While we generally equate Valentine’s Day with the snuggly feel-good type of LUV, the reality is that love and sex go hand in hand. Some Gay Rights activists are busy talking about Gay Marriage today, but I’m more interested at the moment, in talking about Sex and HIV.

I feel fortunate that I am old enough to remember gay sex before we even knew there was such a thing as HIV and AIDS. This clip from a post on Queerty captures it pretty nicely:

When it comes to sex, bareback is an ideal—it’s the sort of sex we all want to be having because it represents carefree, unguarded vulnerability and spontaneity, a 1970s Eden of sorts where intimacy and pleasure lay in self-contended fulfillment without shame, death, and anxiety hovering over every sexual encounter. As such, barebacking signifies more than just acquiescence to the fact that “it feels better without condoms”—the desire not to use condoms is so strong that it even figures into our fantasies. My proof? How many of you masturbators imagine your dream man putting on a condom before you get it on? I’m betting zero. Porn’s a fantasy and bareback porn caters to the powerful and very real desire to have sex without fear.

While their post seems centered on the porn industry and safer-sex, I want you to stop and think about why it is that after 30+ years of the HIV pandemic, the notion of unprotected sex is still so powerful, that the conversion rate among gay men is actually rising.

Possibly because of the mainstreaming of gay culture, or possibly as a result of the HIV/AIDS crisis, the focus today is so heavily on monogamy and gay marriage, but early Gay Liberation was more about living with dignity and respect  without the need to act like straight people. The desire to couple, form relationships and be “family” always existed, but for some reason it is different now.

In terms of Porn, I would think that Porn could teach guys how to eroticize safer sex better than any AIDS prevention tools ever could, but per haps that’s the problem. No one ever talks about eroticizing safer-sex. It is just assumed that  everyone already buys into doing it. Expecting everyone to simply wear condoms, is a lot like the “Just Say No” campaigns for abstinence. The basic premise makes logical sense, but sex and physical intimacy are rarely governed by logic.

The truth is that gay culture accepted and bought the shame associated with sex decades ago. Even as we talked about the desire to save lives, we encouraged men of all ages to feed their intimacy hunger where unprotected sex is glorified. And by turning the focus onto Gay Marriage (everyone know that married couples tend to stop having sex) we amplified the ideas that sex is bad and so are you for wanting it.

If we are going to get a handle on the rising HIV infection rate, we are going to have to come to terms with all the reasons why gay men don’t use condoms, and rather than place all the focus on shaming guys for having unprotected sex (since shaming rarely ever works to create meaningful change), we need to explore other mechanisms for helping to promote healthy, exciting, and life affirming sex.

If You Say You Care About Safe Sex In Gay Porn, You’re Probably A Hypocrite / Queerty.

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