New York Times (07.31.03) - Friday, August 01, 2003
"There are too many positive gay role models. In fighting the
AIDS crisis over the last 20 years, we have done everything
possible to dispel the negative connotations that come with
having HIV.... We did a great job. Maybe too great a job.
After all the effort exerted to convince the world that AIDS
is not a gay disease, we now have a generation embracing AIDS
as its gay birthright....
"In our effort to remove the stigma of having AIDS, have we
created a culture of disease? We all see the ads for HIV
drugs. They illustrate hot muscular men living life to the
fullest thanks to modern science....
"In my opinion, the messages the drug companies are spreading
are lies. The truth is that AIDS is not fun. It's not sexy or
manageable. AIDS is a debilitating, deforming, terminal and
incurable disease. HIV drugs can bring on heart, kidney and
liver disease, as well as a host of daily discomforts....
"We have done a terrific job removing the stigma of having
AIDS. But in doing so we've failed to eliminate the disease.
HIV is an almost completely avoidable infection. You need to
be compliant in some very specific behaviors to be at risk. In
fact, if every person now infected vowed that the disease
ended with him, we could wipe out the ballooning number of new
"Instead, we've sold our next generation into drug slavery and
their destiny to medical researchers because we'd rather treat
each other as sexual objects than as family.... We have
created an industry of disease that would crumble if AIDS was
cured in our community.
"I am calling for us to take back our lives and culture and to
stop spreading the virus. I am calling for us to resist the
normalization of disease and once again embrace health. I want
to see an ad campaign showing a sexy man saying: 'I don't have
HIV. I don't want to waste my life and resources on drugs. I
am taking charge of my body, my health and my destiny. I am a
negative gay role model.'"
Fierstein, a commentator on the TV series "In the Life," won a
2003 Tony Award for his performance in "Hairspray."