Falwell, Gingrich ... Signorile?A new group called Sex Panic! is mobilizing against what it believes is the latest batch of right-wingers to pose a threat to gay life: some of the most influential gay authors in the nation.
Sex Panic! activists say writers such as Larry Kramer Larry Kramer (born June 25 1935 in Bridgeport, Connecticut), is an American playwright, author, public health advocate and gay rights activist. He was nominated for an Academy Award, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and was twice a recipient of an Obie Award. , Gabriel Rotello Douglas Gabriel Rotello (b. 9 February 1953) is an American television documentary writer and producer, and the founder of OutWeek. Among his credits are: Hidden Fuhrer: Debating the Enigma of Hitler's Sexuality, Dark Roots: The Unauthorized Anna Nicole , Bruce Bawer Bruce Bawer, (born October 31, 1956 in New York City), is an American literary critic, writer, and poet. His works have appeared in The New Republic, The Nation, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The New Criterion, , Michelangelo Signorile Michelangelo Signorile, pronounced "seen-yoh-RILL-ee", (born December 19, 1960), is a gay American writer and a national talk radio host whose program is aired each weekday across the United States and Canada. , Chandler Burr, and Andrew Sullivan have abandoned the gay community by calling for an end to promiscuity Promiscuity
See also Profligacy.
constantly flits from one girl to another. [Aust. Drama: Schnitzler Anatol in Benét, 33]
promiscuous goddess of sensual love. [Gk. Myth. and advocating government shutdowns of bathhouses and sex clubs. Sex Panic! has been meeting weekly at New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of City's Gay and Lesbian Community Center to mount letter campaigns to the authors' publishers, including The Advocate, and discuss ways to promote sexual freedom.
"We're pretty tired of the focus that has been put on the new gay right. I prefer to call them fundamentalists," says Jim Eigo, a writer and longtime AIDS activist who--along with historian and writer Allan Berube, attorney Bill Dobbs, and author Michael Warner--is among the group's intellectual leaders. "I call them that because they make the fundamentalist argument that AIDS is nature's revenge on gay men."
Some members say the meetings, which have drawn as many as 350 participants and regularly draw 45 to 50, are the most exciting thing to happen to activism in New York since the start of ACT UP about a decade ago. Ironically, most of the writers and many of the Sex Panic! members were partners in AIDS activism in New York in the 1980s, making the recent war of words painful for players on both sides.
"Some of us who are still involved in the AIDS-action world and AIDS-prevention world look with some dismay at some who were once our colleagues," says an almost wistful Eigo, who was scheduled to debate Rotello on August 30 at the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) is an American professional association dedicated to unbiased coverage of gay/lesbian issues in the media. It is based in Washington, D.C. convention in Chicago. "The arguments they're putting forth seem very reactionary."
Says Dobbs: "In the main they stand for a completely different vision of gay and lesbian life than many of us would like to see. There are a growing number of people who are taking note and asking, `Who are these people and what are they saying?' There's a terrible authoritarian behalf of these gay authors."
Rotello and the other writers bristle at the allegations. They accuse Sex Panic! of engaging in a "smear campaign" and misunderstanding their work, often because they haven't read it. "It certainly is upsetting to me when what I've written in Sexual Ecology [Rotello's latest book] is misrepresented," says Rotello, adding that some of the activists accuse him of blaming gay men for the AIDS epidemic. "It's a gross caricature of what I say in the book."
Although the writers have received national attention for their recently published works, their ideas aren't new. While each author has his own spin on gay culture, they collectively argue for a mass movement away from promiscuous sex, widespread recreational drug use Recreational drug use is the use of psychoactive drugs for recreational purposes rather than for work, medical or spiritual purposes, although the distinction is not always clear. , and emphasis on the physical. They encourage a gay society that embraces monogamy monogamy: see marriage. and sobriety--certainly notions that have been advanced before. In doing so, the authors have come out in favor of government monitoring or closing of sex clubs, bathhouses, tearooms, and other places where public sex occurs.
Such ideas have often been advanced by right-wing critics of the gay community and even embraced by many gay leaders in the early years of the AIDS epidemic. In fact, the current controversy has its roots in the bathhouse debates of the mid '80s, when some argued that the facilities should be closed to help control the AIDS epidemic while others defended them as important havens of gay sexual freedom. Ultimately, scores of bathhouses across the country were closed, setting a precedent that worries many in Sex Panic! They charge that by suggesting to authorities that they crack down an sex establishments, the writers are opening the door to even stricter legal sanctions. They point to a list of shutdowns of gay sex clubs in New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. following a 1995 meeting between the mayor's office and a group supported by Rotello and Signorile that argued for more public action to stop the spread of HIV HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), either of two closely related retroviruses that invade T-helper lymphocytes and are responsible for AIDS. There are two types of HIV: HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-1 is responsible for the vast majority of AIDS in the United States. . And Sex Panic! members say the closures in New York have given rise to more invasive police action across the country. A July 1 story in The Village Voice titled "The Crackdown on Cruising" documents incidents of alleged entrapment entrapment, in law, the instigation of a crime in the attempt to obtain cause for a criminal prosecution. Situations in which a government operative merely provides the occasion for the commission of a criminal act (e.g. or other overly aggressive police tactics in Michigan, Ohio, California, New Jersey, Georgia, New York, and Washington, D.C. "Sex clubs have been padlocked," wrote executive editor Richard Goldstein, describing recent actions in the Big Apple. "To some activists, it looks like queer New York is being stealthily stealth·y
adj. stealth·i·er, stealth·i·est
Marked by or acting with quiet, caution, and secrecy intended to avoid notice. See Synonyms at secret. shut down."
That's where the line must be drawn, says Dobbs. "It's fine to be pressuring businesses to be part of prevention efforts," he says. "But it's very disturbing to call for sex police and closures." Eigo doesn't dispute that more responsible sexual behavior sexual behavior A person's sexual practices–ie, whether he/she engages in heterosexual or homosexual activity. See Sex life, Sexual life. could reduce the spread of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases Sexually transmitted diseases
Infections that are acquired and transmitted by sexual contact. Although virtually any infection may be transmitted during intimate contact, the term sexually transmitted disease is restricted to conditions that are largely . He argues that more HIV testing and education about transmission are needed, pointing to studies that show that the men who behave the most responsibly during sex are the ones who know they are HIV-positive.
Those who argue, however, that the men who carry the virus shoulder the primary responsibility for stopping its spread are advancing the "old bogeyman of the AIDS vampire," says Eigo. "Someone going out to the baths who's HIV-positive can have an unsafe encounter only if the FIN-negative person is having an unsafe encounter too."
While Rotello, who has been writing about such issues for the past several years, disagrees with some aligned with Sex Panic! on the most effective ways to stop the spread of AIDS, he takes particular umbrage at "the deeply personal attacks from people in Sex Panic! and elsewhere against what they perceive to be this clique (mathematics) clique - A maximal totally connected subgraph. Given a graph with nodes N, a clique C is a subset of N where every node in C is directly connected to every other node in C (i.e. C is totally connected), and C contains all such nodes (C is maximal). of supposedly omnipowerful gay journalists." Still, he sees great value in the current public conversation. "I've been hoping to start a debate about the issues I raise in my book for a long time," says Rotello. "I think it's incredibly important."
RELATED ARTICLE: What the "neocons" are saying and why Sex Panic! is so upset
"Nature always extracts a price for sexual promiscuity."
--Larry Kramer, The Advocate, May 27, 1997
"With the police off their backs, many [gay men] simply did what men have empowered themselves to do for centuries: they became as sexually adventurous and indulgent as they wanted to be, denying any responsibility for themselves or others in the process."
--Michelangelo Signorile, Life Outside: The Signorile Report on Gay Men: Sex, Drugs, Muscles, and the Passages of Life
"Certainly the specter of AIDS has done much to discredit the idea that gay men have a lot to teach others about pleasure, since we appear to be dying from the very pleasure we wanted to educate the world about."
--Gabriel Rotello, Sexual Ecology: AIDS and the Destiny of Gay Men
"Following legalization LEGALIZATION. The act of making lawful.
2. By legalization, is also understood the act by which a judge or competent officer authenticates a record, or other matter, in order that the same may be lawfully read in evidence. Vide Authentication. of same-sex marriage and a couple of other things, I think we should have a party and close down the gay rights movement for good."
--Andrew Sullivan, Out Facts: Just About Everything You Need to Know About Gay and Lesbian Life
"There's a vital truth here for the gay rights movement--namely, that we need urgently to put behind us an ideology that quixotically quix·ot·ic also quix·ot·i·cal
1. Caught up in the romance of noble deeds and the pursuit of unreachable goals; idealistic without regard to practicality.
2. rejects and ridicules everything the average American believes in (God, country, capitalism), that touts diversity while condemning any breach of the party line as right-wing heresy, and that sees the Republican Party as an implacable foe and Middle Americans as unchangeable un·change·a·ble
Not to be altered; immutable: the unchangeable seasons.
--Bruce Bawer, The Advocate, January 24, 1995
"Rotello points out that the extreme prmiscuity of some gay men created an `ecological niche' in which the virus passed from infected to uninfected. This niche gave rise to the AIDS epidemic, which is what makes it possible for someone like Pat Buchanan to say, `The poor homosexuals--they have declared war on Nature, and now Nature is exacting an awful retribution.'"
--Chandler Burr, Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review, summer 1997