Buddies blogger Johnnie Walker chats with It’s All Tru playwright (and former Buddies artistic director) Sky Gilbert about how PReP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) drugs are affecting HIV/AIDS discourse in the LGBT community.
How do you think the LGBT community sees HIV/AIDS in 2016? What’s changed?
No one is talking about the real issues or dealing with them. The fact is that with Truvada, sex between gay men can now happen without fear. It is a wonder drug. It is “the pill” for gay men.
The other huge issues for gay men are the criminalization of AIDS and crystal meth. Gay men like to pretend that we’re all getting married and having children and that no one is on drugs or in jail for having unsafe sex. In fact there is a big drug problem in the gay community and gay men are being thrown into solitary confinement in Canada for having unsafe sex. Middle class people sometimes don’t hear about this issue because the victims of AIDS criminalization are often those who are disempowered: sex trade workers, men of colour, and poor gay men.
PrEP drugs are still harder/more expensive to come by in Canada than the US. Do you think we’ll see the day where drugs like Truvada essentially become the gay version of the birth control pill?
Yes. In fact, Truvada IS available cheaply in Canada. Hint: if you go to a sex positive gay positive doctor, who understands the importance of Truvada. He may be able to contravene the present rules and get it for you. Don’t tell anyone I told you this.
We’ve also got a culture that fetishizes bareback sex and an antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea on the rise. Do you think the increase in condom-free sex that could result from more ubiquitous use of PrEP could be dangerous for public health?
For years gay men have been told that they shouldn’t have gay sex. It started way before AIDS. Of course straight people demonized us, but then Larry Kramer demonized gay promiscuity in FAGGOTS. Only about 10 years after gay liberation appeared, we were told (in plays like The Normal Heart) to stop having sex. Can you imagine what a burden this has been for gay men, and how this has fucked them up? Can you imagine what it would be like if some doctor tried to tell straight men to STOP having sex so that it might be an end to herpes or Chlamydia?
It’s important to give EDUCATION to people. PrEP is 99% effective against HIV when taken faithfully by HIV negative gay men. The other important fact is that PrEP does not protect them from Hepatitis, or any other venereal disease.
There are lots of sex negative fags and straight people who want us to stop being promiscuous. They think the only way to do that is to make us afraid of having sex. But making us afraid leads to MORE unsafe sex, and more illness and death, because it is inhuman to ask any human being to be afraid of sex. People rebel and have unsafe sex out of anxiety and anger. I guarantee that if gay men are given the information and are taught NOT to fear sex, they will be—someday—able to make informed decisions and protect themselves from disease.
So, is It’s All Tru just a play on Truvada, or is there an Orson Welles connection?
I completely forgot about the fact that Orson Welles has a movie called It’s All True! No, the play is in fact a very angry, domestic political drama, about a perfect marriage that goes strange with Truvada and unsafe sex and the criminalization of AIDS interrupting the ‘princess’ fantasy of the young male husband-to-be. It’s a rocky, dark, scary ride.