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HIV is a gay disease
October 5, 2006 8:56 AM   Subscribe

HIV is a gay disease.
posted by thirteenkiller (87 comments total)

 
HAY STRAIGHT HIV+ PEOPLE U R REALLY GAY LULZ
posted by riotgrrl69 at 8:57 AM on October 5, 2006


Homosexuals are gay.
posted by spaltavian at 8:58 AM on October 5, 2006


The terrible thing is that the group will count this campaign as a success because people will be "talking about it".
posted by riotgrrl69 at 9:00 AM on October 5, 2006


Also help Fred Phelps out why don't you.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 9:01 AM on October 5, 2006


Can we start calling it GRID again?
posted by sexymofo at 9:03 AM on October 5, 2006


That’s good news to Randy Thomas of Exodus International, who lost several friends when he was gay.

“So to watch the gay identified community of today take personal responsibility for this issue was astounding to me, and something that affected me personally.”

(via)
posted by kolophon at 9:11 AM on October 5, 2006


Ok, I'm preparing myself to be flamed here....and I can see why this is offensive to some. I truly can.

But there is a big problem in the gay community about gay (mostly) men not taking AIDS seriously anymore. The incidences of AIDS and other STDs like herpes & gonnorhea are rising steadily, as are "barebacking" and other high-risk, non protected activites. This disease hits gay men very very hard and the community cannot sit back and let it happen, AGAIN.

I understand why this ad makes people unhappy, but it reminds me a lot of when AIDS was first coming to light an no one wanted to post things in gay bath houses about it, or put the word "gay" in the "gay men's health crisis" title or get anything about it in the news and such because they didn't want to link AIDS with gay men and give gay people bad press. And guess what, thousands and thousands died because people didn't want to offend and make gay people look bad.

While I applaud the desire to not denigrate gay men-god knows they get enough crap as it is, the fact is that AIDS is a very serious disease for gay men and needs to be taken very seriously-which isn't happening as much anymore these days. Especially since so many people are living with it and appear to be fine.

And any people who will use these ads as an "excuse" to be nasty about gay people will be that way anyway.
posted by aacheson at 9:17 AM on October 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


aacheson has reason.
posted by davy at 9:20 AM on October 5, 2006


This reminds me of a couple of years ago when Bill Cosby indicted poor black parents for the follies of their children. The question you have to ask yourselves is, "Should the gay community turn their attention inward in such a public fashion to combat this epidemic, or should it be a private matter within the community so as to avoid national stereotyping?"

I haven't really come to a firm conclusion (for this campaign or for Cosby's words). I see both sides of the argument and can't decide if it's better for both communities to spotlight themselves in order to progress. But it's an interesting tactic, nevertheless.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 9:22 AM on October 5, 2006


Which of the mystery links should I click on?
posted by craniac at 9:25 AM on October 5, 2006


The campaign is controversial and provocative — but it has to be, because the fact is that "condom fatigue" and, for lack of better terminology, cheerful retroviral therapy propaganda that is directed towards gays and lesbians by pharmaceutical companies, have both contributed to a sense of either defeat or invincibility in the GLBT community.

Perhaps advertising campaign dollars would be better spent on dealing with these two issues — particularly when pharmaceutical marketing in the United States is a major factor in the high cost of all kinds of drug therapies, not just retrovirals — but the fact is that this approach got your attention, didn't it?

As for the Phelps' of the world: They will find a way to get their hate on no matter what we say or do. If they don't invent their distorted data points from this site, they'll make them up from some other source — as they always have done.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:25 AM on October 5, 2006


From the LA Voice link:

“In Los Angeles County, gay and bisexual men make up less than 7% of the population but account for more than 75% of the people living with HIV/AIDS,” said Lorri L. Jean, Chief Executive Officer at the Center.

The message clearly needs to get through. Whether this is the best approach can be debated, but basically: what aacheson said.
posted by languagehat at 9:27 AM on October 5, 2006


HIV is a gay disease.

That's a pretty US-centric (or perhaps I should say Western-centric) view of the disease. I'm sure a lot of folks in Africa would tend to disagree.
posted by muddgirl at 9:28 AM on October 5, 2006


Well, muddgirl, it's a Los Angeles centric campaign.
posted by thirteenkiller at 9:29 AM on October 5, 2006


I'm sure a lot of folks in Africa would tend to disagree.

Actually it turns out the whole continent was on the DL.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:30 AM on October 5, 2006 [2 favorites]


That's a pretty US-centric (or perhaps I should say Western-centric) view of the disease. I'm sure a lot of folks in Africa would tend to disagree.

The people running the campaign agree with you:

Though anyone is susceptible to HIV infection, the fact is that three out of four people living with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles County are gay and bisexual men, increasingly Latino and Black men. Even though gay and bisexual men comprise less than 7% of the population of L.A. County, we account for more than 75% of those who are infected.

Worldwide, the majority of those infected are heterosexual and living in Africa. But in the U.S. and many places throughout the world, the gay and bisexual male population is disproportionately impacted (the “gay and bisexual” terminology as used herein includes men who have sex with men—MSM—but who may not identify as gay or bisexual).

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:34 AM on October 5, 2006


It's also a disease of drug users who share needles, regardless of their sexual practices, but that's not the issue the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center should focus on. Especially if their figures are correct, if it's true that "[i]n Los Angeles County, gay and bisexual men make up less than 7% of the population but account for more than 75% of the people living with HIV/AIDS”. Sometimes a sound and moral policy is "politically incorrect"; that's just too bad.

And while I agree with muddgirl that the LAGLC is being "Western-centric" please remember where they are and who they're talking to. As long as they don't claim ONLY gay men can get HIV and that sharing needles is harmless for straight people I see no reason to nitpick their wording too much. (It's not like they misspelled it "HVI" y'know.)
posted by davy at 9:35 AM on October 5, 2006


I like the concept here, not so sure about the execution. THe message here is this:

Gay men - AIDS isn't something that just happens - it is (most often) the result of certain sexual behaviors. It is in your best interest, and the best interest of the community at large, to cease these behaviors. If you do not, you are responsible for the consequences.

But that is awful copy for a billboard or print ad. The challenge is to come up with something short with a lot of punch, that says all that stuff up there. Readers need to be able to "get it" in about 1.5 seconds or they will not read the rest. Hence the "gay disease" concept.

Anyway, this is effective advertising in its own way, but I can understand the backlash. Here's the kicker - the backlash will help these guys spread their message well beyond the direct reach of the advertising. This campaign will be deemed a success, IMO.
posted by Mister_A at 9:36 AM on October 5, 2006


Please. This campaign is about saying something that is patently untrue, and that they admit in the small print is untrue, in order to create controversy. That untrue thing is highly offensive to people who are dying from a degenerative disease and who already are stigmatised by society. There are ways to warn gay people about HIV without saying it's a gay disease.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 9:39 AM on October 5, 2006


Maybe they mean gay as in "sucky," like, "The death tax is gay!" and "No WMDs in Iraq? That's so gay." and "I was planting at bomb site B and some gay fag in the tunnel got a totally bullshit headshot on me wtf h4x sooo gay." and "If we not only focus attention on the undeniable problem of AIDS in the homosexual community but also launch a campaign that implies homosexuals 'own' the disease and it is exclusive to homosexuals and then some straight black woman chills a little on worrying about it and using protection and gets HIV, that's fucking gay!"
posted by thirteenkiller at 9:42 AM on October 5, 2006 [2 favorites]


I'm gonna sound like my grandma:

I 'member when Gay used to mean "bright and happy." Noth'n bright and happy about The Aids. Which you can get from toilet seats.
posted by tkchrist at 9:46 AM on October 5, 2006


This campaign is about saying something that is patently untrue, and that they admit in the small print is untrue, in order to create controversy.

By epidemiological region, AIDS afflicts different populations. Statistically, that much is true, and insofar as the campaign is targeting one region and not another, it is not "lying" in the classical sense.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:47 AM on October 5, 2006


Well the reason people don't take it as seriously is that (in America) it's not the death sentence it used to be. Meds have guaranteed that many with HIV can have a pretty normal, stable, and surprisingly long life. It's diluted the threat of AIDS into something more manageable and abstract. So now there's a growing political schism in gay communities between HIV positive and negative agendas.

You can get a sense of this from the hale, hardy men kayaking and rock-climbing in all the ads for HIV/AIDS meds that you see everywhere here in NYC.

It's a HUGE double-edged sword though, because on one hand, people with AIDS want very much to be accepted as functional members of the gay community and not be stigmatized or discriminated against, or turned into political pariahs. Hence all the PR effort to emphasize their exuberance, vitality, and longevity. They are "living with", not "dying from".

On the other hand, by allowing the softening the impact of HIV within the community, gays wind up provoking ad campaigns like these.
posted by hermitosis at 9:47 AM on October 5, 2006


You can get a sense of this from the hale, hardy men kayaking and rock-climbing in all the ads for HIV/AIDS meds that you see everywhere here in NYC.

I always assumed they were made by the same agency that made all those kickboxing-herpes-women ads a few years back.
posted by jonmc at 9:50 AM on October 5, 2006


Well, from a purely logical standpoint it's a defensible statement. But efforts to destigmatize the disease help greatly in things like getting people tested. I heard recently that the group with the highest growth of aids infection was black women, women who may be turned off by this campaign or worse, think it isn't even a problem for them.

Campaigns targeting the gay community could be a good idea, but everyone is going to see these ads, if they put them on billboards or whatever
posted by delmoi at 9:53 AM on October 5, 2006


This campaign is about saying something that is patently untrue...

It's not patently untrue though. It is a huge problem in the gay community - and also in the larger community.

This campaign is directed to gay men. You'll notice that the billboard avoids saying "AIDS is a gay disease", although it does make the association with gay men via the photography. "AIDS Is a gay disease" is reserved for the print ad, which presumably appears in magazines with high gay readership (they also mention posters) - in any case, I would assume that this stronger language is used in more narrowly targeted ways vs the "softer" billboard.

This advertising is NOT directed at people with terminal HIV infection, from any cause, but rather at the large population of young gay men who are not taking necessary precautions to prevent HIV infection. As I said earlier, this provocative campaign is likely to achieve much broader reach because of the free PR that it's likely to generate, and in many ways, this campaign has been highly successful. People may not like it, but they will remember it.
posted by Mister_A at 9:56 AM on October 5, 2006


People may not like it, but they will remember it.

/gets to work on "Cancer is for White People" campaign
posted by riotgrrl69 at 9:58 AM on October 5, 2006


gets to work on "Cancer is for White People" campaign

riotgrrl69: THat's just silly. For one there is no "cancer" like there is AIDS. There are cancers. There are many, many cancers, some of which afflict African Americans, for instance, disproportionately.

From the American Cancer Society:

Overall, African Americans are more likely to develop and die from cancer than any other racial or ethnic population.

Source (PDF)

Try again, with facts.
posted by Mister_A at 10:04 AM on October 5, 2006


/gets to work on "Cancer is for White People" campaign

right after my 'Death Is For Dead People,' campaign.
posted by jonmc at 10:05 AM on October 5, 2006


Speaking as one who came out in the early 1980s, and who has withnessed the whole gamut of HIV-AIDS prevention efforts and publicity campaights, I doubt this campaign will be effective. It's just going to piss people off, and then they'll tune it out. I know it me pissed me off, not to mention my partner who has been HIV+ since 1984.
posted by Robert Angelo at 10:07 AM on October 5, 2006


Actually, where I come from around 90% of cancer patients are white. The rest are an unfortunate statistical blip and can be ignored for our purposes. Plus, my campaign will be targeting predominantly white journals such as the Financial Times and Retro Gaming Monthly.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 10:12 AM on October 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


I think we had a thread within the last 30 about AIDS and the black community, the "down low" etc., but I'm not sure -- maybe a link back, O MetaFilter $DEITYs?

At the risk of starting a flamefest, I submit that the larger American community won't give a rat's about black African-American women dying of AIDS until black men start noticing a shortage of black women and getting predictably and understandably outraged about it. And by then it'll be far, far too late for everybody.
posted by pax digita at 10:23 AM on October 5, 2006


Dear riotgrrl,

If you live in a predominately white area, and most of your patients with cancer are white, you would be kind of a stupid fuckwit if you produced ads with nothing but African-Americans and Latinos in them. I don't think that would stop you though.

If, on the other hand you wanted to educate African-americans about colon cancer, you would probably publish in media that african-american adults, age 45+, are likely to read. Get it? The execution is all about the target audience, and that is the crux of good advertising.

Here, the target audience is gay men in their 20's who don't remember the initial AIDS outbreak and attendant hysteria. The media buy is targeted to those gay men in their 20's, as is the creative execution.

Finally, do you really think the gay community is non-confrontational or shies from controversy? I don't think that this campaign is going to convince a bunch of people to start hating gays all of a sudden, nor will it convince drug users that it's OK to share needles, nor will it produce a nosedive in the number of people going in for AIDS tests. People avoid AIDS tests because they are terrified that they might have AIDS, not because they're pretty sure they're not gay, and hence protected somehow.
posted by Mister_A at 10:25 AM on October 5, 2006


I plan to run a "Scuba and Breathing Gear are for Suckers" campaign and target it exclusively at people who climb Mount Everest and go diving, since 99.9999999999999% of the world lives under 8000 m and above sea level. Any other message would be dishonest to those mountain climbers and underwater explorers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:25 AM on October 5, 2006


Blazecock Pileon writes "the fact is that 'condom fatigue' and, for lack of better terminology, cheerful retroviral therapy propaganda that is directed towards gays and lesbians by pharmaceutical companies, have both contributed to a sense of either defeat or invincibility in the GLBT community. "

I think there's another factor that gets discussed too little, in part because it's really difficult to discuss it well, and that's the move toward, for want of a better word, "normalcy," as the LGBTQQI poltical position. By that I mean the move away from a culture based on public, promiscuous and anonymous sex that was a large part of the self-identification for a lot of gay men during the start of the epidemic. The push for gay marriage is a great example of this, something impossible not to support for any intelligent person interested in justice, but the message, especially as carried by people like Andrew Sullivan, risks dividing gay men into two groups: those who want a "normal, married life" and those who don't want to "play by the rules." It then becomes very much harder to have frank discussions about safer sex, when the public political face of the community is arguing that gay marriage is a legitimate political idea and that gay men "want the same things heterosexual couples do." [All of these quotes are meant to signify the implied message rather than the actual phrasing.]

Michael Warner talks about this in his book The Trouble With Normal, and makes, I think, a convincing argument that the current disregard for safer sex practices is at least partly an understandable reaction to the political choices made by the major gay rights organizations in the past decade.
posted by OmieWise at 10:25 AM on October 5, 2006


And just for clarification purposes, the fastest growing group with HIV in the USA is heterosexual African American women. Usually the wives or girlfriends of IVDUs.
posted by OmieWise at 10:27 AM on October 5, 2006


What really pisses me off is the AIDS activists I've heard in Vancouver who fight against informing, by health officials, of the people who have had sexual contact with the AIDS-infected.

Here's a hint for these people: The stigma of it being public knowledge that you have AIDS is a whole lot less important than the possibility of more people contracting it and dying.

I could just freaking smack these people.
posted by Kickstart70 at 10:37 AM on October 5, 2006


this is a long running debate began in 1989 by sebastian bach wearing his "aids kills fags dead" t-shirt. and his apology of (i'm paraphrasing) "i guess it's not cool, i'd be pissed if someone wore a shirt that said "cancer, kills grandma's dead" cause i loved my grandma."
posted by andywolf at 10:39 AM on October 5, 2006


That is the least of Sebastian Bach's offenses, Andywolf
posted by Mister_A at 10:41 AM on October 5, 2006


Michael Warner talks about this in his book The Trouble With Normal, and makes, I think, a convincing argument that the current disregard for safer sex practices is at least partly an understandable reaction to the political choices made by the major gay rights organizations in the past decade.
posted by OmieWise at 1:25 PM EST on October 5 [+] [!]


Omie, can you paraphrase Warner's argument? It seems to me like everyone -- normal or not -- probably wants to avoid getting sick.
posted by footnote at 10:42 AM on October 5, 2006


It then becomes very much harder to have frank discussions about safer sex, when the public political face of the community is arguing that gay marriage is a legitimate political idea and that gay men "want the same things heterosexual couples do."

I agree that this idea is difficult to discuss, if only because "normalcy" of sexual activity is so hard to nail down — if popular culture is any measure, on the whole, self-identified straight couples "fuck around" outside their relationships much more than they like to admit, too often to claim that a "normal, married life" really means just that.

From a disease standpoint, I could easily ask why any discussion of this behavior would be taboo? To that end, I'd even argue that the reason that HIV rates are increasing for heterosexual AA women is because a number of complex cultural reasons, some of which boil down simply to innate hatred of gays and bisexuals inculcated through religious and artistic expression in the AA community.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:45 AM on October 5, 2006


Blazecock -

If I'm reading you right, you are suggesting that many members of the African-american community are already seeing this as a "gay" disease. I think you're right on that score. I also think most people know, intellectually, that you can get AIDS if you're straight, but that doesn't preclude the 'gay disease" perception, and may even contribute to the homophobia directed at the gay community.

If I'm reading you right.
posted by Mister_A at 10:50 AM on October 5, 2006


"Overall, African Americans are more likely to develop and die from cancer than any other racial or ethnic population.

Source (PDF)

Try again, with facts."

Cancer is for black people?

(Mister_A, are you trying to prove that a sense of humor is not for your people? You not only missed the analogy when publications were mentioned, but you obviously missed the glaring smirk riotgrrl's comment was posted with. Pedantry is not its own reward.)
posted by klangklangston at 10:54 AM on October 5, 2006


I don't know about L.A., but at least in NYC the attack on this problem has been to try to stem the tide of meth in the gay community, which at least comes closer to the source of the problem. This is simply inflammatory, and does nothing to convince irresponsible people that they aren't immune or invincible in some way.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:56 AM on October 5, 2006


and may even contribute to the homophobia directed at the gay community

I don't know. Many cultures promoted homophobia long before HIV/AIDS came around, including socially conservative and dominant threads of AA religious and artistic culture. If you want to hate someone and invalidate their humanity, you'll use whatever excuses are at hand. If HIV was eliminated tomorrow, the attitudes would remain mostly intact.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:56 AM on October 5, 2006


Klang -

I like humor, as long as it's funny. I don't like this silly knee- jerk outrage over anything marginally "offensive" or controversial.

The point of my first couple of posts is that this campaign is not for everyone- it's targeted toward young homosexual men, not 40-yr-old African-american women whose boyfriends share needles with HIV+ people. The campaign says: "Young gay men: AIDS is still your problem." That does not mean that it's not a problem for teenage prostitutes in Bangkok, but that's not who the ads are for.
posted by Mister_A at 11:06 AM on October 5, 2006


BP- Yes, good points, especially in the second paragraph. My point wasn't that "normal, married" life actually exists as such, but that it exists as enough of a (false) ideal to mean that in our culture we don't have conversations about the ways in which the assumptions in the ideal (monogamy) lead to concrete harms (HIV).

Warner's argument is basically as I presented it, that is, that there was, at the beginning of the HIV epidemic, a gay male culture centered on sex which was not monolithic, but was prevalent enough to make it a matter of ease within the community to have a public conversation about how to change that culture in order to prevent the spread of HIV. It wasn't that the messages were any harder then to promote, but that there was a context within which to promote them. Warner (who is gay), recalls every bar in the Village having a basket of free condoms available for the use of frisky patrons. Subsequently, and for a variety of reasons, the political framing of gay acceptance began to center on gay marriage. In order to effectively do that, the acceptable behaviors as determined by the political agenda of the community for gay men changed. Basically, Warner argues that in order to make the idea of gay marriage palatable the argument became: "we're sexually, and in terms of relationships, just like you hetero people." This necessarily cast anyone who wasn't, who had different sexual mores, outside the political pale for mainstream gay political organizations. It also changed the focus of the community as a whole, from how do we keep ourselves safe to how do we win acceptance for gay marriage.

As I said above, Warner's is a tricky argument to make because, of course, we should support gay marriage. The second part of his argument, however, is that there were other choices that could have been made, more inclusive choices, which did not rely on an argument of and for heterosexual normativity. For instance, there could have been a push for inclusive civil unions that had nothing to do with sex or gender one way or the other. Ultimately, though, what Warner argues is that once you exclude from the acceptable community people who have a different set of sexual mores, a set which was, again, arguably, much more prevalent (or at least acknowledged as such) during the 70s and early 80s, it's pretty hard to discuss safer sex with as much frankness as you once did. For one thing, the message can too easily get moralized in precisely the way that HIV was moralized at the start of the epidemic, and there's a big difference in affect between saying: WE have to stop this behavior and replace it with another that's almost as fun because otherwise WE'LL DIE; and saying: YOU need to stop that crazy barebacking, or you're gonna DIE (and incidentally, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU THINKING?).
posted by OmieWise at 11:06 AM on October 5, 2006


I have noticed that in the gay community, there is sometimes a more laxed attitude about it. A lot of it, I notice, is that there is a believe that AIDS is "difficult to catch." I've heard that uddered out of the mouths of so many of my gay and bi friends.
"Oh," they say, "you have to be doing something really messed up to actually GET the virus." Then they go out and have unprotected sex and say it's alright because they didn't play rough.
posted by Holy foxy moxie batman! at 11:09 AM on October 5, 2006


Projecting harmful misconceptions at the general public in an attempt get the attention of a specific subgroup of "people who know better than to believe the overt message" is extraordinarily misguided.
posted by zennie at 11:19 AM on October 5, 2006


"I like humor, as long as it's funny."

Whatever, Cap'n Tautology.

"I don't like this silly knee- jerk outrage over anything marginally "offensive" or controversial."

Wha? Man, you must have the special goggles on that allow you to see all sorts of extra words, because that reading is totally unsupported by the comment text.

And to get my juvenile snark out—

Your mom is a gay disease.
posted by klangklangston at 11:22 AM on October 5, 2006


Y'know, no one "gets infected" with AIDS. People are exposed to and infected with HIV. AIDS is a syndrome present in people whose immune systems have been compromised by the HI virus. This may appear to be pedantry, but I think its important to recognize these distinctions, especially if one wants to make any kind of persuasive argument about the disease.
posted by OmieWise at 11:25 AM on October 5, 2006


Dearest Klang:

Hey bud, here's what my super goggle thingies enabled me to see:

Please. This campaign is about saying something that is patently untrue, and that they admit in the small print is untrue, in order to create controversy. That untrue thing is highly offensive to people who are dying from a degenerative disease and who already are stigmatised by society. There are ways to warn gay people about HIV without saying it's a gay disease.

I call these awesome goggles "eyes". Also, thanks for calling me to task on missing the analogy in a post that was yet to be posted:
You not only missed the analogy when publications were mentioned...

Which I assume refers to this:
...my campaign will be targeting predominantly white journals such as the Financial Times and Retro Gaming Monthly.

Take note: stuff nearer the bottom was posted after stuff nearer the top.

/end pissing contest.
posted by Mister_A at 11:29 AM on October 5, 2006


This campaign is pretty f*ed up, counterproductive and inflammatory. Even if those are the numbers in LA (7% gay/bi to 75% of all HIV+ infectees gay/bi), that does not mean that HIV per se becomes a gay/bi issue. What would be an interesting number is how many of that 7% is that 75%. If it amounts to very few people, that may not be even statistically significant.

Reinforcing what navelgazer said above, and has been hinted by the progenitors of this campaign, the issue is more meth use than non-heterosexuality. Why should meth use become a 'gay/bi' issue in LA, simply because it is popular among the gay/bi population? Are there signs around the midwest--where meth is a real scourge--stating "Meth is a straight issue" or "Meth is a biblical issue"?

Why should a non-meth-using, sexually responsible gay or bi person be stigmatized all over again with the indiscriminate brush of sexually irresponsible behavior? Just to protect those who are knowingly playing a sexual form of Russian Roulette!? That's the equivalent of insisting every gay person ought to care about gay marriage, even if they have no interest in emulating a hetero-norm.

If someone barebacks, that is their choice. Just as we have the freedom to live, we ought to respect people's freedom to die or to live, or more accurately, to live with a disease, that many increasingly are living with.
posted by Azaadistani at 11:54 AM on October 5, 2006


Sorry Typo: ... to die, or more accuractely, to live ...
posted by Azaadistani at 11:56 AM on October 5, 2006


Yes, and?
That doesn't undermine the strength of her retort re: Cancer, nor did your subsequent insults.
Take note: posting order isn't the reason your replies were retarded, and that's even given that I agree generally with you about the larger issue.
posted by klangklangston at 11:56 AM on October 5, 2006


/expands body showing dominate
posted by Mister_A at 11:57 AM on October 5, 2006


Omie, can you paraphrase Warner's argument? It seems to me like everyone -- normal or not -- probably wants to avoid getting sick.

I see on preview that Ormie's answered that question, but the Amazon.com link also summarizes the argument quite well, in a different way: The Trouble with Normal argues passionately against same-sex marriage, but here's the twist: not because it denigrates the institution of marriage, but because it perpetuates the cultural shame attached to sex between consenting but unmarried adults. When gay men and lesbians try to claim that they're just like "normal folk," Michael Warner writes, they do a profound disservice to other queer folk who choose not to live in monogamous or matrimonial bliss and who believe that the solution to being stigmatized for your sexuality is not to pretend it doesn't exist. Same-sex marriage advocates, he continues, often seem to be willfully blind to the cultural ramifications of their position, viewing marriage as "an intensified and deindividuated form of coming out." They don't seem to realize that if society validates their relationships, other types of relationships will by necessity be invalidated. (He also makes a strong case for the fight against sexual shame's being more than a queer issue, citing 1998's presidential impeachment crisis: "[Bill] Clinton, certainly, was not the first to discover how hard it is in this culture to assert any dignity when you stand exposed as a sexual being.") Extending his analysis, Warner shows how the championing of married gays and lesbians as "normal" is part of the same cultural climate that leads to "quality of life" crackdowns against queercentric businesses--as is already underway in New York City--and a deliberate sabotage of safer-sex education that puts millions of Americans at continued risk of exposure to HIV. Warner's precise, straightforward argument is enlivened by numerous sharp zingers, as when he accuses Andrew Sullivan of "breath[ing] new and bitchy life into Jesuitical pieties" about sexual morality. The Trouble with Normal is a bold, provocative book that forces readers to reconsider what sexual liberation really means. --Ron Hogan

Looking at it at a psychological rather than political level, cultural normalization of something, such as homosexual sex, makes it boring. It's no longer a rebellion, no longer a core component of personal identity. No longer a people apart, no longer special. While it is obviously sensible to appreciate that it is a hell of a good thing to not be persecuted, it also means the loss of comradery in persecution.

There are clear analogies there to other social groups, but a group sexual identity is fraught with its a poweful feedback mechanism, sexual pleasure. If it is a turn-on to be transgressive, and the sense of transgressiveness is lost, that person may have gained something (life stability perhaps), but at the cost of sexual pleasure. A painful bargain.

The logical extension of this argument is that the forbidden fruit, the frisson of transgression, informs all kinds of deviant pleasure-seeking behaviour. Put that way it's almost a tautology. But at this place and time in our culture, raising that argument looks to me like a clearly signposted path into a trench war of competing political agendas. One of the mortar bombs of that trench war is this: human cultures require identifiable transgressors. This is an age-old theme in history and in stories, a core component of human group psychology. If we were to live in peace and harmony with one another, we'd become uncomfortable with that, and pick a subgroup of ourselves to be the bad people, blamed for the troubles of the group, however small those troubles are, to a degree far beyond their actual influence.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 12:02 PM on October 5, 2006


That's a pretty US-centric (or perhaps I should say Western-centric) view of the disease. I'm sure a lot of folks in Africa would tend to disagree.

Actually, an ad like this would be part of the problem in Africa. While mostly heterosexuals have the disease there, it's so widespread because people refuse to get tested or get treatment or use condoms because... it's supposed to be a gay disease, and nobody wants that stigma attached to them.

Of course, you could say similar things about America in the 80s. Reagan's administration couldn't have cared less about AIDS research as long as it was purely a gay problem.
posted by fungible at 12:35 PM on October 5, 2006


HIV isn't gay, it's retarded.
posted by rocketman at 12:40 PM on October 5, 2006


Also, I can't quite get what this ad wants gay men to do. If Bill Cosby tells black men to shape up, there's a chance one of them may act on it. If this ad tells HIV+ gay men to "Own" their disease, what are they supposed to do? Go to med school? Design better condoms?
posted by fungible at 12:40 PM on October 5, 2006


Here's what the people behind the ad want you to do:

* Break the silence on HIV by talking with your friends about the disease
* Develop your own plan to stay safe if you’re HIV-negative or to not expose others to the virus if you are HIV-positive
* Openly discuss drug use, including crystal meth, and how it contributes to HIV infection
* Support your friends in their safer sex behaviors
* Discourage your friends from engaging in risky behaviors
* Urge everyone you know to learn their status by getting tested regularly
* Support the health and well-being of HIV-positive gay and bisexual men
* Fight the stigma that forces many HIV-positive men to hide their disease
* Get involved politically to let your elected representatives know that HIV continues to disproportionately affect our community and that funding for effective prevention programs is badly needed.
posted by Mister_A at 12:43 PM on October 5, 2006


OmnieWise and aeschenkarnos: Well said.

I think one of the things that happened is that the early gay rights movement came on the heels of second-wave feminism that cast a critical eye on the institution of marriage and monogamy. So when I first came out as bi back in the early '90s there was definitely this sense that the bi movement and the gay rights movement wasn't just about equal and parallel conservative structures in which gay sex is "ok" but about sexual liberation in general. That is, sexual liberation not just for married and monogamous gay men and lesbians, but also for middle-aged leather-bears in open relationships as well.

And definitely there was a sense that federal and local governments were not going to do squat about HIV or AIDS. Bush found a reason to be out of town for one of the larger gay rights marches on Washington. So you had gay and lesbian groups putting on the sexually explicit safer sex seminars, and talking about risk.

At the same time, there was an emergent radical queer theory which argued that systematic discrimination against lesbigays is a product of pervasive heterosexism. This was analogous to radical feminist critiques of sexism as one of the base values of many human cultures. Unfortunately, I think the "born-this-way" camp and the focus on gay marriage has undermined much of the radicalism that used to drive queer rights.

I personally think that the abandonment of this radicalism is going to be bad in the long run. The gay rights movement spends too much time exclaiming that they are not a threat to the institution of marriage, and not enough time questioning whether that institution should be threatened.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:46 PM on October 5, 2006


This idea of "owning" AIDS strikes a chord on a few levels (for me anyway).

First, there's the idea of taking personal responsibility and "owning" it in the sense of controlling it via abstinence from higher-risk behaviors.

Then there's the sense of "owning" it as a part of the gay culture. AIDS is a part of that culture, and AIDS activism was the public face of the gay community in the 80s and 90s.

And I wonder, in this age of the interweb, if there's not a little sly reference to "pwning" AIDS in the sense of thoroughly kicking its ass.
posted by Mister_A at 12:59 PM on October 5, 2006


Wait... so now monogamy is bad because it's not an endoresment of promiscuity?

I mean, I'm all in favor of promiscuity and all, but come on, not at the expense of basic human rights.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:01 PM on October 5, 2006


Navelgazer: Wait... so now monogamy is bad because it's not an endoresment of promiscuity?

No, the social institution of monogamy is bad because participating in one type of relationship gives you preferential treatment, and participating in another type of relationship results in systematic discrimination.

Bringing this back around to the main topic, taking ownership of an issue in this case would mean recognizing that lesbigays can't reliably depend on institutions outside of their community to address this problem.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:07 PM on October 5, 2006


Navelgazer writes "Wait... so now monogamy is bad because it's not an endoresment of promiscuity?

"I mean, I'm all in favor of promiscuity and all, but come on, not at the expense of basic human rights."


Jesus, Navelgazer, expend just a little bit more effort than that. I mean, I'm not trying to tell you how to live your life, and I'm not sure what exactly your comment was directed at, but if it had anything to do with the summaries of Michael Warner's book it was so lazy and sloppy and mis-directed as to make me seriously question your intelligence. If you want to rebut the arguments Warner makes, or more accurately, their summaries here, then, by all means, do that. I'm not entirerly convinced by them myself. But everytime someone responds as you have here, I think he must be on to something, at the very least in his underlying message that we've perhaps not completely thought through the implications of pushing for legal gay marriage.

Talking about "basic human rights" in reference to marriage is idiotic anyway, since what we're discussing in this regard is a legal construct.
posted by OmieWise at 1:16 PM on October 5, 2006


The "Own It, End It" web site of the campaign's sponsor has this to say:

Where are these ads running?

This campaign specifically targets gay and bisexual men through full page ads in publications serving our community, posters in gay bars, and billboards in West Hollywood.


However, it does not name specific publications. Are there any LA MeFites who can tell us which ones?

I'm thinking that if they are advertising in Frontiers, the Gay and Lesbian Times, or anything like that, then they are reaching a much larger group of gays and lesbians than their intended demographic.
posted by Robert Angelo at 1:21 PM on October 5, 2006


I don't think it's a gay disease. There is really nothing festive about it at all.

MORONS.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 1:38 PM on October 5, 2006


i think its an african disease, cuz it started in africa.
and a lot of africans have it.
posted by obeygiant at 1:51 PM on October 5, 2006


Way to alienate heterosexual black women: the population with the most quickly increasing HIV rate in America.
posted by honeydew at 2:04 PM on October 5, 2006


"/expands body showing dominate"

I got nothin'.
Sorry, that was just hilarious.
posted by klangklangston at 2:07 PM on October 5, 2006


Stupidity is also a venereal disease
posted by elpapacito at 2:31 PM on October 5, 2006


The sponsors of the campaign also have an online forum for discussion.
posted by Robert Angelo at 2:45 PM on October 5, 2006


HIV can be BOTH a gay disease AND a heterosexual african american women's disease. Is our children learning logic??!
posted by footnote at 3:06 PM on October 5, 2006


I was at a sexual health fair in uni yesterday and took part in a "Sexual Health Wheel of Fortune" - spin the wheel, answer a question, get a prize.

The question was: "What causes the highest rate of transmission of AIDS in the world?" (or something along those lines)

Both the questioner and myself were surprised to find out that the answer was mother-to-child transmission. Apparently there's enough of that happening in Africa for it to be the #1 cause. hmm.
posted by divabat at 5:24 PM on October 5, 2006


"I think, a convincing argument that the current disregard for safer sex practices is at least partly an understandable reaction to the political choices made by the major gay rights organizations in the past decade."

Nice try at blaming the victim ... trying to negotiate the gauntlet without getting jailed, electro-convulsed, committed, deprived of housing, job opportunities, and all the other techniques of repression aimed at them in the past century.

I'd recommend that disregard for safer-sex practices in all segments of the modern world is part and parcel of the whole climate of repression around the subject, and the refusal of a sub-group of Americans to see to it that children are educated ... at home or at at school ... about their sexuality, and how to practice it.

To the extent that AIDS (the first victim is now thought to have died in Africa in 1959) has spread needlessly, non-gay victims can thank anti-gay social machinations, badjacketing, and deliberately maintained ignorance as major contributors to their misfortune.

In short, there's plenty of blame to go around. The answer is to stop blaming, and to take practical and compassionate steps to inform and enable everyone. Argument is just another diversion contributing to more fatalities ... and another attempt by people trying to justify their bigotry.
posted by Twang at 7:26 PM on October 5, 2006


"This disease hits gay men very very hard and the community cannot sit back and let it happen, AGAIN."

"The question you have to ask yourselves is, "Should the gay community turn their attention inward in such a public fashion to combat this epidemic, or should it be a private matter within the community so as to avoid national stereotyping?"

I don't know if my Gay Community Membership Card got lost in the post, but I keep missing these Gay Community AGMs where we make all the decisions about how we avoid "national stereotyping" and whether or not we "sit back and let it happen" (arf, etc). Do we also get to share dance routines and skincare tips?
posted by creeky at 12:00 AM on October 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


"I think, a convincing argument that the current disregard for safer sex practices is at least partly an understandable reaction to the political choices made by the major gay rights organizations in the past decade."

Nice try at blaming the victim ... trying to negotiate the gauntlet without getting jailed, electro-convulsed, committed, deprived of housing, job opportunities, and all the other techniques of repression aimed at them in the past century.


Nice misdirection.

We got a dozen or more years of "AIDS IS NOT A GAY MAN'S DISEASE" broadcast at full volume, and while this is certainly true, it doesn't quite explain the demographics, does it? In fact, you might say that it was misleading if not in strict fact then in spirit. If you are in charge of the political message for any group, and your group faces special dangers (regardless of whether or not others also face this danger in lesser proportions), it is your duty to emphasize that danger, not gloss over it.

I am not saying that from a "blame the victim" perspective, but a "if that were me and I got infected because the truth got lost in the message damn I'd be pissed off" perspective. And that's an understatement to be sure.
posted by dreamsign at 1:29 AM on October 6, 2006


This is ridiculous. In this day and age, if you get AIDS because of promiscuous unprotected sex you deserve what you get, gay or not.

So just because I'm gay I'm supposed to be alarmed that my "community" is striken with HIV and AIDS? Screw that. Idiots are not part of my community, and they can die of AIDS for all I care.

You can sit around and moan that gay people don't take AIDS seriously all you want, but there is no excuse for getting AIDS from unprotected sex anymore. There just isn't. Not in an educated and modern society as we have.

Why should I feel responsible? Why should I do something? Sorry, but calling a "gay disease" is not going to get you anywhere. I don't own SHIT.
posted by crypticgeek at 2:23 AM on October 6, 2006


Way to alienate heterosexual black women: the population with the most quickly increasing HIV rate in America

honeydew, while that's true in the US at large, the statistics they link to on the campaign's website show that this is not true for LA. The vast majority of people who have contracted HIV in LA in the past few years are men who have sex with men ("MSMs" in public health lingo.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:34 AM on October 6, 2006


The campaign, to my eyes, attemps to claim it as an issue without exclusivity. Yes, you can interpret "AIDS is a gay disease" to mean that AIDS is exclusively found among gay men, but that's not the intent or the common usage. I could say "Chicken pox is a childhood disease" all day long but no one would be offended -- despite the fact that there are still a number of people who have chicken pox for the first time as adults.

The fact is that few diseases aren't "everyone" diseases -- AIDS is just more likely among the prosmiscuous, IV drug users, and gay males. If you fall into one of those groups, AIDS is your disease, the disease that you are more likely to have than others. It's like there's a little package of HIV somewhere with your name on it because of who you are, and facing up to that is only going to make awareness more likely.
posted by mikeh at 6:44 AM on October 6, 2006


Mikeh, perhaps this is just really a crisis on an individual level, and this is why these campaigns are doomed to fail. Because ultimately each individual feels differently about his/her sexuality and likelihood of HIV contraction.

For example, I bristle at reading sentences like: "If you fall into one of those groups, AIDS is your disease, the disease that you are more likely to have than others."

Because though I may be a gay male, I know for a fact that I have less chance of catching HIV than my 27-year-old straight female friend, who shared with me that she doesn't use condoms and that having the guy pull out is a perfectly acceptable form of birth control. I have adjusted my habits to the reality of the situation, and she hasn't. So why do I need to "own" this disease and claim it as my issue? Because of the fact that some gays may be more likely to have the disease than some straight people just doesn't happen to play as well on a bulletin board?
posted by hermitosis at 7:17 AM on October 6, 2006


I could say "Chicken pox is a childhood disease" all day long but no one would be offended -- despite the fact that there are still a number of people who have chicken pox for the first time as adults.

If chicken pox was spread by unsafe sex or drug use, and if there was a large section of society that didn't know any children and held negative views about them, then that'd be an inspired comparison.

It's like there's a little package of HIV somewhere with your name on it because of who you are.


Is there? Do I get that in the post with my Gay Community members' card? Or do I have to collect Kylie albums and send off the tokens?
posted by creeky at 7:44 AM on October 6, 2006


I've always thought that there is no such thing as a "Gay Community." It's a group a communities and individuals who have little in common beyond some aspects of their sexual orientation. I remember so many stories in the gay rags, over the years, about the internecine squabbles within and among activist groups (and jus' plain people like me) who have different motivations, needs, and agendas.

My contention is that the ad campaign is distributed far too broadly. It probably would be more effective for the LA Center to do geo-targeted banner ads on manhunt.net, m4m-world..com, adam4adam, etc, etc, etc.
posted by Robert Angelo at 8:39 AM on October 6, 2006


Because of the fact that some gays may be more likely to have the disease than some straight people just doesn't happen to play as well on a bulletin board?

So epidemiology is just a wasted science? Good to know head-in-sand disease is equally distributed.
posted by dreamsign at 8:44 AM on October 6, 2006


hermitosis: Mikeh, perhaps this is just really a crisis on an individual level, and this is why these campaigns are doomed to fail. Because ultimately each individual feels differently about his/her sexuality and likelihood of HIV contraction.

The disagreement I have with this is that disease epidemics are not just a crisis on an individual level, but a crisis involving culture, economics and politics as well. It seems to be common sense to target the populations most at risk.

Parents are bombarded with information about childhood vaccinations. Young heterosexual adults targeted with information about birth control and HPV. Health care workers are absolutely bombarded with information about the current year's flavor of influenza and antibiotic resistant bugs. Although men can get breast cancer and be victims of domestic violence, the information campaigns target women who are disproportionately at risk. In other countries, the information campaigns regarding HIV don't target gay men, but straight men who patronize prostitutes while working away from home. Meanwhile, prostitutes in many countries have organized their own prevention strategies. For that matter, I see anti-smoking ads now that target Spanish-speaking and African American populations that have been glanced over by mainstream PSAs.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:11 AM on October 6, 2006


This is all a secret plot orchestrated by the pharmaceutical cabal to expand the market for their wares.
posted by owhydididoit at 6:18 PM on October 7, 2006


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