Before AIDS/HIV, most gay guys didn’t think much about condoms or safer sex. Of course there was always the looming reality of contracting sexually transmitted illnesses but, at that time, everyone understood that with either a shot or a pill, the infection would be cured. Because of this, gay male and fetish sex was able to grow and thrive creating large communities like the leather scene. But, then things changed.
Now, many guys look at their sexual lives through the lens of “is it going to kill me”, or “how risky is it”. This new way of thinking has slowed the progress of gay male and fetish sex as potential players deny themselves carnal pleasures because they let fear govern their decisions. We would like to address these concerns and talk about sex and sexually transmitted illnesses.
- 1 Risk
Life comes with risk. Even getting out the bath tub can be dangerous with at least one American dying each day. But that hasn’t stopped (most of you) from bathing and showering. Crossing the street is probably the most dangerous thing you do in a day, but that Starbucks coffee isn’t going to come to you.
Each of us must assess risk for ourselves and on our own terms. We cannot let others decided what we should and shouldn’t do, or how much risk in our personal lives is acceptable. This is most true when concerning our sexual lives and choices. It is impossible to live a life without risk, and it is impossible to have sex without, at some point, encountering a level of risk, including STI infections.
- 2 Infections
When most people talk about risk, they are speaking of contracting a sexually transmitted illness. If we are going to look at this concept rationally we must remember a few important facts about STIs.
- HIV is a virus that is transmitted ONLY through blood or semen.
- HEP A is usually caused by drinking or eating food which is contaminated by feces, and this goes double for shellfish, unwashed vegetables, fruits and even undercooked food.
- HEP B, like HIV, is blood and bodily fluid born. Meaning, some of our favorite sexual activities like “French kissing”, spit swapping, rimming and anal sex without proper protection (condoms/dental dams), may lead to infection. Oral sex, for either party, is not known to transmit HEP B.
- HEP C, is also blood transmitted usually through needle sharing, tattooing, piercings and even fisting.
- Chlamydia/LGV is a bacteria and very easy to transmit and a transfer of bodily fluids is not necessary.
- Gonorrhoea is another bacteria that is transferred through skin-to-skin contact but new research states that it also is contained within saliva.
- Herpes is a virus that is transmitted through direct physical contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids, genital and/or oral secretions, or the bumps or “ulcers” themselves. But, and this part is very important, you may still contract this virus from someone who is not exhibiting symptoms or having an active outbreak.
- Syphilis is caused by a bacteria, and not a virus. It is transmitted through direct contact with an open sore, which can be internal, like inside of the anus or mouth, or externally located along the penis or lips. This means that transmission from an infected person is pretty easy through sexual intercourse and/or sexual contact. For the sake of ease in understanding, think of syphilis being able to live anywhere your body could touch in an intimate manner.
Note: You can view more information about all of these sexually transmitted illnesses by accessing our STD Health section from the pulldown menu.
Different STIs are transmitted in different ways. Some require direct contact with bodily fluids, such as HIV but others only need bare skin contact for infection. Viruses like HIV are very difficult to contract in comparison to herpes or gonorrhoea, but we know none of this matters if you are the unlucky one to get infected.
- 3 Skin to Skin contact
“If you ain’t touchin, you ain’t fukin!” From kissing and fondling to oral and anal sex, physical contact is a must. If you are concerned about risk and STI infection, it cannot start with condomless anal sex; it must start with touching. Three (3) STIs are bacterias that are spread through physical contact alone. Condoms are not the perfect failsafe we are led to believe.
- 4 Bodily Fluids
When being realistic about sex, the exchange of some sorts of bodily fluids is expected. We must now even consider saliva (spit) in our risk assessment due to gonorrhea. Semen and secretions are not the be all-end all when it comes to risk.
- 5 He has to be infected BEFORE HE CAN INFECT YOU
Contrary to popular opinion, the basic act of two gay males having sex without a condom is not how STIs are spread. Joe and Dale can have all of the condomless sex they want, without fear of STI infection, if neither one has an STI. (or in the case of HIV, one or both are undetectable).
Knowing your STI status and those of your sexual partners is one of the best steps you can take to reduce and even eliminate your risk of contraction. But, if everyone who is playing is free of infection, you have NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT.
Pro Tip: If you don’t know the status of all of your sexual partners, you better make damn sure to take precautions such as HEP A/B vaccines, and PrEP. Better safe than sorry. Here are some other immunizations that are good to have before having gay and/or fetish sex.
- 6 Orgies, bathhouses and multiple partners
The gays didn’t invent orgies but we sure did make them better. Throughout modern history gay males have found ways to have sex in public parks, bathrooms, transport stations, and even churches. In many of us seems to be a natural desire to connect with more than one sexual partner, sometimes at one time. There is nothing wrong with this.
Of course, the issue returns to HIV. During the beginning of the health crisis, many governments, but most notably inside of the United States, decided to take an overly zealous approach to combatting the disease. They pivoted from totally ignoring our dead and dying to using all of their powers to shut down our sexual out-lets. The negative effect was that HIV continued to spread without the intervention of the health departments or the knowledge about condoms effectiveness to reduce the risk of infection. Guys still got together to have sex, and the virus kept spreading, but knowledge was now replaced with fear, shame, stigma and lies.
A further step in HIV prevention was to sell the notion that multiple partners was a huge risk factor in contracting HIV. In some small aspect this is correct and logical. The more sexual partners you have the more likely you are to eventually run across someone infected. But, if you are HIV positive and undetectable, only have sex with those who are undetectable or HIV negative, this is not an issue. The government decided to leave this information out. Remember, you can only contract an STI from someone who is infected with one.
- 7 Chemsex
Drugs, sex and rock and roll. Ok, we all know about PNP (party and play), if you don’t, click HERE. Drugs, including alcohol, have always been partners for sexual activity, and not just for gays. Bars and clubs all around the world are filled with people that use drugs to relax, get in the right head space, and/or even gain the confidence to approach someone. This is normal. The issue is that many in our community have over done it. Drug and alcohol addiction is a major concern with gay males and we must begin to talk about it. Our article on Crystal meth is detailed and can help a lot of members in our community, Check it out.
At GMJ we believe in taking a harm reduction approach to drugs because we know that shaming or fear-mongering doesn’t work. Only you can tell when you have been having too much of a good time, and it usually begins when other areas of your life begin to suffer. This includes your relationships, your job, your education, and most of all, your bank balance.
- 8 Pornography
Because gay sex education is a myth, many guys learn about sex from porn. The internet has made accessing even the most remote and rare types of sexual acts as simple as a Google search. This is both good and bad. The good is that members of our community are able to see other guys acting on their sexual impulses in a positive manner. They are able to explore concepts of fetishes and even new ways to have intercourse that they didn’t believe they would like.
The bad is that porn is not real. Most guys don’t have 12 inch cocks and bull balls. They don’t have model good looks and bodies to die for. Most gay men are average, just like you. And that’s ok, unless you follow a porn perspective. This higher than high bench mark makes finding a partner almost impossible because your standards are unrealistic. Also, many gay males have issues with theirbody image that are only exacerbated by constant viewership of the beautiful people having great sex with each other.
The enjoyment of porn, within itself, is not bad, but addiction is known as well as depression when our lives don’t live up to the fantasy.
- 9 Fetish Sex and toys for boys
All of our lives, either from family, friends, local and global community leaders, churches and even random people on the street, we have been told that our sex is bad and worthy of death and then a straight ticket to hell. This MUST have some effect on our ability to connect with ourselves and potential partners. This level of homophobic brainwashing is one of the reasons so many guys drink and do drugs as a way to cope with their sexual desires.
When it comes to toys, many of us started out with them, long before we had partners, in-between them and sometimes with them. Dildos are commonly used by our community, but now so are flesh-lights and a multitude of new and improved gadgets for solo sex. We should have no shame about our want to use these products. They are a 27.3 BILLION dollar a year business. Gays can’t be the only users.
So, if plain ole vanilla gay sex is hard to cope with for many in our community, imagine the hill that needs to be climbed to get comfortable with our fetishes. Maybe your first experience with an object was a dildo, or even a cucumber or carrot. Maybe you made your first cock ring out of a shoe lace or cord of rope. For some guys, their first experience with watersports was on their own, in the shower, hoping no one would ever find out. We have been taught to hide our cravings because they are wrong. We need to support each other in breaking this cycle of self hatred. No matter what type of sex we desire, as long as it is safe, sane and consensual, it is A.OK!
- 10 Condoms
We have an entire article about the truth of condoms and how effective they are in stopping the transmission of HIV and other STIs. We are neither for nor against them. Our position is that we support whatever protections work best for individuals. Some guys aren’t able to get an erection while wearing them, or even have allergic reactions. The honest truth is that most men around the world are not regular users of them, and HIV has not changed this fact. We will neither shame nor reject those who find it necessary to look for alternatives like PrEP and sero-sorting, as a way to protect themselves from HIV and other sexually transmitted illnesses.
The other side of the safer sex coin to condoms, is so called barebacking, even though we prefer the less judgmental terms of condomless and/or natural sex. Many gay males believe that the only type of acceptable sex is with a condom and ostracize those who disagree with them. But, the world has changed and so has our known successful measures of safer sex.
We highly recommend you read our article about safer sex (2.0) as it provides great information about everything from condoms and PrEP to Uequalsu and abstinence. As gay males, the choice of your sexual habits, is ours and ours alone. We can protect ourselves and those of our partners in a myriad of ways, but none of them will work if we doubt the science and bury our heads in 1985 sand.
- One more thing:
The final truth about gay male sex is that it is amazing. The physical exchange between two, or more, men can be life re-affirming. These connections can make us feel whole, to feel human, to feel loved. There is a level of intimacy that can only be achieved through the physical and sexual contact with other males. There is a joy to our sex that we should not deny ourselves, and definitely not deny others. But to do this, we must free our minds from the societal bonds of stigma, and shame. Gay male sex is not bad, dirty or wrong.
Get yourself educated about gay male sex, sexually transmitted illnesses, and then get out there and have some amazing sex. It is healthy for your mind, body and spirit!