Tag Archives: gays having sex

How We All Need To Evolve About HIV/AIDS

HIV

Several weeks ago I was asked to do an Op-Ed on whether an HIV negative man should date someone who is positive. Being completely honest, I was nervous. Not because the subject matter of discussing HIV/AIDS makes me nervous, but for fear that I wouldn’t fully encapsulate my point correctly or present each side of the argument accurately. So I held off for a while to ruminate and collect my thoughts. Methodically trying to map out how to present it to a community that has such a taboo about even discussing the subject, fearing an association to something that affects the entire community.

During this process I kept revisiting excerpts of different points I wanted to bring up and as time went on thought they were too convoluted or sounded insulting or just was too random to be of use in the article. I then came across a brilliant and honest depiction of what it was like for a man living with HIV to go out seeking romance or possibly love. David Duran’s story about being positive and navigating through social dating apps really touched me because I truly felt the frustration he expressed about disclosing his status to men he could have some potential sexual relationship. I related to it because I felt frustrations when I’m discounted or erroneously judged because of race in the gay community, another taboo subject rarely discussed.

As I thought about the comparisons it made me think of how taxing that has to be on the gay men that have to endure the silent ridicule and muffled disdain for something that could have happened to any of us. Now some may chagrin to that statement I just made but they would do well to remember that condoms do sometimes break. They should remember that just because someone says that their STI test came back negative doesn’t always mean that they don’t have the virus because it hasn’t shown up yet. So yes it can happen to any of one of us.

This reflective journey made me remember an incident about understanding what HIV is after I came out. I came across a journal entry dated a little over six years ago where I attempt to process whether or not I would date a man living with the virus. I’m going to share a part of this entry to show some of the mistakes I made as a younger gay man and how this experience may resemble the reactions that David and other men have faced. I hope that even though it shows a bit of my own ignorance back then that it may also open eyes to the misconceptions and negative attitudes surrounding it. Because as I always state in these articles, nothing ever changes if we don’t talk about where we went wrong and how we can overcome these flaws.

Saturday January 27th 2007

Tonight I feel like I messed up big time. My first real venture into socializing with gay men, something I dreamed about was a wash. I was finally able to openly flirting with a guy..but in the end it just came out awkward. I was grateful that William had invited me out cause even though it’s been over a year since I came out I don’t know anyone other than the man I’d loved and lost as a circumstance of bad timing and a couple of random guys I fooled around with. This was supposed to be a big step but it..just didn’t turn out right.

I got along with everyone and flirted with the guys and that was received well. Later on this guy walked in. Black hair and the most brilliant  luminescent emerald green eyes I can remember. Checkered shoes with a matching scarf and pinstripe suspenders. A hipster from head to toe. I was so taken by him. A few drinks and I felt comfortable enough to say more than hey. We talked about school and politics. He was as so sharp and articulate as I always think I am.. Sweet smile and his butt. Amazing. After we went out back to talk more we leaned in to kiss but he stopped before we made contact. Saying he had to tell me about his status and I was so in the moment it wasn’t clicking to what he was referring to. He said he was positive.

A few seconds of confusion until I realized he was talking about HIV. I was just so caught up in the moment..but I wasn’t able to hide how hard the statement had brought me back down from fantasizing about us throwing each other against the house and me having my way with him. The starry gaze in my eyes was replaced with shock. I could tell he’s seen this expression before and it makes the whole thing worse. And I noticed that he noticed my initial reaction that was in my face that easily to him said “no” when I didn’t know what I would do. But I know he’s seen that face before and a resolve that nothing would come of our earlier flirtation. Shaking and so upset, probably heightened by the alcohol, my reaction condemned this man and I felt so ashamed, that I may have hurt his feelings. I began to cry.

Spontaneously crying, like I always do when I feel I’ve deeply offended someone unintentionally. He was trying to say something like “it’s okay, I understand” but all I could do was profusely yell how sorry I was if I made him feel bad or that he wasn’t desirable. Because I felt like at that point I couldn’t just save face and say of course it’s not an issue but my reaction said differently. Even worse that I know what that feels like on some level to be rejected on something you can’t change, though not to the degree that he had to have felt. Too often I’ve had resolve to rejection as sometimes as an African American you have to brace yourself as some people do react to you this way.

And here I am most likely making this guy feel that way. Both of us embarrassed at the moment I was having I flagged a sober friend to drive me home…Could it have been the era I grew up in? Definitely. I grew up in the 80s and 90s in the south, the time of the Cold War and the Reagan era that seemed to completely and utterly fail to diminish the impact of the virus. AIDS was on the news almost every night. And people were terrified  I was terrified. These all sound like more excuses about whatever I’m subconsciously afraid to say. 

Growing up I remember so often when the subject of gay came up it was automatically synonymous with AIDS and then death. Back then it due to the reprehensible negligence by the government so it really was a death sentence. I wonder if that image was ingrained as I was processing the fact that I was gay; maybe that had some weight in how I reacted. I just remember being so afraid growing up thinking if I’m gay then I’m automatically destined to inherit this disease? Of course I know better than that now. I know antivirals helps a person live normally. But back then that was all I knew. Maybe it’s all an excuse.

Why did I react that way? Why am I trying to justify being so wrong. This isn’t like me. It’s not like I have anything to worry about. I get tested for STD’s at least once every six months. And if we were intimate together I would take the same precautions that I always do. So why did I respond that way. William called and said the guy wasn’t offended and understood but I still feel like a horrible human being. I wonder if it wasn’t completely subconscious, or lingering fear. Maybe that’s why I panicked because I had internalized all the lies and manipulation I had been taught growing up from the media. All I know is that I was embarrassing tonight. And probably hurt someone’s feelings. I hate this feeling and sorry for all this,

I remember during this whole ordeal I kept thinking that if I referred to it as a disease instead of a virus that it was insulting. Or what if it’s the other way around or both or neither. I was just so afraid of offending this man and those amazingly beautiful emerald eyes of his. More likely it was fear that I still had not dealt with and it all came to the surface that night. I needed to reconcile that because no matter how open minded I believed I was, for whatever reason I was seeing a status rather than a person. That was why I had that reaction. For me, I needed to change that outlook immediately and I believe that I’ve done so.

Some things are the same as they were then. I still slightly look away when I make eye contact with someone I’m extremely attracted to and smile. I still have terrible one liners that somehow makes the guy I’m talking to laugh..still don’t know if it’s out of civility or genuine affection. I’m still immensely drawn to hipster. I still use protection every time I have a sexual encounter and get tested at least once every six months to make sure that I don’t have any STD’s. But now I do not treat a man that is positive as some fragile being I need to tiptoe around. No longer through my awkward, panicked behavior do I treat these men as though their status is the only thing I see. I view these men as men, just as deserving of love and affection as anyone else. As it should be.

So maybe the worse thing I did through that experience was be afraid of offending someone else’s feelings (which is at times still a flaw). But it was necessary for me to go through and learn some of the prejudices that I may not have been aware of back then. As the years have went on I grew to see people as people, no matter their circumstance. I now know that I would consider dating an HIV positive man the same way I’d consider dating any other gay man. Would there be lengthy discussions and all precautions before during and after sex be taken? Absolutely as I take those precautions with every man I’m with sexually, as we all should be.

So how do we challenge ourselves to stop letting stigma dictate how we treat these men? How do we evolve and overcome the insensitive and sometimes downright ugly reactions that we may have when these men are looking for the same things we’re looking for? Talk. Just as we did when we first discovered that we’re gay. We sought out after answers about what our sexuality meant and what sex would someday mean to us. We learned the mechanics of protecting ourselves and those we sexually engage. We learned that we don’t want to be treated differently on the basis of one aspect of ourselves.

Sometimes it is necessary for us to revisit the lessons of the past and apply them to a different situation. The one thing all of us can do, regardless of status, is talk openly about HIV. I’m not saying that anyone has to share the exact same opinion on this because I understand why people would have reservations about it. Who knows, maybe I still do as I have not dated anyone who is positive. But at least I am ready to talk about it and learning more.  Because I do believe there are valid concerns, just like any relationship you embark upon. Education is paramount, not only in prevention but in understanding what it means to those living with the virus.

All relationships have obstacles that we will all have to face. But that doesn’t mean that you have to treat these men so distastefully. As David has said, we are all kin, and status doesn’t remove our sexual nature or desire or our humanity. Basically the only thing I ask every gay man to do is challenge and examine why they have a certain view on this topic. Question where your beliefs come from, question what you fear, and ultimately do what’s right for you. And always protect yourself. Talk.

Thank you David for being my muse and inspiring me to find the right words to express how I feel. And my journals for yet again showing me how reflection is always necessary for growth.

Hey Guys, Let’s Talk About Sex

FAY SIGH

What Is Sex

romantic, sweet, quiet, tongue, heat, rough, fast, sucking, dominating, raw, tender, hard, raunchy, passionate, wanking, deep, kinky, swelling, grabbing, warm, fingers, straddling each other, dripping, exquisite, moan, love making, spit, rubbing, pulling, sacred, lip biting, role play, kissing, scratching, loud, strong, naked, heart pounding, I love you, wet, grunting, smooth, exhausting, climax, freedom, musty, shaking, holding you close, knee buckling, throbbing, hands, grinding, submissive, hot, thrusting, screaming, dirty, euphoria, angry, holy shit, pinching, synchronized rhythm, firm thighs, panting, tasty, howling, engorged, soft, panting, sweaty, quivering, touch, way too slow, rope burn, sensual, groan, bliss, muscle aching, beautiful.

These adjectives, phrases, and emotions are what sum up my sexual experiences and what sex means or has meant to me at one point and time. With some of my ex partners, I experienced almost all of these adjectives at some point in our relationship and with others only one. I’m not ashamed of any of these because in those moments it was what I felt. As a result you can’t tell how many men I’ve slept with and more importantly you’ll eventually see why it doesn’t matter.

It occurred to me last night while talking to a twitter pal that this is the one topic I haven’t written about directly. I’ve mentioned it in other articles but usually as some bridge into a much more broader topic. There’s so much to it and we complicate it and misread all the signs so I won’t try to cover all of it. I just want to as succinctly as possible address what sex is and what sex means all the while being honest without using my educational background as a way to support my case. Just talking from my own personal experiences and things we all know about but maybe don’t admit.

All men, regardless of sexual orientation, think about sex every single day of our lives. Often, constantly, repeatedly, and sometimes annoyingly. Whenever we hear or see the word sex, our minds are bombarded with dozens of images that illustrate what sex means for us individually. We always get this tiny glimmer in our eye for a brief moment that we try to cover up as quickly as possible, probably as we are imagining what sex would be like with the most random person in our periphery.  We can become coy and reserved. Or sometimes bold and free. Almost always accompanied by sweaty hands and the bulging of our groin. Shy and secretive as we dare not look someone else in the eye for fear that they have discovered our dark, tantalizing fantasies. Or at least I don’t (but sometimes I do).

 

Some will criticize for how many men you’ve slept with and some will call you a prude, uptight, stuckup jackass for not doing it enough and that’s because everyone has their own idea of what sex means to them. Maybe it was the condtioning of all those lame 15 minute discussions we got every year in middle school from our awkward phys ed teacher or nervous reluctant parent that quietly is begging you not to ask any questions. No doubt on some subconcious level it comes from the religious right that believes there’s only one way to do it (oh and how wrong they are on that one). We apply so many titles to this three letter word. It starts in middle school gyms, cafeterias, notes between friends, and locker rooms. Funny how sex talk in these places doesn’t end after high school.

It has always bothered me when soothsayers within the community, although well meaning, feel that sexuality still has to fit this image of right and wrong. That we have to cover our shame and not be expressive of our sexual nature in public. And I while I respect their desire to help our community, I say to hell with that. Why repress that when coming out is such a process within it self. Most of us live the first two decades or more resisting and surpressing our desire for sex with men so why should we have to still fit into some mold of when and where we express that. Im not saying just go do it in front of the 7-11 for all to see. But why do we have to fit an ideal of sexuality from a society that still does not fully accept us?

Some of us may not want to admit this but our understanding of what sex means to us correlates to how we interact with each other on some level. We categorize the men we see and within the first few minutes (more like seconds) we know how far we’d let things go.  So we all do it or have done it at some point. We talk in codes trying to decipher whether he’s a bottom or top or verse before we get to know the guy’s last name (sometimes not even that). But sometimes we reevaluate those thoughts as we get to know them.

Sometimes sex is just sex. A physical expression of two people who are attracted to each other. A quick textual exchange of words and nude pics on Grindr and Scruff or twitter will do in a pinch, all leading to more. A blind date when you decide in the first 10 seconds that you don’t anything more than to get physical. A one night stand you take home from the gay club. The random guy from the grocery store. Quick and easy. Or marathon of good but it is still just sex.

And sometimes it’s the statement to love, a coming together of two beings and momentarily merging into one. Togetherness personified. Sometimes sex eloquently sums up all the emotions that you have ever felt and puts it into one, powerful, mind-blowing sequence of movements that drives you into complete ecstasy. It’s this build up and climax as all reason is lost and all rationale is vacant. Sometimes, with the right person, sex is simply beautiful because it is so much more than sex.

As men we need to know the difference between love and sex and that the two are not always interchangeable. Growing up when we see fairytales to action thrillers to even those weird zombie movies, we see a romanticizing  of sex and antiquate it to love. And as an adolescent I thought having sex is how love was and sex was an extension of that when that is not always the case. As adults, things are rarely as we believe them to be when we first discovered a concept or ideal about life. In fact the idea of sex equaling love more often is the exception to the rule and learned that very quickly after my first encounter with another man.

It’s probably one of the hardest emotions that we learn, if/when we actually choose to learn it. I’m a romantic and have been all my life and love to woo and be wooed (is that a word?). You see we often confuse that waltz known as flirting as the path down to love when it’s often nothing more than a guy wanting to get horizontal (or vertical…diagonally if you’re really talented) with you. And that’s okay if that’s all you want out of the exchange. It’s also okay if you want more than that. I hope the younger generation of men know that just because sex may be easier to find and get sex that it isn’t the staple of what sex means or could mean to them someday. I hope that my generation learns that too.

What we as gay men must do first and foremost is love ourselves, that ideal will always be paramount  to me. We must learn what sex means for us, whether it is just physical affection or the bridge to love. Be mindful that in different stages in our lives, sex will mean something more or less and we have to remember that this rule applies to the men we seek out. And it is okay to feel that way to feel either way, none at all, or both. Learn what it means for you and those you want to have sex with. And be honest.