More bad advice from the Manhunt “Cruise Director” Michael Alvear

You have to be a Manhunt member to read the Cruise Director posts, so I’m including it here – apologies for the long excerpt!

How Do I Overcome My Fear Of Having Sex?
By transferring your irrational fear of safe sex into a rational fear of unsafe sex.

Yo, Mike!
I had my first HIV test about two-and-a-half years ago. I’m sorry to say that I had it done because I was a bit “irresponsible” in my teen years. Glad to say my test came back NEGATIVE and ever since, promised myself I’d never have unprotected sex again. Unfortunately, that has not been 100% the case. I’ve had two more HIV tests since, both of which were a requirement at the companies I’ve worked at. I am once again thankful to say they were both negative.

However, the whole HIV-test process has taken a real emotional toll on me, since I have become terrified of having sex. Every time I meet I guy I’m scared to go near his dick, for fear I might catch something. The fact that condoms are not 100% safe makes me terribly uneasy and incapable of having a good, nice fuck.

Continue reading “More bad advice from the Manhunt “Cruise Director” Michael Alvear”

Prop 8 and Gay vs Black voters

The sting in the tail of last week’s Obama election happiness was the news that California had passed Proposition 8, a special ballot to amend the state constitution to abolish same sex marriage.  Almost immediately, social news sites like Reddit and blogging communities like Daily Kos focused their attention on CNN exit polling showing that 70% of black voters surveyed had voted to deny same sex couples the right to marry.

Apart from some thoughtful coverage this news unleashed a torrent of racist recrimination, mostly from gay men, some of it seriously ugly.  In response, DKos diarist Shannika [via Trevor] has offered a laundry list of demographic reasons why black voters couldn’t have carried Prop 8 to victory.  However, I feel this doesn’t really contradict the underlying misconception — that blacks somehow held the balance of power in the first place.

Now, my hero Rachel Maddow has bought into the debate in her own irreducibly intelligent style, inviting Princeton political scientist Melissa Harris-Lacewell on the program to discuss the issue.  (From 3:30 in the video.)  Harris-Lacewell makes the important point that anti-Prop 8 campaigners failed to reach out to communities of colour, where they could have argued the similarity between Prop 8 and the legislative ban on inter-racial marriage (which was only overturned by a court case in 1967).  She suggests it was an opportunity left begging: “African[-American]s understand the language of ‘separate but equal'”, and says one of the nice things about Obama’s resoundingly-effective grassroots strategy is that no demographic can henceforth be safely neglected.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

There’s one question that isn’t being asked much:  should we be fighting for marriage rights in the first place?  My heart goes out to queer Californians whose marriages have been left in legal limbo, and I sympathise with gay men and women who believe marriage is the last bastion of legal inequality.  Except that it isn’t.  I agree with Michael Warner’s analysis in The Trouble With Normal (1999) where he argues marriage is the tentpole for a social hierarchy that regulates everybody from the top (white middle-class married couples with children) down to the bottom (gay men and sex workers).

There’s something deeply unseemly about climbing on the heads of those sex workers to scrabble up to win access to the marriage club.  There’s something similar going on when 27% of GLBTI voters go for McCain, as if by endorsing a conservative they can put some distance between themselves and the bottom of that pile.  And there’s something really sad about some poor 19-year old kid who’s ashamed of sex and his sexuality thinking it will all just evaporate if he could  promise forever to someone equally-deluded with the State nodding its legal blessing.

Rattling bones

Two great moments took place in 1996. One was the famous Protease Moment, when scientists electrified the Vancouver AIDS Conference with the announcement of the first truly-effective HIV treatment protocol, using a combination of 3+ meds including a protease inhibitor. The other was an Australian social researcher, Gary Dowsett, standing up at the same conference saying the young men in his research study were post-AIDS. They had grown up and come out and learned how to have sex with HIV always in the background; it was nothing new, not a crisis, and didn’t form the centre of their gay existence.

One man in the audience was the gay writer Eric Rofes, and he got the significance of both moments immediately. Within two years Rofes had written and published one of the great classics, Dry Bones Breathe (Haworth, 1998). He castigates “AIDS Inc” for its insistent reliance upon a crisis mentality, and the failure of the “brain trust” to respond to those two great moments. At an AIDS org in SF, he sees all the classics* sitting on a bookshelf, but a staffer tells him nobody there has any time to read them. That sounds familiar, I thought, having worked for the AIDS council in my home state at a time when HIV infection rates were rising.

I had coffee on Friday with a colleague from a PLWHA org in another state who’s working on a project about what sector shorthand calls ‘interesting times’ – a constellation of trends including the normalisation of gay, the declining relevance of community, increasing UAI and serosorting, criminalisation, public health, the Internet, and so forth. It calls for an open mind about how all of these things interact in the current moment, but crisis thinking admits no subtlety and takes no prisoners; at some point in the past 11 years of the culture wars, advocacy became a blood sport.

By “crisis thinking” I don’t mean we’re all still running around waving our hands in the air, although I have seen that happen. I mean the strategic deployment of outrage in response to anyone who questions the norms underpinning the community-based response to HIV. The ever-percipient Rofes called the institutional actors on the conservative moral underpinnings of their insistence on the need for gay men to take personal responsibility for the epidemic, pointing to its continuity with a contemporary moral panic about sex.

That panic was still going strong eight years later, when I made it the focus of a 2006 conference paper on “Barebacking and Bugchasing: Images in a Jurisprudence of Desire”. Without question it underlies much of the argument for gay marriage and the criminalisation of HIV transmission. The problem for the HIV sector in Australia (and elsewhere) is that a full decade later most of our key decision-makers are still no closer to understanding the points Rofes made in 1998 and Dowsett made even earlier.

The Nuns Didn’t Do It

For years, there has been a robust counter-dialogue against the official position that HIV started to spread among humans following a single transmission event between an infected ape and a jungle butcher.

Skeptics point to the smallpox and polio vaccination missions conducted all throughout the Congo by nuns and nurses who used the same needle to vaccinate entire villages of people.

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) suggests the nuns didn’t do it.  Or they did no more than 0 to 6% of it. The rest, it says, either can’t be explained by the vaccination theory or is better explained by sexual or vertical (mother-child) transmission.  (Press release, 3 Jun 07)

Abstinence (Education) Doesn’t Work

Conservatives promote abstinence education using a simple syllogism. Abstinence means not having sex. If you’re not having sex, you can’t get pregnant or become positive. Of course, that’s treating abstinence education as abstinence in fact. They’re assuming the education is 100% effective. Now it’s official — abstinence is a crock.

WASHINGTON, April 14 (AP) — Students who participated in sexual abstinence programs were just as likely to have sex as those who did not, according to a study ordered by Congress. Continue reading “Abstinence (Education) Doesn’t Work”