Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Panel Takes a ’Raw’ Look at Barebacking: Why We Like It, Why We Still Do It
via EDGE, by Scott Stiffler
Lively, sometimes loud debate; passionate viewpoints accentuated by applause from the crowd; and skepticism towards the establishment’s ability to effectively advocate for public health. It sounds like a contentious town hall event in which the proposed health care overhaul takes a beating--but it was, in fact, an August 13th public forum sponsored in New York City by the nation’s oldest and largest private AIDS service organization, Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC).
Certainly, it’s understandable why high passion would have erupted at a discussion of the most sensitive topic among gay men today: barebacking. Although its topic was every bit as divisive as Obama’s sweeping initiative, the event managed to demonstrate that the town hall format need not devolve into a shouting match.
Actually, it technically wasn’t about "barebacking," at least if the organizers could help it. The conclave’s premise was that the term "barebacking" unfairly stigmatizes gay men who have unprotected sex.
GMHC’s organizers instead chose the no less provocative but apparently more acceptable term "raw" as the title of the event. A poster promoting the night showed a man, shirtless and with back to the camera, displaying the word "RAW" in tattoo form on his back right shoulder.
GMHC Board of Directors Co-Chair Odell Mays moderated a seven-member panel, each of whom had had five minutes to assert his particular point of view around the issue of stigma and unprotected sex. Afterwards, moderator Mays spent the remainder of the evening taking questions and comments from the audience - to which the panel had the option to weigh in on.
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Related - "Risky Business" forum and podcast in Chicago
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