Ask JT! Why Do Gay Men Still Have Unprotected Sex?

Ask JT Advice Column

Dear JT,

As a younger gay guy, I’ve been shocked by the debate over PrEp and condoms that has started raging. It leads me to ask, why is the gay community so against condoms and willing to be so careless? It really shocks me. I mean condoms are cheap, come in different shapes and sizes (preventing all the “it constricts my penis, I have a latex allergy” excuses), and yet it seems a healthy amount of the gay community don’t want to use them.

Disturbing me even further is the fact that this attitude seems to be prevalent amongst older gays who, having seen the horrors of AIDS, I’d think would be actively against barebacking. I really don’t get it, and I don’t want to come across like a judgmental ass, but are the pleasures of barebacking really worth it to this extent? I’m genuinely concerned and curious about this and would love to get some reasoning.

Flummoxed in Massachusetts.

CondomsI wish I had a good answer for you.

First, in case anyone is a little unclear, the CDC has a very concise, informative page about what exactly PrEP is. The rundown: Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a pill that can be taken on a daily basis by someone at high risk of contracting HIV. However, PrEP is defined as merely playing a possible role in prevention. It isn’t a magical suit of armor, and it’s meant to be used in conjunction with other preventative measures: namely, for those at risk because of sexual behavior, condoms.

I don’t think it’s fair to imply the entire gay community is against condom use, but it’s certainly the case that many, many men seem to check caution at the door.

You asked why some gay men don’t wear condoms when they should. Some guys feel that sex isn’t intimate with protection. Others are young, and think they’re immortal and will just never catch anything. Some are attracted to risk. There’s a great, very lengthy write-up about this topic at TheBody.com (an HIV/AIDS information site) which I highly recommend. On rational examination, none of these reasons justify risking one’s life, but the point is that men are barebacking and taking other sexual risks. And it’s happening all the time.

I don’t think it’s judgmental of you, FIM, to ask questions about this. But remember, sex and sexual decisions are a very personal thing and can get people fired up pretty quickly, so when you talk to people about this, make sure to listen respectfully.

Okay. So. Fellas. For those out there reading this, remember: always wear a condom. Always know your status. I know this isn’t the sexiest thing to think about, and it’s very distracting when the lights go out and the belt buckles start slamming against the floor, but it’s your own health we’re talking about.

I’m very curious to hear people’s thoughts on this topic, so don’t be shy in the comments.

Hey JT,

I’m a 25-year-old straight woman who started dating a guy three weeks ago. He is everything I want in a guy (hot, intelligent, athletic, polite to my friends, courteous to everyone, a Democrat, etc) with one GLARING exception: he’s really religious.

He isn’t obnoxious about his beliefs. In fact, it took until the third date for him to “come out” as being a devout Baptist. But that puts us at a really awkward place, because I’m not only not religious – I’m a full-on atheist. I told him that from the beginning – it’s in my profile on the dating site where we first connected – but he seems to think that’s something we can work around. But I’m just not so sure. Can this work out?

Worried Lady

The running theory of relationships seems to be that couples come in two camps: birds of a feather and opposites attracting.

Here’s the reality: birds of a feather by far outweigh attracted opposites. (Although opposites can make for some fantastic, fiery times in the sack, I’ve heard. Somewhere. During which protection is always used!)

Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean your relationship is doomed. But it might be a bumpy ride.

Most people don’t like to be challenged by their partner when it comes to a core belief, and since religion, like politics, is one of those areas people get very uppity about, it can be a challenge when you don’t see eye to eye.

Now, obviously, people date outside their religion all the time, but that’s actually a different animal than a religious person dating an atheist. If, say, a Christian and a Jew date, sure, they’re going to disagree on that whole Jesus thing. But they both believe in God and have the Old Testament in common.

However, while someone’s belief in a higher power can be fundamental to who they are, your guy seems more than willing to give it a shot with someone who has different beliefs than him. That’s pretty admirable. And you put it out there for all the world to see, which means he knew before you went on your first date. What that means is he made a choice, and decided you seemed cool enough to get to know despite having a different opinion of what to do on Sunday mornings.

So can it work out? That’s up to you. Both of you. Provided you can accept the other’s beliefs and not try to change them – because that will never work, trust me – I’d say see where it goes.

Hey JT,

I’ve got a pop culture question for you (because I know you love those!). My nephew just turned 5, and I want to introduce him to some cool, age-appropriate shows (preferably cartoons) that will hopefully mold him into a geek who believes in true love, good versus evil, and always doing the right thing! What do ya got?

Geek in his Thirties

Look to the 90s, GIHT. Look to the 90s.

That decade was a booming time for kid-oriented fantasy, especially in cartoon format. For one thing, they had Hollywood beat by about twenty years: two of the most outstanding animated series were Spider-Man and X-Men. You guys, seriously, take a minute for 90’s-era X-men. It made every Saturday morning a gift.

Gargoyle's LexingtonBut if I had to choose one particular show, I’d say introduce your nephew to Gargoyles. For those poor souls who never had the joy of watching it, this show broke all the rules for kids’ programming: it had season-long story arcs (so no episodes were truly stand-alone), had amoral (as opposed to immoral) villains who had depth, and characters could be seriously injured and even die. Add to this its Shakespearean origin for several plots, its liberal use of Greek, Nordic, and Arthurian legend, and even a gargoyle that pinged the gaydar … hard.

Gargoyles, man. Good stuff.

To ask JT a question, email him at jtadvicecolumn@gmail.com. Or you can be super tech-sexy and ask via Twitter.

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