Annotated Bibliography Two – Annotation One

“SAFER SEX GUIDELINES FOR GAY MEN (& EVERYONE).” New York Native, 2 May 1988, p. 45. 

safe sex is sexy!

The New York Native is a bi-weekly newspaper that ran from 1980 to 1997, which began its publication in December of 1980. Gay men and lesbians comprised the newspaper’s audience, whose home-base was in New York City, New York. Over time, this NYC newspaper grew in influence, eventually becoming one of the United States of America’s most prominent gay publications of its time. In 1984, the New York Native claimed a readership of 80,000 people, though it later suffered great controversy and public disdain. 

Issue 263 of the New York Native, published on May 2nd, 1988, features guidelines to safer sex presented by the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) in small font under its LOVERS ONLY header. Copyrighted in 1986, GMHC’s guidelines offer informed instructions on safe sex towards readers without shyness or imprecise expression. Hoping to impress upon readers the importance of safe sex, GMHC assures readers that safe sex can also be “fun, exciting-hot, horny-and completely satisfying.” Condoms or other barrier methods of birth control and STI prevention have sometimes been stigmatized or portrayed as unattractive or burdensome, yet the GMHC promises that even with condoms and other forms of protection, “it is absolutely possible to continue having great sex!”

Additionally, GMHC acknowledges that great sex comes in many forms. Though this column’s title, “Safer Sex Guidelines for Gay Men (& Everyone),” seems to include persons not fitting the description of “gay men” as an afterthought, the column’s content provides a range of safe sex practices for partners of multiple genders. Safe sex should be employed by “everyone” and in every sexual encounter, unless you are a member of a couple that has been “exclusively sexually monogamous since 1978.”

DISPROVEN myths

First, the column article dispels myths surrounding the transmission of AIDS and HIV, one of the most devastating myths being that only gay men contract HIV. The GMHC states that “Anyone who is sexually active is at risk of exposure to the AIDS virus.” Additionally, it only takes one sexual partner carrying the virus to infect his or her lover, so reducing one’s number of sexual partners does not guarantee safety from its transmission. The article then lists that AIDS can be transmitted “through the exchange of certain bodily fluids,” but not through hugging, kissing, or sharing bathrooms or kitchens. Frottage (rubbing against another person’s clothed body), cuddling, showering together, massaging, and mutual masturbation are similarly not considered to be modes of transmission, and are safe forms of contact.

However, the exchange of cum and pre-cum should be avoided during oral sex and sexual intercourse. A condom should always be worn during vaginal and anal sex, and should only be used with water-soluble lubricants such as KY jelly. For instance, Vaseline is a petroleum-based jelly that will degrade a latex condom and render it ineffective, thus it should not be used.

At the time, using spermicidal jelly containing Nonoxydol-9 was also encouraged by some experts. Now, spermicide usage is heavily encouraged. Spermicides kill sperm specimens and now are often manufactured with the lubricant on condoms nowadays. Sometimes, separately-sold lubricants contain spermicide in them, however this is not always the case. One can find spermicides at drug stores in the United States and apply them to condoms. Spermicides do not protect against sexually transmitted infections.

The following are some of the specific instructions given for activities one might engage in during sex:

“…avoid putting the head of the penis into your mouth.

…never allow anyone to ejaculate in your mouth.

…withdrawing before ejaculation, even with a condom, is safest, since a condom can break.

Fisting is dangerous!

…and carries the risk of AIDS transmission through the exchange of blood. If you do it, always use a rubber glove.

-if you are bisexual, avoid contact with menstrual flow. Use a condom.

Oral contact with fecal material (rimming) should be avoided to reduce the risk of other sexually transmitted diseases. One should use a condom, finger cot or rubber glove if giving a rectal massage. Avoid oral contact with fingers after this.”

do the guidelines give sound guidance?

Though this information is decades old, it is not entirely inaccurate. We now know that HIV (human deficiency virus) is contracted first before AIDS is able to develop in the body, which the GMHC guidelines were intermittently expressive of. The known modes of transmission of HIV/AIDS and other types of STDs is through exposure to infected blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, breastmilk, and vaginal secretion. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), these fluids must come in direct contact with a mucous membrane, such as those found in the rectum, vagina, penis, and mouth. Infected fluids that are injected directly into the bloodstream, or come into contact with damaged tissue or open wounds can also transmit the HIV virus.

GMHC was correct in stating that saliva alone does not have the potential to infect people with the HIV virus. Saliva has to be mixed with the blood of an HIV positive partner for transmission to occur during kissing or other oral activities. Even oral sex is not considered to be a high-risk activity for HIV transmission. The CDC acknowledges that oral sex (putting one’s mouth on the penis, vagina, or anus) could transmit the HIV virus, but generally there is “little to no risk of getting HIV from oral sex” (CDC). If oral ulcers, bleeding gums, genital sores, or other sexually transmitted diseases (which may or may not be visible) are present in the mouth, then the risk of HIV transmission through oral sex will increase. Though seminal ejaculation of an HIV-positive person into another’s mouth could technically transmit the virus, this is an “extremely rare” occurrence according to the CDC.

The GMHC stressed that oral sex performed on a penis was dangerous, and asserted that one should “never” let someone ejaculate into one’s mouth. Now, the paranoia surrounding oral sex and HIV transmission has quieted due to increased scientific knowledge. GMHC’s guidelines are still valuable, however, because they show the state of knowledge at the time of their release and the focal points of HIV protection among the queer community written for the queer community.

GMHC was correct in stating that “oral contact with fecal material (rimming) should be avoided” due to the probability of contracting other sexually transmitted diseases. The CDC states that if feces enters one’s mouth during anilingus, rimming, or oral sex on the anus, one can contract hepatitis A, hepatitis B, parasites such as Giardia, or bacteria such as Salmonella or E. coli.

Still, we now know the main activities that often spread HIV. Vaginal or anal sex with an HIV positive partner without a condom or the consumption of HIV preventative or treatment medication is one such activity that spreads HIV most often in the United States. Receptive anal sex, or bottoming, is considered by the CDC to be the highest-risk behavior for an HIV negative person. However, topping, or insertive anal sex, may also transmit the virus. Partners engaging in vaginal sex are less likely to get HIV than if they engaged in anal sex. The sharing of equipment (such as needles, rinse water, or syringes) used to inject drugs with someone who is HIV positive is another risky behavior associated with the transmission of HIV in the United States.

The GMHC also claimed the following:

“-Poppers (inhalents) have been linked to Kaposi’s sarcoma, a cancer associated with AIDS. DON’T USE POPPERS.”

Poppers create a “high” or euphoric feeling in consumers, while also relaxing the throat and anal muscles. In the 1980’s, poppers were popularly used during sex in the gay community, and still are used today. Poppers have not been found to lead to the development of Kaposi’s sarcoma with significant scientific consensus, however, likewise stated by the GMHC, alcohol and drugs can impair a person’s judgement. According to the CDC, alcohol consumption as well as the use of drugs such as GHB, ecstasy, and poppers, lower one’s inhibitions and impair one’s ability to make informed, safe decisions regarding sex and other drug use. While poppers do not cause Kaposi’s sarcoma, they might cause users to engage in unsafe sex, which could lead to their contraction of an STD like HIV/AIDS.

then vs. now

The CDC’s informational page on HIV transmission was last updated on June 6th, 2017. Today is October 20th, 2017. GMHC’s guidelines appear to have been released in 1986, given the copyright date found at the bottom of the article. Scientific research has expanded and improved remarkably since 1986, so one knows that the credibility of the CDC has also risen with time.

The following video gives an overview of the current information known about HIV/AIDS, prevention and protection against HIV/AIDS, as well as how to live with them.

Even though some parts of the GMHC’s guidelines are incorrect, they still promote accurate methods of engaging in safe sex. Information about HIV transmission was not predominantly incorrect or misleading, which shows that these guidelines would have been trustworthy then, and to an extent, even now.

Primary Source Description Two – Gabrielle Williams

About the Quilt

The size of this panel is 6×3 feet (1.8×0.9 meter), the typical size of a panel on the AIDS Quilt. Located on the rightmost border of a 12×12 foot (3.7×3.7 meter) block, this panel is vertically laid and should be read from left to right. Blocks are usually composed of eight individual 3×6 foot (0.9×1.8 meter) panels, however, this block is comprised of only seven individual panels. In the center of this block is a 6×6 foot (1.8×1.8 meter) panel, to the right of which rests the panel this description refers to.

The quilt panel described in this piece is located on Block number 1045. According to the NAMES Project website, there are currently 5956 blocks, indicating that this particular block is a somewhat early addition to the AIDS Memorial Quilt. The subject of this quilt’s memorial is Allan Lazer.

The primary colors featured in the quilt are black, white, and mauve. Many of the objects on this quilt have been stitched on to an expanse of what appears to be a thin cotton material, which raises them from the quilt’s flat surface. However, there are exceptions.

This panel will be described from top to bottom, and will be organized by descriptions of specific sections on the quilt.

First, I will describe the mauve outer border of the panel, then the cloth frame found within the panel’s border. Next, I will describe the content inside the smaller frame, then move downwards to detail the bow ties found on the quilt. Finally, I will describe the toy cat on the panel and the writing on the bottom of the quilt.

Framework

Outlining the four edges of the panel is a strip of mauve material similar to the color of weathered concrete. Stitched on with white and navy blue thread, the mauve strip is not one solid color, but a patchwork of visible interlocking threads that are sometimes lighter in color, and other times a pale purple. The lighter threads of the panel’s outer border burst through the mauve overtone like a muscled man in a tight shirt. Somewhat rough and gritty to the touch, the mauve frame feels a little like dried dirt or sand on one’s clothes. This outer purple border is 2.5 inches (6.35 centimeters) wide on the top and bottom of the panel, but varies in width on the sides of the panel.

Inside of the mauve border is the white cotton material upon which most objects on the quilt have been stitched or written onto. The white fabric is thin, but durable; it resembles linen but is not as lightweight as linen. The panel contains visible wrinkles and creases on its revealing white fabric from where the block has been folded for storage purposes. The sound of a pencil’s eraser erasing on paper emits from the fabric when one rubs one’s hand fast over the cotton material.

The top half of the white expanse contained within the mauve outer frame of the panel is dominated by a square frame of the same mauve material found on the panel’s border. Like dissimilar mirrors, these frames both encase memories of Allan Lazer, though the inner mauve frame is smaller.

The smaller mauve frame is 23 inches (58.4 centimeters) long with an upper bar about 9.25 inches (23.5 centimeters) from the panel’s outer frame. There is about 6.5 inches (16.5 centimeters) of white space between the outer and inner frame on the right side of the panel. About 3.75 inches (9.5 centimeters) of white space lies between the outer and inner mauve frames on the left side of the panel.

The inner purple frame is 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) wide at the bottom and close to 2 inches (5 centimeters) wide on all the other edges of the frame.

Life and Death

All of the words on the panel are handwritten in neat, legible handwriting. A white board marker could have been used to write on the quilt fabric, given that the strokes of the letters on the quilt are thick, as if a marker with a big tip was used to write them. The black color of the marker is somewhat subdued, so perhaps the marker was not intended to be used on fabric. However, the lack of a bold color could also be attributed to the age of the quilt panel.

Within the inner mauve frame (directly beneath the frame’s upper edge) is the name Allan Lazer, to whom this quilt is dedicated. The first letters of Allan and Lazer are bigger than the other letters in the name. The “A” and “L” are 2 inches (5 centimeters) tall, whereas the rest of the name’s letters are about an inch (2.5 centimeters) tall.

The dates of Allan Lazer’s birth and death are also an inch (2.5 centimeters) tall.

Beneath Lazer’s name is his birthday: 3-26-48. Beneath the birth date is a photograph of Allan Lazer, followed underneath by Lazer’s death date: 9-25-86.

Allan Lazer died when he was 38 years old.

The Photograph

In the center of the smaller mauve frame is a photograph of Allan Lazer.

Allan Lazer is a young man with curly, deep brown hair. He has a receding hairline that causes two bald spots to appear where an otherwise even hairline would exist.

There are prominent wrinkles in Lazer’s forehead, and deep, heavy bags underneath his eyes. In the photo, Lazer appears to lounge with his weight on his left elbow as he rests his back and legs on the ground.

Taken outside in a natural environment, the panel’s photograph showcases Lazer’s close-lipped smile amidst a blurry forest green background where there are probably trees. Lazer’s mouth doesn’t smile as much as his eyes do.

Brown eyes and nearly invisible eyelashes shine from the photograph’s surrounding earthy tones. Lazer’s eyebrows are thick and bushy and curl downwards at the ends. In the photograph, Lazer wears a tank top that is the color of a banana (the actual fruit, not the peel). Lazer has tanned skin, but appears to be Caucasian.

Lazer has a large mustache that rests above his thin pink upper lip, which is almost obscured by the bushy mustache. The mustache is the same color as his hair and eyebrows, and is longer than his lips, extending into the deep creases left by lots of smiling over the years.

Lazer’s bottom lip is plumper than his top lip, and it casts a shadow directly beneath it. It appears that Lazer is sitting in the sun.

Allan Lazer somewhat resembles Billy Burke, the American actor who plays Bella Swan’s father in Twilight, as well as a character in Drive Angry.

The actual photo is small enough to fit in a sleeve of a photo album and is protected by a thick piece of laminate plastic. The plastic has thick cracks in it. One can reach underneath the cracks to touch the photo, which appears to have been printed on thick stock paper. The photo is also slightly blurry and is dated by its poor quality. It is not as crisp or sharp of an image commonly found in the decades of the 2000s and 2010s.

Framing the photo is a sandy colored swirly design. This border is likely glued onto the quilt, and might even be one whole piece with a place where a photo can be inserted in its back. The swirls are tightly bunched like a long coiled worm or snake. The swirls feel rough, with detectable textural grooves.

Black Tie Event

A real, wearable black bow tie as well as a fake bow tie have been stitched onto the quilt. There are 27.5 inches (69.9 centimeters) between the bottom right tip of the fake bow tie and the bottom mauve border. The outside of the fake bow tie is a smooth, deep black fabric. The knot of the black tie is rougher than its accompanying fabric.

 

 

 

 

The fake bow tie is about 5.25 inches (13.3 centimeters) wide. Composed of two flat pieces that have been knotted together in the middle, the top piece of the bow tie can be lifted up with one’s hand given that the two pieces have been pressed together, inside to inside. The underside of both pieces of the bow tie are a mustard color, or greenish yellow. This yellow fabric feels like mesh or net on the outside, and is thin.

The fake bow tie has hard creases in its fabric like a real bow tie would. The bow tie appears to have been stitched on at the knot.

The real bow tie has been stitched onto the quilt as well, but large parts of it can be lifted up from the quilt where there are no stitches. The real bow tie is stretched out, and not in the typical bow tie shape. There are creases in it from where the quilt has been folded up. Its material is smooth and cool to the touch.

Baby Blue Kitty

A toy cat has been stitched onto the bottom left corner of the quilt, and it rests 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) from the bottom of the quilt. The cat is bright baby blue like the color of a sunny blue sky. Little white hearts and white leaf structures comprise the fabric design of the stuffed toy cat. 

The cat’s paws and ears are flatter than the rest of its three-dimensional body because they do not have as much stuffing. The cat’s eyes and nose also appear to have fallen off.

The cat’s whiskers are three individual 0.5 inch (1.3 centimeters) white threads on either side of a space where a nose used to be. At its widest point, the cat is 4.5 inches (11.4 centimeters) wide including its paws.

The cat’s head is 2 inches (5 centimeters) wide, and its tail curls up against its body.

Dapper Design

The script of the words on the quilt gets progressively fancier and more cursive towards the bottom of the quilt.

The neat, beautiful handwriting on the quilt contributes to the formality and sophisticated appearance of the panel. The combination of the panel’s geometric framework as well as its uncluttered design provides an elegant and trim aura than is not ostentatious.

In the bottom left corner of the panel inside the outer mauve frame are the words: Thanks to: Micheal Loud and Juan Jose Arriles. The third part of Juan’s name is harder to interpret; what I have concluded from the script is my best guess.

What appears to be the word “Gito” has been written in the right bottom corner of the panel on the white fabric.

In the purple border beneath “Gito” are the words Made By Sister. The word following Sister is unreadable given that it has been stitched underneath the adjacent panel.

These letters are all less than an inch (2.5 centimeters) tall.

Hold On To My Love

Next to the blue cat, the words Hold on to my Love have been written in cursive. The H is 2.25 inches (5.7 centimeters), and the L is 2.5 inches (6.4 centimeters). The other letters without tails or tall sections are about an inch (2.5 centimeters) tall. The text of Hold on to my Love has an ellipses (…) following it, and is written between quote marks.

Hold On To My Love was a popular disco song in 1980 that hit #7 in the UK Singles charts and #10 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Performed by soul singer Jimmy Ruffin, the song “Hold On To My Love” is featured on Ruffin’s 1980 Sunrise album, and was written by Robin Gibb and Blue Weaver.