When I finally published my interview with Paul Morris of Treasure Island Media, after four months of e-mail correspondence, I was so excited. I knew that it would be one of the more popular pieces I’d published in a great while. I was right! The interview was picked up by Banana Guide, The Sword, & The Data Lounge, and quickly became the mostly highly trafficked article since Let’s Talk About Sex’s inception.
While I was excited by the sudden burst of traffic, I knew that there would be some controversy surrounding the interview. Paul Morris is nothing if not controversial. He’s outspoken, articulate, and passionate on a level that is usually reserved for notorious historical figures. The comments and responses he made in 7,000+ word interview exemplified those characteristics that make him so polarizing and controversial. When reading the stories our interview spawned, as well as the comments on those stories, it was clear that some of Paul’s comments sparked a few passions.
The statement from Paul that seemed to be the most discussed was a response to my question asking why he makes the pornography he makes. His response as a whole was not scorn, but there was particular passage that became the source of conversation.
Most recently, I’ve been motivated to produce pornography to directly address the appalling phenomenon of the HIV “closet”. It’s a tremendously dangerous and damaging result of the continuing fear and superstition that’s promoted by AIDS healthcare organizations and big pharma. Meds are now sufficiently sophisticated and reliable and side-effect free to make AIDS a virtual non-issue in the developed world. The battleground now should be that of forcing big pharma— particularly companies like Gilead--to give up their patents on the meds and make them universally affordable in both the developed and the developing world. This would be a serious struggle since it would (nominally) reduce their obscene profits.
Commenters became enraged at Paul Morris’ assertion that AIDS is “a virtual non-issue.” When Paul made that statement, I didn’t challenge him, and with good reason. Every sexual health/education course I have taken in last five years has stressed how good life can be with HIV. They drive home the point that, with modern medications, HIV is no longer a death sentence. Since I have never had a personal experience with someone who was HIV positive, I knew of no reason to challenge him.
That was until I began reading the complaints from HIV positive commenters on the syndication sites. They painted a slightly grimmer picture of life today with HIV, than I'd ever been given. They brought up the problems with the huge cost of medication as well as the lack of availability of programs to help individuals with low or no income.
Not all gays are rich as Mr. Morris, infected by HIV maybe nothing for people like him who can afford the treatment to stay alive forever, but those meds aren’t free or cheap. To declare the disease is “over” is just blatantly ignore the facts in front of our eyes.
Writes Clevin on the blog The Sword.
Commenters also challenged Paul over the idea that it was ok to have riskier sex, just because we may have access to drugs and treatments that will help to keep you healthy.
HIV may well be manageable and treatable (and I think this is a great, wonderful thing and we are very lucky to live in a first-world society where we have access to these meds)… but that doesn’t mean I want to go out an [sic] get it any more than I want to get syphilis or the flu.
This was a point that I made to Paul. I asked,
Sure HIV medication has reached a level sophistication and availability that HIV is very manageable in developed nations, but the same could be said of cancer, diabetes, kidney failure, and a myriad of other maladies. Why should a person take less care to prevent HIV than cancer or diabetes?
To which Paul replied,
I don’t see the worth of living life as a process of avoiding an endless series of possible problems and diseases. As Ram Dass used to say, you don’t reach enlightenment based on the number of hamburgers you didn’t eat.
It was in this reply that I finally understood Paul. In the very same moment, I felt mournful. Paul Morris was a hedonist who’d chosen his poison. He’d chosen it with clear mind and intent, there was not a single flaw in that argument. What can you say to a group of adults who choose their risks, responsibly based upon unbiased information? You can’t say anything but congratulations.
I’m sure that some people reading this would like this to be the moment where there is a stunning twist and I Falcon Punch a hole in Paul’s argument, but I simply can’t. I would like to say that he has an obligation to young impressionable people who watch his videos, but porn is for adults. If you haven’t received sexual education that has cautioned you against less safe sexual practices by the time you’re 18 or 21, then I’m sorry.
Paul Morris and Treasure Island Media make pornography for adults, by adults. Here on Let’s Talk About Sex, part of my purpose for existing is to protect the right of adults to make any educated decision regarding their sexuality. Prior to my breakthrough of understanding, every ounce of my being wanted to scream stop, but in this, we have no power. We cannot stop adults from smoking, drinking alcohol, nor eating food that isn’t advantageous to their health. Therefore, that means we cannot stop adult men from taking load after load from anonymous men who may have a sexually communicable disease.
I think it’s about time that we realize that even though we may have rabid compulsions to prevent this behavior, we cannot. If we do then we are just as bad as those who seek to prevent homosexuals from getting married or women from getting abortions. Unless we are willing to rid ourselves of all choice, we mustn’t remove anyone else from any choice. We must live and let live.
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