On the Science of Changing Sex

COVID-19 Deja Vu

Posted in Autobiographical, Editorial by Kay Brown on March 13, 2020

Kay BrownI’m feeling a sense of deja vu these days.  It feels a tiny bit like the early ’80s as HIV/AIDS was spreading in the gay male (and androphilic only) trans communities.  Then, it was a mix of dread and denial.  For me, as it became clear who was most at risk and why, I was in deep dread that I might already have a ticking time bomb lurking in my body.  I had been sexually active with men as an obligate bottom during the ’70s and early ’80s before my SRS.

Until the HIV/AIDS epidemic, I had had completely unprotected sex.  I had never even seen a condom until I attended a “safe sex” education party held at one of my Stanford classmate’s house.  I mean, why should I have?  It wasn’t like there was ever any chance of pregnancy, right?  Seriously, that’s the only reason we knew for using a condom back then.  If one got an STD, one took a course of antibiotics, no muss, no fuss.  How wrong we were.

When testing became available, there was an option to have it done anonymously.  I didn’t want to do it even then, dreading the possible result.  But my friends, Joy Shaffer, M.D. (a gynephilic transwoman) and her lover, Patricia quite literally shanghaied me to take me to the clinic.  They also got tested, but c’mon… it was only done as a show of emotional support for me, so that it wouldn’t be so obvious that I was the only one who was actually at risk.  Fortunately, the test result was negative.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic grew and we learned about it being an STD and a nearly universal death sentence, some of us dramatically changed our behavior.  I know I certainly did.  I dramatically reduced my sexual activity and kept condoms with me at all times.  I had quite the “dry spell” for while, unwilling to risk even protected sex unless I knew that the man I was with was a very low risk.  (The fact that I dated almost exclusively straight men helped reduce that risk… but even then… better safe sex right?)

But some gay men and HSTS continued to contract HIV because of denial and ignorance.  And President Reagan refused to even acknowledge that we have a serious epidemic killing us.

So, here we are today, with a global pandemic illness and a President in denial, failing to respond appropriately, and some people in total denial as though it won’t affect them.  Deja vu.

Yes, it can.

So, please, stop going clubbing or to concerts.  Work from home if you can.  Wash your hands often.  Listen to health authorities and ignore bad advice on social media.

Survive.

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