Below is another clip from my conversation with Rich (first sample here). In it, we tackle condoms – why men don’t like them, and why the opportunity to live without fear of HIV and, in some cases, without rubbers is one worth grasping:
A reader writes:
I really enjoyed listening to your insightful conversation with Juzwiak. Most of my friends, gay or straight, don’t have the patience to read Love Undetectable, but they may be willing to listen to this conversation. It beautifully distills what it was like to come of age during the plague of the ’90s and of its impact upon our generation’s attitudes towards sexuality, risk, and death.
I deal with a number of grad students/postdocs who are in their thirties, and I am just realizing that their generation has never experienced anything comparable, and most have never dealt with death. Recently, one of the grad students died unexpectedly of a rare disease, and it hit some of the other students hard. I think they were upset that I did not display equal levels of grief. In response, I told them a bit about my experiences during the height of the AIDS epidemic … about calling a friend in New Orleans to tell him about the death of a mutual friend, and his response was flat and unemotional. He said, “I’m sorry if I seem cold, but the truth is that I simply don’t have any more tears to shed; I’ve been to thirteen funerals just this month.”
My students simply couldn’t imagine the magnitude of such loss of a social circle, nor realize how it impacted dating, friendships, and having sex. Now, if they wish to understand, they have something to listen to.
Perhaps it is a reflection of my sixty plus years, but I had a real visceral negative reaction to your conversation that multiple random sexual hookups constitute a community. In my life I have bed-hopped, bathhouse visited, and anonymously interacted with countless dicks and asses (as well as dick-heads and assholes), but MY Gay community came together when my contemporaries battled the scourge of AIDS, the terrifying unknowns, the constant anxiety of looking for that first red lesion … my history is littered with the names of the fallen, my own personal World War III.
After the terror of HIV subsided just a bit, my community was formed with men and women, of all sexual stripes, who lobbied, battled, organized for equal protections under the law and advanced the reality of same sex marriage and adoption
As a freshman at Georgetown University in 1970, I would tiptoe past the open bar-room door of the first Gay Establishment I had ever known on Wisconsin Avenue. To think in my lifetime I can check into just about any hotel in the world (excluding Russia and Uganda) with a same-sex partner and be shown a room with one bed, is astounding. And that is because we organized to become a political, economic, and religious force that peacefully brought about change
When I think of our Male Gay community, I think of all the brilliant artists, authors, teachers, health care providers, athletes and scientists who excelled in their fields. I don’t think about how many men they hooked up with, furtively or openly, and that is the furthest thing from my mind when I identify with my tribe.
It’s not what I focus on much of the time either. But it’s there and deserves some elucidation given the obloquy directed at it from gays and straights alike. Another adds:
The push for Truvada needs to be tempered with some medical judgment. My doctor took me off it because I had a kidney stone, because he said that if I got another kidney stone and Truvada backed up in my kidneys, it could potentially damage my kidneys. So there needs to be some awareness that Truvada DOES have potential side effects.
Indeed it does, as all drugs do. This blog has addressed the potential side effects many times, namely in our long-running thread, “Why Aren’t Gay Men On The Pill?“