Friday, April 29, 2011

The Contradictions of Larry Kramer Today

Although I disagree with many of Kramer’s ideas, including those in this interview by Salon, I think the problem is not modern gay men, but the actual interview and Kramer’s contradictions.

Thomas Rogers, the interviewer, aimed at writing a provocative piece (and he failed). Rogers wants Kramer to be angry, and he is. But Kramer’s anger is not the same as it was twenty years ago. He is angry at young gay men because they are not living their gayness as he did. He is angry at the State denying same sex marriage. Yet, he is angry at other gay men (perhaps including his own partner) who ignore him as a sexual body. He wants to be married. He wants to fuck around having “meaningless sex.” He does not care anymore about those gay men seroconverting. He is full of contradictions.

Rogers sets up an artificial separation between the young (post ACT UP) and the old (AIDS era) gay men. From his very first question, Rogers places AIDS and ACT UP as an “exotic” past, Kramer as an old (angry white) gay male, and himself as the young gay man wishing to have lived such past. Well, Kramer, as an old man, is still a gay man (as Rogers is) and Rogers is living AIDS and its movement, albeit in a different phase. A better narrative could have been the continuity of being gay, AIDS and the gay movement (with their own fissures), rather than artificial antagonisms.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Differences in Health Outcomes between Older Gay and Heterosexual Men

Thanks to our colleagues at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research for this brand new study looking at differences in health outcomes between older gay/lesbian and heterosexual populations in California. Some highlights:
  • 50% of gay men live alone compared to 13% of heterosexual men.
  • 36% of gay men are partnered/married compared to 79% of heterosexual men.
  • Overall, older gay men's health is worse than that of their heterosexual peers.
These findings are very consistent with what we know from other studies (yet, ethnic minority older gay folks are not well represented in these data, so we can not make generalizations to all older gay men in the State).

Now, let's not jump to quick and easy conclusions that patologize single life or call for marriage. What we should gather from these data is that older gay men (along with lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people) are changing the face of aging and that their health is uniquely fragile.