Archive for S&M

My Safe Sex Writing 1982–2010

Posted in 2. MY SAFE SEX WRITING with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2010 by Richard Berkowitz

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“WE KNOW WHO WE ARE: Two Gay Men Declare War on Promiscuity,” co-authored with Michael Callen (and Richard Dworkin), New York Native, November 8—21, 1982.  It was also published by: Mom…Guess What? (Sacramento, Ca) February 1983, issues#51–#52, and the Gay Press Association Wire Service.

“Christopher Street People: Dr. Joseph Sonnabend,” Christopher Street. Issue #68, December, 1982.

“A Warning to Gay Men with AIDS,” Dr. Sonnabend, Michael Callen and I published this piece as a paid-for advertisement after it was rejected as too “controversial” by the New York Native [ Nov. 22 – Dec. 5, 1982.]  It obviously touched a chord: San Francisco’s Bay Area Reporter and Health & Pleasure Times reprinted it for free.

“Offense and Defense,” My frantic “Letter to the Editor” in response to the first AIDS cover story in the Village Voice, December, 1982.

“When the Epidemic Hits Home: A Couple of Gay Guys Sitting Around Talking about AIDS,” New York Native, December 20, 1982—January 2, 1983.

Unpublished response to multiple magazine/ newspaper articles attacking what Callen and I wrote in “We Know Who We Are,” 14 pages, February 1983.


HOW TO HAVE SEX IN AN EPIDEMIC: One Approach (with Michael Callen), our landmark, self-published 40-page booklet, May 1983, written under the scientific supervision of Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, with editorial assistance by Richard Dworkin.


“The Denver Principles,” an historic manifesto co-written with 10 other gay men with AIDS (pictured) which established the PWA self-empowerment movement, June 1983.

“Special Report on AIDS: The End of Promiscuity?” Two Gay Men with AIDS Talk About AIDS and Promiscuity,” First Hand, August, 1983.

“My speech to the 1st National AIDS Vigil, Washington, D.C., published in Gay Community News, Oct 29, 1983; excerpted in Washington Blade, Oct. 14, 1983.

Me & Michael @ 1st Nat. AIDS Vigil, 1983, D.C.

“Staying Alive in the Year of the Plague,” Mandate, November 1983.

“AIDS: One Man’s Odyssey,” The Sourcebook on Lesbian/Gay Health Care, a handbook for the First International Lesbian and Gay Health Conference, June 16-19, 1984.

“How to Have Safe Sex in a Bathhouse.” Florida presentation commissioned by Jack Campbell, CEO & Founder of the Club Bath Chain (CBC), Feb. 1985, with ads & press.

“Safe Sex is a Learned Behavior,” The Weekly News (Miami), February 27, 1985.

OUCH! NYC gay activists were outraged by efforts in 1985 to shut gay bathhouses— but not one would talk to the press about going.  Callen called me and said, “Its either you—or no one.”  I knew the risk but  I was mortified by this “Op-ed” personal attack:

Various obituaries, PWA Coalition Newsline, 1987—1989. (Confidentiality)

“Safe Sex Makes a Comeback,” QW, May 17, 1992.

“Still Kicking After All These Years: Memoirs of a Long-term Survivor,” QW, May 17, 1992.

“Because I am a Woman: Since 1982, AIDS Pioneer Joyce Wallace, MD Has Tended to Sex Workers, S/M Practitioners and New York City’s Unwanted,” QW, September 20, 1992.


“The Truth Sucks,” A Gay Man Explores the Real Risks for AIDS,” New York Press cover story, June 2-8, 1993.

“Shelves of Life,” New York Press Best of Manhattan Special Issue, Best Gay Bookstore, Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, September 15-21, 1993.

David Dinkins “Letter to the Editor,” New York Newsday, Nov. 1993


“Truth Be Told: AIDS Activist Michael Callen was a Brutally Honest Prophet,” Boston Phoenix, January 7-13, 1984.

Series of safe sex articles published in SISSY, a South Beach ‘zine for sexually active gay men distributed at bars, discos and sex clubs, 1995.  (X-rated, coming soon.)

“AIDS: Return of the Sex Police,” SPIN magazine, Vol. 11, No. 11, February 1996.


“The Co-factor Factor: A New Strain of Herpes is being Touted as the Missing Link Between HIV and AIDS,” SPIN magazine, Vol. 11. No. 12, March 1996.

“A Brief History of AIDS Dogma,” unpublished think piece attacking the notion that everyone is at risk for AIDS, August, 1996. (Coming soon.)

“The Birth of Safe Sex,” POZ magazine, No. 18, November 1996.

“The Way We War: A Tale of Two Cities, 11 Sluts and One Trick Question,” POZ magazine, No. 21, February, 1997.

“The Tragic Death of Robert Gould, MD: How a Straight Man who Became a Lesbian Hero was Destroyed by AIDS Activists a Generation Later.  Unpublished, 1997.

“The Great Sex Debate: The Inventors of Safe Sex Weigh In,” co-authored with Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, POZ magazine, No. 25, June 1997.

“The Great Sex Debate: Before the Revolution,” POZ magazine, No. 25, June 1997.

“The Original Safe Sex Slut’s Guide to Healthy Living,” San Francisco Bay Times, June 26, 1997.  Winner: Best Health Article, Vice Versa Award, protested by one of the judges. (This article will be continued in an X-rated section.)

“When do HIV-exposed Individuals Seroconvert?” co-authored with Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, unpublished, June 1997.

“Safer Sex Panic,” co-authored with Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, Sex Panic!, November, 1997.


Series of six graphic, illustrated safe sex articles published on-line at (X-rated.)

“Timeline of Dr. Joseph Sonnabend’s Contributions to AIDS” July 1998, POZ magazine.

“Heterosexual Men and AIDS: Uncovering Fraud at the NYC Health Department,” co-authored with Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, solicited/rejected for publication by GEAR magazine, 1999.   Published on Dr. Sonnabend’s POZ blog with an update:


Stayin’ Alive: The Invention of Safe Sex, Westview Press, June 2003.


“The Other Epidemic: Gay Suicide Rates are Higher than Most, but Who’s Counting?” New York Press, May 25, 2005.

“Safe Sex: How I Started in the Fight Against AIDS,” First Post (London), October 24, 2008.,news-comment,news-politics,how-i-turned-gay-men-on-to-perils-of-promiscuity-richard-berkowitz


“Foreword: It’s Never Too Late for Safe Sex,” 2nd edition of Stayin Alive: The Invention of Safe Sex, June 2008. This illustrated paperback version was made possible by a grant from Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS & Tom Viola.


(Coming soon): Foreword: Safe Sex Positive,” Alyson Books (3rd) edition of Stayin’ Alive, retitled Sex Positive: A Frontlines Memoir of the Battle Over Safe Sex. December 1, 2009 release date postponed.  I’m currently seeking a publisher.


“Speech to Rutgers University Gay Fraternity, Delta Lambda Phi, April 20, 2010.”

Daily Targum – Gay advocate promotes safe sex awareness

SEX POSITIVE: Blurbs, Reviews

Posted in 1. SEX POSITIVE Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2010 by Richard Berkowitz


Grand Jury Prize, Best Documentary: OUTFEST L.A.

Best Documentary, Fort Worth Gay & Lesbian Film Festival

“A beautiful and important story.”

Tony Kushner, author of Angels in America


“Superb new documentary.”

David Weigand, San Francisco Chronicle


“In his illuminating, timelessly timely Sex Positive documentary, Daryl Wein calls attention both to unjustly neglected, pioneering AIDS activist Richard Berkowitz and his still widely ignored groundbreaking promotion of safe sex.”

Kevin Thomas–Los Angeles Times


“Passionately verbal, intensely well-informed…Berkowitz’s life and landmark achievement are chronicled in Daryl Wein’s Outfest Award-winning documentary Sex Positive.…In 2003, after two decades of activism, Berkowitz wrote his autobiography, titled Stayin’ Alive: The Invention of Safe Sex. It was this compelling memoir that would inspire Daryl Wein, a young, heterosexual filmmaker Berkowitz met at a Passover Seder in 2006, to make the activist his next documentary subject. “

Gary Goldstein–Los Angeles Times


“The movie jolts you with the realization that the AIDS epidemic and the public debate about such issues have retreated so far under the news radar as to be half-forgotten.”

Stephen Holden, New York Times


“Richard Berkowitz ought to be lionized as an early crusader in the fight against AIDS. Daryl Wein’s engrossing portrait…is freshly engaging largely due to the subject himself…Wein captures his latter-day fighting spirit, intellect and grousing in bemused but admiring terms.”

Dennis Harvey, Variety


“Indispensable…completely fascinating.”

Ella Taylor, NPR


“It helps that Wein’s subject is such a fascinating, garrulous paradox.”

Village Voice


“[Berkowitz] was desperate to introduce the notion of safe sex while decreasing promiscuity, a tactic considered either foreign or insulting to many of the men he was trying to reach. It didn’t help that he was self-righteous and stubborn — but it sure didn’t hurt, either. After all, some of those same people may be alive today, thanks to his inflexible persistence.”

New York Daily News


“Berkowitz is a fascinating, prickly, decidedly unsaintly character, and Wein’s film provides a fascinating and crucial slice of traumatic sexual history that’s all but invisible to younger generations.”

Andrew O’Hehir,


“While capturing a disastrous time in recent history, Sex Positive insists that we reflect anew on the AIDS crisis, revisit its first wave (as opposed to its persistent tide) for new or different lessons. Wein clearly cares for his subject. Yet he leaves room for our admiration and our ambivalence. This is an achievement of heart and of mind.”

Denver Post


“Most of the film rests on Berkowitz to carry and, fortunately, he is more than up to the task. Blunt, profane, mustachioed and charming, one can understand how he rubbed people wrong twenty years ago, but just might be the right sort of person to spread this message today…Sex Positive is the best kind of political documentary, one which slips this message in, as part of a fascinating, previously untold story.”


“The film is moving, powerful, funny, and sad. Berkowitz is unbelievably generous in the film with his time, archives, and honesty. And the result is an important document that anyone interested in the history of sexuality or in the current state of sexual health should see.”

Sex Positive director, Daryl Wein

“Provocative and enlightening…Director Daryl Wein’s compelling film champions the man who as one interviewee says, ‘made safe sex sexy.’ And Berkowitz is an alluring figure — a passionate, self-conscious, frustrated, and often sensible advocate who demands attention. Finally recognized for his achievements, Sex Positive captures Berkowitz warts-and-all, and it is an extremely fascinating and rewarding portrait.”

San Francisco Bay Times


Sex Positive is a well researched, filmed and edited story, which might be an asset to college level classes in gay and lesbian studies and public health, particularly those researching gay health issues form historical and sociological perspectives. The film’s verbal slang and graphic sexual imagery may be disturbing to some, yet is appropriate for the subject matter. Nonetheless, faculty and librarians may wish to preview it first.”

—  Educational Media Reviews Online


“Compelling. Sex Positive takes a no-holds-barred look at Berkowitz’s quest to educate gay men about safer sex, the backlash he faced, and the personal sexual history that made him both an unlikely and perfect messenger.”

— Laura Douglas-Brown, Southern Voice


“Few remembered Berkowitz’s role until Sex Positive, a documentary by Daryl Wein, began screening. The compelling film came to Atlanta last night for a benefit screening for Positive Impact…Berkowitz was in attendance and received a standing ovation after the film. In remarks to the audience, he didn’t mince words about the difficulties of getting out frank information about safe sex, and the way conservatives have ‘watered down’ the message in the last decade to the point that it no longer celebrates sex and no longer has resonance for gay men.”

Washington Blade


“Open[s] a window into a culture unfamiliar to the general audience…[Sex Positive] paints a vivid portrait of persistence in promoting a revolutionary idea against virulent opposition.”

Jewish Journal


“You’ve probably never heard of Richard Berkowitz. But if you’ve ever used a condom — or asked your man to — with the goal of protecting yourself from HIV, you have him to thank. Sex Positive brings to light — through Berkowitz’s eyes as well as through those of some who once stood against him — the daunting quest he took on to save the lives of the men around him and ended up making the concept of ‘safer sex’ almost second nature for today’s generation.”

HIV Plus Magazine

HIV PLUS Magazine, July/August 2009


“Richard Berkowitz, the man at the center of Daryl Wein’s intelligent and engaging Sex Positive, is the ideal documentary subject: with his combination of self-effacement and daunting confidence, Berkowitz easily commands the screen throughout its short running time. Such an appealing figure is especially crucial for a film that focuses on a subject as potentially didactic and strictly educational as the promotion of safe sex…An unabashed and even transgressive portrait of sexuality.”


Sex Positive has the virtue of not only telling an important story but having, in Richard Berkowitz, a fascinating subject truly worthy of scrutiny. Berkowitz is a compelling presence.”

Filmmaker Magazine


“Richard Berkowitz appeared at Columbia University yesterday for a screening of the film. His message from 25 years ago is just as relevant today. Honest and open dialogue about sexual behaviors and risks is one way a community can take action against the HIV/AIDS epidemic, STI’s and unintended pregnancy. He pointed out that…if you look at the education campaigns of other developed countries, along with their STI and teen pregnancy rates, it is clear that the U.S. is doing something wrong.”

Reproductive Health Hub


With the resurgence of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in the United Kingdom, Sex Positive is a timely documentary about Richard Berkowitz, one of those who pioneered the safe sex message.”

—  British Medical Journal


Sex Positive provides a defiantly non-PC look at guerrilla gay activism and three of its most tragically unsung heroes…a must-see for audiences who like their documentaries to be no-holds-barred peeks at less-than-perfect lives accompanied by brutal candor, dark humor and piercing intellectual acumen .”

Bay Area Reporter


“Wein’s straightforward documentary on a forgotten hero…is fascinating.”


“Frank and fascinating…Sex Positive will be of particular interest to gay men, but its value as a document of social change and evolving attitudes toward sex has broader significance.”



“This film is charged with passion, emotion and dedication to its subject. Meet the man who invented your 21st Century sex life. Sex Positive is a brilliantly electric and intoxicating film, telling a much more dramatic and intriguing story of the AIDS crisis than you may have ever imagined.”

—  Irish Film Institute


“An intriguing candid, central character — Berkowitz makes Sex Positive shine.”

—   Metrosource


“Dear Sex Positive documentary subject Richard Berkowitz: You have our eternal thanks for being one of the earliest voices of reason in the midst of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s…As the rates of HIV infection continue to climb, we hope your story will serve as a cold reminder to a new generation and that you can now live your life in a place of honor, not obscurity.”

The Advocate

Atlanta Screening/Q&A, August 29, 2009