Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication and Rhetorical Studies


Gratch, Lyndsay M.


Archive and Repertoire, Barebacking, COVID-19, Ethnographic Methods, HIV/AIDS, Safe Sex

Subject Categories

Gender and Sexuality | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


This thesis contemplates how men who have sex with men (MSM) have navigated risks associated with having casual sex during COVID-19 by using skills learned from the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I rely on a series of qualitative interviews I conducted with self-reported MSM, as well as qualitative, archival materials from throughout the HIV/AIDS crisis, to better understand how some MSM have performed risk evaluation and management throughout a(nother) pandemic. In my first chapter, I pull from Diana Taylor's theories on the archive, the repertoire, and scenario to argue that some MSM have revived and revised skills used to protect themselves from HIV infection to also protect themselves from COVID-19 infection. In the second chapter, I follow the intellectual lead of Michael Warner and Jenell Johnson to postulate how groups of MSM have organized around discourse related to the boundaries of the body during the twin crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Moreover, I contend that scholarship on barebacking, which is unprotected anal sex between men, may help scholars better understand the motivations of some MSM who have continued hooking up during COVID-19.


Open Access



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