Zachary Quinto, the gay actor best known for playing Spock in the latest Star Trek films, has been named Artist of the Year by Out magazine. In addition to making their Out 100 list this year, he also was chosen as one of four other honorees to grace one of their four covers. (The others are Sam Smith, Ellen Page and Samira Wiley.)
In his Out interview, Quinto weighs in on HIV among youth and PrEP:
“I think there’s a tremendous sense of complacency in the LGBT community,” Quinto says, citing the rising number of HIV infections in adolescents. “AIDS has lost the edge of horror it possessed when it swept through the world in the ’80s. Today’s generation sees it more as something to live with and something to be much less fearful of. And that comes with a sense of, dare I say, laziness.”
Quinto is similarly candid on prophylactic drugs, like PrEP, which many gay people have embraced as a long-awaited panacea. “We need to be really vigilant and open about the fact that these drugs are not to be taken to increase our ability to have recreational sex,” he says. “There’s an incredible underlying irresponsibility to that way of thinking...and we don’t yet know enough about this vein of medication to see where it’ll take us down the line.”
Reducing rising HIV rates among youth to laziness and linking PrEP use by some people to irresponsibility isn’t making many activists too happy.
Quinto has responded on HuffPost to the uproar over his comments excerpted above:
What troubles me -- and what I was trying to speak to in my interview -- is an attitude among (some of) the younger generation of gay men -- that we can let our guard down against this still very real threat to our collective well-being. I have had numerous conversations in my travels with young gay people who see the threat of HIV as diminished to the point of near irrelevance. I have heard too many stories of young people taking PrEP as an insurance policy against their tendency toward unprotected non-monogamous sex. THAT is my only outrage.How gay men have sex with each other was unilaterally redefined for nearly two generations as a result of AIDS. I was simply trying to assert my belief that we need to be especially vigilant and accountable to ourselves and one another at this moment in our evolution. It is a tremendous advancement in the fight against the disease that scientists have developed this particular medication. But it’s still early -- that’s all.