Eric Rofes takes a sociological perspective on the affects the HIV epidemic has had on the gay community. He argues that the gay community has moved through 3 phases. At first there was an initial panic phase and fear. That phase was followed by a militant optimism and a struggle to make the issue a national priority. The second phase was based on two assumptions: that a cure was near and that the gay community knew of the danger of HIV and was practicing safe sex. Continually rising infection levels and still limited treatment options slowly shattered the optimism of the early 90's. This led into the third phase that Rofes considers ongoing in 1996. The third phase is another phase of fear, but as opposed to the panic of the first fear phase, Rofes argues that modern queer communities are paralyzed. He cites sociological studies of disaster survivors and examines the legacy of the holocaust for historical parallels to the numbing that exists amongst gay communities. He says that the gay community is no longer dealing with the issue of HIV and the community is dying as the psychological affects of the HIV crisis continue unabated. Rofes focuses his analysis on the affects on mental health, sexuality, and community. In each section, Rofes suggests what he sees as the route to reviving the gay community. The writing in the book is readable and interesting. I strongly recommend this book even to those who do not normally read books about queer issues. This is not another book about HIV; it is original and thought provoking. The book switches rapidly between first person, technical writing and very informal prose. The book is very accessible and very consuming.
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