by Simon Sheppard

Oh dear—yet another reason (as if one were needed) for me to dislike right-wingers.

I don't Google my name all that often—partly out of modesty, partly out of fear. Perhaps I should; the other day I discovered something rather distressing. I had, wayyy back in 2003, been taken to task by The National Review, the unattractive organ of paleoconservative slimebucket William R. Buckley—who is proof positive that someone who provides proof possitive that a snotty, bitchy queen can indeed be thoroughly hetero. We hope.

Anyhow, a goodly while back, I wrote an article that had been published in the Queer Pride issue of The San Francisco Bay Guardian. That piece, "The Gay Sluts Are Back," both celebrated lust's provisional triumph over the HIV epidemic and bemoaned what everybody already knew: that a lot of homos were having unprotected anal sex. You can find the full text of the article right here, but here's a quote:

"The people I’ve spoken to who work in AIDS prevention programs do indeed confirm what we all already knew: queer men are having more sex, and less of it is condomized. One artist who’s celebrated the gay sexual underground for the last quarter century says, 'I thought we’d learned something, but apparently we have to go through it all again. It’s like watching the replay of a train wreck, in slow motion.'

'The consequences of nonmonogamy are terrible,' says Dr. Tom Coburn, one of George Dubbya’s chief AIDS advisors. 'It tears up relationships and can make people vulnerable to STDs.' Well, sure, the STD thing is true: lifelong monogamy is a damn good way to guard against anal warts. But there’s clearly a moralizing agenda at work here, too, the kind of antisex Pecksniffery that makes some of us want to go out and get gang-banged—with condoms—just for the hell of it. So how to keep queer men safer while not joining hands with the anti-sexers and homophobes? It can be a delicate balancing act; public health officials who sound even a little alarmist about the current state of affairs have been lambasted by more than a few queers."

This all seems rather reasonable to me, and I hope to you, too. So imagine my, well, shock, when I read that Rod Dreher had written in The National Review, "The article characterized efforts by AIDS-prevention experts to dampen male promiscuity as hatred of sex and male desire, To ignore the problem, the argument goes, is to be both moral (since fulfilling sexual desire is the greatest good) and authentic."

Now, if Dreher had said that I'd attributed a moralizing agenda to "some AIDS-prevention experts," then perhaps I wouldn't want to kick his cat. And perhaps he might even have mentioned that Dr. Expert-on-Promiscuity Coburn has strong ties with the religious far right, had bizarrely denounced NBC's showing of Schindler's List as "an all-time low, with full-frontal nudity," and even more bizarrely railed against "rampant" lesbian activity in the bathrooms of Oklahoma high schools. But Dreher made "the argument" in favor of "ignoring the problem" into my argument, and accused me of saying that ignoring the problem of HIV transmission was "authentic"—well, it's an example of sophistry at its best. Or worst. It's kind of galling to have words put in my otherwise-accomodating mouth.

(Just to add insult to injury, I've seen photos of Rod Dreher. He's really cute.)

So just for the record: I spent 15 years volunteering at the California HIV Hotline, so I bet I've done at least as much to stem the tide of AIDS as Mr. Dreher. And one thing I truly believe is the simple fact that sluttiness and safety are not intrinsically opposed. What matters is what you do, not how many people you do it with. Jacking off a thousand guys is less risky than getting fucked without a condom by one. It is entirely possible to be foolhardy in a monogamous relationship or safe with the entire French Army. Fucking one guy without a rubber is riskier than pulling on latex and fucking a football team. Got that, Rod?

But hey, maybe Tom Coburn (who is now, Shiva save us, a U.S. senator) is right. Maybe lust is trouble. Maybe "safe sex" is "no sex." Maybe monogamy-with-a-prior-virgin is the only way to true happiness. Maybe sexual ignorance is bliss. Just ask all the unsatisfied wives out there, all the "faithful" husbands who hire hookers to get what they want. Maybe The National Review is right, and I should be condemned for saying erotic expression is better than sexual repression, when, as we all know, the truly supreme good in life is using money from the capital-gains tax cut to buy a Lincoln Navigator. And maybe Oklahoma's high schools are brimming over with ravening lesbians.

Umm—no. I don't think so.


Hey, Rod Dreher?

Suck my thesis.

copyright 2008, Simon Sheppard