When Zachary Quinto was awarded Artist of the Year by OUT100, he made some comments about the present attitude among young gay men to HIV/AIDS.
“Quinto’s rise and sheer ubiquity in Hollywood are reflective not only of his strength as an actor or his professional savvy, but also of the rapidly shifting currents of gay rights in America. And yet, while history is being written in the present, he urges us not to forget the past.”
‘“I think there’s a tremendous sense of complacency in the LGBT community,” Quinto says, citing the rising number of HIV infections in adolescents. “AIDS has lost the edge of horror it possessed when it swept through the world in the ’80s. Today’s generation sees it more as something to live with and something to be much less fearful of. And that comes with a sense of, dare I say, laziness.”’
His comments met with mixed reactions, with some calling him poz-phobic and some attributing his attitude to internal homophobia.
Quinto has tried to address what he sees as misinterpretation of his words by writing in the Huffington Post Gay Voices:
“What troubles me — and what I was trying to speak to in my interview — is an attitude among (some of) the younger generation of gay men — that we can let our guard down against this still very real threat to our collective well-being. I have had numerous conversations in my travels with young gay people who see the threat of HIV as diminished to the point of near irrelevance. I have heard too many stories of young people taking PrEP as an insurance policy against their tendency toward unprotected non-monogamous sex. THAT is my only outrage”.
This latest article has prompted more criticism, for instance, that he is trying to “promote monogamy” with one commenter, Michael Cooney, posting on Quinto’s facebook page:
“[..]The result, whether he likes to admit it or not, is that he’s subtly trying to shame men who are making an active and important protective step; and the seeming reason, borne out by his choice of words, is an interest in promoting monogamy – or at least some level of disdain for having multiple partners”.
While a Quinto supporter, Matthew Burgess, wrote:
“[..] I fear [however] you have missed the key goal of Zachary’s message. His message is about reigniting the awareness of the plight of HIV amongst an ever increasing complacent younger population [of] sexually active youth.[..]
Quinto felt that while there was some misinterpretation of what he said, he was glad it was sparking lively debate around the issues:
“I am thrilled that the comments I made in my cover interview for OUT 100 have generated a spirited dialogue about HIV/AIDS — and the advent of a whole new class of preventative life saving medication. I am less thrilled that they were almost entirely misconstrued. Perhaps I could have been more articulate — but my comments were never meant to be incendiary or judgmental”.
He assured people that he was not poz-phobic, or internally homophobic, nor “wilfully ignorant” of the subject, being well-informed and well educated. He also stated that he is a staunch supporter of the LGBT community, from which he hails himself, and didn’t mean to make generalisations about the community, or people living with AIDS or who love someone who is HIV-positive.