The Los Angeles City Council yesterday passed legislation by a vote of 9-1 to require the mandatory usage of condoms in porn films. The law for which the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation had been leading the lobbying efforts for years would require producers of adult films to pay an as-yet undetermined participation fee which would be used toward unannounced inspections on the sets of in-production films. Representatives from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation have always claimed that, in addition to ensuring public health safety, they have been so strongly in support of the advancement of the bill because they have a genuine concern for the health of the adult film actors.
While I think that the stated motives of the Foundation members is admirable, I have to say that, had I been a member of that Council, the vote would have been 9-2.
Compared to most gay men, my views on many issues can be (and are) considered to be moderately conservative, especially in San Francisco! That said, I am opposed to redundant legislation.
It is already illegal in many cities (if not the entire country) to knowingly have unprotected sex without disclosing, or lying about, one’s HIV+ status. I recall a case from almost ten years ago in which a man was charged with attempted murder once he had done so.
More important to me, however, other than in matters regarding children, I am opposed to government regulation of any sexual practices, whether it be one-on-one in the privacy of a person’s own bedroom or thirty-on-one in someone’s hot tub.
People in the porn industry, to the best of my knowledge, don’t feel they need another group to protect them – they are obviously adult enough to decide for themselves what they want to be doing with their lives. Since the advent emergence of AIDS, the porno companies have been self-policing; many require recent HIV- tests from their performers before a contract is signed. I even suspect that with the ability we have for rapid-HIV testing, some tests are even administered on the day of filming.
The lifestyle in which they have chosen to live is mostly one of Bacchanal pleasures; husbands and wives perform together and separately, industry sex parties are common occurrences and bisexuality among both men and women is practiced by some simply for the physical sensation given by certain sexual acts.
These people know what actions they are taking and what the potential consequences for those actions are.
In regards to the Foundation’s claim that they are concerned for the public health, I must once again state that I am opposed to government regulation of any sexual practices.
Yes, I agree that it should be illegal to willfully conceal one’s HIV+ status from a sexual partner.
(For the sake of full disclosure and credibility, I must relate the following story from my life:
I was someone who hid my status from some sexual partners – I even went so far as to outright lie when asked the question; fortunately, for me, my conduct on this matter were prior to the criminalization of that behavior.
Several years ago, while at a recovery Roundup, I came face-to-face with one of the men to whom I had misrepresented my status. As frightening as it was, I pulled that man aside and told him of what I had done. After granting me forgiveness and thanking me for my belated honesty, he told me that he had already suspected the truth prior to our ‘activities.’
How I’ve continued to make amends to the others is to have never engaged in that behavior since I started getting clean and sober.)
Criminal-negligence aside, I believe that what happens between two consenting adults should be between them.
It is my responsibility to reveal my status to anyone with home I will become sexually intimate. Granted, I don’t always mention on the first or second or, sometimes, event the third date if it is clear that the night is going to end with no more than a kiss on the cheek (yes, I am old-fashioned type of dater!). However, I always tell someone even if I suspect that the night is going to end in my bed or his. I also answer truthfully when asked about my HIV status, no matter how far along he and I happen to be in the dating process.
And, yes, it has been my experience that some guys have lost interest the moment they found out I have an AIDS diagnosis – even some who would be okay with a stand-alone HIV+ revelation. I am actually okay when rejection for that reason – recovery has taught me that their lack of interest due to my being HIV+ has nothing to do about me. Besides, contrary to those men, there has been plenty of interest from other guys even after they learn my full truth.
I also believe that the responsibility of disclosure falls upon both parties.
If I am about to have sex with someone, it is up to me to ask if they have any sexually transmitted diseases and, if so, which ones do they have? Again, for the sake of full disclosure and credibility, I would have a difficult time engaging in any sexual activity with anyone who said he was positive for Hepatitis-C.
Once all physical issues, then it is up to both he and me to make a now-informed choice based on the answers to the following questions: “Knowing what I know about this person, do I still want to move forward to the level of a sexual relationship? Do I want to participate in the sexual activity that this person desires? Am I willing to take the risks we have openly discussed?”
Certainly, a problem for me could be that my impending partner may be less than honest about their ailments – that is something I need to evaluate at each individual basis. Though, I can’t imagine that I would be considering having sex with someone I had not already come to trust.
There are times when a person who is HIV- knowingly engages in sexual intercourse with a person who is HIV+. I also know many people – mostly HIV+ gay men – who will only have sex with others who are HIV+ in order that they may engage in unsafe sex – they do this fully aware of the fact that they risk becoming resistant to their meds if they happen to catch a different strain of the virus.
Whether I agree with the sexual practices of other people is not important. It is also not important for the Los Angeles City Council to be involved in the sexual health practices of the general public, whether those public people are in the porn industry or not.
What is important is that people must, now and always, take responsibility for my own actions, especially when my actions have the potential for harming others. And while I cannot speak for the rest of those with whom I share the planet, I can honestly say I now live my life with integrity and with respect for myself and for others.
And I do it without being told I should!