I'm 20, gay, and I just moved to the big city. I'm good-looking, I guess, because really hot guys are always hitting on me. I don't actually like anal sex much, but I'm trying to learn. And that's the problem: Most guys I sleep with don't want to use condoms. How do I handle this? All gay guys want to have sex first before they'll think about dating. How can I find a steady boyfriend and avoid getting infected with HIV if no one I meet will use condoms? --Bright Kid, Big City
Here's one way to avoid getting infected with HIV: Don't sleep with guys who work in HIV prevention.
In the New York Times last Sunday, reporter Erica Goode wrote about Seth "Twilightchild" Watkins, an HIV-prevention educator who works and fucks in San Francisco. "He is safe most of the time," Goode wrote. "But there are also times when Seth Watkins...is not so careful. For example, when he visits the back room of the Powerhouse, a bar on Folsom Street, and has unprotected sex with men he does not know."
Mr. Watkins is HIV-positive. He admits that he doesn't always practice what he preaches, but he refuses to beat up on himself. After all, he says, "[I'm] just another gay man...who makes mistakes, too." And what exactly goes through Mr. Watkins's mind when he puts other gay men at risk of contracting HIV? "I don't like to think about it because I don't want to give anyone HIV," he told the reporter from the New York Times, who observed that "[Mr. Watkins's] lapses also do not draw the concern and censure from his peers that they might have even a few years ago."
Well, let me be the first to censure Mr. Watkins: You're a moron. Jesus Christ, what kind of an IQ test does a person have to flunk to work in HIV prevention?
(It's not generally a good idea to write a column in a white-hot fury, so before I go any further I'd like to apologize to Mr. Watkins if the New York Times misquoted him or misrepresented his sex life. However, as nothing has appeared in the paper's letters page or its corrections column, I can only assume the story was accurate. With that out of the way, let's get back to the censure, shall we?)
Having been involved with a few AIDS organizations (which as a rule aren't exactly staffed by Mensa members), I suspect Mr. Watkins is being loudly praised for his "bravery" by his coworkers and managers. Whatever. If I ran the AIDS organization that employs Watkins I would fire his skanky ass. How can someone who knowingly puts other men at risk of infection be taken seriously as an HIV-prevention educator? This is a man who goes out to sex clubs, has unsafe sex, and then claims he doesn't really want to give anyone HIV? Hey, buddy, here's a thought: if you don't want to give anyone HIV, howzabout not having unsafe sex with people? It sounds crazy, I realize, but it just might work.
Sadly, if Mr. Watkins wants to act like a skank, there's not a whole lot anyone can do to stop him. Men who engage in unsafe sex in back rooms have only themselves to blame if Mr. Watkins infects them when he's out on the town making his "mistakes." Mr. Watkins could choose to have unprotected sex only with other people who already have HIV--which, in San Francisco, wouldn't drastically limit the number of his potential sex partners--but that would require him to think about what he's doing. As reported in the New York Times, thinking isn't part of Mr. Watkins's HIV-prevention efforts.
You wanna know what else I think after reading about Mr. Watkins? People who fund AIDS charities--donors and taxpayers, aka suckers and marks--shouldn't be asked to pay the salaries of HIV educators who are making the AIDS epidemic worse.
OK, with that out of my system, we can get on to your problem, Bright Kid, Big City.
Listen up: Any faggot who wants to fuck you in the ass without a condom is the last person on earth you should consider having sex with--anal or otherwise, condoms or no condoms. Guys who pressure you into having unsafe sex are no doubt having it with other people too, which means that they're either infected already or will be shortly. If you don't want to get infected, your best course of action when a guy pressures you into having sex without condoms is to hand him his pants and show him the door.
You have too much self-respect to get involved with an abuser, right? Well, guys who tell you they want to fuck you without a condom are abusers too. Pressuring a new partner into unprotected anal sex is an act of violence, and you should avoid these guys just like you avoid any other abuser. We hear an awful lot about gay victims of hate crimes, but while the straight men who murdered Matthew Shepard or Brandon Teena get all the press, the vast majority of hate crimes against gay men in this country are currently being committed by other gay men. All the white trash in all the pickup trucks in Wyoming couldn't possibly do more harm to gay men than, say, Mr. Watkins--or the guys you've been meeting.
And since you don't particularly like anal sex, BKBC, I'd urge you to tell the guys you do decide to sleep with that you're not up for getting fucked. An aversion to anal sex when you're young and single and easily manipulated is something you might want to hold on to, even cultivate. Avoiding anal sex during your big-slut, just-out, freedom-ring phase will greatly reduce your risk of contracting HIV and a host of other STDs. Then one day, with luck, you'll meet a nice guy who wants to take things slow--a guy who isn't a manipulative, selfish, barebacking piece of shit. (Or an HIV educator.)
Don't get me wrong: I'm pro sex, pro anal sex, pro one-night stands, and not a big fan of monogamy. I like sexually adventurous people; I'm a sexually adventurous person myself. What I'm opposed to, however, is the idea that a 20-year-old feels obligated to crack his ass open for any decent-looking guy who comes along. If you wanna go to sex clubs, that's fine. You wanna make out with strangers in back rooms? Suck a little dick? Jerk some stranger off? Let him jerk you off? Fine, fine, fine. But you can be both skanky and safe, and a good way to do that is by reserving your asshole for a guy you're feeling somewhat serious about.