The Hysterical Gay Men in the Attic
April 10th, 2014
First, this, a black man talking about the first time he saw two black men, and no white men, in an airplane cockpit:
“Do you know, I can’t believe it but the first thought that came to my mind was, ‘Hey, there’s no white men in that cockpit. Are those blacks going to be able to make it?’ And of course, they obviously made it — here I am. But the thing is, I had not known that I was damaged to the extent of thinking that somehow actually what those white people who had kept drumming into us in South Africa about our being inferior, about our being incapable, it had lodged somewhere in me”
This is Desmond Tutu of South Africa, talking about how deeply ingrained are the things he heard about black people growing up that they still, to this day, after decades of fighting for his own equality, influence him.
I sense this same thing in gay people — the same tortured assumption that what we heard when we were growing up is really true, that gay men can’t control themselves sexually, that they will never bond for life, that they will never care about themselves or make good decisions when it comes to sex. This is the message from the people who call Truvada a “party drug” and it’s the same message older men put out there when the Pill came along, that women would use the Pill as an excuse to go wild, that they weren’t responsible enough to take a pill every day, that it would lead to a higher rate of STDs, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Yes, condoms are the only thing that prevent many STDs, but is that why many clinics won’t even mention to gay men that Truvada is out there? Imagine if Planned Parenthood refused to tell women about the Pill because they decided it would make women stop using condoms?
This is what’s happening currently with Truvada — we don’t trust gay men enough. We don’t think that if we tell gay men in a clinic that they can get on Truvada, and it will help prevent HIV, but they also need to use condoms to prevent other diseases – we assume that they will simply go wild, just like women were presumed to be wild, illogical people back in the late 60s/early 70s. Women proved those straight men wrong and we gay men can do the same.
Enough of all this religious shaming. I keep hearing that gay men don’t care about themselves, that they are stupid, that they need to just put on a condom already, and it sounds like preaching to me. It doesn’t sound rational. It sounds like a lot of us hate ourselves, or other gay people, like we’ve internalized what we’ve heard our whole lives about those partying, oversexed gay people.
We gay men are capable of making rational decisions as much as the next person. Human beings, in general, have trouble mixing arousal and logic, but this is not anything special to gay men – as Mark S. King always points out, our mothers liked to bareback too, and yet they were (eventually) trusted with the Pill and told to also use condoms to protect themselves fully.
We need to talk about Truvada and PrEP not because it’s a cure all but because it’s asinine that here we have this wonder drug and we can’t bring ourselves to educate sexually active men about it. There’s something wrong with that picture.