September 10, 2010
While "gay men's health" as a concept -- aging, mental health, relationships, physical fitness -- tried mightily to get some respect at the 2010 Gay Men's Health Summit in Ft. Lauderdale, HIV/AIDS continued to dominate much of the workshops and discussions. The evergreen issues of condom fatigue and barebacking managed to monopolize time and vex workshop leaders with a stubborn dilemma: How do you interest gay men in condoms when so many have already opted for sero-sorting, barebacking, and risk reduction techniques?
In this video blog entry of "My Fabulous Disease," I met with two sets of workshop facilitators directly after they led group sessions on condoms, casual sex, and safer sex techniques. You'll meet "Middle," a Nashville HIV advocate who intended to facilitate a group of men using condoms for casual sex -- and found himself with a room full of barebackers. Next, Jacques and Robert of "M" Ft Lauderdale, a program of Broward House in Ft. Lauderdale, discuss focusing their efforts on gay men ages 18-30, because older gay men tend to be less teachable when it comes to safer sex.
And then, interestingly and ironically, I sat down with the original bareback poster boy, Tony Valenzuela, who famously rode naked astride a horse on the cover of POZ Magazine for a 1999 article on barebacking. Tony has surprisingly little ill feelings about the judgment and anger aimed in his direction when he honestly discussed his preference for unprotected sex. Instead, he applauds men who use condoms and believes responsibility is key. He sums up his views in these carefully chosen words: "Condoms are a sacrifice."
Do you believe we are "post-condom" in the gay community, or will there always being two sexual societies: negative men using condoms, and positive gay men who are less inclined to do so? How important is sero-sorting (limiting sex partners to those who share your status) to the new equation?
Thanks for watching. I look forward to your responses!
Visit Mark's live blog at www.MyFabulousDisease.com.