PrEP, Queer Memory, the 1970s

Downs’s account of how, for some in the 1970s, “sex represented a radical political act” could very well apply to the PrEP era as well—with these debates, the way people have sex is beset with political undertones. Yes, Treatment Action Group’s Jeremiah Johnson’s February piece on PrEP, “It’s Not Irresponsible to Like Bareback Sex,” isn’t quite Charlie Shively’s 1973 manifesto, “Cocksucking as an Act of Revolution. But the tension between a politics centered on the idea of assimilation—aspiring to a future in which sexual orientation will no longer be relevant—and one that aspires to maintain the cultural specificity that comes along with existing outside the social order continues to characterize intra-LGBTQ politics. PrEP reinserts sex into queer advocacy debates, reversing the dominant contemporary tactic of putting forth a sanitized image of homosexuality—not talking about sex itself explicitly—that groups like Human Rights Campaign and Freedom to Marry have utilized to win mainstream support for marriage equality.—Public Books

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