• InstaHunks: Woofy Joe Blizzard (above) is back in the gym, offering up selfies. Don’t mind if I do… 🙂 Follow him on Instagram here.
• Mr. Man: The world’s leading online library of male nude scenes in film has revealed its ‘Hottest Gay TV Scenes of All Time.’ The diverse list features several men of color like Billy Porter and Omid Abtahi, an actor with cerebral palsy, and some of Hollywood’s top stars who have dared to portray gay sex on the small screen.
• Gay Star News: Puerto Rico’s governor has signed a new Civil Code that leaves out LGBT+ protections despite a rise in LGBT+ murders. The new Civil Code makes no mention of protection from hate speech or discrimination in employment, goods and services. Governor Wanda Vázquez has already received backlash for her response to the killing of at least 10 LGBTQ Puerto Ricans in 2019 and 2020.
• Poz: During a study researching a vaccine for HIV, scientists found that soon after taking the participants off antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for a period of close monitoring, the virus rapidly rebounded in their semen. The discovery raises concerns that men who participate in such trials while taking a break in their usual HIV meds are at risk of transmitting the virus through sex.
• Roll Call: After the recent dust-up between Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Donald Trump over protests in the DC area, House Democrats plan to bring up a vote on statehood for the District. Expect it to pass in the House, but Senate Republicans will never let it happen. DC voters are overwhelmingly Democratic, and statehood would give the Dems two more Senators plus a voting member of the House.
• Twitter: Social media star Sarah Cooper’s latest lip-dub of Donald Trump takes on ‘How to lobster.’ If you don’t follow her yet, you really should. Funny, funny stuff.
Donald Trump’s announcement that Vice President Pence would head up U.S. efforts against the spread of the coronavirus caused many to raise eyebrows given Pence’s woeful handling of one of the biggest HIV outbreaks in Indiana’s history.
“He’s got a certain talent for this,” Trump said at a White House briefing about the virus, which has infected nearly five dozen people in the United States so far.
The announcement has cast light on Pence’s record as a lawmaker and his handling of a major public health crisis during his time as governor of Indiana. The worst HIV outbreak in the state’s history happened on his watch in 2015, which critics blamed on Pence’s belated response and his opposition to authorizing a needle-exchange program.
In 2011, as a member of Congress, he voted to cut funding for Planned Parenthood. Two years later, a Planned Parenthood clinic that had been the only HIV-testing center in Scott County, Ind., closed after public health spending cuts, HuffPost reported.
Two months passed from the start of the outbreak in 2015 before Pence declared a public state of emergency.
It wasn’t until after 75 more people were diagnosed as HIV+ that Pence finally allowed a 30-day needle exchange program to be implemented.
Pence also opposed condom distribution to combat HIV. That led, in part, to his overseeing the defunding of Planned Parenthood in Indiana. As a result, the Planned Parenthood clinic in Scott County, which housed the county’s only HIV testing center, closed in 2013.
But this is the guy to spearhead the federal government’s response to a worldwide virus…?
Sen. Bernie Sanders weighed in on the choice of Pence via Twitter:
Trump's plan for the coronavirus so far:
-Cut winter heating assistance for the poor -Have VP Pence, who wanted to "pray away" HIV epidemic, oversee the response -Let ex-pharma lobbyist Alex Azar refuse to guarantee affordable vaccines to all
A fun, new campaign in Utah meant to bring awareness to HIV has been summarily canceled by Gov. Gary Herbert over the use of condoms labeled with risqué double-entendres.
Ben Winslow at Salt Lake City’s FOX 13 reports Utah’s Department of Health was ready to hand out 100,000 condoms with wrappers that took various Utah memes and gave them a sexy spin.
Among the humorous designs were: “Greatest Sex on Earth” a riff on the state’s ski slogan ‘Greatest Snow on Earth;’ “SL, UT” as a play on the abbreviation for the state’s largest city; “Fillmore, Beaver” referencing a local landmark; “Don’t Go Bare” featuring an image of a bear; and “This is the Place” pictured over a bed – the phrase was famously uttered by Brigham Young when pioneers found the Salt Lake Valley.
Other states, including Alaska and Wyoming, have taken part in similar campaigns.
The sex-positive messages were created by the advertising firm Love Communication, which was hired by the Health Department.
Before the governor’s action, Erin Fratto, of the Utah Department of Health’s Prevention Treatment and Care Program, told the Salt Lake Tribune, “It’s really just to destigmatize HIV in Utah, and get everybody talking about sexual health.”
“If the condoms are fun, relatable, sex-positive — people are more apt to talk about them, which we’ve already seen,” added Frotto.
But in a statement to FOX 13, Anna Lehnardt, a spokesperson for the governor wrote, “The Governor understands the importance of the Utah Department of Health conducting a campaign to educate Utahns about HIV prevention. He does not, however, approve the use of sexual innuendo as part of a taxpayer-funded campaign, and our office has asked the department to rework the campaign’s branding.”
The Health Department issued an apology regarding the “offensive packaging,” and admitted, “the designs did not go through necessary approval channels.”
“We remain committed to running a campaign to help in the prevention of HIV and intend to do so in a manner that better respects taxpayer dollars, and our role as a government agency.”
• Instahunks: Fashion designer Daniel Sheehan calls his white t-shirt the ‘sexiest basic’ you’ll own, but I don’t see anything ‘basic’ in this pic (above).
• Newsweek: The Hallmark Channel has yet to produce any gay-themed Christmas movies, but a petition launched by outraged evangelicals is aimed at thwarting any future attempts at making a film with LGBTQ themes or characters.
• The Hill: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) – “The President doesn’t give a shit about what’s good for our country, what’s good for Ukraine. It’s all about what’s in it for him personally and for his reelection campaign.”
• Advocate: A Republican congressman has introduced a bill he positions as a compromise answer to the Equality Act, but it includes broad religious exemptions.
• Twitter: Donald Trump said today that “it is wrong” that “laws allow a baby to be born from his or her mother’s womb in the 9th month.” #WhoWantsToTellHim?
WATCH: Trump decries the fact that “laws allow a baby to be born from his or her mother’s womb in the 9th month,” and says “it is wrong, it has to change.” It’s unclear if Trump is calling for forced abortions or for delaying births until the 10th month.pic.twitter.com/T4YOw3QD2D
• InstaHunks: From the looks of woofy Jeff Ferreira’s photo (above) today, the high of 57 degrees in NYC must have felt preeeety warm 🙂
• Iowa Caucuses: The latest polling from Quinnipiac University shows Mayor Pete Buttigieg moving into the number two spot. Senator Elizabeth Warren receives 20% support among Iowa likely Democratic caucus-goers, with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg getting 19%, Sen. Bernie Sanders at 17%, and former Vice President Joe Biden at 15%.
• NY Times: The Trump administration has filed a lawsuit against Gilead Sciences, which sells Truvada used as HIV-prevention medication for PrEP, accusing the company of earning billions from research funded by taxpayers without paying taxpayers back.
• Advocate: Scientists say they have discovered a new strain of HIV for the first time in nearly two decades.
• Watch What Happens Live:Queer Eye guy Karamo Brown initially told the press he and former White House press secretary Sean Spicer had become “friends” during his time on Dancing with the Stars. But on WWHL this week, Brown backpedaled on that saying there “was no friendship.”
• Washington Blade: Two judges have now struck down a controversial Trump administration rule allowing health care providers to opt-out of procedures to which they have religious or moral objections, a policy that threatened care for LGBTQ people and others.
• Pride: We do LGBTQ Pride later in the year here in Las Vegas because June, the traditional month for Pride, is swelteringly hot. That’s Michael and I (above) briefly striking a pose. Check out more from Las Vegas Pride 2019 at the bottom of this post via Instagram.
• Boy Culture: Scotty Bowers, the purported pimp and hustler to a slew of Golden Age of Hollywood stars, praised by some for his frankness and bashed by others as a fabulist, died Sunday at 96.
• Politico: Sen. Elizabeth Warren is increasing pressure on Facebook to police false political ads on the social media platform. Her campaign made an ad with false claims and it was quickly approved.
We intentionally made a Facebook ad with false claims and submitted it to Facebook’s ad platform to see if it’d be approved. It got approved quickly and the ad is now running on Facebook. Take a look: pic.twitter.com/7NQyThWHgO
• Deadline: Billy Porter on trying to break into Hollywood, “We must speak life into ourselves, even when everyone around us is doing the opposite. I never saw anything that looked like me, and visibility – when we see ourselves reflected back – is so important.”
And now, more shiny, happy people (including Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Chasten Buttigieg) at this year’s Pride celebration here in Las Vegas:
A survey from the UK shows 48% of respondents say they would be uncomfortable kissing someone who is living with HIV, even though 97% of those diagnosed in the UK are virally supressed thanks to modern antiretroviral medications.
Multiple studies have shown that people living with HIV and on effective treatment report viral levels as ‘undetectable’ which means the virus can’t be passed on to sexual partners.
The PARTNER study, published in 2016, followed 58,000 instances of sex without a condom where one partner was HIV positive and one was HIV negative.
The resulting research showed there were zero cases of HIV transmission where the HIV+ partner was on effective treatment reducing viral levels to ‘undetectable.’
The PARTNER 2 study, released in May 2019, found zero cases of HIV transmission among 782 serodiscordant couples having condomless sex when the HIV+ partner had undetectable levels of HIV.
Dr. Michael Brady, Medical Director for the Terrence Higgins Trust, says “We are now saying with confidence – and without doubt – that people living with HIV who are on effective treatment cannot pass the virus on to their sexual partners.”
But the survey found only 19% of British respondents are aware of that fact. A surprising 41% believe the virus can be passed on even with the virus suppressed in the patient.
Also from the survey:
• 38% would feel uncomfortable going on a date with someone living with HIV
• 64% say they would feel uncomfortable having sex with someone living with HIV
• People aged 35-44 were most comfortable with the proposition of kissing someone with HIV (43%) while older respondents (55+) were much less comfortable (25%)
A campaign by the THT, titled ‘Can’t Pass It On,’ aims to tackle outdated beliefs regarding HIV and the stigma/discrimination associated with the virus.
While noting that condoms are still the most effective way to avoid all sexually transmitted diseases, the campaign hopes to ensure that people know the facts about HIV and effective treatment.
For more info about the THT/YouGov survey, click here.