Safe sex came from activists, porn stars, sex workers and their community driven efforts.
If you've been curious about how safe sex became the norm among gay men, then Sex Positive is your ticket to having all your questions answered. The film opened in New York Friday.
Sex Positive focuses on early safe sex pioneer Richard Berkowitz whose life of hustling on the mean streets of New York came to a crushing end when AIDS started its infectious assault in the 1980s. He was one of the first gay men to demand answers about the disease from the government and advocate condom use among gay men. His message, however, was met with resistance from men who were not ready to leave the party.
Director Daryl Wein culls together rare footage of Berkowitz along with new interviews to piece together his contributions to the invention of safe sex. Berkowitz's anger and frustration at the gay men who rejected his message is also on display.
Berkowitz molded his safe sex message off Dr. Joseph Sonnabend's pioneering AIDS research, which suggested as early as 1983 that anal sex among gay men was fueling the pandemic.
“It was Richard Berkowitz's book, Stayin' Alive: The Invention of Safe Sex, that forced me to face my own ignorance,” said filmmaker Wein in a press release. “Like most of my friends, I had always thought of safe sex as a government invented advocacy program, but I was enlightened to find out it was not the government at all but the tireless efforts of so many fervent activist who paved the way for change.”
“Both in the government and the gay community, the widespread silence during the early years of AIDS is absolutely shocking. What Richard taught me, among many other things, was that the most promiscuous gay men were the pioneers of the safe sex movement”
Sex Positive opened in New York City's Quad Cinema Friday, June 12 after winning numerous prizes on the GLBT film festival circuit.
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