“Take the blue pill...?”
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!
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?’