STDs & Hooking Up

There’s no way we can discuss gay sex education and not take a few moments to talk about the most popular places guys meet for sex/dating and how this makes all the difference in STD infection and communication. But, to be very clear, not all sexually transmitted diseases are equal. Some are much harder to contract, like HIV, but others, including HEP A,B & C, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Herpes, Chlamydia, and HPV will vary with how easily they may be passed on. Please check out our pages in the STD section for more information on each of these illnesses.

Disclosure:

Sexually transmitted diseases should be placed into two (2) groups. Curable and Managed. The most common STDs are curable and every sexually active guy should be tested at least every three (3) months for all of them. If positive, take the medication as directed while abstaining from all sexual activity, and then get back out to play. Managed STDS are the three (3) Hs. HIV, HEP C and Herpes. These require a conversation. Not everyone is comfortable being sexual with someone living with these illnesses also science and facts have passed many people by, and they will need to be educated and informed. Unlike with curable STDs, which should not need a conversation (because you have been cured and are non-infectious), managed STDs require more time and effort with both sides keeping an open mind and being respectful of the other guy’s feelings and experiences. HIV when treated properly and he is undetectable, now is a non-infectious illness but it is still a good method to discuss all options, from condoms and PrEP to TasP.

Bars:

At GMJ, we like bars. We’re kinda ole school in that way. Bars allow you to meet people face-to-face and have an actual conversation. Bars also help you work on your social skills with other gay males, without fear or threats to your physical safety. At a bar, topics like STDs can happen and should happen. He is right there, in front of you, open your mouth, and open your ears. This may seem like odd advice, but at this point, he is a stranger and you can feel free to test your communication skills with him as well as find out more about him. If he’s totally against dating or hooking-up with someone with HIV or any other STD that you may have, it’s better to know sooner than later. And if you are that guy, it’s better to let him know before things get too intimate.

Dating/Hook-up apps:

Growing faster each day and more on the way. No matter how you scratch your itch, there’s an app for that. Some do allow for stating HIV status, and undetectable is an option on a few, but this is self- reporting for the sake of sex. The information on his profile might be true, but it may be out of date or just a pack of lies. If HIV, or any STD, is a factor for you (as it should be, no matter your status), take the time in one of your emails between “Sup…you, lookin?” and “can you host?”, to ask about his full STD status. No matter what he posted on his profile. No matter what his answer, be a gentleman, or at least pretend.

(Note: Please stop writing nasty things in your profile, it makes you look very bad and keeps you from getting laid as often as you think you should. Just sayin.)

Sex parties & Clubs/Saunas/Bath Houses:

In the law, there is something called “Assumption of the risk”. This means that you’ve decided to accept all of the risks with a particular activity even if you didn’t know the full range. That’s what happens when you step into one of these places. You are assuming the risk of contracting any and all STDs. Yes. Really.

We love when these spaces have STD/HIV testing days and even have condoms and lube readily available but this is really not the time or place to discuss status. They’re crowded, with lots of sexual activity and you, and your questions are making guys lose their boners. You are not helping, you are making it worse because you’ve changed the mood and possibly brought stigma with you. But here are a few things you can do to not cock block:

  • Make a decision before you leave your home about your safer sex practices and stick to them. Condoms are everywhere. Use them. Make sure he does as well.
  • Remember, in the world of Treatment as Prevention and PrEP, everything is not as it seems. You don’t know why some guys are not using condoms or what conversations they had before. Mind your business.
  • Look around…a lot. Find guys that have your same condom usage habits. I doubt you will be the first, or only guy, he has sex with that night. What he does with others, says what he wants to do with you.
  • Pay attention to your drug/alcohol usage. Too much of a good thing will keep you from making good decisions or even remember the ones you made. It’s great to have fun, but you still need to keep your safety in mind.
  • Be considerate. Not everyone is going to do what you want them to. Guys go to these spaces to have sex, not to get a lecture from you about condoms and STDs. This behaviour, on your part, makes it harder to get guys tested or even using condoms. If you don’t “click” in that way, say “thanks” and walk away. Also, keep your mouth closed. No one needs you broadcasting your interaction to others. They’ll make their own decisions. This is how stigma grows and keeps our brothers away from public spaces, and STD education.
  • Finally, have fun. If this is your first trip, or too many to count, spaces where guys can meet this way are closing everyday. If you’ve decided to make this a part of your personal life experience, make sure that you truly enjoy it, while it lasts. And remember, there is nothing on a man sexier than a smile… and a condom.

Abstinence/Celibacy

Stop laughing.

The reason we place this topic here, under hooking up, is because we understand that some of you aren’t looking just for sex at the above venues. Some of you are thinking of other things than getting him between the sheets, when creating relationships and these are true options for your further consideration.

As safer sex goes, not many gay males like to discuss abstinence or celibacy but they’re viable options. There are many reasons one may choose not to have sexual intercourse but it seems to be a taboo subject as it relates to STDs. We believe that this subject is so important that it will be brought up more times. Here we would just like to point out the differences between the two (non)acts and remind you that these choices exist.

Abstinence: the absence of sex/ not always connected to religious views.
Celibacy: The avoidance of sex and connected to religious views

Either of these practices can be for a short period or for a life-time. Celibacy is usually considered to occur before any sexual intercourse (a virgin) but not always. And one can abstain from sex for a day, a week, a year or longer. The words you use don’t really matter as much as the reason why you would take such a vow. Hopefully it would not be because of fear.

Before you go

Let’s take a quick moment to discuss HIV stigma. If you are HIV positive, you already know where we are going with this, because many of you live this reality everyday. And for that, we’re truly sorry. But, once again, this goes back to the issue of fear. We’ve tried to give you a new form of sex education about this virus and hope that we succeeded in some fashion. Of course we aren’t saying that you must have sex with someone who is HIV positive, or someone who is negative, but what you can do is be better to your brothers no matter their status. Cruelty is unnecessary, especially against those literally fighting for their lives.

Currently there are all types of anti-stigma campaigns going on across the world. We aren’t naïve enough to believe that we alone can change your mind about this topic but we would like to think that at least one reader has a better understanding of HIV and will not be as judgmental or hateful, because but for the grace of god go I.