I am thrilled that the comments I made in my cover interview for OUT 100 have generated a spirited dialogue about HIV/AIDS — and the advent of a whole new class of preventative life saving medication. I am less thrilled that they were almost entirely misconstrued. Perhaps I could have been more articulate — but my comments were never meant to be incendiary or judgmental.
I am a staunch advocate for the rights and well-being of the LGBT community. I have deep compassion and empathy for people living with HIV/AIDS. I am assuredly not internally homophobic or poz-phobic or willfully ignorant regarding this issue. I am a well-adjusted and well-educated gay man. I have read and understand the way PrEP works, and at least the most basic science behind its practical applications — although I am always open to learning more. I support and encourage the amazing work done by HIV/AIDS awareness organizations — as well as the many research and treatment organizations that exist across the country and the world. I did not intend to make generalizations about the LGBT community at large — or people living with HIV/AIDS or people in love with someone living with HIV/AIDS.
What troubles me — and what I was trying to speak to in my interview — is an attitude among (some of) the younger generation of gay men — that we can let our guard down against this still very real threat to our collective well-being. I have had numerous conversations in my travels with young gay people who see the threat of HIV as diminished to the point of near irrelevance. I have heard too many stories of young people taking PrEP as an insurance policy against their tendency toward unprotected non-monogamous sex. THAT is my only outrage.
How gay men have sex with each other was unilaterally redefined for nearly two generations as a result of AIDS. I was simply trying to assert my belief that we need to be especially vigilant and accountable to ourselves and one another at this moment in our evolution. It is a tremendous advancement in the fight against the disease that scientists have developed this particular medication. But it’s still early — that’s all. So if what I said — however misconstrued — plays some small part in generating more meaningful informative and passionate conversations — particularly among the younger generation — then I am grateful. And I can almost see it as a way of further serving the community that I deeply admire and respect — and from which I am so proud to hail.
Originally appeared in the Huffington Post 15 November 2014