A stock character on TV “reality” shows is the scheming homosexual—who rattles the other contestants with stereotypical ideas of what it must be like to be gay in America. On CBS’s Big Brother 9 this spring, that role was filled by a perky young Texan named Joshuah. When he wasn’t manipulating the cast to vote each other off the show, he was delivering some deadly wrong information on HIV. “I do bareback with my boyfriend,” he announced to his gawking housemates. “If you’re a top it’s OK because you can’t really get HIV from being the top because you’re penetrating them.” We vote to evict: While there is potentially less risk for tops, there is risk nonetheless—and many men, gay and straight, have become infected by believing otherwise. What’s more, amid all the infrared coupling in the Big Brother house, we wonder if condoms are available there. Several calls to CBS—which has a sterling record in promoting HIV awareness—were not returned. Oh, how we miss the late Pedro Zamora—who, on The Real World, talked real HIV reality.
June 1, 2008 • By Bob Ickes