Category Archives: LGBT

A message from Equality Illinois Executive Director Brian C. Johnson


Dear Members,

The results of last night were devastating to so many Americans. 

We at Equality Illinois don’t say this because we have differing views than the president-elect on major policy questions; we acknowledge that members of our community have a diverse range of views on key policy matters. 

Last night was so devastating because we have elected to the presidency a man who has publicly targeted immigrants, children and grandchildren of immigrants, Muslims, the disabled, women, and many others.  Last night was so devastating because we have elected to the vice presidency a man who served as a key architect in an attempt to legalize religious discrimination against the LGBTQ community in every facet of our public lives.  And even more alarming, these candidates, now our President-elect and Vice President-elect, have whipped up and legitimized a fear-based world view which pits a large base of Americans against many historically marginalized groups in our country.

The cornerstone of our evolving equality and liberty as an LGBTQ community is the broad belief that we as a country are better off when we expand notions of basic fairness and decent treatment to those whose identities differ from our own.  That belief has been under attack this election season, and last night it lost.

Still, we know that our country is stronger than any one campaign or even any one presidency.  We believe deeply in the American people and our democratic institutions.  Even though we are alarmed today, we acknowledge that as of the writing of this letter, more Americans voted for a message of inclusion and strength in diversity.

Now is the time to deepen our commitment to building bridges not putting up walls.  We call on all our LGBTQ stakeholders and allies to take two actions today in support of a brighter more equal America.

First, we in the LGBTQ community know that if we do not stand up for other historically marginalized groups when they are attacked, we will have no one left to stand up for us when we are attacked.  That is why we are calling on our champions and allies to publicly and proudly support groups most under attack.  To that end we have established donation pages so that the LGBTQ community of Illinois can stand up with a consolidated voice in support of immigrants, Muslims, and victims of sexual assault.  We ask you to give what you can ($5, $25, $100) to each of the following groups:

  • Council on American Islamic Relations – Learn more about the organization here. Support CAIR here.
  • Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights – Learn more about the organization here. Support ICIRR here.
  • Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault – Learn more about the organization here. Support ICASA here.

By standing up together as one community of LGBTQ stakeholders and allies with communities who have been under attack, we send a strong signal that we believe America is great when all Americans are valued.

Second, help us broaden our base.  We believe that now more than ever our work at Equality Illinois is essential. Encourage five friends to sign up with Equality Illinois here to broaden our base of champions and allies.

What last night has confirmed for us is that the equality we have won to date is not guaranteed without our vigilance.  In the next few months we are advancing our 2017 legislative agenda, expanding our outreach with partner groups across the state, and outlining our strategic plan to protect our rights over the next four years.  Your help in bringing more people into our work will help us fight for a more inclusive Illinois.

With love for our country and hope for our future,

Brian C. Johnson
Chief Executive Officer

Gay police sergeant makes us wonder: porn stars have agents?

Sgt. Jonathan E. Moore, a 35-year-old Schenectady police sergeant, is in a bit of a fix after admitting he made some adult films with his live-in boyfriend.
Sgt. Jonathan E. Moore, a 35-year-old Schenectady police sergeant, is in a bit of a fix after admitting he made some adult films with his live-in boyfriend.

Just one of the odd “facts” coming out about the case of a gay Schenectady full-time police sergeant and part-time porn actor who must now be making every LGBT cop facepalm.

Queerty has some of the weirdness that is this tale:

[Moore] also claimed to have “debt issues,” so Aubin promised to “help me get out of debt” by producing “gay porn” films for a Florida company called Bear Films.

This is where things somehow get even more peculiar.

“I researched them and they are a legitimate company,” Moore said. “Anthony accepted a contract with Bear Films and I ultimately took a job with them as well…”

Alas, the Bear Films deal fell apart, so the men allegedly began working with another adult film company, FratX, who produce ungodly “frat gang rape” videos in grubby dorm rooms.

Allegedly, the company — FratX — was going to wire “salaries” to Aubin and Moore into an SEFCU bank account, but reportedly their agent — their agent — said the transaction warranted a “suspicious activities” report and thus the money was held up at the bank.

Moore claimed the amount owed was roughly $400,000.

So, with the confidence that their $400,000 check from Frat X would be cleared soon enough, Moore says he and Aubin immediately ran out and planned to buy a new house and new car. Like most people do when they receive their first six-figure paycheck from a frat boy adult film studio.

My, my, my.

What a mess.

I know nothing about this case personally, so this is just a guess, but I would be shocked if drugs were not somehow involved in this somewhere. 

Nobody fucks up this much after leading a normal life for so long without some chemical interference. Especially the part about letting a shady character into your life whom, under normal circumstances, you likely wouldn’t let into your front door.

I find the Queerty article to be amusing, but I also have the feeling that LGBT cops everywhere who have to walk the straight and narrow at work feel betrayed when other gay cops pull shit like this.


16 videos: notable public figure reactions to Orlando

Someone asked me if I knew of a central place to see many of the high-profile videos regarding Orlando. I did not. So I made this playlist.

Use the pulldown menu at the top left of the video player.  Every video will play start to finish and then go to the next one.

Included are clips from Anderson Cooper, Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, President Obama, Apple CEO Tim Cook and others.

Cooper’s is the hardest to watch.

Bee’s is, I think, the most prescient.

Apple’s Cook is interesting in that he, along with Cooper, suggest that those in the LGBT community are indeed the ones who are feeling this the hardest. Of course we all ache for the loss and despair at the violence. But who among us has not felt even just a bit unsafe walking down a street, walking in or out of a bar or showing same-sex affection in a public place? This truly could have been any of us.

I thought James Corden’s Tony Awards opening was pitch perfect. The same goes for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony acceptance speech.

The most “Hell YES!” moment comes from overseas where British newspaper columnist Owen Jones storms off the SkyNews “Press Preview” set (a show I adore btw) after the host and co-presenter try to insist that the fact that the victims were in a gay bar is irrelevant.

But they are all good, which is a small testament to how far we’ve come. It wasn’t so long ago that many of us could burn to death in a bar fire and the media didn’t much notice.

I did not include those from Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders (both of whom have been very good) or Donald Trump. It just felt as if campaign videos should be separate.


President Obama delivers his 8th Pride address


These are awesome times we live in. 

I just hope everyone turns out to vote to help ensure that they continue.

Note that VP Biden also attended. I love Biden.

Pro skier clarifies Gus Kenworthy remarks

Gus Kenworthy Attitude magazine skiiing skiers Alex Schlopy Outports
Pro skier Gus Kenworthy.

So this happened:

  1. Gay pro skier Gus Kenworthy comes out.
  2. Longtime friend and straight teammate Alex Schlopy calls him “selfish” in an I-want-attention kind of way, and questions whether Kenworthy’s motives are pure
  3. Kenworthy (and gay sports site Outsports) pile onto Schlopy, with Outsports opining that “Schlopy’s view that coming out publicly is a selfish act (let alone comparing it to being a drug addict) shows he has no idea what gay people go through. “
  4. Schlopy then clarifies his remarks in an Outsports column he wrote, saying:

When my great friend, fellow skier and competitor Gus Kenworthy came out openly as gay, I was thrilled for him. I was so happy that Gus could finally be free from a secret that had been tearing at him for so long, and also to be a role model for many people, of all ages, dealing with the same issues. Gus is a very strong person and a very talented athlete and I’m proud he can finally stand up and be who he is. To me, people are beautiful regardless of their sexual orientation if they are a good person.

Soon after he came out, I wrote some posts on Instagram that made me look very close-minded. It made it appear as if I was bothered that Gus had come out, and that is the furthest thing from the truth. I believe everyone has the right to be who they are and not be discriminated against for it. I hope, and believe, one day more people will start to open their minds as well, and this includes the community of freeskiers and snowboarders.

I didn’t ever intend to start a fire and think some people used selective quotes to misrepresent my beliefs about Gus. This saddens me and denigrates my views on the LGBT community, because I fully support equality. Gus’ coming out to me was never anything “surprising” but was more of like, “YES!!!!” I’m stoked for you dude!”

I do stand by my feelings that Gus at first was looking for more publicity for himself, rather than intending to help the LGBT community as a whole. I want him to prove me wrong. I hope he uses his coming out to help the LGBT community and raise awareness. A lot of people think I wrote the post out of jealousy of his fame, but I’m nothing but happy for Gus. I have always been a person to accept people for who they are.

The world of dudes feels a little discombobulated, not least because we don’t often have a straight athlete having a public dust-up with a gay athlete over whose pro-gay motives are more pure.

Stay tuned. It’s an interesting development.


EQIL to honor Nancy Pelosi at anniversary gala

Nancy Pelosi EQIL Equality Illinois anniversary gala 2016
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi

Citing what it calls her “visionary advocacy for the rights of LGBT Americans as a Member of Congress, Democratic Leader and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives,” Equality Illinois (EQIL) has announced that it will give an award to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi at a gala in February.

EQIL’s Bernard Cherkasov made the announcement in an email Nov. 17, saying in a letter to his members:

From her first speech in the House of Representatives in 1987, when she pressed Congress to take a leading role in fighting AIDS, to the present day and her leadership on the Equality Act, Leader Pelosi has always sought to address the challenges faced by LGBT Americans.

In 1996, Leader Pelosi was a leading voice against the passage of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act.”  As Speaker of the House, Pelosi led the Congress in passing the repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy restricting open service in the military in 2010 and the passage of the fully-inclusive Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009, which was the first LGBT-affirming federal law.  Equality Illinois anniversary gala EQIL
She has worked tirelessly to ensure that the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans were expressly addressed in landmark laws such as the Violence Against Women Act and the Affordable Care Act. An outspoken advocate for marriage equality for decades, Leader Pelosi was the first national elected leader to call for the inclusion of a marriage equality plank in the 2012 Democratic National Convention. 

For her devotion to the principle that LGBT Americans deserve to be able to live full, equal lives, for her understanding that government must play a role in achieving that, and for her outspoken leadership in the fight for equality, Equality Illinois is proud to recognize Leader Pelosi with the 2016 Equality Illinois Freedom Award.
I hope you’ll join us in celebrating Leader Pelosi at our gala. 

More information, including a link to a tickets ordering page, can be found here or by clicking one of the graphics above.


Howard Brown Health Center to add Rogers Park location

Gerber Hart Howard Brown Health Center
The location in Rogers Park where Howard Brown Health Center will open an additional office, where the health center will share space with the Gerber Hart LIbrary.

Who would have thought way back in 1974 when this institution started with, in its own words, “a coffee pot, a portable kitchen table [and] a room above an old grocery market,” that it would become what it is today?

Howard Brown Health Center (HBHC), Chicago’s much-respected community health center which already operates out of three locations in Uptown (Buena Park) and Lakeview, along with its Broadway Youth Center, announced big news today about a new location on the far North side:

Today, Howard Brown Health Center (Howard Brown) announced plans to open a medical clinic in Rogers Park by the end of 2015. Howard Brown’s new facility will be co-located with Gerber/Hart Library and Archives (Gerber/Hart) and is one of the new opportunities resulting from Howard Brown’s recent designation as a Federally Qualified Health Center.

“We’re thrilled to have an opportunity to better meet the needs of LGBTQ people in Rogers Park, a vibrant neighborhood on Chicago’s far north side and one of the most diverse communities in the city,” said David Ernesto Munar, President and CEO of Howard Brown Health Center. “The new site, located in an emerging hub for LGBTQ culture in Chicago, furthers Howard Brown’s mission to eliminate the disparities in healthcare experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning people. Sharing a space with Gerber/Hart also gives us an exciting opportunity to provide a robust wellness experience that impacts a visitor’s body, mind and spirit.”

Located at 6500 N. Clark Street, the new facility will open its doors and begin providing limited healthcare services by the year’s end. At almost 15,000 square feet, the clinic will offer complete healthcare services by early 2016, featuring primary healthcare services including a sliding scale, behavioral health services, wrap around support services, educational opportunities, and a meeting/event space. The facility will display Gerber/Hart’s unique collection of LGBTQ artifacts and memorabilia from Chicago, giving a rich, contextual experience to visitors and clients.

HBHC (which, incidentally is holding a big Halloween costume ball fundraiser) notes on its web site:

Howard Brown Health Center (HBHC) was founded in 1974 and is now one of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ) organizations.

With an annual budget of over $22 million, the agency serves more than 18,000 adults and youth each year in its diverse health and social service delivery system focused around seven major programmatic divisions: primary medical care, behavioral health, research, HIV/STD prevention, youth services, elder services, and community initiatives.

HBHC serves men and women, infants, youth, and children through a multi-site operation based in Chicago that includes a main health and research center in the Uptown neighborhood (Sheridan Road), Aris Health by Howard Brown Health Center, the Broadway Youth Center, and three Brown Elephant resale shops in Chicago (Lakeview and Andersonville neighborhoods) and Oak Park.

I regularly visit the Brown Elephant resale store in Andersonville. It’s a great place if you like to rummage around for bargains.

I also use HBHC as my health center and my primary care provider there is easily the best doctor I’ve ever had.

You should note also that HBHC does not limit itself to LGBT health care, providing services to anyone regardless of ability to pay. 

You can read the rest of HBHC’s announcement about the new location at the link below.

Rogers Park is one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods, bounded on the North by Evanston, home of Northwestern University. As it is home also to 16,000-student Loyola University, Rogers Park has a large number of college and university students, faculty and staff while still retaining its diversity from being the northern edge of Uptown.

Source: Howard Brown : Announcing New Clinic in Rogers Park

Howard Brown Health Center Sheridan Road
Howard Brown’s location in Uptown’s Buena Park neighborhood.

My political crush on Pope Francis

Pope Francis ABC News
During the Pope’s broadcast, which was moderated by ABC News’ “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir on Monday, the pontiff spoke for nearly an hour via satellite from the Vatican with individuals from the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago’s inner city, congregants from Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, Texas, located near the U.S.-Mexico border, and homeless men and women and those working with the homeless in Los Angeles.

I never expected this to happen. At least in my lifetime.

Fascination. With a Pope.

Other popes have failed miserably in getting my attention. I have always been a critic. An unrelenting one.

Not because I am Catholic, but because I spent so much time interviewing and befriending LGBT Catholics just after I moved to Boston from the American Midwest. I soon realized how much emotional damage had been done to so many of these poor souls in their formative years by clergy obsessed with genitalia and sin rather than redemption and good works. 

But Pope Francis has turned me into convert.

(No, not THAT kind of convert. A socio-political convert.)

Did you watch the ABC News interview with Pope Francis with gaydar pinging anchor David Muir?

The network described the event this way:

Pope Francis had a piece of advice for the Americans he spoke to during a virtual audience hosted by ABC News: “Be courageous.”

During the event, which was moderated by ABC News’ “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir on Monday, the pontiff spoke for nearly an hour via satellite from the Vatican with individuals from the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago’s inner city, congregants from Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, Texas, located near the U.S.-Mexico border, and homeless men and women and those working with the homeless in Los Angeles.

The three locations were selected by ABC News because they are in parts of the country that Pope Francis will not be visiting during his historic trip to the United States, later this month.

The selected speakers, which included an undocumented teenager who had lost a soccer scholarship to college and a homeless mother of two, were all people who had struggled with adversity. The speakers were told beforehand they would get to share their story with his Holiness. 

Pope Francis
Pope Francis washes the feet at the Don Gnocchi Foundation Center in Rome, Thursday, April 17, 2014. The Pontiff has washed the feet of 12 elderly and disabled people — women and Muslims among them — in a pre-Easter ritual that scandalized many Vatican insiders and enraged some conservatives. Francis’ 2013 decision to perform the Maundy Thursday ritual on women and Muslim inmates at a juvenile detention center just two weeks after his election helped define his rule-breaking papacy. (Photo: L’Osservatore Romano.)

Unlike previous Popes, when this one told them to “be courageous” he wasn’t speaking to right-wingers trying to block abortion clinics or bishops trying to silence progressive American nuns for taking stances on social justice issues

Instead it was — let’s see, how to put this? … it was, you know, Jesus-type issues.

The things you imagine Jesus Christ the person might have talked about in his earthly lifetime if he lived now and crashed the Republican National Convention, commandeered the podium from Ted Cruz, and informed every money-grubbing hater in the audience that they had it all exactly oppositely wrong about what makes Jesus happy and what makes Jesus sad.

 And. by the way, they are all going to be sentenced when they die to an indefinite number of years back on Earth, in limbo, serving loving two-parent families headed by disabled black lesbians with Spanish surnames.

Media-Savvy And Willing To Use It

The Pope spoke on ABC via satellite to:

  • Immigrant children who told harrowing stories of dangerous journeys in hope of a better life.
  • He spoke to homeless people as if they were humans and not inconvenient outcasts to be swept out of public view.
  • He comforted and encouraged a teenage Latino boy caring for his disabled father and siblings while that boy postpones his dream of attending college.
  • Finally he unexpectedly called out of the audience a shocked but teary-eyed progressive nun who had assisted some of the people in the audience to thank her personally for her work with the people America’s right-wing despises most: immigrants, the homeless and the poor. 

It was touching and uplifting, despite being so sad in parts.

And it must’ve been making the inside of wingnut heads across the country feel full of angry hornets.

Previous Popes reprimanded activist American nuns rather than congratulate them on live national TV and say, with a smile, “I love you!”

The hatred wingnuts are now spewing toward Pope Francis in the wake of all this uplifting Christian love has been remarkably vitriolic, vile and even scarier than that which has come before.

Wingnuttia is terrified of this Pope. As well it  should be.

They can see he is the perfect foil toward their hijacking of religion. They are so desperate they are trying to paint Francis as being not Christian enough. 

Got that? Pope Francis fails to meet Wingnuttia’s low bar for being a Christian. You know they are desperately bigoted and grasping at straws when they try to fan people’s fears and ignorance with that argument. I wonder how Catholics will feel about them treating the Pope like just a another guy whom they can target with misinformation and hate campaigns?

Every time a far-Right leader or one of his/her proxies on Fox News tries to smear Francis, he and his handlers respond with some genius move — e.g., the ABC News event — that counters their misinformation and puts him back on track as being the religious and pop culture phenomenon he’s become: the first multi-partisan, right-left transcending people’s Pope in our lifetimes. 

Pope Francis kissing tumors
Kissing and caressing the tumor-covered head of a man in St. Peter’s Square. (Photo: Independent UK)

To be sure, there are some troubling bumps in the road to Pope-ish nirvana.

For every seemingly pro L, G, B or T utterance or action Francis makes in public. the Vatican seems to retrench by issuing some statement finessing Francis’ comments or replacing it with bigoted, though not hateful, language. The same happens often on the issues around the role of women in Church leadership.

Although these are often presented as having the imprimatur of Francis himself, I suspect they are issued in his name to placate conservative forces already reeling from lurching forward so far, so quickly on climate change, income inequality, immigration, reigning in capitalism’s worst flaws, racism, and other social justice issues which Francis seems to think need the most attention. If this is true, LGBT and women’s rights issues might be being used as boogeyman stand-ins — salves on conservative wounds and worries that their Church will become “socialist.”

“See, we’re not changing EVERYTHING you care about.”

One suspects it’s no coincidence that those two issues — homesexuality and the role of women — happen to be two issues which, if all that has been written about the demographics of the priesthood are true, probably feel most psychologically threatening to the male religious in the Church.

I get it. But i don’t have to like it.

Nonetheless, I’m thrilled this Pope sits on the throne of St. Peter in this time. He is a badly needed counterweight to mighty national and global forces which wield untold money and influence in the world. 

As one of the most powerful religious voices on Earth, he can change the global conversation from his predecessors’ juvenile and distracting fixation on the evils of human sexuality.

Social justice, racial equality and environmental stewardship; his papacy will dramatically benefit everyone on the middle and progressive parts of the political spectrum — and eventually everyone else if we all manage to save humanity from itself.

And who ever thought THAT would happen?

Citing gay marriage, Tennessee judge denies couple’s divorce

A Tennessee judge is none too happy about gay marriage. Nor Kim Davis. So he decided to interpret the law as he sees fit — for a complete nutball.Hamilton County chancellor Jeffrey M. Atherton.

Today’s study in legal reasoning begins in Chattanooga, Tenn., and inside Atherton’s Hamilton County courtroom.

Atherton doesn’t appear to have a history of antagonistic rulings. He was easily elected in 2010 and re-elected without opposition in 2014, although a 2012 poll of local lawyers didn’t give him great marks, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. According to a 2010 letter to the editor from a former legal debate student of his, Atherton was a selfless champion of legal procedure.

“Despite the time away from his supportive family and the impact on his billable hours, Jeffrey M. Atherton (or Mr. A as he is known to us) spent eight-plus hours per week for more than 20 years pouring his life into high school students who wanted to learn about the law,” wrote Pamela Rector, a U.S. soldier deployed to Afghanistan.

But it was another line from Rector’s letter that hinted at Atherton’s gay marriage meltdown five years later.

“He has lived the principles that he taught us,” she said: “desire for justice, devotion to excellence, commitment to character, love of the law and faith in God.”

And so it was that when Thomas and Pamela Bumgardner walked into Atherton’s court in late July hoping for a quick and easy divorce, the judge apparently had other ideas.

These people are a danger to democracy.

gay marriage

Study: Truvada PrEP effective at stopping HIV infections


At first, many were skeptical toward the notion of giving HIV uninfected gay men a drug that would, in the minds of some, give them the green light to have unsafe sex.

Then more rational heads prevailed with this simple question: If the ultimate goal of HIV prevention campaigns was to prevent new HIV infections, wasn’t a drug that prevented new infections the magic bullet for which the HIV prevention community had been waiting?

Not only could such a drug, if effective, prevent many people from becoming infected in the first place, but it would also also prevent the many infections that followed through their sexual contacts and their sexual contacts’ sex partners. The pyramid effect that had been driving much of the epidemic could be slowed or halted starting with the people taking the drug.

If it worked.

We are beginning to have answers.

Truvada, a daily pill that holds the hope of drastically reducing or eliminating the risk of contracting HIV, appears to be living up to its promise:

In the first real-world study of the prescription drug, Kaiser researchers found no new HIV infections among the more than 650 people they followed over nearly three years, beginning just after the drug was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2012.

A clinical trial leading up to the FDA approval had shown that Truvada, made by Foster City’s Gilead Sciences, nearly eliminated the risk of getting infected by the AIDS virus. But no evaluations of the drug, also known as PrEP, for pre-exposure prophylaxis, had been published outside the tightly regulated clinical trial setting.In the new study, participants were sexually active. Many did not use condoms for prevention, and half of them were diagnosed with other sexually transmitted diseases within a year of starting the study. But no new HIV infections turned up, researchers said.

“This is really compelling data that shows that PrEP works in a real-world setting,” said Dr. Jonathan Volk, a San Francisco Kaiser physician and epidemiologist and lead author of the study, which was published Wednesday in the medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Truvada, which contains the antiviral drugs emtricitabine and tenofovir, was originally created as an anti-retroviral drug used to treat HIV, but it has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk by up to 92 percent when taken consistently, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Still, the drug, which costs Kaiser patients about $50 a month, is not without controversy. PrEP was criticized early on by health providers and other advocates over concerns that the drug would encourage unsafe sex because of a false sense of security. In fact, the Kaiser study did find a significant decrease in condom use among the participants.

One of the loudest critics has been Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Los Angeles, who has publicly called Truvada a “party drug.”

While PrEP may be an option for high-risk individuals who don’t use condoms, he said last month, it should not be used as community-wide public health intervention strategy.

But the CDC and public health advocates disagree.

Let us be thankful that Weinstein (a media gadfly who has been accused of grandstanding to further his still murky, ill-definable goals) was not the person to make the decision to approve the drug for PrEP. 

When I have spoken with audiences about the issue of unsafe sex and HIV, someone nearly always asked during the Q&A afterward, “Why don’t you just tell people to stop having sex or never have unsafe sex?”

I always pointed out society’s experience with syphilis as a useful example of what is wrong with the Just Say No To Sex approach. 

It is thought by some that syphilis was first introduced to the New World by Christopher Columbus and his crew, although it most certainly has been around much, much longer than that.

Prior to the first effective treatment being discovered in 1910, it was often debilitating and could be fatal once it moved into the tertiary phase of infection. It caused horrible disfigurement and drove many people insane. It was one nasty bug.

The U.S. military in World War I knew all about syphilis and its dangers, as did many members of the public, and military leaders worried about the effects of syphilis on troops. Many of them would contract the disease during their tour of duty. 

The military tried everything to stop troop infections, including scare campaign advertisements warning the troops of certain doom if they contracted the disease.

Their efforts had little effect. Why?

Military efforts to stop sexually transmitted diseases in U.S. troops were dismal failures.

There are so many answers to that question I could fill this post with theories as to why people still have unsafe sex when it is dangerous to do so.

Sex in the heat of the moment. The search for intimacy. Lack of planning.

But one of the chief reasons has been: it will never happen to me. You play the odds and worry about the consequences later when you are in bed thinking about it and trying to sleep.

It’s human nature. It’s one of the reasons why people still begin to smoke cigarettes despite the dangers.

So if we bring this back around to our original topic of HIV we can ask this question: If medicine suddenly developed a pill that people who smoke could take to prevent nearly all cases of pulmonary and heart disease, can you imagine the looks you would give the person who objected to making the drug widely available because it might encourage cigarette smoking?

That person would be laughed out of the room, and lung cancer is not even transmitted person-to-person like HIV. But because PrEP involves sex and sex makes people feel uncomfortable or causes them to abandon rational thought processes, we end up with irrational people who would try to stop medicine from doing one of its jobs: to prevent disease.

There are possible problems with PrEP, including drug resistance if not taken properly and side effects for some from both short- and long-term use.

But for the time being, if these study results hold up, it is the most promising thing available.

Source: HIV-preventing drug holds up under study – SFGate

Syphilis once wreaked havoc on many who contracted it, including disfigurement and insanity.