Posts Tagged unprotected sex
It had arrived. Although this would be my third year “participating,” I was legitimately scared. I wasn’t sure why it was so scary, but honestly, I was petrified for so many reasons.
My first interaction with Pride Weekend was a mistake. I was making my way to Governor’s Island for a polo match with my family when we found ourselves “stuck” in the parade route. The following year was the first year I was out when the weekend came around. It wasn’t pleasant as I witnessed my relationship crumble before my eyes like an out-of-body experience. I missed the parade that year, but I got a sampling of the other aspects of the festivities.
My fear was grounded mainly in the unknown. While I am a gay man, I do not participate in the typical gay culture. I’ve never been a big fan of gay clubs and what goes on there. I come from a background of a traditional relationship. In the gay world, that is like finding a diamond in the rough. The clubs seem to be the antithesis of this. They are a hot-bed of drugs, promiscuity and raunchy behavior. I know all gay men who go to bars don’t fit into this stereotype, but this stereotype is founded in truth. While I’ve been to a handful of gay clubs, and my comfort level was rising, I still had no idea what to expect. Never before had I been to a circuit party. I was venturing into the abyss, and this caused me incredible anxiety.
While I have learned to let go of the men in my past, I still carry the scars of my relationship with them. They’ve all hurt or used me in some way, shape or form. My biggest fear in life is being alone, and this fear is fed by thoughts of cheating, which is birthed from my baggage. The idea of CK with another man broke my heart. I had clear definitions of cheating, but there were worse things floating through my imagination — Like cheating in a form I feel is unfaithful, but the offender does not.
My relationship with CK was building a great foundation, however, the cement was still wet. We were only dating two months and ten days — Very young for any relationship. In the first month, I had strong suspicions I wasn’t the only man entering his bed. Things didn’t always line up and some of the clear indications were there, however, our relationship was still just forming. I knew there would be a transition period. While he told me he was only interested in me, and I was the only man entering his bed, I was aware how we met. I was also aware of his intentions before we even met through his first major slip-up on Grindr. I couldn’t expect monogamy from the first night — That wasn’t realistic.
While I was fairly understanding and looked the other way early on, I was not going to tolerate infidelity as our relationship progressed and strengthened. For starters, my heart wouldn’t be able to handle the pain, and lastly, it wasn’t safe for my health. I needed to trust him to be faithful. Outside the heartbreak, frankly, we were having unprotected sex. We’d been tested, but there are no guarantees. I trusted him with my life, literally, and if he was sleeping with other men, he was treating my life carelessly.
I sincerely had a feeling his intentions had evolved, but I couldn’t be sure how he would react when faced with temptation. I hoped I was the only man for him. As a result, I was petrified for the life of our relationship. I’d watched my relationship with N publicly combust the previous year, and I didn’t want a repeat.
I’m sure many of you reading think I am overreacting. It’s just a party… It’s just a parade… It’s just a weekend… Well, not to me. To me, it was a litmus test for the strength of my love for CK. I didn’t want that love to be tested, and I didn’t want to have to make a decision that could end my relationship with CK. He was my Superman. He was my world. If I lost him, my world would come crumbling down.
We had plans to go to a huge party at XL Friday night, Matinée circuit party Saturday, and the parade Sunday afternoon. I was venturing into this unknown abyss with faith and hope I could persevere. The thought of CK dropping X and losing control of his inhibitions with some other guy caused me great pain and panic attacks. The idea of another man’s hand groping his package caused me panic attacks. Picturing him dancing shirtless against another shirtless man caused me panic attacks. Every time these scenarios and many others entered my brain, my heart rate would increase drastically, I would start to sweat, and I would get light-headed.
All this added up to me being petrified and frustrated. When I asked CK what clothes I should pack to bring to his apartment for the weekend, and I didn’t get any cooperation or help. It all became overwhelming. To begin with, this wasn’t something I was looking forward to, and his lack of cooperation made me lose my sh*t. “Okay Babe. I’ll talk to you in the morning. Have fun tonight!” I said on the verge of tears as I hung up the phone on him.
I think that was the wake-up call CK needed. I don’t think he fully understood how much anxiety this all created for me. I voiced my frustrations for weeks leading up to Pride Weekend. I told him I was going out of my comfort zone, but I was willing to do it as long as I got some hand-holding. I needed help to get over this. It was just another fun weekend for him, but it was a big deal to me.
After a few minutes, he called me back. We discussed things a little more rationally, and CK’s tone changed. He finally realized I was struggling and tossed out the life-preserver. Now that I knew I had him in my corner, I was a little more relaxed, however, I still wasn’t completely comfortable. It was going to be a long, stressful and exhausting weekend both physically and emotionally. I bit down then and there, and braced for impact as I packed my bag and walked out the door.
After I had unprotected sex with San Francisco, I came home and marched myself straight to the local clinic for the free OraSure HIV test. I couldn’t believe how quick, easy and painless the process was. And, I had the results in twenty minutes — There was no waiting around worrying.
After that, I made a promise to myself to get tested on a regular basis. It didn’t matter if I was having unprotected sex or not, I wanted to get into a routine. I entered a new world when I came out, and that new world comes with different risks. I needed to do everything I could to protect not only myself, but also others I come in contact with.
I marked my calendar back then for six months later. That day arrived, and I went back to the same clinic. When they called my name, I went into the back room and sat with the woman who administered my first test. I didn’t have any reason to be worried, but I was still nervous and anxious. She asked me what brought me in to the clinic that day for the test. I explained to her I had unprotected sex six months ago, and I came in to get tested to make sure I was still negative. I told her I wanted to make it a regular habit to get tested, so I was back again six months later.
That’s when she started to scold me. She said, “That’s not what this test is meant for. Part of the reason we give this test is also educational. If you are having unprotected sex, then the test is warranted, but you shouldn’t be having unprotected sex, especially with people you are unsure of their status. You may be having unprotected oral sex, but again, part of this program is we educate you about the consequences of that. Unless you have an open cut in your mouth, you don’t need the test.” She went on and on almost berating me for coming in to know my status. I explained to her while “I’m having protected sex, you can never be 100% sure of anyone else’s status at any given time, even if you are in a committed relationship. I wanted to start a routine of testing for my own peace-of-mind.”
She replied, “That’s not what this test is for. We’ll give it to you today, but that’s not what the test is meant for.”
I was flabbergasted. She was harassing me for being overly cautious. I was having protected penetration sex, but no one has protected oral sex these days. What’s the point. Let’s be realistic here. And, who monitors open cuts in their mouth on a daily basis. Maybe I brushed my tongue a little too rough that day. That’s not going to be top of mind when I’m getting physical with a man.
I couldn’t believe she was giving me a hard time for going above and beyond the norm. If I told her I had unprotected sex a year ago and just decided to come in, she had every right to educate me on my shortcomings, but I felt very insulted she was telling me I was wrong for being sure of my status.
Twenty minutes later, she came out to the waiting room and brought me back into the testing room. She told me my status was negative and asked if I would like a copy of the paperwork. I graciously accepted and went on with my day.
When I told friends what happened, they were shocked. I arrived at work and told coworkers about what happened, and they couldn’t believe it. My coworkers and I had actually been working on trying to win business from the company who administers the test, so we are all very versed in the product and its benefits. Many of my straight coworkers were interested in getting tested following the pitch just because it was so easy and convenient. Everyone should know his or her status — After all, knowing is love.
I could understand if the woman gave me a hard time on a financial basis. If she told me the free test was meant for those less fortunate who couldn’t afford it or felt strongly they needed the test due to exposure to and HIV positive individual, I would have understood. That wasn’t the case. She wasn’t telling me I didn’t need a free test. She was telling me I didn’t need the test at all. I felt she was doing people a disservice if this is her policy with all those who came in for routine testing. Peace-of-mind is a wonderful thing, and no one should be denied that. I had mine for the next six months, but I would certainly have to find a new location to have the test administered six months from now.Follow @onegayatatime
After all the drama of the week and the mindless hookup, I was ready for change. I wanted to be more present. I accumulated over 60 phone numbers of men in my phone, but had only met 9 of them at that point. I needed to fix this ratio. I needed to go on more dates and have less hookups. I also needed to find myself again.
My roommates and I decided to hit up our favorite bar. We were going to put their new connections with my favorite bartenders to good use. Once again, we had a blast, and on the way home we had a very interesting conversation.
I got into a debate with my male roommate about the perils of unprotected sex. He insisted the worry was greater for straight couples, as a baby could be the end result. I begged to differ. While bringing an unplanned child into the world can be very stressful, it certainly isn’t the end of the world. HIV can be just that if not detected and treated. It can be a life sentence just from a few minutes of pleasure. Regardless, we both agreed the perils of unprotected sex were not worth it, but we agreed to disagree about which was worse.
The conversation switched to Grindr. Both roommates couldn’t believe how easy it was for me to “meet” a guy and turn it into something more. My male roommate was jealous how easy it was to find sex, and my female roommate was jealous because of the sexy men I was talking to. I explained how both were a double-edged sword. While I had no problem finding a hot man to come over for sex, I had a very difficult time finding a man who was interested in a monogamous relationship. It is nearly impossible. I still have hope for upstanding men out there who are interested in other men, but they are becoming somewhat of a unicorn.
The next morning, while passing through the city on the way to the beach, I pulled up Grindr. Much to my surprise, my old college roommate popped up. I remembered him telling me he lived in that neighborhood, and I did know he was gay. But, I never thought about him popping up on my Grindr. When I first came out to friends, I contemplated coming out to him. He respected me enough in college to tell me early on about his homosexuality. Since I was comfortable with myself then, I thought it was only proper I told him. We talked about meeting up for drinks to catch up, but it never came to fruition.
I decided to have a little fun. I messaged him and told him I knew him. He started asking a lot of questions, and I answered them all truthfully. It was taking him a LONG time to figure out who I was. I even told him I lived with him in college. I got very specific, and he still wasn’t getting it. He started guessing names, but still wasn’t getting it. FINALLY, he figured out it was me.
We both had a good laugh. It took him from Midtown Manhattan all the way through Queens to Long Island before he figured it out. We talked about his suspicions and our interactions living together. Sophomore year we shared a room. I told him I even looked at porn with him sleeping in the bed a few feet away. He asked questions about the logistics of that, and I explained the bathroom was right next to our room, so he would have never caught me “in the act.” Also, he always slept facing the wall, which turned out to be very convenient for me! “If I only slept on my right side!” he responded.
We chatted about it some more and he joked, “I’m not gonna lie. With those big hands and your huge feet, I definitely snuck a peek here and there when you were in your boxers back then.” He was embarrassed, but I thought it was hilarious. I was also very flattered. I referred him to my blog to catch up on my gay life so far. He said he was going to read it and then realized, “This conversation is going to end up on there, isn’t it?” I told him of course it would. He suggested I leave out some parts, such as him checking me out, but I explained those were the best ones.
I was happy to reconnect with him and we chatted a bit more. We joke about the gay resident director for our living quarters. He had a crush on my roommate, while I suspect his boyfriend had a crush on me. His boyfriend is a police officer in the local city and followed me home on more than one occasion just to say hi. We had some more good laughs and agreed we need to grab a drink together soon.
I was happy to be fostering better relationships on Grindr, as opposed to the unsubstantial ones I currently had. I needed to work harder at it, but I still had hope of finding the right guy. I will have to date half the city, but in time, Prince Charming will find me…Follow @onegayatatime
This is the hardest blog entry for me to write because it reveals the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me, so I’m going to keep it short. Many of my closest friends do no know this, so I am sure I will get many lectures and comments after posting this. But in the honesty of my blog, I owe it to my readers to be completely forthcoming.
When I went to San Francisco, I had unprotected sex. THAT IS THE SINGLE DUMBEST THING I HAVE EVER DONE IN MY LIFE. Regardless of consequences, I will never allow myself to get into that situation again! I felt so comfortable with the man I met there, but how could I be so stupid. I even had a condom in my valet bag.
The day I got back to New Jersey, I went to the local hospital clinic and had an HIV test. Luckily, it came back negative. I was sweating bullets while I waited for the result. At the time I thought I walked away unscathed, but would later realize the consequences of my actions. On a side note, these days, you can get a free HIV cheek swab test at countless locations. There is NO excuse not to get tested regularly.
I also want to use my mistake as a teaching experience for others. I was under the impression you could only contract things like chlamydia if you were “receiving.” I was wrong. Even if you are the one “giving,” you can still contract an array of diseases you never even want to think about.
The problem came about when I noticed a slight burning during urination that eventually evolved into a discharge. I apologize for the graphic description, but again, I hope others can learn from this. I went to the doctor and was prescribed three different drugs and a urine and blood analysis. He topped it off with numerous lectures simply stated, “Always use a condom!” All of which I deserved. After a few days, time away from work to see the doctor, money for the prescriptions and a lot of stress, everything cleared up.
I tracked the contraction back to San Francisco. He was the only man I had sex with since breaking up with the guy I was dating. Since we were in a long-term relationship, we had unprotected sex, but the timing was nearly impossible for it to be Broadway. We were both tested regularly and had built up enough trust to make that step. San Francisco assured me he was recently tested as HIV negative and disease-free, but apparently, he was mistaken. We never discussed the infection. I’m not sure if he had symptoms on his end and would blame me, but he was, without a doubt, the source of my problem.
Do yourself a favor. Do your homework about the consequences of bothunprotected and protected sex, and ALWAYS USE A CONDOM!