Openly gay Hollywood actor Zachary Quinto has defended his recent controversial comments about gay men and their attitude to HIV and Aids.
In an interview with OUT, the Star Trek and American Horror Story star slammed the approach by some in the gay community to dealing with the virus.
“I think there’s a tremendous sense of complacency in the LGBT community,” Quinto told the magazine.
“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, 37, went on to comment on the rise of new anti-HIV drug regimes like PrEP, which may dramatically reduce the risk of contracting the virus, despite engaging in unprotected sex.
“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 said. “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.”
His comments were attacked by some as judgemental, moralising and “shaming” of gay men who choose to enjoy recreational sex as well as those who opt to use these medical advances.
Quinto responded to the criticism by writing an opinion piece for Huffington Post in which he insisted that his comments were “almost entirely misconstrued” and that they “were never meant to be incendiary or judgmental.”
He went on to say: “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.
“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.
“So if what I said – however misconstrued — plays some small part in generating more meaningful informative and passionate conversations – particularly among the younger generation – then I am grateful. And I can almost see it as a way of further serving the community that I deeply admire and respect – and from which I am so proud to hail,” concluded Quinto.
The star came out as gay in 2011 in response to the suicide of 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, a US teen who was bullied for being gay.