Vintage homophobia? Or valuable historical perspective?

This weekend I tried to find that infamous January 1988 Cosmo article that declared heterosexual women safe from HIV/AIDS, especially when having sex in the missionary position. I found many blogs and articles that reference the piece, but the full text article, as well as any abstract, is unaccounted for in JSTOR, Lexus/Nexus and ProQuest. I’m convinced there must be some libraries in America that have the original hard copies, possibly in the form of bound periodicals, but I haven’t tracked one down yet.
Has anyone out there ever seen this dangerous yet elusive Cosmo piece? I can’t even find an author or article name for it!
But I did stumble upon some other heartbreaking articles about the first decade of HIV/AIDS in America, although none date before 1990.
One in particular stood out to me: “Ten New Dating Rules In The Post-Magic Johnson Era” by Hans J. Massaquoi, which ran in the February 1992 issue of Ebony.

I’ll satisfy your curiosity with the 10 rules upfront:

RULE 1. Don’t assume that every date expects, or wants, to become sexually involved. Many young Blacks, both male and female, would prefer to abstain because of religious or other considerations. Yet, under peer pressure, they have adopted “making out” as the main object of dating. Remember that the safest sex is still no sex at all…
RULE 2. Learn the difference between safe and unsafe sex… Familiarize yourself thoroughly with the dos and don’ts of safe sex through literature and/or discussions with your physician, AIDS counselors or health officials, and (if you are or have been sexually active) take an HIV test before embarking on your next date.
RULE 3. Be frank in stating your position on sex. When first getting acquainted with a new date, explain that (for your own and your date’s protection) you will have to proceed initially on the assumption that your date has been exposed to the AIDS-causing virus…
RULE 4. Make the condom your main defense against AIDS. Whether you are male or female, young or old, as long as you are a sexually active participant in the dating game, don’t leave home without it…
RULE 5. Absolutely never engage in anal sex. Of all sexual practices, it is, physicians warn, the most dangerous form of intercourse with regard to the transmission of AIDS.
RULE 6. Learn your date’s sexual views and attitudes BEFORE (not after or during) an actual sexual encounter. One of the biggest obstacles to effectively reducing the spread of AIDS are attitudes based on such spurious reasoning as, “Nothing will happen to me until my number is up,” or “I’ll have to die of something anyway. So why bother with safe sex?”
RULE 7. Avoid (literally like the plague) multiple (meaning two or more) sex partners. Each additional partner increases the statistical likelihood of meeting Mr. or Ms. Wrong — a person who is HIV positive or has AIDS. For the same reason, do not engage in so-called “one-night stands.” Instead of dating randomly, confine your choice of dates to persons who, in your opinion, are likely prospects for a stable, monogamous relationship.
RULE 8. Remember that looks can be deceiving. While making new acquaintances, don’t assume that because someone looks clean-cut and seems to come from a “good home,” he or she is free of the AIDS virus. Also, don’t accept anybody’s word that he or she is in perfect health. Some persons who make that claim may act in good faith and not know that they have AIDS or the virus. Others, however, may know but conceal their knowledge in order not to be rejected. Your best bet is not to become physical with anybody before you are thoroughly familiar with his or her lifestyle. People you have just met may be IV drug users, have multiple sex partners or belong to other high-risk groups with regard to AIDS, such as homosexual and bisexual males, persons who have or have had sex with homosexual or bisexual males, and male and female prostitutes.
RULE 9. Abstain from, or go easy on, the use of alcohol before and during sex. Too much alcohol in your system can interfere with your ability to reason, and could cause you to throw caution to the wind and engage in unsafe sex practices.
RULE 10. Seek your doctor’s advice in all sexual matters that are puzzling you…

(all emphasis mine)

It’s striking that even though these rules admit that heterosexual HIV/AIDS is possible (something that people like Ali Gertz and Magic Johnson educated others about, in spite of the painful stigma), they still warn against actions or “lifestyles” associated with homosexuality (anal sex, or sex with people who have had same-sex encounters).
The fear and intolerance is palpable throughout this story.
I am particularly saddened by the fear of early death in many of the sentiments expressed, but I can’t help being suspicious of doctors and community educators who said they personally believed in abstinence-until-marriage and saw this medical emergency as a way to scare young people away from sex:

It is the specter of death that Washington, D.C., psychiatrist Dr. Henry Edwards hopes will accomplish what reasoning and moralizing have failed to accomplish, namely make young people take heed. “I would hope,” says Dr. Edwards, who is a contributing author of Black Families in Crisis, “that out of this Magic Johnson situation will come enough awareness to instill fear back into the picture. I find in my work with young people that despite all this talk over the last few years about AIDS, youths tend to put that at some distance. Nowadays, kids don’t care what their parents think; the fear of going to hell is gone because church is not that prominent, and there is no stigma involved anymore in getting a girl pregnant or getting pregnant.”
Dr. Edwards believes that Magic Johnson’s admission gives parents the tool with which to reinstill some fear in their children, to tell them that they can’t be casual about sex anymore and assume that things will turn out all right. “I hope,” says Dr. Edwards, “that this will stir up in youths a sense of ‘I love myself enough that I’m afraid to die.'”
While it is still too early to assess the impact of Magic Johnson’s message, hopes are high that the athlete’s courageous stand in facing the nation will jolt young people into accepting new behavioral guidelines that will lead to more responsible sexual conduct and thus reduce the spread of AIDS.

I did not come of age or receive sex education with this “specter of death” looming in everyone’s consciousness, so I cannot imagine what being a young adult, or the parent of a young adult, was like in the very early ’90s. But the prevention methods in this article aim to demonize and discourage any sex at all, instead of replacing unsafe sex with safe sex.
I think this piece is especially poignant considering how Black America was decimated by HIV/AIDS, and Black women are still the most vulnerable to the disease. But I’m afraid it sowed (or brought back) the seeds of the anti-sex movement that is obviously thriving today.
I want to know what this community thinks: Is this vintage homophobia, or is it valuable documentation of the HIV/AIDS experience and mentality in the early ’90s?

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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