Pills & Pri­or­i­ties

GA Voice - - LGBT ATLANTA -

“We should not dis­card the safer sex strat­egy that saved thou­sands of lives, but nei­ther should we hes­i­tate to pull new trig­gers be­cause we are too em­bar­rassed to ad­mit that some gay men, like many peo­ple, en­joy sex with­out con­doms.”

Mar­riage is usu­ally fol­lowed by a hon­ey­moon, and noth­ing de­fines hon­ey­moons bet­ter than sex. With our move­ment in its post mar­riage-equal­ity glow, now feels like an ideal time to talk about gay sex.

It’s not some­thing LGBT rights groups are in­ter­ested in dis­cussing, as they weigh whether em­ploy­ment dis­crim­i­na­tion, school bul­ly­ing or de­fend­ing against “re­li­gious free­dom” leg­is­la­tion should suc­ceed mar­riage as our top pri­or­ity. In fair­ness, many LGBT in­di­vid­u­als are also un­com­fort­able shift­ing our move­ment’s gaze from the al­tar to the bed­room.

“I’m not sure sex with­out con­se­quences should be the thing we’re fight­ing for,” one of my best friends said as we were dis­cussing the mer­its of PrEP. “I see its ben­e­fits, but I strug­gle with ac­cept­ing that our main ar­gu­ment should be that whores can now be big­ger whores.”

PrEP is the com­mon name for an anti-HIV drug more for­mally known as Tru­vada, and its ben­e­fits are pro­found. Tru­vada has been shown to be more than 90 per­cent ef­fec­tive in pro­tect­ing against the dis­ease when taken daily by HIV-neg­a­tive men.

It is the most pow­er­ful weapon in HIV preven­tion since the con­dom, and it is tempt­ing to con­sider it a magic bullet that will fi­nally free gay men from the grip of Plague. When we were dy­ing, gay men and les­bians made sure la­tex was dis­trib­uted in bars, book­stores and com­mu­nity cen­ters and at pa­rades and porn shoots; now that we’re mar­ry­ing, there’s no par­al­lel com­mit­ment to make sure our pop­u­la­tion is armed with the most mod­ern life-sav­ing tool.

It is time to re­visit our old neme­sis. It’s time for us once again to de­clare war on HIV/AIDS, us­ing the savvy of the mar­riage equal­ity era, the des­per­ate pas­sion of the 1980s and 1990s, and the un­apolo­getic ethos of Stonewall and its af­ter­math.

We should not dis­card the safer sex strat­egy that saved thou­sands of lives, but nei­ther should we hes­i­tate to pull new trig­gers be­cause we are too em­bar­rassed to ad­mit that some gay men, like many peo­ple, en­joy sex with­out con­doms.

It’s a dif­fi­cult dis­cus­sion to ini­ti­ate fol­low- ing a mar­riage equal­ity cam­paign vested in por­tray­ing how nor­mal, bor­ing and vir­tu­ous gay and les­bian re­la­tion­ships are. Love won, not gay bare­back­ing.

Our com­mit­ment to de-sex­u­al­iz­ing our move­ment has ham­pered our progress, as even many peo­ple who sup­port the the­ory of same-sex mar­riage and LGBT equal­ity re­main squea­mish about most man­i­fes­ta­tions of ma­leon-male in­ti­macy, from kiss­ing to butt sex.

The right to fuck was an im­me­di­ate pri­or­ity for the cru­sade birthed by the Stonewall Ri­ots, be­fit­ting the broader sex­ual lib­er­a­tion at­ti­tudes of the 1970s. It’s tragic that our com­mu­nity’s sex­ual awak­en­ing co­in­cided with the on­set of AIDS, and that many of us have in­ter­nal­ized our op­po­nents’ mis­con­cep­tion that there was a cause-and-ef­fect dy­namic be­tween the two.

The LGBT re­ac­tion to the AIDS epi­demic was one of the most re­mark­able re­sponses to cri­sis in hu­man history, and laid the foun­da­tion for the so­cial and po­lit­i­cal might that brought about Oberge­fell v. Hodges. We tamed HIV/AIDS, but did not slay it, and it is time to com­mit our­selves to fin­ish­ing the job—with con­doms, PrEP and a re-in­vig­o­rated search for a cure.

It’s in­tim­i­dat­ing to stare down HIV/AIDS once again, and dis­qui­et­ing to ad­vo­cate on be­half of be­hav­ior that once killed us. But as we plot our next po­lit­i­cal bat­tle, many gay men re­main ex­posed to un­nec­es­sary risk, and our fail­ure to prep them with all avail­able pro­tec­tion is an aban­don­ment of our legacy.

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