Why It’s So Hard To Talk About Bareback Sex
“With more than 50% of gay men no longer using condoms consistently, the shame that often prevents candid discussion of bareback sex may prove to be as dangerous as the health risks themselves.
I had been living in New York City just long enough to know about the risks of bareback sex, the statistics, the history, and the ghosts. This is not a cautionary tale; this is about a decision I made, and keep making.
In October 2010, I met a guy online who was visiting from France. That night, after meeting in a midtown Starbucks, we went to his hotel room. I never asked about his HIV status. I watched him do a line of coke in the bathroom, and even knowing that, knowing he was some unfamiliar man doing things I never envisioned myself doing, we fucked each other without condoms. And it felt good. This was the scariest part for me. Not the risk itself, but the fact that I enjoyed it.
The next morning, as I rushed to throw on my clothes to get to work on time, it all came rushing back: the risks, the statistics, the history. And, along with them, the names of authors I’d read who wrote during the onset of the AIDS crisis. I felt ashamed that I was doing something that would put me at risk of an incurable illness, felt ashamed because I knew people in my own life who I was close to who had struggled to come to terms with being HIV positive…”
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