Category Archives: RULES

RULE NO.5: YOU CAN CONTRACT HIV FROM SOMEONE YOU LOVE

Young Gay Couple

One of the best things about having a boyfriend is choosing not use condoms. I’ve heard from friends of mine that they choose not to use condoms with their boyfriends after a certain period of time dating. They rationalise that they’ve been together for long enough that they can trust their partner but this is a grave mistake. A large portion of newly diagnosed HIV cases are the result of a person contracting the virus from a partner who did not know that they were HIV positive. You cannot assume that your partner is negative simply based on the period of time that you’ve been dating. He may not be aware of his own status.

When and if you decide to stop using condoms in your relationship it’s important to follow the Four T’s: Talk, Test, Test, Trust. This is the safest approach to ensuring you look after your health and the health of your partner.

I have copied the following information from the ACON website (an Australian health organisation established to promote sexual health for the gay community) as they explain the Four T’s best.

Some HIV negative men in ongoing relationships with other HIV negative men choose to have anal sex with each other without using condoms. At best this decision can help make the sex they have special, at worst it can increase the risk of either or both partners contracting HIV.

Choosing not to use condoms with a regular partner is a major decision. It’s not only a decision about the type of sex you have together, it’s a decision about how much responsibility for your sexual wellbeing you’re prepared to hand over to your partner. By choosing to have sex without condoms within your relationship you are saying to each other ‘I trust you with my health and safety’.

THE FOUR T’S

Step One – Talk

To safely stop using condoms within your relationship you need to be able to talk openly and honestly with each other about why you want to do it, what the potential benefits and risks might be, the ground rules for sex inside and outside the relationship and how you’ll deal with any problems that may arise.

If you come to an understanding with each other on all of these issues and still want to ditch the condoms you should then move on to Step #2.

Step Two – Test

Step 2 is for both of you to have an HIV test. You can do this together or separately. If you’re going to have anal sex without a condom you should both be totally sure you are HIV negative and aren’t going to put each other at risk.

If the tests for both of you come back negative, you should still continue to use condoms for 3 months before moving on to Step #3.

Step Three – Test

Step #3 is to get a second HIV test. If neither of you have had unsafe sex throughout the three-month period then the second test will confirm that both of you are HIV negative.

If this is the case and you still want to stop using condoms with each other you can then move on to Step #4.

Step Four – Trust

Step #4 is to negotiate a clear agreement for sex with each other and other people outside the relationship (if that’s what you’ve decided) as well as guidelines for dealing with any problems that might arise.  Once these have been made clear you can then trust that you and your partner will stick by them.

If the two of you decide to stop using condoms for anal sex with each other remember it depends upon open and honest communication.  The discussions you have about condoms and sex can help you understand each other better and build a stronger relationship

www.acon.org.au

Photo Credit: “Viva Las Vegas” by Matthias Vriens McGrath

How have you negotiated safe-sex with your partner?

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RULE NO.4: GAY MEN SHOULD NOT CONGREGATE TOGETHER

gay_club

Generally it is estimated that one in ten people is homosexual. I would suggest that this is a safety mechanism, designed by nature to stop gays from destroying each other.

My experience of being around too many gay men at once is rather negative.  Before I go any further, I want to stress that I am a strong believer that one’s perspective affects one’s experience so the following observations may not be true for everyone. If that is the case, I would love to hear your thoughts.

It’s best to explore my argument with an example. There’s a local venue in my city that gay men frequent religiously on a Sunday afternoon. This particular venue has become quite the institution and is filled, no matter what the weather conditions may be, with gay men of various ages, persuasions and types. You would imagine that such a gathering would be open and friendly, and offer the potential to meet new people and mingle with old acquaintances. On the contrary. This venue is reminiscent of the school canteen (although everyone is a litter older and buffer). Boys are no less cliquey and judgemental than they were in high school. The lunch tables may be replaced with bar tops and the chocolate milk with $5 ciders but the atmosphere is just the same. It is an atmosphere of arrogance, separation, judgement and suspicion. Everyone may be tightly packed into the huge courtyard space but there is little communication between strangers and no sense of community that previous generations of gay men were known for. And what’s worse, it is as if by osmosis that I too act like one of these guys.

I’m not sure what it is that creates this disconnect between people. I’ve asked myself if perhaps it’s a phenomenon native to my city or if it’s because our communal insecure psyche is so strong when we’re gathered together. Or maybe we’re just inherently more judgemental and superficial than straight people? Whatever the reason may be, I leave the bar on a Sunday night feeling worse than when I arrived (and that has nothing to do with the amount of alcohol I’ve consumed). I promise myself that I wont be back the next week which is actually very disappointing when you think about it. We should be creating spaces that empower each other, that promote community and self-love. There are enough places in the real world where gay guys feel uncomfortable, what a shame it is that we’ve created gay spaces that make us feel the same way.

I was never one to frequent gay venues or to follow the gay social circuit. This was partly because most of my friends were straight and the few gay friends I had didn’t enjoy the “scene”. It was also partly due to the fact that I had lived in this city all my life and had observed the community from a distance, questioning whether I wanted to be a part of it or not. But when so many of my closest friends left me for exotic cities overseas I thought that friendlessness would offer me the opportunity to explore my local gay community. In retrospect, although I now know a lot more gay people than I did 5 years ago, I feel more insecure about myself when I spend time with them and  find myself engaging in idol chatter more frequently than I did when hanging out with my straight friends. What’s more is that I haven’t actually made that many meaningful relationships with those guys that I have met. The best gay relationships that I’ve had in the past whether they be with friends, boyfriends or one night stands, were with people that I met outside of typically gay situations. Which makes me wonder “are gay guys in groups toxic?”.

Let me know your thoughts.

Are gay guys in groups toxic?

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RULE NO.2: BE A ROLE MODEL

JudgementDayPreview[6]

Like most gay boys, I went through a period of prolonged confusion during adolescence. I would hook up with girls and try be one of the boys but neither felt right. What troubled me the most was that I didn’t fit perfectly within the gay stereotypes by which I was measuring my own sexuality. Constantly I would debate back and forth as to whether or not I was actually gay. My process went something like this:

I love acting which means I’m gay but Brad Pitt is an actor and he’s not gay.

I play right-mid on the school soccer team and I’m on the swim team which means I’m straight. Gay guys don’t like sports.

I think about other boys on the swim team which means I’m gay but everyone has feelings about the same sex at one point in their lives. Right?

I like fashion but I don’t wear tight shirts or short shorts.

At the time the only gay men that I had access to were those on television; the men of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”, Stanford from “Sex and the City” and that hairy guy who won the first season of Survivor. But I couldn’t relate to any of these men. There was nobody to look up to. I had no gay role models.

In the ’90s the limited gay characters that were portrayed in movies and television always seemed to fit similar molds; the flamboyant and fabulous gay, the bitchy gay, the promiscuous gay, the confused gay or the gay dying from AIDS. There were no positive examples of well rounded, happy gays who just got on with their lives. I never wanted to be like of any of these men nor could I relate to any of them which made my process of self acceptance that little bit more difficult. Beyond the movies there were no gay figures in pop music, business, politics or sport (other than Ian Roberts) or at least none that were actively discussing their sexuality.

Now is the time for the positive gay role model. I believe it is the duty of my generation to show the next generation of young men, struggling with their sexuality, how to be well rounded gay men in the modern world. I am grateful for the generations of men who came before me who fought for gay rights but the next fight wont be political or social but personal. It will be an internal fight. We will need to ask ourselves “now that I have rights, now that the stigma around homosexuality has been somewhat lifted, what does it mean to me to be a gay man?”.

We need as many role models as possible to lead this fight so that young gay boys have positive examples of homosexuality, men from whom they can learn so that eventually there will be less and less boys struggling with their sexuality.

Who are gay men that you look up to?

Photo Credit: Judgment Day by Troy Dunham & Jeff Eason

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RULE NO.1: THERE ARE NO RULES (EXCEPT FOR ONE)

francisco-lachowski

I am a sucker for self help books. I cannot satisfy fast enough my appetite for reading the latest New York Times Best Seller on “How To Live the Life You Imagined” or “Grow Rich by Thinking”. While most of my peers are on the internet shopping for clothes and accessories or looking at porn, I’m trawling Amazon for obscure books on self esteem written by psychologists from Sweden. And looking at porn.

It reached the point when my shelves, side tables and cupboard couldn’t accommodate any more books by Tony Robbins that I asked myself “Why am I so fascinated by this genre of literature?”. The answer was simple, I was looking for a definitive solution. A formula to life. A set of rules that when followed would guarantee money, success, fame, a Brazilian model boyfriend, fabulous friends, a SL55 Mercedes (and Range Rover Sport), limitless funds to travel, an apartment in New York, a house in the Hamptons, four children, a dog, a live-in masseuse and a pool boy who wore cutoff denim shorts while singing “she works hard for the money” a la The Birdcage. Surely if I read enough then eventually I would have sufficient knowledge and life would unfold seamlessly? I realised that I was missing the point.

While many self help books spruik the benefits of simply reciting affirmations to achieve success or visualising your life as you want it to be in an approach that I can only describe as the “fast food” method, there are many books that offer true insight into how to improve your life. The former category is rather shallow and taps into people’s laziness and need for a quick fix in order to sell copies while the latter category takes a more spiritual approach. Summed up rather briefly, the “fast food” method gives you rules to follow in order to find fulfilment in whichever area you are lacking while the “spiritual method” teaches you that there is only one rule. And that rule is the importance of being true to yourself. When you are true to yourself, everything else falls into place. The things that you really want become clear and you often find that they are significantly different to the things you valued before. True happiness can only come from within and in order to access this happiness you first need to honour your truth.

Why do so many gay men suffer? I believe that it’s because for so long we have denied our true selves or hated our true selves. We have created beautiful bodies to hide behind, adorned our exterior in flashy clothes, involved ourselves in bitchiness and drama all in attempt to deny our inner pain, a pain caused by avoiding our inner truth.

This is why rule number one is the most important rule of all. There are no rules in life more important than honouring your true self. Only then can one find true fulfilment and happiness. Some of the richest and most successful people I have come across are also the most miserable. They followed the so-called rules of life which indeed lead them to money, success, fame but once they started living the lives they thought they always wanted, they realised they were still unhappy. To be happy is to be true to yourself. That is all there is to know.

So put down the self help books because I have done the readings for you and it can all be summed up  beautifully in one sentence, written by my favourite author Eckart Tolle:

True Salvation is fulfillment, peace, life in all its fullness. It is to be who you are, to feel within you the good that has no opposite, the joy of Being that depends on nothing outside itself

What do you think is the key to happiness? Comment below and share your thoughts.

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