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Fire Island Part One: Before the Trip

The days before a vacation suck. You sit at work thinking about what may or may not happen, what to pack and what you think you will forget the day that you leave, and also how much money you should bring with you.

I will be on Fire Island for a whole week. Parties, drinking, tanning and boys are the first things on my mind, and I am sure they’re also the first things on most peoples’ minds. However, and really, the first thing that sex-positive people like myself should be thinking about is bringing lube and condoms. I have packed both, but I am not planning on using the condoms.

Now, I am very aware that if I don’t wrap it, I could get multiple STDs. But I prefer sex raw and that is what I will most likely be doing (if the other guy is okay with it, as well) on the island. I am on PrEP, so I have no fear of HIV. And the other STDs aren’t a concern of mine. I have had my hepatitis and HPV vaccines and most of the other STDs are curable. Herpes 2 isn’t, but it is manageable. So if I see multiple bumps on someone’s rear, I will not be chowing or plowing. And saying that it’s razor burn or pimples is not going to work on me. So I may not be using condoms, but I will be using my knowledge of the visible signs of STDs to protect myself.

When I return from my trip to the island, I will be seeing my doctor. I will have her test me for everything. I am hoping that the tests come back negative, even though I won’t be upset with myself if any of them are positive because I chose to have unprotected sex and the island is known as “STD Island” for a reason. I remind myself often that most of the symptoms are itching and/or burning in the genital area, and that possible bumps or a rash and discharge from the affected area could be an STD; so I know what to look out for. But I always encourage my friends that if they have these symptoms that they should be a nice person and to stay away from sex with other people until they are looked at and treated. I abide by my own advice, too! Knowing you have something and then having sex, which could lead to passing on your STD to your sexual partner(s), whether intentionally or not, is morally wrong.

Another thing that should be taken into consideration while you’re on Fire Island are the bugs: insects and ticks. While traveling on the walkways, you will most likely see a deer or two eating the grass nearby. Ticks don’t jump or fly, but they’re very good at grabbing onto you. Once on your body, they will travel north to the sweaty areas and begin to burrow into your skin. If you do find a tick on you, and you feel comfortable doing so, very carefully remove it with tweezers – or go to the nearest care clinic. I grew up in the farmlands of Western Connecticut, so I’m very comfortable pulling them out. But you can also use rubbing alcohol, which should kill off the tick. I’m no doctor, so definitely heed your own caution. And know that if a piece of the tick is left inside of your skin that you need to keep an eye on it and immediately notify your doctor when you return home.

There are two ways to get from the Grove to the Pines, the two most popular gay areas of Fire Island. Either take the water taxi or walk. If you walk, you will be traveling through the woods, swampy areas and/or the beach. I’ve even been bitten (by bugs) at the meat-rack. By walking in these areas, you are more than likely going to encounter mosquitoes and flies, so bring bug spray. I believe that the brand OFF has 25% DEET, which will kill ticks and keep the flying insects away. Yes, it smells and tastes awful when licking the other guy’s neck, but it’s a risk I plan on taking. Condoms, no. Insect repellent, yes.

Finally, here is a list of additional items that I plan on taking, just in case: Tylenol or Advil, pills for an upset stomach, wet wipes, ice trays, can and bottle openers, aloe for sunburn and extra food and drinks. It's important to me to bring all of these items, again, just in case I need them. Like condoms, they're good to have on-hand. But even though I feel confident enough that I won't be using them, I know the methods of protection that I'm using, and sometimes I'm willing to take the risk and to accept responsibility for any outcome.

So wish me luck, guys, and stay tuned for part two in mid-July, when I return to Connecticut and when I will be sharing all of the dirt.