by Daniel MacDonald
My support for PrEP up until now has been solely offered sitting at this keyboard.
Now, it's time to step back into the street one more time.
I knew I was gay since I was 13.
This was back in 1977, so being gay wasn't as socially acceptable then as it is now, but I didn't care even then. I liked guys, that was that, and I didn’t care who knew it. When you knew someone who was gay, well, “gay” was always said in a hushed whisper. I lost my virginity that year to a much older man I would spend the next nine years with. The sex was a fantastic event with him every single time, and being a healthy teenager, my sex drive was nonstop. We would spend the day shagging like dogs, and because we were in an open relationship we would invite others to come join us for the naked festivities.
Things would take a dramatic turn when a scary illness and rare cancer began to show it's face before I hit 25 years old. The flow of information stunk at that time, and there was far more misinformation than actual fact being shared, and it would quite a while before the disease had a name (and we all thought it sucked back then, too.) Great. Now anyone in the family who didn't care for my being a big ol' homosexual now had ammunition. If you don't settle down and get a girlfriend you're gonna get that gay plague and die. It'll be God's punishment for what you're doing.
Please. I tried girls, and the only way I enjoyed them was if they brought their boyfriends along for the fun and we had a bisexual romp. I’ve given more than one curious couple a night to remember for both of them. Told you: I'm a total horndog.
The name of the gay plague changed to something a bit more acceptable, but it was no less scary. My friends were dying, nobody was helping us at any level, and the only protection we had at our disposal if we didn't want to become HIV positive was to wear a condom. Now, let me tell you a bit more about me: I'm a big guy. When I finally stopped growing, I landed on 6 foot 6 inches. Nature also blessed me with a nice set of muscles on this gargantuan frame, and an appropriately sized cock - a true 10 inches and 7 around. That made me the most popular guy at the dance - a fact that I used to my advantage in my personal sex life, as well as rounding up tricks I "escorted" and a brief career in porn. All the sex I want? For money? And how many people will be watching? Well, sure – what the hell. Count me in. My most memorable scenes are probably in that box in your attic.
Finding a condom that I could actually get on was a ridiculous lesson in futility. When I could find one that had possibilities, it felt like my cock was being mugged.
Need a picture? Think of stuffing five pounds of sausage in a three-pound casing. I got them on - barely. They were painful, hard to roll down, and slid off while I was fucking. So the fear of HIV dictated a very uncomfortable, unsatisfying sex life for years. And because I couldn’t get a condom to fit me, I went from being versatile to total bottom. Sex was losing that wonderful fascination and becoming more of a scary chore than anything, and I funneled all that pent up sexual energy into HIV/AIDS advocacy; a passion that's followed me to this day. If there was a demonstration, speech or action taking place that I could get to, I was going to be there. I'd watched too many of my friends die, and too many senseless seroconversions involving people who didn't know all the facts about HIV.
Flash forward a few years to the mid-1990s. The man who took my virginity is out of the picture and now I'm with a wonderful man who I love intently. He's HIV positive--a fact I knew about him before I could spell his last name. And I'm HIV negative.
Together we had to find ways of discovering a satisfying sex life without my seroconverting. The meds of the day weren't what they are now, and I knew from my boyfriend’s complete transparency around his HIV status that he was sporting a big viral load. The word “undetectable” in regard to his HIV didn’t come up much those days. While there was no reason for us not to have sex, it came with a lot of caveats. We tried mutual masturbation. We tried me on top wearing a rubber. We tried him on top, wearing a rubber, which totally killed it for him.
Could you stay in the saddle with the question of "what if the condom breaks?" lurking in the back of your head? He couldn't either; especially on the day it did break.
He pulled out, and as was his habit he’d inspect the condom and damned if it didn’t happen. We spent the next few days waiting for my HIV test results and my boyfriend was in a morbid funk, and understandably so. He was overwrought with guilt at the prospect of my contracting HIV from him, and I had resigned myself to getting my results and hearing that I was positive. It was nobody’s “fault” and if it happened, it happened; so be it. The test came back negative; as did all the other subsequent tests I took afterward as a safeguard. During every single wait period for results, my heart broke for my boyfriend and the self-imposed guilt he was swimming in. Finally, we tried him watching while I fucked with other negative guys, which was probably the worst, most alienating idea of them all. His participation in those romps wasn’t nearly what it needed to be, and it wasn’t satisfying for either of us.
You get the idea? We loved each other but our sex life at the start left a lot to be desired
These days, meds are better if you're HIV positive, and condoms come in more varieties. And I'll tell you a secret: I don't always use them. I know that’s blasphemy for me to say as an HIV/AIDS advocate but there it is. Sometimes the waves of testosterone come crashing ashore, and common sense goes out with the tide. I still have some issues finding ones that will fit, and female condoms aren't as universally accessible as I'd like. I have no problems negotiating whether or not we use them when the time comes. If I'm with someone who says they're negative I expect them to prove it; I'm not naive enough to take someone at their word. It takes more than a guy giving me a hardon before the gloves come off - if you get the drift.