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Dangerousness of Male Homosexual Activity:

Some readers challenged my claim that there is "disproportionate and grave health danger from male homosexual activity" to men, compared to the danger from male heterosexual activity. I think this danger is tragic, and I very much hope that medical advances will lead to the danger's decreasing. All decent people should agree that it's tragic. (The bunk that we hear from some quarters about AIDS being God's punishment for homosexuality would suggest, as some wit put it, that lesbians must be God's chosen people, since their rates are apparently very low.) But it seems to me quite clear that this danger is very much there.

Reader Brian King, for instance, writes:

The fact is that male homosexuals having a one-night stand are more then twice as likely to practice safe sex then heterosexuals having a one-night stand. Given this, from a health point of view, you should think that it's preferable for a bisexual man to experiment with homosexuality, then to remain heterosexual. If the bisexual man in 2005 has sex with a male, that male has a 66% chance to demand a condom, while a female only has around a 33% chance to demand a condom. Ergo, pairing the bisexual with the male homosexual results in statistically safer sex then pairing the bisexual with the female.

Your reasoning is flawed because current STD rates are a comment on the safe sex practices of men 20 years ago. Gay men, in response to this crisis, have changed their behavior over the years. Now, gay men are the most informed people in the world about safe sex. . . .

[Quoting a study:] "From 1993 alone, nine different studies reported that two thirds of gay men were being primarily safe in locales as disparate as North Carolina, Britan, Australia, Pittsburgh, and San Fransisco. Yet, the national aids behavioral surveys surveyed heterosexual men and found: 'Among respondents with multiple partners, only 28% of men and 32% of women always use them (condoms) with secondary partners...in general, almost half the men and women with multiple partners never use condoms.' Another study compared gay and straight men and found gay condom use "twice as high.'" . . .

If gays are engaging in safe sex, that's wonderful. Nonetheless, even if one focuses on new (post-1993, and even more recent) HIV/AIDS cases among U.S. males, the majority are among gay men (if one uses means of acquisition as an admittedly rough proxy for sexual orientation). Gay men are only roughly 4% of the male population. This means that gay men are still disproportionately much more likely than straight men to get infected, by a factor of 20 or more. Even if gay men are using condoms more often, they may be engaging in riskier sexual behavior (receptive anal sex as opposed to insertive genital sex), and (probably more importantly) they're having sex with people who are much more likely to be infected. The CDC, for instance, reports that of new AIDS diagnoses among males in 2003 (which I suspect are mostly people infected after 1993), nearly 18,000 of the about 32,000 involved "male-to-male sexual contact" as the primary risk factor, and nearly 2,000 more involved "male-to-male sexual contact and injection drug use." Only a little over 5000 involved heterosexual contact as the primary risk factor. The Texas data for new HIV diagnoses (see PDF p. 12) among males in 2003 is similar: 1700 of the 3500 involved male/male sex, plus 150 more involved male/male sexual contact plus drugs as risk factors. 270 were from heterosexual contact, though another 1100 were other/risk not reported, so maybe there were more heterosexual acquisitions there.

Another reader suggests that it's a mistake to focus solely on HIV, and it's better to look at estimated lifespans — if gay male lifespans are on average the same as straight male lifespans (presumably controlling for various demographic factors), then that means that homosexual activity as actually practiced is on average less dangerous than heterosexual activity. Dr. Franklin Kameny (a leading gay rights activist of long standing) writes that "Homosexual sexual conduct is not dangerous, and its alleged danger is being MUCH over-stated and exaggerated here. As an 80-year-old gay man, sexually active for some 50 years and less so for well over a decade before that, and in good health for my age, I can certify to such lack of danger. Most of the founding fathers of the gay movement died in their 70s, 80s, and 90s."

A lifespan comparison study would be a great study to see, but I don't think it's ever been done right, and it would be very hard to do right. In the meantime, let's look again at the Texas data for (see PDF p. 12). The data suggests that there were about 50,000 HIV and AIDS cases among male homosexuals in Texas since 1980 (again, if you use method of infection as an admittedly rough proxy for the infected person's sexual orientation). The population of Texas is roughly 20 million; that leaves 10 million males; and if roughly 4% of Texans are homosexual or bisexual (working off the national percentage, that's about 400,000.

Naturally, we'd need to add to that 400,000 in some measure because of transience — there were people moving in and out of the state, and dying and being born since 1980, and since such people are counted in the AIDS and HIV cases, they should be counted in the population data as well (and unfortunately I don't know of any data that can tell us precisely how many people have lived in Texas in 1980, as opposed to those who live there now). But even if we double that, we still have a huge mortality / HIV infection rate — not at African levels, thankfully, but over 5% of all Texan homosexuals and bisexuals — and one that's likely underestimated, because presumably many people who have HIV haven't yet been tested and therefore aren't included in the HIV statistics.

So male homosexual activity does seem much more dangerous, on average, than male heterosexual activity. As I've said before, this danger is tragic. But it seems to me a grave mistake to deny this danger.

Tony (mail):
Sigh... the problem with this statement is not its literal truth, but how it is wielded and how it is used.

On one level, it is so obvious that even mentioning it raises suspicion of ulterior motives. It's sort of like saying "Gosh, being Jewish was really dangerous in the 1940s" - true, but pointing it out comes across as weird and kind of callous. I don't know a single gay man who is not acutely aware of the number of his fellows who have died of AIDS, and how they got it.

It is a short leap from this circumstantial statement of risk to a much broader, existential statement about homosexuality. Gay panic is easy to provoke. And your title provokes it without a whole lot of justification. Exactly who is it that needs to get this message?

What I don't get is why you think the danger is being "denied". Maybe if gay men react badly to this it's because they're tired of being bludgeoned with messages of "danger" when there is little respect for the importance of their sexuality to their lives.

Sure, denial (in the psychological sense) plays a part in all kinds of bad judgement, but gay men are far from unique in this area - compared to how HIV is handled in other at-risk groups, they're actually pretty rational.

All in all, I find a certain smugness surrounding this subject that overshadows any claims of benevolence or genuine interest in the well being of gay men. It's not easy living in the middle of an epidemic, and the insecurity created by the lack of support for stable gay relationship (i.e. gay marriage) doesn't make the epidemic any easier to manage.

The danger of gay sex is completely dominated by the issue of HIV. You can't control what people desire, and it is unreasonable to expect people to deny themselves their own sexual satisfaction. To try to make them is futile and often cruel. You can, however, have some influence on this one factor that make it dangerous. The very framing of this article focuses attention on sex rather than HIV, and that is a counterproductive approach.
8.23.2005 8:56pm
Pritesh:
What is with the obsession with gay peoples sex lives?

Move on.
8.23.2005 9:05pm
Cheburashka (mail):
I think there may be an inaccuracy in the use of the term "gay men." Isn't it prison sex, much more so than gay sex in general, where there's a big difference in the infection rate?

So attributing the infection rate to gay men in general, rather than gay sex among prisoners many of whom are not in fact gay, may be misleading.
8.23.2005 9:12pm
Cheburashka (mail):
Also, I don't think its wholly accurate to say that gay men are 4% of the population.

Well, accurate yes, but again thorougly misleading.

The reason for this is the extraordinary proportion of the population of gay men who were of-age in the 1980s and died of AIDS.

On third thought, I'm inclined to think that this whole issue belongs on the Freakonomics blog rather than here.
8.23.2005 9:14pm
kipp (mail):
Clearly EV is not one to back away from an issue just because his other recent posts have caused a stir. But for a blogger being (for the most part wrongly)criticized 'round the net as aiding and abetting anti-gay prejudice, a post like this one just fuels those flames. Do blog ads really generate that much revenue?
8.23.2005 9:17pm
Artemis (mail):
Tony, you say, "It's not easy living in the middle of an epidemic, and the insecurity created by the lack of support for stable gay relationship (i.e. gay marriage) doesn't make the epidemic any easier to manage."

-- Do you mean to imply that the lack of support for gay marriage contributes to the "insecurity" of gay male relationships? If so, how do you explain the relative stability of lesbian relationships?
8.23.2005 10:08pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Where are you getting 4% from? I assume it's a number you cherry picked from a study that suited your needs.

The exit polls during the election show that over 4% of people self-identify as gay. As someone who was in the closet for the 35 years, I can guarantee you that a huge percentage of men who are gay, lied and said they were straight. I don't know what the number is of men in the closet, but it's definitely higher than zero. I would reckon it's probably the same size as the gay population that is out. So I reckon the number is more like 8%. My high school had 150 guys, and I know of 8 who are gay. And it's not like I know the entire class. Not even close. None were out in high school by the way.

This study is enlightening. 6.3% of men in Britain admit to having had sex with a same-sex partner. And that number doubled in ten years. Why? Less people are lying about being gay.

So why do you state the 4% number so authoritatively? There are many conflicting studies and you pick one that's on the low side.
8.23.2005 10:15pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
First I commend EV for talking about this stuff. Silence = death. The epidemic has spread as it has because we've been reluctant to make the hard choices to insist those with the virus to be prevented from spreading it. I still tho quibble with the 4% figure, which confuses identity with behavior.
Let's look at texas 1900-1950, before the virus (but also before penicillan and sulfa.) I'm going to guess 1 in 3 males had some sort of male-male sex at least once, and 1 in 9 males had some sort of male-animal sex at least once. Overwhelmingly these people didn't identify as gay or zoophiles. Behavior and identity are not the same. Now, it is likely that out homosexuals or zoophiles engage in such behaviors more often. Whether they have unsafe sex more or less often than closeted people, I don't have good data.
I also think it would be helpful to look at cancer rates and alcohol rated issues such as liver failure, car accidents, suicide, homicide, drowning. Maybe I'm just seeing a subset of gay culture as a barfly, but smoking rates seem to be very high among young gay men, which is both dangerous in itself, and may indicate a willingness to engage in other high risk activities. Anyway, my claim is that some percentage of those who get hiv from male-male conduct do not identify as gay or bi, so the 4% figure is off, but the general point that having male-male sex (of the fluid exchange variety) is higher risk than many other life choices (which in texas include rodeo, big trucks, joining the army, etc.) is an important one. There is some possibility that technology by 2050 will offer bold new choices as to lifespan or lifestyle, so it's crucial to try to get there in one piece. Many Americans, many Texans, many Arabs, are still living in the past when life was cheap.
8.23.2005 10:15pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
I look forward to your next article on how it's dangerous to date black men, and that white women should stick to dating whites. Because, you know, blacks have a much higher rate of HIV than whites. They also have a lower life expectancey.
8.23.2005 10:17pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Kipp: Well, the blog ads make me very little. On the other hand, blogging about what I want to blog about, and not letting unfounded criticism deter me from touching on subjects that seem to make some people touchy -- why that's worth a very great deal.
8.23.2005 10:18pm
aggiepundit (mail) (www):
Even if all your statistics bore out...that doesn't make gay male sex per se more dangerous. I would opine that it is only more dangerous at this particular time and in this particular population because HIV entered the U.S. in the gay population, not the straight one, and has been comparatively slow to cross over.

In Africa, I doubt there's much difference at all. But of course, the culture over there makes it a lot more difficult to measure such things.

I suspect that given another 10-15 years, the effect of HIV in gay and straight communities of people who have enough partners a year - will tend to equal itself out in both populations. Of course receptive partners (bottoms in the gay population, women in the straight population) will always be more prone to infection.

I buy your logic, but I think it is very time and population constrained and therefore probably cannot provide a universal answer to the question.
8.23.2005 10:42pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Also - this entire post is written by someone who is completely clueless about gay issues.

Gay men know their HIV status. It takes 20 minutes to get tested. So if anyone is really worried getting HIV, they would make sure their partner got tested before they started having sex. Or just use a condom.

I have a friend who is a black female. She told me that she has a greater chance of getting HIV from a black male than she does from a gay white man.

The overwhelming majority of people who catch HIV in this day and age are simply being reckless. It is not an easy disease to catch if you practice safe-sex.
8.23.2005 10:46pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Here's another article on how HIV is striking the black community. Still waiting for Volokh to post about how dating black men is dangerous.
8.23.2005 10:48pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Forgot the link.
8.23.2005 10:48pm
Steven Vickers:

I have a friend who is a black female. She told me that she has a greater chance of getting HIV from a black male than she does from a gay white man.


Well of course, since one would assume that a black woman (or any woman) would be more likely to have sex with someone in the category "black men" than someone in the catehory "gay white men," no? This doesn't in turn imply that sleeping with the white man is safer--see Bayes' Rule.
8.23.2005 11:02pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
A post with factual information with citation to where it comes from seems valuable to me. Especially when comments are opened up for anyone to challenge and correct the posted facts. Why does such a post draw so much heat from those who can provide important insight on the this important social problem?
8.23.2005 11:08pm
Columbienne:
Because, Jim, it's just outright bizarre for Volokh to be piously reminding us that gay men get AIDS; the criticism's got nothing to do with the facts. The question is, what's the agenda?
8.23.2005 11:16pm
A. Zakov (mail):
In the early 1990s I asked a number of doctors and gay activists “what is the probability that a man would become HIV positive from a single conventional (without any protection) heterosexual act with an infected woman?” No one I asked could answer that question. Later I came across an article in the Journal of the American Statistical Association that dealt with this very subject. The data came from cohabiting heterosexual couples where one was HIV positive and the other was not. You had to read the article very carefully, and get the answer from one of the graphs-- roughly 1/1000 for female-to-male transmission and somewhat greater for male-to-female transmission. And remember that’s without protection. First I ask, “why was it so hard to get this number?” Is there political pressure to keep quiet about the relative risks of male homosexuality versus male heterosexuality? Second if this number is true, then why is AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa where homosexuality is supposed to be rare? I then tried to find out where these numbers on African AIDS come from. Are they actual counts? Or some kind of inference from sampling studies? Are they based on a definitive diagnosis? In any case, I agree with EV, heterosexual or bisexual men should be discouraged from experimenting with homosexual acts.
8.23.2005 11:26pm
arthur (mail):
Hmmm. First, Volokh posts asserting on the flimsiest of data that gay men attempt to convert others to their lifestyle. The underlying assumptions (whether or not based on data) are (1) that people can in fact be converted, and (2) that everyone tries to convert everyone to their own lifestyle. Then a post on statistical evidence that for men, hetero- is healthier than gay. Put them together, and they sound like the things a man who [chose/was converted to] the hetero- lifestyle as an adult would say to justify his own choice/conversion; to convert other gay men to his choice; and to justify his attempts to convert others. Of course, I mean "convert" in exactly the same way Mr. Volokh means it.
8.23.2005 11:37pm
JohnAnnArbor:
Is there political pressure to keep quiet about the relative risks of male homosexuality versus male heterosexuality?

See Fumento's book The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS. The paperback edition tells the tale of how the book was widely suppressed and routinely stolen from libraries. Bookstores wouldn't stock it; if you ordered it, it was common to hear "You shouldn't read that."
8.23.2005 11:38pm
Justin (mail):
EV, the problem isn't that the "additional danger" is insubstantial compared to the social benefits of sexual freedom.
8.23.2005 11:43pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Actually Zakov - Gay sex isn't that risky for one encounter either. I'm sure you're disappointed by that.

Unprotected receptive anal intercourse: 1 in 400 to 1 in 50
Unprotected insertive anal intercourse: 1 in 1666
Unprotected oral sex with ejaculation (the person who is givng oral sex): 1 in 2500
Unprotected oral sex with enjaculation (the person receiving oral sex): Almost nil.

Info here.
8.23.2005 11:43pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
And half of the people with HIV in Africa happen to be women. And how exactly did this happen, if not for heterosexual sex?

Go tell the 7000 women who got HIV in 2003 from heterosexual contact that is was just "a myth"

Must be fun to live in fantasy land and not have to deal with silly things such as facts.
8.23.2005 11:48pm
gov98 (mail):
Apparently, a 2% chance of contracting HIV is low for Downtown Lad. Good for you, comparing that to a .1% (actually less) makes one see how silly you're being by saying that the risks are comparable.

Oh well, my dad once posited that Homosexuality wasn't a lifestyle or orientation, but that it was a religion. The past couple days on here have only increased my perception that it is more a religion than anything else.

In some ways, the whole conversion thing was just silly. Of course Volokh was right, but of course that can't be admitted to. See, the problem is, if it is admitted to that "some" can be turned, than the jig is up, because if some can have their orientation adjusted or changed than why can't anyone, and then horrors, we might have to realize that homosexuality is more choice than chance. Which might just possibly cause us to consider the moral implications of the choice.
8.23.2005 11:55pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Gov98 - I'd rather be gay than a bigot like you.

I'm quite confident you will be the one burning in hell, not me.

Do yourself a favor - go out and meet a real live gay person. Hanging around neo-nazis is not doing yourself any good.
8.23.2005 11:59pm
gov98 (mail):
Downtown Lad, I doubt I'm the bigotted one. I've met and had friends who are gay. I just have taken the information I've seen of the world, and developed a perspective because of it. Your dogmatic and irrational response does more to confirm my hypothesis than disprove it. It has the passion of a religious zealot as opposed to a rational actor.
8.24.2005 12:04am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
And last time I checked 1 in 1666 was less than 1 in 1000. That's a valid comparison of the person doing the insertion. Yes, receptive anal sex is higher, but the heterosexual study above says that vaginal receptive sex is higher as well, but it doesn't provide the number.

So they sound exactly the same.

Except to an anti-gay bigot like gov98.
8.24.2005 12:06am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Now you're a liar too Gov98. You don't have gay friends and you've never had gay friends. And anyone with half a brain could figure that out. Your comment reaks of hatred and stupidity.

Please, leave us the hell alone. Stop interfering in our lives. And please take your death wish against homosexuals elsewhere. It's funny how you like to lurk on blog topics about gays.

Like I said - You've been hanging around your neo-nazi friends a little too much.
8.24.2005 12:09am
frank cross (mail):
I think these discussions are a little sad. First, much gay sex is dangerous. 1 in 1666 is really a pretty high risk compared to others one faces. If I were gay, I'd be awfully careful about anal sex.

But it's not because it's "gay sex." As noted oral sex has virtually no risk of transmission. And celibacy is certainly safer than heterosexual intercourse, ceteris paribus. People take all sorts of risks for the type of sex they want. They always have and they always will. I really don't see it as much of a public policy issue, because I don't think much can be done about it.
8.24.2005 12:10am
Eric (mail):
One other thing about the numbers you cite . . . .
The actual numbers for new HIV infections attributed to homosexual contact or a combination of homosexual contact and injection drug use is likely to be artificially low. This is because for some people, there is still a social stigma related to publicly admitting that one engages in homosexual behavior (we still use the term "out of the closet" for a reason). I would venture that a man who is publicly heterosexual (married, dating a member of the opposite sex, etc.) may not always readily admit that he has engaged in homosexual sex, thus artificially tilting the numbers lower than they would otherwise be. Therefore, assuming that the HIV statistics are based, at least in part, on self-reporting regarding various behaviors, it is very likely, in my opinion, that there is some degree of lying going on, resulting in artificially low numbers.
8.24.2005 12:12am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Frank - Damn right 1 in 1666 is dangerous. But I was responding to a post that said males having sex with women only have a 1 in 1000 chance of getting hiv. The implication was that that number was low, so what's the problem with having unsafe heterosexual sex.

Obviously they are both dangerous.
8.24.2005 12:14am
JohnAnnArbor:
Downtown Lad, are you familiar with Godwin's Law?
8.24.2005 12:15am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Eric - Any stats to back up your comments?

The CDC seems pretty trustworthy to me.
8.24.2005 12:19am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
JohnAnnArbor - Yes. And I don't use the nazi anology lightly.

But trust me. Gov98 is more dangerous than any neo-nazi.

But I doubt you're gay. So you have no clue what it's like to be verbally assaulted (just for being gay). Or physically assaulted for that matter.

Gov98 is one of the more evil people I have come across on the blogosphere.
8.24.2005 12:22am
gov98 (mail):
No the implication was not that the number was "low" but there was a comparative difference. A large comparative difference. As to your limiting the comparison to anal insertive sex, you have no basis or reason to do so, especially if the case is that one is likely to engage in both. Than the receptive overwhelms the insertive. A man can not have anally receptive sex with a woman's penis...It's an impossibility, so your attempt to limit the comparison is improper. Of course if we read your study we see that the average rate is 1 in 120 or about 1 percent. A 10x difference in transmission rates seems pretty significant to me.

As to the claim my comment reeks of hatred and stupidity, I'd have to disagree, of course, you are awfully quick to judge me, and my honesty. I find that disappointing.
8.24.2005 12:23am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
As to your limiting the comparison to anal insertive sex, you have no basis or reason to do so, especially if the case is that one is likely to engage in both.

You've just proved yourself a complete moron to the entire gay community.

Like I said - please take your hatred, yes hatred, elsewhere.
8.24.2005 12:26am
gov98 (mail):
I'm impressed, upon our first meeting, I've been considered one of the more evil people you have come across in the blogosphere. That's pretty impressive. Apparently, I'm also more dangerous than a neo-nazi, despite my assuredly anti-fascist politics.

I think the more likely case, is that I've hit a nerve. People only get defensive when there's truth to the charge. When it's baseless and false, it tends to be ignored.
8.24.2005 12:26am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Gov98 - You're on a crusade to kill gay people. That's pretty evil in my book.
8.24.2005 12:27am
JDS:
See http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5424a2.htm
"Of the 1,767 MSM [men who have sex with men, interviewed and tested in five different cities], 450 (25%) tested positive for HIV (range by city: 18%--40%). HIV prevalence was 46% among blacks, 21% among whites, and 17% among Hispanics. A total of 340 (76%) of those who were HIV positive were aged >30 years... Of the 450 HIV-infected MSM, 217 (48%) were unaware of their HIV infections." MMWR, June 24, 2005

Because of the very high prevalance of HIV infection among MSM, unprotected sex in that population is very dangerous, and signficant numbers of that population still engage in dangerous behaviors.

See also
http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5338a1.htm
and many other reports.
8.24.2005 12:28am
JohnAnnArbor:
Um, where did he say that? I might not agree with gov98, but he never said anything approaching wanting to kill ANYONE. Any extrapolation from what he said is your responsibility, not his.
8.24.2005 12:29am
Anonymous Law Graduate:
"Gov98 - You're on a crusade to kill gay people. That's pretty evil in my book."

And with that he takes the turn from the annoying fanaticism common in people that come out late in life into sheer insanity...
8.24.2005 12:30am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
JohnAnnArbor - Sure. I'll point it out to you.

Gov98 says that gays "convert" straight people to turn gay. By that he means that gays are pedophiles and molesting children.

He then implies that HIV is solely a gay disease.

He then says "we might have to realize that homosexuality is more choice than chance. Which might just possibly cause us to consider the moral implications of the choice."

Which obviously means that since gays are child molesters and are spreading disease (his words), society will have to "consider the moral implications" of dealing with those gays who choose not to turn straight. I.e. kill them.

But if you're straight - you won't recognize this tactic, because you're unfamiliar with it. Gov98, on the other hand, knows EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

He's already made it blatantly clear that he wants to wipe gays off the face of the earth.
8.24.2005 12:34am
Artemis (mail):
I'm not very knowledge about rates of AIDS in Africa, but is there anyone out there who knows whether higher rates for HIV infection among heterosexual women in Africa can be partly attributed to the practice of female circumcision?
8.24.2005 12:36am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
OK. I'm sick of the bigotry on this blog. Eugene Volokh, for whatever reason, has decided to court the worst of the religious right.

He's on a crusade to dehumanize gay people, and God knows why.

We've now got the worst of the neo-nazis flocking to this thread to spread their hatred.

I don't need this crap in my life. Have fun in hell everyone.
8.24.2005 12:37am
JohnAnnArbor:
Reread what he said. He does speak of "moral implications." But all the rest is in your imagination.

You want a threat like that? Islamofascists really DO want to kill every gay on Earth, and say so quite publicly.
8.24.2005 12:38am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Artermis - Women don't get HIV. Didn't you read gov98's comments.

Adios everyone.
8.24.2005 12:38am
Anonymous Law Graduate:
Where did the pedo part come in again?

Projection is dangerous, man. Not everyone is out to get you because you like the boys.

(And by boys I mean 18+, although I'm sure you won't take it that way...)
8.24.2005 12:39am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
JohnAnnArbor - You're straight. So you have ZERO freaking clue what I'm talking about. Go talk to your gay friends (if you have any) and they can fill you in.

Or read this site on religious right hate speech, which sounds an awful lot like Volokh's blog these days.
8.24.2005 12:40am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
The pedo part came where gov98 said that gays recruit straight people, which is code word for child molestation. Just google it if you don't believe it.
8.24.2005 12:42am
JohnAnnArbor:
You have a persecution complex, Mr. Lad. You make many assumptions about people you only know through a few sentences on a blog.
8.24.2005 12:42am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Just read this JohnAnnArbor. Like I said - you're clueless when it comes to gay issues.

Anyone who claims that I'm gay through "choice" is the enemy.
8.24.2005 12:44am
gov98 (mail):
Again, like any good religion we've stumbled upon a secret code, a way of interpreting words to mean something most people, (the non-religious) would think meant what they actually said. This is much like gnosticism actually.

In any event...I don't think, nor did I say nor mean to imply that one is more likely to be a sexual predator than the other. A gay man who tries to convert someone over 18 is certainly not, yet a straight man trying to seduce a minor would be. The two are not related.

I didn't imply HIV was solely a gay disease. It is predominantly a gay disease. And if anyone want to argue against that, fine, but you'll have as much success as pounding sand. It also, is predominantly a gay disease because, as even mentioned by Downtown Lad anal receptive intercourse is far more likely to lead to transmission than any other form of intercourse. Sure that's not good for those who wish to engage in the act, but it's also not good that smoking increases ones risk for lung cancer, perhaps its not fair that it does, but ...it does.

As to consider the moral implications, wow that's a stretch, a laughable one, the point is perhaps, that we should not be so willing to publicly sanction homosexual behavior through legalizing gay marriage, or perhaps similar arrangements.
8.24.2005 12:44am
Anonymous Law Graduate:
Nothing about children in the first page on google there, bucko.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=gay+recruit+straight

Go take a look. Of course, you "know" this to be true. You're like the Phil Hendrie character Doug Dannger. Google that to find out why.
8.24.2005 12:45am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
And any rational person should substitute "black" for "gay" in these threads - and question whether it would be tolerated by society at large. No way.
8.24.2005 12:45am
Jody (mail) (www):
Downtown Lad to Gov98: "So you have no clue what it's like to be verbally assaulted"

But you gotta make certain that doesn't hold for Gov98 past today, no?
8.24.2005 12:50am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Anonymous - You're clueless too.

Bigots don't believe gays exist. Thus, they use the word "homosexual" instead.
8.24.2005 12:50am
JohnAnnArbor:
Wait a second--are you now condemning people as bigots based on word choice???
8.24.2005 12:53am
Anonymous Law Graduate:
Yeah, because, like, we've never heard the phrase "the gay agenda" ever...
8.24.2005 12:53am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
The only group in society to whom it is socially acceptable to demonize are gay people.

And almost every commenter on this thread has provent that todday.

How do you live with yourselves? Spreading evil and hate. Why? What sick kind of pleasure do you get out of this hatred?
8.24.2005 12:54am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
JohnAnnArbor - Can you please find me a Washington Times article that uses the word gay without putting it in quotation marks?
8.24.2005 12:55am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
And yes - calling a gay person "homosexual" is the equivalent of calling a black person "nigger".
8.24.2005 12:55am
Anonymous Law Graduate:
I thought that was "faggot" or "queer."

When did homosexual become so, except in your mind?

Honestly, dude, go talk to some young (teens or early 20s) gay people- you have serious issues with your sexuality and identity, and very much need to meet people with a healthier attitude about it.
8.24.2005 12:57am
Artemis (mail):
Downtown Lad,

I'm not really interested in whether a true statement would be tolerated by "society at large." If black heterosexual men were shown to have higher rates of HIV infection than white heterosexual men (I have no idea whether that's true or not, by the way), would it be so outrageous to talk about the relative "dangerousness" of sex with a black man?

Your urge to ferret out the "agenda" of anyone who dares to discuss this issue strikes me as the mirror image of the hysterical attempts of some anti-gay bigots to see a "gay agenda" around every corner.
8.24.2005 12:58am
JohnAnnArbor:
The only group in society to whom it is socially acceptable to demonize are gay people.

That's news to fat people, Southerners, Christians, Jews.....

And yes - calling a gay person "homosexual" is the equivalent of calling a black person "nigger".

When did that rule come into effect? Is there some sort of e-mail I missed that informed everyone of this?
8.24.2005 12:59am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Um Anonymous - I know for a fact the young gay people will back me up.

You don't understand the code words here. Because you are blind to them. You obviously refuse to read the links I sent.

First the goal is to dehumanize gay people. That leads to violence against gay people. Gay people are getting bashed this very minute.

Why? Because they think gay people are evil. They think gays molest children. They think gays are out to convert their children to be gay. They think gays spread disease. And you're propagating this hatred in this thread.

Again. Why? What's your agenda?
8.24.2005 1:00am
JGUNS (mail):
Wow, look at the pushback on this thread! A Zakov asked if there was some sort of pressure to bury this information, and as has been shown here, that pressure exists. Why can't this topic be discussed without all the vitriol? The facts are the facts, and by stating them that shouldn't make a person "homophobic" or "anti gay!" The medical facts are that Male homosexuals are far more likely to transmit HIV then heterosexuals are. There is no judgement there, it is simply facts. Furthermore despite the claims of education amongst gay males for HIV prevention, there has been an big increase in the number of HIV cases amongst gay men over the past several years. According to a recent study by CDC, nearly two thirds of the gay men polled admitted to having unprotected anal sex within the past 18 months. Additionally, 56% of gay men aged 25 years or younger reported having unprotected receptive anal intercourse in the previous 18 months, compared to 46% of older men.

If prevention is truly the goal, then we need to get past the rhetoric and discuss the issues based on the facts.
8.24.2005 1:00am
Jody (mail) (www):
"And yes - calling a gay person "homosexual" is the equivalent of calling a black person "nigger"."

Are you friggin kidding me? The scientific term for a person who engages in sex with someone of the same gender is a slur on par with "nigger"?

Better tell that to the LGBTA.
8.24.2005 1:00am
gov98 (mail):
Artemis-I don't know that female genital mutilation is a cause of higher rates of transmission, but from perusing reports on the causes of women's problems in Africa, it stems from many different causes.

Violence and Abuse seem to be frequently repeated. Rape, seems likely to increase risk of transmission as there is increased risk of vaginal tearing. Any time there is a tear risk is greatly increased. Additionally, many of the men in Africa acquire multiple wives, and even do so after knowing they have AIDS, and then proceed to infect their much younger additional wives.

Additionally, homosexual activity in Africa is far more closeted than here, so it is thought that a number of men contract HIV through that or drug use, and proceed to infect multiple women, their many marriage partners. Because women are at the mercy of men in these homes, they get abused and their risk of transmission is increased.

Nothing I saw discussed FGM exactly, but I reckon FGM would increase the risk for tearing or other open wounds which would again increase the risk for women. FGM is nothing compared to male circumcision of course in terms of the destruction worked on the person.
8.24.2005 1:00am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
It's socially acceptable to demonize fat people and Southerners and Christians and Jews? Really? Since when? Show me one mainstream blog that is doing so.

And yes - gay people want to be called gay. That's what we call ourselves. We don't call ourselves homosexuals. Where have you been hiding for the last forty years.
8.24.2005 1:02am
Anonymous Law Graduate:
Mostly I'm tired of people like you, Downtown, making it such a pain in the ass for gay people like me.

Not everything is about who I sleep with and what I stick in my ass. Get over it, for god's sake. People like you, and all the other self-appointed gay spokesmen are why normal americans, who really don't give a damn about most things, have such a problem with us.
8.24.2005 1:03am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
That's nice Anonymous.

I'm sick and tired of people trying to malign gay people by saying that they "convert" straights, that they are drug addicts, that they molest children.

You really are quite ignorant if you don't recognize these arguments.

So when did you "choose" to become gay. I find it very odd that you were not offended by that insinuation by gov98.
8.24.2005 1:05am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
OK - I really am out of here. I'm just disgusted by this hatred.

I will sleep well tonight knowing I did my best to stand up to the falsehoods being spread by bigots today.
8.24.2005 1:09am
JohnAnnArbor:
As you sleep, will your mind continue making up new "codes" and malignant motivations and apply them to people with whom you disagree?
8.24.2005 1:10am
Anonymous Law Graduate:
People can think what they want. I don't find it an immediate threat to my existence that people don't view sexuality in the same way as others do.

Besides, I think the Kinsey scale is a fairly accurate representation of reality, so in a sense I did "choose" to be gay when I came out in college.

Was I born with an innate attraction to men? I'd say so, but I didn't fully realize it for a long time. To anyone outside my own head, that can appear to be a lot like "choice." I'm not going to automatically flip out at people because that's how they actually interpret it.

Besides, it's a far cry from "homosexuality is a choice!" to "you cannot choose homosexuality!" The fact that the two go hand in hand has more to do with reactions such as yours than anything else. I'm quite content to go on with my life as a "choice" as long as I can do- semantics make no difference to me.
8.24.2005 1:11am
dolphin (mail) (www):
Actually, what's interesting is that the title of the post is left with ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE to support it offered.

I can throw out statistics from the 80s as well as the next guy but doing so wouldn't explain how a monogamous gay man is in more danger than a monogamous straight man and neither does your 1980s' stats.

That's the key. Someone concerned about "tragic danger" would discuss the REAL danger which is unsafe sex practices, etc. Someone who wants to stir hatred will blame it on being gay. Precisely how does being attracted to men put one at more or less risk than being attracted to women?

For the person who claimed that "homosexual" was the "scientific" term for gay man or lesbian, you are incorrect. The APA has declared that "gay male" or "lesbian" are the prefered scientific terms* when discussing a person with same-sex attraction. "Homosexual" carries the stigma of pathology (which same-sex attraction is not), and is also far less clear than "gay male" or "lesbian."

Look at the current political climate. You people need not hide behind such nonsense. It's politically "ok" to hate gay men and lesbians. Personally I'd rather you be honest about your intentions than to hide behind false pretenses.

*American Psychologist
September 1991, Volume 46, Issue No. 9, 973-974
©1991 by the American Psychological Association, Inc.
8.24.2005 1:29am
jay00 (mail):
Sigh...this is proably pointless, but I'd like to point something out. Many comments ago, this was said by a commenter:

Oh well, my dad once posited that Homosexuality wasn't a lifestyle or orientation, but that it was a religion. [...]
In some ways, the whole conversion thing was just silly. Of course Volokh was right, but of course that can't be admitted to. See, ww problem is, if it is admitted to that "some" can be turned, than the jig is up, because if some can have their orientation adjusted or changed than why can't anyone, and then horrors, we might have to realize that homosexuality is more choice than chance. Which might just possibly cause us to consider the moral implications of the choice.

Now in this small space, this individual said several things that I, as a gay man, found personally offensive. I do not believe my gayness is what defines my spiritual life, I coulnd't possibly care less in "converting" straight people and find the very notion of converting someone to any form of sexuality patently ridiculous (that's aimed straight at you too, Volokh), and I certainly did not chose to be gay. Did Downtown Lad go overboard in his comments? I don't know and I don't care. What I do see is that every commenter felt compelled to jump all over him while this particular individual (whom I don't believe any self respecting homosexual would tolerate as a friend if his/her real views on homosexuality were known) was allowed to skate. I think that's pretty pathetic. What's more, everyone's oh-so-sincere concern about the sexual and spiritual health of their gay bretheren notwithstanding, what I see in this thread is a lot of abuse of statistics on an issue of which the poster was utterly uninformed before they googled it five miniutes ago, and know-nothing speculation about gay issues from people who don't have any first- (or probably second-) hand knowledge on the topic. I work at a health clinic that primarily serves HIV+ patients, gay and straight, black and white. So when I see things like this :

If prevention is truly the goal, then we need to get past the rhetoric and discuss the issues based on the facts.

following long, ill-informed, poorly-contextualized tirades, I hope I'll be forgiven for finding that person's plea ridiculous. An example? Our friend the rude commenter's last post here (hint: it's gov98) which was (I think?) meant to be a serious analysis of trasmission rates in Africa. Yes, Gov98, HIV+ can only be transmitted by fags and rapists. That is why we are currently seeing such truly horrifying morbidity rates in Africa. It's all closeted gays and rapists. Eliminate them and that whole problem will clear itself right up. Can we next have a discussion on whether we can also bring straights who just like really rough sex into the equation? No? Overreaching? Ok, nevermind.
8.24.2005 1:47am
mackinac (mail):
as I write this, I am looking at the good professors caveat to be civil. More people should

I think that this should be the required required reading

CDC

If I remember correctly, this data has not changed much over the past 20 years

What is a mystery is that for some, just the observation of the data is incinderary. If some body could explain, in a civil tone, why, that would be helpful.

If you refuse to accept a diagnosis, how can a problem be solved ?

regards
8.24.2005 1:52am
Jody (mail) (www):
"Homosexual" is less clear than "gay?" I call B.S.

In addition to meaning "homosexual" the word "gay" has several meanings, not least of which is the original meaning of cheerfulness or light heartedness. Add to this, "gay" also means a particular subset of the homosexual population.

Compare this to homosexual for which there is one and only meaning? (That's from a medical dictionary BTW) - having sex with or being sexually attracted to members of the same gender.

"Queer", "fag", and "bugger" - I can buy those as being slurs. But "gay" is frequently used as a slur or insult. However, "homosexual" is virtually never used as a slur (too many syllables to use in a good curse) and should be considered no more a slur than "heterosexual", "bisexual", or "asexual".

I utterly reject your efforts to Newspeak my use of the English language and will continue to refer to those who have sex with members of the same gender as homosexual, male homosexuals as "gays" (though this term itself is imprecise made by efforts such as yours) and female homosexuals as "lesbians".
8.24.2005 2:00am
jay00 (mail):
mackinac - speaking only for myself, this data is neither shocking nor incendiary. Find me a one gay man (who is not an idiot) who will argue that HIV is not a serious threat to the gay community. It's a concern to anyone working in the field and there are constructive, positive things to be done about it. What I object to is the way simple statistics, such as the ones you cite, are misused by people (a number of them have participated in this thread) to advance personaly ideology. In effect, to claim that these stats say something factual and truthful about the morality of gayness itself. They don't and they never will. If Volokh and his supporters here really believe his lovely analysis is contributing something constructive to the cause of preventing the spread of HIV, I think that that's a slap in the face to the many, many people in the country who really are doing some good.
8.24.2005 2:08am
Artemis (mail):
Jay OO says: "What I object to is the way simple statistics, such as the ones you cite, are misused by people (a number of them have participated in this thread) to advance personaly ideology. In effect, to claim that these stats say something factual and truthful about the morality of gayness itself. They don't and they never will. If Volokh and his supporters here really believe his lovely analysis is contributing something constructive to the cause of preventing the spread of HIV, I think that that's a slap in the face to the many, many people in the country who really are doing some good."

-- I'm not going to go back over this thread to police the "agendas" of those who have participated in it. I don't personally -- nor have I suggested -- that these statistics say anything about the morality of gayness itself.

But where did you get the idea that Eugene's analysis was meant to "contribute something constructive to the cause of preventing the spread of H.I.V."? You appear to believe that only such a cause could legitimate the discussion that Eugene's post prompted, or am I misconstruing your comment? Why does this discussion need to have reference to such a cause?
8.24.2005 2:38am
mackinac (mail):
Jay00

I think that enough personal ideology is being spread by all sides of the "debate"

(I am beginning to think that the experiment in posting is really an experiment to see how fast conversations can deteriorate)

The problem, as I see it, is that HIV is spread by two major vectors - sex, and intraveneous drug use. Both of these have moral dimensions (unless you want to argue that sex and intraveneous drug use does not have anything to do with morals ?) . Within the sexual category, homosexual sexual contact has a much greater chance of transmission. That medical, but also has a moral dimension.

But I haven't seen anybody put the pieces together here - that homosexual sex has a greater transmission rate of HIV, therefor that proves that homosexual sex is immoral. The only people to infer that are the shouters.

Some people will assert (how can you prove morals ?) that the homosexual "lifestyle" is immoral. That is between them and their god. I thought it was all about tolerance, and such. Besides - who cares what other people think about what I do ? I think a little moral toughness is in order.

regards (even if we don't agree)
8.24.2005 2:40am
A. Zarkov (mail):
“Gay sex isn't that risky for one encounter either. I'm sure you're disappointed by that.”

Absolutely not. I don’t want anyone to have to suffer any form of disease. To promote the health of the human community we need to have an accurate notion of risks so we can devote resources in an efficient way. The JASA study used a more controlled setting than an epidemiological study does. Nevertheless I grateful to have a new source of information pointed out. The questions I posed about Africa are important. Evidently the means of transmission is somehow different there, or the data we have is defective since it really doesn’t match the western model where very few women are HIV positive. For example, suppose contaminated needles in a vaccination program were transmitting the AIDS virus. We would want to know that.
8.24.2005 2:48am
Paul doson (mail) (www):
Quite intresting article posting.I enjoyed reading this.
Paul
8.24.2005 3:03am
jay00 (mail):
Artemis: You are misconstruing, I'm afarid. I was discussing the general tenor of the discussion and I think I characterized it accurately: it was pretty offensive and ugly. I directed nothing at you personally (indeed, there were two specific people mentioned, one with whom I did not argee totally and one who I thought was was defintely out of line). Any other more general refernces were not aimed to you, so you can comfort yourself on that score.

EV is under no stricutes as to what he can and cannot write, of course. His posts can be useful, or devoid of any usefullness whatsoever. But I think that he ought to bear some responsibilty for what he writes and I think he ought to think very long and hard about the use others might find in his post and the extent to which his posts lends itself to their uses and abuses. The original post, makes an argument about the desire of gays to convert straights that, as nearly as I can tell, has no basis reality. In fact, my lived reality, such as it is, tells me that this is an uninformed individual making a ridicuolus claim. If we want to talk about reality, though, let's talk about political realities. It's an ugly time to be gay and it's getting uglier. EV seems to pride himself on the detached, lawyerly and civilized tone he claims to cultivate on this blog. This kind of thing puts the lie to that right away becuase his post was nothing of the sort. In fact, I am curious what use he thought it would serve. Did he assume it was some dry, academic exercise with no practical application? Did he assume that it doesn't play right into the hands of the anti-gay right? I disagree with him, but I don't take him for an idiot. Whatever his intent, he certainly does gays no favors with this post, he does the cause of HIV prvention no favors, so who's left?
8.24.2005 3:11am
jay00 (mail):
please pardon my rotten spelling in my previous post.
8.24.2005 3:13am
Ketzl Brame (mail) (www):

I didn't imply HIV was solely a gay disease. It is predominantly a gay disease[...] the point is perhaps, that we should not be so willing to publicly sanction homosexual behavior through legalizing gay marriage, or perhaps similar arrangements.


Gov98, I don't think you go far enough. By the statistics quoted elsewhere in this thread it's clear that AIDS has a fairly high risk of transmission both with anal and genital penetration. The clear moral implication is that we need to not merely ban gay male marriage but heterosexual marriage as well. Lesbian marriage is the only safe marriage.

But don't worry, we'll let some of you watch. ;)
8.24.2005 3:22am
jay00 (mail):

(I am beginning to think that the experiment in posting is really an experiment to see how fast conversations can deteriorate)

We agree on that at least. I'm not sure your comment doesn't apply to a larger and more famous experiment called "the internet." This, however, is reductive:

The problem, as I see it, is that HIV is spread by two major vectors - sex, and intraveneous drug use.

Correct, but reductive. The relatively higher risk of insertive anal sex is not the only reason HIV rates are hight among MSM. It's one, but if the research of the last decade has shown us anything, there is much more involved here. If you want to get serious about HIV prevention then throw poverty, access to safe-sex education, quality of care, availablity of treatment, etc. in to the mix. And some other things too. My point is not to get into all this (interesting as that might be) but to point out that all the lovely pieties about HIV being paraded in this thread don't do a single solitary thing to address the issue. And when someone feels the need to trot out The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS it doesn't take a weatherman to see which way the wind is blowing. I read this thread and see that, for many of these people, addressing the issue is unimportant. They want to talk about the how dangerous it is to have gay sex. Talking about the dangers of gay sex, qua gay sex is not a useful contribution to the issue.
Finally, you say:

Some people will assert (how can you prove morals ?) that the homosexual "lifestyle" is immoral. That is between them and their god.

True, but when they start translating that into legislative action (DMA, striking down anti-bullying legislation, trying to ban gay books) and going on television and spreading that hatred, it becomes a problem between me and my god and them and their god. The fact that EV's basic premise is great ammunition for these type of folks is more than enough grounds for me to condemn it.
8.24.2005 3:36am
Artemis (mail):
JayOO,

"EV is under no stricutes as to what he can and cannot write, of course. His posts can be useful, or devoid of any usefullness whatsoever. But I think that he ought to bear some responsibilty for what he writes and I think he ought to think very long and hard about the use others might find in his post and the extent to which his posts lends itself to their uses and abuses."

-- In other words, he needs to watch what he says? Did you agree with that when Ari Fleischer said it? Look, I do agree with you that all people have to bear some responsibility for what they write or say, but it seems to me that all EV did was make true statements about the greater risk of HIV infection for gay men (or those who engage in male homosexual activity). When you start cautioning people who make accurate claims to watch what they say, I have to at least wonder whether the object isn't to suppress a discussion which makes you uncomfortable rather than to prevent potentially adverse consequences that might result from a perverse misinterpretation of the post. I would suggest that anyone who finds a justification for anti-gay bigotry and hatred in this post would find it in a box of Cheerios.

"EV seems to pride himself on the detached, lawyerly and civilized tone he claims to cultivate on this blog. This kind of thing puts the lie to that right away becuase his post was nothing of the sort. In fact, I am curious what use he thought it would serve. Did he assume it was some dry, academic exercise with no practical application? Did he assume that it doesn't play right into the hands of the anti-gay right? I disagree with him, but I don't take him for an idiot. Whatever his intent, he certainly does gays no favors with this post, he does the cause of HIV prvention no favors, so who's left?"

-- What do you imagine the "practical application of Eugene's statements to be? If his statements are truthful, whether they play into the hands of any group should matter very little. I don't think the post is meant to do *any* group any favors, and I don't think it does so. Or did you imagine that this is the first time anyone has dared to mention that those who engage in male homosexual sex seem to be at a higher risk for H.I.V. infection than other groups?
8.24.2005 3:47am
Artemis (mail):
JayOO,

I haven't read The Myth of Heterosexual Aids. Should I not read it? If not, why not?
8.24.2005 3:50am
jay00 (mail):

What do you imagine the "practical application of Eugene's statements to be? If his statements are truthful, whether they play into the hands of any group should matter very little.

As I have said before, the post was a mixture of facts and things that were decidedly not facts. The fact is that these non-facts (e.g. that homosexuals give a damn about converting straights) disproportionately benefit the anti-gay right. Enough said. Furthermore I resent your imputation of a Fleisherian thuggishness to my comments. (I think I was way more subtle about it than Ari). Seriously, though, you do me wrong. EV is free to say what he wants. (Whoa, deja-vu. Didn't I just write this?). What he should not--in any society that vaules a civiziled discourse--be able to do is write a post that is half fact, half unfounded assertion and claim that it has no practical consequences. If he truly believes that the anti-gay right could not take something like this and run with it, then I've got a bridge I'd like to sell him. True those people are shameless about their appropriations, but does he have to makes it so easy on them?

Or did you imagine that this is the first time anyone has dared to mention that those who engage in male homosexual sex seem to be at a higher risk for H.I.V. infection than other groups?

Try as you might to paint me as a wielder of blunt and hegemonic gay pieties, you have failed. I admit nothing, but rather--of my own voilition--said as much in my last comment:

Correct, but reductive. The relatively higher risk of insertive anal sex is not the only reason HIV rates are hight among MSM.
8.24.2005 4:03am
jay00 (mail):
Artemis: glad you asked about TMOHA. I begin with a caveat: it's probably not fair to pick on Michael Fumento because his avocation [republican lawyer] puts him at a distinct disadvantage in any discussion of HIV (as opposeed to his being, say, a republican doctor or a republican epedimiologist).

Paula A. Treichler reviewed it for Science back in 1990 and in here own, quiet way, demolished it."Deliberately wrongheaded" is about as unkind as she allows herself to be. If you'd like a PDF of the article, I'll be happy to forward. I don't think it's available online. Her main points are these:
1. Fumento misreads the trends on hetero HIV+ spread and says they're "imploding" when they aren't.
2. Fumento misreads genuine scientific debate as political debate, or imputes to any science with which he disagrees as politically motivated
3. Fumento igores the increased rate of infection in Latino and Black communities among heterosexuals becuase it doesn't fit his theory.

A less charitable person would say that Fumento, author of "Science Under Siege: How the Environmental Misinformation Campaign Is Affecting Our Lives " is twisting available info to support his political views. And they would be right.
8.24.2005 4:31am
Artemis (mail):
Sure, JayOO, if you'd like to forward the PDF, I'd be interested in looking at the article.
8.24.2005 4:49am
Challenge:
"If you want to get serious about HIV prevention then throw poverty, access to safe-sex education, quality of care, availablity of treatment, etc. in to the mix."

Or one could limit the number of their partners, the sex acts committed with those partners, and when engaging in risky sexual behavior always use a condom. Throw that into the mix, and HIV wouldn't be the problem it is today. Among your list, only access to safe-sex education seems to promote PREVENTION, though the others in your list are appropriate uses of resources.

Curiously, increasing the availability/quality of treatment for AIDS/HIV could very well INCREASE the prevalence of AIDS, as it lowers the cost of infection. Conversely, knowing there is quality treatment available may make one more likely to be tested, and thus less likely to infect others.
8.24.2005 5:53am
Public_Defender:
Kipp and Downtown Lad:

I think you need to be careful about villainizing someone who is in many ways on your side. If you make enemies of everyone who disagrees with you on any one point, you won’t have any allies in your fight.

Gays and lesbians have largely convinced liberals to support gay rights. If you read Volokh’s posts, you’ll learn a lot about how to appeal to conservatives, too.
8.24.2005 6:38am
Cornellian (mail):
Hmm, so subsitute "female" for "male" and "heterosexual" for "homosexual" and we have the following equally valid logic:

"So female heterosexual activity does seem much more dangerous, on average, than female homosexual activity. As I've said before, this danger is tragic. But it seems to me a grave mistake to deny this danger."

After all, even the post itself recognizes that lesbians have lower rates of STD's than straight women, to say nothing of the relative risk of violence a woman faces from a man rather than from another woman.
8.24.2005 9:01am
Doc (mail):
Am I the only 100% gay man here right now?

Ok...Volok's title for the post harkens back to many a Paul Cameron-type skreeds about how 'unhealthy' gay (and they ONLY mean male-male couplings) is (HIV/the made up 'gay bowel' syndrom etc.). He does try to moderate his thoughts in the post. Still, it can be hard for straight men to understand the difference between purely gay men, "men that have sex with men" and bisexuals (anywhere on the 1-6 of the kinsey scale where they can choose one gender and 'stick with it'). Was it Nature a few years ago that published one (of several studies) that show that nearly 30% of all men will have at least one sexual experience to orgasm with another man in their life (usually in those college years!). So I also wouldn't say that gay men try to 'convert' but perhaps 'sway' a inclined (and oh so willing) adult guy friend for a romp (oh my crazy fraternity days!).

I'm just into my 40's, happily partnered and monogomous for 9 years, HIV neg (as is my hubby) and we still use condoms for anal sex (for hygeine rather than disease transmission). And among my gay (male and lesbian) friends I know few that are HIV positive (all upper middle class white folks). So there are many transmissions still occurring (but statistics, as they say can prove anything). But some of those studies were looking at rates based on people showing up for testing at clinics (a rather preselected group for HIV I'd think). Also, "Gay sex" is a rather meaningless term don't you think? What's 'Straight Sex"? There's really only one sort (insertive anal sex) that presumably results in the majority of transmisssion from man-to-man.
However, there's nothing *inherently* dangeous to insertive anal sex (male-male, male-female) if you do it right. The danger is from HIV. So unprotected insertive sex with someone who has HIV (or STD) is supremely dangerous. The sexual act or orientation, per se is nothing but nature.


We could just as easily say that heterosexual sex is dangerous due to transmission of viruses to that lead to vitually all cases of cervical cancer in women. Far more cases than HIV. Perhaps we should discourage vaginal intercourse?

I think that young men (str8, bi, gay) don't use their heads (the big one :) to think clearly when trying to get laid. They make "bad choices", may have unprotected sex and that can lead to disease transmission or unwanted pregnancy (can't blame us queers for any of the abortions!). It's not a gay/straight thing, it's more a pathology of randy young/single men worldwide.

Anyway, I'm rambling. Looks like any future confirmation hearings for Volok would be very entertaining to watch on CSPAN!
8.24.2005 9:12am
Bruce Garrett (mail) (www):
Wow...you really are as dense as they say over at Eschaton. The Texas figures are for same sex sexual contacts, yet you compare them to the estimated figures for number of homosexuals in the population, as though everyone who has same sex sexual contact is homosexual. I'm a software engineer not a statistician and even I can see the problem with that. You carelessly dismiss Dr. Franklin Kameny 's own testimony about the longevity of gay men in his circle of acquaintance. You say an actual study would be nice, but in lieu of actually doing some science, you're perfectly willing to throw out essentially the same set of smears about how gay men spread disease and how dangerous homosexuality is that Paul Cameron does, as though calling it "tragic" mitigates anything. If there's anything tragic here, it's watching you reach for one completely unfounded anti-gay smear after another, while asserting that you don't really have anything against gay people.

This reminds me of watching the father of that Memphis teenager who was forced into ex-gay conversion therapy, telling Pat Robertson's audience that he was only trying to save his son from an average lifespan of thirty years. I went to Memphis for the protests, wanting to wave a sign at him as he drove his son into and out of Love In Action that read "I've been out since I was 17, I'm 51 years old, and I'm fine thank you." Here...Let me wave it at you instead.
8.24.2005 10:43am
dave:
Homphobic prick.

End of story.
8.24.2005 10:58am
jay00 (mail):

Among your list, only access to safe-sex education seems to promote PREVENTION, though the others in your list are appropriate uses of resources.

Actually, Challenge, it's quite well known that getting HIV-positives on HAART reduces horizontal transmission rates signifigantly. There are studies which also suggest that a HIV+ mother on HAART is less likely to pass the disease to her offspring. If a patient choses to engage in risky sexual behavior often, then it's not going to matter that much, but recieving adequate treatment does bring down transmission rates.

Curiously, increasing the availability/quality of treatment for AIDS/HIV could very well INCREASE the prevalence of AIDS, as it lowers the cost of infection.

I wish this was the kind of thing we had to worry about. Right now the cost of infection, however you compute it, is extremely high. And given what we know about what's available, what's in clinical trials, and what's coming down the pike in terms of available therapies, I don't think we have much to hope for in terms of a big breakthrough. My personal experience is that patients recieving adequate treatment are generally more cognizant of the cost of HIV, not less. Or at least, they are required to become cognizant of it much earlier than they might otherwise.
Artemis: dashed this off before heading off to work. I will, hoever, fwd. you a copy of the article when I have a chance this afternoon if you're still interested.
8.24.2005 11:03am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Public_Defender - I already am a conservative, so I couldn't care less about trying to appeal to them.
8.24.2005 11:06am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Anyone who says anything to defend Eugene is sure to get labeled a homophobe (why can you be called a homophobe for being anti-Gay, but can't call a Gay man a homosexual? Mightn't it be better to call them Gayphobes?).

But I see a lot of denial and defensive behavior going on above, esp. with our Gay brethern.

But let's look at reality, and why he is probably right:
- One of the biggest predictors of HIV infection in this country is number of sexual partners. Magic Johnson didn't become HIV positive from being monogamous with his wife. The problem is that males are naturally a lot more promiscuous than females. So, the number of sex partners for many Gay men is higher than that of straight men, not because they are any more promiscuous themselves, but rather, because their potential partners, also being male are. Straight men would have as much, or more, sex, as Gay men, if they weren't constrained by availability due to this factor.
- The natural corrolary is that sex between two HIV negative partners in a monogamous relationship is safe in this respect, regardless of sexual orientation or type. I know happily monogamous Gay male couples who are HIV negative, and intend to stay that way. True mutual monogamy is one of the best HIV preventions out there (and, indeed, it appears that much of the 3rd world spread is from, say, prostitutes to husbands to wives, and then, unfortunately, to kids - but this isn't monogamy). (And, obviously, "true" abstinence works even better).
- Use of condoms helps a lot, but, arguably, not as much as cutting down on sexual partners, simply because condoms fail. We know that from the pregancy rate (though sperm are probably better here than HIV) if for no other reason.
- There are sound physiological reasons why anal sex is more dangerous than vaginal sex, as far as the spread of HIV (and probably some other STD), and why being the one penetrated is more dangerous than the one penetrating (male or female). But, I would suggest, that this difference, while statistically significant, is minor compared with other factors, notably number of sexual partners and the use of a condom, in explaining this phenomenon.
- Drug use is also a factor. Meth use in particular seems to be especially bad when combined with a Gay lifestyle. Among other things, the drug seems to reduce inhibitions, or, probably more accurately, to significantly reduce judgment, which can be read here as ignoring my points about promiscuous sex and protection. There are web sites dedicated to this connection, and they are scary. Guys doing stuff that they wouldn't have considered before getting involved with the drug. Having unprotected sex so frequently, with so many partners, with the help of, for example, Viagra, that they start to bleed. Some apparently call this "Crystal Dick". I am not suggesting that meth use is any higher with Gay men than the population as a whole, but rather, that as to HIV transmission, on a per capita basis, it is probably a lot worse for them. In other words, meth and an active Gay lifestyle are apparently very dangerous together.
- I have also heard of some young Gay men going out to get infected. Something about belonging then. I hope like heck that this is not the fad that it has been portrayed as.
- Oh, and that comment about vaginal intercourse increasing the chances of cervical infections - that opens up another can of worms. A recent study attempted to show that circumcism (of males) tended to reduce this significantly. Talk about a politically unpopular finding. But (IMHO), a lot of female OB/GYNs have known this for years.
8.24.2005 11:26am
Justin (mail):
What amazes me is, though often hidden in the attempted technospeak of "the smart conservative" (I put these in quotes because reading Volokh makes me more and more convinced these are the equivalents of snapes, though I actually know some in real life), is that CONSERVATIVES TRULY BELIEVE THAT HIV IS HERE AS A MORAL GIFT TO KILL SINNERS (i.e. fags and druggies(whose skin are a specific color....I'll let you guess)).

This is how far the conservative movement has come in 25 years? We're back to hating on minorities as a way of life? All those books, all those networks, all that money, and "there's a moral compartment to the spread of aids" (qouting Mackanac and Gov98).

We see who conservatives blame when they hold all the powers...good thing homosexuality is a choice. We'd hate for you to have to worry about killing off all your scapegoats.
8.24.2005 11:27am
Public_Defender:
Public_Defender - I already am a conservative, so I couldn't care less about trying to appeal to them.

If you're not trying to persuade, you're just ranting. Many conservatives have a strong libertarian streak that gay rights supporters can appeal to.

But if you'd rather have an argument than a victory, you are pursuing the right course. If you'd prefer to have another adversary instead of a friend, you are pursuing the right course.
8.24.2005 11:27am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
It's quite impossible to make "friends" with someone who wants to wipe me off the face of the earth. The civility kind of ends there, don't you think?

I've tried to be rational. But you can't be rational with bigots with think gays are dying because of God's wrath.

I'm gay. I'm hiv negative and instead to stay that way. And despite of all of Volokh's protestations to the contrary, I'm 100% confident that I'm less likely to receive HIV than any typical straight, teenage male. Because if you practice safe-sex, it's darn near impossible to catch HIV from having sex with men.
8.24.2005 11:50am
Question:
I don't know enough about blogs. Does Volokh get more money if more people link and visit this site?
8.24.2005 12:00pm
Seamus (mail):
Octogenarian homosexuals pointing to themselves as proof that homosexuality is no more dangerous than heterosexuality aren't proving anything. You could just as readily point to robust 80-year-old men living in Russia today, but that doesn't alter the fact that life expectancy and the general state of health there has dropped to third-world levels. Or argue that you "don't see how Reagan could have been elected; I don't know anyone who voted for him."
8.24.2005 12:01pm
Public_Defender:
Volokh expressly said he did not believe that HIV was a punishment from God. He called the idea "bunk." How do you take that to mean that he's a "bigot[]" who "think[s] gays are dying because of God's wrath"?
8.24.2005 12:09pm
Doc (mail):
Gee, agism now! I don't think any of us has hit 80 yet. :)

Let's not forget that a good number of us that are from European descent are (apparently) genetically safe from HIV thanks to a mutation at CCR5. The mutation apparently also helped us get through the black plague and now seems to confer immunity to infection by HIV (at least today's versions).

So for these males, safe sex or not, HIV can't establish an infection. Was a pretty good NOVA about this on PBS a year or so ago too I remember. Could help explain part of the North America/Africa differences in HIV establishment. May also factor in future treatments (or a vaccine, which really is the only way you can stop any infectious disease.
8.24.2005 12:16pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Octogenerian gay people (don't call us homosexuals, we don't like that) are indeed good sources of anecdotal evidence if they are testifying that most of their friends lived to a ripe old age.

I'm gay, in my late thirties, and the only person I know who died of AIDS happened to be straight. And he was in his 60's. All of my gay friends are healthy and none have died yet, of any cuase. And I'm sorry, but if gays were really keeling over at age 40 as the bigots suggest, I would know a lot more gay people who would have died, don't you think?

Now sure - the experience will be a lot different for gay men who came of age during the 70's and 80's, at the peak of AIDS. But that was a unique one-time event, and it is factually incorrect to extrapolate events from that time period. Even if you catch HIV today, which would be unfortunate, it's no longer a death sentence.

You really think there are 80-year old Russian men who don't know other Russian men who died young? That would be pretty rare if life expectancy is 60 for Russian men.

And we're not even talking about lesbians, who I'm sure live to a ripe old age.
8.24.2005 12:19pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Public Defender - It was gen98 that I called a bigot. Although I do think the sequence and timing of Volokh's posts are somewhat bigoted, albeit unintentionally so.
8.24.2005 12:20pm
=0=:
I utterly reject your efforts to Newspeak my use of the English language [...]

Verbing weirds language.
8.24.2005 12:20pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
She can use whatever language she wants. It's actually helpful if she calls us "homosexuals" instead of "gays" as we prefer. Lets us gays know instantly where she stands (i.e. she hates us).
8.24.2005 12:25pm
theorajones (mail):
What I find most interesting here is that all evidence indicates that the fundamental problem here isn't GAY sex. It's sex with MEN that's the problem—gay or straight.

You conveniently omit the stat that most of the new infections of HIV, here and nationwide, occur in women. Women who have sex with men. So, the vector of disease is primarily men, regardless of who they have sex with—women or other men.

What I find appalling is that you're not focusing on the danger our society is in because we actively encourage women to have sex with men. We do not point out to young girls how dangerous it is to have sex with men as opposed to having sex with women! We routinely treat it like it's an equally valid lifestyle choice, and we don't point out to young girls how much physically safer they'd be if they confined their lovemaking to other women! It's shocking how the MSM has downplayed the dangerous choice women make when they choose to have sex with men instead of having sex with women.

Lesbians have far lower rates of STDs. And when a lesbian chooses to have a child, the semen will be screened and disease-free and obviously she'll choose to be impregnated when she's in optimal health and well prepared physically, emotionally, and financially for the challenges of child-bearing.

I personally do not want "logical" conservatives telling me that I have to give up sex with my fiance because sex with men is dangerous. I don't want people making my daughters terrified of "the penis." I think it would be very unhealthy for my sons to have their sex organs stigmatized as little more than vectors for disease, and to internalize the idea that their sexual acts (gay or straight) are invariably going to kill them or the people they love, regardless of the precautions they take.

Of course, you're not saying that, are you? I wonder why? Could it be that this really isn't about concern for gay men's health so much as it is a loathing (and a somewhat strange fascination for) gay male sex?

I wonder...
8.24.2005 12:35pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Ha ha - Good post theora!

I always thought we should be encouraging monogomy. But the right-wing is doing everything they can to make sure gays are not monogomous. Making gay marriage illegal. Forcing them back into the closet, making it almost impossible to hold down a long-term relationship.

These policies are utterly destructive and dangerous. They'd be on much higher ground if they actually proposed some "constructive" scenarios for gay people, i.e. encouraging them to settle down with one partner.
8.24.2005 12:39pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
Downtown Lad, I have frequently been called homophobic, which is positively hilarious. It just goes to show how little my accusers know about me.

Usually, it's because I said something was "gay".

I hate that I can't say "gay" about anything except homosexuals, because that's pointless and ridiculous.

Remember when "gay" meant frilly and lacy and brightly-colored, as in "a gay parasol"? Frilly and lacy and brightly-colored is also pointless and ridiculous.

So if I say something is "gay", it's a valid extension of the living English language to mean that it is like frilly and lacy and brightly-colored things, which is to say pointless and ridiculous.

Now here you come and say that not only must I never say "gay" unless I mean "homosexual", I am also REQUIRED to say "gay" whenever I mean "homosexual".

That's really gay.

If you can tell me what kind of words to use, then I should be able to tell you what kind of sex to have. If you're willing to make that trade, you just let me know.
8.24.2005 1:00pm
Tobin Maker (mail):
Ahh...So Volokh's still upset about the fact that "it moved" during his last massage from Sven?

I'm renaming this and the other recent Volokh gay thread the "not that there's anything wrong with that" threads.
8.24.2005 1:05pm
melior (mail):
Thank you for this sympathetic and helpful lifestyle tip, Eugene. Just so you know, even though there was a small editing error in the original, it's still perfectly clear that when you wrote "that's wonderful", you meant "that's tragic", and vice versa.

I look forward to your future expose of the heretofore unrevealed dangerousness of other daily activities, such as the lifestyle of sharing a sacramental wine glass with hundreds of strangers, risking germ transmission and cooties, making it much more dangerous, on average, than silent solitary heresy lifestyle. That would be just wonderful, er, I mean tragic.
8.24.2005 1:09pm
Jody (mail) (www):
Ok Downtown Lad, let's see if I follow your logic.

For whatever reason you reject the medically precise term of "homosexual" and prefer the less specific lifestyle term of "gay".

Now, the use of a medical term to describe a behavior tends to imply that the behavior is largely determined by hormones and genetics.

However, the use of a lifestyle term to describe a behavior is indicative that the behavior is one made primarily by choice, for example "bohemian" or "redneck".

Thus, your choice of words to describe your own behavior connotes that you believe someone could start and stop being "gay" as readily as someone could start and stop being a bohemian or a red neck.

Somehow, I don't think this is the result you want.

Words have meaning. Casually redefining words so you can get on your soapbox and accuse someone of hating you with no evidence other than their use of your redefined word is a dangerous proposition.

Unless, of course, your goal is to confuse the population and make people think you're obnoxious - which I'm increasingly coming to believe is your objective.
8.24.2005 1:16pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
You refer to yourself as "straight". We don't go around calling you heterosexuals. We prefer to be called "gay".

Sorry - but I'm not policing you. But if you deliberately REFUSE to use the word "gay" and insist on calling us "homosexuals" which as you said, is a very medical term, then you've made it quite clear that you have zero respect for the gay community.

Go ahead - use that term all you want. You will look utterly rediculous and bigoted, as the Washington Times does when they say "homosexual-pride" instead of "gay pride". Just like the people who say "N*gger" look pretty bigoted as well. Nobody is stopping them from using that word. We're just pointing out that it's impolite.

If you don't believe me, please to go any right-wing site, such as Family Research Council, and find an example of where they use the word gay in a non-pejorative manner. When they do use the term, you'll find that they always use quotation marks.

Here's a link.

Let's face it. YOU are the one being the thought police, refusing to use the word gay.
8.24.2005 1:31pm
llcoolbj77 (mail):
This rant has been very interesting to read. And initially I thought that Downtown Ladd had jumped down Gov98's throat a little too swiftly. Until I read this:

"FGM (female genital mutilation) is nothing compared to male circumcision of course in terms of the destruction worked on the person." -- Gov98

I don't mean to hijack this thread... but I just couldn't let that pass. What an @$$hole! For those of you who are not up on the pleasantries of female genital mutilation, here is a link to a bill proposed to make FGM illegal in the U.S., and an article regarding FGM in Senegal. http://www.eskimo.com/~gburlin/female.html
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/241230.stm
8.24.2005 1:33pm
Jody (mail) (www):
"Homosexual pride" is indeed pretty dumb - as "gay pride" as in "gay pride parade" specifically refers to pride in the gay lifestyle and not pride in homosexual behavior. So the WT's word usage as you cite is incorrect.

However, two wrongs do not make a right (two Wrights, however, make an airplane). So explain to me how choosing to emphasize the lifestyle term over the medical term doesn't connote a belief that the behavior is primarily one of choice.

Also of interest, note that you just cited an example of "gay" being used in a pejorative sense, supporting my point that "gay" is more frequently used in a negative sense than "homosexual".
8.24.2005 1:44pm
Jody (mail) (www):
Actually, I missed this point in your comment and it's so funny that I can't let it pass without restating it.

"YOU are the one being the thought police, refusing to use the word gay."

So my refusal to use the word that you want me to use is an example of me "being the thought police." Clearly, I underestimated the depth of your Orwellianess.
8.24.2005 1:58pm
Cheburashka (mail):
Again, I just want to point out that the primary locus of transmission in the United States is not sex among gay men.

It is gay sex among prisoners (and sex, gay or straight, with former prisoners), some of whom are gay and some of whom practice gay sex only while in prison.

It is very important to distinguish between the "gay community" and practitioners of gay sex. The second group is much, much larger than the former.
8.24.2005 2:09pm
Jack B.:
llcoolbj77-

I read Gov98's comments the exact opposite, I can see how it would be confusing, but the tenor of the rest of the comment suggests the opposite. It sounded like a misstatement, like when one says "I could care less." when they really mean "I couldn't care less."
8.24.2005 2:37pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Jody - Gay people prefer to be called gay. Not homosexual. Sorry - but you don't get to decide what gays prefer. If you choose to continue to use the word homosexual instead, you obviously aim to offend.

And trust - me you're being very successful at that.

So like I said - go ahead and refuse to use the word gay all you want. You'll offend us, and we'll know you're aiming to offend. At least we'll know where you stand.
8.24.2005 2:44pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
Downtown Lad, I would like to illustrate the difference between "straight" and "gay".

The word "straight" does not only mean "heterosexual", any more than "gay" only means "homosexual".

Among other things, "straight" as a slang term means "not in need". Someone may offer me a drink, and I may say "nah, I'm straight" to indicate that I don't need it; perhaps because I already have a drink, or I do not like the drink he is offering, or I have had enough to drink, or I do not drink at all.

Nobody *ever* thinks this means he has made a homosexual proposition, which I have rebuffed by affirming my heterosexuality. They perceive with very little difficulty that I mean something else, which they readily deduce to be "no, I do not want that drink".

However, if someone says "what do you think of this Supreme Court decision?", and I say "it's gay", homosexuals seem to think that I have just said "it is like a homosexual, and I am a right nasty bastard who detests homosexuals, being of the opinion that they should all be slaughtered and fed to pigs; thus, I do not like it".

Then they come storming out of the woodwork to call me homophobic and demand that I only ever say "gay" the way THEY believe it should be said.

One of these groups is trying to control other people's lives. Controlling other people's lives takes away their freedom. And taking away other people's freedom is wrong.

You don't have to call me "straight" if you don't want to. I don't like the word, anyway. I would rather people *didn't* call others "straight" and "gay". I think it's a dumb distinction and a shallow identifier. It's unreasonably restrictive. Do I want to have sex with men? No. But if someone like, say, Jude Law were to make overtures... I might reconsider. Do I want to have sex with women? Yes. But if Paris Hilton were offering, I think I'd probably say no. The whole straight/gay terminology argument is just... well, gay.
8.24.2005 2:47pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Caliban - The reason I have a problem with those who only use the term "homosexual" instead of "gay" is that these people refuse to acknowledge that gay people exist. They think that "homosexuals" are all just "sick heterosexuals" waiting to be cured. Calling us "gay" would actually acknowlede our existence.

They know that and we know that. In fact, they'll acknowledge that.

I'll give you a perfect example. George Bush has yet to use the word "gay" in a speech since he has been President. That's pretty amazing considering the effort he has gone through to ban gay marriage through a Constitutional Amendment and to keep gays out of the military.

Now why has he refused to use the word gay? Because if he did, it would deeply offend the religious right. The religious right gets very upset when people use the word "gay".

Were you aware of that?
8.24.2005 2:53pm
SimonD (mail):
However, if someone says "what do you think of this Supreme Court decision?", and I say "it's gay", homosexuals seem to think that I have just said "it is like a homosexual, and I am a right nasty bastard who detests homosexuals, being of the opinion that they should all be slaughtered and fed to pigs; thus, I do not like it".
I agree that the extreme semantic hypersensivity that supposedly afflicts some members of the l/g/b community is rather silly (I'm not aware that any straight person has ever taken offense at being called a "heterosexual"; this weird focus on irrelevant nomenclature seems common in minds seized with identity politics). However, with that having been said, I think that calling something "gay" is a rather different enterprise to simply referring to gays and lesbians using a group term like "homosexuals"; it inescapably carries a perjorative overtone. This is, it seems to me, invariably what is meant when people describe something rather than someone by that term.

You might rejoin that you have arbitrarily redefined the term "gay" to mean neither "joyful and lighthearted" nor "homosexual", but those are the commonly-accepted uses of the term, and if people refuse to grace the English language with the meanings on which we've all agreed, they can hardly express surprise when one's meaning is mistaken. ;)
8.24.2005 3:10pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
"That's so gay" IS offensive by the way.

Maybe if I started using the word "Jesus" in a pejorative sense, people would understand, and rightfully take offense.

Again - you are all perfectly free to use whatever words you want. But when you offend people, we can't say we didn't warn you.
8.24.2005 3:18pm
Texican:
Downtown Laddie,

Actually, it is not my responsibility to keep you from being offended.

I happen to be overweight. Should I be upset for someone calling me "fat". The person who uttered the epithet was merely speaking the truth.

The point is that I am in charge of whether or not I am offended by something. If something I say offends you, that is really not my problem nopw is it.
8.24.2005 4:01pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
DL, there are many people who just don't like the word "gay" being applied to homosexuals. I'm one of them.

So I don't think it's fair when you lump me in with people who think you're "sick heterosexuals" and want to deny your existence. I don't think it's fair when you lump *everyone* that doesn't like to say "gay" in with them, either. Maybe - just maybe - we simply don't like the word for some reason.

I think it's a word that was used by the homosexual community to dehumanise and repress themselves. I think that was sick. I think the mindset that led to it was sick. If we hadn't been so damned intolerant that young homosexuals preferred to *die* rather than be homosexual, we wouldn't have needed a closet culture, and we wouldn't be having these discussions. Homophobia simply SHOULD NOT EXIST. We've had homosexuals long enough, we should be accustomed to it. We should consider it natural and normal. There should be no stigma whatsoever attached to it.

So when the word "gay" was adopted in the early 1960s to prevent inadvertent "outing" because heterosexuals were too often familiar with the term "queer", I see it as a damning commentary on just how stupid and bigoted the heterosexual culture of the time was.

It's like the confederate flag; a Southern boy raises it as a sign of the glorious Southland, but a black man sees it as an emblem of slavery and hate. I see the word "gay" as a symbol of homosexual fear, heterosexual hatred, and the abject moral poverty of a culture that permitted such a thing.

I don't want to display that symbol. I don't think you have the right to *make* me display it. I use it when I feel there is no suitable alternative, which is more often than "never", and thus more often than I would like.

I think there are better ways to recognise homophobic religious freaks. They're not exactly known for being *discreet* about their bigotry; they tend to shout it from the rooftops. So, just for the same of argument, what do you say we wait a little bit and see whether people REALLY DO have an agenda of hate before making the accusation? Just because we disagree with your position on something doesn't mean we hate every homosexual on the planet for no good reason.
8.24.2005 4:02pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Caliban - Do yourself an exercise. Go to Google News and search for "gay" and search for "homosexal". Notice anything different about the tone of the articles? I think that proves my point.
8.24.2005 4:17pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
SimonD: This usage is common throughout most high schools, so it is hardly an arbitrary definition. I have a homosexual nephew. He calls it "gay" when the battery in his portable CD player runs out in the middle of his favorite song. I therefore submit that perhaps, just perhaps, it isn't by nature a homophobic remark.

Granted, having never *seen* him have sex with a man, I'm not 100% sure my nephew actually *is* homosexual. He may be a clandestine operative trying to contaminate the queer community with self-loathing homophobia so they will destroy themselves from within. Or, then again, maybe he's just confused. On the other hand, maybe he's just homosexual and I should trust him on that.

DL: The word "Jesus" is already used in a pejorative sense, e.g. "Jesus, that sucks", and already offends many people.
8.24.2005 4:21pm
Stephanie Mineart (mail) (www):
Throughout the post and throughout the comments, people continue to use the word "gay" to mean "gay men" when in fact it the word gay means both gay men and women, and in discussing "gay rights" issues, conversion therapies, lifespans, or moral implications of homosexuality, you MUST include both gay men and women in all of your discussions.

I'm gay and MY PROJECTED LIFESPAN IS MUCH LONGER THAN YOURS.

"If gays are engaging in safe sex, that's wonderful." -- invalid statement.

And that is precisely the reason that Volokh's position is invalid -- if the likelihood of HIV contraction is the moral justification for discriminating against gay people, the fact that gay women have far lower instances of HIV contraction that heterosexuals nullifies that justification.

Gay does not equal "male."
Homosexuality does not equal sex.
gay sex does not equal anal intercourse.
8.24.2005 4:28pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Oh I get it Caliban. So black people shouldn't get upset if I happen to use the "N word" when referring to them. As long as I don't actually have any ill intent then THEY are the ones who have a problem if they mistakingly think I'm trying to offend them. You know, cause I just happen to like using that word.

You don't really believe that, do you?
8.24.2005 4:32pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
DL: Actually, I just went to Google, since it is well-known that a great many total freaks post on newsgroups.

What I found was that "gay" gave me a lot of sites FOR homosexuals, while "homosexual" gave me a lot of sites ABOUT homosexuals. I also found that sites ABOUT homosexuals generally are not run BY homosexuals, who I would assume are more likely to run a site FOR homosexuals.

When I went to some randomly selected sites ABOUT homosexuals, I found that about half of them were supportive or neutral and about half were negative. Those that were negative said things like "BASH: Baptists Are Saving Homosexuals" at the top of the screen, immediately identifying themselves as sites belonging to hateful jerks with nothing better to do than demonise things they don't understand.

I was very amused by Rusty is a Homosexual. It was cute.

So my analysis stands. People who hate homosexuals do not *just* use the word "homosexual", they use it to say hateful and nasty things, while other people use it to say things that are neither hateful nor nasty. So writing people off on the basis of whether they say "gay" or "homosexual" does as much harm as it does good.
8.24.2005 4:33pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
I said Google News. Not Google. Try again.
8.24.2005 4:42pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
DL: I *can* call certain blacks "nigga". (There is a distinct difference between "nigga" and "nigger" which is completely lost when you call it "the N-word".)

I have a small circle of acquaintances who, like me, are frustrated at the general state of the rap music industry. We're discussing the possibility of cutting a CD or two to remind people how we did things back in the old school. So while I can't call some random black man on the street "nigga", I can still walk into the studio and say "how are my niggas?" with no trepidation whatsoever.

While we're on the subject, if you think it's hard being homosexual as a *teenager*, try being a hardcore rapper. It may very well be the last closeted community left; come out in *that* crowd, and you may as well kiss any career you MIGHT have had goodbye.

I'm trying to do something to break this pattern, but it's hard to convince people with the appropriate talent that they should bet their careers on a political statement.
8.24.2005 4:57pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
DL, I had confused it with Google Groups. Sorry about that. Checking now.

Well, here's my paraphrase of the top ten results for "homosexual".

1. Sodomy decriminalised in Hong Kong.

2. A press release from HappyClappingHomos about the same-sex marriage issue.

3. A story about an activist in the homosexual community threatening an ex-homosexual and some christians.

4. Efforts to free a man jailed for sodomy in Fiji, where homosexuality is illegal.

5. The state of Illinois denies the request for $450,000 in taxpayer money to fund the "Gay Games" this year.

6. A creationist propaganda piece.

7. Homosexual minorities complain that the homosexual community at large doesn't support or respect their needs.

8. A letter from a former homosexual denying a Washington Post statement that homosexuals cannot change.

9. A South African magistrate is under investigation for homophobic remarks.

10. A Chinese university is offering a degree in homosexual studies.

I see two - count them, TWO - anti-homosexual pieces there. Maybe three, if you count the one about the activist.

Sorry, I don't think your point is proven. Fully half of these are positive. Try again later.
8.24.2005 5:13pm
DelVerSiSogna:
Downtown Lad:

I agree with a lot of your substantive points here, though I don't think Prof. Volokh's intentions are bad in the way you think they are.

But I have to say that your crusade against the word "homosexual" is just weird. Sure, you can imagine some small-town Baptist minister using it as if it were a dirty word, but lots of regular people, gay and straight, use it all the time without the slightest hint of such animus. For one thing, it encompasses both gay men and lesbians, whereas "gay" more often (though not always) refers specifically to gay men. More generally, "homosexual" is just a more formal term, less appropriate in certain contexts, but sometimes entirely appropriate. You're certainly not speaking for all gays and lesbians when you condemn the term.

To say that it's the equivalent of the word "nigger" is way over-the-top and frankly absurd.
8.24.2005 5:37pm
Libby Sosume (mail):
Who is the Volokh character? Is he gay? Because if he isn't then what the hell does he know about the subject he's expounding on?

BTW, I liked Downtown Lad's comment about conservatives encouraging promiscuity by discouraging monogomous same-sex relationships. That's the damn truth. And it makes no sense to me. Conservatives should be FOR gay marriage.

Finally, I dare someone to show me where Jesus had one thing to say about gays, either way. Apparently Jesus wasn't all that concerned about it. There were nmore important things to worry about. So why are so-called Christians getting all up in arms?

(Don't quote Paul. We all know that Paul had issues. His thingie moved once or twice and he was apparently hung up about it.)
8.24.2005 5:38pm
PhxGuy (mail):
Hey Eugene, it is a fact that homophobes like yourself who feel they have to put gay people down are really gay themselves, but don't want to admit it. C'mon Eugene, why don't you just admit you have some repressed gay feelings, but the thought of that just makes you sick? No wonder you're so angry and hostile to gay people. You are a small man.
8.24.2005 5:42pm
Rashomon (mail) (www):
Right Wingers sure spend a lot of time studying and writing about homosexuality. Odd.

This speculation must have a deeper root. As in, homosexuality is wrong? Or something?

Let's talk about some real issues.
8.24.2005 6:05pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Caliban - You're completely wrong about your top 10 list. They are ALL anti-gay, except for the one that put "homosexual" in quotation marks, as they were quoting someone.

I can guarantee you that if you checked the editorial pages of those sources, they would be anti-gay.

The Washington Times, a notoriously anti-gay publication, shows up there numerous times. As do numerous evangelical websites.

So sorry - you haven't bothered to do your research. I my assumption was correct. If you use the word homosexual, but always refuse to use the word gay, you are a bigot through and through.
8.24.2005 6:11pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
DelVerSiSogna - I'm referring to people who REFUSE to acknowledge the word gay, and ALWAYS use the word homosexual instead.

They are bigots. In fact, I dare someone to find me one legitimate news publication that uses homosexual, but never the word gay (there are tons of them) and find one that is NOT anti-gay.

You can't do it.
8.24.2005 6:14pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
I tried Google news myself, searching for "homosexual". As predicted, my theory is 100% correct, except for one Australian site I know nothing about.

1) "Starbuck’s coffee cup promotes homosexual agenda" - Obviously anti-gay

2) "Hong Kong Judge Declares Anti-Sodomy Laws Unconstitutional" - From Lifesite, an anti-gay, Christian website.

3) "Destiny New Zealands Minority Rights Track Record" -Uses the word gay elsewhere in the article. Turns out to be a pro-gay site. So my theory is still correct.

4) "Gay Activist Web Site Posting Threatens Ex-Homosexual, Christians" - Lifesite again. Anti-gay

5) "APOSTATE 'CHURCH' SPREADS AIDS" - Anti-gay rant

6) "DFAT defends efforts to help Aussie jailed in Fiji" - Australian site. Not familiar with editorial page, but I would guess they are anti-gay.

7) "IFI Calls on Illinois Tourism Bureau to Reject $450,000 'Gay Games" - Obviously anti-gay

You get the idea.
8.24.2005 7:02pm
SimonD (mail):
DL: The word "Jesus" is already used in a pejorative sense, e.g. "Jesus, that sucks", and already offends many people.
It seems to me that a more appropriate analog would be "damn, my CD player batteries ran out - that's so christian!". Or perhaps, "this is so black". These, it can obviously be seen, are offensive. So is calling something gay as a perjorative term, even if the speaker hasn't actually thought about why he uses that word as an epithet.

Stephanie:
Throughout the post and throughout the comments, people continue to use the word "gay" to mean "gay men" when in fact it the word gay means both gay men and women
Maybe it's just my little corner of the midwest, but I have always heard and taken "gay" to refer to gay men, and "lesbian" to apply to those of the sapphic pursuasion. Hence, the need for an all-encompassing group noun, such as "homosexual". If "gay" means "homosexual men and women", and "lesbian" refers solely and specifically to "homosexual women", what is the appropriate term by which to refer solely and specifically to homosexual males?
8.24.2005 9:03pm
snuh (mail):
even if you accept the view that there is something uniquely dangerous about anal sex, still it remains that [shock!] breeders have anal sex too. and of course there's the prison sex issue that's been noted above repeatedly.

i.e., there's no particular reason to identify the alleged riskiness of anal sex with male homosexuality [or gayness, or whatever]. unless, of course, you've an agenda to prove.
8.24.2005 9:09pm
SimonD (mail):
even if you accept the view that there is something uniquely dangerous about anal sex, still it remains that [shock!] breeders have anal sex too. and of course there's the prison sex issue that's been noted above repeatedly. i.e., there's no particular reason to identify the alleged riskiness of anal sex with male homosexuality [or gayness, or whatever]. unless, of course, you've an agenda to prove.
While this may be true, isn't there a "particularly strong" argument - commonly known as "mathematics" - that anal sex is involved in a far higher percentage of gay sexual encounters than of heterosexual (or lesbian) sexual encounters? If for no other reason than the fact that the heterosexual couple has both options physically available, while a male-male couple has only one? While I recognize that "gay intimacy" is not necessarily a coy euphemism for "anal sex", surely it remains a staple to roughly the same degree that vaginal sex remains a staple for heterosexual couples?
8.24.2005 9:17pm
snuh (mail):

While this may be true, isn't there a "particularly strong" argument - commonly known as "mathematics" - that anal sex is involved in a far higher percentage of gay sexual encounters than of heterosexual (or lesbian) sexual encounters?


sure, that's true, but so what? the point is that nothing helpful is added to this discussion by explicitly identifying anal sex with homosexuality. if the argument is that anal sex is a riskier behaviour than vaginal sex, then you should just make that argument. i don't see how the argument is made more persuasive by substituting "homosexuality" for "anal sex", especially in the circumstance of "homosexuals" and "people who engage in anal sex" being different groups.
8.24.2005 10:31pm
DelVerSiSogna:
DowntownLad:

I'm referring to people who REFUSE to acknowledge the word gay, and ALWAYS use the word homosexual instead.

Then I agree with you. Almost anyone who refuses to use the word "gay" is going to be anti-gay. Given your clarification, though, you should really retract the statement that "calling a gay person 'homosexual' is the equivalent of calling a black person 'nigger.'"
8.25.2005 12:30am
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):

Who is the Volokh character? Is he gay? Because if he isn't then what the hell does he know about the subject he's expounding on?

If you don't know who the Volokh character is, why are you posting to his blog? It is considered good form to read a blog or forum for a month or so before commenting. Did you guys all come from the same link or something? As a queer blogger who's known Eugene (but only online) for about 10 years, I take offense at the conclusions some of you are making that he is a bigot or some such.
Stephanie- I was prepared to umbrage at your assumptions about my life expectancy. But hey, you were at the Bosma protest, so we are neighbors with some shared interests.
SimonD - you are illinformed, or being deliberately obtuse.
8.25.2005 2:35am
Keith G (mail):
It is considered good form to read a blog or forum for a month or so before commenting.

I guess that I will be in bad form tonight. I am a homo-emotional (read that, gay) high school teacher who is out to his students and co-workers; in Texas no less.

I have coined the word homo-emtional as a play on the focus that some seem to have on the sexually explicit connotation of my emotional orientation.

Like many adults, I don't have much time for sex, or the pursuit thereof.

I didn't used to talk to my students about my personal life much, but then I decided that I should be as communicative as my non-gay coworkers are.
8.25.2005 7:18pm
SimonD (mail):
SimonD - you are illinformed, or being deliberately obtuse.
With regards to which point?
8.25.2005 8:10pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
DL, I read those articles. I didn't consider most of them anti-gay. I'm not sure why you do.

There is a tendency for people within a particular group to be hypersensitive about any statements regarding that group, however. Perhaps you should think about that.

For example, when you say it's "clearly" anti-gay for the state of Illinois to refuse the Gay Games request for almost half a million dollars in taxpayer funds, I think that's unreasonable. I don't believe the state should contribute that much in taxpayer funds to anything unless it clearly and unambiguously serve the interests of a significant portion of the state, so unless you intend to argue that most of Illinois is gay, I'd say the request is simply inappropriate. Denying an inappropriate request from homosexuals is not bigotry or prejudice, it's simply the way things ought to be happening anyway.

SimonD: "what is the appropriate term by which to refer solely and specifically to homosexual males?"

There isn't one, really, but I agree that there *should* be one. IMO, the best existing term would be "fag" or "faggot", if we could divorce it from its pejorative sense. There are no other terms in common usage today that refer *exclusively* to homosexual men without being unsuitably specific. I believe it's the homosexual equivalent of "nigger", however, and unsuitable for use by those outside the community.

I've always been somewhat partial to the old slang term "painted willie", but nobody will ever go for that.
8.25.2005 11:27pm