The Slut Shaming of Patrick Buckmaster
The ubiquitous Merriam-Webster Standard English Dictionary defines the word, slut, thusly:
Slut: /slət/ : Noun: Patrick Buckmaster. Synonyms: Patrick Buckmaster; Patrick Buckmaster; Totally Patrick Buckmaster.
Go ahead. Flip it open. His picture is right there next to the definition on the page.
Not that dear, old Merriam-Webster is trying to slut-shame our friend Mr. Buckmaster, or anything as undignified as that. (And it’s dreadfully 90s of you to think so.) Let’s just say that the boy has climbed a lot of beanstalks. And then spit on the tops of them, sniffed a heroic snoot full of Jungle Juice (Silver Label, thank you), hunkered squat right down on them, and inched his way all the way back to earth with a smile on his lips and a song in his
ass heart. Let’s just say he’s tickled his fair share of pickles (which is apparently all of them). Let’s just say…well. Fuck it. In his own words:
“Going to dinner with your ex with some other guy’s cum in your ass. And another guy’s cum in your mouth. And Satan in your heart. AMEN.”
That’s a recent Facebook update. One of his more PG-13 ones, actually.
And the prosecution rests.
But it’s certainly not my business to judge Patrick Buckmaster, God knows. Or anyone else’s business, for that matter. And it’s especially not the business of his licensed medical physician. Any fool would agree with that.
And it’s not as if Patrick makes a big secret about his natural penchant for compulsive buggery or unbridled sluttitude—in fact, he clearly revels in it. Like a Biblical harlot with free wi-fi, he broadcasts every dark alley blowjob and shady act of butt-sex on every social media platform anyone has ever invented yet. He’s Tweeted every gang-bang and Facebooked every face-fuck.
All of this rampant e-exhibitionism is merely (mostly) a careful cultivation of his “image”, of course, and it definitely lends to his transgressive, extremely “sexpository” mystique. Patrick is a lean, longhaired, androgynous blond bombshell of a boy with sensuous porn-pillow lips, drowsy-lidded come-fuck-me-in-the-ass eyes, the morals of a household blender, and a respectable amount of infamy in the lusty, red-lit circles of the Pacific Northwest’s underground music, punk, and burlesque scene–especially in Portland, where he sings, hosts, performs, lives large and takes his
So, please understand: Me trying to slut-shame Patrick Buckmaster would be an exercise in utter futility (and also make a bloody Herculean hypocrite out of me, sorry mom). Like Bank of America or Fannie Mae, his epic and scandalousness is mostly public record, and just too big to fail.
But what about the whole HIV… thing?
Lucky us! We live in an age of marvels. Decades worth of efforts on the part of tireless activists have merged with the miracles of modern medicine to dial even the most terrible wailings of AIDS down to an unfortunate but hopeful groan. What’s more, humanity at large seems to have finally calmed its tits enough to realize that puritanical moralizing about sex—even marathon and man-on-man amounts of it—is a foolish, futile, no-win pastime that does nothing for the greater good or one’s complexion.
Furthermore! In our wondrous age, mankind seems also to have at long last embraced the immutable truth that an honest, glad-hearted bonking (between consenting adults of whatever persuasion) is all in good fun, a matter of proper health and hygiene, and certainly no good reason at all to get all worked up about–and especially no good reason to willfully let another human being horribly sicken, rot away, and maybe drop dead. Right?
Enter, Truvada. We’ve talked about Truvada (AKA PrEP) before. And by now almost everyone who doesn’t live in the trunk of a Buick in their mom’s garage twenty years ago knows that when the drug is taken properly, it is basically a foolproof once-a-day inoculation against HIV. A miracle.
But now! Imagine the exact reverse of all that: a dark and terrible opposite-land–a smoking, medieval crater still steeped in dark and irrational superstitions and puritan prudery. A land where women can be denied necessary reproductive care based upon their employer’s religious opinions. A land where scorn and shame and proven shams like, “abstinence only” education and “conversion therapy” and “Donald Trump” dominate the common narrative. The type of evil, mind-blowing, mythical dystopia where even perhaps a licensed medical physician, regardless of being ethically bound to protect their patients’ well-being and sworn to “do no harm”, would probably think nothing of denying a high-risk candidate from obtaining a proven prophylactic medication to prevent the contraction of a serious chronic illness that has killed 39 million people to date just because they didn’t like the way that person boinked. Imagine a place that looks just like…
Surprisingly, it wasn’t a licensed medical physician in one of the predictable low-slung red states where all the stupid lives that denied Patrick a prescription for Truvada. That happened in the pine-fresh, fern-green, slug-kissed and ostensibly liberal-as-all-fuck Pacific Northwest–Portland, if you can imagine, where the homos are hoppin’ and everyone’s high.
“I had always had a curiosity about the medicine,” Patrick says. “You see it everywhere, the clinic, on hookup apps, at your friend’s house on the kitchen counter, online…it’s like a siren, singing to you sweetly with the promise of what you so desperately desire. Are you looking? I am!”
“Desperately” is apt. Not to wax dramatic, but after forty years of stigma, paranoia, and just a soupçon of abject terror, Truvada seemed to suddenly emerge as the champion in a relentless war we all have been waging since many of us emerged confused and steaming from our mama’s wombs.
“My primary care doctor was unable to see me for two weeks, so I made an appointment with another doctor in the practice,” Patrick tells us. “This was my first mistake.”
“I mean, one look at me (and hearing my story and risk factors), they had to give me a lifetime supply…Jesus, I am a walking billboard for gay sex,” he says.
But, no. The attending physician refused to write Patrick a simple prescription. And why?
Because good old-fashioned homophobia. And because slut-shaming. That’s why.
“What set me off was when the doctor suggested instead that I try ‘less risky’ practices,” he explains. “I looked her in the eye and said, ‘Like what? Not sleeping with other men?’—and…she just nodded.
“With that nod she was affirming something that queer people have heard our whole lives”, he says–namely that if we occasionally dare to “feel our oats” we deserve HIV, and that our fundamental expression of sexuality is dirty, wrong, and worthy of punishment. “I lost it and started to cry. And then I got angry. Maybe flipped some tongue dispensers, and demanded to see someone who could help me.
Of course, that went over like a lead pelican. Doctors are notoriously protective of their tongue depressors.
“Instead of getting the medical attention I needed, I was asked to leave and told I would be terminated as a patient. I stormed out of the office.
“Hysterical, I drove the two minutes to my primary care doctor’s office. Upon arrival the receptionist ran and hid in the back room. My doctor’s nurse assistant came out asking, ‘what have you done?’.
“Once again I explained what was happening, what I was trying to do, and what I wanted,” Patrick says, “I was told I needed to wait and talk to my primary doctor. Now for the twenty plus days that I waited for my appointment, I was at risk. It only takes one day, one hour, one minute, one second to change your life completely.”
Inevitably it was the community itself which came to Patrick’s rescue.
“Thankfully, my posts on Facebook about being denied did not go unheard. I had a wonderful friend who referred me to Dr. Robert Lusk at Providence/Cascade AIDS Project. It was like meeting an old friend–someone who understands you and gets it.
“He made me feel so validated for wanting to help myself and my community. He made me feel the way that you’re supposed to feel when you are just trying to better. This man has watched HIV/AIDs destroy this community. When I met Dr. Lusk, I knew I had found an equal–a queer man who has been fighting the same fight but for much longer.
“I sat in his office and cried. I cried tears for myself because of how happy I was to finally me understood. I cried tears for all the times I was denied and everyone who has been denied/rejected. I cried for all the people who have been rejected because of their status. And I cried for all those before me who have died, been affected, and are still alive.”
The freshest numbers from the FCC claim that Truvada will reduce new HIV Infections by 70%–for people who can afford it. “I realize how lucky I am to be able to afford the medicine as well as how fortunate I am to be at this point in my life.”
“As of this writing, it is my one week of being on the medicine. Do I feel any better? Do I feel stronger? Do I feel any different than before?
“PrEP makes me feel better about myself and the queer community because it eliminates my risk of becoming positive, and at the same time allows me to be positive about others. I never was afraid to be with someone because of what they might have, and this pill insures that I can love who I want, when I want, and how I want.”
“In hindsight my big mistake was going to doctors who didn’t experience my kind of life, sex, or world. Of course, two monogamous, heterosexual women are not going understand the life of a queer man who has multiple partners and a ‘risky’ lifestyle. And if your doctors don’t understand you, get a second, third, fourth, fifth opinion until someone understands you and can help.”
It’s advice no gay person these days should need, but very good advice, indeed. And I’d personally like to add one step further: contact the AMA and report the hell out of the bastards that deny you. Doctors slut-shaming gay people to death is just SO very 1992, after all. Isn’t it?