Let me start this by saying I generally like Rich’s work and value his opinion. Let me also say that I’m a liberal who finds the trend toward shutting down of conversation by liberals to problematic at best, and an attack on a core liberal value at worst.
That said - I think the conversation around Quinto’s statements aren’t a good example of what that phenomenon. In his original quote, he said in no uncertain terms, that laziness was a factor in HIV transmission. I’m sorry, but that is horseshit. It’s that kind of stigmatizing language that makes the HIV crisis more difficult, not easier.
There’s a great piece in the Guardian today explaining some basics about that stigma:
Other unpopular opinion: Gay men fuck raw. A lot. Moralizing about it, shaming people about, calling people lazy idiots for doing it hasn’t brought infection rates down since the peak of the crisis. They have been pretty steady since the early 90’s, well after we knew what caused HIV and well before it became a chronic but wholly treatable condition.
Also, we need to look at the numbers: a VAST number people get HIV when they’re in committed relationships. There are also multiple studies of gay man that also shows the vast majority of gays didn’t use a condom the last time they had sex.
Compare this with the nonsense that you see on comment boards from gay men trying to tell us that they only moral way to have sex is with a condom. The purpose of organizations like ACT UP’s advocacy to get condoms on dicks wasn’t because it was morally better, it was to prevent people dying from a plague. The gay community was at war with a deadly virus and that was the only weapon we had at the time to fight it.
Now it’s not. Between Treatment as Prevention, and PrEP we have the tools in our toolbox to END AIDS in the next 15 years. That’s not pie in the sky, that’s simple fact.
This whole conversation about the moral way to have sex distracts us from what should REALLY be getting us angry. The very people who need HIV medication and PrEP most (communities of color, low income people, and sex workers) are exactly the ones that can’t access it because of cost.
The research that went into PrEP was almost fully funded from the NIH budget. Gilead’s profiteering off of public money at the expense of gay mens lives is the the real outrage here and our efforts and conversation are better focused there.
So in the interest of getting off my soapbox: let’s stop harassing other people for the way they have sex and direct that energy at the people who are actually killing gay men and communities of color around the world.
Thanks Rich for keeping the conversation going.