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Larry Kramer, Truvada Whores and the Angry Divide Between Two Generations

By Brian Addison

Larry Kramer—the author of Faggot, an undisputed activist for the LGBT community, and one of the people who inspired me to take on writing—called me a coward. 

Or at least a potential coward since, as of now, I am not taking Truvada—but I certainly plan on it now that I have health coverage.

“There’s something to me cowardly about taking Truvada instead of using a condom,” Kramer told the New York Times, noting that a drug which “poisons you” must mean you have “rock in your heads”. Even worse, it “has lessened your energy to fight, to get involved, to do anything.”

Much like my disenchantment with the once always-enchanting Dan Savage, I felt an all-too-common mix of anger and sadness: anger that someone so revered would be so thoughtless, and sad because someone so revered would be so thoughtless.

One would like to think that, given Mr. Kramer’s utterly horrifying experience, his mission would be love. This is the man who wrote The Normal Heart—I had always thought his mission was love. That horrifying experience should not be downsized: after all, I was once shown an address book from an older friend, a black X staining name after name, address after address.

“Some weekends were so bad that you had to choose one funeral over another”—a particular line I will never forget.

But Truvada isn’t about cowardliness nor is it about, in the equally perturbing words from David Duran, being a whore. In the end, those are just moral judgments that can be set aside when it comes to protection against HIV.

Y’know, I can’t help but ask something I never thought I would ask. I have always had such respect for those before me, but now that you’ve prodded this respectful young writer.

Are you just an angry old man, Mr. Kramer? Is that what Truvada does for you—angers you because it begins to break the light at the end of the tunnel you never thought would appear and now that it has, you resent it? Do you really think that Truvada somehow downsizes the AIDS crisis and your experience somehow? That since your generation – or at least the ones lucky enough to avoid seroconversion – were relegated to a rubber and, since they were relegated to such, everyone should forever?

I genuinely want to know your logic.

Because the people you actually called cowards are the serodiscordant couples who can now love each other like humans without some stinging worry plaguing the back of their shared conscious. The coward is apparently the man who lost his husband and partner of seven years and, in the emotional fallout of that situation, knew he wasn’t stable enough to make proper decisions and took Truvada. The coward is the common gay dude who needs better protection because he knows that only 15% of gay men actually use condoms enough to make them effective.

The coward is apparently the people who want the world to be less dark and more beautiful and free, a place where we our protected against our nature because statistics are proving that we aren’t that “safe and clean.”

Much like the oft-compared situation that women faced when having the option of birth control.

“Unless you’re just a housewife wanting to avoid another child, you shouldn’t need birth control because you shouldn’t be whoring around. After all, who wants to protect those disgusting harlots who do little more than attempt to get into married men’s pants?”

Truvada isn’t about some moral engagement.

And the even more pressing questions to these pundits running around are:

What does it matter? What does it matter that men who are promiscuous are taking it? Would you rather they not? What does it matter that it indicates many dudes don’t use condoms? Would you rather they not use condoms and not use Truvada?

Because last I checked, there were no merit requirements to have protection from HIV. The only requirement I knew of was to be human. Check!

Cheers, Mr. Kramer: I can't wait to show my cowardice when, should it ever happen, the man I am dating discloses that he is positive and I have the pleasure of saying, "So what?"

It's nice to know that even a community as marginalized as the one that is the gay male community of the 70’s and 80’s won’t hesitate in taking a single last jab at their successors to call them cowards for living in a time where they have more choices with less fear.