Fired director of St. Louis AIDS agency wants job back

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com November 12 2002 1:00 AM ET

Erise Williams, the former executive director of St. Louis' Blacks Assisting Blacks Against AIDS who was fired from his job after the agency hired a gay-porn star to appear at a safer-sex education event, says he made a mistake in hiring the actor and that he wants his job back, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Williams and James Green, BABAA senior director, were fired on November 1 after the city's health department began investigating whether the agency used $500 in federal funds from a $96,000 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention syphilis prevention grant to hire Edgar Gaines, whose screen name is Bobby Blake, to appear at the July event. The health department also revoked the remainder of the grant due to reports that Gaines appeared at the event wearing only a towel and boots. Williams said hiring Gaines was "probably not the best idea" but said his appearance was part of an "innovative" approach to gain the attention of people at high risk for HIV infection. He also denied allegations that Gaines stripped at the event and that the actor allowed attendees to fondle him. Williams, who had headed BABAA for 13 years, called his work with the agency "the most important work I've ever done. I want to go back to doing what I've dedicated my life to."