you say “warn against being a huge fucking slut,” I know that
I agree but I don’t know if I’m being a huge fucking slut.
I’ve had anal sex (with protection!) on the first date, and
I’ve had sex with guys without quite remembering their names.
But my lifetime sex partner count is not that high (20!),
even if I am a youngish gay guy who can’t go online without
some dude asking me if I “BB” (bareback!). Help me, Dan! How
do I know when I’m being a slut?
a Little Unclear on This
we get to your question, SLUT, I’d like to say a few words
to the folks out there, gay and straight, who want the whole
bug-chasing subject to go away. (Straights want it to go away
because it’s not about them; gays want it to go away because
it makes us look bad.) Sorry, gang: This story isn’t going
anywhere. Last week Reuters reported about (and Drudge linked
to) a documentary called The Gift that was packing
’em in at the Berlin Film Festival. Louise Hagarth’s film
features “interviews with a number of gay men who have deliberately
sought out the virus.” Should be a big hit on the U.S. film-fest
circuit this summer.
Still, there is an upside for gay groups and AIDS organizations
in the media’s growing obsession with the bug-chasing story:
It draws attention away from a potentially more damaging story.
That story? While only a tiny percentage of the roughly 17,000
new HIV infections in gay and bi men every year can be attributed
to active bug-chasing (less than 1 percent, according to a
study conducted by the UCSF AIDS Health Project), that means
the other 99 percent can be attributed to—let me put this
as nicely as I possibly can—gay male stupidity, recklessness,
naïveté, and bad luck. And isn’t that a scandal in and of
Maybe not. On his Web site last week, Andrew Sullivan—the
conservative commentator, superstar web-logger, and HIV-positive
gay man—contemplated the difficulties in lowering HIV transmission
rates. “Let’s say that science found treatments that reduced
the rate of fatality from lung cancer due to smoking by, say,
80 percent,” Sullivan wrote. “What would you predict would
happen?” More people would risk smoking, of course, just as
more people today are willing to risk HIV infection. “[Perhaps]
we have to get used to a certain level of HIV infection the
way we have become used to herpes, and every other sexually
transmitted disease which has affected mankind, gay and straight,
Perhaps we should get used to a certain level of HIV
infection. Gay men are not going to stop having sex, after
all, and sex can never be risk-free. What I can’t get used
to—what appalls me—is gay men re-creating the kind of sex
culture that opened the door for AIDS in the first place.
Michael Callen, the late author of, uh, Surviving AIDS,
blamed the early HIV epidemic on the “rampant promiscuity”
practiced by gay men in the 1970s. Never before had so many
gay men had sex with so many other gay men—and Callen was
no exception; by his own estimates, he had sex with thousands
of men. “This level of sexual activity resulted in concurrent
epidemics of syphilis, gonorrhea, hepatitis, amebiasis, venereal
warts and, we discovered too late, other pathogens,” Callen
wrote. “Unwittingly, and the best of revolutionary intentions,
a small subset of gay men managed to create the disease settings
[that allowed AIDS to explode].”
Today a small subset of gay men is busily re-creating those
disease settings in backrooms, through chatrooms, and in sex
clubs. The only difference between gay men in the whoring
’70s and gay men today is that we can’t claim to be “unwitting”
about the potential consequences. HIV may be less scary today
then it once was, but if and/or when the next terrifying and/or
deadly STD emerges (and my money’s on when, not if), well,
let’s just say that there won’t be a tremendous amount of
sympathy for gay men this time around.
End of lecture. Back to you, SLUT: How do you know when you’re
being a slut? That’s a tough one. Sluttiness, like pornography,
can be hard to define. And I’m not opposed to sluttiness per
se. As one letter writer pointed out in last week’s column,
I met my boyfriend of eight years under somewhat slutty circumstances.
What can I say? I’ve had some slutty sexual adventures in
my life and I intend to have a few more before I drop dead.
Still, I think it’s possible—or imperative—to make a distinction
between doing something slutty every once in a while and doing
something slutty every damn day. Any gay man who shows some
restraint (i.e., doesn’t jump on every guy who looks at him
funny) and uses his common sense (noninsertive sex or condoms
with casual sex partners) can’t really be accused of being
a slut. Is he guaranteed a life free of HIV and other STDs?
No, he’s not. He could have bad luck or one terribly reckless
moment or wind up in a relationship with a guy who lies to
him. There are always risks. But by keeping our slutty moments
to a minimum, we can also keep our risks to a minimum.
You recently wrote that “anal sex on a first date—even
with condoms—is a bad idea.” I thought that so long as you
used condoms during anal sex, it was considered safe.
can break, tear, slip off, or leak. They can also be removed
mid-buttfucking by inconsiderate, selfish assho-excuse me,
by gay men with “issues.” If you’re like most sexually active
gay men, CC, you go on a lot of first dates. Regularly engaging
in FDAS means that your chances of a badly timed break, tear,
slip, or leak are higher, as are your chances of landing in
bed with one of those selfish assholes with issues. (Let’s
call them isholes.) That’s why FDAS is a bad idea.
is the media so wrathful when it comes to gay men who bareback?
Straight people do it all the time!
Yes, straight people do it all the time and they pretty much
get a pass. Why? Because HIV infection is not as widespread
among heteros as it is among homos; heterosex is less effective
at spreading HIV; and heterosexual promiscuity will never
be the runaway train that homosexual promiscuity once was
and is quickly becoming again. (In straightland, ET, female
sexual reserve acts as a built-in check on male sexual excess.
No females in gayland; there’s no built-in check.) So it’s
not the least bit irrational for sexually active breeders
to take fewer and/or different precautions, ET, and that’s
what makes hetero barebacking not quite as newsworthy as the
homo variety, which is very irrational.
OK, I’m done with the bug-chasing subject. A big thank-you
to my readers and editor for putting up with three weeks’
worth of rants on one rather depressing subject. Next week
in Savage Love: Sick and twisted questions from 100 percent
straight perverts. Oh, and the Supreme Court rules on Katie’s