The "Post-AIDS" Era?

Author Eric Rofes calls off the crisis among gay men

Although AIDS was known early on as the "gay cancer," the scope of its damage quickly seeped beyond the confines of male-homosexual circles. It ensnared IV drug users, women, heterosexuals, infants, and people of color. By the late '80s, the disease had more than earned its reputation as an epidemic, a scourge, a plague.

But for gay men of the '90s, says writer Eric Rofes, it's time to rethink the notion of AIDS as a crisis. An AIDS activist and author, Rofes recently published his second book, Dry Bones Breathe: Gay Men Creating Post-AIDS Identities and Cultures (Hawthorn Press, $24.95), a followup to his earlier book on gay-male culture and sexuality Reviving the Tribe.

According to Rofes, who visited Minneapolis last month to participate in a public forum sponsored by the Minnesota AIDS Project, contemporary gay men no longer experience AIDS as the crisis it was in the '80s. Although AIDS continues to have a disproportionate impact on many populations, Rofes says that many communities of gay men--including some HIV-positive men--are "over it," and that AIDS organizations need to face the new reality of gay men's lives. There's an ever-widening distance between activists and health-care professionals and the queer communities they intend to serve, Rofes says. Dry Bones Breathe lays out a blueprint for rethinking and redesigning HIV prevention, education, and activism.

Rofes uses the term "post-AIDS" to describe the attitude of many gay men. He refers to the "Protease Moment," the point in the modern AIDS discourse when HIV no longer meant inevitable disability and death, a development heralded by the media with the arrival of protease inhibitors and the International AIDS Conference in Vancouver. But Rofes also notes that the much-ballyhooed drug cocktails led to the dangerous assumption (among health-care providers and AIDS researchers) that combination therapies are the only reason for the shift in thinking about AIDS. Not so, he says.

Do you think the rethinking of AIDS that you propose will occur as a natural progression? Or is this re-evaluation a radical departure?

I don't believe in the concept of natural progression. My message will sound radical to some people. The community is now in this debate: Which is better--the sex pigs or the monogamous? Some sex pigs or sexual liberationists build themselves on feeling superior and smug and "more gay" than monogamous gay men. And monogamous men build their subculture on trashing the sex pigs. I am of the belief that these are both valuable ways of organizing one's life.

I was recently reviewed in The Nation. This critic thinks that what I'm doing is, for the first time, saying things in a book form and in publication that gay men have been saying for years, but that we haven't been allowing our books to say and people haven't been perhaps putting in the public sphere. I feel like I am very rooted in gay communities, and I would expect that while AIDS organizations and AIDS workers might be shocked by what they read, the rank and file of gay men in most places might not find it controversial. I've been on the road with this book now for the last three months, and generally it is very well-taken. And people come expecting it to sound really radical and controversial and end up just nodding their heads, saying, "What's the big deal?" I'm not saying anything that people don't already know.

What do you mean by "creating post-AIDS identities"? Are you saying that the various subgroups of gay culture are being driven further apart by their individual responses to AIDS? Is AIDS, in effect, forcing these groups to define themselves?

I don't think the experience of AIDS is what causes the groups to form different identities and cultures. I think such groups are rooted in different values and different experiences that are important to them. And those experiences and values lead them to experience HIV and AIDS in unique ways.

You also say that building community is central to work in HIV prevention and education. In an increasingly diverse world, what brings gay men together?

I think in the late '90s there is nothing that brings them together. And when I suggest community building and community development, I don't pretend that this should occur at the mass gay level. But it's more subcultural community development. I believe gay men are as fractured from other people as everyone else is in this culture, and we are divided by age, and we are divided by race, and we are divided by class, and we are divided by sexual interest. And I think it creates a challenge to doing it in any universal way.

So, more like grassroots?

It's grassroots, but instead of your focus being, "Let's organize gay men," your focus might be "Let's organize 18- to 23-year-old black gay men who live in this neighborhood." Your focus might be "let's organize around people who attend bear bars or bear activities." Because community building has to be meaningful to people. And whereas perhaps 20 years ago it was meaningful to most out gay men to organize on the gay level, these days there is too much that divides gay men from each other to not recognize the differences. So men who choose to organize their lives in monogamous relationships need one kind of subculture, and men who organize their lives in more open ways, or who enjoy sex clubs for example, have other needs. And I think basic skills of community organizing apply to them all, but the work you're actually trying to do will be different for the different populations.

You bring up scapegoating in Dry Bones Breathe--men who practice less mainstream versions of sexual relationships are chastised because promiscuity supposedly causes and perpetuates so many gay health problems. Where do you think monogamy fits in?

I was interviewed by that new magazine that was supposed to be called "Arrow"-- I think it's being called "Hero"--that is supposed to be for monogamous gay men. And they thought I was going to be the anti-voice. I am not opposed to those publications. I support them in my book, and I think even in my last book I talked about the need to create publications like that for monogamous gay men. I am not a monogamous gay man myself, but I have many friends who are or many friends who want to be, including many of my students. And I feel like it is appropriate to give them social support in constructing their lives that way. The problem we get into is men who feel forced into one way of organizing themselves and start representing themselves as monogamous when they're not, or when it's coming from unhealthy needs. But that's true for men who organize themselves in promiscuous ways too. I don't care how men choose to organize their lives, but it must come from a good place and have community support.

HIV/AIDS prevention and education efforts have never seemed, to me, to promote monogamy over any other form of sexual arrangement. Rather, it seems to endorse a variety of sexual lifestyles. What sort of sexual lifestyle should they be promoting?

My sense is that HIV programs for gay men have tried to do an end run around this question just to avoid it. They certainly don't seem to be endorsing monogamy--but it's not clear that they endorse anything. I think they need to shift in that way. It's fine to have programs that affirm and recognize that some men want to go to sex clubs and bath houses and have lives that are either sexually generous or promiscuous, and some men want to be monogamous or mostly monogamous. I think that those approaches require different organizing efforts.

This means prevention groups need to see themselves not in the role of advocating anything. Their job is to provide us with information and support for however we determine to organize our lives. And I think they have been very much afraid to be appearing to take a stand on things. As the epidemic shifts, they are going to need to take a stand if their work is to be credible anymore.

You write in Dry Bones that gay health issues need to be addressed more holistically, that we need to see AIDS as not one crisis, but as one of many problems.

I feel like HIV is a sign of broader issues in gay men's sexual health. And that to only work on AIDS is not to learn what AIDS is teaching us--which is that we haven't done much work on sex education. We haven't done much work on sexual empowerment. We haven't created clean and safe places for men to have sex in. And we have a huge amount of work to do in creating healthy sexual cultures for gay men. Decentralizing AIDS and HIV is important because, first of all, a lot of people are over it. It's just not meaningful for them to construct an entire health plan or health agenda around one virus. And they feel like there are other issues, be it substance abuse or mental health or STDs or various forms of cancer, that are meaningful and do not appear on the gay health agenda. This is particularly true as you have many men who are aging. And you have lots of openly gay men who are 50, 60, 70, and who have health issues in that context where they might not feel that non-gay providers are able to address their needs.

Some AIDS organizations say that they must still create a certain sense of urgency--almost a panic--to unify and mobilize men to fight AIDS and HIV transmission. How can communities of men find inspiration if AIDS is no longer a crisis for them?

I argue that AIDS is not escalating among gay men but that it is in fact contained right now. But the disease is escalating in certain communities of color and particularly through intravenous drug use. I also think that we have got to look for less involvement from gay men in HIV and AIDS efforts in the places where gay men are no longer experiencing AIDS as a crisis. There are other communities that can fill those places. It is OK and fine for gay men who have worked on AIDS for 15 or 20 years to decide to start working on some other issues. That doesn't mean they don't take AIDS seriously and are not concerned, and won't still give money and occasionally volunteer. But this idea that gay men own AIDS and are the only population that can organize around it is not going to hold for much longer.

Show Pages
 
My Voice Nation Help
4 comments
richardtaylor51
richardtaylor51

• MY HIV DISEASE WAS CURED BY DR NICE, WITH HIS HERBAL HEALING SPELL/ (drniceharbelhealinghome@gmail.com).DR NICE is the only Dr who could ever get my HIV-AIDS cured with his healing spell, I have tried almost everything but I couldn’t find any solution on my disease, despite all these happening to me, I always spend a lot to buy a HIV drugs from hospital and taking some several medications but no relieve, until one day I was just browsing on the internet when I come across a great post of! Michelle! who truly said that she was been diagnose with HIV and was healed that very week through the help of these great powerful healing spell doctor, sometime I really wonder why people called him DR NICE  I never knew it was all because of the great and perfect work that he has been doing that is causing all this. so I quickly contacted him, and he ask me some few questions and he said a thing I will never forget that anyone who contacted him is! always getting his or her healing in just 6 hours after doing all he ask you, so I was amazed all the time I heard that from him, so I did all things only to see that at the very day which he said I will be healed, all the strength that has left me before rush back and I becomes very strong and healthy, this disease almost kills my life all because of me, so I went to hospital to give the final test to the disease and the doctor said I am HIV negative, I am very amazed and happy about the healing Dr NICE gave to me from the ancient part of Africa, you can email him now for your own healing too at :drniceharbelhealinghome@gmail.com

alexcello112
alexcello112




My name is David Lucia, i live and work in England, UK. My life is back!!! After 2 years of Broken marriage, my husband left me with two kids, I felt like ending it all, i almost committed suicide because he left us with nothing, i was emotionally down all this while. Thanks to a spell caster called Dr OYAKHILO spell cast which i met online. On one faithful day, as I was browsing through the internet, I came across several of testimonies about this particular spell caster. Some people testified that he brought their Ex lover back, some testified that he restores womb,cure cancer,and other sickness, some testified that he can cast a spell to stop divorce and also spell to get a good paid job so on. He is amazing, i also come across one particular testimony, it was about a woman called Vera, she testified about how he brought back her Ex lover in less than 2 days, and at the end of her testimony she dropped his email.After reading all these, I decided to give it a try. I contacted him via email and explained my problem to him. In just 24hours, my husband came back to me. We resolved our issues, and we are even happier than ever.Dr OYAKHILO you are a gifted man and i will not stop publishing him because he is a wonderful man. If you have a problem and you are looking for a real and genuine spell caster, Try him anytime, he is the answer to your problems. you can contact him on (oyakhilobhegbelovespelltemple@live.com) or call him +2348134875929 he is the best caster that can help you with your problems


africabest.vodoospel
africabest.vodoospel

BE CAREFUL HERE NOBODY CAN HELP YOU HERE OR EVEN SUGGEST HOW YOU CAN GET YOUR EX OR LOVE BACK,ANY TESTIMONIES OF MOST SPELL CASTER HERE MUST BE IGNORE.BECAUSE MOST OF THEM ARE SCAM I MEAN REAL SCAM WHICH I WAS A VICTIM AND I GOT RIPPED OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS BECAUSE I WAS SO ANXIOUS TO GET MY WIFE BACK AFTER SHE LEFT ME FOR OVER 2 YEARS WITH MY 7 YEARS OLD SON JERRY,I HAVE APPLIED TO 7 DIFFERENT SPELL CASTER HERE AND ALL TO NO AVAIL THEY ALL ASK FOR SAME THING SEND YOUR NAME YOUR EX NAME ADDRESS AND PICTURE PHONE NUMBER ETC WHICH I DID OVER AND OVER AGAIN AND MOST OF THEM WERE FROM WEST AFRICA UNTIL I SAW A POST ABOUT MAMA ANITA SPELL AND I DECIDED TO GAVE HER MY LAST TRAIL.SHE ASK ME FOUR THINGS MY REAL NAME,MY EX AND MY EX MOTHER NAME AND $180 AND SAID MY EX WILL COME BACK IN 24HOURS, I HAVE PAID OVER $3000 ON SPELL CASTING AND COURIER AND NOTHING HAVE WORK FOR ME AFTER 3 DAYS I WAS THINKING ABOUT HOW MUCH I HAVE LOST SO FAR SO I SAID LET ME GIVE HER A TRY SO I CALLED HER AGAIN AND SEND MY REAL NAME,MY EX AND MY EX MOTHER NAME AND THE $180 BECAUSE I SWEAR IT WAS MY LAST TRY SO I WAS WAITING AS SHE TOLD ME TO WAIT TILL NEXT DAY AND I COULD NOT SLEEP THAT NIGHT BECAUSE I REALLY LOVE MY WIFE AND WANT HER BACK AT 9PM THAT DAY I SAW MY WIFE ON LINE ON FACE BOOK AND SHE SAID HI AT FIRST I WAS SHOCK BECAUSE SHE NEVER TALK WITH ME FOR THE PAST A YEAR AND 9 MONTH NOW I DID NOT REPLY AGAIN SHE SAID ARE YOU THERE? I QUICKLY REPLY YES AND SHE SAID CAN WE SEE TOMORROW I SAID YES AND SHE WENT OFF-LINE I WAS CONFUSED I TRY TO CHAT HER AGAIN BUT SHE WAS NO MORE ON LINE I COULD NOT SLEEP THAT NIGHT AS I WAS WONDERING WHAT SHE IS GOING TO SAY, BY 7.AM THE NEXT MORNING SHE GAVE ME A MISS CALL I DECIDED NOT TO CALL BACK AS I WAS STILL ON SHOCK AGAIN SHE CALL AND I PICK SHE SAID CAN WE SEE AFTER WORK TODAY I SAID YES SO SHE END THE CALL IMMEDIATELY I GOT OFF WORK SHE CALL ME AND WE MEET AND NOW WE ARE BACK AGAIN I CALL MAMA ANITA THE NEXT DAY THANKING HER FOR WHAT SHE HAS DONE IN FACT I STILL CALL HER AND THANK HER AS MY LIFE WAS NOT COMPLETE WITHOUT MY WIFE PLEASE BE CAREFUL HERE I HAVE BEEN SCAM THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IF YOU WANT A TRUE LOVE SPELL THEN CONTACT MAMA ANITA (mama.anitatruelovespell@gmail.com)

Jonathan_young
Jonathan_young

DR Olorun is the only Dr who could ever get my HIV-AIDS cured with his healing spell, i have tried almost everything but i could'nt find any solution on my disease, despite all these happening to me, i always spend a lot to buy a HIV drugs from hospital and taking some several medications but no relieve, until one day i was just browsing on the internet when i come across a great post of !Michelle! who truly said that she was been diagnose with HIV and was healed that very week through the help of these great powerful healing spell doctor, sometime i really wonder why people called him Papa olorun, i never knew it was all because of the great and perfect work that he has been doing that is causing all this. so i quickly contacted him, and he ask me some few questions and he said a thing i will never forget that anyone who contacted him is ! always getting his or her healing in just 6 hours after doing all he ask you, so i was amazed all the time i heard that from him, so i did all things only to see that at the very day which he said i will be healed, all the strength that has left me before rush back and i becomes very strong and healthy, this disease almost kills my life all because of me, so i will to hospital to give the final test to the disease and the doctor said i am HIV negative, i am very amazed and happy about the healing Dr Olorun gave to me from the ancient part of Africa, you can email him now for your own healing too at: Olorunoduduwaspiritualtemple@gmail.com or call him on +2348165219949

thank you sir for healing me from HIV, i am Matilda Morgan

 
Minnesota Concert Tickets
Loading...