* Special Meeting & Service. State of Emergency! Community Church of Boston, Copley Sq. 6pm.
* AIDS Action Committee Events
Update: AIDS Activists Arrested at Whitehouse
Cruising. We all have so much to learn from it!
This speech was given by Abe Rybeck at this year's Pride Lights celebration after he received an award from AIDS Action Committee. Abe is the Artistic Director of Theater Offensive.
When a trashy Jewish Communist Safe-Sex Porno Street Guerrilla Drag Queen breaks into song at 3:00 AM in a cruising area, it does not occur to him that one day somebody’s gonna give him an award for it!
Thank you Rebecca and Dennis and Diego and Paul and the whole gang. Twenty-two years ago I walked down into a crowded basement on Havelind Street to volunteer for the AIDS ACTION Committee.
Nowadays, when someone wants to talk about courage, they mention the military. When they talk about commitment, they refer to marriage.
But those folks I met at AIDS ACTION all those years ago: Speaking truth to power. Being there for sick brothers and sisters. Using common sense prevention when the medical establishment wouldn’t even pay attention. Teaching each other safer sex in backrooms and bushes and beds. That’s commitment. That’s courage.
To receive this honor from the AIDS ACTION Committee makes me so proud... of all of us.
Some say that kind of activism is passé. But I know better. I have witnessed a working model for community building that can resist the sucking vacuum of cooptation! It’s called...
Cruising. We all have so much to learn from it.
Okay, hear me out. I have a simple point. Coming out has taught us each to respect who we really are, to respect our desires, yes, our horniness. And I believe that’s a clue about how to change the world.
For over one hundred years guys have been fooling around in The Fens, despite attacks against them from Fagbashers; Muggers; Gardeners; STDs; HIV/AIDS; the Police; and Politicians.
But cruising in the Fens is utterly unstoppable, the way a political movement should be. 365 days a year guys go there to hook up. (I use the term guys very loosely, since there is a crazy mishmash of genders in the Fens.) You can walk three blocks from your apartment in the projects into a lush green jungle of pleasure. You can cum on your coffee break. You can get blown in a blizzard.
There is no committee that organizes guys in The Fens. There’s no board of directors. There’s no e-blast. And most incredibly, nobody makes a profit off it! For LGBT folks, who are organized more as a market niche than a community, this is downright astounding! Hundreds of guys are getting satisfied every night and no one makes any money off it!
So why do they go? Because it works. They get just what they cum for.
I am part of A Street Theater Named Desire. We do AIDS activist guerrilla theater performances in cruising areas on summer nights, from Midnight to 3:00 AM for the guys who come there to fool around. We lay out picnic blankets for them and share some coffee, water, doughnuts and sex supplies. Sometimes we even make s’mores. We hang out and talk with the guys.
Since we’re trying to learn from the magic of the Fens, we take its simple truth as our motto: “Get just what you cum for.” Like: Get laid but don’t get AIDS; Get vulnerable but don’t get mugged; Get naked but don’t get mosquito bites. So, sure, we give out condoms, but we also share a lot of intimacy... and bug repellent.
We encounter about 300 people per night, a madly diverse group of ages, ethnicities and genders, all there in the Fens to satisfy their desires. And almost everyone gets it.
And there, again, is my simple queer point. Respect who we really are. Respect our desires, yes, our horniness. And I believe that’s a little clue about how to change the world.