In a recent radio broadcast and article coordinated with Focus on the Family, Exodus exgay lobbyist Randy Thomas falsely accused the “gay community” of failing to take action against the abuse of an anti-HIV medication called tenofovir among the “many people” who seek out rave parties as the “only option” to “fulfill a void in their hearts.”
In the space of one broadcast, Thomas and Focus:
- exaggerate gay interest in raves
- insult the self-esteem of non-fundamentalists
- accuse the “community” of failing “to listen to reason”
- accuse gay people, as a class, of a singular “mindset” of “justifying risky behavior”
None of these accusations is substantiated. Sadly, Thomas seems to have been projecting his own failure to investigate, and to listen, onto others: Thomas failed to tell his audience the specific extent of the problem, which is very limited, and Thomas lied about the response of gay organizations and experts, whose actions to publicize and warn against the abuse may have exceeded the actual scope of the problem.
Let’s take an honest look at the scope of the problem, and what has actually been done about it.
Listeners should have grown suspicious when Thomas and Focus failed to cite the basis for their claims: A CDC report that 7 percent of uninfected gay men surveyed at four gay-pride events had misused HIV meds as a form of disease prevention and 20 percent knew someone else who had. In other words, 93 percent of those surveyed at a huge party celebrating gay identity and sexuality were not misusing drugs as a form of HIV prevention, and 80 percent did not know anyone else who had misused HIV drugs. Furthermore, pride-event attendees are not representative of the “gay community”: Pride-goers tend to be disproportionately urban, male, young, unattached — and looking to party.
Despite the limited extent of the problem, a Google search by Ex-Gay Watch finds numerous gay health advocates and gay media taking action and advocating healthier behavior. Among them:
A search of blogs finds the following gay blogs protesting tenofovir abuse:
Simply put, the “gay community” (if such a thing exists) was already acting to combat HIV-drug misuse — and apparently the problem was less extensive than Thomas and Focus wanted to believe — or wanted listeners to believe.
However one defines “gay community,” Exodus and Focus on the Family dishonestly transformed a fringe problem that responsible leaders had been addressing, into a sweeping smear — and a false claim to a moral high ground. Furthermore, in discouraging condom use and sex education as a matter of established policy, Exodus and Focus have promoted the spread of HIV, even as they falsely accuse others of inaction.