February 23, 2010
Category: Health

So, what does it mean to be “clean?"

For those of you who follow my blog and some of my other internet-based projects, you know I have particular point of view when it comes to gay men, sex and responsible sexual health.

Lately, I’m finding something I don’t think is all that cool. While I appreciate that some of you will not agree with this post – I do feel it has to be said as well.

If you get laid, have sex, fuck or get fucked, suck or get sucked – however, you want to label it- you are at risk for an STD. As uncomfortable as it may sound, it’s the way it is. This resurgence of the word “clean” as a way to describe ourselves in profiles and CL postings is not only inaccurate, it implies that being sexual makes us "dirty." And, it builds on the fear and ignorance that gets in our way of developing a confident sexual self-identity.

A few thoughts for those who use the word “clean” in your profile: Don’t fool yourself. Most guys with an STD don’t even know they have one, and they are not out to infect you intentionally. The only sure way to know you don’t have anything requires work, honesty and a lot of attention to your own sexual awareness. Being tested is a great start, but is not a guarantee.

Yup that’s right. Testing alone isn’t a guarantee you are not going to have (or get) something. If you don’t want to be exposed to an STD, your options are solo play or sex only with men, who are only having sex with you exclusively AND who have been tested in sequence with you (tested when you first meet, tested 3 months later, etc.) to cover the period of time between possible exposure and infection – and that time period varies for each STD. Otherwise, at least some risk exists.

So maybe its time we stop asking if the guys we have sex with are “clean," and time to start asking ourselves if we are doing all we can do to keep ourselves healthy. In fact – I find that guys who combine routine comprehensive testing, treatment and talking to partners about STDs as a natural part of their sexual responsibility usually end up with less STDs than those who make judgments about guys who have them (or they think “could have one” ). All too frequently, the guy, who thinks being “clean” is an accurate way to describe the lack of STDs, has incomplete or inaccurate information about STDs. He is often the same guy who will get mad if he ends up with one.

If you really want to create a message in your profile that reinforces your desire to have a healthy sexual encounter think about including alternative ways to express it. Two statements that I have found useful include: “I test for STDs routinely – prefer men that do as well” or “Last tested for STD(and/or HIV) XX/XX/XX”. It's simple and gets the message across without judging others and without setting ourselves up to fail.

Tags: Communication, STDs, Gay Culture, Sexual Health, Gay Community, Body Image
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share this
View all posts by Frank Strona


No comments? Maybe because the blog is now hidden on his new DaddyHunt... there was an absolute community growing and each day the blog is hidden it dies a little.

Many want the old DaddyHunt back... I just want to know things are still being worked on and all that you tried to build before isn't being tossed away.


It was once not to long ago that homosexuality was looked at as a disease; even today many still consider it to be.
To see profiles with D&D free,clean only, no this or that race,must there be offensiveness passed on while looking to satisfy ones pleasure:There for the sake of God
thank you Frank !

Thanks for this thoughtful blog Frank. What's wrong with just calling a spade a spade (and before you overly sensitive OverReactors start calling me a racist the term 'spade' refers to the suit in a deck of cards!)...anyway, calling a spade a spade means simply saying whether you are POSITIVE or NEGATIVE...why try to attach a stigma to a medical research term just because some men think it desensitizes personality traits or attitudes...POSITIVE no longer means "up beat, hopeful or looking for the good" in the gay community any more than "Gay" means "happy frivolity" in the MEANS one has tested POSITIVELY for a DISEASE. PERIOD. You're in ONE of those two groups and calling yourself "Clean" "STD Free" or any other cute little nickname ISN'T going to change the only cnfuses the issue andd attempts to disguise the facts.

I am a tad disappointed Frank, in all your wise and sound opinion!, that you did not mention Sero-Sorting...I realize there is jaded skepticism among some men in the community but there are ALSO very successful test results about Sero-Sorting and I am ASTOUNDED that in this day and age, and given the seriousness and porportions of this disease, that so many men are COMPLETELY IGNORANT of this "movement" as it were...I am equally DISMAYED by the Bitch Brigade Hilton Wannabes' apparent need to smear the studies on Sero-Sorting to suit their own agendas (or simple lack of research ability, common sense, or capable intelligence) I imagine it may have something to do with separating one group from another within the community. But the argument goes BOTH ways and NEGATIVE men have rights, sensitivities, and minds they can use too...there ARE solutions for everyone...what there ISN'T is ONE solution for everyone! (Although one might argue that "Tolerance" IS the one solution, I am referring here to scientific rather than the spiritually esoteric).
Enjoyed your opinion!

I have absolutely no problem with guys putting "clean" in their dating profiles.

First off, all the grown-ups know that this really means that the guy says, he does not really know of himself having any STDs at this time. He also says he is VGL. Well, you can buy into that, too?

Second off, no matter how many "cleans" he puts into his profile, every responsible adult will treat everyone with respect AND a healthy dose of precaution. You use condoms. You do not exchange body fluids.

Third off, saying "clean" does not indicate that anything sexual is "dirty". Just like saying, I am a tall guy, does not go on to say that all the other dudes are short, vertically challenged or anything to that effect.

And last but not least, more and more guys are actually using the "clean" to signal that they are reasonably well-groomed, mainstay, sorta next-door-guy types, too.

"Clean" is just fine.


I absolutely agree with the blogger in his coming out against the term "clean." As someone who is HIV+, I can honestly say that saying "clean" tends to connote the idea that those of us with STDs are dirty. Make no mistake; I'm HIV+ because I came into contact with the virus, not because I'm dirty, don't take my hygiene into consideration or anything else. It's very true that many of us make assumptions about other's health based on looks and preconceived perceptions about whatever. It's the same as that super ridiculous term of "straight acting." WTF is that? We all know what it means, but it's completely inaccurate as well.

make believe all men are positive or have any std & play safe-dont believe when a guy says he is negative as of whatever date-men lie to get what they want!
play safe
stay healthy

I think we need to think of a better way to talk about this.

I play safe. I always play safe: no exceptions. I don't care what you say was in your last blood test. Still safe. I am only interested in guys who respect that, not guys who will get into the moment and try to pressure me into BB.

I'm not passing judgment on anyone else by saying this but these are my rules and if you don't want to play by these rules, then you are welcome to find someone else to play with. I'm always amazed at what a "problem" this seems to create.

My experience with "clean" is that it goes hand in hand with denial. I'm HIV+ and often get attention from men who have "clean" in their profile or talk about themselves that way. Amazingly, they never seem to see the "HIV+" in my profile, which makes me wonder how careful they are to stay "clean." Then, when I mention it to them, they get angry at me, as though I'd been hiding it from them. WTF? By asking if the other person is "clean" they are making their own health the responsibility of their sexual partners, which pretty much guarantees that they aren't "clean."

So safe sex or not, I stay away from "clean" guys because I can't trust them.

I'm living with HIV. When I see a guy describe himself as "clean" or "DDF" in his profile, I just move on. Past experience has taught some things about these guys: they're in denial; they're sexually active but do not test with any kind of regularity; they test every few years for HIV and nothing else; they still think you can look at someone and know if they've got HIV; they lack communication and coping skills; they have a lot of internalized homophobia; they're silly enough to think anyone who describes himself as "clean" is telling the truth - on the Internet. When they use a word like clean, they aren't talking about being freshly showered with Irish Spring soap. They're talking about disease. It's not the same as describing yourself as "clean cut." Adults have real conversations about playing safe and avoiding STDs. A strategically placed word in an online profile is not risk-reduction.

My problem is with guys who say under, safer sex " Let's Discuss" WTF
does that mean. If someone has a condom you're safe, if he doesn't
you're not safe. AND don't tell me it's NOMB it is my business and every
person on this site!!!!

I'll respond to the criticism about selecting "Let's Discuss" under the safer sex part of the DaddyHunt profile. It means exactly that - let's discuss what I'm willing to do and what you're willing to do. My experience is that guys have different ideas about what's safe or not. For me it's just an invitation to have a brief (at least) conversation about condoms or whatever before we're naked in bed.

Personally I don't like the word "clean" in most profiles because it doesn't mean anything in this context without other words being combined with it. Clean what? Criminal Background? Body? The problem isn't the word itself but the connotation and usage. And people are HORRIBLE when it comes to writing profiles to begin with.

I agree that DDF is ridiculous. I've had cancer and dealt with depression-both 'diseases' that can come and go. So am I DDF? Anyone out there get simple cold sores? Well that's technically herpes...and considering like 30-something percent of the adult population has that-and its actually a slightly higher percentage among gay men-that means all those guys are not "DDF". It seems far more accurate to say when you last got tested for something-and initiate conversation about the rest of what you want to know. I do think the "lets discuss" selection is kind of meaningless too-of COURSE you are going to discuss it-even if that's to say "fuck it, we're not using condoms".

the truth is there is still a lot of denial out there. In the last few months I've have played with several guys(neg guys, poz guys and "I don't know" guys) who tried to initiate fucking me without condoms-or tried shoving there cock up my ass without a rubber-and ALL were obviously annoyed when I flatly said I wouldn't fuck without condoms-so this isn't just about the denial with the DDF guys-its a much broader problem about how we feel about ourselves and other gay men. I know its not cool to say you care about other people and their sexual health. IN some circles that labels you a goody goody or you are told you care "too much" about people who don't care about you. Guess what-I don't care if they don't give a shit about me-I won't give into the apathy so many clearly do-because THAT is when you are really most in danger. When you stop caring what happens to other people you also care a little bit less about yourself. We're all in this together despite the separatism and classicism we sometimes let control us.

Clean is nonspecific. It could also be not addicted, as in "clean and sober," though those terms are
often paired. Safe(r) sex only can be ambiguous - I use condoms for fucking but not for sucking, as the danger of oral without skin breaks w/o condom is maybe 100 times less than receptive anal.
That's where discussion and negotiation comes in.

I don't understand the problem....we are all adults...what's wrong with the terms "HIV+"
or"HIV-"? It (HIV) has been around since the early 80's. Why "candy-coat" the condition now?
If guys want to admit to being HIV +, cool, if not, I DON'T SEE A PROBLEM. Each of us should protect OUR OWN health.