Debate continues on the use of safer sex supplies in the adult entertainment industry after another film actor has tested positive for HIV this year, bringing the total to three.
The Free Speech Coalition, a trade association for the adult service industry, spoke out about this issue, placing a moratorium on filming until all other actors and partners could be tested for potential exposure. The Free Speech Coalition sites their mission as follows: “As the trade association for the adult entertainment industry our responsibilities are threefold: One, to be the watchdog for the adult entertainment industry guarding against unconstitutional and oppressive government intervention; Two, to be a voice for the industry telling the truth about the adult entertainment industry not only in the vital role it plays as an economic contributor, but also in its contribution to quality of life in a healthy society; and finally to provide business resources for our members to facilitate successful businesses in this ever-changing and challenging business environment.”
Though these moratoriums are not generally binding, there is a history of cooperation and compliance with the Coalition when such actions are taken. The discourse around safer sex supplies in porn has been going full throttle after a new law in Los Angeles County decreed that film entertainers be required to wear condoms. The law, which took effect last year, brought a 95% decrease in permit applications for new films this year, and those who did begin filming either ignored the ban or filmed in other countries where bare backing is legal.
Diane Duke, the executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, released this statement: "Whether this performer was infected in L.A. County or not, this latest news begs the question: how many people need to become infected with HIV for the County of Los Angeles to engage actively in implementing the will of the voters of LA county to protect these performers?" AIDS Healthcare Foundation president Michael Weinstein asked in a statement, according to Radar Online. "How many more performers need to become infected for the industry to comply with existing regulations and laws requiring workplace safety? The willful disregard by the County of Los Angeles and the Industry for the health and welfare of people is becoming more and more apparent. The industry as a whole, and the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health should be ashamed."
The hesitancy around honoring the new condom law appear to be economic: according to NY Daily News, many producers are afraid that last year’s condom law will affect film sales, bringing profits down significantly. According to CNN, “Even with three recent cases of HIV among performers many porn producers and performers are still fighting against mandatory condom use. According to the Free Speech Coalition, which represents the adult entertainment industry, when they tried using condoms nine years ago after another HIV outbreak, the $14 billion-a-year business saw revenue decline as much as 30%.”
Which begs the question: why aren’t we teaching not only the utilitarianism of using safer sex supplies between consenting partners, but also how sexy it can be? In the bathroom of a collective house I once lived in, there was a poster with a drawing of two queer-presenting foxes laying in the grass. One fox is gazing into the other fox’s eyes, holding the unmistakable foil square of a condom. “I got this for later.” The fox says (this is what the fox says!) . On the top of the poster are the words, “SAFE SEX IS HOT.” But of course I’m talking about a collective house. Full of radical young folks. Not the majority of the country, but a small utopian activist community that gets turned on by talks of things like safety, consent, and discussing sexual statuses.
The majority of schools in the country drag their feet around teaching reproduction and sex education in schools . What does it say about us as a nation that we are under-educating our youth about how to have sex, and then are taught to find the act of protecting themselves against diseases repulsive and unattractive? Interestingly, this incident in the adult film industry also brings about many fascinating conversations about HIV, the stigma the disease has, and how societal preconceptions about who contracts it and how are deeply rooted into post-1980s AIDS epidemia. But for now, producers are being forced to crack down on the use of condoms and other safer sex paraphernalia, for fear that HIV will prove to drive sales even further down that the possibility of glimpsing a little latex.