A new disease threat raging through gay male communities in most large metropolitan areas has finally been identified by a group of gay healers and witches here in Denver. This new health menace is simply called “Stiffness” and those poor souls afflicted with it are called “Stiffs.” End stage “Stiffness” is particularly frightening, resulting in an extinction of ones gayness, In fact, end stage “Stiffs” are frequently mistaken for “Straight.”

A population at particularly high risk for contracting “Stiffness” has been identified by the research team here in Denver, that population being white males between the ages of 21 and 35, frequently, though not always,from middle-class backgrounds. A spokes-entity from the research team was quick to emphasize, however, that “Stiffness” has been found in gay males of all age groups, faces, and class backgrounds. It also appears that drag queens, leather people into needlepoint, the overweight, the gracefully balding, and gays who publicly call themselves fairies have a strong immunity to the disease.

How do we identify the telltalesigns of “Stiffness” and protect ourselves from it? Well, help with this is on the way in the form of a new educational organization called Gays Against Stiffness (GAS). A GAS spokes-entity emphasized that if you find yourself exhibiting an isolated “Stiff” symptom or two not to worry, but do be on your guard. It could possibly indicate a harmful trend.

GAS does not claim that the following list taken from their SOS (Stamp Out Stiffness) pamphlet is by any means complete, but if you find that you are exhibiting five or more of the listed symptoms simultaneously, a total re-assessment of your life sphere may be in order. Fortunately for those not afflicted, “Stiffness” can be detected at a distance so that close intimate contact need not occur unconsciously. The following handy list of “Stiff” symptomology should be clipped out and pasted on your bath­room mirror.

1. Short (we mean short) hair—less than 1/2 inch all over your head with sideburns raised above the ear lobe.

2. Very neatly trimmed moustache that usually does not droop below the edges of your mouth. A variation on this theme is to have a shortly trimmed beard to go along with the G-l haircut.

3. A primary form of exercise for “Stiffs” appears to be at least moderate weight lifting.

4. “Stiffs also seem to have characteristic footwear—listed in order of de­creasing frequency we see: white adidas, butch hiking boots, and cowboy boots. You’ll never see a “Stiff” in a pair of ruby-red slippers!

5. Plain colored t-shirts or flannel shirts and straight leg Levis make up the primary drag of nearly all “Stiff” victims.

6. Tight form-fitting clothes (See #5 above for details) is also characteristic of late stage “Stiffness.” “Stiffs” appear to have an intense aversion to loose, flowing clothing of any sort. (However, do not assume that clothing causes “Stiffness”—it’s merely a reflection of the underlying disorder. These people are stiff naked).

7. There are also certain key words to watch for in the vocabulary of suspected “Stiffs.” Two such words are “Hot” and “Attitude.” Both being prime indicators of a “Stiff” world view.

8. The limited repertoire of social skills (another clue you may be dealing with a “Stiff”) does not include high camp or giggling in public.

9. “Stiffs” in general suffer from poor communication skills so can often be found in large groups in noisy discos where no one can hear anyway. By the way, they dance like robots.

10. Straight-male posturing is common of “Stiffs”—they stand around a lot sort of looking like cardboard cutouts. “Stiffs” very seldom exhibit hysterical or uninhibited movement.

Now that you have some idea about how “Stiffness” manifests itself—take a look around the gay male community and we’re sure you will be shocked atthe rampant outbreak of this hideous disease. Thumb through any of the gay media and it’s unlikely that you’ll see any gay males depicted in the advertising that are not “Stiffs.” This malady has found excessive expression in most of the homoerotic art coming out these days. Either these artists are suffering from “Stiffness” themselves or else that’s all they see out there. Oh dear!

Several antidotes against stiffness have been identified by GAS and are included in their handy S.O.S. pamphlet. We’ll mention just a few of them here.

Frequent giggling and silly behavior in general, be it at home, at work, or on the street is very helpful. It also seems to help to keep those already afflicted away from you thus decreasing your chances; of contamination. The wearing of loose, flowing, non-straight male clothing with a few bells tied here and there also helps ward off the bug. A GAS spokes-entity, however, was quite emphatic about the surest way to prevent and cure “Stiffness” and that is a sustained effort to explore and celebrate one’s Gayness.

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