Sex Positive
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Sex Positive

USA, 2008, 76 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Activism, AIDS / HIV, Documentary, Gay, Sex Work
Program: Documentary
Language: English

DIRECTOR: Daryl Wein

At the forefront of the sexual revolution, New York in the late ’70s seemed a mecca for gay men as they reveled in their newfound freedoms. Richard Berkowitz eagerly dove into the frenzy, quickly discovering (and cashing in on) his talents as an S&M top. But the era of guiltless pleasure crashed quickly as the AIDS epidemic began. Wild accusations flew in the media and on the streets, speculation about the disease’s cause became contentious, and the government’s refusal to work towards a cure sparked protests and rallies.
After contracting the illness himself, Berkowitz and a tiny group of others came to the inexorable conclusion that gay men’s lifestyles were at least partially responsible for their plight. He wrote a book charging that the culture’s rampant drug use, partying and sexual promiscuity contributed heavily to the disease’s spread. The backlash was swift: Berkowitz and his supporters were labeled self-hating and sex negative. Despite his continued efforts to educate on the necessity of safe sex, he was mercilessly chastised, unfairly labeled an anti-pleasure crusader and, eventually, all but forgotten.
Sex Positive unflinchingly tracks Berkowitz’s progression from cocky S&M hustler to angry activist to broken but proud harbinger of a message too volatile, scary and true to be heard.
Juxtaposing a Native American myth with AIDS activist footage, Where the Buffalo Roam explores the idea of cultural erasure. — ILYA TOVBIS

co-presented by

Stop AIDS Project



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