Visionary, Driven, Spiritual

jeffrey king outside office

An Interview with Jeffrey King

By Victor Yates

The timeline for AIDS has moved from chronological order to an infinite loop with past and present floating together. Jeffrey King’s gold-flecked name enters the timeline in 1992 during a period of self-discovery around his sexual identity and expression, reappears in 1998 with the birth of In The Meantime Men’s Group, and continues to shimmer with brilliance today. In The Meantime is one of the few nonprofit organizations in Los Angeles that primarily serves Black gay men. For its first clients, ITMT’s resources were a Godsend.
In 1992, Jeffrey was coming out of a period of extreme fear and anxiety triggered by the loss of close friends to HIV. “Many of those friends were angels who cared for me when I was trying to find myself,” said Jeffrey in a sit down interview for the Los Angeles Black AIDS Memorial. “People who I found myself being caretakers for [after they were diagnosed with HIV].”
“I entered out of necessity because I didn’t have a choice but to do something regarding the lack of information on HIV in the Black community.”
Early on in the epidemic, he fundraised for AIDS service organizations like Minority AIDS Project and APLA, but anonymously. Friends of his would submit the checks on his behalf.
“I saw suffering, ignorance, extreme homophobia, self-hatred, a rise in alcoholism, and a rise in addiction, which merged with AIDS and released an atomic bomb on the Black community.”
Uncertainty and countless deaths provided Jeffrey with the strength to step out from behind the curtain and step up on the stage for the fight to end AIDS.
“I seized an opportunity to create [the organization]. I wanted to create a space for Black gay men to respond to the question, ‘What are we doing in the meantime?’ I realized no one came through that time unscathed. Holistic healing was necessary. I wanted to be part of developing the grassroots intervention to help address the need, utilizing all that I learned from those who came before me.”
In the late 90s, new FDA-approved drugs led the way for the discovery of new HIV antiretroviral therapy. Because of this, hospice care was not necessary. People were living healthy lives with AIDS and HIV. Thus, Jeffrey posed the question, “What are we doing in the meantime?”
Answering that question led to him creating his legacy, his nonprofit organization, In The Meantime Men’s Group Inc.
“Legacy for me is the fulfillment of a mission and vision. That began 22 years ago, positively resulting in impacting thousands of people, primarily Black gay men.”

Victor Yates is a writer, editor, and writing workshop instructor whose debut novel, A Love Like Blood, was released by Hillmont Press. His website is victoryates.wordpress.com. Follow him @writervicyates.

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