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Renslow talks barebacking
by Sam Worley
2009-09-02

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International Mr. Leather ( IML ) President Chuck Renslow announced recently that vendors participating in the leather market—one of the annual IML convention's most popular attractions—would no longer be permitted to sell or distribute materials which "promote or advocate" barebacking. The decision will mainly affect pornography vendors who sell materials depicting condomless sex.

Citing the LGBT community's ongoing struggle with high rates of HIV infection—particularly among young men who have sex with men—Renslow wrote in a letter to vendors, "Too many in our community believe HIV/AIDS is curable or manageable. Too few understand that HIV/AIDS infections dominate life. We believe that it is our duty to inform and educate.

"Not having experienced the deaths—the loss of loved ones—which preceded [ HIV/AIDS ] medications," Renslow wrote, "we have an entire generation who may not fully appreciate or comprehend the severity of the situation."

In an interview, Renslow told Windy City Times that his decision to ban barebacking found its inspiration in a project of President Barack Obama and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ) called Act Against AIDS. "The CDC contacted me to see if I could help stem the rising ride of HIV infections," he said. After the CDC contacted Renslow, he said, he considered using his position as a prominent member of the leather community to advocate for safer sex practices.

Act Against AIDS, which was launched by the Obama administration in April, is a five-year, $45 million campaign designed to combat HIV infection, various components of which are specifically tailored to reach populations at high risk of infection.

Although he discussed it with the IML executive committee, Renslow said, the choice to ban barebacking porn was ultimately his. "I made the final decision," he said. "Me, using my stance, to prevent barebacking."

"Greed and avarice must not supercede the health of our community," said Renslow. Though he anticipates a loss of revenue, he said that he won't know how much money IML stands to lose until next year's convention.

"I don't care what two consenting adults, who are informed, want to do," said Renslow. But, he said, "the younger generation has not suffered the loss of AIDS." His decision, he said, is for that generation.


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