#IfYouAreBehind — New Grizzly Bear / HPV Vaccination / Educating Gay Youth

Art: With their first new album in five years, Painted Ruins, Grizzly Bear offers another sound recording with layers upon layers of complexity, yet with the simple plan of evoking ones senses. The Brooklyn-based indie-rock group began as the solo effort of Edward Droste and has expanded into its current four-piece band. The democratic approach to the ensemble and Droste’s laid back approach to stardom has allowed him a political platform, specifically LGBTQ issues.

He was quoted on his homosexuality in an Esquire magazine interview, “I started Grizzly Bear, my band, at twenty-four, and I never tried to hide my sexuality. The interesting thing about being constantly out is that it was never an issue.” He does admit that he benefited as the usual white-boy urban gay that truly is blessed in his surrounding, resulting in an almost complete lack of minority status. However, he is using his microphone in positive ways that bring light to the significant pitfalls in our system and the LGBTQ issues we currently face.

For the most part, the new album is about battling demons. We all have them — it’s just that too few are able to analyze and own them. A verse from one of the songs sums it up:

Since I was a young boy, it was always there
Inside me growing, none of it seems fair
I’ve come to accept it, let it take the stage
And leave me helpless, watching far away.

True acceptance allows for further discussions on risk assessment. I always view “demons” as when people don’t confront the devil within. Who’s to say we can’t turn those demons into desires? The desire to sexually explore, the desire to open a relationship, the desire to alter through mind-enhancing drugs. All of these should not be viewed in a judgmental manner, but rather discussed in such a way that allows one a truly safe environment in which to approach and explore these new encounters, with the least amount of risk to oneself, others, and the community at large. That’s our philosophy at Bespoke Surgical, where creating a fully open space is paramount.

With Painted Ruins, one can finally zoom in on an emotion and capture what lies within and what lies ahead.

Science: I love the headline by the Center for Disease Control, “Most U.S. teens are getting the cancer-preventing vaccine”. Is 6 out of 10 really considered “most”? Well, this is the data cited from last week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 60% of U.S. parents are choosing to get the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for their children, an increase of 4% from 2015. Another wonderful statistic is comin’ your way, but one has to dig deeper into this CDC article: while most adolescents have received the first dose of the HPV vaccine, only 43% of teens are up to date on all the recommended doses of the HPV vaccine.

So, let’s take a step back and remember the headline our governmental agency placed out into the world. 60% are getting vaccinated, but of those, only half of that 60% (30% for all you doing math out there) is actually getting the full dosing regimen. Now, does that still seem like MOST to you? And, of course, it’s noted that HPV vaccination rates were also lower in rural and less urban areas compared to more urban areas.

With that said, the more we write and the more we blog about these issues, the hopes are that the kids themselves will stumble upon content that is medically sound, raising issues and areas of not only concern, but also remedy. With that, comes individuals taking their healthcare into their own hands and demanding sex positive evaluations, risk assessments, and yes, vaccinations.

As a gay father of twin boys and an ass expert, you are damn right that once my sons are old enough to get the vaccine, they will. I wonder what the percentage is for how many gay parents have gotten their children vaccinated? Oh, and don’t forget that the parents can get the vaccine as well. Even though it is not covered by insurance if you are over the age of 26 and negative for some subtypes in the vaccine, it is beneficial to obtain the three shot series.

Yes, it is important to educate ourselves, but it is far more important that you demand more from me and other medical practitioners.

There is an entire field of gay medicine out there. Stay tuned for the next Advocate article I am writing, which dives deeper into what one should be demanding from their practitioners.

Sex: Emen8, a digital news site in Australia that launched this past May, is under fire for creating content beyond the scope of their federal funding. It was funded as part of the $13 million Communicable Disease Prevention and Service Improvements Grants Fund, approved by the health minister and aimed at tackling blood-borne viruses and STIs in priority populations. Yet, the current climate of the content seems to have shifted. Some recent articles focus on very important subject matters, like providing gay men with tips on picking up guys at the gym, improving their Grindr rating, and reviews for kinky sex toys. My favorite is the article on “How to get the perfect sized condom online, custom-made to fit you”.

In the article, chief executive Nicolas Parkhill defended the site, saying, “In order to effectively target this at-risk population group, the tone and voice of some articles on the site need to reflect their culture, interests and behaviours; the language resonates”. “The content integrates sexual health messages that are familiar to a range of gay men”.

Emen8’s byline states that it focuses on the wellbeing of the population it serves. But it has been called in to question over the above changes in editorials and with the most recent “Undetectable = Safe” video. In this video, they describe two guys meeting at a bar, finding an attraction with one another and the gentleman tells you he is HIV positive, but undetectable. You go home with him and then proceed to get fucked in the ass with a ‘no worries, you are all good’ mentality. Well, is this true? First off, do you believe people? Not in NYC. Maybe Aussies are different. People, for the most part, suck. You can’t believe the undetectable bullshit. Then, the video forgets to disclose that you should use protection. Don’t we all wrap our dicks? Answer = No. Does the video go on to talk about self risk-reduction and the use of PrEP, even if one is undetectable? No, it does not. Does the video talk about post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) if you’re still feeling uncertain? No, it just provides some dinky links for more information.

Moral of the story?

Kudos to the government on funding such a wonderful concept because we do need this media outlet. But it goes to show you how difficult the creation of this content can be.

Yes, I poke fun at some of their article choices, but not only is it necessary in creating a platform for youth to obtain information, but it also has to feel millennial enough. It just continues to call into question the validity and merit and, of course, the monitoring of the appropriate delivery of content.

And in case you were wondering about the tips on picking up guys at the gym, they suggest choosing exercises that place you in positions you would want to sexually explore. So for all those bottoms out there, squats are your best friend.