Homo Condoms and Crystal Meth
posted by November 26 at 9:55 AMon
“Last night at the Madison Pub, volunteers from Lifelong AIDS Alliance were going around and handing out their safe sex kits,” Stranger reader Dave writes. “I always thank the volunteers when they do this, because I think it’s an important and good cause. But after last night, I’m not so sure that Lifelong is truly thinking of the gay community’s best interests.”
What upset Dave was an image Lifelong included in their new condom-and-lube packet.
Dave apologizes for the quality of the image—he took this photo at the bar using his camera phone—and just in case you can’t make it out: That’s a condom packet walking hand-in-hand with a rock of crystal meth. “Condoms + Crystal Go Together… FUCK Without Fear,” reads the text. The message, ostensibly, is that condom use and crystal abuse aren’t mutually exclusive—in theory, at least. In practice very few crystal addicts manage to use condoms.
The New Yorker published an excellent essay on the interplay between crystal meth and unsafe sex in May of 2005:
Crystal methamphetamine is highly addictive, but its allure is not hard to understand; the drug removes inhibitions, bolsters confidence, supercharges the libido… The first thing people on methamphetamine lose is their common sense; suddenly, anything goes, including unprotected anal sex with many different partners in a single night—which is among the most efficient ways to spread H.I.V. and other sexually transmitted diseases.
“I couldn’t believe Lifelong seriously thought this was a good idea,” Dave writes. “I can understand trying to encourage existing crystal addicts and users to engage in safe sex, but the message being presented here paints the entire community as crystal junkies and/or endorses the usage of crystal meth.”
This isn’t the first time LLAA has wrapped crystal meth use up in images of gay pride and community in a misguided effort to “de-stigmatize” crystal meth use—an activity which, when you consider the consequences for individuals and the gay community as a whole, gay health organizations should be working harder to stigmatize. An image of condom packet walking hand-in-hand with a rock of crystal will not reach men that are currently using crystal—most of whom abuse crystal meth to annihilate their inhibitions and engage in casual unprotected anal sex—while communicating to men that aren’t using crystal that they can “safely” use the drug and “FUCK without fear.”
“I spoke briefly with the volunteers and they were just as shocked and uneasy about the image as I was,” writes Dave. “The volunteers ended up leaving, but not before being spoken to by a number of people over this. What in the hell is going on at Lifelong, and who in their right mind thought this was OK? First Gay Bingo loses Glamazonia and now this?”