In 2012, a remarkable drug emerged. One that’s 100-percent effective in preventing HIV.
In fact, PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is the closest thing to an HIV vaccine. It’s in the palms of our hands. Yet hardly anyone uses it.
In the U.S., there are about 25,000 patients on a PrEP regimen, which isn’t going to put a dent in any epidemic.
Some want PrEP but can’t get it.
Some are scared of PrEP.
And some just don’t know about it.
Cost and finding doctors willing to prescribe PrEP are definite barriers. But the primary holdup is ... well, because people are assholes.
Rampant homophobia, anxiety and stigma are the larger issues that make it difficult to seek PrEP. That’s frustrating. Because, by now, we should know better.
There are clear parallels between PrEP and the dawn of oral contraception. And those similarities are all about slut-shaming.
The same types of social disgraces — regarding morality and protecting virginity — occurred with “the pill.”
The purpose of birth control is to reduce unintended pregnancies. And it’s very effective. But humans like sex without condoms. And for men who have sex men, slut-shaming is aimed at bottoms.
Power bottoms are consistently ridiculed because getting fucked in the ass is stereotypically seen as unmanly.
You can almost hear an Amy Schumer-tailored joke that goes something like, Who pays for the gay-wedding reception?
Punchline: The father of the bottom.
Schumer is sidesplitting. But, joking aside, fear-mongering and the inability to discuss sex ultimately helped fuel the HIV epidemic.
Look at the push for abstinence-only education. The fear is, if you start teaching kids about sex, they’ll immediately form the desire to have sex. That’s not true. Knowledge is power. And teaching comprehensive sexuality supports young people’s ability to decide whether and when to have sex.
Studies about sex-ed also recognize that sexual debut — the first time individuals have sex — is delayed because prepared adolescents have the smarts and skills to lead healthy sexual lives.
However, it’s as if the trepidations regrading comprehensive sexuality have now leached into PrEP.
Populations most effected by HIV — men who have sex with men, injection drug users, as well as black and Latino heterosexual women — are less likely to inquire about PeEP because of fear, shame and homophobia. And those detractions impact the intention to ask providers or ask friends about PrEP.
If you’re not asking about PrEP, you won’t know much about it. That means you’re not going to seek getting on it.
We need to overcome anxiety and talk about sexual pleasure.
We need to reduce stress and fear while increasing our ability to make an emotional connection with a partner.
We have a miraculous invention that could eradicate new HIV infections.
So instead of just looking at sex as something that can negatively impact someone’s health, we need to look at how using PrEP improves one’s overall well-being.
That’s just the start. Because the inception of PrEP has the potential to lead to even greater improvements.
LOUDER THAN BOMBS: Attention, all lyrical misanthropes: Your tortured prayers have been blessedly answered. The Smiths karaoke experience at the DMA is achingly touching, hilarious and sounds gorgeous
If you worship Morrissey, you’ll love “Phil Collins: the world won’t listen,” the new video installation at the Dallas Museum of Art. And if The Smiths were never your cup of tea, you’ll like it as much as watching “American Idol” auditions.
The sound of voices and jangly guitars lures museum-goers to the rear of the contemporary galleries. Instead of perusing the walls, just follow the music: Enter one of the caves that are decorated from floor-to-ceiling with colorful posters: These are notices the artist created to lure karaoke singers in Bogota, Istanbul and Jakarta.
The posters give way to complete darkness. Around a corner are three spacious chambers with enormous video screens. Allow yourself to take in the experience. Each chamber has a long bench, but don’t get glued to one seat. This rocking exhibit will soon have you racing between each screen.
In 2004, British artist Phil Collins (not the Genesis drummer) embarked to Columbia for the first chapter of the video installation.
He filmed fans of The Smiths singing songs from the band’s 1987 album “The World Won’t Listen.”
While visiting Turkey and Indonesia, Collins would spend four months in each location, researching the project, building the sets, interviewing participants and inviting “the shy, dissatisfied, the shower superstar, and anyone who has wanted to be someone else for a night” to belt out the songs for Collins’ video camera.
What’s really so strange is that a majority of the colorful participants are under 30 years old. And all of them sing the lyrics in English — not their native tongues.
The sets are especially cool: Cheesy nature-wall murals of red-rock Arizona deserts, dolomite mountains and road-less-traveled forests, the kind you’d see in a dentist’s office, circa 1977.
The performances are mixed: leather-gloved mods, beauty queens with perfect hair, acne-ridden loners, super-cool geeks, unabashed andro-goths
Some pour out every ounce of angst from “Rubber Ring.”
Some float along with the grace of Morrissey’s florid lyrics in “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out.”
And some kill you softly with “Sing Me to Sleep.”
The instrumental, “Oscillate Wildly,” encourages freeform dance.
Tracks are played simultaneously in each chamber. So it’s fun to dash between chambers to sample all the performances. The walls are plush, cushiony and soundproofed. Feel free to lean on the pillowy partitions and catch two performances at once.
The exhibit quickly becomes interactive. And the music is loud enough that museum-goers can sing along. Feel free to laugh, too.
On a recent visit, two young brothers — probably 9 and 14 years old — knew every lyric and six-string riff. They excitedly danced around, lip-synched and played air guitar. It’s as if Collins designed the exhibit for attendees to spend at least an hour.
Aside from a concert T-shirt and some Smiths memorabilia, the exhibit contains no images of Morrissey or Smiths band members. Outside of the video chambers is a silkscreen exhibit: reproduced letters that a young Stephen Morrissey wrote to the British rock papers, critiquing the New York Dolls, Jobriath and ripping apart Aerosmith’s talents.
Morrissey’s global influence is as fascinating as his carefully crafted persona. Although he was once defined as gay, he now sticks to a celibate identity. And on some solo tours, he has skipped Texas cities like Austin, Dallas and Houston and instead booked shows in El Paso. That’s because he’s an enormous superstar with Mexican youth.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram recently asked Collins why Dallas became the first city to see the complete trilogy version of “world won’t listen.”
“I think it’s the perfect location,” Collins said. “From the Morrissey “Live in Dallas DVD in ’91′′ through to the Hispanic community and the music scene, in many ways [Dallas] is the perfect place for it.”
MORRISSEY WORSHIPPERS, UNITE AND TAKE OVER THE DMA:
“Phil Collins: the world won’t listen,” at the Dallas Museum of Art in the Contemporary Art Galleries. 1717 N. Harwood St. Through March 23, 2008. Admission $10. 214-922-1200. DallasMuseumofArt.org
PICTURE PERFECT: Amon Carter Museum resurrects Avedon’s powerfully haunting “In the American West.” 20 years later, the once-controversial images are now eternal icons
In 1978, when the Amon Carter Museum commissioned Richard Avedon (1923-2004) to shoot his vision of the American West, things were different. Photography was barely gaining acceptance as a true art form. And most people envisioned John Wayne movies when they dreamed about the West.
When the exhibit opened in 1985, people freaked out. Instead of handsome portraits of oil barons, ranch owners and twangy socialites, they saw ravaged drifters, well-worn clowns and people on society’s edge: prisoners, coal miners and amputees.
A critic for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram slammed it saying, “This is not our West.” Others called it cruel, cynical and vicious. While not for everyone, many instantly recognized the haunting, graphic beauty of “In the American West: Photographs by Richard Avedon.” Some art historians say the exhibit cemented Avedon’s reputation as the most influential photographer of the 20th century.
The 128-portrait exhibit was powerful, to say the least. Using his signature nine-foot by seven-foot white backdrop, Avedon eliminated the specifics of place. Instead, the viewer is lured into a disarming communion with these westerners. And now, 20 years later, the Amon Carter is re-mounting a portion of the original exhibit — 78 oversized photos.
Looking back, the big question is whether these images stand the test of time. The images are no longer shocking. In fact, some are already burned into our memories: like the first portrait of Sandra Bennett, a 12-year-oold from Rocky Ford, Colorado. Her cascading hair, her freckles and her comfy overalls welcome you. But she’s not smiling. Actually, Avedon told all of his subjects not to smile.
The exhibit is a journey. Off-white walls and happier-seeming people adorn the first portion. As you enter different chambers, the walls become dark grey and the quiet expressions grow louder with hints of angst, desperation and loneliness.
Dallas photographer Laura Wilson (Owen and Luke’s mom) attended a recent preview of the exhibit. Avedon hired Wilson as an assistant for the project. Does she know if any of the subjects were openly gay?
“Well that word openly. That makes a difference, doesn’t it?” she says.
Wilson takes me to what’s called the “drifter room” and points to two portraits: Allen Silvy and Richard Garber.
Accompanied in this article, Silvy’s is one of the nine largest portraits in the exhibit. Funny, he hardly looks gay. With his hands shoved in his sport coat, he looks cold. The picture was taken on Dec. 14, 1980 on Route 93 in Chloride, Nev.
When Wilson points to the gaunt image of Garber, she says, “I believe he died of AIDS not long after that photo was taken.” Garber was photographed on Aug. 20, 1980 on Interstate 15 in Provo, Utah.
Avedon sometimes photographed people a few times. How well was he able to become acquainted with the drifters?
“Oh you’d be surprised,” Wilson says. “You can get to know a lot about someone from a single portrait session.”
In tandem with the Avedon exhibit, Wilson has a behind-the-scenes exhibit about the project. A portion of Wilson’s contains a letter that Garber’s mom wrote after he died.
After the drifters room, the walls turn to black. It’s like walking into a coal mine. The images of slaughterhouse workers seem plucked form a nightmare.
Amon Carter Museum, 3501 Camp Bowie Blvd. Fort Worth. Through Jan. 8, 2006. $8. 817-738-1933.
Standing over the miniaturized couple that’s spooning, you can see the light-blue veins on the middle-aged woman’s bare abdomen. Then there’s the gigantic bald man who’s angrily sitting in the corner: His testicles that rest on the floor are bigger than my foot (size 12).
The new exhibit of Ron Mueck’s sculptures are so realistic, attendees crouch down and move around — never taking their eyes off — just to see if they can find a bad angle where they can spot that it’s a fake. They can’t.
The works aren’t just expertly painted latex molds of actually humans: Mueck, an Australian who used to work in Jim Henson’s studio, grossly manipulates scale for every piece. His placenta-smeared, glistening newborn is as long as a tractor-trailer.
Every wrinkle, every skin tone, every stitch of clothing — like the tiny old women who are standing and talking to each other — are exquisitely rendered. But there’s nothing cutesy about Mueck’s work.
Everyone is frozen in a state of dramatic tension. It’s like walking in a quiet dream that’s about to turn into a nightmare.
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St. Fort Worth. June 24-Oct. 21. Open: Tue-Sat, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. $8. Free on Wednesdays and the first Sundays of every month. 817-738-9215. TheModern.org
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