Tag Archives: condoms

The Birth of Momdoms (includes actual birth)

As a child, did an adult ever “catch” you looking through books of a sexual nature, like human biology texts or porn? Did the adult respond in shock, embarrassment, anger? For the brothers of Momdoms, their mother’s reaction was the spark that set off their company’s mission today. Here’s Wayne Simpkins telling that story:

MomDomGraphic-v2Penis. Vagina. The words that made us all giggle in our childhood years. But for us, it went way beyond that.

Our mom was a nurse who had no problem saying those words more often than your average mom. So often, that we would even have contests to see who could get her to say the word “penis” the most times.

Our mother would openly explain to us what was happening to our bodies as we were growing up, and how, when the time came, “The Talk” about sex was more of a conversation. No biggie.

There are four siblings in our family, three boys and the youngest a girl. Needless to say, we were always getting into things. When we were around the ages of 8-13, we found a box in our garage of our mothers old college nursing books, at that age we immediately honed in on the anatomy books. Our mother came down and “caught us”, we were mortified. Somehow, despite our young ages, despite sex positive parenting, we already knew the feelings of shame around sex.

But in true fashion of our mother she said, “Well don’t just sit there, bring them upstairs so we can look through them. We can talk about any questions you have, just please don’t color in the pictures.”

Our family has always used humor to get through awkward situations and this was no different. When you are a child, your mind is imaginative and you draw your own conclusions based on things you see and hear. Many questions were cleared up that day. Questions like:

“Do you have to pee in a girl to get her pregnant?” Followed by Eeewwwww and laughter.

“If our sister’s clitoris grows, will that turn her into a boy? Is it like an inside penis?” Eeewwwww and laughter.

“So the baby doesn’t come out of the butthole?” “Haha – you said butthole!”

This prompted my mother to to sit us down and watch a program that showed an actual child birth. We sat there in shock, but mostly awe.

As adults, my bothers were the coaches for their wives when they gave birth. I am the oldest son and gay. My sister asked me to be her birth coach– she wanted to be sure that I would be able to experience it for myself. Twenty years ago it was not quite the “norm” for a gay couple to have or raise a child.

Without our mother being as open and honest about sex and sexuality, our lives would be very different, certainly not as fulfilling. Thankfully, this mindset has been passed on to the next generation in our family.

With Momdoms, we wanted to reach families that were not quite as open as our family, by offering a tool for them to use that makes the “smart sex” conversation a little less awkward.

Momdoms has a humorous assortment of 1950s-style condom storage tins complete with tips for parents on why and how to talk about sex with their kids. Each tin includes six FDA approved lubricated latex condoms and can also be customized with your picture in place of the illustration. Turns out that moms and sex are an interesting combination, making anyone get a kick out of Momdoms. Check ’em out!

 

#TwitterWTF? Let’s change their condom stance

Social businesses who exists to normalize and improve public knowledge of safer sex are not allowed to extend their messages on Twitter.

Twitter’s ad policy is under pressure to change their convoluted and conservative stance against condom (and other contraception) promotion.

This week, Melissa White, founder and CEO of Lucky Bloke, sent a letter to Twitter owner Dick Costolo, urging him to take condoms off their blacklist. She also launched a petition for the public to get on board in ending this faulty policy.

This is the tweet that got Lucky Bloke kicked off the @TwitterAds program because it was deemed too sexually explicit. tweet-censored1

This hardly seems too sexual for daytime viewers! Twitter would not respond to White’s requests for more information. That was it. Her safer sex promotion went on complete lock down.

Unfortunately, we live in a time in which the clutches of puritanical fears continue to muffle public discourse around safer sex. Why haven’t we shaken this off by now?

#Tweet4Condoms because sexual care is health care and global health! http://bit.ly/LBpetition

We know that access to condoms does not entice young people to start fucking in locker rooms. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics- a very official authority on health) released a position statement last October arguing that condoms should be made available in public schools and other community venues. With the backing of numerous studies, they firmly state that access to condoms does not cause sex. To be clear, it increasing the chances of young adults practicing safer sex. In fact, as Amanda Marcotte reports, nearly half of the studies cited by the AAP show that kids who have access to condoms and condom education have sex later than kids who do not have access.

So what does this have to do with Twitter? Their block on condom advertising and messaging stems from this cultural shame we’ve constructed around sex. Consequently, instead of being a platform to discuss and support safer sex messaging, Twitter reinforces stigma of condoms usage.

[UPDATE: More sexual health businesses and organization have spoken out about their struggle with Twitter’s policy, including The STD Project and Bedsider]

Lucky Bloke isn’t alone of course, as Twiter’s blockade is far-reaching and unconditional. The company Momdoms explained that their custom product for condom storage has also been deemed “too x-rated”, making it virtually impossible for Momdoms to share their videos and promotions to a wider audience. They showed Condom Monologues a copy of Twitter’s notification. It’s the same message Lucky Bloke received: “Your company is ineligible.”

Join Us!
stop_censorship1

Let’s show Twitter that condoms are perfectly normal, lovable item, and essential health items. Not something to exclude from public space! Visit this Action Page to share images, tweets, and links to your friends and networks.

How Young Gay Men Are Changing the Meaning of Swag

The term “swag” is generally used to describe someone of confidence and respect. A group of young guys from ASCNYC’s mPowerment program have revamped this meaning to make people recognize that taking care of your sexual health is fundamental to respect. This post is about S.W.A.G.

Members of S.W.A.G.

SWAG guys making safer sex sexy, handing out condoms and lube and talking to folks about knowing their HIV status.

Sitting in a New York bar or night club you may be lucky enough to chance upon the lively SWAG Mpowerment – a group of 19 – 29 year old gay and bisexual guys who are on a mission to normalize HIV prevention and safer sex. They jump bar to bar in a sort of flash-mob way, passing out condoms, lubes and information pamphlets about HIV testing. You might even get a free candy.

“It’s a really effective way to get condoms out there,” says Lance, one of the members of SWAG. “Sometimes people will be really curious and ask questions and that starts a dialogue which can lead to a person in another day or two getting tested at the agency.”

That agency is the ASCNYC which initiated SWAG Mpowerment five years ago as part of their outreach to reduce HIV transmission among YMSMs (Young Men who Have Sex with Men). Young gay and bisexual men between the ages of 13 – 24 are the hardest hit by new infections in the United States today.

What’s different about SWAG- which stands for “Sexy With A Goal”- is that, instead of focusing solely on individual risk behavior, the project addresses wider interpersonal and social issues identified by the group volunteers and coordinators themselves; issues like asserting safer sex, self-esteem, homelessness, racism, homophobia, education and employment pressures. All aspects which directly and indirectly impact young gay men’s abilities to consistently know their status and take care of their sexual health. As Guy Williams, Assistant Director of Prevention at ACSNYC explains, “SWAG is like family for a lot of the guys because they can’t really be themselves around other family and friends” due to deeply rooted stigma of being gay. SWAG is a safe sex-positive and fun space for these young men to forge meaningful friendships and take on community issues that impact them most.

Over our phone interview, Williams explained that their condom distribution strategy came about through a series of rejections by bar and club owners who didn’t like SWAG’s proposal to set up an information table in the bar and hand out condoms to patrons. “Many bar owners said ‘Nah, that will kill the mood because patrons come in to have a good time. They don’t want to talk about HIV,” Williams describes. “So what SWAG decided was, well, if we just run into clubs and bars quickly and just hand out condom packs and leave than we didn’t need the owner’s permission.”

This is just one of their many project activities. Along with weekly meet ups and educational outreach, SWAG members organize pro-gay events ranging from talent shows to more serious affairs like taking on New York State congress by speaking with policy makers about the dire need for funding to support young gay men. SWAG has also produced this “Why Safer Sex Is Sexy” video.

Throughout June, which is Gay Pride Month, SWAG is launching a weekly event series titled “The 50 Shade of Gay”. Gay porn stars will come in and talk with young men about HIV prevention in the porn industry, such as HIV testing practices, safer sex negotiation, and “sero-sorting” they face in the industry. They’re also launching a video in June that crushes one-dimensional gay stereotypes. Members will tell and represent their own stories of what it means to be gay and share their video across the internet.

As William explains, SWAG Mpowerment is about addressing HIV status, testing and prevention, but “doing it in non-traditional ways that are not always talking about HIV. That’s why we are always trying to do fun and inventive stuff to support each other.”

SWAG is always open to new members and volunteers. They are also searching for volunteer sex educators who have experience teaching and demonstrating condom usage. They meet Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays between 4:30 and 6:30 at 85 University Place, 5th floor, New york, NYC, 10003. For more information, contact Guy Williams gguy.williams@gmail.com.

What a Good Guy Barometer Looks Like

You can measure the quality of a guy by the proximity of which he brings up condoms. It’s a direct relationship: the sooner he mentions them, the better he is!

At the bottom of the barometer scale is this guy:

You’re both naked. You’ve been rolling around, kissing, whatever. It’s hot. You’re at that point where you’re getting worried about proximity of genitals on genitals, so you roll it out. “Hey, are we ready for a condom? Should I grab one for us from my trusty bedside stash?” (You’re always stocked, of course, because you enjoy some healthy slutting. It keeps things fun!)

This one’s a bad egg, though, and he’s going down the Wonka trash shoot: “I’m too big for a condom,” he says. Or, maybe: “I can’t feel anything with those things on.”

He’s a dick, so you don’t want his dick.Hot-Peni-small

 

The middling man goes here:

You’re edging toward naked, or maybe you’re fully naked. You’re rolling around, rubbing closer. It’s getting hot in here. That moment comes again. Looks like there’s going to be some hetero-normative penetration in not too long, if you’re reading the signs right. You sort of pause, maybe, or slow down, and he notices your slight deceleration before you get the words out. “Should we get a condom?” he asks.

Winner! Super hot when the guy takes some responsibly and asks first!Hot-Peni-medium

 

And the stellar, gold-star, barometer busting man?

You’ve been talking all night. It’s total heart-to-heart. Heart-to-heart moves on to mouth-to-mouth and you decide to move things from the couch to the bedroom. You sit down on his bed, and the music goes on, the lights go off. He says, holding your hand, ready to start kissing you again, “Just so you know, I have condoms if we need them. No pressure though.” Swoon!

This guy’s a winner.Hot-Peni-large

What do you think? What makes your barometer burst?

Monologues are independent stories. Opinions shared are the author’s own,

Why We Should Stop Using Fruits & Veg in SexEd

The banana (or cucumber) penis prop in sex education has got to go. I think it’s an outdated euphemism that helps adults (not young people) feel more comfortable talking about sexuality. Shyfully skirting topics only reinforces the mechanisms of shame around sex. It creates an environment in which certain question can’t be addressed. Hence ignorance perpetuates. At it’s core, the banana is a symbol of non-pragmatic, fear-based sex education.

Character 'Jonah Takalua' from Summer Heights High getting schooled in sex "practicalities".

Character ‘Jonah Takalua’ from Summer Heights High getting schooled in sex “practicalities”.

Like so many Americans, my sex education in high school was minimal. It was covered only once in the entire four years during a single, out-of-the-blue gym class. Topics were rushed and general. Looking back, I realize how heterocentric and cis-genedered sex ed was simply by the way information was presented and what was intentionally absent. How to use a condom, however, is the most vivid lesson I remember.

Us 14 – 15 year old boys and girls were instructed to sit on the basketball court floor and watch our gym teacher (a bleach-blond nutritionist who always wore L.L. Bean fleeces) pull out a single condom and banana from her canvas sports bag. “Now, who will volunteer to help me put this on?” She cheerfully asked us.

Of course, no one raised their hand so she picked the student who was talking under his breath to another student. “Brad, come on up and show the class how to use a condom.”

This was discipline.

Brad stood in front of the class with a grin and demonstrated how to open the condom wrapper. He handed the wrapper to the teacher in exchange for the banana. Then holding fruit in one hand and latex in the other, he placed the condom over the top and vigorously struggled to pull it down the, um, shaft.

“No no no!” blurted the gym teacher. “You’re skipping a very important step. You must make sure not to trap air in the top hat.”

Top hat?

Brad struggled trying to simultaneously pitch the tip and roll the condom down one-handedly. “Here, let me help you.” The teacher reached for the banana’s shaft and said, “You hold the hat while I roll,” and started to inch down the condom.

The awkwardness and humor of it all distracted me from actually understanding how to put on a condom. If anything, it seemed far more complicated because it required more than two hands.

How about suggesting to practice by one’s self? To masturbate with a condom? Or discuss ways partners can put condoms on together? Or ways to negotiate condom use? Or the variety of condom options that are out there?

Practical, matter of fact approaches are much more effective at equipping young people to make informed choices.

I think a penis or dildo model should be used instead of these foody phallics. Moreover, a dildo is great for including information about queer safer sex and toy sharing. Condom use does not only apply to penis!

The plastic penis prop by Justin Hancock of Bish Training is a stellar example of condom instructions for the real world.

Penis models are so less awkward.

Penis models are so less awkward.

Watch Bish Training’s condom use here.

How were you taught condom usage? What props were featured in your sex education (if any!)?

Our Hippie Secret Teasure

The first time I saw a condom I was nine years old and slightly too old to be playing pretend. This sounds wrong, but let me explain:

I was sitting in my friend’s parents’ 1992 Subaru station wagon and we were playing a game called “Hippie Road Trip” where we were two hippies driving across America. I’m not sure what this game entailed besides my friend sitting in the driver’s seat of the parked car and turning the wheel every so often to not crash into imaginary pedestrians and animals. While looking through the glove box for a map (we had gotten lost) I came across a box of condoms.

TreasureBox-CM

“There was something so thrilling about finding evidence of the adult world.”

I had heard about the legendary pieces of latex in class from the school nurse. She was a portly woman with red hair who had clearly been uncomfortable explaining “the birds and the bees” to a class of fourth graders. Her perspiration and rushed tone, however, had made the topic more exciting, more mysterious. And so it was no wonder then that finding a box of condoms to us was like discovering buried treasure.

“They’re my parents’,” explained my friend, who had christened herself ‘Sparkle’ whilst playing pretend. I too had taken a new name for my character, the most beautiful name I could think of, which at the time happened to be ‘Crystal’. Her parents were in fact real hippies and as a result Sparkle was somewhat of an expert on the subject of sex.

“Here– let me see those,” she said, extending her hand. She opened the box and grabbed a small, plastic square before tearing it open. It was long and cylindrical with a strange almost soft texture.

“Can I have one?” I asked excitedly.

It was not so often that I had such easy access to illicit objects. There was something so thrilling about finding evidence of the adult world. She handed me a small plastic square of my own. Pretty soon the entire box had been completely emptied and every one of the six condoms was unwrapped. It turned out that condoms could fit over your hands, your feet and even the stick shift of a 1992 Subaru station wagon.

Finally, tired of playing with them, we folded and stuffed all of the unwrapped condoms back into their box and into the glove compartment.

Sparkle readjusted her seat and went back to concentrating on driving. I stared out the window of the un-moving car, satisfied with our new found hippie secret treasure.

Monologues are independent stories. Opinions shared are the author’s own. Also, you should know that glove compartments are a terrible and risky place to store condoms. The heat from the car can breakdown the latex and render condoms useless. Do you remember your first encounter with condoms or dams?

Fire Crotch

The memory of this experience was triggered by a discussion I overheard about massage oils recently.FireCrotch

I went through a very brief phase in online hook-ups for sex. I wanted to experience it as I was a very late bloomer who hadn’t had much casual sex. I decided to read the profiles for a hot, young, firm, sexy guy for sex. Only sex. I was not concerned with anything else but his physical appearance as I searched for a casual hook up for the evening. Another reason I wanted a young man was for the almost guarantee that he would go the duration. I conducted a small interviewing process online and found one who appeared to meet my needs. We chatted, we talked on the telephone and we met at a café.

We hit it off and rushed back to his place. We got undressed and made out for a while. As he reached for the bottle of hot massage oil he asked if it would matter if he put some on his dick. I shrugged (not so sure what it would do) so we rubbed it on.

Later, while having what began as great sex, he jumped up screaming – “my dick is on fire!”- as he proceeded to rip the condom off and put his red hot dick under cold running water in the bathroom sink. Apparently all the friction with the condom and his skin heated up his dick until it felt like it was in flames.

It may have been an insightful idea to read the fine print on the hot oil massage bottle. Sex was otherwise getting heated without oil. What a waste of good sex and it looked like his recovery was going to take a while, so I moved on. The good condom news in this story is, had we not used one I would have experienced the same sort of fire crotch too!

Virgina

Always read the instructions and warning labels on oils, lubricants and condoms. Never use oil-based products with latex or polyisoprene condoms. It can break down the material. Polyurethane condoms are compatible with oils. So are “lambskins” (but these do not protect against STIs).

Monologues are independent stories. The opinions shared are the authors own. What is your sexual safety story?

Condoms Are Consent

My story is about how, for me, safer sex is intrinsically tied to consent. I cannot give consent without feeling safe. One time during sex (however safe I felt) the guy took the condom off without telling me. He figured, once we got this hot and heated, there were no cues that I was saying “no”. I feel guilt sharing this because I know people will judge me for having sex with this guy even after his display of Jerk-Assness; even after he breached my consent. People will judge that I lack self-respect; that I gave mixed messages; that I’m a slut. Whatever. I’m telling this story because issues of consent are not easy to navigate flow-charts. I’m saying that lusty desire and consent can be full of emotional contradictions.ConSentConDom

It was New Year’s Eve. The cocktail of booze and dancing at a friend’s custom party led to flirtation and ultimate make out sessions between “Gladiator” and I (I was dressed as “Uhura” from Star Trek). We had not really talked before but tonight I was feeling that I could have some casual sex. At that point in my life, in the context of that party, and our swelling chemistry, tonight I knew and wanted casual, just-for-fun sex.

I slipped into the new year sloppily kissing. An hour or so after midnight, we said goodbye to friends and got in a taxi and went home. We were tipsy but I felt in control. I felt safe. We sloppily made out some more. It got to the point where he was looking for a condom which I insisted upon (I worked at Planned Parenthood. Condoms are like second nature to me so I had no problem standing my ground despite his subtle condom-disgruntle).

Halfway through the act, he pulled out to switch positions. When we switched again, I reached down and felt his bare, condomless dick. “Where’s the condom!?”

“Oh, it was bunching up so I took it off.”

My heart dropped. WTF!

I yelled at him for his lack of respect for me and rolled over. I was beside myself. Angry. I did not consent to this! But despite feeling violated, I didn’t want to get up from the bed and walk 2 miles home alone in the early freezing morning. I was fine with just turning my back to him and falling into a boozy sleep.

The next morning I woke up next to him and he started to kiss me again. I liked his kisses. He made me feel hot.  I tried to forget about last night and just be “cool”. No fusing. This was just-for-fun, after all.

We got hotter. Sex was on the cards again.  Then he tried to have to sex with me without a condom again!star trek face palm

I gripped his naked dick before entering me and said to him with a heavy breath, “We are not having sex without protection.”

He swiftly located a new condom and I helped put it on.  The compromise, between my feelings of unease and our lust to have sex, was that we used a condom. I had sex with him again. He kept it on. Soon after, I trekked home in my New Year’s costume feeling like this is not the way the real “Gladiator” would have fucked “Uhura”.

Monologues are independent stories and the opinions shared are the author’s own.

Dear AIDS Service Orgs, your condom campaign isn’t working.

We need to question the efficacy of pushing condoms as the only safe sex choice. The condom campaign does not seem to be working anymore and people are not getting the message. Yet Aids Service Organizations (ASOs) continue with this message. Granted, with PrEP there is a shift in responsibility that goes beyond those already infected with HIV, to everyone engaging in sex. Yet this shift brings a lot of discomfort as people outside of the HIV community and within begin to see their own roles and responsibilities changing.

Sticking with the condom campaign is the safe route, (pardon the pun) for institutions as they begin to formulate and consolidate their position on PrEP. Is there fear that supporting PrEP could imply promoting unsafe sex and sexual behavior that is out of control? Is promoting the use of PrEP taking too much of a risk with funders and stake holders who are comfortable with the good old (but not tried and true) condom message? Is PrEP a tough sell as the general public remains in a state of fear and denial about HIV?

Let’s be honest. Who practices safe sex all the time? People make mistakes. People faulter. Who likes using condoms all the time? I don’t. I was in a long term relationship with an HIV negative person where “all conditions” were adhered to, meaning – we were monogamous, had no other sexually transmitted infections, I had an undetectable viral load and was on anti retroviral treatment. Also being a woman, the likelihood of transmitting the virus has been shown statistically to be low. Throughout this time my partner remained HIV negative. It was what Josh Kruger refered to as an “adult informed decision”.

But if I mention this to the general public or my local ASO the reaction would be one of horror. I would be handed a condom pack, with a corny safe sex message inside, and given a pat on the head and small lecture on safe sex with condom use as my only option. My job might be threatened too as I am not adhering to the organization’s policies.

In the meantime, I will continue to tow the party line, pretend that condoms are the only solution to reducing HIV transmission rates, while those of us in the know will continue to make responsible, informed decisions about bare backing. Are Aids Service Organizations, the Supreme Court of Canada and the general public in denial about the latest development in research and medical evidence? Who are the risk takers and who is going to take risks and acknowledge that condom use alone, as the safe sex message, is not working.

I choose to remain anonymous as I value my job and the funding that comes to the organization I work for.

Yours truthfully,

“Virgina”InformedChoices

Monologues are independent stories. The opinions shared are the writer’s own. To learn more about PrEP, ARTs, and other prevention measures, the Beta Blog is a great resource. What HIV sources do you recommend? Have you experienced fear of PrEP? What HIV awareness campaigns are working?

The POWER of 300 CONDOMS

Have condoms ever played a role in your relationship breakup? One Condom Monologuer reveals the mind changing powers a stolen box of 300 condoms can wield in unexpected ways, at least momentarily. 

I wasn’t in love with my boyfriend anymore. I had been keeping it to myself for about a week and didn’t have the heart to tell him over the phone as we made plans for his upcoming visit. He was driving to stay with me in my cramped college dorm room in order to celebrate our much anticipated one year anniversary. The big to-do was less about commemorating the great times we’d shared over the past year and more a manner of awarding me credit for having survived dating this maniac for so long.

Boyfriend X wasn’t such a bad guy- just a very territorial one with impossible demands and little intention of letting me experience college life to its fullest (aka hanging up the phone to go make some friends for once!). The length of our relationship was chiefly indebted to our overpowering physical chemistry and how we spent about 90% of our time together naked. Our budding sex life obscured two people who were otherwise very confrontational and unhealthy together.

Our passionate escape from the reality of our situation was facilitated by my boyfriend’s job as a stock boy at Shaw’s supermarket.ShawsCondoms

In addition to great discounts on groceries, Boyfriend X’s employment gave him exclusive access to unguarded stock-room of condoms which he quickly made a habit of slyly stuffing into his coat pockets after punching out. After I successfully faked a weekend of anniversary merriment it finally came time to overcome the temptation of rampant sex-capades and the burden of guilt, and to simply end the strenuous relationship once and for all. Heart racing, I picked up the phone to call my soon-to-be ex-boyfriend. We greeted each other as per usual and just as I was preparing to drop the bomb he announced,

“Guess what?! I just stole an economy pack of condoms from Shaw’s! There’s like 300 in there! Now what did you want to tell me?”

I’m not sure what I felt worse about: not being able to do this in person, dumping him so suddenly right before the holidays, or having our break up coincide perfectly with his biggest heist yet. Nothing reminds you more that you got dumped than an unopened box of 300 condoms.

Monologues are independent stories. Opinions expressed are the writer’s own.