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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hi, My Name is Michael and I'm a Diseased Pariah

Well, it happened again. Met a guy online, chatted a bit, figured out that the filthy, perverted, friendly things we enjoyed would complement each other's need for perversion and filth nicely. Agreed to safe sex, naturally. Met up in a neutral space so we could each back out with dignity if the reality didn't quite match up to what life online had conjured up. We both fitted our descriptions and agreed we still wanted to do filthy things to each other.
Then I told him I was HIV+.
Fear, confusion, doubt and... "Look", I said, "if it makes you uncomfortable then hey, let's forget it - no point trying to pretend." He was grateful for the chance I gave him and he left.
I didn't have to tell him - and I don't always tell everyone I get naked with. That's why we do safe sex guys - so we won't catch it or pass it on. In fact, I can remember about 7 or 8 years ago at a bar being told off by a guy for telling him my HIV status - as he said "We're all supposed to look after each other and ourselves - if you have it or not isn't an issue if we use rubbers" (or words to that effect). And that was part of the original basis of safe sex, this idea that we should all look after each other, and using rubber meant you could still be a filthy slutty sex-pig and stay safe from either getting it or giving it.
But guys today don't seem to have that understanding, or so it seems to me. There seems to be an assumption that those who have HIV have a duty to disclose and according to some guys we shouldn't even consider having sex.
FYI - Legally, in this country, we don't have to tell anyone, so long as we keep our partners safe.
The thing is, when you meet someone either online or in a venue, and you agree to safe sex, then why the hell does finding out that the other guy is poz make such a difference? Don't men believe that safe sex works? Or do they really hope to be able to rip off the rubbers halfway through in the heat of the moment? Or do we in fact remind them of the possibility that they too may have it, but they just don't want to face that: That safe-sex something these guys only pay lip service to, and they are in fact being confronted with the fear that by their other actions they might already have exposed themselves to HIV? I think that is the case for many guys.
I sort of understand, but then, I don't. We know condoms work at stopping transmission of HIV. Fact. And after all we gay men invented safe sex as a way to keep on enjoying ourselves and stay safe at the same time. We were practical that way - we didn't want to have to give up all the fun and freedom we'd fought so hard to win.
And let's face it, it can get pretty bruising to the ego to get knocked back this way. I'm pretty used to how guys can react, so I think it doesn't affect me a much as others I know, but it still isn't much fun I have to say. I used to just include it on my on line profiles so I could avoid having to go through it all, but that just seemed to be the kiss of death (ha!) so now I wait till we meet and then decide whether or not I feel like I need to say anything.
But you know, it really shouldn't be an issue, if we just follow the steps we all know about. I suspect it's more of an issue here in NZ than in other countries with larger gay populations. Fewer guys around today have actually had anything to do with HIV and there is probably more of a sense of fear and mystery - and HIV does bring sex and death together in a particularly volatile way.
Luckily for me, not everyone reacts this way. There are still hot sexy men who don't miss a beat when I tell them and keep on being filthy friendly perverts as we step out of our clothes.

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