Justice

What Zachary Quinto's "I Love Sluts" Comment Says About Modern Gay Culture

“I love sluts.” Zachary Quinto’s defense for why he can’t be at fault for slut-shaming gay men is pretty simple, he loves them.

The openly gay "Star Trek" actor was the recipient of major shade, for a lack of better words, from the gay community when his stance on the use of PrEP and recreational sex raised a few eyebrows.

In an interview with OUT magazine last year Quinto describes the current gay generation’s acceptance of HIV as “lazy,” partially placing the blame on PrEP, a new HIV prevention medication that reduces an HIV negative person’s risk of getting infected. (Aids.gov)

“We need to be really vigilant and open about the fact that these drugs are not to be taken to increase our ability to have recreational sex.”

Many members of the gay community responded negatively to the interview, insisting that there is no shame in liberal sexuality and branded Quinto as a slut-shamer.

In his new interview with Attitude, the actor who now stars in Tony Kushner’s AIDS-centric play “Angels in America,” responded to those claims:

“People said something about ‘slut-shaming’. I’m like, ‘Come on please, that’s absurd. I love sluts.'”

Quinto Attitude Magazine Cover

Whether Quinto’s original comment can be considered slut-shaming is in the eye of the beholder; but his jokey response implies that this is not a real issue. Which brings up a greater point…

Is the slut-shaming of gay men a real problem?

In a piece for the Advocate, out filmmaker Kit Williamson discusses the backlash he got for featuring a gay couple in an open relationship on his show “EastSiders.”

The characters in the show try to figure out what works for their relationship by experimenting with other partners. Instead of a positive response from a sexual community that is seemingly ever-evolving, Williamson got a lot of flack, especially from homosexual audiences:

“Sluttiness and having multiple sex partner beside your boyfriend, for me it’s disgusting.”

“If you publicly announce you have an open relationship then be prepared for comments. I think an open relationship is bullshit. Ditto bisexuality.”

“You are a slut.”

Williamson attributes these responses to ingrained fear and a misunderstandings of the dangers associated with being a sexually active gay man.

“The fear many of us felt growing up has left scars that have twisted into hatred — hatred of other gay men and hatred of ourselves,” he said, noting that he is no exception, “As a late bloomer, I certainly did my share of slut-shaming.”

Until now the term “slut-shaming” seemed to be reserved for women: Women who receive dirty looks when walking home in last night’s dress, women who make money profiting off of their sexuality, and generally any woman who isn’t embarrassed to discuss her sexual activities. So how did the slut-shaming and anti-slut-shaming phenomenon spill over to gay men?

One interesting assessment of masculinity vs. femininity claims that only men on the receiving end of gay sex, better known as “bottoms,” fall victim to slut-shaming; while men on the giving end of gay sex, better known as “tops,” are allowed to revel in the pride of their conquests like heterosexual men.

Bottoms, like women, are perceived as feminine—therefore weaker, conquerable, and lesser than. As an outsider passing judgment, it is easier to make your point if you’re going after what seems to be the weaker, indefensible party.

The glaring danger of slut-shaming is that people will feel embarrassed of their sexuality and begin to hide it. The best way to stay a healthy individually and as a community is through open discussion. An environment where people aren’t afraid to talk about who they had sex with last night is the same environment where you can ask the person you’re having sex with how many sexual partners they’ve had or if they regularly use protection.

If Zachary Quinto can find a silver lining in the negative press he received for his comments last year, it’s that people are discussing what it means to have safe gay sex.

“If people are talking about it and having conversations, that’s awesome.”

Zachary Quinto for Attitude