It would be easy to preach.
At the time of writing this (late November 2014), I’m a man in my early 40’s and as of my last test roughly 3 months ago, I’m HIV negative. So well done me. Do please bear with while I heartily congratulate myself and launch into an impassioned yet slightly smug sermon about the benefits of practicing protected sex.
Except doing that would make me a hypocrite.
Because can I say in total honesty that every single time I’ve had penetrative sex in my life it’s always been safe? Nope, I can’t. And this includes one incident that was relatively recent. I like to think I’m well informed, God knows I know the risks and still it happened. Of course ask right now and I will say that it would be a deal breaker for me. I’ve had enough conversations insisting on condoms with potential partners in the past. Plus I seem to recall writing ”safe only” often enough on various hook up site profiles. Which is as close as one can get to going on the record.
Hell, I even once promoted a men only club night in a straight venue and insisted on safer sex packs because I felt strongly that we should be seen to be being responsible when taking guys 5 quid entry fee on the door. One million social conscious brownie points for me right there.
So taking that all into account, how come it still happened? Placing the blame on too much alcohol is lazy and frankly not even half the story. So why? Truth be told, we were naked and saying “Stop” to have the condom conversation felt like it would kill the moment dead. And that voice in the back of my head said that it would be okay. Just this once…
Like I say, it would be easy to lecture. But I would be awfully naive to believe that anyone is going to go away and rethink their sexual behaviour based on anything I write here in a relatively short opinion piece. I’m no saint and certainly no expert on public health. So I am going to speak solely for myself.
This is what I think now; I hated the fact I put myself in that position. I hated the ”Oh Sh**” feeling the next day and that heightened sense of uncertainty waiting at the drop-in clinic. Most of all I hated the fact I betrayed the memories of the friends I’ve lost, the friends we’ve all lost, through being too drunk and too needy one night. Like I’d learnt nothing.
To repeat, I speak for no one but myself. We all have our own reasons for marking World Aids Day. For some it is a moment to mourn absent friends and lovers taken too soon. For others it is anger and activism that drives them. We have all read plenty this past year of how there remain far too many parts of the world where the basic human rights of the LGBT community are being eroded to a point of non existence. In the case of our brothers and sisters who are HIV positive, the situation is even more desperate.
Hell, you can even make a case that a few show up at the vigils to check out cute boys looking sad.
But whatever the reason, we are there every 1st December in our thousands. And I know why I’m there. It’s a show of love, grief and respect for those that walked before me and fell along the way. And for those who still live every day with the shadow of HIV hovering just in sight.
And after a couple of moments of stupidity, relief. Pure, simple, selfish, relief.
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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.