LAID BARE

Mardi Gras is not about community, but separation (NMG facing major overhaul, SSO 1045). If you’re nude, you’re not welcome, unless you’re Spencer Tunick and have your price. So the next time you parade, party or picnic, remember, we’re not all there.

— Stuart

REAL MEN?

I believe in the sacredness of sex between devoted and loyal partners. I believe in a solid foundation of friendship which is not based on superficial lust, money, possessions, or social status. I believe in a ‘soulmate’, a mentor, someone to rely on for solice and companionship from the loneliness and tempest of life.

One who means his words and is patient, nurturing, romantic, sensual, and whose love is captivating. I believe in my body being only for the one I love and adore. I believe in being allowed, and welcomed, to show affection to my love regardless of where or when.

This does not, in my experience, exist in Queensland. Do you think I shall ever find what I seek in Australia? Do you think there exists any men who are not ‘players’ and genuinely seek something ‘real’, rather then the usual ‘blow ‘n’ go’ flavour of the moment?

What does it take to find a fellow who wants someone for all the sweet, romantic, sensual and affectionately special time that accompanies a real companionship?

I’ve met so many couples whose relationship is a farce, a sterile business transaction, a facade. I’d love to hear what a stranger thinks about this kind of love; to be more than a sex ATM.

-Nathaniel

FAIR FUN

What a fantastic event the Food & Wine Fair was. This is the first time I have attended this AIDS Trust Fundraiser. The food was delicious and the wine was some of the best I have ever tasted.

And I got to listen to that legendary Aussie band Dragon.

But what impressed me the most, as a visitor from a small country town, were the volunteers. They were well co-ordinated, helpful, friendly and polite.

How lucky you city folk are to have access to these fine resources. No wonder this event was a great success.

— Ross, Bega

COMFORT PLEASE

Can we please organise some furniture for the Imperial Hotel? To have no tables or seating seems very strange – and there’s nowhere to put your drink down.

A well, I think $20 to get downstairs and into the cabaret room is too expensive. I realise DJs and drag queens don’t work for love, but $20 when there are no chairs, tables or stools on which to sit? And even more important given there is a bar in the middle of the dancefloor — we wouldn’t want someone kicking over empty glasses while dancing.

I am very glad the Imperial is open again, I just wish it was more comfortable. Or perhaps I am getting old?

— Tim

ACON RESPONDS

I’d like to respond to Ian’s letter Back to Basics (SSO 1045). Ian, it’s great to see the sort of passionate interest in HIV you obviously have.

I should clarify the HIV notifications data released last month were national data and did indeed show that annual Australian HIV notifications continue to plateau at around 1000 cases annually.

ACON is funded to work on HIV prevention – primarily with gay men – in NSW, which is quite different from other parts of the country and similar countries throughout the developed world, where there have been resurgent epidemics of

HIV among gay men over the last decade. In NSW this hasn’t happened.

Continuing stability in NSW is particularly notable given that Sydney is the city in which the Australian HIV epidemic began and it continues to have by far the largest number of gay men – and HIV positive gay men – of any metropolitan centre in Australia.

You refer to the need to protect young gay men and I totally agree with you. However, for the most part it is not young gay men who are contracting HIV. The evidence shows that it’s much more likely to be men in their late 30s and 40s. I’m often asked why ACON doesn’t run campaigns that show the ‘reality’ of living with HIV. My response is that there around about 10,000 different realities of living with HIV given the size of the HIV+ population in NSW and we do ourselves – and them – no favours by cherry-picking worst case scenarios in order to make a point. It’s a mixed picture. There’s no doubt that prevention was a much easier ask when the picture wasn’t mixed and death irrevocably followed diagnosis, but the fact is that it’s no longer the case and we can’t pretend that it is. Prevention work is more challenging in this environment but that doesn’t stop us doing it.
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— Nicolas Parkhill, ACON CEO

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