Hey, Your Highness

I’m sad. And disappointed.

Today at the International AIDS Conference in Barcelona, it was announced that one in ten young gay men in the United States are HIV positive, and 80% of them don’t even know it.

Why are these new infections happening? It’s not because these kids don’t know that AIDS is spread through unprotected anal sex. Nope – it’s even worse.

It’s because they don’t think that the whole unprotected anal sex thing applies to them.

The story goes something like this:

A guy “knows” that he’s negative because that’s how his latest HIV test came out. He “knows” that his partner is negative too. And both of them “know” that neither one of them are – well, you know – dirty sex pigs or sex industry workers. They “know” that AIDS doesn’t happen to people like them. So they screw with wanton abandon. Without rubbers.

Never mind that it can take months for someone’s viral load to be high enough to be detected by an HIV antibody test.

Never mind that you’re most potently infectious in the weeks before it’s even possible for you to test positive.

Never mind that there are a ton of other STDs out there to worry about besides HIV.

And never mind that we’re all sex pigs…

[And don’t even get me started on the ‘dirty’ (sic) sex pig rap. The choice to have lots of great, sweet, nasty mansex with lots of other likeminded beasts and the choice not to use protection have absofuckinglutely nothing whatsoever to do with each other.]

The problem is that there is still a lot of ignorance out there. Which is why I was so glad to run across this kickass web site today. Of course, it had to be from the UK, which ironically seems to be filled with randy buggers who are able to talk about sex despite being so uptight. Why can’t we make great shit like this for our kids? Check it out, and be sure to click on Kikass Lovers and SuperShagLand.

There’s another reason that these infections happen, though, and it’s the one that truly breaks my heart. It’s called shame.

I know that it’s hard to be a be a proud faggot when the world has been teaching you that you were a piece of shit ever since you first realized that you wanted to pack some fudge (or be packed, as the case may be).

And I know what it’s like to be hungry for it and need it so bad –

When you’ve finally got that dream guy worked up and naked and hard and in your bed
And you’re so horny for it
And you want to be loved so much
And the last thing you want to do is anything that would break the moment
Or make him stop
Or make him leave
Because you’re finally, finally gonna get it
And you’re gonna feel so damn good when you do
And you’re finally gonna know that you are in fact truly good despite what everybody’s said all those years.

So you make that decision not to ask him to put on a condom or not to wear one yourself.

And in doing so you let the homophobes – and the demons in your head – win. You die a little death. And set yourself down the road toward a big one.

Because when you make that decision, you’re saying, “I am not worth it. I am not as important as this other person. My life doesn't even matter.”

And all of a sudden, you’ve taken what you hoped would be – and what is supposed to be – and what in reality actually is – a creative, life-affirming, transformative act and turned it into something that damages your self-worth and puts your health at risk and may ultimately even kill you.

And the worst part about it is that the more times you sabotage your self-esteem this way, the harder it is to stand up for yourself the next time around.

But the truth is that you are worth it.

And that that person or people you are with are damn lucky to have you.

And that they have the same self esteem issues that you do.

And that when you truly honor each other, you do unleash the creative, transformative power of this amazing sex thing – and build each other up – and rise above a world that wants to tear you down.

And the best part about it is that the more times you grow your self-esteem that way, the easier it is to stand up for yourself the next time around – and the easier it is to bring others along with you.

A sex worker friend of mine gets a lot of crap from people because he calls himself a king and refuses to hang out with people or take clients who don’t acknowledge his regality. I admire him though, because what he’s really doing is saying that he refuses to be disrespected or put himself in situations that are gonna tear him down. In an industry that is all too often about smashing the spirit of its employees, he’s found a way to rise above, and I think that’s an amazing thing.

So the next time that some hot fucker wants to dick you without a rubber, take a lesson from my friend Matthew. Remind yourself that you’re a king and that that stud is fortunate to have you. Then insist, in your own royal way, that your guest comes to your party appropriately attired.

Take care of yourselves, my brothers.

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