The Gift is a very controversial film that documents the phenomenon of deliberate HIV infection. The film tells the stories of two “bug chasers”. This is a term used to define gay men who seek out “the gift” of HIV infection on purpose, allegedly as a way of being part of the ‘in’ crowd.
The idea of being “gifted” with the virus is seen as something glamorous. It can be likened to winning the first prize with the biggest and brightest bow. “Give me the gift so I don’t have to worry about it any more”, seems to be the mantra. That way the hated condom can become a thing of the past.
There’s also a group of people who have the virus and deliberately refuse to use a condom so that others can get HIV. These are known as “gift givers”.
The HIV virus has been eroticized as something that defines the group and makes them special. It’s no longer seen as something negative that can cause an individual to be stigmatized by society. And so even though for a while, across the board the statistics were showing a decrease in the number of HIV positive men, after only a few years the epidemic seems to be now out of control and more and more homosexuals allow their sex drive to override self-preservation.
There’s a lot of bare-backing, also known as unprotected sex, going on in the homosexual community. A lot of people seek this kind of sexual intercourse because it’s anonymous and it allows them to contact people they have not met before. According to some, about 80 to 90% of men in the gay community bareback.
Sex parties or bareback parties have also become very common. Some of these parties are exclusively for men who are HIV positive, while others are exclusively for men who are HIV negative. However, there are many parties that carry the slogan ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ in which both those who are positive and those who are negative are invited to attend. The attendance is usually in the hundreds with many being turned down because of a lack of space. You can find men from the age of 21 all the say into their seventies at these gatherings.
One such place was the LA Sex House where 99% of the sex was bareback. They hosted about eight parties per month with an attendance well in the thousands. There was a sign that warned “assume that everybody is HIV positive”, though.
Conversion is a real expectation at these parties. This is the word used to identify when a person goes from having a negative blood test to a positive blood test result.
This documentary investigates the normalization of HIV/AIDS and discusses the separation caused by a man’s HIV status in the gay community. What is really at stake here, though? Find out now.