Gay-Related Immune Deficiency


Today, on World AIDS Day, look at some of these statistics.

— “While gay men make up just 2 percent of the U.S. population, they account for two thirds (66 percent) of new HIV infections, a majority (56 percent) of people living with HIV, and more than half (55 percent) of all AIDS deaths since the epidemic’s beginning. It is estimated that 12-13 percent of gay and bisexual men in the U.S. are HIV-positive, including one in five in many major U.S. cities. Gay men are the only group in the country among whom new infections are on the rise”

— “…just three in ten (30 percent) say they were tested in the last year, including 19 percent who say their most recent test was within the past 6 months. Fully three in ten (30 percent) say they have never been tested for HIV”

— “Only about a quarter (26 percent) know about PrEP, a recently approved medication that people who are HIV-negative can take to lower their risk of becoming infected. Just one in ten know someone, including themselves, who has taken PrEP, and eight in ten say they have heard only a little or nothing at all about the new medication.” [Source]

They remind me of this quote from Patrick Moore, author of “Beyond Shame”:

“Even though infection rates continue to rise in our young men, exhaustion and the empty promises of seeing ourselves represented in the mass media have lured us, despite American statistical evidence to the contrary, into saying ‘AIDS is no longer a gay disease.’ We desperately want to believe that the gathering storm clouds will break elsewhere this time. Inherent in our ability to ignore the continuing influence of AIDS on gay life in American is our systemic effort to strip gay life of all associations with the radical sexuality of the past. If there is no sex, no memory of sex, and no current sign of sexuality, then we can hope that AIDS will pass by our doorway this time.”

When it was first noticed in the early 1980s, doctors referred to this mysterious illness as GRID, Gay Related Immune Deficiency.

Today, we seem to be doing anything that we can make HIV/AIDS seem like something that anyone can get. And that’s true, anyone can and does contract HIV.

But, HIV/AIDS is still a gay disease. We contract it. Infections in young gay, bi, queer men continue to rise. Young queer men of color are especially likely to be diagnosed with HIV.

HIV/AIDS is still a gay-related immune deficiency. It is part of the LGBTQ experience in America. It is our job to stop it. Not by squashing all sexuality within our lives and cultures, but by embracing it.

I am a HIV- man with HIV+ loved ones. I take my pill every day. So do they. HIV is part of our daily life, whether it is from treatment, prevention, or fear of being infected.

If you’re negative, get tested. Talk to your doctor about the latest medications for prevention. No amount of self-hate. No amount of saying you will have sex differently next time will change your chance of being infected. Stop the stigma against our HIV+ brothers.

If you’re positive, talk to your doctor about the latest medications, many of which have lower side effects. Tell your HIV- friends about PrEP.

HIV/AIDS is a gay disease. Let’s use our cultures, with their resilience, vibrancy, and power to stop it.

Against Awareness

When I was a junior in college, a group that I was directing, StandOut, decided to throw an event honoring queer artists of color in our community. Taking an intersectional approach, the membership believed that, given the group QPOCA’s (Queer People of Color and Allies) relative lull at the time, that we needed to raise more awareness about the art coming from queer people of color. We had photography from Daniel Butcher, paintings by members, and even a show by Latina rock group Girl in a Coma.

In between arrangements for the event—can Veggie Heaven have vegan food delivered for Girl in a Coma?—I was called into the Gender and Sexuality Center on campus to speak with the director, Ana Ixchel Rosal.

“I’m concerned about your event, Jason” she explained. “Highlighting oppression and contributions isn’t really enough. Awareness isn’t enough.”

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Nonsexual Community in Sexual Communities

Conferences are lonely. Two years ago, Cameron Macdonald and I flew out to the Eastern Sociology Society meeting in Philadelphia to sit on a panel with Myra Marx Ferree to discuss to the sociological implications of the Wisconsin Uprising, give an on-the-ground ethnographic perspective of the events, and solicit donations for the ongoing occupation efforts. Besides Myra and Cameron, I knew almost no one else there. However, a gay man with an iPhone is always connected to the gay community. As soon as the conference events for the day were over, I launched Grindr, changed my profile text, and began looking for friends.

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The Post-Racist Debate

Academics should blog, Jurgenson from Cyborgology tells us, to engage with those outside of the academy.

Now—should we be so lucky that a non-academic takes the time to read these posts—the whole world can see the arguments that previously took place spaced out over years in journal articles, or were raged at with local colleagues over a bottle of wine.

The latest example is the blogstorm over post-racist vs. post-racial between Fabio Rojas, Tressie McMillan Cottom, and Eric Anthony Grollman. I’m grateful for the chance to see a debate between three great scholars. One of this blog’s goals is to let readers behind the academic curtain and so I’m going to venture a few comments on the debate.

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The Circular Firing Squad: A Facebook Flamewar Wins Gold in the Oppression Olympics


Last week, I lost a friend over a Jezebel article.

In what I might forever call Facebook-gate 2013 (I know, it’s early in the year, but I have hope this will be the worst), I dragged myself down into a bitter day-long fight over social media that I hadn’t experienced since Livejournal, that early internet furnace of my high school flamewars. Forces marshaled on two sides of the dispute: Was the Jezebel article irredeemably sexist and biphobic? Or were those claims of sexism and biphobia themselves a distraction from the central claim of the article that some people with privilege feel entitled to enter minority spaces? Who was derailing whom? Continue reading

Yes, A Blog.

Ethnographies are tomes. Although often the writing style lets people read them quickly, when one gets assigned to a class, at first there’s always an audible groan.

231/365: Yay! Books!

Ethnographies also often seem rather mysterious. We idealize the process of going out into the field. Honestly, we can’t help doing that because the writing itself is often sanitized of all of the messy starts, all of the days of problems. So much so that it often seems like you have to be the right type of person to write an ethnography or include ethnographic work within your research. When I was taking my Advanced Interviewing and Ethnography seminar with Cameron Macdonald, she told us of a famous sociologist who would send students out into the field with little training: “Most of you will fail, some of you are ethnographers.”

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Why is it a “queer” metropolis?

I’ve been posting links to these posts on Twitter and my Facebook page. On the link, I got a response from one of my friends, another graduate student, that I was using the term queer too loosely. I seemed, in his eyes, to be using queer as an umbrella term that stripped it of its radical meaning. Why call this project “Queer Metropolis” and not “LGBT Metropolis” or just “Gay Metropolis”? (Besides that the last one is the title of a book by George Kaiser following the history of gay men in America centered on New York City.) Largely, why use the term queer?

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Be Careful What You Wish For

Last week, I discussed the first of two emerging themes that relate to the changing status of queer people in American society. The first is that Boystown is a commercial destination, not a community, or at least it is perceived that way by some. The second that I am going to discuss today is “be careful what you wish for.”

Queer people have been fighting for acceptance and equal rights for decades. What does acceptance mean though? Do we assimilate or do we maintain a separate community? Are we just like everyone else or is there something special to being queer?

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Gay Disneyland

Adam and I were stuffed into a small booth in a local greasy spoon. The waitress in her oversized grey T-shirt sauntered over to ask us if we wanted anymore coffee. Against my better judgment, I took another cup, although Adam waved it away.

“It’s like a mall.” He told me. “You go to shop at the mall. You go to hang out at the mall. You don’t live at the mall.”

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Those Boys are Going to Eat You Up

Once Debby and her fiancé finally parked their car—somehow, even though we were the ones that walked, Jay and I beat them there—the four of us busted into the club. Circuit was hosting Urbano, the self-described “hottest Black and Latino Gay (LGBT/ SGL) parties in Chicago.” They had all been here before, and I was excited to be there for the first time. I paid my 10 dollar cover—the most expensive on the strip—and walked quickly to catch up with Jay and the others who had already started to march towards the back of the club.

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