Gay Sex in the 70s
is a retrosexual perspective of a cultural renaissance like no other. A time when tight was in, bulges runeth freely and bedrooms stayed open 24 hours like a made to order Starbucks. The 70s were the end of a repressed sexual culture and the beginnings of a happier and simpler time when the right dip on the skating rink could land you in the sack of the hottest boy in town and you knew the endowment of the man next to you just by looking at the silhouette in his skin tight dukes. Even the music of the time forced some artists to repent. So why should every gay teen and adult see a movie about a time "forever ago"? Because it signifies a heyday when being gay was gay and the queers of New York were uplifted by freedom of expression and creativity. The only instrument needed for a good time was already standard equipment. There was no prevention, only sweet sweet love.
Gay Sex in the 70s
may sound like a porn title, but it's a documentary by Joseph Lovett chronicling gay sex in New York City from June 1969 to the onslaught of AIDS in June 1981. Gay sex of the time was like "watching two birds mate" in old abandoned piers and empty meat packing trucks. The dangers only added to the excitement of the act.
Prior to '69, gay men hid from their families who threatened disinheritance or perhaps institutionalization with insulin or electroshock therapy. After all, homosexuality was still considered a mental disorder
by the American Psychiatric Association. Gay men found themselves isolated from the straight world. Gay kids could not imagine incorporating same-gender-loving feelings into the cookie cutter future every 60's teenager expected. The ideal life included a wife and kids, thus gay men led double lives full of free and anonymous sex with other men. The anti-gay sentiment and sexual oppression prior to 1970 sounds strangely familiar to the sentiment today.
In the 70s police raided gay bars on a regular basis and printed the names and addresses of the patrons in the local newspaper. Raids such as these and constant harassment from law officials prompted the Stonewall riots
, after which gay people demanded their freedom from oppression. Stonewall led to the gay liberation movement and free unrestricted sex.
Perhaps this bit of history is why some gay men find it difficult to drop the urge to cruise the net and streets for hookups and settle down with a mate. Our roots lay in free love and sex. As photographer Alvini Baltrop reminisces, "You cared about meeting someone and having sex. It was cruise, meet, have sex in one of the spots inside the piers. Most of it was free, baby. Free love, free sex. Get it, bust a nut and keep going." But even in those days the possibility of love existed. "Even during the days of the most advanced and reckless promiscuity, there was still a search for someone." English Professor, activist and writer Arnie Kantromitz explains. "And each time I was with someone there was the fantasy that he was the one." Kantromitz met his current life partner
Larry at a bathhouse.
The sexual freedom of the 70s was not without consequence, however. Condoms were unheard of and considered taboo. Sex of the period was about freedom, not the inhibition of condoms. STD's ran rampant, but few were concerned since ointment or a pill could cure most inconveniences. That was until the new incurable HIV, a "rare cancer seen in homosexuals", came onto the scene. Upon the onslaught of AIDS, the energy which had culminated over 10 years of liberty was now focused on a fight for awareness and a cure. Prevention became the number one priority. It had to be. Loved ones and friends were dying of this new illness.
Unfortunately, those days of inconsequential lovin' have been put to bed. As the clock ticks and the years roll, the only way to play today is safe. In our year of too high a number, we see AIDS reach over 40 million and grassroots gay organizations fight to maintain the civil liberties
that our roll bounce brethren demanded by ignoring one prude at a time. Today we begin to replace our sexual freedom with the shame of the 50s as conservatives reintroduce the idea that masturbation will result in blindness.
Today it's arguably a sad day to be gay, especially while viewing the fun times and friendships of the 70s. But who's to say the mindset of the disco era won't make a comeback? The Mustang did, so did afros and tight jeans. We can demand our liberation not by violence, but by giving all those against us one collective "let us be"- all while gripping our boyfriends cheeks in public. Unlike our predecessors, however, we are in the wake of deadly viruses and who knows what else will come to pass. So as we liberate we've got to play it safe so we can one day tell our adopted grandchildren how wild and crazy those free days of the 2000s were. Add condoms and safer sex education to Gay Sex in the 70s
and it's the perfect teaching tool for the liberation of the gay sex.