Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Gift

I've wanted to see this movie for a long time, now I can!
"On-screen, four men sit in a semicircle as part of their support group. They've allowed filmmaker Louise Hogarth and her camera crew in to observe them for her documentary The Gift. All the men are over 40, gay, and HIV+. They're not together merely to talk about living with HIV, but about living with cardiac conditions secondary to HIV medications. And when they talk about the image of HIV+ men in their San Francisco community, they wonder why it doesn't look like them.
Hogarth's camera captures posters, which show strapping young men in stylish clothes (when they're wearing any) flashing wide, white smiles, as the support-group members look at them.
"All these guys look healthy," one says.
"That one is making me hard right now," another jokes.
They're not being insensitive or cynical, merely saying out loud something that has been percolating through gay communities for years now: The current prevention strategy for HIV and AIDS portrays infection as being a relatively benign condition, manageable with medication. And in the ads the men regard, being HIV+ looks sexy.
"You never see any advertisements or anything that make it look bad--[they] glamorize HIV," Hogarth says from her office in Los Angeles. Since The Gift debuted this past February at the Berlin Film Festival and opened this month in London, she's been maintaining a steady stream of interviews as she prepares to screen it in the United States. "It's like if you have a family situation, and you have one kid who's sick and all the attention is devoted to him. And you have another child in the family who doesn't get any attention, he's always shunted off to the side. An HIV-negative man would never stand up in a room and say, 'I've been HIV-negative for 10 years.' That would be very insensitive. All the services go to HIV-positive men.
"And nobody dies from HIV anymore because that wouldn't be a positive image," Hogarth continues. "Whenever there's a death, it's never HIV. Forty-, 45-year-old gay men die of heart attacks or liver failure or diabetes or opportunistic infections or side effects from a minor surgery--that's all the result of HIV or HIV medications, and it's never mentioned. If HIV doesn't kill you, I believe that the drugs will."
Handling HIV with mittens crops up in even so-called progressive media. During the opening prologue to a recent episode of Six Feet Under--the HBO series created by the openly gay writer Alan Ball that has been commended for its well-rounded portrayal of gay relationships--a fortysomething character named Robert passes away in the company of friends and loved ones. When his male partner approaches the series' central Fisher family's funeral home, he informs them that Robert didn't die from AIDS, but cardiomyopathy. "His heart was too big," he says, using the cardiac abnormality to characterize the kind of man his partner was in his life--even though anybody familiar with HIV and AIDS knows that the condition can be caused by HIV infection or by superinfections resulting from the sequelae of HIV drug therapies.
"Herb Ritts' death was reported by gay media as pneumonia," Hogarth says. "That's a result of HIV, but [they] never mention HIV. That's incredible.
"It's not like cigarette smoking, where people look sick and are dying," she continues. "You can drive down a street in West Hollywood and see a billboard that says, 40,000 deaths this year from smoking. But you'd never see a billboard saying anything about deaths from HIV."
This reluctance to talk about HIV and the rising HIV infection rates in this country (according to a Centers for Disease Control announcement this past February, infection among homosexual men rose 14 percent from 1999 through 2001) are exactly the situations that Hogarth hopes her documentary addresses and starts to change. She says she's lost many friends over the years to HIV/AIDS, and she'd like to see AIDS organizations stop portraying HIV/AIDS as a chronic, manageable illness.
But she's afraid that this message is going to be overshadowed by her movie's primary subject: the sub-subculture of men (called "bug chasers") who actively seek out HIV+ men ("gift givers") with whom to have unprotected sex ("barebacking") in hopes of seroconverting (turning from HIV- to HIV+).
For two and a half years, Hogarth talked to men in California gay communities who hold barebacking parties, visited Web sites where bug-chasers go in search of gift-givers, and talked candidly with men who purposely sought infection. She contrasts these interviews--with HIV+ young men who have yet to become symptomatic or had to endure the debilitating side effects of years of medication--with men who have been living with HIV for years, examining how each of them conceptualize and talk about the condition.
Just as Cindy Patton's landmark 1990 book Inventing AIDS was as much a theory book about how medical "knowledge" is constructed socially and politically, The Gift is a movie about how social group attitudes influence public policy. Its main concern isn't bringing scandalous bug-chasing out into the open, but to examine how the current culture could result in the chilling irony of calling HIV "the gift" in the first place.
"I would like, hopefully, for the people in charge of prevention to realize that their strategies were developed for short-term," she says. "And they were very effective for the short-term, but now we have a long-term health crisis and we need to rethink the strategies and not just put our heads in the sand and attack the messenger, which is what they did with the Rolling Stone guy. They really went on the attack."
She's referring to the Feb. 6 issue of Rolling Stone, in which writer Gregory A. Freeman's "In Search of Death" article appeared, which presented interviews with men who had sought out HIV infection--including one young man Hogarth also interviewed, Doug Hitzel. The article was a tad salacious, but only because the subject--gay men trying to get infected--seemed so unheard of.
The story caused a flurry of activity once it appeared. The Drudge Report turned its contested statistics--i.e., that 25 percent of new infections are caused by bug-chasing--into a headline banner, and everybody from Newsweek to conservative queer writer Andrew Sullivan labeled Freeman and Rolling Stone sensationalistic.
It's understandable why. Public discussion of HIV/AIDS has been drastically reduced since its politically sexy heyday in the late 1980s. Now, even though AIDS/HIV prevention and management hasn't changed that much since the advent of safe-sex campaigns and AZT drug cocktails, the topic has drifted out of the view of straight media, while gay media toe a party line established almost 20 years ago.
No wonder the media freaked out about the Rolling Stone story; it wasn't what everybody was already comfortable with. Conservative straight media find bug-chasing morally reprehensible, gay media think it portrays a bad image, and liberal straight media feel it might sound mean to attack HIV+ men.
The ire the article drew was misplaced, though. While that 25 percent stat has been vehemently and thoroughly disproved (most contend that the rate due to bug-chasing is much lower), what has thus far been lost in almost all the coverage so far has been that number's greater significance. Whatever the rate of new infections caused by gay men seeking seroconversion, it still means that an overwhelming number of sexually transmitted new infections among gay males is caused by--as Dan Savage pointed out in his Feb. 20 Savage Love column--"gay male stupidity, recklessness, naiveté, and bad luck."
And unlike new HIV/AIDS drug therapies, which take millions of dollars and years of research to develop, stupidity, recklessness, and naiveté can be corrected right now. All it takes is for people to start talking about HIV/AIDS risks again.
"And that's the whole intent, especially for gay men, because they don't discuss it at all," Hogarth says. "The HIV rates in this country are way up. It's way up in the black community. It's a waiting avalanche that's waiting to come down. A lot of people don't test anymore, so you need for them to get sick [for the infection to be discovered], which takes about 10 years. And that's not the truth. We have to start telling the truth. And that would be the best thing that could come of [the documentary]--that people would start talking again and become aware of the risk.""

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

*Leafs Scandal

Following images of him tonguing another man:

Maple Leafs player Jiri Tlusty issued a statement:
Jiri: I don't know nothing about the homosexual
Then surprisingly naked pics of him surfaced!

I read a great quote "Anyone who has LUSTY in his name is alright with me".

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Putting Baby In The Corner

I went to see Dirty Dancing tonight. As I was sitting waiting for the show to begin I had several thoughts.
Why am I here, this is clearly for women?
I only saw the movie once in 1986.
Then I remembered a joke from the Golden Girls that made me laugh for the whole first act:
Blanche: Have you ever heard of Dirty Dancing?
Dorothy: Of course, Blanche, they did it in that movie.
Rose: What movie?
Dorothy: Laurence of Arabia.
It was well done, overall I'm happy I went. They had cool staging tricks. They kept all the corny lines from the movie. When he said "No one puts Baby in the corner" everyone went nuts. And one of the most important parts of a musical, the closing number, was fantastic. Overall an enjoyable evening. I, of course, could touch the ceiling. Cats I'm in the front row. Sheesh.
At the end of the month I'm going to see Little Shop of Horrors at the Can Stage, I paid just over $70 so it should be terrible.
Also today, this British writer guy I like wrote a musical in 1964 and I found an original program on eBay. I got it today and ripped the cover getting it out of the envelope, I was so pleased. It survives 43 years in England and gets demolished after one day in Canada.
My cat is playing with pasta right now. She needs a therapist.


1. The X-Factor - It's an American Idol spinoff with Simon Cowell and Sharon Osbourne.
2. I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Outta Here! - It's Survivor with British celebrities you've never heard of and Janice Dickinson. Hosted by Ant and Dec!
3. Doctor Who - Returns for a special on Christmas Day with Kylie Minogue!
4. Torchwood - Returns in January with gay hottie John Barrowman! Yum!
5. Howard Stern on Demand - I don't understand how he makes everything watchable, he really is the best radio host ever. His Ru Paul interview last week was great!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Russian Mafia 2: Czech Mate!

Have they found where I live? I went to my mailbox today and my "No flyers please" sticker had been tampered with. Someone tried to pick it off! Was it the Russian mafia? The flyer companies? Have I made a new enemy?
Speaking of enemies, McDonalds changed their salt. They used to have finely ground salt, now it's just the regular old table stuff. I plan on writing a letter campaign and starting a hunger fast in protest. Who's with me? (silence)
I decided for research purposes to check out an online hook-up site, Criagslist Toronto, to see if what I said yesterday was true, that most men now do not use condoms. What I did find is that most men don't mention condoms in their ads, which I'm assuming is not a good sign. I also found some great ads I wanted to share. Act now, these men are going soon! (What does NSA stand for?)

This one from Dipping Sauce - 26
"Stange post I know
But I love guys in Mcdonalds uniform
I would love to pick you up at work in your
uniform and suck your cock
no recip needed looking for
one time or ongoing
would love to spoil a guy from mcdonalds"

This one from Girly Feminine Male - 24

"A soft feminine boy who looks and sounds like a girl but is still a boy. Adorable, cute, submissive, and loves top, aggressive, masculine, dominante men.
Daddy's and big brothers are awesome and so is roleplaying.
I'm the boyfriend that looks like a girlfriend.
Cream pies, ass to mouth, are favorites. Loves cock of all kinds"

And this last one from Bi Married Male
"Bi married guy here looking to try giving oral to another guy using a condom for total safety. Also willing to get the same way and into making out. Let me know."

Act fast!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Trannie Hookers/The Russian Mafia

A while ago I was reading X-tra, Toronto's free gay magazine, and saw an article about the trannie hookers union. It seems there is collusion over price among whores, one girl can bring the market down if she charges to cheaply. The article told of this t-girl who put an ad in Now magazine saying she would do anything for $20. So all the trannie hookers went over to her place and beat her up. The point is there's a standard and it doesn't matter if you're fat with no teeth and over 50, you can't just give it away.
This brings me to the DVD I bought off ebay recently for $100. I got it and the quality wasn't perfect but I was kind of mad I had to pay $100 for a copy of a DVD so I listed the DVD for sale saying I had 5 copies and went to bed. When I woke up all had sold, I made $225 over night. So I thought I'd chance it again and 3 hours later, the same thing, all were gone. It was the chance it again that's the problem, I got greedy. So then the Russian mafia contacted me and told me to knock it off. Bleek!
I have to sell my tv, I never use it and it's taking up a lot of space in my small apartment.
I was listening to Pride FM today, it was interesting, they were talking about charging people who infected others with HIV. I don't understand that, it's carpe diem as far as I'm concerned. What was interesting was the host said at the baths nowadays it's unusual for people to use condoms. What are these people thinking? Now granted I haven't had sex since... it's November now... carry the 7... plus 4... well a long time. Actually in my life I have had unprotected sex once with someone without discussing status.... maybe it just escalates from there? My dream has always been to die at 50, I don't want to compromise my chances.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


I've bought a couple hundred dollar items recently, one was this picture:

By the incomparable Steve Walker. The other was a DVD of the Chop Suey Club.
Also yesterday something interesting happened at work. Some woman said "I can't be as straight as you are gay, it's your whole life!" To which I replied, "Please, I need an assistant to be this gay!"
This led to me talking to my boss and telling her some of the gay secrets. The problem with straights is you think you can tell them the gay secrets, but you must NEVER, because they don't understand.
1. The concept of bathhouses
2. Gay men do not use condoms for oral sex
3. All gay men have more than 100 partners
4. Gay men do not need the names of the people they sleep with
5. Monogamy is for straight people.