via 2B Magazine
Dr. Barry Adam has devoted his life to studying gay male sexual health, and the impact and understanding of HIV on our lives. He will close this year’s Concordia HIV/AIDS Lecture Series on Thursday, March 15, with the timely topic of “Neoliberalism, Masculinity, and HIV Risk”
Barry Adam is interested in “how guys perceive the game-plan of connecting up with each other,” he said prosaically, even though you get the sense from his vocabulary and social science background that he has a lot more going on. Known for his 2005 article in “Constructing the Neoliberal Sexual Actor: Responsibility and Care of the Self in the Discourse of Barebackers”, Dr. Adam has been published and cited in multiple journals on the topic of HIV risk and perceptions and conversations around safer sex between men. He currently works as Director of Prevention Research at the Ontario HIV Treatment Network, and has collaborated with such progressive organizations as the Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance (GMSH). When we reached him in his office at the University of Windsor, there was only one thing on our mind: THAT POSTER.
“I work closely with the ASOs in trying to make their work more effective,” Adams responded, as I fished for a comment on the alarmist diatribe unleashed on ACCM’s Facebook wall last month when one of its employees posted a photo of a Radical Queer Semaine demonstrator holding the now infamous I PARTY I BAREBACK I’M POSITIVE I’M RESPONSIBLE poster from the AIDS ACTION NOW! 2011 “Poster/Virus” series. Adam, who had spent the previous day sitting next to the artist and intervention worker Mikiki at a public health conference, cuts to the chase in talking about that heaviest of topics: stigma.
“When GMSH launched their HIVstigma.com site in 2008, thousands of men wrote in, neg and poz,” Adam recounts. “There’s a lot of pain on both sides,” he reiterates, referring both to the fear and anonymity lived by HIV positive gay men, and the concern and guilt that many HIV negative men have for contributing to the stigmatization of their friends, sex partners, and comrades who are HIV positive. “Neoliberalism and masculinity play a role in how we conceive of infectiousness. [They] create different kinds of outcomes in terms of generating vulnerability.” When I asked him what he meant by this, he described how when men are chatting or cruising, there are “standards” or myths about how men are supposed to act (and talk) that affect our ability to disclose or ask about our HIV status, or about other STIs. The myth of the self-reliant man is called into question by HIV in a disturbing way: by admitting he is a carrier, the man must admit to another man that he has a physical vulnerability that is inextricably linked to his sexuality.
With this understanding in mind, Dr. Adam will “try and posit why infection rates aren’t decreasing,” during his March 15 lecture. Expect a very interesting Q & A afterwards.
Dr. Barry Adam: “Neoliberalism, Masculinity, and HIV Risk”
Concordia HIV/AIDS Lecture Series
Thursday, March 15, 6pm
1455 de Maisonneuve W. H-110