- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 31, 2002

So what, exactly, was gay-porn star Bobby Blake doing at a "safer-sex" event in July? Just the opposite, it seems.
According to two former staffers of Blacks Assisting Blacks Against AIDS (BABAA), a St. Louis health outfit, Mr. Blake was invited to a gathering of young men at the downtown loft of the group's director, Erise Williams. He attended wearing only a towel and boots. "Time goes by, and Bobby is buck naked," said Kevin Coleman, BABAA's youth director at the time. "It was like we were at a strip show except there was no money being passed," Mr. Coleman said. "Guys would run up and touch him." Meanwhile, the group's director "was cheering them on."
On at least one point, it seems, Mr. Coleman has it wrong. Money was passed. The group paid Mr. Blake $500 for his appearance made possible by a $96,000 federal grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of course, that's not the purpose for which the taxpayers' money was intended, and the city's health director is looking into the matter, which he has called "quite serious." A lawyer for BABAA denies the money was misspent.
Whatever the outcome of that investigation, it's worth noting this isn't the first time AIDS awareness groups have been accused of playing hanky-panky with federal funds. As part of its Gay Life series last year, for example, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation sponsored an orgasm coach and sex-toy fair. Gay City Seattle, meanwhile, regularly holds group naps and drag classes. Then there's the Stop AIDS Project of San Francisco, which, over the years, has sponsored a number of questionable seminars, such as "The Basics of Sadomasochism." As a November 2001 memo prepared by the Health and Human Services inspector general noted, "Some of the information presented in prevention workshops could be viewed as encouraging sexual activity, [in direct] violation of CDC guidance."
And then there's the usual corruption that infests federal grant programs calls to psychic hotlines, shopping sprees, luxury cars and money stashed in offshore bank accounts. In fact, the charges of malfeasance have been so egregious that the HHS inspector-general has ordered a review of all federally funded HIV/AIDS prevention programs.
Of course, the government has an important role in funding research and programs designed to combat the spread of deadly diseases. But misuse of those funds by health organizations only hurts those whom they are dedicated to helping.

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