G9348712%NMSUVM1.BITNET@MITVMA.MIT.EDU (G a b r i e l) (02/09/90)
Main thesis for my lecture 2/13: 1. The great majority of men who engage in homosexual behavior also engage in heterosexual behavior. THEREFORE, prevention of AIDS in the 'general' community requires that men engaged in sex with other men do so safely. 2. The great majority of men who have sex with other men do not identify themselves as members of the 'gay community.' And, in many locations there is no gay community as such. THEREFORE, it cannot be left to gay leaders alone to change all those men who have sex with other men; it must also be a prioity of the society at large. 3. When society has attempted to change homosexual behavior, especially in the past but also at present, society has attempted it through coercion, specifically to coerce men not to have sex with other men. This has not worked in the past. The effect has been to drive homosexual behavior into secrecy, and the effect of this is to increase the likelihood that the resulting behavior, anonyomous and promiscuous, will be unsafe. THEREFORE, if society desires to change homosexual behavior, it will have to do so through persuasion. 4. Persuasion requires that the 'target' feel that the person talking to him is a friend, someone who cares. On the surface, this should be simple; saying 'I want you to stay alive' is a powerful positive message. But society's message is rarely this positive. And there is a significant part of society that sees death from AIDS as deserved by its victims, and, in fact, that death by any means is so deserved by those who engage in homosexual behavior. Although this part of society is not the majority, it has enough power to change public policy (examples: the Youth Suicide and Bias Crimes reports, the Senate's response to Helms amendments). Thus, the mesage that society sends to homosexually active men is the message of the most extreme of bigots: Die. THEREFORE, effective behavior change cannot happen until those who make society's decisions are brave enough to act independently of such bigotry. 5. The strongest reason that this bigotry continues is that most members of society are unaware that they have friends, relatives, and colleagues who are active homosexually. THEREFORE, what may be one of the most effective long-term strategies towards changing people's behavior is for those men who have sex with other men to 'come out' to their close friends and relatives. Likewise, it would be salutary for those who have close friends or relatives who are gay to tell them, 'I know.'