Celebrating gay sex

Published: September 22, 2011

In his role as president and CEO of the National Association of People with AIDS, Frank Oldham Jr. is upfront about where he stands on the AIDS epidemic.

He’s a 63-year-old gay man who has lived with HIV for more than 20 years. He has dedicated much of his career to fighting AIDS, both in the private sector and as a high-level official in city AIDS agencies in New York, Chicago and D.C. He served from 1993-1994 as chief of D.C.’s Agency for HIV/AIDS.

His driving ambition is to help bring about the eradication of AIDS for everyone, with a short-term goal of lowering the HIV infection rate in the United States over the next several years.

But Oldham says his efforts in organizing a series of D.C.-based events next week for the NAPWA-sponsored National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Sept. 27 brings an often overlooked fact into clear view: Gay men account for more than 50 percent of the people with HIV in the United States and represent the only group at risk for HIV in the country that still has increasing numbers of new infections each year.

In an interview this week, Oldham presented the Blade with two fliers NAPWA is using to promote National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Both feature photos of attractive, bare-chested young men, one black and one white.

“We’re doing something very interesting here and I think very bold,” Oldham says. “We have these pictures as part of the branding to capture gay male culture. Gay male culture is sexually celebrative. It is true that we like good-looking people, sexual people and sex is a healthy activity.”

According to Oldham, societal taboos against sex and homosexuality have always had a negative impact on gay men but that impact was heightened many times over as the AIDS epidemic struck the gay male community in the 1980s.

Among other things, Oldham says societal prejudice and homophobia “poisoned” the atmosphere for many gay men who, lacking information and encouragement now offered by AIDS advocacy groups, led to self-destructive behavior that contributed to the spread of HIV.

“I think that because society is so sex negative our gay male culture is always in collision with that society,” he says. “And I’m a product of this society so I also sometimes run into these kinds of challenges and conflicts,” Oldham says.

“But gay male culture, by the parties we have, the circuit parties, the bathhouses – all of that is part of a beautiful, gay male culture. And it is something that has to be embraced and especially embraced if you’re going to deal with the AIDS epidemic.”

Oldham was asked how he reconciles those views with advice by many AIDS experts that one means of curtailing HIV infection is sexual monogamy or the reduction of the number of sex partners. He says the best advice other experts give is to behave responsibly and respectfully and to use the best-known methods to prevent the spread of the virus.

Full text of article available at link below –

Leave a Reply