Viral Transmissions: Safer Sex Videos, Disability, and Queer Politics

Karisa Butler-Wall


Bringing disability studies into conversation with queer histories of AIDS activism, this article examines the relationship between disability and queer politics in safer sex videos created by AIDS activists in the 1980s. As a form of what the author terms "guerrilla biopolitics," safer sex videos insisted on the viability of queer life and sexual expression at a historical moment of intense homophobia and sex negativity. At the same time, the vision of sexual health and identity they offered risked reproducing racialized and classed ideologies of ableism. Seeking to "crip" our understandings of safer sex discourses and practices, this study explores how risk reduction techniques have been historically linked to imperatives of compulsory able-bodiedness, precluding alternative expressions of queer/crip life.


HIV/AIDS; health; safer sex; queer; activism; media; crip theory

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Copyright (c) 2016 Karisa Butler-Wall

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ISSN: 2159-8371 (Online); 1041-5718 (Print)