After replacing the extremely corrupt Diane Duke, Eric Paul Leue came on board to head up the Free Speech Coalition and worked hard to implement many programs that could have benefited the adult industry for years to come.
His misstep, however, was his battle to allow HIV positive performers to be a part of the industry and with that fight leaving a bitter taste in many people’s mouth, especially after he admitted via Twitter that he himself had unprotected sex multiple times with an HIV positive partner.
In January the FSC hosted what they called “an incredibly informative Panel Discussion on HIV Stigma and Prevention in the Adult Industry“.
On the day the discussion took place, this is what the head of the Free Speech Coalition tweeted out. “I would like to personally thank everyone who attended today’s panel on HIV. I am proud that as an industry we together are moving this conversation forward to empower performers with knowledge to make informed choices, and to close divides within our community. ~EPL“
It made it sound like the talk went great. But in reality, it turned out to be a shit show. So-called experts said things that still to this day, 7 months later have people in an uproar.
Unaware that they were being recorded, certain members of the FSC began to deny things that were said at the panel discussion on HIV and stigma. However, the APAG came out with video footage the shook everyone to their core. Not only did the footage show rude panelist, and giving misinformation but also telling people in the audience they had no right to even ask if their scene partner was HIV+.
Before that scandal could die down, another one hit. This time is revolved around Talent Testing – one of the two companies responsible for giving performers their bi-weekly STD tests.
After Talent Testing came out and said that they will begin offering the HIV Antibody Test FOR FREE as a part of the standard performer panel, the Free Speech Coalition — who claims to be about the good of the industry and that means the performers, immediately spoke out against the test.
Why might you ask? It was something that TTS was giving away for FREE. Because it would reveal if someone was really HIV+ and lying about it! Something that went against the FSC’s agenda.
Soon after, Talent Testing announced that they had spent a huge sum of money on upgrading their security protocols for those performers who got their tests from them, and again the FSC spoke out against them, accusing Talent Testing of possibly improperly storing biometric data which as it turned out Talent Testing wasn’t even storing in the first place.
The FSC could have easily just called Talent Testing and asked them, but instead, they issued a press release, and took to twitter, altering the entire industry about a problem that as it tuned out, never existed in the first place.
Why in the world would an organization claiming to support performers, speak out again a free upgraded HIV test and upgraded security protocols ensuring someone couldn’t come in and pretend to be someone else and test for that person? It didn’t make sense.
The whole issue came to a head when Nacho Vidal tested positive for HIV in Europe. Performers finally stood united against the FSC’s perceived agenda of allowing anyone who was HIV positive but didn’t have a detectable viral load at the time they tested, to work in the mainstream talent pool.
Performers spoke out and said enough was enough. They would not under any circumstances consider working with someone who was HIV+.
Soon after Eric Paul Leue announced he was stepping down from the FSC, after handpicking his successor, Ian O’Brien.
Eric Paul Leue will leave his position as Executive Director of the Free Speech Coalition at the end of the month to return to direct work in the public health sector, announced the Free Speech Coalition’s Board of Directors. His last day will be July 31st.
Ian O’Brien, Senior Director of Programs and Operations, will act as interim head until a replacement has been found. Leue will also help guide the transition.
“We were lucky to have Eric for as long as we did, and we wish him well,” said FSC Board Chair Jeffrey Douglas. “In just a few years, Eric proved to be one of the most consequential leaders the organization and the adult industry has had. We will miss him immensely.”
Leue began as Executive Director of the organization in February 2016, just months after Proposition 60, the California condoms in porn initiative, qualified for the ballot. Leue served as campaign manager for the No on Prop 60 campaign, and nine months later, in an historic upset, defeated the proposition with the help of a dedicated team and hundreds of volunteers.
As an HIV activist and educator, Leue was also instrumental in developing an effective relationship with Cal/OSHA and the Department of Public Health. During his tenure, Leue continued to serve on the LA County Commission on HIV as a community stakeholder representative.
From the start, Leue sought to reshape and modernize the Free Speech Coalition into a trade organization that advocated not only for employers, but also for the workers, the performers, and the communities to which they belong. Under Leue’s leadership, Free Speech Coalition expanded performers’ access to healthcare, including PrEP, and fought for more advanced testing protocols.
The Free Speech Coalition budget grew significantly under Leue’s tenure, allowing the addition of Ian O’Brien as Senior Director of Programs and Operations. Leue’s fiscal management placed the organization in a stable financial status, earning great respect with the industry’s leadership.
Leue helped build effective coalitions with mainstream political groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the National Coalition Against Censorship, Lambda Legal and the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT); legislators on the state and federal level, and state, local and national political parties; public health agencies; and LGBTQ and sex worker rights groups.
“I wanted the adult industry to have a place at the table,” said Leue. “Nothing about us without us. I am proud of the bridges we’ve built, our financial stability and am confident that these past three and a half years have helped lay the foundation to build a stronger, more respected and more inclusive industry.
“I want to thank the continuous commitment of our members, my team, all the volunteers, APAC, and those who came before me in the creation of FSC. Most importantly, I want to thank the Board of Directors for their extraordinary commitment, their guidance and support. Without the support of the community, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve even half of what we did. I am proud to have been a part of the legacy of this 28 year old organization.”