Groundbreaking 1997 Gay Men’s Safe Sex Film Revisited at Barbican Centre

by | May 21, 2024

Experience the groundbreaking 1997 film "Gay Men’s Guide to Safer Sex" at the Barbican Centre, highlighting its pivotal role in AIDS education and LGBTQ+ history.
A Timely Revisit: ‘Gay Men’s Guide to Safer Sex 97 – Director’s Cut’



Attending the screening of the “Gay Men’s Guide to Safer Sex 97 – Director’s Cut” at the Barbican Centre in London was an evocative experience that resonated deeply, shedding light on a pivotal moment in LGBTQ+ history. This event was not just a film screening; it was a heartfelt journey back to a time when the gay community faced the dire consequences of an unresponsive government during the AIDS pandemic. It was a period marked by fear, stigma, and devastating loss, as many gay men succumbed to a disease shrouded in ignorance and prejudice.

Rob Falconer’s 1997 follow-up to his original 1992 guide is groundbreaking in its candid and unapologetically erotic approach to sexual education. The film stands as a testament to resilience and the power of knowledge during a time when information and resources for gay men were scarce and hard to access. In an era when being gay often felt like a punishable offense under society’s judgmental gaze, this film offered a lifeline of education and empowerment.

The director’s cut brings forth expert advice from medical consultant Mike Youle, providing crucial information that was not readily available in the earlier years of the AIDS crisis. The film features fearlessly honest interviews with gay men, including candid discussions about their sex lives, alongside pioneering sex scenes that celebrate gay intimacy and pleasure without shame. Adult performer Aiden Shaw’s participation adds a raw, genuine layer to the film, making it an indispensable artifact of queer life in the 90s.

The screening was complemented by a pulsating techno soundtrack from the electro combo Angel, which perfectly encapsulates the era’s vibrant and defiant spirit. The inclusion of tips ranging from kissing to full-on intercourse presents a comprehensive and sex-positive guide that contrasts sharply with the fear and shame propagated during the time.

The event’s speakers were equally inspiring. Aiden Shaw, with his multifaceted career as a writer, musician, and actor, shared his unique insights and experiences. Dr. Will Nutland, a key figure in public health and HIV prevention, highlighted the importance of continued education and advocacy. Marc Thompson, an activist and health promotion specialist, brought a personal touch to the discussion with his long-standing involvement in HIV activism since his diagnosis in 1986.

This screening and the ensuing discussion underscored the critical role of “Gay Men’s Guide to Safer Sex 97” in changing perceptions and saving lives. The film not only provided practical advice but also fostered a sense of community and resilience among gay men during one of the most challenging periods in LGBTQ+ history.

Revisiting this film reminds us of the progress made and the importance of continued vigilance and education in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The Barbican Centre’s event was a powerful reminder of the enduring impact of Falconer’s work, celebrating a time when bravery, knowledge, and solidarity became the cornerstones of survival and pride in the gay community.




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