This article has four sections, three of them are referencing to new that which can characterize those who self-identify as homosexual and lead an openly homosexual lifestyle. First it is how they choose to identify themselves, using the word gay/lesbian instead of homosexual. The changing America culture/society also allowed for new places of meeting. The third new are the sexual behaviors/practices of many of those who self-identified as homosexual and lead an openly homosexual lifestyle.
Many of the quotes following have been written by those who self-identify as gay/homosexual and advocate for living an openly homosexual lifestyle. The final section describes the consequences/results of these new dangerous and harmful sexual behaviors/practices that many who self-identify as gay/homosexual and lead an openly homosexual lifestyle.
In short, the political and cultural environment had undergone a liberalizing shift which had created the opportunity for the emergence of a mass homosexual movement. (Engel, The Unfinished Revolution: Social Movement Theory and the Gay and Lesbian Movement, p.38)
The configuring of the meaning of homosexuality by its advocates into a lifestyle alternative or minority status, and the movement of lesbians and gay men into the social center parallels the transformation of the social role of the African-Americans and women during the same period. (Seidman, Embattled Eros, p.148-149)
The idea of a gay and lesbian identity sexual identity has been formulated over the last two decades. Historically it is the product of the gay and lesbian liberation movement, which, itself, grew out of the Black civil rights and women’s liberation movements of the fifties and sixties. Like ethnic identities, sexual identity assigns individuals to membership in a group, the gay lesbian community. Although sexual identity has become a group identity, its historical antecedents can be traced to the nineteen-century notion that homosexual men and women, each representative of a newly discovered biological specimen, represented a third sex. Homosexuality, which had been conceived primarily as an act was thereby transformed into an actor. (De Cecco, 1990b). Once actors had been created it was possible to assign them a group identity. Once a person became a member of a group, particularly one that has been stigmatized and marginal, identity as an individual was easily subsumed under group identity. (De Cecco and Parker, The Biology of Homosexuality: Sexual Orientation or Sexual Preference, p. 22-23 in Sex, Cells, and Same-Sex Desire: The Biology of Sexual, Preference, editors De Cecco and Parker)
Transcending all these issues of lifestyle was the potent question of the gay identity itself. The gay identity is no more a product of nature than any other sexual identity. It has developed through a complex history of definitions and self-definition, and what recent histories of homosexuality have clearly revealed is that there is no necessary connection between sexual practices and sexual identity. (Weeks, Sexuality and Its Discontents Meanings, Myths and Modern Sexualities, p. 50)
Gay liberation had somehow evolved into the right to have a good time-the right to enjoy bars, discos, drugs, and frequent impersonal sex. (Clendinen and Nagourney, Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America, p.445)
Other men who had participated enthusiastically in the life of the ghetto had grown tired of its anonymity and inverted values. They questioned why membership in the gay community had come to require that one be alienated from his family, take multiple drugs and have multiple sex partners, dance all night at the right clubs, and spend summer weekends at the right part of Fire Island. Rather than providing genuine liberation, gay life in the ghettos had created another sort of oppression with its pressure to conform to social expectations of what a gay man was supposed to be, believe, wear, and do. (Andriote, Victory Deferred: How AIDS Changed Gay Life in America, p.24)
Evidence convincingly argues that before the middle of the century gay sexual behavior was vastly different from what it was to become later, that from mid century onward there were fundamental changes not only in gay male self-perceptions and beliefs, but also in sexual habits, kinds and numbers of partners, even ways of making love. These revolutions reached a fever pitch just as at the moment HIV exploded like a series of time bombs across the archipelago of gay America. When gay experience is viewed collectively, it appears that the simultaneous introduction of new behaviors and a dramatic rise in the scale of old ones produced one of the greatest shifts in sexual ecology ever recorded. There is convincing evidence that this shift had a decisive impact on the transmission of virtually every sexually transmitted disease, of which HIV was merely one, albeit the most deadly. (Rotello, Sexual Ecology: AIDS and the Destiny of Gay Men, p. 39)
The pull of the fast-track S-M gay life, which seems to have been the breeding ground-or at least the staging area-for what increasingly appeared as a new and mysterious disease, is not just a pathology the rest of us can dismiss. (Black, The Plague Years: A Chronicle of AIDS, The Epidemic of Our Times, p. 43)
The primary factor that led to increase HIV transmission was anal sex combined with multiple partners, particularly in concentrated core groups. By the seventies there is little doubt that for those in the most sexually active core groups, multipartner anal sex had become a main event. Michael Callen, both an avid practitioner and a careful observer of life in the gay fast lane, believed that this was a historically unprecendented aspect of the gay sexual revolution. (Rotello, Sexual Ecology: AIDS and the Destiny of Gay Men, p. 75)
These data demonstrate definitively that the gay liberation movement resulted in a great increase in promiscuity among gay men, along with significant changes in sexual practices that made rectal trauma, immunological contact with semen, use of recreational drugs, and the transmission of many viral, amoebal, fungal, and bacterial infections far more common than in the decades prior to 1970. The same data strongly suggest that recent changes in sexual and drug activity played a major role in vastly enlarging the homo- and bisexual male population at risk for developing immunosuppression. Since promiscuity, engaging in receptive anal intercourse, and fisting are the three highest-risk factors associated with AIDS among gay men and since each of these risk factors is correlated with known cases of immunosuppression, they represent significant factors in our understanding of why AIDS emerged as a major medical problem only in 1970. (Root-Bernstein, Rethinking AIDS: The Tragic Cost of Premature Consensus, p. 290-291)
When AIDS hit the homosexual communities of the US, several studies were conducted by the vigilant CDC to determine what it was in the homosexual lifestyle which predisposed to this immunosuppressive condition. There were really only two things which distinguished the homosexual lifestyle: the promiscuous sex and the extensive use of recreational drugs. (Adams, AIDS: The HIV Myth, p.127)
Gay liberation had somehow evolved into the right to have a good time-the right to enjoy bars, discos, drugs, and frequent impersonal sex. (Clendinen and Nagourney, Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America, p.445)
In short, the gay lifestyle - if such a chaos can, after all, legitimately be called a lifestyle - it just doesn’t work: it doesn’t serve the two functions for which all social framework evolve: to constrain people’s natural impulses to behave badly and to meet their natural needs. While it impossible to provide an exhaustive analytic list of all the root causes and aggravates of this failure, we can asseverate at least some of the major causes. Many have been dissected, above, as elements of the Ten Misbehaviors; it only remains to discuss the failure of the gay community to provide a viable alternative to the heterosexual family. (Kirk and Madsen, After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of the Gays in the 90s, p.363)
New Places of Meeting
The complex research agenda that characterized the period from the early 1970s to the beginning of the AIDS epidemic reflected major changes within the gay and lesbian communities themselves. The decision by a large number to openly label themselves gay men and lesbian changed the experience of same-gender sexuality. From a relatively narrow homosexual community based primarily on sexual desire and affectional commitment between lovers and circles of friends, there emerged a community characterized by the building of residential areas, commercial enterprises, health and social services, political clubs, and intellectual movements. (Turner, Miller, and Moses, Editors. AIDS Sexual Behavior and Intravenous Drug Use, p.127)
In the 1970s an extraordinary proliferation of clubs, bars, discotheques, bathhouse, sex shops, travel agencies, and gay magazines allowed the community to come out and adopt a whole new repertoire of erotic behavior, out of all measure to any similar past activities. (Grmek, History of AIDS, p. 168-169)
In sum, gay sex institutions and the sexual activity in them became the functional social equivalent of family, friends, and community: They promoted social bonds that gave gays a sense of belonging and social support. (Rushing, The AIDS Epidemic Social Dimensions of an Infectious Disease, p. 30)
The institutions of the gay world have often made it easier for men to meet for sex than for companionship, and most long-lasting relationships accept sexual infidelity, through the word itself rings oddly. (Altman, Defying Gravity: A Political Life, p.118)
The magical link was through a key term. One word, the gay writer Nathan Frain has written, is like a hand grenade in the whole affair: promiscuity. Although promiscuity has long been seen as a characteristic of male homosexuals, there is little doubt that the 1970s saw a quantitative jump in its incidence as establishments such as gay bath-houses and back-room bars, existing specifically for the purposes of casual sex, spread in all major cities of the United States and elsewhere from Toronto to Pairs, Amsterdam to Sydney (though London remained more or less aloof, largely due to the effects of the 1967 reform). Michel Foucalt has written characteristically of the growth of laboratories of sexual experimentation in cities such as San Francisco and New York, the counterpart of the medieval courts where strict rules of proprietary courtship were defined. For the first time for most male homosexuals, sex became easily available. With it came the chance not only to have frequent partners but also to explore the varieties of sex. Where sex becomes to available, Foucault suggests, constant variations are necessary to enhance the pleasure of the act. For many gays coming out in the 1970s the gay world was a paradise of sexual opportunity and of sensual exploration. (Weeks, Jeffery. Sexuality and Its Discontents Meanings, Myths and Modern Sexualities, p.47-48)
We don’t know, in real quantitative terms, what really changed in homosexual behavior in the 1970s, but it is possible to identify three major areas of change: the expansion of homosexual bathhouses and sex clubs, which facilitate numerous sexual contacts in one night (by 1984 one bathhouse chain included baths in forty-two American cities, including Memphis and London, Ontario), the emergence of sexually transmitted parasites as a major homosexual health problem, especially in New York and California, and a boom in “recreational drugs - that is, the use of chemical stimulants such as MDA, angel dust, various nitrates, etc. - in conjunction with what came to be known as fast-lane sex. These three elements would all be linked to various theories about AIDS during the 1980s. (Altman, AIDS in the Mind of America, p. 14)
This model, which was sometimes called the immune overload or antigen overload hypothesis, represented the initial medical frame for understanding the epidemic: the syndrome was essentially linked to gay men, specifically to the excesses of the homosexual lifestyle. The epidemic coincided historically Newsweek suggested in the article Diseases That Plague Gays, with the burgeoning of bathhouse, gay bars and bookstores in major cities where homosexual men met. Urban gay men, enjoying life in the fast lane, had subjected themselves to so many sexually transmitted diseases, taken so many strong treatments to fight those diseases, and done so many recreational drugs that their immune systems had ultimately given up all together, leaving their bodies open to the onslaught of a range of opportunistic infections. As one Harvard doctor is reported to have put it informally, overindulgence in sex and drugs and the New York lifestyle were the culprits. What distinguished gay men from CMV-infected, sexually adventurous heterosexuals, and from cardiac patients inhaling amyl nitrite, and from the many patients who took strong antibiotic or antiparasitic drugs was, these experts suggested, that only gay men (or gay men living in the fast lane) confronted all of these risks at once. (Epstein, Impure Science, p. 48)
New Sexual Behaviors/Practices
In general, sexual adventure is regarded within the gay world as an end in itself, not necessarily linked to emotional commitment- while, in reverse, emotional commitment does not demand sexual constancy (may not even demand sex at all) to survive. (Altman, Defying Gravity: A Political Life, p.118)
Gay historian Dennis Altman notes that in the liberated seventies, when promiscuity was seen as a virtue in some segments of the gay community, being responsible about one’s health was equated with having frequent checks for syphilis and gonorrhea, and such doubtful practices as taking a couple of tetracycline capsules before going to the baths. To gay men for whom sex was the center and circumference of their lives, their only real health concern was that illness would prevent them from having sex - which, to their way of thinking, meant they would no longer be proudly gay. (Andriote, Victory Deferred: How AIDS Changed Gay Life in America, p.37)
Indeed, there is no record of any culture that accepted both homosexuality and unlimited homosexual promiscuity. Far from being the universal default mode of male homosexuality, the lifestyle of American gay men in the seventies and eighties appears unique in history. (Rotello, Sexual Ecology: AIDS and the Destiny of Gay Men, p. 225)
For the first time ever, a community standard developed that transformed anonymous sex into a god thing - another choice on the broadening sexual palette. Casual sex encounters no longer took place simply because men needed to conceal their identities, but because it was considered hot to separate sex from intimacy. (Sadownick, Sex Between Men, p. 83)
Anal sex had come to be seen as an essential - possibly the essential - expression of homosexual intimacy by the 1980s. (Rotello, Sexual Ecology: AIDS and the Destiny of Gay Men, p. 101)
;These observations of new syndromes associated with a very active male homosexual life-style suggests that both the type of sexual activity and the extent of promiscuity associated with it changed markedly during the 1970s. (Root-Bernstein, Rethinking AIDS: The Tragic Cost of Premature Consensus, p. 285-286)
In the middle of the century, and particularly in the sixties and seventies, gay men began doing something that appears rare in sexual history: They began to abandon strict role separation in sex and alternately play both the insertive and receptive roles, a practice sometimes called versatility. (Rotello, Sexual Ecology: AIDS and the Destiny of Gay Men, p. 76)
Another relative novelty was the increasing flexibility of sex roles. Homosexuality in more traditional cultures had typically followed rigid patterns: certain men were the insertive partners in oral and anal intercourse, others the receptive ones. In the 1970s and 1980s, however, American gay men often took both insertive and receptive roles. Rather than serve as cul-de-sac for the virus, as heterosexual women often did, gay and bisexual men more often acted as an extremely effective conduit for HIV. (Allen, The Wages of Sin: Sex and Disease, Past and Present, p. 125-126)
As the gay version of the sexual revolution took hold among certain groups of gay men in America’s largest cities, it precipitated a change in sexual behaviors. Perhaps the most significant change was the fact that some core groups of gay men began practicing anal intercourse with dozens or even hundreds of partners a year. Also significant was a growing emphasis on versatile anal sex, in which partners alternately played both receptive and insertive roles, and on new behaviors such as analingus, or rimming that facilitated the spread of otherwise difficult-to-transmit microbes. Important, too, was a shift in patterns of partnership, from diffuse systems in which a lot of gay sex was with non-gay identified partners who themselves had few contacts, to fairly closed systems in which most sexual activity was within a circle of other gay men. Also important was a general decline in group immunity caused by repeated infections of various STDs, repeated inoculations of antibiotics and other drugs to combat them, as well as recreational substantive abuse, stress, and other behaviors that comprised immunity. (Rotello, Sexual Ecology: AIDS and the Destiny of Gay Men, p. 57-58)
In the 1970s, a new cultural scenario developed that celebrated and encouraged sexual experimentation and the separation of sex from intimacy among gay men; this, in turn, reinforced the transactional nature of the market as anonymous sexual encounters and multiple partners became normative (see Murray, 196, 175; Sadownick, 1996, 77-112). Levine (1992, 83) summarizes the effect of gay liberation on gay sexual scripts: Gay liberation’s redefinition of same-sex love as a manly form of erotic expression provoked masculine identification among clones, which was conveyed through butch presentational strategies, and cruising, tricking, and partying . . . In a similar vein, the roughness, objectification, anonymity, and phallocentrism association with cruising and tricking expressed such macho dictates as toughness and recreational sex . . . The cultural idea of self-gratification further encouraged these patterns, sanctioning the sexual and recreational hedonism inherent in cruising, tricking, and partying. While relational sex or coupling and safe sex may have become symbolically important in the 1980s and 1990s, scripts that legitimate the transactional market are still prominent, and there is no conclusive evidence that the market has become relational (see Sadownick, 1996 chapters 5-7; Murray 1996, 175-78; cf. Levine 1992, 79-82.) (Laumann, Ellingson, Mahay, Paik, and Youm, The Sexual Organization of the City, p. 97)
Whatever the cause of AIDS, single or multi-factorial, it is certain that the promiscuous homosexuals of the late seventies and early eighties were fertile ground for an epidemic. (Adams, AIDS: The HIV Myth, p.131)
The extensive casual networks of gays engaging in sex apparently for the sole purpose of sensuous pleasure, and in so many different ways, went far beyond anything that had occurred before in the United States or elsewhere or that anyone could have imagined just a few years previously. Without question, the sexual style of gay communities in the 1970s and early 1980s was a specific historic phenomenon (Bateson and Goldsby, 1988:44). (Rushing, The AIDS Epidemic Social Dimensions of an Infectious Disease, p. 27)
It was an historic accident that HIV disease first manifested itself in the gay populations of the east and west coasts of the United States, wrote British sociologist Jeffrey Weeks in AIDS and Contemporary History in 1993. His opinion has been almost universal among gay and AIDS activists even to this day. Yet there is little accidental about the sexual ecology described above. Multiple concurrent partners, versatile anal sex, core group behavior centered in commercial sex establishments, widespread recreational drug abuse, repeated waves of STDs and constant intake of antibiotics, sexual tourism and travel -these factors were not accidents. Multipartner anal sex was encouraged, celebrated, considered a central component of liberation. Core group behavior in baths and sex clubs was deemed by many the quintessence of freedom. Versatility was declared a political imperative. Analingus was pronounced the champagne of gay sex, a palpable gesture of revolution. STDs were to be worn like badges of honor, antibiotics to be taken with pride.
Far from being accidents, these things characterized the very foundation of what it supposedly meant to experience gay liberation, Taken together they formed a sexual ecology of almost incalculably catastrophic dimensions, a classic feedback loop in which virtually every factor served to amplify every other. From the virus’s point of view, the ecology of liberation was a royal road to adaptive triumph. From many gay men’s point of view, it proved a trapdoor to hell on earth. (Rotello, Sexual Ecology: AIDS and the Destiny of Gay Men, p. 89)
Over the years the proportion of gays among Dr. Joel Weisman’s patients had increased. The doctor saw in this increase not so much a tribute to his ability and discretion as the consequence of an increase in sexually transmitted diseases with a predilection for attacking this particular risk group. From the years 1977, 1978, I began to get more and more young men with high fevers, nocturnal sweating, diarrhea, all kinds of parasitic diseases and particularly with swollen lymph nodes the size of pigeons’ eggs, in their necks, in their armpits, their groin, everywhere. The evidence suggested that these inflammations of the glands were expressions of immunodeficiency disorders. Each time, I feared the worst: cancer, leukemia. Fortunately all my biopsies came back to me ’benign.’ True, some of the illnesses identified by analysis were not trivial. There was mononucleosis, hepatitis, lots of cases of herpes, quite a bit of venereal disease. Thank God, the viruses responsible did not kill, at least not yet. Generally, most of the symptoms disappeared after appropriate treatment. Only a few patients kept their abnormally swollen lymph nodes. They resigned yes to living with them. (Lapierre, Beyond Love, p.39-40)
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