Anthony Carter

Smart Slut

Filed By Anthony Carter | April 26, 2011 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, The Movement
Tags: African-American, emotional abuse, HIV/AIDS, LGBT youth, monogamy, multiple partners, risky sexual behavior, self care, unprotected sex

For many years, I wrongly assumed that a loving, honest relationship would keep me HIV negative.

condoms.jpgI foolishly bought into the thinking that simply decreasing the number of sex partners and being in a committed monogamous relationship would be enough to keep the big bad away from the door. This line of thinking came about as a result of scared people who encouraged us all to be scared instead of engaging in open and honest dialogue with tricks and lovers.

During the onslaught of this epidemic (by the way, with African Americans representing 49% of cases, it is still an epidemic), we were given a whole lot of information that constantly changed and was all about keeping us trembling and unable to make informed, intelligent decisions.

One of the major things trotted out for us to cling to was the belief that if we limited sex partners and stuck with one mate things would work out. All of this would work provided that you wanted one mate, the person you partnered with was honest and only wanted one mate, and of course because they loved you so much would consent to being tested together over a particular period of time.

What a load of crap.

Coming of age during the beginning of this plague, I believed all of the aforementioned ways of staying safe. However, being the smart slut that I am, it was clear to me early on that I better come up with some very different approaches to sexual freedom and social responsibility.

If I didn't want monogamy or the person I was currently seeing refused to be tested, for whatever the reason, what was I to do? Here are a couple of action-oriented and productive ways I got around much BS regarding sexual disclosures, playing safe, and people who had less than my best interests in mind.

  1. I assumed everyone was HIV positive and either didn't know or was lying about it.
  2. I brought up HIV status and asked when their last test date was and shared mine.
  3. I assumed everyone was HIV positive and either didn't know or was lying about it.

Being 19 and alone was no fun. Still in the closet and afraid to death to leave it forced me to make awful decisions that could have cost me my life. This was no place to be in the hey day of HIV/AIDS in the late 80's and early 90's.

As a young queen, I was fearful and willing to do anything to be loved.

With this mind set, it was inevitable that I would either truly court death or come up with survival strategies that would help avoid it. Having spent three and a half years with an emotional terrorist, it was clear that if I was going to make it in the gay community and live to see a ripe old age, I had better start taking care of business.

After having a look around and realizing that the years spent with an emotional invalid could either make me bitter and withdrawn or savvy and self-reliant, I chose the latter.

At 19, I foolishly thought that if I had the best interests of my significant other in mind, he would also be operating under the same set of standards. I learned that nothing could be more ridiculous and life-threatening.

Early on, he constantly manipulated, cajoled, and reasoned that unprotected sex was the way to go and it made the most sense. When I protested, I received a psychological and emotional bitch slap.

After a series of those and the belief that he did love me (because I had such a warped view of love at the time) and that there was no where to turn, I relented and gave in to unprotected, high-risk sexual behavior for the duration of our relationship.

This went along with the "He cares and would never do anything to harm me" line of reasoning.

Taking responsibility at this young age meant I had to face some serious fears and take some action that I never thought possible. I had to look at my behavior and why I was willing to put my life in some one else's hands.

During the course of this relationship where in which domination and coercion reigned, I learned some very powerful lessons

Staying healthy, happy, and HIV-negative was my responsibility.

My status was and is under my control.

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Eric Payne | April 26, 2011 4:30 PM

Bill and I have been together 16 years (and married on November 2nd, 2010, in Boston). We did not have unprotected sex until well into the second year of our relationship and, then, only after we verified through mutual testing we were HIV-negative. Speaking frankly, though, we went one step further: For another two years, neither of us emitted semen into the others' body. ON, yes. IN, no.

HIV infection is 100% avoidable. Use rubbers. If in doubt, double sheath. Use spermicide. Do not allow for the intake of bodily fluids in which the HIV retrovirus can be transmitted - blood or semen. Do not share needles.

If a person finds they cannot stay within the parameters of those restrictions when they drink or engage in "recreational pharmaceuticals", then that person should not drink or engage in those pharmaceuticals.

If a person finds themselves taking on the mindset of a "bug chaser" - the "cute" name given some gay men who actively pursue infection - they need to seek psychiatric help.

No one simply woke up on morning poz. It's not something spread by the tooth fairy.

I was going to jump on that misinformation but I see luminum already did. However, I want to complicate the idea that hiv is 100% avoidable. Perhaps 99.99% avoidable, but not 100%

It's true that it there is a lot that you can do to manage your risks, but risk always has an element of chance. Someone could take the same course of action as you and then their partner has a mid life crisis and cheats, then passes the virus along. Or what if when you got tested your partner was positive? If you stayed with him, there's a lot you could do to be responsible and decrease your risks to below 1%, but that's not a guarantee.

Of course folks should still do what they can to limit their risk, and I'm not telling anyone they should stop having sex. The issue is that especially due to the moralizing of the religious right, a lot of folks who contract hiv believe that it is their fault. The truth is that it is a virus, not a punishment for bad behavior. The virus doesn't care how many hookups you've had. Some people take huge risks and just happen to be lucky, whereas others minimize their risks and still contract it. And there's no reason why someone who just found out their positive and dealing with a lot of emotional, medical, and financial dilemmas needs to have guilt trips thrown on them as well.

Agreed. Despite my youth, I've been around the block enough to see guys brag about how they only have unprotected receptive anal sex and have been doing so for the past 30 years and never got HIV (and sadly, their conclusion isn't that they're lucky, just that HIV is not something they've ever had to worry about before and won't worry about now). Likewise, people who have taken far more precautions, such as being monogamous, knowing their partner's status, etc. have been infected with HIV because of a partner's one-night fling. There are safe behaviors you can take and they will GREATLY reduce your chances of transmitting or being infected with HIV, but it's not up to moral behavior.

So please protect yourselves and reduce your chances if you are sexually active, and know your status. And if you find out you are positive, seek treatment options as soon as you can. The sooner you begin treatment, the better your health outcomes will be. THere are great resources online for info, including for people all along the socio-political and socio-economic spectrum.

I need to address a few issues in the response above:

1) "Double sheathing/double bagging" or using two condoms at once is NOT a safe sex method. Using two condoms increases the friction between the two layers of latex, increasing the potential that one or both condoms will rip.

2) Spermicide will not kill HIV or prevent STIs. The most common spermicide is Nonoxyl-9, which showed in lab tests that it did kill HIV. However, when put into use, it did NOT kill HIV and it also increased the chances of HIV infection. This is because Nonoxyl-9 was shown to irritate vaginal and rectal membranes, thus increasing the ability of HIV to infect through the membrane surface. In fact, most condoms that contain Nonoxyl-9 are not sold in the US anymore, though you can (sadly) still find them internationally. It is only recommended that women only use spermicide if they know that their partner does not have HIV, if they are HIV- and also if they are certain that neither partner has a STI.

If you need more information on safe sex methods (what to do and what NOT to do), please see http://www.aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/ or http://www.avert.org/aids-hiv-prevention.htm.

Thanks for the clarification. I've been out of the dating scene for the better part of two decades now; it's been even longer since my last casual hook-up, and was unaware of the dangers of both double-bagging and nonoxynol-9.

No problem! There are great resources nowadays to help you keep track of new guidelines and findings! Let me know if you're curious about any of them! :)

Thank you for commenting and dispelling the misinformation above!