Friday, April 01, 2005

The Fears of HIV

I have a boyfriend of 6 years now. This is the only relationship that I have ever been in, and I am very happy. I have only ever been sexually active with him. I think my morals growing up really helped me with that. For the most part, I have not had to deal with the stresses of wondering if I have HIV or another STD. But, many gay people do have to worry about this kind of stuff. To some degree I think the gay population is more aware of the risks and the need to be tested and protected that the straight population, so that is a good thing. On the other hand, the risk is definitely higher for sexually active gays, so the increased concern is warranted.

Ben over at Scattered Words talks about having to worry about infection. He's not sure if he is infected or not, but he is definitely scared. My initial reaction was complete pain and sorrow for him. I still feel that. I can only imagine how scared he is that he might have a disease that will almost definitely lead him to an early life. On the other hand, I wonder, as usual, what got him into this situation.

Don't get me wrong, I definitely understand that people make bad, sometimes really bad decisions at times in their lives. I don't have a particularly high libido, and when I am in the mood, I have a monogamous boyfriend that I can turn too. So, I am lucky on both accounts in terms of not needing or even feeling the desire (normally) to go out and hook up with someone.

However, as I have mentioned before, Ben's blog lately has been a lot of anti-gay stuff. Anyone pro-gay at all is pretty quickly shouted down and dismissed. Ben hasn't talked about dealing with his own SSA struggles in a long time, so I was shocked to read of his new scare after a sexual encounter. Then I started to wonder. Regardless of whether his desire is to become straight, he is quite evidently a sexually active gay man. At the very least he is actively engaging in gay sex, even if you wouldn't be able to tell from his blog these days. But he also quite obviously doesn't want to be gay.

So, what is the answer? Does he continue trying to be straight while engaging in risky sex? To me this seems like a pretty scary and dangerous path. I can't begin to wonder why he continues to do this, but I am sure it is a series of mistakes that leads him to this type of thing. Would it not be more safe to accept his homosexuality and move into a relationship of love, committment and monogamy? To me the answer is pretty clear. Trying to move away from being gay is admirable because he thinks it is right for him. But, if he continues like he is now, where will it lead him? Could he be safer, happier as a gay man that is less drawn by the temptation of built up sexual urges that erupt into an encounter? I would think so.

For me, being gay doesn't seem like something I can change, and I am happy where I am. From Ben's experience though, it appears that trying not to be gay is much more difficult that most of the ex-gay groups out there would have you believe. Surely there is some kind of answer that does not involve unsafe sexual encounters that are derived from suppressed sexuality. The answer isn't simple though, and conservatives would be wise to recognize and be honest about this. Ben, for that matter, would be wise to admit this and be less attacking of gays that are happy in their place in life.

In the end, I really hope this scare is nothing more than that, a scare. I also hope Ben is able to learn from this and move forward, in whichever direction will give him peace.

*UPDATE* Ben updated his site to say that his new HIV fear was not related to a sexual encounter but to some other type of accidental encounter. He wasn't specific, but I am glad to hear this. I'm still praying that this is nothing more than a false alarm.


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