The Sword is launching a new column this week, published every Thursday, bringing together voices and opinions from across the gay porn world and outside of it, on topics ranging from gay sex, celebrities, politics, and industry business. They’re kicking off with a word from NakedSword CEO Tim Valenti.
As some of you may have heard, there’s a bill in the California Assembly that is nothing less than a full-frontal assault on the rights of adult performers. Not only does it mandate that all performers in porn wear condoms, it requires they turn over sensitive medical information about their HIV status to anyone they work for, including — in a last-minute addition added to the bill last night — a forced waiver of their right to medical privacy.
On the surface, AB 1576 seems like it would protect performers — condoms in every scene, testing every fourteen days, mandated by law. But for those of us who work with performers, it’s much more complicated. Why? Because it makes it a crime — yes, a crime punishable by law — for not using a condom while filming a porn scene. Now, I can understand if you want your performers to be safe. I do too. In fact, at NakedSword we already use condoms in all of our films, and always have. But what a performer does sexually should be up to the performer, not the government.
AB 1576 was engineered by Michael Weinstein, the controversial head of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Isadore Hall, a politician and minister from Los Angeles. For reasons that few can comprehend, Weinstein and Hall have spent millions of dollars and several years trying to control performer’s sexual behavior. To hear them talk about porn — shame has been a common refrain at the hearings — you’d think it was coming from members of the religious right. (And it’s not just porn — prominent AIDS advocates and The Sword alike have called for Weinstein’s ouster for sex-shaming comments over the HIV-prevention drug Truvada.)
Not surprisingly, the bill has generated outrage among performers. Hundreds have signed a petition asking the state Assembly to vote no on the bill when it comes up next week. Others have called or faxed or tweeted at their representatives to let them know that the bill does little to improve performer safety, while opening the door to allow discrimination and stigmatization of adult performers.
As gay men, we know how important our privacy is, and we know how HIV has been used to whip up fear against gay men. As a condom-only producer, it’s not my business whether someone is negative or positive. The reason so many gay porn studios use condoms is because it means we don’t have to know about a person’s status.
Keep Reading at The Sword