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Why do so many gay men put themselves at risk when it comes to sex?

Why do so many gay men put themselves at risk when it comes to sex?

Jordan Phillips is concerned about other men's attitude towards sex

Having sex with relative strangers is a common aspect of single gay life.

You may know the person you’re about to have sex with quite well, been on several dates, discussed their intolerable extended family, their lifelong dreams, and their deepest personal anxieties… or, you may be meeting them for the first time that night.

The fact is, unless you’re serious about your 20-date-rule, you’re still opening yourself up in the most intimate way possible to someone you don’t know from Adam (yet).

Sex is a natural and, if practiced safely and respectfully, incredibly fun part of life.

Sex is one of the few things the vast majority of us have in common, irrespective of sexual preference or identity.

The ingredients might be different but the desired outcome is the same: two (or more) people sharing a primal, intimate experience through which they can either grow closer and develop something more meaningful, or simply have fun and never speak again.

Within the LGBTQ community, however, I’ve noticed a startling problem which I can no longer remain silent about.

I’m recently single, having been with my partner for almost three years. After the relationship ended, I did what any recently single, young queer man would do in this situation. I attempted to numb the pain by going out and re-integrating myself into the LGBT+ scene here in Edinburgh.

I’d been with guys before my first-and-only long-term partner, but usually friends or people I’d known for a while.

I was always an avid frequenter of the bars and clubs here, enjoying the music and the drag shows more than the opportunities available for single patrons – namely, ‘casual’ sex.

I won’t lie: it was nice to receive male attention again. That was sadly one of the many things my ex and I had neglected: boosting one another’s egos. So, here I was: having fun and generally enjoying my life as a 23-year-old out on the scene with no commitments to anyone else.

‘Surely these guys know the dangers of unprotected sex… or do they?’

However, I was aghast to learn that many of the guys who I would end up hooking up with didn’t have, and didn’t regularly use, condoms with their sexual partners.

Is this a new trend? Is it 1983 all over again? Surely these guys know the dangers of unprotected sex… or do they?

I had gone from a monogamous, three-year relationship with someone who I loved and trusted implicitly, to strangers asking to bareback me. And what’s worse, some of them had literally no earthly idea how STDs and blood-borne pathogens operate. Trust me, you don’t need to be a scientist or a doctor to know this stuff!

One guy believed that he was unable to catch anything if he was the giving – rather than receiving – partner. Yes, that’s right folks… he thought he could avoid Hepatitis, HIV and other STDs just by being the top!

Another guy asked me to tie him up and bareback him. Me, a stranger, who he’d just met in a club a few hours earlier.

Do these people not read the news? There have been several recent stories here in the UK about gay men being murdered after meeting on dating apps.

‘When was the last time you were tested?’

To be clear: I am in no way shaming anyone or stigmatizing anyone who has ever had or is living with any kind of disease or infection. But I do think it’s incredibly dangerous and irresponsible to have unprotected sex with people you don’t know.

You may believe yourself to be ‘clean’ (an offensive word as it makes others sound ‘unclean’), but when was the last time you were tested?

You could have caught something since your last test. Or the person you’re with might just be lying to you. The police are currently on the hunt for an Edinburgh-born man who has allegedly been knowingly infecting his sexual partners with HIV. It’s far more common than you’d think.

Our community has faced so much hardship and hurdles over the years: there’s no need for us to generate more from within our own ranks. Is a few moments of pleasure worth it the lifelong consequences? I don’t think so.

I know it’s easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment but, please, know who you’re sleeping with, respect them, respect yourself, and be safe.

Unsure what’s sexual behavior can put your health at risk? Check the websites from Terrence Higgins Trust and GMFA.

Follow Jordan on Twitter: @doordyy