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 the infection would be cured with either a shot or a pill. Because of this, gay males and fetish sex were able to grow and thrive, creating large communities like the leather scene. But then things changed.
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 want to address these concerns and discuss sex and sexually transmitted illnesses.
- 1 Risk
Life comes with risk. Even getting out the bathtub can be dangerous, with at least one American dying daily. 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 decide 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 speak of contracting a sexually transmitted illness. If we look at this concept rationally, we must remember a few crucial 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 contaminated by feces, which goes double for shellfish, unwashed vegetables, fruits, and even undercooked food.
- HEP B, like HIV, is blood and bodily fluid born. 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 very easy bacteria to transmit, and the transfer of bodily fluids is unnecessary.
- Gonorrhea is another bacteria transferred through skin-to-skin contact, but new research states that it is also contained within saliva.
- Herpes is a virus transmitted through direct physical contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids, genital and/or oral secretions, or the bumps or “ulcers” themselves. But, this part is crucial; you may still contract this virus from someone who is not exhibiting symptoms or having an active outbreak.
- Bacteria, and not a virus, cause syphilis. It is transmitted through direct contact with an open sore, which can be internal, like inside the anus or mouth, or externally located along the penis or lips. 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 as being able to live anywhere your body could touch intimately.
Note: You can view more information about 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 tough to contract in comparison to herpes or gonorrhea, 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!” Physical contact is a must, from kissing and fondling to oral and anal sex. If you are concerned about risk and STI infection, it cannot start with condomless anal sex; it must begin with touching. Three (3) STIs are bacteria 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 bodily fluids is expected. We must 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 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. Historically, 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, most notably inside the United States, decided to take an overly zealous approach to combat the disease. They pivoted from totally ignoring our dead and dying to using all of their powers to shut down our sexual outlets. The negative effect was that HIV continued to spread without the intervention of the health departments or the knowledge about condoms’ effectiveness in reducing the risk of infection. Guys still got together to have sex, and the virus kept spreading, but the knowledge was now replaced with fear, shame, stigma, and lies.
A further step in HIV prevention was to sell the notion that multiple partners were a huge risk factor in contracting HIV. In some minor aspects, this is correct and logical. The more sexual partners you have, the more likely you will eventually encounter 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 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 worldwide 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, and the issue is that many in our community have overdone it. Drug and alcohol addiction is a significant concern among gay males, and we must begin to talk about it. Our article on Crystal meth is detailed and can help many members of 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 can see other guys positively acting on their sexual impulses. They can explore concepts of fetishes and even new ways to have intercourse 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, and 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 benchmark makes finding a partner almost impossible because your standards are unrealistic. Also, many gay males have issues with their body image that is only exacerbated by constant viewership of the beautiful people having great sex with each other.
The enjoyment of porn, within itself, is not evil, but addiction is known to occur, and some will suffer bouts of depression when their 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 affect 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 to cope with their sexual desires.
When it comes to toys, many of us started 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, cucumber, or carrot. Perhaps you made your first cockring out of a shoelace or cord of rope. For some guys, their first waterport experience 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, and our position is that we support whatever protections work best for individuals. Some guys cannot get an erection while wearing them or even have allergic reactions. The truth is that most men worldwide 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 serosorting 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 for safer sex.
We highly recommend you read our article about safer sex (2.0) as it provides excellent information about everything from condoms and PrEP to Uequalsu and abstinence. As gay males, the choice of our 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 fantastic. The physical exchange between two, or more, men can be life-reaffirming. These connections can make us feel whole, human, and loved. There is a level of intimacy that can only be achieved through 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 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!