Meet the man who invented safe sex in director Daryl Wein's Sex Positive, opening Friday in select theaters.

Wein's documentary Sex Positive focuses on early safe sex pioneer Richard Berkowitz. His life of hustling on the streets of New York came to a crushing end when AIDS started its infectious assault in the 1980s. Berkowitz was one of the first gay men who demanded answers about the disease from the government. His safe sex message, however, was met with resistance from men who were not ready to leave the party.

The film culls together rare footage of Berkowitz along with new interviews to puzzle together his contributions to the invention of safe sex. Berkowitz's anger and frustration at gay men who rejected his safe sex message is also on display.

Berkowitz molded his safe sex message off Dr. Joseph Sonnabend's pioneering AIDS research, which suggested as early as 1983 that anal sex among gay men was fueling the epidemic.

“It was Richard Berkowitz's book, Stayin' Alive: The Invention of Safe Sex, that forced me to face my own ignorance,” wrote filmmaker Wein. “Like most of my friends, I had always thought of safe sex as a government invented advocacy program, but I was enlightened to find out it was not the government at all but the tireless efforts of so many fervent activist who paved the way for change.”

“Both in the government and the gay community, the widespread silence during the early years of AIDS is absolutely shocking. What Richard taught me, among many other things, was that the most promiscuous gay men were the pioneers of the safe sex movement”

Sex Positive, the Outstanding Documentary Feature winner of Outfest 2008, opens in select theaters Friday, March 20.

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