I have always struggled with condoms. They remind me of something I hate, my HIV-positive status. My bad, you say? Nope. I just love barebacking. But I will not have anal sex without condoms. Which means I have not had intercourse in 18 years. But recently I met a younger guy who is HIV-negative, and I don't want to risk transmission, so I decided to start loving the condom and learned to stop dropping those mind bombs that kept me down on the farm.
Just a point of clarification: I am not a gift giver. So this sexy guy and I are playing around, and he wants me to fuck him. I want to fuck him also. I strap on a Magnum XL, not because I'm growing a sequoia downstairs, but because I just like a little wiggle room. Then suddenly it's a taffy pull. I go limp. I get all embarrassed, and that makes it worse. Plus, he's got such a beautiful body that I feel I've let us both down. He's a real charmer; he kisses me and makes it all OK. We go elsewhere, because as soon as that rubber is off, I am "strong like bull."
The truth is that I hated condoms until this very moment. But now I am so inspired that it's time to take matters into my own hands. I decided to do something about my condom phobia. Practice makes perfect. And given that his backside is perfect, it's time to start upping my game. While polymorphous perversion can be a wonderful thing, it's no substitute for what I've been missing.
I know this is going to require some work. Here's what I did to get one over that ant and the old rubber tree plant: I went online and found this great amateur porn site. Then I watched a few guys my age screwing around with condoms -- brilliantly, I might add, as one guy after another taught me tricks I thought unfathomable. One dude had a tool like my forearm. Hell, he had no problem working that condom. So what's my problem?
Then I talked to some friends who assured me that I could get over it. I talked to my doctor, who prescribed ED medication. And I bought myself several boxes of condoms, just to try them out and find the right fit. If you can't afford them, go to the nearest clinic or bar, ask around, and you'll get them for free. And don't be shy. Take some home, and while you're visiting the clinic, get tested. It's a stone-cold fact that people who know their status act accordingly.
I'm not into flavors: banana, chocolate, and gooseberry pie. His butt has no taste buds, so what's the point in flavors? And because I take ARVs and have an undetectable viral load, I prefer the scientific truth. An HIV-positive man on ARVs who has an undetectable viral load and uses a condom is as likely to transmit the virus as he is to get a tiger shark bite and a lightning strike while flossing his teeth.
I wear condoms around town. I free-ball with them on, sometimes wearing a jock strap to keep it snug. But limp or stiff, I will make this work. I masturbate in them, and I even bought a jack-pack to inspire the bomb drop. And you know what? It worked -- but not at first; it took some doing. As a side note, he is considering a PrEP regimen. He'd do that for me, so the least I can do is play my part.
Until PrEP science is better understood and better disseminated, I pledge to wear condoms. He's OK with HIV-positive lovers. He's younger and smarter and has zero stigma about HIV as long as we play safe. I consider it my solemn duty to protect and serve us. The anguish of failure is not an option; freedom means happiness. I found someone who keeps me up all night, and I love that restless man.
At the risk of sounding old-fashioned, it's all about safety. Get tested regularly, know your status, dialogue with your mate, play around, use condoms, or beat it. Me? I'm through beating it on my own. I'm grateful for this new love interest and solid in my commitment to our sexual health. Condoms protect against not only HIV but a host of other STIs: hep C, the clap, herpes, syphilis, and HPV, which is already known to cause cancer in gay men.
Glove up and love up, like the good doctor says. Then you can sero-sort no more. Personally, I have no problem with sero-sorting. It's a values choice. And if a man does not want to sleep with me because of my HIV status, I'm not offended or ashamed. That's his decision, and my values are based on medical science, not stigma.
Protection means truth and honesty, especially when we're gunning for a quick hookup. So learn to be prepared before that time comes. Condoms may not be for everyone. They weren't for me until I learned to love them, get over my own fear and stigma, and stop holding out on the sex I enjoy. Then again, all hail the young man who got me there. Just one look, and baby, that's all it took.
Assume everyone you meet is HIV-positive, and work hard to dialogue first. Practice does make perfect. Now that we've shot down DOMA and DADT, our community needs a new goal. I suggest zero transmission by 2015. Naive, you say? Not at all. If we can change the world and improve equality, we can go the extra mile by saving ourselves from an epidemic that continues to grow by leaps and bounds. So join the zero-transmission movement and protect yourself and others. I found my inspiration, and I am never going back down that old road to perdition, not while I have a pathway to true liberation and sexual freedom. AIDS is over if we want it to be, but first we're going to have to stop worrying and learn to love those condoms.