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Dan Savage on bugs
January 29, 2003 10:59 AM   Subscribe

Dan Savage takes on the Rolling Stone "bug chasing"/HIV+ gay sex story in his column today, and lambastes one of his favorite sacred cows, Gay Men's Health Crisis and other outreach groups that seem to have a lackadaisical attitude towards their clients' risky behavior. He's written about this before, in the case of Seth Watkins, an HIV+ sex education worker who admitted in the NYTimes he has unprotected casual sex at clubs. Does any of this coverage increase awareness of the still-plenty-big threat of HIV, or does it just make gay men look bad? Respectful discussion within...?
posted by serafinapekkala (42 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I like Dan's advice and his political commentary, and he gets a lot of flack from the gay community for airing "dirty laundry," like his complaints about, as he puts it, gay men "acting like total f'ing sluts" and risking emotional and physical ruin. the response reminds me of criticism of black or feminist activists, like Randall Kennedy or Rita Mae Brown, who make less-than-flattering observations about their respective groups. anyway, i think Dan's point has a sad kernel of truth...so many single gay men i know are in some kind of denial about STD's, it's like the 80's never happened...or they're about to happen again. :-( let me note also that bi and straight folks are also plenty slutty and/or in denial, of course...but unless they're rich white suburban teenagers they aren't in the news.
posted by serafinapekkala at 11:07 AM on January 29, 2003


i have known that HIV rates have been increasing since i learned of it in a class on sexuality i took for psychology credit in college. the particular phenomenon of "bug-chasers" and "gift-givers" i had not known about. yet i don't believe this article really makes gay men look bad.

gay men will look worse to people who already have a low opinion of homosexuals. "they're killing themselves!" the opponents will say, shaking their heads in passing disbelief. but those without that bias will, i hope, conclude that this is not an indictment of homosexuality but rather (regretable) elements of a subculture in which some participate.

is it a lack of education that causes this? possibly; but that's a dangerous presumption, because it also presupposes that logic is king and all act in accordance to reason: that, once you know how bad HIV is and how serious the dangers are, you won't have anything to do with it. doesn't the notion of bug-chasers and gift-givers seem inherently destructive? does not the base purpose of seeking HIV seem suicidal; of giving HIV, homicidal? in that i would blame depression, low self-esteem, or both: not the culture, and not the people. if i were to go about solving the problem, i think addressing the notions of self-worth people seem to have would be a good start.
posted by moz at 11:30 AM on January 29, 2003


"Perhaps it's time for GMHC and other AIDS groups to start telling gay men the truth. Taking stupid sexual risks, even if risk turns you on, is reckless."

I like Savage, but c'mon -- does he really think there are gay men (or anyone else, for that matter) out there who don't realize that taking "sexual risks" can lead to trouble?

I don't believe so, and that's exactly why I have little to no sympathy for anyone in North America who has contracted AIDS through sexual intercourse. Because if you're dumb enough to sleep around without protection, you deserve what you get.
posted by Polo Mr. Polo at 11:31 AM on January 29, 2003


in that i would blame depression, low self-esteem, or both: not the culture, and not the people.

I have to disagree with you here moz. It is the culture and the people who make up the culture that contribute to gay people having blame, shame, low self esteem. Just take a look at Bush's speech last night. How many times did he use the word "family" which constantly reminded me that his definition of family is not my own.

I agree that the bug chasing behavior is perpetuated by some pretty twisted sisters, but you have to wonder how people get that twisted. Babies are not born with self-loathing and shame. No, we instill that in them, and one way that we do that in this country is by reminding gay people daily that wehave something to be ashamed of.

Very compassionate, Mr. Polo. Will you be joining the picketers at the next AIDS victim's funeral? And why only North America? The Europeans contracting HIV through sex DON'T deserve it like us Americans/Canadians do?
posted by archimago at 11:43 AM on January 29, 2003


Personally, I think the whole "I have low self-esteem so I'll do something stupid" line is a crock. The HIV virus doesn't care about your self-esteem. People are responsible for their actions, and risky sexual behavior is just plain dumb.

But Polo, haven't you ever done anything stupid? Ever drink and drive? Ever smoke or take drugs? Ever go swimming or hiking solo without telling someone where you were? Any of those things could get you just as dead as HIV, and you would "deserve it" just as much, or as little, as AIDS victims do.
posted by kewms at 11:58 AM on January 29, 2003


doesn't the notion of bug-chasers and gift-givers seem inherently destructive?

Absolutely, but as far as "taking control" of one's life is concerned, it makes sense in a sick kind of way. AIDS is so inherently tied to gays that many (I'm guessing especially bug chasers) feel that they will get it eventually, no matter what, so it might as well be on their terms, and so that they're not surprised by it one day when they're getting tested.

A friend of a friend wrote his undergrad honors thesis on bug chasers last year; while the Rolling Stone piece is probably one of the first mainstream venues to report the story, the phenomenon has been out there for some time.

I hear lots of gay people that say "Look at X straight guy, he bangs tons of chicks, I should be able to do the same." I think too many people think this way--everything should be fair and equal, so they're fine with acting as if it is. Sorry, fellahs, life ain't fair, you gotta play the cards you're dealt, and be reasonable, rational, careful, and safe.
posted by gramcracker at 12:01 PM on January 29, 2003


Speaking from my own and others' experience, I'm sure that lust and alcohol safely account for more STD infections than anything else.

"Bug-chasing" seems a fetish rather than a fashion to me, and unlikely ever to spread.

As to the impact of the Rolling Stone article, or Savage's reply, I'm betting that everyone who followed the story is safely confirmed in whatever beliefs they had before.

Anyway, my favourite line is this:

"What I'm opposed to, however, is the idea that a 20-year-old should crack his ass open for any half-way decent-looking guy who come along."

Words we can all agree with, I think.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:08 PM on January 29, 2003


I don't believe so, and that's exactly why I have little to no sympathy for anyone in North America who has contracted AIDS through sexual intercourse. Because if you're dumb enough to sleep around without protection, you deserve what you get.

While I think that it's foolish to have unprotected sex and that people have to look out for themselves, it's rather a leap to say that anyone deserves to get AIDS. If you hit someone, then perhaps you deserve to get hit back. If you rob someone, then you probably deserve prison time. There's nothing inherently evil about having sex that makes you deserve to die for it.

I don't smoke, and I think that smoking is foolish, but I don't think that people who smoke deserve cancer because they choose to gratify a desire. Similarly, if someone gets cancer because they smoke, I'd still feel sympathy for them.

Perhaps your argument is that the stupid deserve death. I don't know. But I do know that I'd rather associate with people who make irresponsible choices than with self-righteous assholes who have no sympathy.
posted by anapestic at 12:13 PM on January 29, 2003


Bug-chasing sounds like a factitious disorder. From the article: People with factitious disorder feign or actually induce illness in themselves, typically to garner the nurturance of others.

I think it makes some gay men look human, if not psychological fragile. I also think that it's a behaviour that the media got hold of and is trumpetting it for all it's worth--perhaps it's not as prevalent as we are being told?

Dan does have a way with words, doesn't he?

polo, people who don't watch what they say deserve all that they get, don't they?
posted by ashbury at 12:15 PM on January 29, 2003


archimago:

I have to disagree with you here moz. It is the culture and the people who make up the culture that contribute to gay people having blame, shame, low self esteem. Just take a look at Bush's speech last night. How many times did he use the word "family" which constantly reminded me that his definition of family is not my own.

i think you misunderstood me, arch: by culture i referred to (all of, if that does not seem grossly oversimplified) homosexual subculture, and not society as a whole. but your point is well taken in that negative feelings do not occur within a vaccuum. and by the end of things, i think we can say that anti-homosexual sentiment has not been marginalized (can it truly be eradicated?) as much as it should be -- for it continues to negatively affect a lot of people. the low self-esteem of the affected must still be addressed, i feel: though you may stop the war, you must still bandage the wounded.
posted by moz at 12:30 PM on January 29, 2003


still no dildo
posted by Pretty_Generic at 12:57 PM on January 29, 2003


Randy Shilts, the author of And the Band Played On, was lambasted by the gay media up until his death from AIDS. I always felt this to be unfair, but then I am straight and was fairly uninformed about AIDS until I read this book.

It seems similar to this issue, albeit 15 or so years later.
posted by Danf at 1:45 PM on January 29, 2003


What is this, 1983? It's irresponsibility on the rise. A friend recently pointed me out to the now very large barebacking section in our local adult DVD store ... out of curiosity, he rented one of these DVDs, and before the action began there was a very long message from the producers about how the actors were aware of the risks they were taking and that they were fully aware of the consequences of their actions. It was strongly implied that the producers didn't screen their actors for HIV, but, again, the actors were aware of the consequences of their choices.

I sure hope so. They, yes, deserve any STD's they contract. As does anyone who risks death by STD. Talk about dancing on your own grave. What an example we set for the younger generation, eh? You're free to fuck in any way you see fit! If you die, well, don't worry, there'll be plenty of people to feel sorry for you and to call you a victim.

Not me. No more.
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:55 PM on January 29, 2003


Just to play Devil's Advocate: I was once discussing AIDS research funding with friends. Now, in the USA and most well-educated nations, it's pretty well known how AIDS is contracted. If you're contracting AIDS now, 99% chance is that you knowingly did something very very risky. Above that, it's, for the most part, possible to live your life with the guarantee of never contracting AIDS, if you choose a certain path of behaviors.

The same is not true of other diseases - i.e., types of cancers and genetic diseases.

Now, the question becomes: From a societal standpoint (since nearly all AIDS drugs as well as many other expensive medicines are subsidized by the govt. and private chartities), how can one morally justify helping Person A, whose disease was self-inflicted in some part, if that help could have been given to Person B, who is suffering and is completely innocent concerning reception of the disease?
posted by Kevs at 2:03 PM on January 29, 2003


serafinapekkala:

> so many single gay men i know are in some kind of denial
> about STD's, it's like the 80's never happened...or they're
> about to happen again. :-( let me note also that bi and
> straight folks are also plenty slutty and/or in denial, of
> course

All right, then. The question is, are we going to come right out and say this, even though it
"clearly rejects the validity or value of that sex life to begin with"? Or we just going to keep such unwelcome thoughts locked up in our li'l ole hearts? Jes askin'.
posted by jfuller at 2:13 PM on January 29, 2003


I don't like drug advertising in any form, but I think there's some problems that arise specifically from advertising AIDS drugs as helping people stay active, fit, energetic. I remember seeing one showing a woman rock-climbing and kayaking.

If drugs can prolong one's life for 10 years, AIDS appears much less fatal, because it's so far off in the future. I think it makes some people think AIDS isn't that bad, because it seems "treatable" and can be "managed" with drugs. They forget to mention that AIDS wins, 100% of the time.
posted by gramcracker at 2:17 PM on January 29, 2003


This is an article buried way back in today's SF Chronicle that sounds eerily like the stories about AIDS that came out in the early 1980's, also buried in the back pages of newpapers. I remember reading in And the Band Played On, that 40 people in one location with the same disease symptoms that are new (early AIDS) was a really big deal. Perhaps this is the new one taking form? And I can see the discussions starting all over again like they did for AIDS, warnings and hard facts about risky behaviour vs. not making the gay community look bad. I praise Savage for talking the way he did. And if this staph thing takes off (I hope hope hope it doesn't) let's hope the gay leaders have the balls this time to tell it like it is. Even if it makes the gay community look bad.

BTW-I also find it interesting that the doctor said "The concern is this organism could spread to and cause disease in the community at large," like he is concerned NOW because of the possiblities that non-gays will get it. Gays get it = not concerned. Straights get it = concerned. Read And the Band Played On....this is soooooo familiar!
posted by aacheson at 3:21 PM on January 29, 2003


The drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus outbreak has been picked up by the San Francisco Examiner and other major news outlets.
posted by yonderboy at 4:25 PM on January 29, 2003


"how can one morally justify helping Person A, whose disease was self-inflicted in some part, if that help could have been given to Person B, who is suffering and is completely innocent concerning reception of the disease"?
I have to respectfully reject this philosophy because there is no logical reason it wouldn't also apply to: lung cancer from smoking, alcoholism, IV drug use, teen pregnancy and a lot of other "self inflicted" conditions. While many people can provide some fairly exotic rationalizations for their 'mistakes'/bizarre behavior, etc., the truth about what actually drives people to inflict misery upon themselves is a lot deeper and probably unexplainable. Anyway, I don't believe Rolling Stone's research was deep or wide enough to be alerting the world to a "trend"...Maybe they believe everything they read in chatrooms, maybe someone is pulling their leg, but I did see an editor from RS on the news flat out denying that their article implied trends or percentages as it seems to do.
posted by Mack Twain at 6:41 PM on January 29, 2003


Like other folks above, while I would never go so irresponsibly and cruelly far as to say anyone who has AIDS "deserves what they'll get," I will say that there's a very slim chance that any English-speaking gay man in the United States who contracted HIV after, oh, 1989 or so, didn't understand the virus and its primary means of transmission.

So I will shed not a tear for gay men who contract AIDS in 2003. You made your choice, you stand by it: those are the rules that apply to all of us.

I used to be a fairly heavy contributor to HIV/AIDS charities. Hell, I used to be a member in good standing of ACT/UP, the Philadelphia cell. It's been a long time since I felt moved to support this particular cause, for many of the reasons outlined here.

Now I've never slept with a man, and I'll readily admit that the mindset and value system of gay men is something I can only imagine. But surely these charities rely to a significant extent on funding sources outside the gay community proper? And did no one consider what might happen if all those sources became so disgusted by the apparently widespread lack of concern and responsibility that they chose to allocate their contributions elsewhere?
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:58 PM on January 29, 2003


I think a big part of the problem is miseducation, or the absence of education. It's way too easy for young people to get away with believing that you can tell from looking if someone has HIV or that "untraceable levels of the virus in the bloodstream" doesn't mean that the virus has been eliminated. Furthermore, a lot has been done to change the perception of the HIV-infected to be people "living with" HIV rather than "dying from" it. This is a good thing, but it has its unfortunate drawbacks. I think many young folks imagine it to be an almost completely controllable disease that, thanks to modern medicine, won't affect the carrier for untold decades.

I just think it's easy for us to sit here and be knowledgeable and high-minded, but the fact remains that especially for young folks, the first several experiences with gay sex are very often covert and uninformed. Our society still can't manage to stigmatize dangerous subsets of sexual behavior without stigmatizing an entire sexuality.

I'm not going to argue that there are not gay men who, fully aware of the risks of barebacking, do it anyway, but to broadly characterize all gay men who receive HIV through sexual transmission as "deserving" to get it is heartless and ignorant.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 7:00 PM on January 29, 2003


Working in a medical practice in a large metropolitan city, I can honestly say it is frustrating, baffling and often anger-inducing to be treating gay men for STD's.

Some have known for quite some time they are HIV+. Others get to wait for the lab test to come back knowing if the contact was within a certain window of time and the result is negative, it is not a guarantee they will not seroconvert (test positive).

There are even a few who I would deem repeat-offenders: every three to six months, they are back with telltale symptoms and receive another dose of counseling regarding safer-sex with seemingly little result. Amazingly enough, the ones who have to be reported to the local health department when a test comes back positive for gonorrhea or syphilis and receive the requisite visit from the local health authorities are among this group too.

I could drone on for many paragraphs in an attempt to address some of what I have read here, but to cut to the chase - some cases self-esteem/societal pressure is the primary issue. Others, I have yet to be able to pinpoint.
posted by sillygit at 8:17 PM on January 29, 2003


Adamgreenfield: Now I've never slept with a man, and I'll readily admit that the mindset and value system of gay men is something I can only imagine.

So this value system that the gay monolith universally adheres to -- what value system would that be, exactly?

From where I'm sitting, gay men seem pretty diverse and appear to hold all kinds of different values. So you'll have to spell this one out for me.
posted by boredomjockey at 10:01 PM on January 29, 2003


Had he said 'mindsets and value systems', you would have taken no issue with his statement, geez, can you cut the guy some slack?
posted by yonderboy at 1:27 AM on January 30, 2003


I think we need to re-educate ourselves before we try to educate those who need it.
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:57 AM on January 30, 2003


> So this value system that the gay monolith universally
> adheres to -- what value system would that be, exactly?
> ... you'll have to spell this one out for me.

OK.

Those characteristics which allow members of the gay male community to identify themselves and one another AS members of the community.

If there are no such characteristics then there's no such community, it's a myth and we can quit worrying about it. If there is such a community then there are such characteristics, even if boredomjockey can't call any of them to mind. (Hint for the slower students- "guys who get hot over weenies" will be up around the top of the list.)
posted by jfuller at 4:43 AM on January 30, 2003


...the apparently widespread lack of concern and responsibility that they chose to allocate their contributions elsewhere?...

4,200 conscious and subconscious bug chasers getting infected every year (from the Savage column) does NOT make for a "widespread lack of concern and responsibility." If you believe that it does, then i have some unintended pregnancy stats and STD infection rates (of straight people) that would blow your mind.


...If there are no such characteristics then there's no such community...(Hint for the slower students "guys who get hot over weenies" will be up around the top of the list.)

Hint for the slower commenters here: What are the characteristics of the straight community? Doesn't it encompass 90% of the earth's population? Tell me of the common characteristics please. Getting hot over weenies or hoo-hoos does NOT make a community.
posted by amberglow at 5:50 AM on January 30, 2003


What are the characteristics of the straight community?

Oh, please, amberglow. From an epidemiological and public-health perspective, to take that uber-PC line is to consign people to an early grave. In fact, nothing cured me of my starry-eyed can't-we-all-just-get-along correctness faster than standing out on upper Market Street handing out condoms, as an outreach worker.

You know and I know that the community among which there's an epidemic of fetishized barebacking is not the great assimilated middle class of queer folks. It's the party circuit all over again.

And you're not going to distract me with the statistics about straight condom avoidance. I agree, they are shameful, scandalous. But that's not what's under discussion.

I reiterate my belief that real compassion, adult compassion, can't be practiced until we can harvest the crusts of sentimentality from our eyes and see things as they are. So. If it's not a widespread lack of concern, or lack of accountability, that's behind the rate of new HIV infections among American gay men in 2003, you tell me what is.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:27 AM on January 30, 2003


> What are the characteristics of the straight community?

The question doesn't arise. There is no "straight community," defined either by insiders or outsiders, so there's no need to list the earmarks. I've never heard anyone stand up and define himself/herself as "a member of the straight community" (as opposed to merely being straight.)

By contrast we hear "the gay community" this and "the gay community" that and "the gay community" the other - constantly.

Google search on "straight community" returns 2700 hits.; "gay community" returns 254,000.
posted by jfuller at 6:46 AM on January 30, 2003


Well, that's the problem for most people who are straight. They don't understand that there are a vocal minority of 'gay' people who are speaking up and calling themselves representatives of the 'gay community', but they're not democratically elected and they're not necessarily representative.

I don't have a 'gay voting card.' I can't stop someone from standing up and saying, 'I represent the gay community.' Unfortunately, people do and those are the people that the 'straight community' see and think there must be some 'gay culture/community'. There may be a culture/community that calls itself such, but it doesn't incorporate all people who suck manmeat. Many of the people engaging in unprotected sex - i.e. barebacking - loathe the 'gay community' and would have nothing to do with it. In fact, if you review the barebacking websites, you'll find a large percentage of bi-sexuals and others who hate 'nelly-queens' and 'effiminate men' - all archetypes of the 'gay community'.

Its just like the debate, 'what is an American?' Lots of people can stand up all day and declare, "I am an American, this is what an American is..." and you'll get 3 million different definitions. Same is true of the 'gay community'. Is there really a true 'American'? Is there really a true 'gay person'?

NO. Case closed.
posted by PigAlien at 7:08 AM on January 30, 2003


oh for pete's sake, jfuller, see if you can follow along here: when i say "many gay men" seem to act in a way, or hold beliefs, that i find irresponsible, i am not painting *all* gay men with that brush, am i? i am not trying to "invalidate" their gayness, i'm trying to call them on their irresponsibility. sorry, no matter how you slice it i still think it's a-OK to be gay, it's just not OK to be an irresponsible fool. the fact that *in my experience* there is an over-representation of irresponsible fools, STD-wise, in the gay population, neither consigns all gays to foolishness, nor heartlessly damns all foolish gays to suffer the consequences of their actions without mercy from others. the same holds true for the foolish in other populations, in my book, like say sexually active teenagers, or cynical straight twentysomethings. also, FYI my heart is neither "l'il" nor particularly "ole." ;-)
posted by serafinapekkala at 8:31 AM on January 30, 2003


According to this report new AIDS cases have stablised, rather than contining to decline, due to

-- Delays in HIV testing that prevent many HIV-positive people from learning they are infected so they can obtain treatment that will delay the onset of AIDS

-- Treatment side effects, drug resistance, and treatment failure

-- The considerable proportion of Americans who lack access to adequate health care

Also

'We must target our prevention efforts to meet the needs of diverse gay and bisexual communities, including African-American and Latino MSM -- many of whom do not identify as gay -- young MSM who have little knowledge of the epidemic's early years, and older MSM struggling to maintain safer sex practices over a prolonged period of time.' - Ronald Valdiserri, M.D., M.P.H., deputy director of CDC's HIV, STD, and TB prevention programs.

So, what he seems to be saying is that shame, ignorance and complacency are at fault. Clearly what we should do is brand gay men as evil and brush the topic under the carpet.
posted by Summer at 10:26 AM on January 30, 2003


"But Polo, haven't you ever done anything stupid? Ever drink and drive? Ever smoke or take drugs? Ever go swimming or hiking solo without telling someone where you were? Any of those things could get you just as dead as HIV, and you would "deserve it" just as much, or as little, as AIDS victims do."

Of course I've done dumb things. But if any of them had backfired, I wouldn't have expected anyone to shed a single tear for me. Because my death/disfigurement/[insert suitably tragic scenario here] would have been caused by my own dopey actions. And for me, sympathy isn't something to waste on people who play in traffic.
posted by Polo Mr. Polo at 11:36 AM on January 30, 2003


Now, the question becomes: From a societal standpoint (since nearly all AIDS drugs as well as many other expensive medicines are subsidized by the govt. and private chartities), how can one morally justify helping Person A, whose disease was self-inflicted in some part, if that help could have been given to Person B, who is suffering and is completely innocent concerning reception of the disease?

Absolutely right on the mark. It is one thing to contract a potentially lethal and extraordinarily expensive to treat malady either by accident or by way of simple irresponsible behavior - quite another to actively seek out that malady. Then turn around and expect the government to help foot the bill for your meds.

Bug chasing, if in fact it exists in the numbers quoted in RS or even by Savage, is the equivalent of smoking as many cigarettes as you possibly can in an attempt to contract lung cancer. Which does differentiate it from the person who smokes but can't be bothered to quit.
posted by kgasmart at 2:53 PM on January 30, 2003


Summer, how does a public valuation of personal responsibility equate with "brand[ing] gay men as evil"?

I must have had similar experiences to serafinepekkala. In outreach, as well as in other primary clinical healthcare settings, it has been my experience that you see the same "repeat offenders" time and again. Some of them are quite charming, or appear to believe that they are, and shrug off the potentially lethal consequences of their choices with insouciant bravado.

This is a bravado that's easy to maintain when you're a nineteen-year-old party boy, and much less easy to prop up when you're a twenty-one year old shitting the bedsheets and unable to keep your meds down.

Also, I fail to see how "delays in HIV testing" or "access to adequate health care" apply. Of course, of course: it goes without saying that the American healthcare system shows vicious inequities. But how does this fact, however true, keep someone from practicing safe sex? I tend to the left libertarian and will continue to, but nothing in that keeps me from decrying a suicidal, and murderous, lack of care when I see it.
posted by adamgreenfield at 5:49 PM on January 30, 2003


Summer, how does a public valuation of personal responsibility equate with "brand[ing] gay men as evil"?

Are you referring to your own comments? I wasn't attacking you in particular.
posted by Summer at 2:55 AM on January 31, 2003


...but in general? ; . )

Sorry, I didn't read it as an attack, just as an interrogation. But you're right, I did think you were referring to my post.
posted by adamgreenfield at 4:57 AM on January 31, 2003


Shouldn't we view this as an elaborate and subtle form of this? And if so, does this help us justify providing medical help for those who seek to harm themselves? There's risky behavior, and there's self-destructive behavior, and the two are not always synonymous.
posted by Ptrin at 6:20 AM on January 31, 2003


You know and I know that the community among which there's an epidemic of fetishized barebacking is not the great assimilated middle class of queer folks. It's the party circuit all over again...
And you're not going to distract me with the statistics about straight condom avoidance. I agree, they are shameful, scandalous. But that's not what's under discussion...


hmmm...."epidemic of fetishized barebacking" for an incredible small minority of gay folks, but "straight condom avoidance" for straight people?

Adam, circuit queens come from the great assimilated middle class of queer folks, just fyi....when there's not some "epidemic of fetishized barebacking" to attend, they go to their jobs, and live their lives just like most people in America. And out of the tens of thousands of people who attend these events, just a fraction of those are "gift-givers" or "bug chasers."

...So. If it's not a widespread lack of concern, or lack of accountability, that's behind the rate of new HIV infections among American gay men in 2003, you tell me what is.
Ok, Adam: It's a combination of things. 1-the successful selling of aids as a manageable, liveable disease, and 2-the inconvenience of having to discuss and negotiate hiv status and condoms every single time you have sex, and 3-the many men who still are bi or closeted and not reached by PSAs and condom giveaways, and 4-the general, and enduring human tendency of young people to believe that they couldn't really die from something so fun as sex, and 5-the continuing stigmatisation and generalizations (in America and this post) about gay men that unfairly paint millions of people with the same broad brush of how the gay community acts and is, leading to how some in the gay community DO act, etc. etc. etc. Was that ok? (i'm sure i left some out, but i would call these the top 5 reasons)

Also, here's a thought for everyone: next time you want to make a generalization about any community, think for a moment if you can do the same thing for an opposing or complementary community. If it doesn't work both ways, don't do it. (and what PigAlien said)
posted by amberglow at 6:28 AM on January 31, 2003


"the inconvenience of having to discuss and negotiate hiv status and condoms every single time you have sex"

Yeah, that is pretty inconvenient. Stopping for two minutes to ask a simple question or strap on a rubber is waaaayyyy too much of a hassle. Much better to simple fuck away and hope for the best.
posted by Polo Mr. Polo at 10:49 AM on January 31, 2003


Try already doing it for 20 years at every sexual encounter (and knowing that you'll have to do it for the rest of your life) before you belittle it, PMP
posted by amberglow at 1:14 PM on January 31, 2003


Try just assuming, as a default position, that you're going to use the condom. It's not a big deal. I did it for sixteen years of sex partners, and never had an STD/pregnancy scare. The calculus isn't hard.

This is what I cannot quite comprehend: it's not hard to avoid swapping bodily fluids. I've done bondage scenes, group scenes, fetish, dominance, abuse&humiliation, rough sex, magick, knifeplay, you name it. You can come all over somebody, you can stick all kinds of things in all kinds of holes, and in fact there are very few places on the sexual map you cannot reach even with a few mils of latex between yourself and the beloved.

And this is primarily to avoid exposing my partners and myself to the responsibility of an unwanted pregnancy; I would assume that avoiding death is a still greater incentive.

And commercials that portray HIV+ status as a ticket to airboarding and heli-skiing? Who could, who would fall for that?

I do buy the bit about teenage immortality, but that alone can't account for the numbers we're seeing.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:18 PM on January 31, 2003


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