AIDS, the Politically Correct and Social Theory

  • Daniel Harris
Part of the Main Trends of the Modern World book series (MTMW)


When the San Francisco AIDS Foundation launched a refreshingly brash safe-sex campaign targeted at young gay men, they received as much flak from the left as from the right for a series of posters, displayed at bus stops around the city, featuring two androgynous men, draped in an American flag, who smiled directly out at us, naked, life-size and in sensuous color. While most of those who were disturbed by these innocuous, if blatantly homoerotic, images objected to the desecration of the flag by “pervert[s] … [who] do not deserve the great privilege of being Americans,” as one irate San Francisco resident put it, an entirely unexpected criticism arose from within the gay community itself, as excerpts from the following letter, published in the local gay newspaper, The Bay Area Reporter, suggest:

My outrage does not arise from the moralistic sensibilities of Jesse Helms, but from the disenfranchisement I feel and been [sic] subjected to as a woman, an Asian American and a lesbian. I am no longer willing to be the ‘silent majority’ in any of these categories nor am I willing to be silent when I see other peoples being subjected to the same racism and sexism I have experienced … the [San Francisco AIDS Foundation] uses the American flag and two stereotypical White All-American looking males … The Asian gay man, Black gay man, Hispanic gay man,substance user of any color and heterosexual female of any color are also at risk…. Where are the Black men wrapped in an American flag? Where are the Hispanic men wrapped in an American flag? Where are the Asian men wrapped in the American flag? Where is the heterosexual couple wrapped in the American flag? This new safe-sex campaign is dangerous to gay men of color, substance users of any color, and to heterosexual couples of any color.


Social Theory Heterosexual Couple Politically Correct Heterosexual Female Academic Theory 
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  1. 1.
    Lee Edelman, “The Plague of Discourse: Politics, Literary Theory, and AIDS,” South Atlantic Quarterly vol. 88, no. 1 (Winter 1989), p. 313.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Douglas Crimp with Adam Rolston, AIDS Demo Graphics ( Seattle: Bay Press, 1990 ), p. 78.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1995

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  • Daniel Harris

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