Thanks to one angry roommate and one pseudo-moralistic blogger, last week it was revealed that Mason Wyler is HIV+. Wyler says he's only shooting solo scenes from now on, but should HIV positive pornstars be allowed to play with others?
There is some complicated drama going on in gay porn land. In May of this year, Mason Wyler tested positive for HIV. Because of this, as stipulated by his contract with Next Door Studios, he transitioned from doing scenes with partners to solo and webcam performances (a fact which caused ). By June, both Sword editor Zach Sire and editor Mark Wilson had learned of this fact but decided not to report it because, you know, doing so would have made them assholes.
Last week Wyler's disgruntled roommate and fellow pornstar Porter Wescott took to his blog and twitter account to tell the world that Wyler had contracted Hepatitis C. This itself was a fib that Wyler had made up to explain the changes in his work with Next Door Studios. News of this shocking "revelation" drove GayPornGossip's Mark Wilson to out Wyler and his abhorrant HIV/Hep C combo platter. As Wilson said:
…Over the past several months we have closely watched the behavior of Mason and we find that he isn't doing what should rightly be done -one of many examples of very alarming nature is Mason's current Adam4Adam profile which clearly states that he is HIV negative.
The Sword instantly responded with an attack on Wilson that (rightly) criticized him for his pompous, hard-line moralizing. Of course, in doing so The Sword's Zach Sire also managed to help transform the rumor-mongering of a single website into a juicy "blogger war" that has brought far more attention to Wyler's HIV status than might have been given otherwise.
Still, the real issue here is not how the story got out, but how and why this news will affect Wyler's career. Wyler's contract with Next Door Studios may have prohibited seropositive performers from working with other actors, but Raging Stallion's Chris Ward has already released a message of support as well as a possible job offer:
Raging Stallion practices safe sex on all of its video shoots—indeed we enjoy filming hot safe sex and showing other gay men how to have hot safe sex. HIV status should not be an issue when shooting porn if the actors are using condoms and using common sense. Raging Stallion would love to shoot Mason Wyler in an upcoming movie. He is a great actor and I have always wanted to work with him. Nothing has changed from my perspective.
And so the question becomes: should HIV+ pornstars perform with others? Condoms, like everything else, are not 100% effective, and given that a pornstar performs with multiple partners throughout his or her career the chances of one small but disastrous mistake happening increase with each passing scene. On the other hand, prohibiting Wyler from continuing to pursue his career and having sex with other porn stars (assuming he even wants to do so) amounts to a form of discrimination. Condoms, after all, are the best line of defense against STI transmission. Arguing that even the smallest chance of contracting the disease isn't worth the risk acts as an indictment against mixed-serostatus couplings regardless of circumstance. The fact is that lot's of HIV- people have protected sex with HIV+ people and come out fine. In fact, HIV- gay men will stay with their HIV+ partners for years without contracting the disease. Maybe seeing a porn star confidently getting reamed by Mason Wyler would send a positive message to the gay community—that our HIV+ brothers are not lepers who should be banished to some bareback colony where they can stay away from those of us who remain uninfected.
It's a particularly complex issue. We're lucky enough to live in an age where, amongst members of a certain class possessing access to certain medications, HIV is a relatively manageable disease. One would hope that the stigma attached to those who carried the virus in years past might have evaporated as we've learned more about it, but this saga reminds us that not everyone has gotten over their hang-ups about HIV.