For my first few weeks on PrEP, I had a hard time silencing the nagging pessimistic voice in my head that kept telling me the side effects would never go away, and I would have to stop taking it if I wanted to start having sex again. Although they eventually subsided, my self-imposed celibacy was clearly beginning to reach its limits.
In other words, I was horny. I needed to feel the weight of a man on top of me, and I needed it sooner rather than later. After I started feeling better, my next step was to check in on my Grindr account and find someone that was up for some fun. Shortly after logging on, I received a message from a guy whom I had spoken to in the past. Our conversations up to that point had mostly consisted of mild flirtation, and exchanging naked photos of each other. After some chit-chat about our HIV status and if he was cool with using a condom (which he was), he was on his way over.
He showed up at my front door looking more attractive than his photos. We kissed, went to my room and fooled around for a bit until he started to give the hint that it was time to move on to the main event. Reaching over to grab the condom and lube off the nightstand, I heard it.
“You’re neg right?”
“I am,” I replied.
At this point, I figure this can go one of two ways. Either he’s super nervous about becoming HIV-positive, and is just making one last check to make sure, or he wants to fuck raw. As it would turn out, it would be the latter. He couldn’t really feel much with a condom on, and it was hard for him to maintain his erection he then told me.
" As with a lot of issues surrounding sex, there’s an awful lot of the blame game going on."
I was a bit angry that he had chosen this moment of all times to reveal that information, but it just felt too hard to say no. We were mere inches apart and seconds away from fucking, and now was the time he would choose to make this revelation. Was he just embarrassed about the fact that he has a hard time keeping it hard, or did he never have any real intention of using a condom and only said that he would use one to make me feel better?
We had sex and afterwards he got dressed, kissed me goodbye and left. My dry spell had ended, and I had gotten what I wanted out of our encounter. Still I couldn’t help but wonder, why is negotiating condom use such a struggle for a lot of queer men?
Well, there’s the fact that we’re not allowed to talk about it. As with a lot of issues surrounding sex, there’s an awful lot of the blame game going on.
It’s the mark of a fine, upstanding homosexual to always be able to say no. To always demand that a condom be used, and to always make sure he uses one. It’s not something that’s really up for discussion in any way because coming out and saying that condom negotiation may not exactly be your strong suit is tantamount to admitting that you have some sort of massive personality flaw.
There’s also the feeling of not wanting to disappoint your potential partner. Many of us know the feeling. We’ve ended up hooking up with a really hot guy, but in the back of our minds there’s an unfortunate sense of “I don’t want to ruin this” that goes on. Sometimes we move out of our comfort zones to accommodate other people, including taking risks to our own well-being if we think it will make them happy. Sometimes that manifests in the form of forgoing condom use.
We also get caught up in the moment. The fact is, when someone at the last minute says they no longer want to use a condom, it takes an enormous amount of courage and willpower to say "I’m not willing to do that".
The pressure to have complete mastery over our sexual experiences, regardless of our current mental state, past experiences or emotions is ever present. In those brief moments where we might forget, we’ll always have the upstanding homosexuals to remind us.