perform," Stallworth said, adding that if the agency reapplies for the grant next year, the department would consider the event (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 11/1).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.