Friday, June 10, 2005

The Masque of the Red Death

Years ago I wrote and performed a tour of Edgar Allen Poe's The masque of the Red Death, a short story in which a group of rich degenerates lock themselves away in a castle ignoring the dangers of plague, lost in a cloud of debauchery and irresponsibility.

My inspiration for doing the piece was that, even then in 1992, I felt a lot of gay men had grown complacent about the dangers of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. I felt that the rise in drug use that had been happening since the rise of Acid House, raves and other beat heavy dance music clubs had led to greater irresponsibility where safe sex was concerned.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no prude, and have lived life to the fullest fo the full. What I've never done is play russian roulette with my sexual health.

It comes as no surprise then to read that with the rise of Methamphetamine usage (crystal or tina to her friends) there has been a dramatic increase in the numbers of people contracting HIV and other STDs

After years of living in constant fear of aids, many gay men have chosen to resume sexual practices that are almost guaranteed to make them sick. In New York City, the rate of syphilis has increased by more than four hundred per cent in the past five years. Gay men account for virtually the entire rise. Between 1998 and 2000, fifteen per cent of the syphilis cases in Chicago could be attributed to gay men. Since 2001, that number has grown to sixty per cent. Look at the statistics closely and you will almost certainly find the drug. In one recent study, twenty-five per cent of those men who reported methamphetamine use in the previous month were infected with H.I.V.

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