Public Health Solutions published a new video on their YouTube page titled "I Like to Party." The video stars porn star JD Phoenix. The short video is aimed at creating awareness about PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis). It aims to break stereotypes and start a conversation about what some in the gay community are hailing as “the miracle drug.”
It was a noble effort. But the producers of this video made some very alarming decisions.
Let’s break some of my concerns down:
1. JD Phoenix as a Spokesperson?
The producers of this video chose gay pornstar JD Phoenix. Phoenix himself has admitted on social media to having used crystal meth after being clean for an “amazing 1 month and 7 days.”
Phoenix has solicited sex on social media using Twitter, posting suggestive photos and using phrases like, “Going RAW…” and “Who should I get to breed me for my first Bareback scene?”
Is this the type of person who should be promoting a drug that is still recommended to be used with a condom?
2. White People
The PSA features a white actor in a bar surrounded by mostly white people who decides to hook up with a white man.
As usual minorities in the gay community are left on the fringes. This is especially problematic when the rate of HIV infection is higher in minorities. According to the Center of Disease Control, “7 in 10 new HIV diagnoses among Hispanics/Latinos occur in gay and bisexual men.” And, “Less than half of Hispanics/Latinos with HIV are receiving medicines to treat their infection."
And the black community doesn’t have it any easier. “African Americans are the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV… Gay and bisexual men account for most new infections among African Americans; young gay and bisexual men aged 13 to 24 are the most affected of this group.”
It’s great that we’re creating awareness for this drug but let’s create it in the proper communities that need it the most.
3. GRINDR Inaccuracies
Not one profile included the usual “Masc Only” or “No Blacks/Asians/Latino…” that is notorious on the application.
4. “I Like to Party”
And here’s the biggest issue I take with this PSA. JD Phoenix looks at the camera while dance shirtless and says, “I like to party.”
I like to party? Really? Were there no homosexuals involved when developing this public service announcement?
If there were they would’ve warned the creators that “party” has a nefarious meaning within the gay community. It’s usually associated with crystal meth but it can be applied to crack or cocaine use. Hook up site and app users will sometimes announce that they want to “party and play,” which is code for hooking up while high.
Additionally, there’s a lot of misinformation about PrEP out there. Michael Weinstein called it a “party drug” and faced a lot of backlash for his comment. But, there are members of the gay community who are using the drug to engage in risky behavior. Just Google “BBBH.”
Just because the ad failed in some ways doesn’t mean we can’t look at the positives it achieved.
Firstly, it is true. Gay men who have a lot of sex are labeled “sluts.” And that is a stigma that has to be fought – both inside and outside the community.
And, if the goal of the ad was to begin a dialogue about PrEP then it succeeded.