Circuit Parties and HIV: Then and Now, or Ahead of Our Time

Bill Weintraub

Bill Weintraub

Circuit Parties and HIV: Then and Now, or Ahead of Our Time


Back in 2001, in a report appearing on the 365Gay website about the dangers of circuit parties, Dr. Grant Colfax of the San Francisco Dept of Public Health was quoted as saying that even though there's heavy drug use and barebacking at the events, "Circuit parties are an important and often positive influence on the gay community."

Yep, that's what he said, and you can read all about it here.

This was our response:

Earth to Dr. Colfax!

An institution that encourages its participants to use dangerous street drugs and have unsafe sex is NOT a "positive influence on the gay community."

It's a destructive influence on that community.

And instead of writing articles which treat it like some sacred relic, what you should be doing is looking at a culture that tells people that drug use is cool, unsafe is okay, and anal is the cat's pjs, and working to UNDERMINE that culture and replace it with one whose values more commonly match those of the rest of the human race:

Drugs are bad, health is good, and sex is about genitals, not about anuses.

Like Chuck Tarver says: the Safer Sex Establishment has become a major part of the problem.

Guess what?

Dr. Colfax and the rest of the AIDS / safer-sex establishment did not choose to listen to our advice.

And the result, predictably, is that four years later, according to The Advocate,

A new study of circuit parties has found evidence for what many have suspected: The events, first created to raise awareness and funding for AIDS prevention, actually increase the risk of HIV among partygoers and are a threat to public health.

So circuit parties "actually increase the risk of HIV ... and are a threat to public health."

No kidding.

But wait: The Advocate says the "new study has found evidence for what many have suspected."

Yet Colfax published, not once but twice, in 2001:

Colfax, G.N., Gordon, M., Guzman, R., Vittinghoff, E., Marks, G., Rader, M., Buchbinder, S. (2001). Drug use and sexual behavior among gay and bisexual men who attend circuit parties: A venue-based comparison. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, 28(4), 373-379.

Mansergh, G., Colfax, G.N., Marks, G., Rader, M., Guzman, R., Buchbinder, S. (2001). The circuit party men's health survey: Findings and implications for gay and bisexual men. American Journal of Public Health, 91(6), 953-958.

Far from being a matter that "many have suspected," in point of fact the public health dangers posed by circuit parties have long been known.

These studies are usually funded by the government.

You have to wonder what it cost the taxpayers to do yet another study to learn something we've known for FOUR years.

What does the "new" study, as reported on Yahoo, propose that our intrepid safer-sex establishment and gay male community do about this threat?

[Study authors] Ghaziani and Cook believe the risk could be reduced by recruiting socially influential friends and peers who would deliver key messages to reduce HIV infections.

Those messages would include: unsafe sex falsely promises eroticism and authenticity; certain drugs elevate libidos and distort cognition; and condom use does not betray intimacy or the party ethos.

Mike Collins, who helps produce the annual circuit party Jungle as president of Houston's Bayou City Boys Club, agreed that unsafe sex was more likely to occur during circuit parties.

"These party promoters need to be handing out condoms and lube, and a lot of these for-profit events won't do that," he said.

Collins revealed that this year his organization teamed up with the Montrose Clinic to post safe-sex messages throughout the party venue. "You don't want to beat around the bush," he said. "What we found is that it is very important to explicitly drive home the message."

Jason Riggs, spokesman for the San Francisco-based Stop AIDS Project, said posting safe-sex messages is important. "The best thing to do is work with the club promoters to make sure the information is passed out," he said.

Riggs added his organization has hired new coordinators to spread HIV prevention messages to clubs throughout the San Francisco area.

"The point is not to demonize this particular subpopulation of gay and bisexual men," Ghaziani says. "Instead we have to find healthier ways of celebrating community."

[emphases mine]

"Hand out condoms and lube ... and post safe-sex messages."


Talk about innovative.

Kinda takes your breath away -- doesn't it?


Why would any of those strategems work now?

If they haven't worked for the past four years?

Or the past twenty?

Here's what was reported four years ago:

Condoms and Prevention Information

Most men reported seeing condoms available at CP [circuit party] events; however relatively few men reported that they took the condoms. Approximately equal proportions of men reported seeing safer sex information and information on safe drug use. While the majority of men that reported seeing information on drug use also reported reading the material, a much smaller number who saw the safer sex information reported reading it.

It didn't work then.

Why would it work now?

And why does Stop AIDS need to "hire new coordinators?"

(Stop AIDS by the way is one of the agencies whose taxpayer funding has been reduced by the CDC and which has complained bitterly about it.

Yet they still have money to "hire new coordinators."

Deep pockets, guys.)

Why would the "new" coordinators be any more effective than the old coordinators?

And why would "recruiting socially influential peers" work?

All manner of influential gay men have spoken out against barebacking.

Hasn't made a smidgen of difference in lowering infection rates.

To the contrary: they keep going UP.

And how would you convince the PNP crowd (PNP = party n play = do drugs and get fucked up the ass by lots of different "men") -- just how would you convince the PNP crowd of the truth of these assertions:

unsafe sex falsely promises eroticism and authenticity; certain drugs elevate libidos and distort cognition; and condom use does not betray intimacy or the party ethos?

Let's break those down:

1. "unsafe sex falsely promises eroticism and authenticity"

Not so.

At least not so if you're a buttboy aka analist.

Of course anal "sex" is more "authentic" -- and certainly more "erotic" -- without a condom.

It's skin on skin -- the way God and nature intended sex to be.

And of course condom use betrays intimacy.

That is if you believe, as analist culture incessantly proclaims, that only anal can confer true intimacy between men.

If that's the case, clearly condomless anal confers the highest level of intimacy.

There's no escaping that.

If anal "sex" is the highest and truest expression of intimacy between men, then condomless anal is the purest and most intimate form of that expression.

That idea, along with barebacking, flows logically from the core analist beliefs about anal penetration.

2. "certain drugs elevate libidos and distort cognition'

No kidding.

That's why people use them.

That's hardly an argument against them -- at least not for people seeking an escape from reality in drugs and mindless, promiscuous sex.

3. "condom use does not betray intimacy or the party ethos"

Sure it does.

As we've seen, if you define intimacy as anal penetration, then condoms do betray that intimacy.

Because they put a layer of latex between you and the object of your desire.

And as for the party ethos -- partying is about forgetting your cares and gettin down.

Not so easy to do when you have to stop to put on a condom.

So the idea that you can sell these assertions is absurd.

The safer-sex boyz have had 21 years to sell them.

And infection rates keep RISING.

What's needed is to attack the fundamental beliefs of analism:

1. That the thuggish, rude, and brutally painful penetration of another man's feces-filled butt promotes eroticism and intimacy.

It does not.

Anal penetration is a profoundly un-erotic act which creates barriers to intimacy between men.


2. That mindless promiscuous sex while fucked-up on drugs is a social good which promotes "community values."

It's not.

It's a social evil which is destructive of community.

3. That condom use does not betray intimacy.

Sure it does.

If you define intimacy as anal penetration.

Fact is, anal itself destroys intimacy.

What's needed is to throw out the anal / hetero penetrative model and to re-define intimacy between men.

And instead of saying "unsafe sex falsely promises eroticism and authenticity";

you need to tell the truth:

"Anal penetration, whether "safe" or unsafe, falsely promises eroticism and authenticity."

True and authentic *sexual* intimacy between men is intimacy between that which makes them men: their male anatomy.

Here's what Don Frazer says, in men who like to have sex with men and Ways of Making Love, about true male coupling:

"We love our maleness, and that of our partners."

I can't think of anything that describes true homosex better, or indicates clearly how buddies can experience that SHARED masculinity through genital/genital coupling.

When penis and testicles are joined, it is a quintessentially MALE intercourse, with sexual "communion" felt by both partners directly through their cocks, and being stimulated by totally masculine contact. No feminization, no penetration, only true male/male SHARED excitement. Better still, partners achieve a natural, fully male union when they climax as MEN, offering up their semen as tribute to each other's masculinity. A unique combo of strength and tenderness at the same time.

Nothing more beautifully can describe how "we love our maleness, and that of our partners."

And most "gay" guys are just regular-guys seeking union with other regular-guy types, not the femme/butch stereotypes we've all seen in bars, etc.

Lets continue to define ourselves as males, so everyone knows where we stand.

The point being that simply being "anti" something (such as anti-anal) out there in the trenches of misery and self loathing that often characterize "gay" (non-sequitur) society is not enough. Here on this forum, we proudly proclaim our maleness and the beauty of sharing those fundamental masculine feelings with another through genital mating.

We are PRO cock-to-cock.....defiantly challenging the he/she culture by advocating the true homosexual union of male anatomy. Not as a substitute for penetration, but in fact the REAL THING.....the main event enabling male union in the most direct and intimate experience by joining cocks and balls and sharing the culmination of masculinity together as equals.

Those of us who KNOW what it's like need to put our feelings into words that can inspire those "real guys" out there who may have only an unfulfilled need and no idea how to share it. Yeah. When you feel your buddy cum with you it's special 'cause you're joining honestly as males.

It's the quintessential masculine experience that needs to be trumpeted for the beauty of it.

"Cock2cock is the quintessential masculine experience that needs to be trumpeted for the beauty of it."

Don's right.

Truth: Cock2cock is true sexual intimacy between men.

Another truth: If you have to use a condom to do it "safely," you shouldn't be doing it at all.

Another: Anal penetration is shit sex.

If we change the cultural messages about intimacy -- we'll change the behavior of gay and bi men around intimacy too.

Finally, the authors of the "new" study warn us, as we've been warned for years, against "demonization":

"The point is not to demonize this particular subpopulation of gay and bisexual men," Ghaziani says. "Instead we have to find healthier ways of celebrating community."


What these people believe is that any criticism and any critique equals demonization.

And that gay men have such fragile psyches that we daren't tell them if they're doing something unhealthy and unwise.


There's a difference between critique and demonization.

And in point of fact, we have a duty to say something to our fellow gay and bi men when they're doing things which are deadly.

Further, without critique, gay men will never find "healthier ways of celebrating community."

Though it should be asked, what does community have to do with getting your rocks off?

Going to a party, getting high and getting fucked is not about community.

It's about going to a party, getting high and getting fucked.

Who are these safer-sex gurus, with their jargon and their coordinators and their messages from influential peers, kidding?

I guess just themselves and their funders.

But the latter, after all, are the only folks who matter -- To them.

Dudes: you need to be clear that these sorts of messages which de facto support anal and promiscuity -- "unsafe sex falsely promises eroticism and authenticity"; "condom use does not betray intimacy or the party ethos" -- paid for by your tax and donor dollars and put forth incessantly by "your" community institutions, are immensely destructive to your own life.

You have a choice.

You can:

Fight back.

And save your life.

Or you can roll over.

Problem is, as I said four years ago:

This war cannot be won by rolling over. You roll over for a buttfuck boy, and he'll stick his diseased dick up your butt.

Fight back.

Save your life.

Greg Milliken

Re: Circuit Parties and HIV: Then and Now, or Ahead of Our Time


Great post Bill.

We have such a hard time convincing men who think they are responsible by using a condom from practicing unethical behavior (anal penetration). What makes these analists think they will convince barebackers who don't care about safety or responsibility to stop barebacking?

Bill Weintraub

Re: Circuit Parties and HIV: Then and Now, or Ahead of Our Time


Thanks Greg.

"What makes these analists think they will convince barebackers who don't care about safety or responsibility to stop barebacking?"

Good question.

"Safer-sex" has become a self-perpetuating bureaucracy with its own journals, jargon -- even degree programs.

Yet I doubt these people actually believe they can make a difference in infection rates.

Tom Coates, who used to head the prestigious Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) at UCSF and is widely considered the architect of the condom-code / AIDS prevention model in the US, said four years ago that "Maybe we should just stop."

That there was no point in continuing to do these programs.

I encourage you to read what he said and my response.

Because it was quite clear that his programs were not working.

Yet, just last week (10/26/05), Dr. Edward Green told me, Coates was at a big National Institutes of Health HIV prevention conference.

Where, by the way, he attacked Green for suggesting that partner reduction was an option.

That's what Coates does -- that's been and will continue to be his career.

He goes to conferences and writes papers defending condoms -- and with them anal and promiscuity -- and attacking any other approach to HIV prevention.

That's his life.

And he has a lot of buddies.

As Green said to me re that conference, "It was all drugs and devices."

What does that mean?

Devices = condoms and microbicides; drugs = "PEP" or post exposure prophylaxis, and of course HAART once you're infected.

What about abstinence and fidelity?

What about avoiding anal and choosing Frot?

That's "behavior change," and to Coates that's impossible.

To guys like Coates, all third-world sex is rape.

So the best you can do is give a woman a microbicidal vaginal gel -- which we don't yet have -- and tell her to use it when her "man" isn't looking.

In Uganda, by contrast, women were empowered to say NO to men who weren't faithful.

And HIV prevalence plummetted.

Among gay men, it's all condoms.

To suggest moving men away from anal is deemed "homophobic" and "sex-negative."

Yet cock2cock is the most "homosexual" -- in the sense of being most purely male-male -- and hottest m2m sex on the planet.

Can't get more "gay-sex-positive" than that.

So which is "homophobic":

Showing men a super hot way to have sex with other men?

Which just happens to be HIV safe?

Or telling them that because they're gay, the best they can do is get fucked up the butt and court death?

Truth: guys like Coates are full of shit.

But, as I said in Walter Odets, the sex police, and the big lie, quoting the great muckraker Upton Sinclair:

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon him not understanding."

Fact: these guys live off of "HIV prevention" grants.

And our guys pay for it.

Not just in tax and donor dollars, but in their lives, which have been distorted and in many ways destroyed by this insane emphasis on preserving anal.

And it is insane.

So insane that truth is, were our guys less cowardly and not so tight-fisted, we could disrupt their analist juggernaut.

Because, for one thing, its intellectual foundations are incredibly flimsy.

But as it stands now -- nothing will change.

If anything, things will get worse.

Even when AIDS is gone, there'll be other anally-vectored pathogens like HPV.

So there will always be something for these guys to focus on.

It's their gravy train.

And they're going to keep it chuggin along.

If you don't want to spend the next forty years hearing "Use a condom -- every time" -- and "If it's not anal, it's not really gay" -- you need to fight back.


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