Practicing Desire: Homosexual Sex in the Era of AIDS

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For more than a decade, gay men have faced a terrible crisis-the HIV epidemic and its consequence for many, AIDS. The epidemic coincided with the development of visible gay communities, distilled from cultural, political, and sexual activities, and claiming for homosexual men a recognition of the pleasures and prerogatives of same-sex love. These gay communities are substantial subcultures, often with a geographic focus and commercial infrastructure. The same period has also seen the rise in analyses of gay life that challenged conventional configurations of human sexuality, and that have wrought profound changes in such fields as medicine, history, literary criticism, and the social sciences. This study examines these developments in the context of the HIV epidemic through interviews of twenty very different men who live in Sydney's gay community, Australia's largest and most visible, and in the provincial town of Nullangardie. The men range in age from their early twenties to sixty, in class from working class to jaded hustler, in sexual role from drag queen to happily married bisexual. The men reveal how they came to their homosexuality, how they understand the AIDS crisis, and how they have reacted to the crisis in terms of their sexual practice. The men tell their own tales, describing their sex lives in graphic detail and uninhibited language.