(Don’t worry, I’ll get there.)
Okay, the Globe headline says “Impact of HIV baby case unclear.” In case you haven’t heard, a Mississippi infant has just been cured of HIV. However, we are assured in the Globe article that -- when it comes to AIDS -- “a cure has not been found.” Now how can a baby in Mississippi be cured of AIDS, when there is no cure for AIDS? Isn’t that a contradiction? Sounds somewhat Orwellian, doesn’t it? ‘Freedom is Slavery’ ‘War is Peace’ ‘A Baby is Cured of AIDS but There is No Cure for AIDS’.
Any discussion of the AIDS is clouded by a gigantic miasma of emotion around sexual and moral issues that completely blocks out the facts. Doctors would like us to think that AIDS is all about science, and that they are never homophobic, and that all of the pure ‘information’ we receive about the disease is unclouded by prejudice or stigma. But this is simply not the case.
The elephant in the room around the baby who was cured of AIDS -- but who, for some reason, is reported to offer gay men very little hope -- is the alluring notion of the ‘innocent victim.’ In the 1980s, when little HIV positive children in the deep south were hounded out of their classrooms by their hateful peers – the infected children were defended as ‘innocent victims’ -- that is, unlike gay men, prostitutes, or drug addicts.
The concept of the ‘innocent victim’ arises because AIDS offers an excellent opportunity for social control through fear. In 1981, when AIDS first appeared, we were experiencing a huge backlash (led by The Orange Juice Lady Anita Bryant) against homosexuality. The 1960s was very dangerous to the patriarchy – because the pill was available to women, and gay men had access to antibiotics that effectively killed venereal disease -- so there seemed to be little or no consequence from unprotected sex. For the sex-haters of the religious right this had to be stopped; AIDS fed right into their agenda.
The result: there will never be a cure for AIDS. In terms of the mysterious Mississippi case, doctors assure us that even though one innocent baby is cured, other people (do they mean gay men, prostitutes Africans, and drug addicts perhaps?) will never be able to get all of the HIV out of their system, and thus will likely always be infected. The situation is, I posit, simply this -- if scientists told us AIDS could be cured, then people might wish to return to the lovefest some of us remember as the happy carefree 60s.
Well I just got back from a vacation in Palm Springs, and let me tell you it’s still the 60s there. For hot young gay man on the resort scene it’s all about barebacking and drugs! Gay conservatives would have you believe that all gay men want to get married, adopt children and attend church. But there is a terrifyingly sad swell of self-destructive behaviour among young gay men these days. I have no statistics. But I am very promiscuous, and I know what everyone is doing and trying to get me to do.
Why is this happening in our community? Because, the fact of the matter is, we are not all perfectly adjusted, homophobia is not dead, and gay men are friggin’ angry about being told not to have sex, and about AIDS being used as a method of social control in order to stop them from being sexual. They are tired of being told, over and over again, that unlike babies, they are not ‘innocent.’
What’s with the Treasure Island Media’s unsafe sex porn, and all the young gay men who want to gobble ejaculate, and are greedy to get sperm up their butts without a condom? I’ll tell you. It’s because AIDS organizations -- instead of dealing with the incredible trauma inflicted upon us by the demonization of gay men and the demonization of gay sex -- have happily jumped on the social control bandwagon. All they can do is wag their fingers at us. Gay men need a lot more help than finger-wagging to compensate for what the trauma of AIDS. Nobody likes to be told that sex is bad, pleasure is bad, and that skin should never touch skin. And if nobody is willing to talk about the fact that using AIDS to stop people from screwing is unnatural and sick, then yes, young gay men will hate themselves and get angry and continue with crystal meth and unsafe sex.
Which is where we finally end up.
I told you so.