I thought long and hard before I committed myself to type my gut response to the bold headline and article on page two of the Weekend Living section of the Cayman Compass, Friday, 29 November 2019. A major cause of my hesitation was the premonition that instead of wise and principled action being taken to address my concerns, instead there would be an almost-certain accusatory reaction to my opinion. And yes, it is just an opinion — but more than an opinion; it is a concern, and a well-founded one.
I simply found it hard to harmonise the mental cacophony created by the idea of a gala featuring “drag” (Dinner, Drinks & Drag…dahling!) as a fundraiser for the Cayman AIDS Foundation. Ok, I know that “drag” in itself could merely be a sort of eccentric entertainment on certain occasions, but my primary cause for concern is that in the present social context in these islands, “drag” may be interpreted as being synonymous with sexual and gender confusion, in the first instance, and secondly serves to promote the normalisation of sexuality-without-boundaries in an already oversexed culture — and doing it in the face of the rising scourge of STDs, including HIV infections. And yes, I know that AIDS is transmitted other than solely by sexual activity, but there is no denying the link between risky sexual behaviour and the increase of all STDs, including HIV. The data is available for all who care to read it and apply it with wisdom for public health purposes. To highlight my concern, I include a number of direct quotations for your consideration, most of which are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Despite the recent increases among women, men who have sex with men saw the highest share of primary and secondary syphilis cases in 2018” (www.usnews.com).
“While anyone who has sex can get an STD, sexually active gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are at greater risk. In addition to having higher rates of syphilis, more than half of all new HIV infections occur among MSM” (CDC).
“Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men are the population most affected by HIV in the United States. In 2017, adult and adolescent gay and bisexual men made up 70% (27,000) of the 38,739 new HIV diagnoses in the United States (US) and dependent areas” (CDC).
If the three quotes above are not sufficiently disturbing for us to re-think the wisdom of glamorising sexual deviance, the following data should trouble us beyond merely knee-jerk reactions to my daring to question the wisdom of what I consider to be an irreconcilable juxtaposition of ideals.
“While sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) affect individuals of all ages, STDs take a particularly heavy toll on young people. CDC estimates that youth ages 15-24 make up just over one quarter of the sexually active population, but account for half of the 20 million new sexually transmitted infections that occur in the United States each year” (CDC).
You are naturally free to form your own conclusions — both about the above content and about my reaction to the gala.