04/03/2015 03:35 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

The Freedom and Pathology of Risky Sex

Sometimes I talk to guys on Grindr (usually masculine, beautiful men) and they want me to find them in the dark of their apartment, seed them, and go. I can pull up Scruff right now and find at least a dozen men willing to bareback with me. Outsiders would be shocked to see how many men on gay apps use handles like "AssUp4Cum" and "RawPozTop" with such brazen honesty. In the gay world, an entire community is bringing back the gay 70s petri dish, complete with very vocal advocates for this reemerging lifestyle. While modern medicine has made most STIs treatable (antibiotics for syphillis), preventable (PrEP for HIV), or manageable (Valtrex for Herpes), I'm not ready to sign on to raw sex as the norm.

I see the need for raw sex as a manifestation of the self-hatred many gay men have. We are emotionally stunted as men and stigmatized as homos, and it is hard to love ourselves; so instead we do things that harm ourselves. I'm not a prude; I understand couples bareback, boys slip up, and we all make inebriated mistakes. I've gone to orgies, sex clubs, and had more hook ups than I can wrap my mind around; that being said, I don't just let random dudes cum in my ass. I'm concerned for my brethren who embrace the hedonistic side of gay life in all it's fucked-up rawness. Risky sex acts as an escape valve for these men, and I see men addicted to it like others are to alcohol or drugs.

These guys who fetishize being loaded with semen (or loading others) are in the game for the wrong reasons. There is so much about sex to enjoy--playfulness, physical sensations, mental titillations--while choosing to protect yourself and your community from venereal disease. I know it's taboo to pathologize gay sex, but this emphasis on the rawness of sex seems to come from an unhealthy place deep inside the psyche. Do we have something to prove by putting ourselves in danger, or is this the only kind of sex that turns us on? I believe it's worth discovering via talk therapy where these desires come from.

Gay men who repeatedly engage in risky activities, such as frequent bareback sex with several anonymous partners should seek therapy from their local gay health center. I'm not talking about coupled men who bareback, or the occasional "slip-up" that results in risky behavior. I'm talking about men who make it their business to bareback, and seem to relish situations that put them in risk. These guys need more than an HIV screening, free condoms, and access to PrEP. They need all that plus comprehensive mental healthcare to help overcome the cycle of self-destruction.

Many gay men's health clinics often offer mental healthcare programs at low or no cost to the community, but I wonder if they fully reach the clients they should. A lot of the people think mental illness is something theatrical like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Problems like depression and anxiety can tremendously alter our behaviors, yet many people never admit they suffer from these quiet mental health problems. I believe if more gay people sought therapy, our community would be kinder to each other and smarter in the decisions we make.