BrilliantBro: Raw Sex Is Good Sex, Too
The taboo conversation surrounding gay men and raw sex has been one of many roots of misinformation when it comes to resources, the spread of the HIV virus, as well as other sexually transmitted infections. Our unwillingness, fear, and social constructs hinder us from expressing our honest and natural desires.
It wasn’t that long ago that the typical way for agencies to stop the spread of HIV was to throw condoms at every gay man walking down Santa Monica Boulevard like rice at a mid-80s wedding. Still, every bar in the West Village and nightclub in Atlanta have a giant fishbowl of colorful condoms. You can snag one (or six) to use later that night with that ambiguous dude with the tantalizing pink lips you locked eyes with during the new Rihanna summertime anthem.You already know that the night is going to look nakie nakie naked.
But what if you’re not at the club? Let’s fast forward through a few dates and the same ambiguous dude with the tantalizing pink lips now has a name and turned out to be a decent human being. You went on a few dates to The Cheesecake Factory and took a late night stroll through Bryant Park. Although you’ve never met his older sister, you feel like you personally know her from him constantly telling stories of childhood scavenger hunts and Astro Jump birthday parties. He’s just the right splash of corky and the way he silently commands respect in public spaces makes you glad God whispered that you only eat a garden salad for lunch and a breath mint for dessert. You’ve had “the talk” and have a mutual understanding and agreement that you are not going to date or have sex with anyone else. You’re exclusive. You had that one “slip up” after a drunken night after Margarita Mondays, but now you don’t want to use condoms moving forward. If you started, when do you decide to stop using condoms in a monogamous relationship? What does that conversation look like? And where does taking personal ownership of your health without stepping on your partner’s toes play a role in raw sex?
First and foremost, raw sex is natural. It doesn’t matter if you're gay or straight, raw sex is natural, feels good, and Noah surely was not using condoms rocking the boat on the arc. It’s been argued that corporate pharmaceutical companies mean well, but sometimes their delivery and approach is not only problematic, but they possess the power to influence stigma and the way we digest information on huge rector. Even with the simplest verbiage, they decide what they want the masses to focus on.
People have raw sex, or a form of “risky behavior” as medical corporate America likes to call it. Well, it’s a risky behavior every time a black man in America gets behind the wheel of a car. The way someone likes their sex served to them does not need to be policed nor judged. Many conservatives still deem the gay sex they are not even having as an abomination. Instead, it’s crucial to have honest conversation surrounding the realities of our community and the endless amount of resources available. Furthermore, question and challenge why some of those resources are not available for everyone and anyone.
The Advocate as well as several other publications recently released the not-so-staggering results of a case study linked to partners with opposing HIV statuses. While surveying 358 same-sex couples from Brazil, Thailand, and Australia found that over the course of four years 16,899 reported acts of condomless sex did not result in the transmission of the virus when the HIV virus was suppressed in the HIV positive partner.
The data collected in this study is not only useful for science but also the social stigma when it comes to the truths about HIV. When it comes to dating, there are several hang ups with disclosure that people are uneducated and ignorant due to high school rumors and misinformation.
There are several ways to address your desire for engaging in condomless sex. Ask questions. Be honest. Don't shame yourself for what you enjoy doing. What you feel, what you like, and what you desire is human nature and we cannot let stigma and social norms derail you from what you authentically, consensually want. Sex mixed with honestly is crucial with your partner, and if it is not implemented can lead to cheating, depression, and unnecessary negatively affecting your health. Regardless of your gender identity or sexual ordination, full disclosure of your likes and dislikes in a sexual relationship is pivotal to a happy, healthy sex life.
Respect your partner's wishes to use condoms. When it comes to sexual health, different people have their own methods on how they adhere to their needs. Just like condoms are not for everybody, neither is raw sex. Though monogamy is not dead (I repeat, monogamy is not dead!!!), open relationships are often openly addressed and comfortably lived out by gay men. Contingent on the rules and agreement, if you are in an open relationship, just take into consideration that there are other bodies involved in your sex life and that does affect the health aspect of it.
Don’t be stupid. Stay alert. If you see an incriminating text pop up from an unsaved number don’t hesitate to ask questions (I did not say automatically accuse). If you need to, do a little research: do it. Being vocal about your intent may make you look like a crazy boyfriend to him, but he will know not to mess up because giving time to liars is not on the morning agenda. If your gut tells you that you need to be using condoms, it's probably a good idea to have that conversation and not feel pressured to reroute your feelings. Asking to use condoms again does not necessarily mean you think they’re cheating, and if it does, have a conversation about getting tested, then actually do it… together.
That brings me to my next point. Getting tested together is another great way to both monitor and hold each other accountable for your health. While you’re at it, depending on how old you are or the history of your health, it may be a good job to get a general doctor to keep up with your health outside of the routine, full STI screening including prostate examination and anything you should be concerned about with your family history. Men typically don’t like to go to the doctor, so holding your sex partner accountable could be revolutionary.
Finally, condoms are not the only solution. The reason why this particular case study worked so well is because the HIV-positive patients were using TasP (Treatment as Prevention). Because they were in care and adherent to their medication, their body did not transmit the HIV virus, and they were able to have health sex without fear. PrEP is also a great way to protect HIV-negative people from the HIV virus. PrEP does not protect against other STIs, but is another potential step to taking ownership over your own health and body.
The thing is, we’re going to do it anyway. If raw sex is happening all around us and there are safer ways to do it, let's not ignore the conversation. Reality is way more important than pride and ego. Although condoms are still around, it’s no longer the reality that rubbers are the sole option to prevent HIV and other STI/ STDs.