“I intend to be among the first generation that survives this disease.” That was former New Republic editor Andrew Sullivan’s first public statement about his HIV diagnosis. Speaking to heterosexual and homosexual audiences alike, this book is about the first steps in that journey of survival.
If Sullivan’s acclaimed first book, Virtually Normal, was about politics, this long-awaited sequel is about life. In a memoir in the form of three essays, Sullivan asks hard questions about his own life and others’. Can the practice of friendship ever compensate for a life without love? Is sex at war or at peace with spirituality? Can faith endure the randomness of death? Is homosexuality genetic or environmental?
Love Undetectable, then, refers to many things: to a virus that, for many, has become “undetectable” in the bloodstream thanks to new drugs, and to the failed search for love and intimacy that helped spread it; to the love of God, which in times of plague seems particularly hard to find and understand; to a sexual orientation long pathologized and denied any status as an equal form of human love; and to the love between friends, a love ignored when it isn’t demeaned, and obscured by the more useful imperatives of family and society.
In a work destined to be as controversial as his first book, Sullivan takes on religious authorities and gay activists; talks candidly about his own promiscuity and search for love; revisits Freud in the origins of homosexuality; and makes one of the more memorable modern cases for elevating the virtue of friendship over the satisfactions of love. Scholarly, impassioned, wide-ranging, and embattled, Love Undetectable is a book that is ultimately not about homosexuality or plague, but about humanity and mortality.