Originally posted by J.W. Waxner-Herman on The Sword
The highly controversial and poorly written “condom bill” that’s now working its way through the California legislature, known as AB 1576, has inspired a ton of reaction on the straight side of the porn industry, where condom use has been all but non-existent in the last few decades. But gay performers definitely need to pay attention and also voice their opposition to this thing, or else they risk not only loss of jobs and income, but also some serious violations of their privacy.
Just to back up, the spurious and reactionary AIDS Healthcare Foundation in L.A., which helped pass Prop B in L.A. County making condom-free porn shoots illegal, also sponsored this bill. And while, on the surface, it purports to protect workers (in this case porn performers) from potential HIV infections, it accomplishes nothing that the industry hasn’t already done for itself in terms of testing performers.
Gay models Sebastian Keys, Conner Habib, and Trenton Ducati have all been vocal on Twitter and elsewhere about their opposition to the bill, and a group of performers both gay and straight are expected to turn out in Sacramento next Wednesday, June 25, to show their opposition to the state senate’s labor committee, who’ll be deciding whether the bill moves forward.
Here is a list of reasons why they, and other models, are and should be worried about this thing. It’s only going to take 3 votes to either kill this bill in committee or let it move on to a bigger senate vote. And there’s a lot at stake.
1. It’s a solution to a problem that’s non-existent
In the last nine years there have been zero documented cases of HIV transmission on adult film sets — as you should recall, the case of those two Kink performers that was widely publicized was an off-set transmission. And where was the state, and Cal/OSHA, back at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s when porn studios were shooting bareback without acknowledging the risks of HIV transmission? We’re talking about tackling a problem 30 years too late that isn’t even a problem anymore — setting aside the example of Treasure Island Media which pretends to flout the notion of HIV safety, even though, anecdotally, they do sero-sort. Semi-monthly testing is already mandatory for all active performers. Also, Truvada is making the condom issue even more of a moot point for gay men, as long as its taken properly.
2. The bill will move the industry out of state, at least at first, and possibly overseas.
That means that a performer who comes to San Francisco for a week to shoot for five studios will probably end up doing a lot more traveling to get the same amount of work. And since budgets are already low, we’ll likely see a decrease in jobs available overall. In the wake of the passage of Measure B in L.A., a bunch of straight porn companies have already relocated to Nevada.
3. AB1576 removes the element of choice from performers.
For HIV-negative gay models, this means they will no longer be able to perform with HIV-positive models with protection should they choose too, further stigmatizing a disease the industry has long learned how to deal with.
4. The entire thing is poorly written, disease-shaming, and not well thought out.
As Habib points out, “The language of the bill also utterly ignores people who are already living with HIV. There’s no structure in place to protect HIV+ performers from being blacklisted… The bill would also require two HIV+ men to get tested and used condoms if they wanted to do a scene together. That’s lunacy.”
5. Anyone producing content on their own, and not abiding by the letter of the law, could go to jail.
The law would also criminalize any adult production that violates its tenets — so you might actually see some performers, particularly those who are involved in production in some way, or shoot a sex tape, or doing webcam work — going to jail.
6. The law would present extremely serious violations to privacy around HIV
Companies would be required to report positive test results to the state, but there’s no language addressing confidentiality in these results, and nothing preventing insurance companies from finding out results or penalizing those found to be HIV+, who were able to keep their status confidential in the past.
7. AB 1576 doesn’t even understand how the industry works.
Assembly member Isadore Hall, who helped craft the bill, seems to believe that porn performers are all employees of their respective companies, when by and large they are all independent contractors.
8. Michael Weinstein is a self-aggrandizing, panic-mongering fool.
We’ve said it before, but this asshole behind the AIDS Healthcare Foundation would have us all believe that Truvada is a sham, and all sluts should be shamed.
9. Many of your favorite porn stars will disappear from the screen, and be outed as HIV+.
Fan should all know by now that many performers on the gay side of the industry are HIV+, and they perform, safely and with condoms, with HIV-negative and other positive performers. AB1576 will essentially create a witch hunt for these performers, and out them by virtue of their sudden absence from the industry.
10. The bill is framed like an anti-porn crusade, and lots of respectable organizations have come out against it, as well as over 1,000 performers signing this petition.
If you don’t trust me, then listen to the Harvey Milk Democratic Club, the Transgender Law Center, the St. James Infirmary, the Erotic Service Providers Union, the Center for Sex and Culture, and the Adult Performers Advocacy Committee.
Sign the petition. Now. And you can take things a step further by using this form to send a message to one of the five committee members voting on the bill on Wednesday.