I let a few days pass by before posting this letter to you. My first draft was filled with cheap shots about your level of intelligence, your waning popularity, and references to the sex video that put you on the map. I realized that if I submitted that version, I would be allowing my anger to take the lead, and that is not my intention. I do want to express my disappointment with your poor choice of words about the gay community; however, I'm hopeful that I can enlighten you in the process.
First of all, there is a difference between HIV and AIDS. HIV can lead to AIDS, but thanks to advances in medicine, many people who have the HIV virus are able to lead healthy lives. These people have high T-cell levels, and in many cases they have an undetectable viral load. Dismissive statements such as "most [men who use Grindr] probably have AIDS" only hinder the progress of public awareness.
Paris, as someone who has done her fair share of dating, you have to know that horniness is not a trait exhibited solely by gays. I believe it's common among men in general. There is a ton of testosterone coursing through the veins of the male sex. To say "gay guys are the horniest people in the world" seems like a bit of a reach. I'm sure there are just as many heterosexual men who think with their little soldiers, as well.
It's unfortunate that the friend who was with you in the taxi didn't take the time to inform you that Grindr has become part of modern-day gay culture. Some of us love it, some of us hate it, but regardless, we've all grown to accept its relevance in our social-media age. Contrary to what you and your friend might believe, not everyone who uses Grindr is logged on to engage in unprotected, anonymous sex. Whether it's for networking, making friends, or dating, Grindr serves many purposes for its subscribers. I myself have used it as a tool for book promotion, and in the process I have met and dated a few guys through the app. For the record, I'm HIV-negative. I know many other guys who use this app, as well, and regardless of HIV status, nobody has instantaneously contracted full-blown AIDS as a result of meeting someone through Grindr. Yes, there are men who log on for booty calls, but when you think about it, it's not any different from going out for a night on the town and then returning home with the guy you connected with at the club. This is just a different method of arriving at the same result. As with any other resource for meeting and connecting with people, Grindr is what the user makes of it. I've been solicited for quickies with inappropriate messages on several occasions while scanning the Grindr grid. It might make these men crude in my eyes, but it hardly qualifies them as disgusting. As with the drunken guys who get a little too pushy at the club, I ignore them and move on.
The saddest part of this whole debacle is that the comments you made were not uninformed statements from some sheltered, teenage girl. These were the verbalized thoughts of a grown woman who should know better. Regardless of whether or not this was a private conversation that was recorded without your consent, you are an adult as well as a public figure. There is a responsibility that should be exercised when you speak both publicly and privately.
Your carefully worded apology that was issued through GLAAD is the standard letter that any PR rep would put out on behalf of their client. It's well-written, but is it enough? In my eyes the answer is no. Your inner circle would probably advise you to make a generous financial contribution to a nonprofit gay organization that assists in the battle against HIV and AIDS. I'm going to ask you to do one better. How about donating some of your time and volunteering at one of these organizations? See what it's really like for my community as we raise awareness and fight against a disease that affects millions of people. Notice that I have written "people" throughout several portions of this letter. After all, HIV and AIDS is not a gay thing but a human thing. It affects millions around the world; it doesn't discriminate against age, gender, race, or sexual orientation. It would be great if the day would finally come when we don't have to worry about HIV and AIDS, but life's just not that simple. We all need to stay educated and informed. Anyone who thinks otherwise is just living in his or her own world.
Justin Hernandez, a Grindr user who happens to be happy, healthy, and not disgusting
c.c.: Bret Easton Ellis