Luke Alexan­der

“Take the blue pill...?”

GT (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Tru­vada. A small, blue and some­what ex­pen­sive ob­long tablet that could lit­er­ally erad­i­cate HIV from the face of the planet. That’s the dream, any­way.

PrEP has been dis­cussed among many of my friends for years, usu­ally con­clud­ing with an en­vis­aged prom­ise of a sex life that can be as risky as the per­son in ques­tion.

The in­ter­nal worry of HIV be­com­ing a phys­i­cal mem­oir of times gone by is some­thing shared by many gay men who en­gage in fre­quent con­dom­less sex. And, with­out a doubt, there’s a high de­mand for such a pro­tec­tive medicine. I’m not here to say PrEP is amaz­ing, nor would I pro­mote a tablet to all those at risk and say, ‘This is what you need!’ It goes deeper than that.

For us to make an ac­cu­rate as­sump­tion of PrEP, we need to con­sider the men­tal­i­ties of those who wish to take it. Why do gay men have such risky sex? Do they even de­serve this tablet? Will it help them? The an­swers to these ques­tions are im­pos­si­ble to an­swer, but if you’re a 21-year-old gay man with HIV and a sex ad­dic­tion, it makes it all a lot eas­ier to un­der­stand.

The ugly truth is that many gay men de­test con­doms, much like many straight men and women alike. Hu­mans have been hav­ing sex since time be­gan, and con­dom use, while un­ques­tion­ably a break­through in pro­vid­ing the safest sex pos­si­ble, is not for every­one.

When I wear a con­dom, I feel some­what emas­cu­lated and numb. I wont pre­tend I wear them of­ten, be­cause I re­ally don’t. I hate them. I carry a few in my bag, of a par­tic­u­lar brand that I can tol­er­ate and still en­joy great sex with. These con­doms may some­times be used, and some­times not – it is all very de­pen­dent on the part­ner I’m with or my health at the time.

If my part­ner re­quests a con­dom, I’ll pull one out and put it on. But truth­fully, this rarely hap­pens, par­tic­u­larly due to my un­ri­valled tal­ent in seek­ing sex­ual part­ners that are ‘on my page’ – of­ten HIV pos­i­tive, un­de­tectable, nar­cis­sis­tic and some­times schiz­o­phrenic. Ba­si­cally my­self, re­ally.

Con­doms need to re­main freely avail­able and pro­moted. Throw buck­ets of them at high school stu­dents un­til they learn all the names, brands, sizes and ma­te­ri­als!

@pos­i­tiveluke

I don’t aim to ‘rep­re­sent’ the bare­back com­mu­nity in any way with my ad­mis­sion of pre­fer­ring con­dom­less sex. The rea­son I do is not sim­ply be­cause ‘it feels good’, but be­cause sex with­out that ‘free­dom’ is of­ten not worth hav­ing sex at all.

Con­doms, for me, act as some­thing of an emo­tional bar­rier be­tween my­self and a sex­ual part­ner, in ad­di­tion to a phys­i­cal one.

that con­doms can be painful, some­times, and the phys­i­cal warmth of an­other is para­mount to a beau­ti­ful sex­ual ex­pe­ri­ence.

But de­spite my pref­er­ences, con­doms need to re­main freely avail­able and pro­moted – par­tic­u­larly to young peo­ple. Throw buck­ets of them at high school stu­dents un­til they learn all the names, brands, sizes and ma­te­ri­als. in­fec­tion rates of the next gen­er­a­tion.

Af­ter three years of talk­ing in depth to peo­ple, read­ing the most graph­i­cally hon­est of emails, and sleep­ing with many men, I know in my mind that con­dom use is sub­jec­tive to the per­son in ques­tion, with close links to men­tal health, per­son­al­ity traits, sex­ual fan­tasies, child­hood trauma, or a de­sire to be ei­ther dom­i­neer­ing, or be dom­i­nated.

Sex goes fur­ther than the act of just fuck­ing, and for many, it’s more telling of an in­stinc­tive de­sire to fuck the way that feels right for them.

With all this in mind, the ugly truth may ap­pear to be dam­ag­ing to­wards pub­lic opin­ion of ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, or hy­per-sex­u­al­ity, or both. This isn’t my aim – my aim has al­ways been hon­esty. I’m not pro-PrEP, I’m pro­choice. Deep down, we know if we’re sex­ual to the point of be­ing at risk. And al­though a lot gay men would never be as hon­est as I am here, PrEP needs to be con­sid­ered on a case by case ba­sis with­out the judge­ment or ridicule many gay men fear, or do in­deed ex­pe­ri­ence.

Tru­vada: a po­tent blue pill that could change the world for­ever. But with half the world try­ing to change us from who we are, and the other half try­ing to pro­tect us from who we are, the ques­tion we should be ask­ing is not, ‘Do WE need PrEP?’ But rather, ‘Do YOU?’

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