Wednesday, August 26, 2009

GMHC: The Raw Deal

bare bones
On Friday, August 13th GMHC sponsored a public forum entitled Raw where the public was invited to partake in a discussion on barebacking: why we like it and why we do it. As the Edge New York article states the conversations were both passionate and controversial.
Lively, sometimes loud debate; passionate viewpoints accentuated by applause from the crowd; and skepticism towards the establishment’s ability to effectively advocate for public health. It sounds like a contentious town hall event in which the proposed health care overhaul takes a beating--but it was, in fact, an August 13th public forum sponsored in New York City by the nation’s oldest and largest private AIDS service organization, Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC).

Certainly, it’s understandable why high passion would have erupted at a discussion of the most sensitive topic among gay men today: barebacking. Although its topic was every bit as di
visive as Obama’s sweeping initiative, the event managed to demonstrate that the town hall format need not devolve into a shouting match.
The article goes on to state the organizers decided to lose the term "barebacking" and go with the generalized term "raw" in talking about condom-less sex.
Actually, it technically wasn’t about "barebacking," at least if the organizers could help it. The conclave’s premise was that the term "barebacking" unfairly stigmatizes gay men who have unprotected sex.

GMHC’s organizers instead chose the no less provocative but apparently more acceptable term "raw" as the title of the event.
I'm glad the organizers of this event chose to use raw instead of barebacking, although in the end I'm afraid it doesn't make too much of a difference either way. But as I've stated in the past, it's important to note there is a difference between men who "ooops! slipped up" and men who are committed to not using condoms. Those committed to not using condoms, barebackers, often over shadow those individuals who slipped up, or made a mistake, or didn't use their best judgement and the general and medical community fault them for "deserving what they got" opposed to being compassionate about the human capacity to make a mistake.

Through my speaking out on this topic I've also learned that I have to be abso-fucking-lutely clear about abso-fucking-lutely everything and just because you and your long term boyfriend decide to forgo condoms, after testing together for at least a year and tru
sting you won't put one another at risk (although it happens more than one would think) does not make you a barebaker, you're just having condom-less sex with someone you're committed to (in one way or another.) Also, if you're an HIV+ man and choosing to have consensually agreed upon condom-less sex with another HIV+ man than that's fine and that's your decision. There are other risks involved, but as long as there has been communication, than that's your decision. No harm, no foul. You talked, you decided, it's done. The problem isn't positive men infecting negative men, the problem is "negative men" (men who don't know their status) having unprotected sex with other negative men. That's why I feel our "bareback porn is so hot!" seal of approval these days is a major issue because men will say and/or think: he looks negative, he seems ok, he would have told me, or just not care at all.
Many in the audience who got the chance to speak held the community itself responsible for assuming the burden of outreach and education. They said they neither wanted, nor expected, the organizations represented by the panelists to work miracles on their own.
These organizations are working hard. They're out there. Working in non-profits, doing outreach, doing what they can but ultimately it's up to us to continue speaking out about this topic in order to effect the change we want to see in this community.

Bareback, raw, whatever you call it - the bottom line is just communicate with your partner and wear condoms. I can't believe we're even having panel discussions on bareback issues when the the end result is to just simply communicate and put on a rubber. Give a shit about yourself, consider yourself worth it! Study after study, report after report the answer is always wear a condom. You.are.worth.it! We are worth it.

Yes, I'm still talking about this and I don't ever plan to stop. If you don't like it, tough shit. And to the catty bitch at The Eagle who snickered to your friend referring to me as "Mr. Bareback:" I heard you and thanks for the encouragement to give you the middle finger and keep talking about this.

For more information and other great articles check out:

Ouch! The Painful Politics of Bareback Porn written by Sister of Perpetual Indulgence Activist and porn producer, Mark Kliem

2 comments:

bstewart23 said...

I can't believe we're even having panel discussions on bareback issues when the the end result is to just simply communicate and put on a rubber.

THIS.

Get outta my head, buddy. You know, in all the online (and in-person) forums I attend, there's always a call for more study, for more understanding, for more reflection... but the end result is always, always, just as you say: always wear a condom to fuck. ALWAYS.

ewe said...

I just plain old don't have sex like i used to. No one is fucking me unless i adore them. And knowing them and theirs goes without saying. Wasn't always the case but it is now i say proudly. Honesty should be a major point of dicussion at future panels. Unfortunately so many people do royally fucking suck. I do not think this topic is ever going to go away and even more to the point; some people are just never gonna grasp maturity, responsibility, wisdom and care. They don't want to.