Generational divide

Alan Cumming says some younger gay men don’t care about the AIDS epidemic

While promoting his new film After Louiewhich tells the story of an aging AIDS activist coming to terms with a modern LGBTQ movement that seems to have left his generation behind, Alan Cumming had some interesting remarks about how younger gay men today view HIV/AIDS.

“That sort of discussion between an older gay man and a younger gay man, and the differences between their generations, is happening everywhere,” he tells The Guardian.

“It’s pandemic, and yet I’ve never really seen it represented in a film. I know so many older gay men who are like: ‘You don’t know what the AIDS crisis was like,’ but I also know a lot of young gay guys who are like: ‘Who cares?’”

Yes and no. Sure, younger generations don’t know what the AIDS crisis was like. Mainly because they weren’t alive at the time. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care.

Cumming continued:

I can see it from both sides. I can understand why younger people can feel slightly patronized by older people who lived through it. But at the same time, I can also understand the bewilderment and despair that people from an older generation went through. I know people who went through all that, who are like: ‘Isn’t it amazing that these kids don’t have to worry like we did?’

It is, indeed, amazing. At the same time, there’s still much work to be done.

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22 Comments

  • Donston

    First, when did Alan Cumming become gay? I thought he was “sexually attracted to women” but “emotionally attracted to men” or something else of that convoluted ego nature.

    The problem with stories that present the AIDS epidemic is that the majority of them are told through a very myopic, self-pitying, revisionist perspective. Secondly, there is frustrated with film and television’s lack of interest with contending with modern LGBT issues and instead playing it safe by constantly focusing on that era.

    • ChrisK

      I would say that was true 10-15 years ago. Sad aids stories and stereotypical gay characters were the theme. Now just about every show you watch has normal gay character in it. Although still annoyingly non sexual.

      I always thought he was gay.

    • Donston

      I’m talking more specifically about any “serious” stories and the refusal to deal of with modern topics, particularly in American films, which is still about patting people on the back. But yes, every other TV show has a token LGBT character.

      Cummings has always said he’s bi. And he has alluded to having a sex-less marriage and still having sex with women. He hasn’t flat-out said that. But when reading his interviews talking about his sexuality it’s more than hinted to. But who knows with these narcissistic actors. Very few of them are willing to be truly straight-forward about who they are and what drives their behavior.

    • paul dorian lord fredine

      well, he may not be gay but his husband is,

    • DMRX

      This article says absolutely nothing about Alan being or claiming to be gay. What’s your point? That he can’t speak to this issue because he doesn’t identify as gay?

  • ChrisK

    I saw this problem for awhile. Especially when we went through the great Prep controversy. There are still a few hold outs but by and large the Larry Kramer days are pretty much over.

  • garthjosen

    I have to agree with Mr. Cumming on this one. From listening to friends In their 30’s, I don’t have any younger Gay friends, they see AIDS as an old Gay men problem. Some even blame older men for being sexually promiscuous and thus “deserving” in some way getting infected. I want to add to that having moved to the suburbs of NYC ten years ago, some suburban Gay men old enough to know better, blame and see AIDS as an urban problem.

  • paul dorian lord fredine

    no shit, sherlock. they didn’t live through worst of it so they just have no frame of reference so as donald would say ‘sad’.

  • IDoNotHaveToAgreeWithYou

    They don’t even care if they get it themselves much less that someone else died from it. “I’ll get get on meds if I get it”.

    • ChrisK

      Thanks for the Hyperbole.

    • ErikO

      Exactly, all the millennial gay men I know and even some older ones who survived the HIV/AIDS pandemic have the mentality you described where they believe that nobody who they have unprotected sex with could possibly be HIV+ or have other STDs and that if they become HIV+ that it’s “no big deal since I’ll just go on meds.”

  • Jack Meoff

    I think younger gay men don’t appreciate what it really means to contract HIV because they have never seen the effects. They have come up in an era where anyone who gets it takes the newer and better drugs and gets on with their life. There are no examples out there these days of what it means to have HIV in the modern era. I would like to see some documentaries or movies portraying modern era young men who have contracted HIV discussing what it means to be dealing with this disease and how it affects their lives from a medical POV and the limitations it puts on them for doing certain things.

    • Me2

      I’d like to see something like that too. As it seems that what it really means to be young and HIV positive in today’s society is either being hidden or sugar coated. And to a degree, I get it. No one wants to add extra stress and anxiety to those who are already positive – so we choose to act as if being positive is “no biggie”. A good amount of people have adopted a cavalier attitude towards HIV in an attempt to be accepting and empathetic to those who are positive. This disposition along with the new drugs has given the next generation a false sense of security. We absolutely need more honest depictions of what it is to be a millennial living with HIV. If we want to engage this generation they’ll need realistic points of reference that they can identify with.

    • ChrisK

      @Me2
      Who is “we”? I don’t think you do either because being duchebag isn’t going to win anyone’s hearts or minds either.

  • Doughosier

    Young gay men bareback all the time. Even on first dates.
    The premise of this movie is interesting. I’d like to see it.

  • Ksb1978

    He didn’t mention Bisexual men in his commentary. A lot of bisexual men have this same mentality.

    • ErikO

      It’s not just gay or bisexual men, it’s everyone that’s LGBT and I have even met younger and older heterosexuals who have the mentality that they never have to practice safer sex with anyone who they hook up with or even get tested for HIV and other STDs.

  • lauraspencer

    Cumming is most definitely gay. I have met him and his husband twice at social events…both for gay causes.

    Not sure why younger gays don’t worry about HIV/AIDS. Who wants to have to take medicine for the rest of his life and the wear and tear that comes from the toxic meds for a few minutes of bareback pleasure? If they do then that is simply Darwinism at work.

    • Donston

      He said he’s bi. I’m just going off of what he has most recently said. And he has implied that his relationship with his husband is more about “comfort” than genuine sexual attraction or even romantic interest. Maybe he had a fetish-based or comfort-based relationship with Saffron Barrows instead of his husband and he has been trying to cover that up. Who knows? I mentioned it because the article implied that he identified as homosexual, which has never been the case. And it seems he chose to speak from a homosexual perspective.

      On to the topic, there’s a nonchalant quality to how most view younger LGBT people view AIDS. Hell, it wasn’t until It became a genuine borderline epidemic that most gay men started to truly care. The revisionist history is a little nagging. There’s a whole list of reasons why it is being dismissed now by many and why it was often dismissed back then until to became truly widespread. But that would be a exhausting type-out.

    • ErikO

      Alan Cumming is bisexual and has identified as bisexual for decades. I read interviews where he said how he loves his husband and has sexual attraction to him.

  • GayEGO

    Gender gets more complicated as we evolve. As we were always taught that humans are all different, why is it so hard for some to realize that we have a mix of attraction to others, some emotional, some sexual, some have both. I have emotional feelings for men and women, but I only have sexual feelings for men. Others have different feelings, but more importantly, we should all get along.

  • ErikO

    It’s not just younger gay men or younger LGBT people. There are a lot of older gay men or LGBT people who survived the HIV/AIDS pandemic who bareback or who think nothing of barebacking with strangers, friends, etc. and foolishly believe that these people could not possibly be HIV+, and a lot have the mentality that “oh there’s meds for HIV if I get it I’ll just go on them”, or they go on the toxic PreP/Truvada and believe that they’ll stay HIV neg and free of STDs while barebacking with anyone who they want.

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