He’s in my sixth period study hall, but I don’t really think he knows I exist because he sort of sits on one side of the room while I stare intently at him from the other side… (photo from Max Klingensmith)
S-so do you ever want to…like grab someone very very gently by the shoulders, look deep into their eyes and then shake them semi-violently whilst screaming “LOVE MEEE.”
No? Just me? Right…
So there’s this guy. Kevin. He’s in my sixth period study hall, but I don’t really think he knows I exist cause he sort of sits on one side of the room while I stare intently at him from the other side with what I call my “I’m-secretly-sending-multiple-pictures-of-your-face-to-my-best-friend” cell phone position.
Don’t give me that look, I mean I’m not stalking him. We…acknowledge each other on occasion…
Like the other day he walked by my desk and he was like “Hey,” and I was like “Oh ha hey how’s it going? Is that a new sweater? I don’t I’ve seen it on you before. Green is definitely your color.”
And at that point, he kind of walked away awkwardly, so I either creeped him out or he just didn’t hear me, but to save time I’ll just go with the latter.
I tried my best to not be obvious, really I did! I just wasn’t that good at it… But how obvious does a girl have to be before the stupid guy is like: HEY GUYS. HA I THINK THIS ONE MIGHT LIKE ME.
I mean, I straighten my hair, which is curly and not like curly curly like frizzy curly that takes four score and seven years to straighten.
I even put on make up. Which is a whole argumentative essay presented in MLA format with six paragraphs and a two page works cited all on its own.
I won’t even mention the fake eyelashes…actually I will. Let me enlighten every male specimen in this building. I glued small fibers of hair to my eyelid for this kid. Honestly.
And all I got. Was. “Hey.” So yeah. Hey.
Would violence be an appropriate response?
Monologues are independent stories and the opinions shared are the author’s own.
The problem is so common there is a term for it. Andrew shares his personal struggle trying to deter the “bug chasers” from his “gift” (NSFW).
I have been around the block quite a lot and I thought I had seen and read everything and that nothing would shock me…but I was wrong! A few years ago I was chatting with friends on Gaydar when a bisexual husband and wife started talking with me. At first all was going well- just casual chats. Soon this changed to a very sexually infused conversation so I told them I was HIV+. I thought that this would be the end of it and that I would get the usual comments back when I disclosed that I carry what some had labelled “THE GAY PLAGUE”.
But much to my shock they got even more eager and horny saying ,“Oh please fuck us bareback!”
Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t even here looking for sex, let alone sex without a condom. I tried getting rid of these people who seemed to be looking to become positive but this didn’t work. So I tried explaining to them the downsides to having a disease like this: the tiredness, the slow healing, stigma and losing friends and family due to misunderstandings. None of this sunk in. If anything, it seemed to turn them on even more. By this time, I had resorted to my basic instincts and frankly told them where they could insert their desires and that I wanted nothing to do with them.
Now I’m not a fan of children in anyway and avoid them and their screaming like a medieval person would avoid a plague infested rat, but on this occasion I had to act.
You see, what got anger levels way up was they had said above all else they wanted me to fuck the wife bareback filling her with my “poz seed” and making sure that she fell pregnant by me so that they could have a positive baby! I felt sick and disgusted and so scared of the fact that there were people that not only wanted to be “POZ” themselves but would actively seek to create a new life- a baby who would be born with this terrible life-altering disease.
So I did what any decent human being would; I blocked the people, warned the room, and even spoke to Gaydar themselves, letting them know that the profile in question was seeking to purposefully contract “HIV” and to get the lady pregnant with a “positive” baby.
Gaydar said that it wasn’t within their control and that they didn’t have the right to tell people what they could or couldn’t do on their website and that I should just ignore them. Now I wasn’t satisfied with this outcome so I turned to the charity which offers advice to people about “HIV” and other STIs, ‘Terrance Higgins Trust’. I thought that they would agree with me and make a stand; tell Gaydar to block these people from the site and at least help educate people more. But no. They said as well that they couldn’t control what people did and that it wasn’t their place to tell Gaydar what to do.
I was lost and didn’t know what to do about this situation aside from carrying on telling people who wanted bareback with a positive person that they would be very sorry and have to deal with so much grief both from stigma and dealing with side effects of medication. Most people saw how stupid what they wanted was and changed their minds but some still went on looking and would search out those that were known as “Gift Givers” who would infect these “Bug Chasers”, as they called themselves.
Due to this situation, I have avoided Gaydar. Once people had learned I was HIV Positive they were drawn like bees to honey and it depressed me so much seeing their stupidity time and time again that I would at times cry.
There were a few things I realised due to this terrible event. The education of sexually communicable diseases needs to be increased and made openly available along with better display of condoms in shops, and that websites and other places that people can go for sex take more responsibility for dealing with people who are actively searching for the “GIFT” of disease from those people who are infected.
Monologues are independent stories and the opinions shared are the author’s own.
New relationships of advocacy are vamped. Lara, an editor of Condom Monologues, explains what’s in store to help creatively support the HIV Disclosure Project.
Gay Pride, Toronto, 2011. Photographer Wayne Bristow. Posted with permission.
Hi there! As an editor at Condom Monologues writer’s collective, I am excited to announce my collaboration with the HIV Disclosure Project. I will be actively involved in their social media, mostly on Twitter (@sexpartnersHIV), helping promote their blog, their campaigns and continued dialogue with HIV networks and allies. I’ve teamed up with them because I fully support their work to re-frame the way HIV impacts interpersonal relationships.
The HIV Disclosure Project is
…designed by and for the HIV community to work through obstacles that prevent people living with HIV from disclosing their status to potential sex partners. Drawing from various tools in theater, humor, storytelling, photography and more, the project functions to address stigma that takes place on the dating scene. Everyone works together to educate the public and change perceptions of people living with HIV.
What we want is a world in which every HIV disclosure to sex partners is received with acceptance, understanding and tolerance.
Emphasis on story and lived experience is what bridges The Disclosure Project and Condom Monologues. Condom Monologues is a growing archive of personal narratives and story illustrations made collaboratively with the storyteller and graphic artists. As a collective dedicated to sex education through real life storytelling, I feel this partnership will sharpen Condom Monologues’ focus on HIV awareness and open our platform to respectfully listen to the concrete realities of managing stigma, disclosure in the dating scene, and navigating safer sex options without fear.
Watch Out For New HIV Public Messages
Also newly on board the HIV Disclosure Project is Wayne Bristow – HIV advocate, blogger for PositiveLite.com, Canada’s best online HIV information magazine and he is their social media coordinator. He has taken part in two of the CTAC Positive Sex – Train the Trainer workshops and recently facilitated one where he trained some of his peers through community engagement. Emanating such passion and advocate spirit, Wayne is an invaluable asset to the HIV Disclosure Project. He is currently planning the video production of HIV public service announcements for the HIV Disclosure Project. In his spare time Wayne is a hobby/freestyle photographer.
If you are interested or have questions about the video project contact firstname.lastname@example.org
I am excited to help support and engage in such a crucial and progressive movement. Let’s keep the dialogue expansive and inclusive. Meet you on twitter!
The reality of TasP (treatment as prevention) is having a profound effect of serodiscordant couples today. Scientific evidence shows that under certain conditions, the risk of HIV transmission is so low that doctors now recommend some serodiscordant couple have condomless sex if they want to get pregnant. But for many, updated evidence cannot match the deep-seeded fear of contracting HIV. Armed with sources and facts, this monologue is a personal letter from an HIV positive woman confronting her husband’s apprehensions to start having condomless sex.
We have been in this relationship for a year and you know how I feel about you. I think you are the most wonderful man in existence, in my unbiased opinion. We share many interests, we have fun together, and in spite of my HIV status, the sex has been great. There have been no major challenges with my status until now.
As I long for a time when I could have condomless sex and exchange body fluids, an intimate act that feels like none other, condoms are an increasing reminder that we have a barrier between us. Regardless of how much lube one uses there is no condom available that does not feel like a condom. The female condom is okay but as my colleague noted, it is like having sex with a garbage bag inside you, complete with the noise of the crumpling latex.
I did get pregnant the good old fashioned way with my first child from a previous relationship and she is not HIV positive, nor is her father. I want to have another baby, but somehow that conversation gets diverted each time I initiate it. As you very well know, I do want to get pregnant naturally and our doctor recommended we try the good old fashioned way, like other hetero-couples wanting to have a child. We are in a committed, monogamous, trusting relationship. We know each other’s sexual health and HIV status. Scientific evidence presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) and discussion leading up to CROI left me feeling hopeful that soon the condoms would be put to rest.
Gus Cairns explains the outcomes of the latest PARTNER study which is showing promise while waiting for the final results in 2017. The PARTNER study is an international collaboration taking place in several European countries and is funded by the National Institute for Health Research in England and coordinated by Copenhagen HIV Programme (CHIP), in collaboration with University College London (the sponsor) and The Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust, London.
“When asked what the study tells us about the chance of someone with an undetectable viral load transmitting HIV, presenter Alison Rodger said: “Our best estimate is it’s zero” (In Cairns 2014).
Seeing all of this evidence presented, along with knowing about my HIV negative child, makes me anxious as we wait for the time when we can stop using condoms. I trust you and I know you trust me but your refusal to accept new scientific evidence resulting from research studies, information that is not really new, as I was told years ago that under certain conditions I am not infectious, is making me question many things about this relationship. Mark S. King raises the question of whether people living with HIV will ever be considered safe sex partners. He refers in his writing to the ways in which people living with HIV are viewed as “suicide bombers” (2014). While reading his articles, I realized just how much work is ahead for the HIV community. But does there need to be such effort with us as I wonder if we are continuing to make informed decisions?
Who would have thought a condom could create so much stress in our relationship. Stress I was not prepared for and did not see coming as I believed you would eventually accept the evidence presented and change practices accordingly. After all, we are not in a one-night-stand as random strangers not knowing each other’s sexual history, where a condom would be used without question. We have evolved in our relationship. Or so I thought. But the continued use of condoms makes me question whether or not you can finally rid yourself of the fear of HIV transmission.
On a global scale, Bob Leahy (2014), who initially was not sold on the idea of treatment as prevention (TasP), now supports it completely, but he does remind the HIV community of “the huge amount of work that needs to be done, with advocacy at all levels being a sizeable component”, to convince institutions of the need for supporting and implementing TasP. As individuals, you and me are part of the TasP model.
Sex is not as spontaneous as it could be because we always have to ensure beforehand that condoms are nearby. The act of getting the condom ready and reaching for it is a constant, nagging reminder that screams out – “Watch out for HIV the big boogy man waiting in the corner reminding us to constantly be on guard”. I fantasize about the day when we can simply wake up in the morning and have sex without any reminders, with complete intimacy and trust without anxiety and fear.
What would I do if I were in your position?
I cannot say with certainty that I would embrace the idea and abandon the condoms without any lingering fear and doubt. I just do not know. I would like to think I would understand the science of HIV and realize that there is no real risk; that I would abandon my trepidation and in turn abandon condoms eventually. Maybe I would, and maybe I would not, preferring to hang on to the comfort and security of the condom.
Condoms are for one night stands, random sex, having sex with partners whose status is unknown, for avoiding all other sexually transmitted infections. We have none of those concerns. I have to be honest as I share my thoughts. I have thought on a couple of occasions of pursing sex with someone else who wants to have condomless sex. I need to feel the intimacy and deep connection to a man as we have sex that is uninterrupted with reminders, good old fashioned spontaneous sex. I never thought a small piece of latex could cause so much stress and doubt in a relationship. I want to maintain the status quo but on the other hand I want to have sex without condoms.
The last thing I want to do is transmit this virus to you. But as Marc-André LeBlanc (2014) so eloquently explained it, you are in fact safer with an HIV positive partner than with one whose status is unknown. I am beginning to give up hope as I try to explain that in fact, you -my partner- are safer with me as an HIV positive woman with stable, well controlled health status. I am getting impatient. There is growing tension in the relationship. If you cannot trust me and scientific evidence then I am going to begin to wonder if you have really addressed your fears, in depth, about HIV.
The province of British Columbia as an international leader in developing a model of the Test and Treat strategy, recently collaborated with China in offering services for them to implement to reduce HIV transmission through TasP, (Povidence Health Care: 2014), providing further evidence for the need to recognize how treatment does prevent transmission of HIV. I am on and adhere to treatment and am well controlled.
I understand completely and if the shoe were on the other foot. It may take some convincing on my part to trust and believe what is being presented. I am no different from anyone else and my personal perceptions and ideology take time to adjust to scientific evidence which is presented. My education about HIV came from the old fear based strategically targeted place. It is not easy to let go of those fears. They are embedded in our institutions and in our individual psyche, very deeply, I am finding out.
Len Tooley who does HIV testing, explains how “sexual health is often framed in the idea of risk instead of rewards. He goes on to explain how “this may present HIV and those living with it as the worst possible outcome imaginable, which is not only stigmatizing but often irrational and false since many people with HIV are, in fact, just fine” (In Straube: 2014).
So, will you let me know when the condom can come off?
Your partner and lover.
Monologues are independent stories and the opinions shared are the author’s own.
To share this poster, simply copy the HTML embed code below and paste into your blog post, tumblr or anywhere else that uses html:
Let us know how and where you share the poster and we’ll swing by.
This poster is inspired by one of the most progressive pieces on consent yet. “The Consent Post” by Elena Kate exposes the inherent problems of the “No means No” approach and re-frames consent as “Yes means Yes”. What’s more, she goes beyond simple definitions by acknowledging nuances and complexity. It is contrary to what most sex education programs teach (if consent is mentioned at all!); consent is not a single uniform act of permission. Elena writes that consent is an on-going, “cooperative investigation of options, and a careful, considerate selection that is approved and preferred by all parties involved”.
What do you think?
Check out more illustrations by the Condom Monologues collective!
I was out late with friends. I was 19-years-old and lit up with enough alcohol to make me silly, energetic, and flirtatious. I was flirting without aim – with female friends and male friends, and without thinking through intentions. I didn’t have any real design, I was just feeling good. We went from bar to bar. I was spinning and heady. At one point I remember grabbing a guy’s hand and running off, speeding the group along.
Later that night, I went back to my friend’s apartment. I was sleeping on her couch, or that was my plan. That is, until her upstairs neighbor, who was the boy whose hand I had grabbed, led me off to his bedroom. I was pliant and thoughtless; young and inexperienced.
In his bed, he kissed me. His hands started roving over my body. That sobered me up somewhat. Finally, I was thinking about where I was and what I was doing. And I didn’t want to be doing it. I pulled away and told him as much. To his credit, he did stop touching me. Not as much to his credit, he then preceded to beg. “Please,” he said. “You held my hand.” He waited. “Please, have sex with me. You held my hand.” I again told him no. He continued, “Please have sex with me!”
I’ve never felt so stone-cold and turned off. He wouldn’t relent. He pleaded, begged, and I finally realized I had to remove myself from the situation because he was not going to stop or accept my “no.” I left his room and went down to the couch at my friend’s place.
In the morning, I brought it up with her. She was not impressed – with me. Like him, she said, “But you held his hand. You flirted.”
And so I did. I wouldn’t say it was my most responsible night. I wasn’t thinking through my actions, their consequences, or what they might communicate to others. Some growing up has helped that sort of thing. But he was also not responding to me. Would he really want to have sex with a girl whom he badgered into it? Was the sex more important to him than my desire for it? I was lucky, in that my indiscretion led me to the bed of a rather sad, wheedling boy, and not an outright aggressive one. He wouldn’t let my “no” be, but other than attempting to force me with words, he didn’t force me. I left annoyed with him, sobered that he was so much more interested in having sex than whether or not I wanted to have sex- but otherwise unharmed.
I also left shocked at my friend, and that she would assert that any sort of flirtation amounts to a promise for sex; that the so-called promise obligates a woman to later deliver on that sex, no matter how she feels or what she wants; and also that flirtation justifies men to be pushy as they make their claim for what they feel they deserve, impervious to what the woman might want herself.
It was not the first time, or the last, that a boy would beg me to have sex with him, or tell me that I had effectively already made a promise of sex to him through my behavior.
In many of those cases, my behavior was far less promising and flirtatious than it had been on that night. For instance, one evening I watched a movie alone with a male friend. We talked, enjoyed the film, and he made a move. It was unwelcome, and I told him I wasn’t really into it. He wouldn’t accept my no, either. He grew increasingly belligerent about it as I continued to assert myself, saying that I was obligated to have sex with him since I’d watched the film with him. The night ended with me kicking him out of my house.
There are no promises in sex or love. Consent has to happen all along the way. And men’s desires don’t get to trump women’s desires. Unless both people are into it, and both people are saying yes, the situation sucks.
Monologues are independent stories and the opinions shared are the author’s own. Do you relate to this story? Share in the comments.
He looks at me and says, “I don’t have any condoms.”
At which I point I lean back and a flash dance of potential ensuing scenarios simultaneously create a cacophony of, “Hey, mom, what’s the best decision I can make here?” Mom never answers the question, so precariously I sit on the edge of the bed trying to preempt any awkward silence with the right, sexy, drunken thing to say. Does that mean that I stamp up, put my clothes on and storm out? Do I say something catty? Or do I smile like a trooper and take it with my eyes closed?
This is a consistent problem. I think for me, and most of my female friends, very few of us ever expect a guy to have the condoms. I don’t know why this is, but in the name of Girl Scoutly caution, I always keep a few floating around the bottom of my purse. So when the, “I don’t have any condoms” bomb drops, I can quickly maneuver my private parts out of harm’s way and into properly protected sex. Maybe this is just indicative of a larger issue, namely my lack of faith in humanity to ever make educated, unselfish decisions, but, meh, life moves on.
Speaking of moving on, it just so happens that I don’t have condoms on me right now. Which means that I’m not going to root around my jacket pockets and grinningly pull out one of those condoms that I got from that free condom basket at the teen sex booth at the street festival.
And whenever I’m pulling that condom out with that look on my face of, “You’re not getting away with it this time, asshole!” I always try to look into his eyes so I can fully relish the, “This dumb bitch did not fall for my unprotected sex routine” look on his face. And then, even after that, even on the off chance he rips the condom off for “whatever reason” (aka his coke dick went limp again, or the supremely assholeish “It doesn’t feel good so I took it off two seconds ago”) the second time I dive back into my purse and pull out another – it’s just like, hey, I know you tried this once before, but it’s not happening again, okay?
I mean, I don’t even know why it’s an issue in the first place. We’re both lucky enough to be having sex tonight, I don’t understand why you’re putting so much effort into poo-pooing my extremely rational, extremely altruistic need for you to wear a condom. It’s not like I just asked to pee on you. (Not to diss golden showers, but, you know, when you try to pee on a one night stand, and he’s not into it – the weird looks ensue.)
This time, however: Nothing. I’m feeling in the bottom of my purse. Oh, god. My sluttiness has yet again left me with a purse with no condoms in it. No condoms in the jacket pockets either. I’m fresh out.
So I look at him and say, “Well…”
And he looks at me and says, “You know what we could do…”
I shake my head. I look away. It’s the golden moment. It’s time for truth. It’s time for years of public education to waltz out of my mouth in a moment of glory, the fruition of years of putting condoms on bananas.
Or, of course, I could crumble to the everpresent pressure of wanting people (aka this dude right here) to like me, and there’s also the fact that I absolutely love having sex, because it’s fun and it feels good. It’s a sudden war of ration versus passion in my mind, and while I notice that I am, indeed, quite drunk, I am proud of myself for having the mental capacity with which to spend five seconds thinking about how dumb it is for me to let this random ass dude stick his dick in me, just so I can sleep for five hours in his messy bed, wake up way too early tomorrow, catch the bus back to my house, sit there in shame and silence while I try to remember what happened last night, catch up on my text messages, let my friends know I’m okay. And then the ensuing weeks of, “Should I get tested? Is that itch in my crotch the sign of the onset of herpes? Or HPV? What if it’s AIDS? Am I being paranoid?” All for a bit of sex that, at the end of it, probably isn’t even going to register in my top 10 sexual experiences.
So I look at him again, and without making eye contact, I come to the realization that this is probably going to be just another one night stand, so, fuck it, what’s the point? I might see him at a bar some other night, and we might try it again, but it’s not like I’m going to win any overwhelming sense of self validation or ego boost from lying on my bed and trying not to laugh at his sex noises.
So I do the right thing. I dial a cab, ask him his address, and when the cab’s waiting for me out front, I straddle him, as he sits there in his underwear, given him a kiss, rub my tits in his face and say,“Sorry about your loss.”
And as I sit, swirling inside my head inside the cab, the thought comes over me once again – why is it always my responsibility to have the condoms? I wish for once when I ran out, he (whoever he is) would say, “It’s okay, boo, I got you.”
Opinions expressed on Condom Monologues are the author’s own.
Or, switch the question around a bit: When do I feel hottest?
The answer may not sound so hot at first: safety gets me hot. Or, in other words, I feel hottest when I feel safest.
I don’t mean that indiscriminately. I don’t mean I’m a medical kit fetishist. I don’t salivate over sterile gauze and neosporine tubes. I also don’t get my knickers in a twist over seat belts, locked doors, and the before-take-off emergency directions on airplanes. What I mean is that in the context of sex, safety is a must. Only when I feel truly safe do I also feel free, uninhibited, and able to totally enjoy what’s going down between me and my partner(s).
Consent Makes Me Horny
The sort of safety I need comes in a lot of forms. One of the most basic forms is consent. There’s no way I’ll get into the bed of any man or woman if I think they won’t hear me when I say “no,” and long before that look for me to say “yes”. Sex is never a promise. Watching a film together, drinking together, making googly eyes at one another across a table, is never a promise. Just like getting into bed with someone is also not a promise. Respectful partners, good partners, hot lovers pay attention and check consent all along the way. The best sex happens when partners aim to please, and part of aiming to please is paying attention to what your partner wants at every step, and never forcing it.
Condoms Make Me Horny
The essentials covered, another of the fundamentals of safety is, yes, contraceptive safety. I have a personal preference for condoms. They don’t mess with my body’s hormones, they’re reversible and fairly non-invasive. To be uninhibited in bed, I need to feel fairly confident that no babies are going to result, as I’m not yet at a point in life when babies are what I want. Condoms have the added benefit of protecting against STIs. Twofer, as far as I’m concerned.
I hate the condom discussion, and if a guy objects too strongly to wrapping it up, I’m often inclined to ditch him, no matter how into him I am. To me complaining about condoms shows a lack of respect for my welfare and also a lack of responsibility for his own. Both of those things suck.
But you know what’s really hot?
When a guy wraps it up, no questions asked, and even takes initiative and responsibility for protecting against pregnancy and infection. When he does things like, you know, ask me how I want to handle it and gets out a condom himself.
I’m so trained to equate condoms with truly hot sex that I’m like Pavlov’s dogs. Far from creating an odd moment out, for me I see those square little wrappers appear from pockets and bedside drawers and I get excited. I know what comes next!
The safer I feel with someone, the more uninhibited I feel. Everyone knows that inhibitions can really get in the way, and I’ve got to say, feeling uninhibited leads to some pretty amazingly hot encounters.
Monologues are independent personal stories. The opinions shared are the writer’s own.