If Rotello's book was a plea for common sense, Harris' is a defense of intellectual life. "What I wanted to do was a very coldblooded dissection of contemporary gay culture without any propaganda," he explains. "And one of the ways I can tell I've succeeded is that people are very disturbed by the absence of the kinds of uplifting bromides they expect from gay literature. So many people see books as mood-enhancers. I set out to write a book that was a depressant--though I hope the humor leavens it quite a bit."
People were most upset about his chapter on the kitschification of AIDS, he says, because of his witty analysis of the AIDS quilt. "One very good friend of mine said he's going to leave a note in his will to force me to make his panel for the quilt. If he does, I probably will. I mean, I adore this guy. But one thing I dislike about AIDS kitsch is this notion that one has to render these men into seraphic innocents in order to make them presentable to the American public."
As a former "curb-crawler" who withdrew from promiscuity when AIDS hit the news and who is now in a monogamous relationship, Harris still "can't see that having loads and loads of sex is anything to be guilty about."