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Barebacking porn death: Myrtle Beach writer speaks

Note: This blog post details news and situations that might be NSFW (Not Safe for Work).

Earlier this month, news of the AIDS-related death of 25-year-old gay porn actor Chad Noel made its rounds among porn news sites, gay gossip blogs and even some of the more respectable LGBT blogs and news outlets.

From GayPornGossip.com (NSFW):

Chad Noel age 25, a former “twink genre” gay porn performer using the stage names of Donny Price & Craven Cox passed away in New York City, on March 17, 2010 following a brief illness associated with complications of HIV.

[…]

Additionally, close friends and associates of Chad have related to Gay Porn Gossip that Chad had became HIV positive following his performances with Helix Studios. We have been unable to confirm this information. Helix Studios is a producer of hardcore condom-less twink porn. The company was formerly based in Ft Lauderdale, Florida and now is located in San Diego, California, whose principal is Keith Miller. Often it has been reported to Gay Porn Gossip by other young men that following their performances and association with Helix Studios, they became infected with HIV.

As the news spread across the blogosphere, gay writers and bloggers went mad. Pointing fingers, pointing blame. Barebacking porn became the scapegoat.

Joe Mirabella wrote at Bilerico.com:

It is likely that starring in bareback porn starting at 18 will lead to HIV/AIDS, but is the glorification of unprotected sex through the porn industry also leading to an increase in HIV/AIDS related diagnosis among young gay men throughout the country?

Chad Noel’s untimely death is symptomatic of a growing problem in our community. HIV is on the rise for young people, and the glorification of unprotected sex in gay porn is part of the problem.

Later in the piece, Mirabella called for a boycott of bareback porn: “Young actors like Chad Noel should not have to die, just so you can get your rocks off. Millions of youth do not have to be taught that bareback is ok. Simply, choose safer porn and you will be helping more than you will ever know.”

In response, Adam Bink wrote a separate Bilerico piece adding some more nuance to Mirabella’s call to boycott bareback porn:

Where signalling isn’t effective, though- and the problem with Joe’s call to action- is where signals cannot be correctly interpreted. If a porn manufacturer sees sales of DVDs or preview playbacks decline on a certain film, it may mean many things. It may mean the scenes as choreographed were not very, shall we say, stimulative; it may mean the actors were not very hot; it may even mean that in a bad economy, consumers are spending less money on porn. Joe’s hypothesis is that if consumers choose to not “click” on bareback porn, producers will get the message.

What is required for that is a specific message. Think of when you found out Nike used child labor. I remember when I did- I told a bunch of friends “I’m never buying anything from Nike again!”, and that was the extent of my activism. So if I chose Adidas or The North Face instead of Nike, I expected that Nike would get the message.

I was wrong. My abstaining from consuming Nike products probably did not make so much as a dent and certainly did not influence the company because in an asymmetric information environment, they did not know why I was choosing other products. One reason is that I did not send a specific signal.

If one wants to send a message that here are xyz number of consumers, all of whom are going to pledge to choose safe-sex porn, and they are only going to spend their dollars and clicks on such porn (or abstain from your company altogether until you make non-bareback porn), and gin up earned media around it, that is a better way to organize. Otherwise a porn manufacturer can’t tell one signal from another.

In other words, don’t just send a signal- send a specific signal and make sure the company hears it.

In the piece, Bink calls for more effective community organizing: “There will always be consumers of bareback porn, and one way to organize may be to work with that community by meeting its members where they are, instead of where they would be in an ideal world. There is no one answer to tackling this problem, but there are effective ways to do so, and our community must find the best, most effective ones among them in order to meet our goal. We can do so with a little creativity.”


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Check out the piece for some of Bink’s suggestions.

Now, a gay writer with Myrtle Beach’s Weekly Surge is broaching the topic. In a column this week, entitled “Bare backing backslide?”, Chris Rudisill says the community health problem with barebacking porn is an urgent issue for youth.

His scenario:

I’m a 16-year-old kid who’s never seen or even heard firsthand recount of someone who died of AIDS. Movies like “Philadelphia” and “And the Band Played On” are not even on my radar. I’ve never heard of Pedro Zamora or Ryan White. The AIDS epidemic doesn’t mean anything to me, except it may be a question on a test in health or history class. I’ve accepted my homosexuality (as it’s not as hard to come out among today’s youth) and I’m sexually active, like most teens my age. I watch porn on the Internet and read some pretty provocative blogs about other guys who are in college having hot bareback sex with other guys. Do you really think that “18 years or over” warning stops me from logging on?

Now, if you’re an adult in your 20s or beyond, think back to when you were 16 and how easy it was to be coerced into doing something you found intriguing. Think about how invincible you felt. Now add to that the fact that AIDS preventative education has decreased due to budget cuts. Your result is a disaster. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming the adult porn industry alone. I’m blaming us. The porn industry has only reacted to our own tolerance and acceptance of bare backing, much like any other corporate machine would.

And, Rudisill has a point. A good one. And while it holds true for many youth — particularly youth in the rural South, where good sex ed has been largely non-existent forever — I don’t think his scenario can be rightly applied to all youth or event most of them. Today’s 16-year-olds don’t know of the horrors of HIV or AIDS, but they do know about it. They do know it is spread through sexual contact. Most know about condoms. At least a slim majority or more (although not all, by any means) have access to condoms. And, for those over 18: there’s no excuse. Pick up a free condom the next time you visit the club and take the time to put the damn thing on.

In response to Bink’s piece on Bilerico, I wrote about what I see as the primary cause of today’s HIV epidemic:

I think our community needs to realize that this problem isn’t just about condoms and educating people on how to use them. Its 2010; most sexually active people know what a condom is, where to get them (for free many times) and how they are used. I think it goes back to the HIV epidemic in which we find ourselves today: one in which many people erroneously believe HIV is a “manageable” disease and that there’s simply no use for condoms anymore.

And some further comments…

As I’ve written at my own blog, I also think our community needs to start addressing these issues head on. I’m not saying some groups or leaders don’t already do this. I just think we need to do more of it. Fuck what the religious right thinks or says — they are going to say whatever they say anyway. We know that increased risk comes with increased sexual activity and the number of partners one has. Why are we so afraid to acknowledge or admit that a lot of gay guys like to sleep around? How are we any different from straight guys? The answer: We aren’t. If we could address these issues head on more often — instead of tippy-toeing around them — we might get more accomplished. Kind of like Adam’s point about HIV education/awareness and bathhouses — meet them where they’re at.

I added: “I think the DC FUKIT campaign (http://www.fc-kits.org/) is a phenomenal campaign reaching out to gay men and “meeting them where they’re at.” Plus, DC FUKIT is using porn stars as role models — one of Adam’s suggestions.”

As most writers on this topic have noted, there is not one answer to our current health/HIV/AIDS crisis. Neither will there be, I think, an end-all, be-all good answer. That doesn’t mean we can’t try. It doesn’t mean we give up. As HIV/AIDS transmission and infection rates continue to climb — particularly among young men of color who have sex with men — our community and its leaders need to take notice and address the issues head on.

 

Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer is a staff writer for QNotes. He previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015.

3 Replies to “Barebacking porn death: Myrtle Beach writer speaks”

  1. I appreciate your thoughts on the state of our HIV prevention efforts. I’d add, though, that white gay men with access to health care do, in fact, experience HIV as a manageable disease and act accordingly. We had great prevention campaigns in the 80’s. They were called funerals. In the absence of them, seeing HIV prevention as part of a holistic gay men’s health approach is the way to go.

    There’s a great article on this you may have missed: mine. LOL http://marksking.com/my-fabulous-disease/did-the-bareback-time-machine-kill-chad-noel/

  2. I’m sorry to disappoint you but you cannot change human sexuality based on political correctness. Human beings make choices and some humans are risk takers while others are not. You can legislate if it makes you feel better but homosexuality has been illegal in NC for a LONG, LONG time and apparently hasn’t made a damn bit of difference. To change human behavior regarding sexuality is a monumental task. Simply removing what offends some will not do the trick. There is also the argument that watching what you cannot experience does a part of the community good. I do agree with an increase in HIV education. I used to take a restaurant sized mayonnaise jar full of jelly beans to classrooms and see just how many beans the class enjoyed choking down with a glass of water then sharing how much I enjoyed daily diarrhea, vomiting etc. It worked well. You cannot regulate human sexuality. You must encourage testing and open communication between partners. To think that one can overcome thousands of years of evolution and societal programing with a commercial is simply ignorant. And the man who died was a porn star not a grocery clerk, not a traffic cop and not a landscaper….he knew what he was doing!

  3. What an obituary doesn’t tell us is how he got AIDS, when he got it, how he reacted to it, and whether he sought any treatment. It also doesn’t tell us if he had any other pending mental health issues.

    Some guys get AIDS and do nothing because they are depressed or bipolar and choose to ignore it until they die. I knew a guy who did just that in 2003.

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