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January 13th, 2015

My Gonorrhea Nostalgia

 

One of the times I contracted gonorrhea, which in my day was affectionately called The Clap, I was 20 years old and had just moved to West Hollywood, California. It was 1981, disco was still thumping in the bars, and the bath houses were packed. My dance card was filled.

2 SU1HXzk4NjctMTEuanBnWhen I admitted my telltale symptoms to a friend, he directed me to the local clinic in the heart of the gay strip. The waiting area, filled to the brim with gay men, had the undeniable scent of Brut cologne and testosterone, and despite the circumstances we all cruised one another through sheepish glances.

It was embarrassing but not the worst day of my life. The clinician touched me in private places with rubber gloves and the shot he gave me worked. Life went on.

During my early years of recreational sex in the busy gay mecca, I caught The Clap so many times I called it The Applause.

No one told me I should be using condoms, not in the clinic and not among friends. The very suggestion would have been ludicrous. Half the fun of being gay was the blithe disregard for rubbers. We knew the symptoms of trouble and dealt with it accordingly. An STI (sexually transmitted infection) was an annoying rite of passage and little more. We had not yet met a virus that could harm us in any significant way.

Which brings me to a common objection to the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for the prevention of HIV transmission. Skeptics of the strategy warn that taking a pill to prevent HIV does not guard against other STI’s and therefore condoms must continue to be used.

When did avoiding every possible STI become the new goal for gay sexual behavior? Syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea are all easily treated and cured. Scary campfire tales of a spreading superbug impervious to all treatment have failed to materialize. The very idea of getting The Clap again just makes me feel nostalgic.

No longer is avoiding HIV the prime objective; we must also now use a condom every time so that we are never exposed to, well, whatever. How many hoops must we jump through in order to fuck in a pleasurable way? We can’t win for losing.

I’m beginning to wonder if the avoidance of pleasure has become the real objective; after a generation of fear and mortality, we don’t see pleasure – and I mean sweaty nasty bodily fluid exploding pleasure – as a basic human need we can enjoy as gay men, much less deserve. Meanwhile, heterosexuals acquire STI’s or get pregnant with the same regularity as always. Our gay sin is always greater.

Whatever moderate concern we once had for contracting an STI (and empathy for those getting one) has been transformed into a fearsome judgment of any repercussions of gay sex, regardless of its actual threat to our health. It’s a shame-based, sex-negative ideology and it is painful to observe, particularly within my own community.

There are many ways to avoid HIV infection that can still give you an STI. That’s true. And every person should engage in sober reflection and make their own assessment of what risks they are willing to take. I am a proponent of “shoot the alligator closest to the boat,” meaning, prioritize the risk and act accordingly.

Gay men who take steps to avoid HIV practice a number of strategies: they choose PrEP, or limit themselves to oral sex with partners whom they don’t know, or they only top, or they know their partner is undetectable, or they are themselves on successful treatment. All of these methods can prevent HIV transmission but can still expose someone to an STI.

I consider the man who employs these strategies, and maintains a relationship with his health care provider to monitor any infections, a success story. I have no interest in telling him to jump through a few more hoops if he wants to be truly, totally, super safe from all of life’s ills. There is a cost to being human and of the pleasures we seek, whether it’s sex or fast cars or that second piece of cake.

Unfortunately, because the topic is gay sexuality, it tends to make some of those alligators appear much larger than they really are.

Mark

(I’ve been seriously re-thinking this topic since writing this post. Visit my more recent blog post, “My Attitude Adjustment About Sex, Gonorrhea, and Advocacy” for more.

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35 Responses to “My Gonorrhea Nostalgia”

  1. Sister Ophelia Onassis Says:

    January 13th, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    THANK YOU!!!

  2. Ken Howard, LCSW Says:

    January 13th, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    Well said! I’ve been saying this for a long time on the Facebook “PrEP Facts” page, and others. We need to remember how gay men’s public health was handled BEFORE AIDS, which many of us can’t remember or never knew. It’s time to take the Right-wing politics and the shame/moralism OUT of public health!

  3. Marc Paige Says:

    January 13th, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    From a public health perspective, your opinion piece regarding “Gonorrhea Nostalgia” is irresponsible, especially to a community that lost much of an entire generation to the AIDS holocaust. It’s true that everyone is free to make their own choices, but encouraging non-monogamous gay men to forgo condoms is not a good message. It’s a disturbing fact that the syphilis and gonorrhea rates, as well as for HIV infection, remain far higher for gay men than for heterosexuals. People in monogamous relationships or those who use condoms are no better or worse than people who make different sexual choices, but they are clearly less of a threat to the public health, and their own.

  4. Scott Says:

    January 13th, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    While potentially acquiring a bacterial STI is no reason to forgo PrEP, to say that “Syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea are all easily treated and cured” is false and dangerously misleading.

    You may think that “Scary campfire tales of a spreading superbug impervious to all treatment have failed to materialize.” However, you are not a doctor treating patients and haven’t seen a resistant bacterial infection in someone. They are rare, but they are already here, and they can be a tremendous headache for all involved.

    Second, you have to recognize that you have these diseases to have them treated. GC/chlamydia can increase the likelihood of getting HIV, without you even realizing you either. Even if you’re on PrEP, your partner might not be, and you’re potentially increasing his chances of getting HIV. These diseases are quite often asymptomatic.

    Syphilis can be drug-resistant, whatever you’ve heard, and you do not, you do not all, want to deal with having syphilis. It is not at all a benign disease if it’s allowed to advance. It is also on the rise.

    Yes, often, most often, these diseases are easy to treat and aren’t much of an issue on a per patient basis. On a public health scale, however, they continue to be a major issue because every now and then they can seriously harm someone.

    PrEP is a useful tool, and I extol its virtues every chance I get. But dismissing other STIs (for straight or gay patients) to enhance your argument for it is irresponsible.

  5. Tommy Says:

    January 13th, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    @Marc Paige: There is nothing irresponsible about advocating that people make their own informed decisions. Everyone else should be minding their own business. Your responsibility ends at the tip of your dick. Do whatever you choose, but stop trying to shame everyone who doesn’t make the same choice you do. Gay men are more sexually active. Due to this it is entirely logical that STIs are more common. If you are disturbed by that, it says more about you than about the facts.

  6. Nick Nicholas, MSW Says:

    January 13th, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    Thank you, Mark, for your bold sex-positive statement. It is time that gay men once again be allowed to engage in shame-free, guilt-free, fully pleasurable sexual activity just as heterosexuals do with regularity. The statements of Mr. Paige represent the antiquated moralistic Puritanical attitudes that really have no basis in modern public health. If heterosexuals were expected to always use condoms as Mr. Paige demands, you can be assured that effective solutions for *all* STIs would be found very, very quickly. That they are not is a reflection of continued homophobic attitudes, including internalized homophobia. I think you quite appopriately emphasize the right of each individual to make their own informed assessments of risk and reward. Why should everyone *but* gay men have this right?

  7. Chris Paine Says:

    January 13th, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    So well stated. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You’re my hero.

  8. Terry Christian Says:

    January 13th, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    This article is blatantly irresponsible:

    “When did avoiding every possible STI become the new goal for gay sexual behavior? Syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea are all easily treated and cured.”

    If this had been written concerning measles or chicken pox, it would be considered insane. “Why get vaccinated for the mumps? It’s easily treated and will go away soon.” That’s a dangerous mentality that advances the mindset that no sexual activity can be pleasurable unless it is done without condoms.

    Sorry, but I use them consistently, and so shall anyone who wishes to interact with me, whether he is on PrEP or not. I’m being neither “shame-based” or “sex-negative,” as the article says, but health-positive.

  9. Mandom Says:

    January 13th, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    Wonderful article except that fact you have only talk about bacteria base STI that has a cure.

    I have both worked and volunteered at sexual health clinic, one of which pioneered the usage of Rapid HIV testings.

    Anyway, perhaps you have never heard of virus base STI. For example on planet earth we have something called Herpes. Genital warts are very painful sores ( open or close ) that can be found both externally or internally on your penis and anus.. both inside the shaft and inside your rectum. They usually comes in cluster forms. Once you get it, you get is the rest of your life, you can go to your local clinic or have your doctor to use liquid nitrogen to freeze off each of these sores individually every week whenever there is a flare up for the rest of your life.

    It is one hoop I have no issue jumping thru to ensure i can continue to fuck in a pleasurable way.

    Oh heterosexual men gets these too, believe me I have seen it.

    (I am quite familiar with herpes, having had genital herpes for the last 25 years. I have not had an outbreak since I was diagnosed so its impact on my life has been virtually nil. My point, drawn from my own experience, is not to minimize STI’s but to draw a comparison between them and HIV, which has cost me far more in discomfort, stigma, and money than any other STI ever has, and to provide some needed perspective and support for those trying to prevent HIV infection, and finally, the homophobia and sex-negativity inherent in our public health messages. — Mark)

  10. Gary Says:

    January 13th, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    The HPV virus can also be a pre-cursor to anal cancer. As we age, so many of the little nasties that we were unconcerned about may turn around and bite us in, um, the ass.

  11. AT Says:

    January 13th, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    Funny article, but you really shouldn’t dismiss antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance remains a major challenge that we’ll have to face one day, and just because a superbug has “failed to materialize” doesn’t mean that it isn’t looming on the horizon. Please, take it seriously.

  12. Gordon Says:

    January 13th, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    Thanks for putting that out there, Mark! It seems that anyone who has a condition to disclose to a partner these days gets the evil eye (rather than the appreciation for his honesty). The evil eye insinuation that he is a risk taking slut, when he is just a gay man living his life and dealing with the bumps in the road. It’s that “evil eye” stigma that complicates things in a much bigger and more detrimental way and deters people from being honest about such things. When did we as gay men get THIS judgey?

  13. Hugh Says:

    January 13th, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    Since when did syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea become an badge of honor. Sex negative – no. HIV negative – yes. There are so many things to say about this blog but I’ll just make it easy and simple. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. You can save people from the alligator near their boat but you can’t save them from themselves.

  14. Brightshadow Says:

    January 13th, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    My doctor said, “Meningitis is now epidemic in the gay community. It can easily kill. Most health plans do not cover the vaccine, but think about it seriously.”

    Your article takes me back to my (very) sexually active past, lots of clap, amoebic dysentery when that was epidemic in New York (just before HIV), crabs, herpes … luckily nothing serious! But enough to make me look at a casual trick and think, “You’re hot but you’re not worth all the meds and the exams and the paranoia about what is and is not a symptom.”

    And the days when a guy broke up with me because I refuse to use condoms for oral sex. (I love to suck but I won’t suck plastic.)

    And the bright-eyed dude I met in Munich who began the conversation with, “I just flirted with someone for 45 minutes and then told him I was HIV+ and he just walked away, didn’t even say goodbye. So before we talk, and I think you’re very attractive, I’m starting with this that I am HIV+.”
    I said, “That guy has a personality problem. You’re HIV+ and that means we aren’t going to do what I don’t do anyway,” which meant bareback. So we adjourned in his car to the empty parking lot by the Pinakothek …

    I thought safe sex was the sleeper of the 90s. I really like oral sex. I like getting fucked, too, but I can’t feel the condom, and if I wear one, I don’t come as quick.

    It just seems stupid not to use them. But you make your own rules, what you can live with. If you can live with unsafety, so be it. I felt very different about guys who said (plenty did), “I’m negative and I don’t care what you are — just fuck me.” If they don’t care about their health, this is not going to be a healthy or enduring relationship. Still, hot sex was hot sex, I went for it. But they had to have a condom to top me. Is that selfish? More selfish than their attitude or less?

    Do I value myself more than others? You’re an idiot if you don’t. Like other drivers on the highway: Drive defensively, be courteous and friendly, but watch out for assholes and take precautions accordingly.

    There’s still HIV. There’s hepatitis (which took a couple of friends). There’s meningitis. There might be more. Don’t be a self-righteous idiot.

  15. Damon L. Jacobs Says:

    January 14th, 2015 at 3:11 am

    Thank you Mark for another refreshing and honest look into the paradoxes and hypocrisies facing gay men today.

    Keep in mind:
    114 Americans die daily by overdosing on prescription meds
    92 Americans die daily in traffic accidents
    32 Americans die daily by gun violence

    At the same time the U.S. saw an “almost complete disappearance of ceftriaxone resistance” in 2013 (http://www.aidsmap.com/Drug-resistant-gonorrhoea-rates-plummet-in-US/page/2860585/).

    So I guess there is no such thing as living without risk. Every one one of us mitigates potential harm every day. There is still such incredible stigma against a gay man who acquires an STD but not as much against the folks who O.D. on meds, get in car accidents, or get shot walking down the wrong street.

    I guess internalized homophobia outwardly projected is one thing that is not at risk.

    And the other thing not at risk is my newfound appreciation for the Lady Gaga song “Applause” after reading this article. Thanks!

  16. Charles Says:

    January 14th, 2015 at 8:20 am

    Lets do an exercise. In this bullshit opinion piece replace STI with ebola, measels, menengitis, or dysentery and see how well the aruments hold up.

    I long for the days when food service didn’t have to wash hands and meat could be served undercooked. Everything tasted so much better. Sure we got worms and hepatitis, but it was a lot more fun!

    Fuck you.

  17. sonofloud Says:

    January 14th, 2015 at 8:40 am

    When did avoiding every possible STI become the new goal for gay sexual behavior?

    About the same time gay men were told our equality was up for a popular vote and that religious people are allowed to discriminate against us.

  18. Doug Says:

    January 14th, 2015 at 10:10 am

    To all who negate this article with regards to other STIs:

    In my life I have had gonorrhea twice, chlamydia once, Hep A (from touching the condom afterwards), Shigella and tested positive for Genital Herpes (not symptoms). All of these occurred when I was was still 100% compliant with condom use for anal sex. So, each infection was transmitted orally.

    If you aren’t using condoms/dental dams for oral sex then you are being judgmental and irresponsible.

  19. Sean Strub Says:

    January 14th, 2015 at 10:20 am

    One can be entirely sex positive and still highly value the avoidance of sexually transmitted diseases, both the risk of acquiring them as well as the risk of passing them on to others. These are not mutually exclusive.

    Mark, where I take exception to your article is the nonchalance about STIs. It was our cmomunity’s nonchalance about STIs–my own included–that so dramatically exacerbated the spread of HIV. “Nonchalance,” especially back then, also meant that many of us didn’t know anything about them or believed them to be benign.

    I didn’t recognize penile gonnorhea when I got it in 1977, no one taught me anything about gay sexuality, gay men’s health or even my body, so I didn’t know about STIs.

    I’m not someone who thinks everyone should use a condom every time they have sex, I recognize that as a personal decision and there are many ways to reduce risks other than using a condom.

    But I’m also not the least bit shy about saying that avoiding STIs is important to me, a “goal,” as you put it, of my sexual behaviors and I think it is a fine idea that it be important and a “goal” of others, regardless of their sexual orientation.

    There are many reasons for the exceptionally high rates of STIs with many cohorts of gay men; the greater number of partners is only one of them. Others–including lack of basic sexual health education or healthcare access (which your post seems to imply is accessible to every gay man) and shame–are things we can and should be working to address, and are not “sex negative” endeavors.

    There are many men who have sex with men who are in the closet, barely out to themselves, let alone their healthcare provider, if they have one. Especially young men. As the social norm becomes one where condoms are an increasingly rare exception, we may be putting those men at greater risk. That does not make me feel proud.

  20. Turbo Says:

    January 14th, 2015 at 10:59 am

    Wow. This might be one of the most irresponsible blogs I have read on this subject.

    Informal studies have shown that PrEp users are experiencing a higher rate of other STIs.

    Anal warts are making a huge return in San Francisco according to recent health reports.

    I cring at how far we have come only to go back to irresponsible behavior which could possibly decimate the next generation of gay men.

    I am a PrEP user and I also use condoms. And I am shamed in San Francisco for doing so. Yet almost everyone I know that is on PrEp without condoms visits Magnet every other month and has a nice 7-10 day waiting period before they can go engage in irresonsible behavior again.

    Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.

  21. come on Says:

    January 14th, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    This entire article is absurd. But the most important piece of garbage information must be corrected – exclusively topping does not protect you from contracting HIV! I was taught this in middle school – how do you think straight men contract HIV? I was sad when an older friend of mine, who was an HIV/AIDS educator for years, contracted HIV because he was topping without a condom. Get someone to spit in your mouth if you’re so goddamned interested in nasty dirty fluidy pleasure.

  22. Jerry Smith Says:

    January 14th, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    The article is basically a fool-proof pandering to a reliable peanut gallery of PrEP zealots and condom naysayers. King doesn’t bother to address the extreme difference in the *rates* of infection when comparing gay men with straights. (One tidbit: All the recent rise in syphilis infection rates are due to gay men.) Furthermore, the recent reduction in drug-resistant gonorrhea is not necessarily an indication of a longterm trend. Public health workers are still very concerned about this. The reduction was the result of a change in protocol. Another difference between now and the romanticized period King describes is the knowledge that STIs facilitate HIV transmission. But there’s no point in saying all these things to the anti-condom crowd. They are trying to reestablish the 1970s ethos that not using them is an important political act and an expression of the true self, and that not doing so is equivalent to being hamstrung sexually by The Man.

  23. Snugalicious Says:

    January 14th, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    STIs are not so simple for everyone. A friend of mine got the clap in his butt, and had the most difficult time getting it diagnosed, he suffered for months. 2 tests came back negative, and finally a 3rd that came back positive. You can also get strep in your ass, and that can kill and very few doctors will think to test for that.

    I myself fell victim to some kinda mystery ass fungus that took countless doctor’s visits and 4 years to clear up. Though God I probably shouldn’t be saying that here. Let’s not even get into the year-long crab-tag I played with the bear community here in my early 20s.

    Just because someone already has the worst STDs, or is vaccinated against them, doesn’t mean there is nothing to fear and that these oh-so-minor infections should be faced with a cavalier attitude. This “right of passage” stuff is bullshit. If catching crabs or having your ass become an oozing itchy bleeding mess for a week doesn’t make you think twice about your slutty behavior, you are probably crazy.

    Holy shit, gay men don’t need to have sex with everyone possible. It’s not some “need.” Learn how to fucking masturbate.

  24. Dave Says:

    January 14th, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    Hate to tell ya this, kiddo, but drug resistant gonorrhea is a reality. There are now strains which are resistant to all but the last-line antibiotics, and occasional reports of infections resistant even to THAT. It’s not fucking panic-mongering, it’s called evolution and its a scientific fact. There’s a reason why no one prescribes penicillin for anything anymore… it’s because ALMOST EVERY DAMN BUG has evolved resistance to it thanks to its widespread use… Including to treat our fighting men abroad for VD!

    There’s nothing new in the pipeline. And, frankly, having gonorrhea is a fucking pain in the ass I’d rather not have. And lord have I had it in NYC thanks to all the idiot cock-swallowers who think just because you don’t have symptoms, you must be “clean” (I only call them idiots because they thought if *I* got symptoms, it must be because *I* had it all along and put THEM at risk… oy).

    That’s why I’d always rather have anal (with a condom) than oral (without)!

  25. Andy Says:

    January 15th, 2015 at 12:09 am

    “Scary campfire tales of a spreading superbug impervious to all treatment have failed to materialize.”
    I can picture gay men in SF or NY saying that in 1976 when health care workers warned them about the overuse of antibiotics. Failed to materialize yesterday and today does not mean they’ll fail tomorrow. And what is easy to treat today may not be tomorrow.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/03/were-running-out-of-antibiotics/357573/

  26. Jello W Says:

    January 15th, 2015 at 5:03 am

    Since when did not getting into an accident become a “goal” of driving? Geez! Everyone knows that driving is a risk, so why not drive straight through those red lights at maximum speed? Only then are you REALLY driving! Don’t even get me started about seat belts. Man, those straightjacket straps cramp my style! If I’m going to hit something, I want to go crashing straight through that windshield. It’s not like you can’t go to the hospital—what do you think ambulances are for? Duh!

    It’s like all those “safety-first” people just want you to stay at home doing nothing, not even driving at all. They just hate the fact that people want to go places that they’re not going, that people like to go places at all. Wake up, squares! I mean, how can I bond with my fellow drivers if we can’t exchange coming-of-age tales of ballooning insurance rates, DWI’s, TBI, and skull fractures? Man, those were the days!

  27. Mark Peterson Says:

    January 15th, 2015 at 8:41 am

    I’ve grown very tired of male sexuality only being discussed via it’s ‘pathology’. There is more room in the discussion than is allowed at the fringe areas on both ends. The assertion that the answer to healthy male sexuality can only be articulated by the Truvada Whores and condom shirkers–or the bug frightened latex wrapped pleasure Nazis–is a false assumption which in my opinion, leaves informed consent and empowered male sexuality completely out of the debate.

  28. Lyndon James Says:

    January 15th, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    Hi there Mark,

    Sadly I think you are leading yourself and many people astray with this argument.

    While the other STIs you list are largely treatable (putting aside the very real problem of microbial resistance) you have failed to address the health implications of Hepatitis B and C, which are not easily curable and have long term health implications like HIV. They are also more easily transmitted than HIV. A vaccine with reasonable (not perfect) protection exists for Hep B but there is no vaccine for Hep C.

    Without addressing this issue I fear your piece is misguided and irresponsible.

    Dr Lyndon P James MD

  29. Jeton Ademaj Says:

    January 18th, 2015 at 4:38 am

    because WOMEN are the primary enforcers of female circumcision…and black cops are sometimes cops first, black second.

    …in other words, some members of oppressed minorities identify with the oppressor…also, some homos are flatly jealous in their outrage.

    of all PrEP opponents, Mark Adnum on HufPo at least once had the basic decency to confess:

    “…those of us who have allowed whole pathways of our sexuality to grow dark with cobwebs should not be made to feel bad for doing so…”

    did i mention that condoms suck dogshit, cuz that cant be repeated enough…especially for the hordes of antsy boyscout wannabes waving around their PTSD and wannabe PTSD like a blackened dick.

    amazingly, i recently read some storied long term activists kvetching in anger at the very *existence* of magnum condoms….”you dont need them that big, they feel fine just the way they are! get off my lawn! why, in my day, we made condoms from the asses of baby seals, and we used the blubber for lube, and we liked it!!”

    can u tell that my kid gloves with your storied rabble are coming off, Mark?

    incidentally, after a certain 2-3 people at the Ending The Epidemic Taskforce called for “some condom boilerplate in the [NY] Governor’s plan so the anti-PrEp folks dont go crazy”; “oh i was just gonna say that!”…

    …later one person commented “there’s no reason we should just accept “boilerplate” that has greatly diminished in popular appeal, when we could actively seek new ways to make the devices more enjoyable in use”

    that was me. the Bareback Avenger.

  30. David Hamburger Says:

    January 19th, 2015 at 10:58 am

    I sent this article to a mid-20’s gay guy I used to work with, out of curiosity. He responded with two sentences: “And HIV+ guys wonder why we don’t want to sleep with them? Recklessness is not sexy.”
    I think you’ve just written the most eloquently written roadmap to stigma I’ve seen yet.

    (As if “they” need another reason not to sleep with poz guys, right? If you’re looking for a treatise on stigma, check out my cover story for POZ Magazine. It directs blame in every direction, though, so I hope you can stomach that. — Mark)

  31. Jeton Ademaj Says:

    January 19th, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    hehehe…sorry David, but HIV+ guys already swim in the giant shallow pool of stigma that a small group of poz and neg activists already created when they (meaning YOU as well, David) tried to foist an unworkable utopianist conceit onto the general population.

    i look forward to your anxious accusations and insinuations, as i still feel i’m too nice and respectful to your entire cohort…and it’s enabled you to cling to these poisonous conceits and theories.

    while we wait n see if you are able to provoke the more serious reality check most of your cohort remains in desperate need of, there remains much work to do to spare people from unnecessary illness and stigma.

    some of us do that now, but i’m glad you’re here to remind us that so many have cocooned themselves away on Facebook.

    perhaps your mid-20’s former coworker speaks for a generation…perhaps he just speaks for people like you. i’d bet the latter, pretty easily.

  32. Andrew Says:

    January 23rd, 2015 at 12:30 am

    Hi Mark,

    You’ve collected quite a few posts over this subject. I’m glad that your readers are responding. Kudos to you Mark for keeping everyone engaged!
    I actually remember the feelings of shame and embarrassment after being exposed to STIs. I felt especially embarrassed because of the choices I made to engage in sex without a condom. Stupid, right? The sex part was just so thrilling. But when I tested for STIs, the fear of HIV and STI testing was so overwhelming I forgot all of the info I needed to make an informed decision with consequences and benefits that I could handle. I felt ashamed also because I had my first sexual experience in a bathhouse – not with a loving, supportive, monogamous companion.
    Part of me is still kind of shaken by it (being exposed to STIs). The other part is the third verse of “Crimson and Clover.”
    Keep up the great work, I really enjoy reading your posts!

  33. DEREK Says:

    February 4th, 2015 at 1:03 am

    F everyone who fears barebacking, the hype about AIDS all of these years has only made me want to rebel by chasing after it. I’m kind of glad for all of the fear-mongering over the years, and for the hatred and attacks from religious groups who have been shouting for our deaths and cheering us on to “BURN IN HELL FORREVER!” only made me want to rebel and do everything I thought I wasn’t supposed to. And who wants to put an ugly, uncomfortably, plastic wrap / plastic sack-bag on a penis and have that come running at you? Run away.

  34. David P. Says:

    May 16th, 2015 at 3:29 am

    It is difficult for me to find the words to express the contempt I feel for you. You are an appalling human being. How you could advocate that gay people spread disease among themselves so that they don’t have forgo some small measure of physical pleasure is just mind boggling. I don’t know how people devolve to your level. It is obvious from your blog that you are intelligent and I assume that long ago you were a boy with empathy and a caring heart. Yet somewhere along the way, you became a hideously selfish, unethical man who cares more about orgasms than about people. I pity any gay young people who are influenced by you in any way.

    (Oh, snap! — Mark)

  35. Keith Says:

    May 28th, 2015 at 12:29 am

    Something that all of us on PrEP and not using condoms – or anyone not using condoms- is the enormous increase in Hep C in in the last year in the gay community. Those that are enjoying skin-on-skin sex again, or for the first time, because of PrEP, have to think beyond the standard STD and know that Hep C is becoming a huge problem in our community.
    Although there is now medication that is 95% effective in curing HepC, the cost is currently $1,100 per pill and over $100,000 for the treatment. Get tested.

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