I love this guy. I mean, before he would start the conversation with the reporter, he had to establish his foreskin status (uncut btw, yay!). The interviewer wanted to delve into the reasons and rationale behind such an interesting porn scenario and the responses were genuine, thought-provoking, and pretty spot on. Should anyone depict and defend a guy taking double digit numbers of HIV+ loads on screen with the premise of bug-chasing? I mean, hell, even as a therapist and sex educator I still thought active bug chasing was largely mythic, like a cheap drink at the Abbey, or at the least, rather antiquated. Is it fetishistic? Is it sexual reality? The topic for this little interview and the topic on everyone’s mind is: what about the HIV? What about PrEP and viral loads and safety and undetectable status and cost and health…and what is too much of a good thing? While many individuals will bristle and kvetch about this man’s stance, he is actually vocalizing a distinct undercurrent to our fight for sexual autonomy. The undercurrent very well may be the fear of a truly debaucherous, free new world without this “god” like moralization and punishment raining down on us in the form of HIV and moral persecution.
For the past 30 years gay men have been living under the specter of fear. HIV is gonna get us. It’s going to end our lives, our relationships, our happiness and our future, and for years it did just that. We fought back with condoms (rather ineffectually), and now we’re fighting back with biomedical interventions such as PrEP, PeP, and TasP, and some of the most shocking reactions have been to shut up, use a condom and continue living as sexual second class citizens.
I remember when my 24-year-old bf came up HIV positive. This was 2004 and how much has changed in a decade has been quite amazing. Gay marriage/repeal of DOMA, out NFL players, bearded ladies winning music competitions, and people openly talking about HIV and viral loads. I remember telling my beautiful boyfriend that I didn’t really want him to go on the meds. That they were really harsh on the body, created resistance, and that until something better came along that he should work on being the healthiest boy he could be before subjecting his body to the poisons of the pill. Only upon an AIDS diagnosis should he explore anti-retrovirals. That same rhetoric was recently uttered by the he-who-shall-not-be-named leader of AHF saying, “if something better than condoms comes along then I’m all for it, but this isn’t it” (regarding PrEP). The statistics don’t lie; the meds work, so use them if they’re appropriate for your sexual proclivities. The key difference in our sentiments regarding efficacy of HIV meds is that after 10 years of evolution and education, I have evolved from a condom only at all times stance to a Pro-PrEP, Pro-Slut (actually I was always pro-slut, no evolution there), condoms if you choose them, above-and-beyond-all-education-is-key stance.
And it really is. But with education often times comes more questions and a sudden, sinking realization that we didn’t know everything we thought we did. We are at a crossroads in the gay community. On one hand we are getting what we thought we always wanted; equality: replete with gay marriage and acceptable relationships that are smiled upon by the masses. And support from the unlikeliest of allies has come pouring in at an unprecedented rate. And on the other hand, we are getting all the trappings that come with equality: expectations of monogamy, bland responsibility of ridiculous levels of political correctness (cis-gender, really?), and a general dumbing down of what makes us sexual, intense, creative, and exciting individuals.
The more we march towards the concept of beige banal equality, the more we have to retain what made us the rainbow of amazing outliers in the first place. Paul Morris, the producer of Viral Loads, referenced that this porn wasn’t for everyone. And he’s right, it may not be something you are personally into, but it absolutely does not give you the right to judge it. These men had capacity to make the decisions, they consented to the filming of the scenes, and they communicated their desires. It becomes a very, very slippery slope: if you judge someone for guzzling loads of poz juice, someone will be only too eager to judge you for having sex with the lights on in the living room. As we fight people who are against PrEP and fight people trying to run headlong into our bedrooms and stop us from loving and fucking or putting asinine limitations on our sex, we also have to accept that some of the things they see when they tear the door off may be unsavory to their palate. And that’s awesome because that means you’re doing something right and they don’t get to say who, or what we do in the bedroom.
The outrage that comes from seeing a supposedly HIV negative man take countless HIV positive loads has been met with shock and awe. But what if there were no positive or negative? What if it was just guys having sex? Without condoms because they wanted to express how truly awesome gay sex is? What if we watched that porn for the hot guys and the sexy scenarios and the fantasy of being the center of a gang-bang? Would it be okay to watch it and jack off to it then? Not only without stigma, but with an absolute absence of judgment, knowing that it was normal. Knowing that having hot ass sex with multiple partners, because that’s what we wanted to do, was absolutely okay. To literally not be able to comprehend a stigmatizing view of sex between consenting adults, however they define that sex.
So long as there is shame being hurled at us from biblically blinded ass-hats and especially from our own brethren, we will not experience equality. And we need to realize, above and beyond anything, that our equality is not a one size fits and all and it does not have to fall under preconceived notions of what “should” be experienced, sexually or otherwise, and especially not based in heteronormative ideals. Whatever works for you and your relationship, you need to embrace it and fight for it. Also, support your fellow man on their journey and realize that it does none of us any good to stymie and stigmatize our glorious gay world and those that passionately partake in its raucous past-times. It is time to embrace our newfound and budding equality with a look to the freewheeling past. Pre-PrEP, pre HIV. I will not say we are post HIV. Far from it. With infection rates rising and the thankfully renewed discussion of best practices I’m hoping we are in the final stages of HIV; the last obnoxious death throes of a dying disease. But we are at a complicated provincial intersection without any stoplights and we all just got our driver’s license to wield mopeds. This is the time to support education, conversation, and above all embrace the power of non-judgment and our passionate past as we pave the wave for a truly remarkable present and new old future.