During a recent segment of “The View” with guest Danny Pintauro, one of the hosts, Raven-Symoné, turned to Pintauro’s husband, Wil Tabares, who was sitting placidly in the audience minding his own business, and said, “Please tell me if this is too personal, but do you guys have protected or unprotected sex?”
Tabares was taken aback by the question. Other than asking about the couple’s favorite sexual positions and who liked to do what to whom, it would be hard to come up with a more personal inquiry, especially on national television. Tabares laughed nervously for a few seconds before Pintauro stepped in and answered, “You try not to have limits in your marriage, but there have to be limits for us. Have we always been 100 percent safe? No. But I’m undetectable, and that means that it’s really hard for me to give it to him.”
At this point, co-host Candace Cameron Bure read aloud from a note card she just happened to be clutching: “We do have a statement, though, that says, ‘If you are HIV-positive and still having unprotected sex, regardless of what antiviral drug percentages that you are using, you’re still not keeping your partner 100 percent safe.’”
Ignore the fact that the sentence is gibberish. Focus instead on these:
The “statement” had no source. It might as well have been written by an unpaid college intern for all the professional authority it projected.
The “statement” is at best misleading. At worst it’s a Big Fat Lie.
Pintauro, who came out as gay in 1997 and as HIV-positive this year, went along with the lie, which is a shame, considering he’s on a year-long “Beacon of Light” tour to talk about his experience as a gay, HIV-positive recovering meth addict. In point of fact there have been no reported cases of HIV transmission during sex from a person whose HIV is undetectable to a person who was HIV-negative at the time.
Earlier in the interview, Cameron Bure didn’t bother to hide her hostility behind an unsourced pre-written statement and asked Pintauro, “Do you take responsibility for your actions….” “One hundred percent,” Pintauro began, only to be cut off by the aggressive Cameron Bure: “For being promiscuous? For going into a lifestyle of heightened sex because of the meth you were using?” “Yes,” Pintauro broke in, only to be interrupted a second time. “I want to know what the message is,” Cameron Bure persisted. “What is the message that you have? What does it mean?”
To his great credit, Pintauro remained unfazed by Cameron Bure’s openly rude supposition that gay men refuse to take responsibility for anything and instead blame it all on… whatever. “I don’t want to be a hero,” Pintauro calmly answered. “I don’t want to be the role model. I want to be the example… of what can happen if you get into drugs, if you’re being promiscuous, if you’re not taking care of yourself, not getting checked….”
Raven-Symoné is an out lesbian; Candace Cameron Bure, like her brother, former child actor Kirk Cameron, is a conservative Christian activist –– you know, the kind who’s always trying to shove her chosen lifestyle down our throats. The whole segment was a bit odd, given that all three participants are former child sitcom stars. Cameron Bure played D.J. on “Full House,” Raven-Symoné was Olivia Kendall on “The Cosby Show,” and Pintauro played Jonathan on “Who’s the Boss?” Raven-Symoné was especially eager for Pintauro to repeat that his meth addiction had nothing to do with his having been a child star on TV. Apparently nobody has quite gotten over the fatal drug overdose of Anissa “Buffy” Jones of “Family Affair” in 1976.
In any event, this “View” segment greatly irked Peter Staley, the longtime AIDS activist and co-founder of Treatment Action Group. Staley posted this on his Facebook page:
“Candace Cameron Bure, that notecard ‘fact’ you read about HIV transmission was false and anti-science. There has been no recorded transmission of HIV from someone with an undetectable viral load. Danny and his husband are being fully ‘responsible,’ and your anti-science moralizing only stigmatizes those of us living with HIV. Shame on you and your ignorant views. I dare you to bring me on your show to fully discuss HIV transmission risk among gay men.”
Note to Staley: don’t put on your makeup just yet. It may be a while before you get an invitation to appear on “The View.”
Scruff is spared. Newsweek’s Stav Ziv wrote this as her lede on a story about an obnoxious series of ads placed by the already crankish AIDS Healthcare Foundation: “The popular dating app Tinder was miffed by a new campaign promoting free testing for sexually transmitted diseases launched by the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The advertisements in question ––which an AHF spokesman says appear on more than 20 billboards and 100 bus benches in the L.A. area — depict two pairs of silhouettes: ‘Tinder’ faces ‘chlamydia,’ and ‘Grindr’ looks at ‘gonorrhea.’ On the right-hand side, the ad directs people to freeSTDcheck.org.”
“Miffed?” Please! Reacting badly to seeing your brand linked directly to a nasty sexually transmitted disease (STD) is not a “miff,” which the dictionary defines as “a trivial quarrel.” But since Ziv’s entire article is a model of Tinder shaming and Grindr guilt-tripping, it’s not surprising that she minimizes the ad’s anti-sex negativity.
Having given up his organization’s logic-free anti-PrEP campaign, AHF’s fearful leader, Michael Weinstein, is now attempting to tamp down straight people’s sex drive along with gay men’s. PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis with the antiviral drug Truvada, is the best available method of preventing new HIV infections. Much to Weinstein’s disgust, PrEP works, so PrEPped gay men are fucking freely again. Now Weinstein and AHF have turned their sights to –– let’s call them what they really are –– hook-up apps. The euphemistic term “dating app” suggests gals arranging romantic dinners and guys sitting through “chick flicks” as preludes to satisfying nightcaps of copulation. Tinder is for straight folks what Grindr and Scruff and Daddyhunt and many others are for gay men: an extremely efficient way to meet fresh fuckables.
At least AHF isn’t just targeting horned up gay men; it’s rather nice to share target space with our randy straight brothers and sisters. But instead of attacking successful apps –– and they’re successful because lots of people just wanna get laid –– why not offer a campaign that doesn’t promote fear but rather genuine sex education? Chlamydia and gonorrhea are both treatable and curable. Promiscuity ain’t the problem, and neither are hook-up apps. Fear-mongering is far more damaging in the long run.
Follow @EdSikov on Twitter.