Making this PSA — from NYC’s Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, supposedly to combat HIV transmission — more popular than it ever would’ve been, GLAAD and the Gay Men’s Health Crisis are calling on the city’s health officials to immediately yank it, because it portrays gays in typical fashion: as scary AIDS-spreading monsters of society. Since when did a little anal cancer and dementia become so offensive?
“It really paints this picture of gay men as these sort of disease-ridden vessels, and so the message is really sort of, ‘Stay away from gay men,’” says Francisco Roque, director of community health for GMHC, who notes the ad looks more like a “horror movie” than an attempt to educate gay men. But the city’s health department says in a statement that the ad is appropriate: “In developing this video spot, we tested various approaches in focus groups. The spot was informed by that process and by lessons learned from our successful anti-smoking efforts. It was also carefully vetted for technical accuracy.”