I was a condom fairy once upon a time.

Pull up a chair and let me tell you about it.

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My late husband Lenny wolf whistles and cheers as Brad and I put the finishing touches on our get-ups.

Brad's a stripper at a gay club, not old enough to legally drink yet, but old enough to be a sizzling hot sex symbol.

He's had to loan me some of his clothes because I normally go more for Chelsea Clone drag than go-go boy chic.

We each show off in tight denim shorts and rainbow mesh muscle shirts. We sport far too many baubles and beads.

Brad's ass is popping. You can see every muscle twitch under the fabric. Lenny grabs it, and mine, and pulls us both in close. He kisses Brad on the cheek and me full on the mouth.

“Give em hell, boys!”

“You really can't come?” I breathe into his ear.

“If I don't finish this general ledger by Monday, you're gonna have to hustle that ass on the corner to pay the rent, boy.

“Besides, I'm not feelin so hot. Dunno what's wrong with me lately. Go on. Get movin and lemme get busy.”

We head out and practice swinging our hips as we hop on the A Train on our way to Washington Square Park. Well, I practice. I watch Brad, and I do what he does. He's got this shit down.

We meet up up with some of our Act Up buddies. John has a couple big cardboard boxes stuffed with flavored condoms in rainbow colors. Phil's got confetti and glitter.

Frank and Herman are there in leather and chains to make sure nobody gets hurt.

Somebody cranks the jam box as Brad and I start to dance. It doesn't take long before we draw a crowd. I blush a little as Brad rubs up against me and gyrates to the music.

I wish I had a joint. All those eyes are making me nervous.

Brad sticks his tongue in my ear and tells me to loosen up.

Phil nods at us to start.

We throw confetti and glitter and dance into the crowd, pushing condoms into people's hands. I get into it. By the time we've run out, I wish we had more.

Even though I'm not attracted to most of the guys we've been showering with condoms and fairy dust, I like how they try to devour me with their eyes. It's like a kind of power. I can see how Brad might like his job, after all.

When I finally get home, hours later, I drag Lenny straight to our bedroom, just incidentally.

So what were Brad and I doing, and what does this story have to do with condoms at Pride?

This all happened back in the days before any effective treatment existed for HIV, back when I was still young and pretty, and back before Brad died of AIDS.

A bunch of us had decided to adopt a strategy of associating condom useage with hot sex. We wanted to change the way our fellow gay men thought about condoms.

Instead of guys thinking of them as boring and mood killing, we wanted them to associate condoms with fun and erotic possibility.

We had some ad guys design hot posters pro bono. Some of you who are old enough probably remember the campaign. A stunning shirtless boy with chestnut hair and ice blue eyes stares out of the poster, pouty and heavy-lidded, a rainbow condom gripped in his teeth.

We decided to supplement the print ads with performance art in parks.

Brad and I were just two of many who volunteered.

We were doing exactly what people still do at Pride events. We were passing out condoms in such a way as to not only destigmatize and normalize them, but to glamorize them.

See? All the sexiest boys think condoms are the shit. Come and get em, studs!

That's kind of the idea.

By the way, if you'd like to read more about my friend Brad, please click the link below. He didn't live a very long life. I'm sure very few people remember him. It would be nice to know people are thinking about him.

medium.com/@jfinn6511/bug-chasing-as-it-was-intentionally-contracting-hiv-in-1991-c6fd44a06534

Written by

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot. jamesfinnwrites@gmail.com

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