Why Are You Saying This, Rita Shahin?

(above Dr. Rita Shahin Associate Medical Officer for Toronto Public Health)

It makes no sense that Dr. Rita Shahin, Toronto’s associate medical officer of health is warning people about the problems with PrEP on CBC. Pre-exposure prophylaxis is a new drug that stops HIV negative people from being infected with HIV. The San Francisco AIDS Foundation tells us that if PrEP, if taken daily, it is 99% effective.

But Rita Shahin, in a recent article on CBC NEWS, says “People on PrEP … could be more likely to acquire STIs because they may not be using condoms.”

Technically, Shahin may be correct. But let’s look at Shahin’s facts. First of all, how many people are we talking about? The article tells us that “Toronto Public Health shows that in the nine months after PrEP was approved, reported cases of syphilis did go up seven per cent compared to the same period in 2015, rising from 534 to 573 confirmed cases.” But, how many of these cases were actually related to PrEP usage? No statistics are offered. And secondly, what percentage of people in Toronto are in danger here? We are talking about 39 cases in a city of 6,417,516 people. And these people are not in danger of dying of Syphilis, which is treatable and rarely fatal.

It’s important to note that in 2003 — before HIV infection began going down — there were 566 new cases of HIV infection in Toronto. In 2013 there were 400. The ‘nam aidsmap’ tells us that the life expectancy of people living with HIV is now 13 years shorter than those those who are HIV negative. AIDS is still a serious illness, and Toronto Public Health should be informing people about it HIV prevention, not criticizing people for protecting themselves.

Dear Rita Shahin — is this the time to be warning people against PrEP? Or is this the time to be telling people that at last they can protect themselves against AIDS by taking it?

Most straight people have never heard of PrEP, and some gay men are afraid of taking it because of the stigma attached to the drug (promiscuous gay men who take PrEP are sometimes labelled ‘Truvada whores’ by other gay men).

It’s certainly true that some see PrEP as a way of avoiding condom usage.  But the way to deal with this is to encourage the use of both preventative methods — not warn people off one of them.

Dr. Rita Shahin seems to be using the politics of fear — and manipulated statistics — in order to discourage people from taking a drug that stops the spread of HIV.

Why?

To see the original CBC article click on this link:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/prep-hiv-sexually-transmitted-diseases-toronto-1.3997174

They’re picking up the trash in Etobicoke’s Marie Curtis Park

Yes, during October and November 2016 the police arrested 72 men and charged them with various sexual offences in a city of Toronto park. And now that the arrests have been made, those who fancy themselves right-thinking Etobicoke citizenry are continuing to clean up their neighbourhood by linking arms and tossing out the trash — that is, the actual garbage littering their neighbourhood green space.

Nobody seems to notice that in this scenario men having sex with men is being equated with garbage.

What’s appallingly hypocritical about this stunningly archaic sting operation is that police refuse to admit that the arrests are homophobic. In fact, they refuse even to admit that they are arresting homosexuals in Curtis Park. Sure, nowadays, it might be more accurate to label these guys ‘men who have sex with men’  as not all may self-identify as gay; some may be bi or trans. But the fact of the matter is that these arrests in Curtis Park are homophobic and the gay community is being targeted by the police — just as they were back in the infamous bathhouse raids of 1981. Doesn’t anybody notice? And Toronto is not the only place where men are arrested for having sex with each other outdoors — this has also happened in the park surrounding Hamilton’s Dundurn Castle.

Why label the police in Marie Curtis park or Dundurn homophobic? Because straight people like to have sex in the park too but nobody pays attention. If you are straight, you may have taken your girlfriend on a picnic to neck — only to have things go a little further afield. How is this different then two guys kissing and jerking off under a tree? But you don’t find the police prowling around parks trying to stop straight couples from doing their dirty business.

But the worst thing about these arrests is that they inevitably cause people to generalize about the type men who cruise parks. The Toronto Sun, for instance, describes  “a 54-year-old gay man, deeply closeted” who “feels he has little choice but to seek sex at a place like Etobicoke’s Marie Curtis Park.” Gay sex in the park is inevitably characterized as a last resort for someone who isn’t able to have sex with their husband. Why, in fact, would any man who has sex with men frequent a park, when gay marriage is legal?

The answer is simple: kink is kink, sexual practices are vast and varied — some like it in the park, or in a bathroom, or in a car, other’s like it on a desk or on the kitchen table, some liked to be tied up and whipped, some like threesomes, some like hundreds of sexual partners, and some like only one. That’s just the way people are! And it isn’t likely that any sort of marriage is going to talk them out of it.

It’s nice to have sex in the park — whether you’re gay straight or otherwise.

And it doesn’t mean you’re trash.

(Unless, of course, it turns you on to be called that!)

Interested in Park Sex?
Visit our Park Sex cruising tips pageYou can also play our Dundurn Castle Park Sex video game

Cazwell’s Gay World

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“I hope all your kids grow up to be just like me: gay!”

What’s that from? Cazwell’s ‘Hot Homo — A Freestyle Parody of Bobby Shmurda’s Hot N*gga.’ Luke Cazwell has made three albums since 2006, so if you don’t know about him you are way behind the times. Wikipedia tells us that Cazwell “is openly gay and his work focuses on gay and bisexual urban themes and content.” This is certainly the funniest gay rap song ever, and the gayest. And watching his video like suddenly discovering that you live in a gay world.

Hey, what would that be like?

It’s like being on another planet, where gay sex is normal, and people talk about it without fear or embarrassment; our lives are not strange or scary or all about disease.

In ‘Hot Homo’ Cazwell suggests “like my crack/have a tic tac.” But you won’t really need a tic tac because he’s “fresher than a bottom with the enema six pack.” The video is not only filled with sexy young men, rubbing it, shaking it, and tweaking it for their gay brothers and sisters, but the video is pretty observant about details of gay life. Cazwell flirts in all the usual places: “Didn’t I see you in yoga class?” and is hot for the usual stars: “I would fuck James franco on that Spring Break bed” and taking the same pharmaceutical drugs as the rest of us — “I take my Truvada with a pina colada.”

Have you wondered if there was such a thing as gay culture? News flash: yes there is, and this is it. We don’t live in a gay world. And — as Cazwell knows — most of us still have a gay way of talking and a straight way of talking. Years ago you had to marry a woman and pretend you were straight, and there was gay code called camp, where you could communicate with other so-called ‘musical’ fellas, without every saying the word ‘homosexual’ out loud. Nowadays we can get married if we want to and we don’t even have to go to gay bars to find other fags — after all most of them are available online for nightly fun! Nevertheless, we still reserve one way of talking with our straight friends and another for gays (or the women who truly understand!). When we’re with gay friends we talk about butt-fucking as if it was fun (which it is) and we even have a sense of humour about AIDS (cuz there’s a lot less to cry about these days) and we just well, we tell it like it is, and don’t mind admitting that hey (to coin a phrase) we kind of enjoy it, sometimes, being faggots.

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What would it be like to live in a gay world? Cazwell’s got it right: in a truly gay world, every straight couple would hope against hope that their son would turn out to be 100% gay, because if he was 100% gay then they would never have to worry about him raping a woman, fathering an unwanted child, or trying to stop his girlfriend from getting an abortion.

Yeah, it’s okay to want to live in a gay world, because in a lot of ways it would be a whole lot better!

And Cazwell knows it’s true.

How NOT to Create Positive Space for the LGBTQ+ Community in Hamilton by Deirdre Poke

I didn’t do anything to create positive space for the LGBTQ+ community in Hamilton. In fact I made it worse!

(see http://www.sprc.hamilton.on.ca/2016/06/new-report-says-lgbtq-community-hub-needed-in-hamilton/ )

Just follow my advice if you want to hinder the creation of safe and positive LGBTQ+ space in Hamilton, Ontario!

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First, conduct your community outreach utilizing focus groups that are not representative. It’s best to focus on families and trans people. Certainly don’t invite opinions from single gay and lesbian adults, because without this important constituency, your ‘survey’ will have no teeth.

When you gather the results of your non-representative focus groups together, it’s important that the report be very vague. Talk a lot about the importance of inclusiveness and safe space for LGBTQ+ people — but only in general. For instance, when you talk about the importance of a ‘hub’ for LGBTQ+ people, don’t list any concrete suggestions about how such a hub might be realized.

If you really want to fail at affecting LGBTQ+ change in the city, hold a disastrous meeting to release your report.

Hold the meeting at The Spice Factory — where the floors are so creaky and the noise from upstairs bleeds in so much that it’s impossible to hear.  Also, get an emcee who is irritatingly cheerful and mumbles into the microphone.

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It’s important also that there be nothing very ‘gay’ about the meeting. No drag queens, no leather accoutrements, no camp jokes; certainly nothing sexy or sexual.

Oh, and — and this is very important — the speakers at the meeting should all be boring straight white guys. The meeting will provide a great opportunity for all those suits to get on stage and congratulate themselves on how open minded they are, and how much they are doing for the LGBTQ+ community — even though they are doing absolutely nothing.

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The focus of the evening should be on the need for trans washrooms and the necessity of using politically correct language. Tell those straight white guys who run Hamilton that — as long as they build a lot of trans washrooms and never use the word ‘gay’ in the wrong way — they have done pretty much all they can do to improve the LGBTQ+ situation in The Hammer! And for sure, don’t bring up any pressing issues. Don’t mention, for instance, that Canada is one of the top 10 countries in the world for arrests and prosecutions over non-disclosure of HIV status, or that there is an epidemic of crystal meth use among gay men in Hamilton, or that gay men are moving to condom-less sex and PREP.

If you follow these explicit instructions it will insure that you will very UNSUCCESSFUL at creating positive LGBTQ+ space in Hamilton.

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An added dividend is that all this will help your political career. You see, the city’s powerful straights — when they find out how little they have to do to keep us gays happy — will support your political career in the blink of an eye.

Your future will be secure, and you will have destroyed any hope of improving the LGBTQ+ community in Hamilton!

Good luck!

Is rapid HIV testing in bars a good idea?

The Hamilton AIDS Network is instituting public rapid HIV testing during Hamilton Pride. The AIDS Network together with Hamilton Public Health Services have launched events in two gay clubs during Pride month — at The Embassy during the club’s drag night on June 9, 2016, and at Steel Lounge on June 11 during the bear party.

The AIDS Network is not alone in offering rapid HIV testing in bars; in fact it almost seems to be a fad.

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For instance, one Irish drag queen and gay rights activist (Panti Bliss) turned her Dublin, bar —The Panti Bar — into an AIDS clinic for a weekend in 2015. The initiative was “in response to the rising number of infections among young gay men in the country.”

Similarly, the G-A-Y Bar on Old Compton Street in the epicentre of London’s gay Soho district has instituted rapid HIV testing on Mondays between 4 and 9pm and on Wednesdays between 3–6:30pm. The justification here involves warning those who ”‘regularly have unprotected sex with new partners” that HIV often goes undiagnosed because “people who find out early that they have HIV live longer, healthier lives than those who find out late.’”

In Hamilton, the idea seems to have been suggested by public policy. According to the Hamilton AIDS Network “new provincial guidelines encourage rapid testing within priority populations.”

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So imagine the scene during Pride festivities in Hamilton at The Embassy. You’re out with some friends and you’re there to party and dance. You’re a bit drunk but your friends urge you to ‘get the test’. ‘Why not?’ they say. ‘You might as well find out now — you’re going to have one sometime aren’t you? At least now you’ll be so drunk that you won’t be too depressed if you’re positive.’ So with a lot of pushing and shoving, and a lot of kidding,

you finally approach the public health nurse and get the test.

Sample blood collection tube with HIV test label on HIV infection screening test form.

Then you find out you’re HIV positive. And you’re devastated, and panicked. And where are your friends? Well….somebody’s cute ex-trick stopped by and they all took off to the Central Spa for some fun.

Perhaps this isn’t a fair picture. The Hamilton Public Heath nurse promises: “Each person who comes for testing has confidential pre-test counseling with the public health nurse to talk about their risk, window period and risk reduction.” Sure, but what about after the test? And what about the fact that you’re out drinking and perhaps doing party drugs? Shouldn’t HIV tests be conducted in a clinical environment where there is lots of support and information before and after, and the person being tested is in his right mind?

Of course HIV testing is important, but now that AIDS has become a manageable illness, what gay men need is counseling about the array of choices that confront them. Should I take PREP? Should I continue using condoms? If I’m HIV positive when should I go on meds? And most of all — how do I deal with the stress and shame I’ve accumulated around sex because so many years of living with AIDS ‘poltics of fear?’.

Unfortunately, the Hamilton AIDS Network has made a bit of a mistake with this ‘bar testing.’

It’s not a good idea.

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Is it time to ‘FUCK RAW?’

Posters-3In September 2015 posters appeared on a city street in Melbourne Australia emblazoned with the words ‘FUCK RAW.’

There was outrage, of course.

Ever since everyone figured out that condoms can protect us against AIDS gays and straights alike have been promoting the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV. No one would dare to suggest — publicly at any rate, otherwise. So what’s going on?

The posters in Melbourne were put up by a group called SeeItClearly2020 whose stated purpose is to protest the relative unavailability of the new anti-AIDS wonder drug PREP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis). Learn more about PrEP here.

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The activists in Australia have a point. PrEP was proved to be 100% effective in preventing non- HIV positive men from catching HIV, according to a recent study at the Kaiser Peranente Medical Centre in San Francisco. Other studies conclude that when taken faithfully, PREP is 92-99% effective. Yet here in Canada PrEP is not easily attainable by the general public — it can cost between $800 – $1000 a month. However in other countries like the US it’s is already available at affordable rates and is in wide use.

A visit to to the website of one Toronto’s major AIDS organizations — ACT (AIDS Committee of Toronto) — is revealing. ACT seems to be trying to discourage people from taking PrEP. At any rate, their advice sure makes it appear condoms are a lot better: “Condoms provide protection against STIs in addition to HIV, while PrEP only protects against HIV. Condoms are used on an as needed basis, whereas PrEP needs to be taken consistently to be effective. Condoms are much more affordable.” The various reasons for choosing condoms over PrEP go on and on, according to ACT.

It’s true that PrEP doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted diseases other than AIDS — but what is it we’ve been so terrified of all these years, if not HIV/AIDS? And if PrEP is expensive, doesn’t that mean we should fight to make it cheaper? And who wouldn’t rather take a pill once a day than yank on a condom every time you fuck and spoil the mood (never mind that irreplaceable skin-to-skin feeling!)?

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There’s something pretty awful going on here. PrEP is a new and incredibly powerful tool to fight against HIV, and yet no one seems to want gay men to use it. Why is that? Maybe we’ve been so scared for so long, we’re afraid to believe that it’s possible not to be scared. Maybe the uptight gays among us are more than happy to see that promiscuous gays don’t have their fun. Or maybe we’re so used to bad news about HIV/AIDS, that the news about PrEP just seems too good to be true.

Suddenly the Australian FUCK RAW campaign doesn’t seem that crazy at all. It’s Incendiary, for sure, but if telling gay men they can FUCK RAW will bring PrEP to public attention, and better yet make AIDS organizations sit up and take notice —it’s a pretty damn good idea.

So go right ahead and FUCK RAW all you want using PrEP — until the medical establishment is willing to give gay men the fully scientific, honest, sex positive HIV information we need, this is the best HIV prevention advice you’re going to get!

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Anti-PrEP PrOPAGANDA

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Buzzfeed tells us that:

For the first time ever documented, a person taking Truvada — the once-a-day pill that prevents HIV infection in what’s known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP — has contracted a drug-resistant strain of the virus.

However, the article notes, at the very end, that:

none of the 1,400 people taking PrEP in an ongoing study led by Kaiser Permanente San Francisco have contracted the virus.

What are we to make of this contradiction? It’s important to note that this article on Buzzfeed is somewhat sensationalistic, and ultimately, misleading. For instance, the image at the top of the Buzzfeed article is a picture of a bottle of Truvada, opened, with pills spilling out. But more importantly – the label on the bottle of Truvada has been scratched out. Is this supposed to mean that PrEP is to be scratched out too? The fact that no HIV study has shown us that PrEP is ineffective (most studies indicate that PrEP is nearly 100% effective) should mean that this article on Buzzfeed should be ignored.

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Unfortunately people won’t ignore it. That’s because the forces have been lined up to oppose PrEP from the start. Many different kinds of people have opposed it, but they all have one agenda ? to prevent gay men from enjoying promiscuous sex for pleasure. Soon after PrEP appeared, the term “Truvada Whore” also appeared. As soon as there was a possibility that our sex lives might no longer be impeded by fear of death, a term appeared that seemed designed to turn us backwards again. Fear is a tactic that has long been used to stop gay men from being promiscuous. It is the wrong tactic.  Fear just drives people to irrational acts. In the pre-PrEP past, gay men have been so stressed out by fear tactics used against them in the name of AIDS that they sometimes just gave up and had condom-less sex.

Informed education works a lot better tool than fear.

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So what are the actual facts about the case of this single Toronto man who seems to have evolved a drug resistance to PrEP? His case was discussed at the recent  Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston. And it turns out that the information in this case rests completely on one man’s word – one one man’s promise that he faithfully took his medications. I’m not accusing this man of anything, but his adherence to his own drug regimen is of supreme importance in this case. After all, if he hadn’t been taking his PrEP meds faithfully then the appearance of HIV antibodies in his blood proves nothing about PrEP. So do we know for a fact that he had been taking his meds?  No, we don’t. An article on the AIDSMAP website tells us:

The patient was treated within a cash-poor public health setting and his old blood samples had not been saved. So there was no way to directly prove that he had drug levels consistent with high adherence around the time of HIV exposure.

The fact is that PrEP has been proven effective and — continues to be effective — in the vast majority of cases. It’s time for gay men to celebrate. It’s time for them to rest assured that although condoms are still an important method to stop the spread of other diseases, if they take PrEP, as directed by their physician, they don’t have to worry about AIDS. It’s time for gay men to start enjoying their sex lives again, without fear.

And when it comes to the naysayers and the fear mongers —
Well, they have their own agenda.
Don’t listen.

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GWM Privilege?

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There is a problem in our community which has reached epidemic proportions. It is the pesky notion of ‘gay white male privilege.’

There is a lot of talk these days among younger gay men around the idea that they need to ‘give back’ to less privileged communities because they have so many advantages as white men.

Now, on the one hand, it’s a good thing for people to help others. And if young gay men want to help lesbians, bi people, trans people, disabled queers or non-queers — or anyone without privilege for that matter — then good for them! It’s certainly true that gay male politics (unlike lesbian politics) is all too often superficial and narcissistic. It’s always been somewhat difficult to get middle class gay men to do more than merely speak out in favour of gay marriage. They also need to speak out against the very connected issues of misogyny, classicism, and racism.

 

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That said, there is also a very real problem with the idea that gay white men have privilege and need to give back to the community. This encourages the misconception that homophobia is over, and that all white gay men are rich, white and privileged, and planning vacations in Aruba.

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In fact the notion that all gay men are privileged is a homophobic idea. It erases very real problems that gay men face. Throughout much of the world fundamentalist religions have a huge influence. This includes areas of Ontario outside Toronto such as Hamilton. In these places there is extreme, religion-backed hatred of the homosexual ‘lifestyle.’ Gays and lesbians have achieved certain civil rights; but you can’t legislate the human heart.

The reasons for this kind of hatred against gay men go back as far as human history. Societal fear of the effeminate male comes from deep seated fears that any male who is the passive partner in sexual intercourse might not do their masculine duty to defend and procreate. In simple terms; people associate homosexuality with effeminacy — and probably will for a long time. This has very real consequences for gay men who — just like women — are still excluded from high paying jobs. Seen any effeminate male hairdressers lately? Of course some men truly want to be hairdressers; others do it because they are gay and effeminate and it is the only job that is truly open to them.

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The consequences of the false assumption that all gay white males are privileged can be very serious in a community like Hamilton. A large number of Hamilton residents live below the poverty line. This number includes gay men. And yet social service organizations that serve the queer community are often focused more on lesbian, bi, disabled and trans people. Often social service organizations are not staffed by gay men. This discourages gay men from coming to those organizations for help. There are certainly very real problems that come part and parcel with poverty and affect gay men too. But there are also specific problems attached to being a gay white male who does not have privilege, including: lack of access to and knowledge of health services, help with HIV criminalization issues, and struggles with addiction and mental health.

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Before we start talking about gay white male privilege in Hamilton, let’s recognize that gay men don’t have the same privilege that straight men do. And let’s also recognize that some gay men desperately need our help. Before we start attacking gay men for all that they aren’t or asking gay men to ‘give back’ — let’s help them stand firmly and proudly on their own two feet.

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Charlie Sheen & HIV

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Often mainstream news reports about HIV and AIDS are not as factual as they could be. Too often they are simply downright wrong.

Recently Charlie Sheen revealed he is HIV positive. Charlie’s recent interview with Matt Lauer on NBC is a perfect example of the mainstream media spreading HIV/AIDs misinformation.

Although Sheen tested positive for HIV four years ago, recently some have threatened to reveal his HIV status. His only recourse has been to admit his condition publicly to discourage further blackmailers.

It’s certainly easy to judge Sheen; the most common online response to his revelation of his HIV positive status is: ‘that’s not really a surprise!’ — as HIV is thus still (quite erroneously) associated with a party lifestyle. But the way that mainstream media now handles the ‘new’ HIV — not a death sentence but a chronic condition — is, to say the least, unfortunate.

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In his introduction Lauer presented himself as up-to-date on the latest medical breakthroughs around AIDS and HIV, calling the interview ‘an educational moment’ and not failing to mention that people with HIV now live ‘long and productive lives.’

But Lauer then proceeded to undercut every bit of valuable information the interview had to offer. Sheen was a companied by a doctor. (It seems that HIV positive people — or is it just Charlie Sheen? — are not to publicly discuss their condition unless accompanied by a medical professional.) Sheen’s doctor made it clear that it’s almost impossible for individuals like Sheen, who have an undetectable viral load, to infect someone, when having protected sex. Nevertheless, Lauer felt it necessary to remind us that the virus can still inhabit ‘genital fluids’ (and what exactly does that mean?) and that the level of the virus can ‘go up and down between testing.’

So here we are again, back to the 80s. Remember when parents wouldn’t let their kids go to school with HIV positive kids because there was ‘even the smallest chance’ they might get HIV from a water fountain? Well of course anything is possible. But this ‘if there is even the slightest chance someone might get HIV then I don’t want to risk it’ mentality is too often a justification for paranoid hate.

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When Sheen’s doctor informed Lauer that the actor was on a triple cocktail that ensured he was highly unlikely to infect anyone, Lauer just had to ask — ‘Aren’t you worried that in an impaired state Charlie will forget to take his medication?’

It became clear that — though Lauer was posing as open minded — he nevertheless still imagined HIV positive people to be ticking time bombs, liable to go off at any moment.

And finally, Lauer left us with this chilling thought: ‘There are people out there, Charlie, who claim that you are willfully spreading HIV without telling people.” This of course left Sheen in the position of having to defend himself against accusations that he was — in the eyes of the law in 25 states of the union — a sex criminal.

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I know that Charlie Sheen is considered by many to be a repulsive person, but that’s no excuse for using him to propagate nonsense about the present state of HIV, AIDS, and PREP.

We’ve come a long way when it comes to HIV. But when is the mainstream media going to catch up?

Here is the full interview:

Were Have All the Queer Movies Gone?

There were 29 lesbian, gay, bi, and transgendered movies released in 2015. (Go to the asterick* at the bottom of this article if you want to read the titles.)

How many of them have you seen?

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I would bet you haven’t seen many. Sure, some of these movies (like Carol) have yet to be released. But most of these are foreign films and indie films that you will never get a chance to see in a movie theatre, or download on Neflicks, or download on iTunes — though you might find them somewhere on DVD.

There are four exceptions to this: Tangerine,The Danish Girl, Carol and Stonewall have played (or will be playing) at your local cinema.

But that’s not very many queer movies to chose from.

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This may be because queer creators don’t seem too interested in telling queer stories anymore. Listen to what two queer authors whose books were just made into movies (Colm Toibin and Emma Donoghue) have to say. Colm Toibin’s new movie is not gay, it’s based on his novel Brooklyn about an immigrant woman’s experience. But Toibin generally doesn’t seem interested in talking about sexuality. Speaking of gay marriage he says “We are not even talking about sexuality. Rather, we are talking about love.” Lesbian writer Emma Donoghue’s bestseller Room (soon to be at a movie theatre near you) is the touching story of a woman who raises a child in a single room and breast feeds him until he is five years old. Her book and her movie apparently have no lesbian content. Donoghue is clear that though she is an Irish, lesbian woman —“My books aren’t and don’t have to be all about Ireland, or women, or lesbians.”
So, we can’t really count on gay and lesbian novelists to supply us with gay and lesbian stories. What about gay and lesbian filmmakers?

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Well Tangerine is a Sundance hit about a couple of trans sex trade workers. It’s funny and real. You might find it playing for two weeks at an art cinema somewhere, and yes it is available on Itunes.

Openly gay director Roland Emmerich’s Stonewall also received wide release. It’s an old fashioned romantic tearjerker with an important message: the only way to make change is by getting angry and taking violent action. By celebrating the Hispanic drag queens at the heart of Stonewall, Emmerich is able to forge a bold statement against modern ‘middle-of-the-road,’ ‘suit and tie’ conservative gays and lesbians. But, again, you probably won’t get a chance to see this movie. The straight critics have given in 9% on Rotten Tomatoes, and queers are boycotting it because some feel it does not present a sympathetic enough portrayal of trans people.

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So why bother even making queer movies in the first place?

I’ll tell you why. Because our lives are different that straight lives. Do straight people have to ‘come out’ to their parents about what they do in bed? Do straight people have to live with a fear of AIDS that follows them every time they go out the door (You will be careful, won’t you)? Do straights have to be worried about getting beaten up or yelled at when they walk down the street holding their boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s hand? Do straights have to worry about being arrested for having condomless sex? (Well — unless they are black men or sex trader workers — the answer is NO!). Do they have to worry about someone calling them a ‘Truvada Whore’ for taking a preventative pill? And finally, do straight people find themselves so filled with self hatred over their own sexuality sometimes the only way they can have sex at all is if they are stoned or blind drunk?

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Basically, these are LGBT problems, not straight ones.

Would it help a little bit to have films that dealt with these issues?

You bet it would.

But it’ll be a cold day in hell before you’ll ever find one.

*Thanatos Drunk, Take Me To The River, Tough Love, Ville-Marie, Wonderful World End, Tangerine, The Summer of Sangaile, Stonewall, Sworn Virgin, The Sea is Behind, Nasty Baby, The Lives We Lead, The Last Summer of the Rich, In The Grayscale, I Am Michael, How to Win At Checkers, Holding The Man, Firesong, Eisenstein in Guanajuato, Downriver, Desde Alla, The Danish Girl, Daddy, Closet Monster, Carol, Butterfly, The Blue Hour, Bizarre, Absence.