A Mature Daddy Asks: What is Reasonable Risk?

August 19, 2010

I got into an extended debate on Facebook recently when I challenged the notion that unrestrained sexual expression is more ”natural“ to humans than monogamy. I don’t deny that humans have engaged in non-monogamous behaviors (note I avoid the pejorative term ”promiscuity“) since the dawn of time. What I challenge is the usefulness of the notion of ”naturalness“ that implies there is some hardwired, biological justification for the choice gay men make to seek sexual experiences outside their primary relationships. The current science on the human brain informs us that the only thing natural about the brain in terms of sexual behavior is that it is nearly infinitely adaptable. If a society has promoted monogamy as an ideal, people have chosen, with notable exceptions, to embrace monogamy. If the societal attitude toward sex is some alternative to monogamy, the human brain adapts to that, too. Short of pathological sexual compulsion, in other words, human beings can choose how to behave sexually, either to remain exclusive to one partner or to engage in sex with many. Nature has nothing to do with it, and arguments employing “naturalness” as proof have been used to support both monogamy and polyamory, depending on the agenda of the one making the argument.

My position that I expressed in some detail in a previous Daddy Hunt blog entitled The Curse of Casual Sex is that, given our current sexual ecology, that is, the undeniable prevalence of incurable and in many cases life-threatening diseases in our gay, male community, restraint of sexual expression is a more reasonable choice than unrestrained sexual expression. If you already have a lover, restricting sex to that lover makes more sense than sleeping around, and if you are single, taking the time to learn about your sex partners makes more sense than engaging in ”casual“ sex. I do agree that if you are honest enough to admit that you are incapable of controlling yourself, it is better to admit that to your lover and come to some kind of agreement about an open relationship. It follows that a sexual compulsive, or also a person who simply doesn’t choose to control his behavior, to be ethical, should inform each successive sexual partner of his sexual history, including the list of incurable diseases to which he is proposing to expose his partners, so that each prospective sexual partner can decide what might be the degree of reasonable risk in the encounter.

Since the first lecture I ever heard on herpes back in the mid-1970s, I have heard gay men claim they are willing to accept a degree of ”reasonable risk“ in their sexual encounters rather than abstain from risky behaviors entirely. I have made the same calculation myself over and over again in adapting to the sexual norms of gay male society, even when my personal preference would have been to treat men I encountered, and to be treated by them, with more consideration of the real risks, both medical and emotional, inherent in any sex that involves intimate physical contact. That I and countless others in our community remain willing to infect one another and be infected with incurable, possibly life-threatening diseases is a testament to social pressure and to the mutual willingness to engage in massive denial. I suspect internalized homophobia factors into the mix as well.

I know how painful it can be to face the truth that confronts us, but if we are to live honestly with integrity, we must face the hard and difficult truths of our situation. If we are to keep telling ourselves that taking sexual risks is reasonable, we must confront the facts of the risks we are proposing to take for ourselves and for our partners, because we can truly assess if a risk is reasonable or not only if we have sufficient information.

Back in the early-1990s, when I had wasted to skin and bones from 185 pounds to 135 pounds due to various HIV-related infections and the side effects of medications, when chronic, watery diarrhea persisted for six years and nausea and vomiting followed almost every meal I ate, if you had asked me if the sexual risks I had taken in the 70s and 80s were reasonable, I would have thought you were crazy. Of course, until 1985 or so we didn’t really know what was causing what came to called AIDS, and even when it seemed that whatever was causing the syndrome was likely sexually transmitted, we clung to the notion that unrestrained sexual behavior was a badge of our liberation from the outmoded values of judgmental Judeo-Christian society. We told ourselves that ”they“ just wanted us to stop having gay sex because they were anti-gay bigots. We had defeated John Briggs and Anita Bryant, losing Harvey Milk along the way, and we were not going to be beaten back into the closet by anyone telling us that gay sex was dangerous.

As death and disfigurement seemed more and more prevalent, especially among those who had been our physical idols—the hottest, handsomest men—our community started accepting that some changes in our sexual behavior was probably a good idea. We attended ”Eroticizing Safe Sex“ workshops, and those of us fortunate enough to have lovers tended to settle down. What first got my attention was the article by Larry Kramer published in 1985 entitled ”15,000 Dead and Counting.“ By 1995, when the first combination anti-retroviral therapies was found to be successful, that number had climbed into the millions, and a quilt as big as the Washington Mall commemorated some of their lives and deaths.

I started a triple combination of drugs in December 1995, and by May of 1996 my diarrhea suddenly resolved. By July I had gained 50 pounds, and by September I was working out at the gym again. By 1999 consistent adherence to drug regimens, including ingesting eighteen horse pills of just one of the three medicines I was taking for HIV every day, combined with injections of testosterone and Decadurabolin had enabled me to develop the kind of muscular physique I had always admired in men. Human Growth Hormone made my body pumped and lean and made my body hair grow thicker and spread (a good thing in my estimation), and the total combination of anabolic and androgenic drugs helped me transform myself from the skinny, nerdy kid I still was in my heart into Mr. L.A. Leather 1999 and a co-founder, with my lover at the time, of the Los Angeles Leather Coalition. I was smokin’.

By the time I had my heart attack in 2003 I weighed in at 220, rock hard, muscular pounds. I remember the medical team admiring my physique as I lay on the operating table watching the doctor thread a catheter from an incision in my groin into my right coronary artery to remove an enormous blood clot that was several inches long and feathery rather than short and fat, as I had imagined, and insert a stent to keep the artery open. I had first noticed an odd pain in my teeth as I was leaving the gym after a particularly strenuous leg workout, but as I was driving home, the pain descended into the center of my chest, radiating out in all directions, and so I agreed to let my roommate drive me to the emergency room of a local hospital. HIV meds can work miracles, but they often cause metabolic disorders that can result in high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, no matter how carefully you eat or how much you exercise. Many men even younger than I am on combination therapies have been having heart attacks. Some are not so fortunate as I am to survive them.

I once read a short piece in a journal for people with AIDS by a man who characterized living with AIDS as ”how to get a medical degree without ever really wanting to.“ I was visiting a friend in the hospital recently, and I was questioning the doctor about my friend’s test results and trying to help the doctor do the differential diagnosis. The doctor asked if I was in the medical profession, and I paused a moment and replied, ”I’m a professional patient.” I am grateful for the meds—my life was dramatically worse without them—but I choke down, and mean literally “choke,“ handfuls of pills every day, HIV meds, meds to counteract the side effects of HIV meds, and various supplements that I believe help my body cope with the constant assault of drugs and infection that is the reality of living with HIV. I get tired of taking pills after ten, twenty, going on 30 years,
yet I keep taking them to stay alive and relatively healthy, even though they cause my cheeks to hollow out, my belly to swell, and my feet to tingle and burn constantly.

One of those daily meds I take helps suppress herpes viruses, another incurable disease I picked up from a brief and highly unsatisfying encounter I had with a cocaine dealer in Laguna Beach in 78. Herpes can be spread even when a person is not symptomatic, and even if he is taking a drug to suppress the virus, so determining the reasonableness of the risk of contracting or spreading herpes is difficult or impossible. So far I’ve been spared Hepatitis C, but I did have a bout of Hepatitis A that I contracted at a bathhouse back in the 70s in San Francisco. I’ve been spared so far HPV, but the more sexual contacts I have in a community that is nearly universally infected with the virus that causes genital warts, and that may cause rectal cancer, the greater the chances I’ll pick up that incurable disease, too. Then there is MSRA, the hard-to- cure, and potentially life-threatening staph infection that can be spread by the casual touch of an innocent-looking pimple, and that has reached epidemic proportions in our community. You’ll note I’m hardly even mentioning the old favorites, syphilis, gonorrhea, clamydia, crabs, and scabies.

I’m also barely mentioning here the emotional cost of treating an intimate sex act as something casual, i.e., inconsequential, divorced from feelings of care or love. I receive messages from men all over the world in my role as spiritual director of Ashram West, and the common theme is lamenting the shortage of men who are serious about relationships. If the possibility of giving your lover an incurable disease or getting one from him is not enough to convince you to limit your sexual contacts, perhaps the thought of breaking his heart or of him breaking yours might at least give you pause. Sure, men say they want open relationships, but when the tire meets the pavement, and they see their lover with another man or face the real prospect of losing him to another, possessiveness and jealousy can rear their heads even in men who imagine themselves modern, liberated, and beyond those primitive emotions. Young men tell me about meeting older men who insist on an open relationship, and the young men agree, not because it what they truly want, but because they are afraid to lose their man if they do not sacrifice their own values.

The point of the story, gentlemen, is this: If you have a lover, but you believe an open relationship is more ”natural,“ or realistic, or merely more desirable than monogamy, ask yourself if you are willing to look into your lover’s eyes—considering the medical history and emotional consequences I have related in a very brief form—and say, ”I am willing to be infected and to infect you with incurable and possibly life-threatening, disfiguring diseases for the sake of fleeting sexual encounters with relative strangers. Furthermore, I am willing to break your heart and have my heart broken.“ And you single men do the same with every man with whom you intend to have sex. If you are willing to do this, I may question your judgement as to what exactly is reasonable about your definition of reasonable risk, but at least you are being honest in confronting the real consequences of your behavior. If you are unable to tell your lover(s) that you are willing to infect and to be infected with incurable diseases and willing to have everyone’s heart broken, then you are fooling yourself and them. Unless you’re a sex addict, you can choose to limit your sex partners, and even sex addicts can get help coping with their addiction. If you still cannot admit that limiting sex partners is a more reasonable choice than not, you haven’t been paying attention, and not just to me but to the realities that we have created in our community by our previous choices. If we want to build a better gay community that reflects more caring and love for one another, we must be willing to change our behaviors. Just doing more of the same will inevitably result in more of the same consequences.

Tags: Safe Sex, STD, HIV
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View all posts by William Shindler


Since you've delved into research to support your conclusion, I offer the research that men are not women in their behavior patterns regarding sexuality.
Men are biologically/genetically predisposed to engaging as many partners as possible.
Therefore, in day to day activity, men are predisposed toward variety in sexual expression.
Women, on the other hand, are predisposed to monogamy, also a biological/genetic mandate, in order to provide for their own safety and longevity as well as to protect their children.
Men do have a biological predispostion to want to maintain at least one constant partner for both safety, territorial concerns and a host of other reasons...but that walks hand in hand with their predisposition to seek out other sexual partners.
That's just the way it is.
Most social constructs are artificial and that's not a bad thing in itself, but some of those artificial restrictions are not necessarily based on social necessity, but on power over others. Historically and socially, those in power tend to NOT limit their own activities to the artificial constructs they impose on those they govern in order to control them. Western civilization's current social mores are based on judeo/christian protestant concepts derived from active opposition to the mores of the Olde Religion which it succeeded in replacing through nearly effective genocide.
THE reason for the severe limitations on sexual congress as mandated by the judeo/christian social structure is that the previous social structure exalted sexual congress as a means of celebrating life and in an attempt to channel, understand, and be one with the natural (real--as opposed to one-person-is-the-best-magician-ever) order and energies of our reality.
Temples to the Mother or other representations of the natural world were officiated by priests and priestesses which, as part of their duties, would engage in sexual expression--same or opposite sex--with petitioners. When the Judaics overthrew and co-opted these temples, in an act of protestation against the Olde Religion, thereby designated sex itself as evil and the original font of sin.

Your story threw me for a loop. since I could not imagine a PAGAN among us here on the web-site.

I gladly accept your opinion and fully understand the notion that all of this labeling and generalization surrounding sex is a throwback to control exerted by the church in an effort to stifle the PAGANS of old and the debauchery which was so much a part of the ancient world (not just PAGAN but also ROMAN and GREEK and...many other civilizations.)

Holidays we celebrate now are replacements for drinking, merriment and sexual orgies which lasted for weeks on end and inevitable always ended in massacres of the locals after too much drinking and sex got under weigh. They could not figure out what to do so they decided that creating another SUN-GOD myth was appropriate given the reality that the sun had crossed over into the PISCEAN constellation. Nobody seems to notice the connection between SUN GODS and the constellations. The Egyptians worshiped the BULL, their SUN GOD (during Taurus) The Jews then took over with their combined local mythology and wrote the bible (as well as adding a piece of prime real estate into the book for themselves) and held the RAM as special. Why not? The SUN was then riding the ARIES constellation! Later, people were told about the MIRACLES of JESUS right after the SUN crossed into the PISCEAN constellation...which explains all of the miracles surrounding FISH and the symbol used to represent Christianity. Next in line is Aquarius. And in Revelations it plainly explains that JESUS will be found in the house of the water bearer.

Now, the constellations were "invented" by the Jews who had nothing better to do while herding sheep than staring into the skies. They were smart and resourceful. But we are in the year 2010 and it is time we faced religion with our eyes wide open. In the name of Christ and the church, the English justified GENOCIDE in the united States by actually murdering or purposely infecting 50 million Native Americans with various European diseases to which they were not immune. The Spaniards used the same Catholic mentality to justify the destruction of the entire South American Culture as well...another 50 million estimated Indigenous tribal people...all in the name of the Church and their GOD that is supposed to be all merciful.

Sex is about the only thing they have tried to control which we have completely ignored. There must be a reason for that. OK so, maybe I went off on a tangent... I hate organized religion and its corrupt, money hungry rulers. Man should be free to be MAN without justification, especially when it comes to being a sexual creature. Go forth and multiply (or not) just be careful not to hurt yourself or others.

Your last sentence, Go forth and multiply (or not) just be careful not to hurt yourself or others. Umm, hello, most of us writing and responding here are writing about the fact that you are harming and hurting someone when you pass on to them HIV and other STD. We are hurting others when we do things to their psychological selves and physical selves that cause psychological and or physical harm, distress, and damage.

Finally, your understanding of antiquity and paganism got of track somewhere, but there are some very nice non-denominational seminaries out there :-).

Sex with strangers requires that you take steps to protect yourself and them as well. If the partner you select is not responsible enough to do that for himself (or herself), then you should know to put your pants back on and leave his bed. One cannot blame others for their (or your) own inability to act responsibly.

On a lighter note, I am HIV+. It is hard as hell to catch the bug. You really have to work HARD at getting it. I know. It took me a year of relentless, careless sexual encounters in bath houses to finally get it from a stranger.

When POS men are on the drugs, the viral count is so low that it is almost impossible to contaminate people. Complications only arise when you have sex with partners who are POS and do not kow about it. THEY are the danger to society. In the mean time, people still need to be careful about sex and safety guidelines. THAT is each man's responsibility. Ultimately, your safety is in YOUR hands, not your partners.

AMEN! That's my understanding of this issue,as well. Status needs to be discussed before hoping into the sack, but the issue is BOTH parties responsibility to raise. I also agree that it is the undiagnosed poz man who presents THE greatest risk in spreading the virus. I get really frustrated with the "neg and u be 2" folks as they are asking potential playmates to join their own 'denial club" and rely on a stiff dick for statements of fact rather than testing and self disclosure.

Why doesn't everyone just take care of THEMSELVES and stop BLAMING everyone else for what they get? My god, how crazy simple is that? Remember, you are responsible for YOU... no one else can be :)

Thank U,..Thank U so very much. Bareback is MURDER,literally, plain and simple.

Irresponsibility is murder. The last 17 yrs when I have had anal sex, either way, it has only been bareback and I am still negative because I do ask. No answer No sex. Poz its only oral, and yes there is risk there but extremely low risk. Without trust we all might as well just stop having sex now. Also, being nondetectable does NOT equate to not being able to infect someone. It may be less often but still happens. Nothing has totally eliminated or cured it yet, hopefully someday.

Trust has nothing to do with it; you have just been lucky! Pure and simple. Asking someone if they are POZ doesn't mean a trhing, since many people don't know they have it until they go for a test. So you could be one of those people who will spread the disease because you had "bareback" with someone who THOUGHT the were negative, but wasn't. And then you will have sex with the next guy and give it to HIM, because he will "trust" you to be telling the truth, and so and so on...

That just isn't good enough. You should buy some lottery tickets because you have played with fire and won. Very lucky.

Anyone I have had bb sex with is still alive and well and negative.....no luck about it. My first year yes.....I was ignorant. I have never had sex with anyone I have known, by that meaning well, conversations over days........not seconds, and we have mutual friends so no strangers here. Strangers, yes, it would be worse than fire...... if that's possible. Know who you're playing with or face the consequences. This many years is NOT luck by any means. And to be certain am tested from a month to 3 months after any bb sex, like I said, it doesnt' happen often.... but IF I do get infected, I will know who with and VERY shortly after so there is no doubt as to who.

Bareback is Murder? How so? Only if someone has HIV and thay know it AND they don't tell the other person; even then, it's still up to YOU to protect yourself with a rubber, or even better yet; don't have sex with anyone you don't know.

if you knowinly infect someone you can be prosecuted in several states ie new york for sure not sure of where else so be carefull the one guy infected several women and was sent to prison

How the fuck can one knowingly infect someone when it's not their responsibility to look out for the other person to begin with. It's not MURDER, it's fucking SUICIDE.

Someone who wasn't asleep in history class and who's point of view isn't clouded by dogma. Well said. Bravo, Randall! *big furry grin*

Sounds like a lot of fucking excuses for people not controlling themselves! I personally would have NOTHING to do with a sleazy little slut who gave it up to anyone other than me!

I agree with you fully!!! People who sleep around are weak of character, lack self-esteem, will lie, cheat and do anything at whatever cost to get a few minutes of cheap thrills. Also, a person who has a ton of sexual encounters seems to physically deteriorate quicker.

Aside from being unethical, these same sex driven individuals are the judgmental ones who have the same oppressive mentality. If I select to not have rampant sex like them, suddenly they claim I am sad, oppressive and judgmental. Judgmental...WHAT??? Just because I chose to not go in and out of clinics, and take dozens of pills on a daily basis?

I get majorly horny all the time. I've masturbated while driving my car, in bathroom stalls at work, as soon as I wake up, before I hit the sack, in the shower...I have absolutely no problem shooting a load; however, I seek meaningful relationships. Firstly, I cannot sleep with someone I am not attracted to just because they have a dick and ass...I find that utterly repulsive. Secondly, I am not willing to take the risk being with someone I do not even know or care about. Finally, I am not willing to lie, cheat and fabricate stories to get someone in bed for meaningless sex. NO THANK YOU! I prefer using my hand and letting my imagination run wild!!!

These sex maniacs, on the other hand, can get right down mean and vicious if someone does not put out. Gay men do not realize that there are a number of super strains that can be transfered orally, so any protection such as condoms would be rendered useless.

I feel liberation is self-expression, and it has nothing to do with sex. It seems a large part of the gay community utilize sex as a means of fulfilling a void. Unfortunately, that void will never be filled, and all the sex encounters only deepen that void. These people seek tons of encounters, and all they gain are life threatning diseases and unfulfilling and wreckless relationships that lead to ultimately NOTHING!

Your lengthy epistle, and I say that with great affection, is one that everyone should read serial monogamist or casual sexual practitioner to the hard core promiscuist. Your information about the brain is absolutely right on. However, I will say that in the animal kingdom, for those who argue that we are a mere extension of it, is that, scientist have proven that while there are millions of species that have random sex, there are also thousands of species that mate for life. So, as you state so eloquently, the promiscuous sexual practices of humanity is not because we are an extension of the animal kingdom or that it is a part of our evolved old brain.

Many studies do show, with efficacy and validity of the studies that most of us who engage in high risk sexual behavior do so as a result of low self esteem and some form of trauma from early childhood. If we, as gay men would be honest with ourselves, we lack good role models as well as suffer not only from the trauma that most men suffer from, straight or gay, as well as internalized self hatred because of our homosexuality. While it may appear less prominent now than it did in the past society, and religion, not true theology, has not done us any favors, let alone the statements made from our siblings, parents, and extended family about who we are as gay men.

I have found in my own studies as a current doctoral student, and budding psychologist to be, that many of us, and I use the word us, in a gross generalized sense, who are in open relationships do so because we fear a aged life of loneliness. So, we opt for being able to come home to a warm body of someone we really get along with well, instead of seeing love for what it is. It is not going through what many call the best years of life engaging in endless hook-ups, but making a commitment and honoring it. That means when the honeymoon is over and its about getting down to the real work, which is not easy, we hang in there and make it work. But if we are honest many of us can't be engaged in a monogamous relationship not because we really want to spend our lives having endless sex with bodies we don't care about, we do it because we don't have the tools in our toolbox to do anything different. We are a group of men who are afraid to say, we don't know how to love. We, are already a vulnerable minority and to admit a lack of feels to make us appear even more inadequate and more of a sitting duck.

Many of us, again gross over generalization usage, do not really contemplate your paragraph that talks about being able to look in our lovers eyes and think about the consequences of casual sex because it means taking a look deep without selves and seeing ourselves and broken human beings. For goodness-sake, in a society where when we want to talk about our brokenness, depression, loneliness, which is a rite of passage our bodies use to let us know we are broken, we are told to take pills, that we must busy our selves doing something. God forbid someone would really listen to us, hug us, rock us, give us love, share with us what it means to be self-respecting men. Yes, we lack so much self respect, which is why we can't give it to others. We lack love and after all we can't give what we don't have to offer, can we?

The subject you bring up can be a college course that would take us many semester to work through, or a book that would take volumes to cover because the depth of it is so layered and the causes are many.

As you did, I have also written an epistle, but the subject(s) are one(s) that we need to stop sweeping under the rug but one(s) that need daily attention until we get the message.. We're sick, on many different levels and what we need is someone to help us heal. What we need is a doctor :-).

Always fondly to all, and all of this is my humble opinion, nothing more, so please, don' take offense. This forum is ours, it belongs to all the wonderful men here on DaddyHunt. I would surely love to hear the opinions of others. I am sure you have something from which I can learn.

Daddy :-P.

It is difficult publicly admit to this, but I agree that part of the reason why I don't have a partner is because of fear and that I really don't know how to respect or love myself. I see a lot of times men that I think are really wonderful and I cannot imagine being partners with them because I cannot see what I would bring to the table in the relationship and basically feel unworthy.

I think you are right, a lot of us cannot form meaningful (monogamous or open) relationships because we have not learned how to respect and love ourselves. I will wear that shoe because it fits me; and yes it is painful and devastatingly lonely. As I grow older and not as marketable the loneliness is laid bare by the lack of sexual contact in which I was able to previously drown my isolation.

It is a lot to think about and the question really is what then? what are you supposed to do about not knowing how to love yourself or respect yourself do you give up hope? I think part of what helps me is when I lose myself in service to others. I love through my work and things that I do to help others and stop being so self concerned.

I have been very lucky to have had some incredibly wonderful men in my life, most of them are dead from AIDS now. And even if I was not able to love them long term in a perfect relationship, I did the best I could and we had some really good times. I still remember and think about some of the incredible sexual times we had, and i love the memories.

The first person's writings mirrors my life astonishingly, everything from the diarrhea to the heart attacks. I cannot advise people to not enjoy their sexual energy but I do agree that one can enjoy it safely and be incredibly erotic and highly charged. the brain is still the largest sexual organ, and everyone through their thoughts determines their ultimate experience. for some, monogamy makes sex hotter, to each his own.

What gives me hope is the dream that one day I will connect spiritually with my partner, allowing truth and love to bond our hearts together. Having really hot sex in that context I think will be the best; the foundation of my hope is that Love conquers all.

Finally I agree that if sex is not really really filthy dirty, you are NOT doing it right!

I find it amusing that you would think that we do what we do out of a lack of love and respect for ourselves in our life... Especially due to childhood issues or anything brought on by family. ALL of this stuff that family brings on is CULTURALLY LINKED to religion. Thats that.

For everything else, we lack the proper eyesight to see what is in front of our noses: the fact that every gay male who is out there conspiring against himself and his "permanent relationship" suffers from one kind of obsessive compulsive disorder or another. Yes, we shop, we collect, we decorate, we work like animals, we drink too much, we use too many drugs, dance all night and then add lascivious sex to the list. Yet it is only the SEX that people notice. Are you not seeing this?

OCD!!!! It is all over gay life-styles and is so common to us that we think every other facet we engage in is NORMAL. NOT! We do need drugs: something to stop the mad rush to shop at every store for clothing, shoes, shirts, hats, furniture, the next accessory, the next drink, the next man, the next antique... Personally I was on antidepressants and they were very helpful for a while. Then I got tired of HALF experiencing life so I went off them. In stead I use CELL FOOD which is great for minor OCD issues. Its a micro nutrient complex that gives us what food no longer does (due to mass farming techniques which have depleted the soil of these minerals). The metal components in the product are necessary in order for the body to engage in intra-cellular communication. Without them our cells cannot send messages to each other to STOP doing things or to START healing parts of the body. The brain cannot properly function.

Check it out and PLEASE dont imagine we need a doctor to FIX our issues. THERE ARE no issues, only imbalances which 15 years of talking on a couch will never fix. TAKE A CHILL PILL and move on.

I had written a long response to you, specifically, about how erroneous your comments were, but before hitting to send button I began to realize how sad this whole conversation has been. The man who wrote the original article, writing from his frame of reference, shared with us a very deep and very personal side of his life. He also shared with us the need for us all to realize that all humans suffer and come from homes where some form of dysfunction is at work. Who cares who you got it from, mom, dad, culture that you think is linked to religion. Who cares about your being OCD, someone else being ployamorous, these are your personal agendas. The theme of his article was that regardless of where we got your form of dysfunction, lack of respect, lack of self esteem, lack of love, etc, what are you doing about it in the here and now, today, to be more responsible toward your fellow man when you are engaging in sexual intimacy.

A gentlemen from DC wrote shortly after I did, and opened up a topic that could have been the beginning of some rich, deep, informative sharing and learning. However, it makes me very sad that it did not occur. What has occurred is very selfish men have used the form to promote their own personal agendas. The original writer's subject of discussion had nothing to do with being polyamorous, nor about being Pagan, nor how OCD someone is and what they are doing or not doing about it. Again, he wrote about the level of responsibility you are willing to take on, right now, in this moment, regardless of where the issues originated, what are you going to do right now to start expressing your sexuality in a way that others are uplifted and healed, not left wondering whether they will need an HIV test or test for some other STD that you very irresponsibly, disrespectfully, in total lack of love left behind for the partner to discover they have at some future date.

How we've missed the opportunity for such deep, rich, open sharing, and learning.

I agree it's our inherent nature to have random sex. Maybe it's a throwback to our ape days to ensure only the strongest, dominant apes got to make little apes. That being said, all I can say (on my behalf) is that sex feels good and is even better when it's a new experience (with a new partner). Yes, it's hedonistic but that's the way it is. I have no qualms with having sex with guys who are already partnered; however, I don't knowingly initiate such encounters out of respect for a partnership.

I found the article to be archaic. There is almost nothing about sex being celebratory. Not everyone is called to monogamy and to say that to engage in sex with various partners is promiscuous, the result of low self-esteem, etc, is all very negative, one sided, and ignorant. Some of us engage in polyamorous sex because we like it and believe in it. One can be very sexual and still take care of oneself.

The great call to celibacy in recent years as a way to protect oneself from STD's and HIV is often exaggerated and there is no talk about how not engaging in sex is harmful at almost every level! For exampel:

A) Not taking risks sexually prevents one from growing as an individual and can maintain one in a trap of low self-esteem (I don't want to get hurt, therefore, I'll stay to myself). This is the perfect scenario for depression and anxiety.

B) Abstention promotes the erroneous, harmful belief that sex causes diseases. Well, not if one has protected sex.

C) Underneath all this shameful sex talk is often a return to the Puritanical American belief that sex is dirty, bad, sinful

D) Repressed sexuality turns into aggressive and hateful behaviors.

So, if we are going to advocate for less sex, let's be mindful of all the studies and not just a few that corroborate with the beliefs of dirty, shameful sexuality. We need to move forward and not backwards.


What article did you read? All the author suggests, in a fairly matter-of-fact, non-judgmental way, is that sex has consequences. You've chosen to write him off as sex-negative because he apparently doesn't align perfectly with your particular sexual world view. He wants to have the conversation. You want to shut it down with a bunch of cliched rhetoric. And that, frankly, is why we aren't moving forward.

ShivaOm, age and wisdom serves one well. It is very clear that regardless of what we really wrote you wanted to say one thing and that was that you engage in polyamorous sex because you like and and believe it. That statement alone would have been enough, but alas you went on to try to justify it at our expense. That won't work with Daddy!

A is completely erroneous. There are no scientific studies of any kind that support not taking sexual risks being linked to depression and anxiety. You want to see depression and anxiety, go to your nearest HIV clinic and watch all the people who are anxiously waiting for test results who had risky and perhaps unprotected sex. You want to see depression, stay at that same clinic and watch what happens in the lives of individuals six weeks out whom have been told they have HIV, or some antibiotic resistant STD.

B is completely way off base. No one that I know of has ever stated that abstinence promoted the idea that sex equal diseases. What I have always taught and will teach is sexual expression is very powerful and that if engaged in under the wrong conditions, i.e., drunk, high on any number of stimulants, can lead to behaviors that puts one at risk for sexually transmitted diseases, and early unwanted pregnancy. I will continue to teach all youth to abstain from sex until they find a partner that not only loves them, but whom also respects them and will not encourage them to express themselves sexually in ways that can lead to harmful consequences. Sex is not only a physically power experience it is also a psychological and I dare say very spiritually power experience and it should be entered into very seriously.

C. Way off base, no one talked about sex or sexuality in a religious, shameful, dirty or negative way. What we did do was send a call of charge to our fellow gay brothers, including ourselves, to be more responsible about how we share our "love." To find ways of healing our selves, and our brothers, so that we not only encourage others to enter into healthy relationship of whatever kind they choose, but to enter into those relationships with self love, self respect and show that same love and respect for ones partner(s).

D. Repressed sexuality can lead to aggression, but often more leads to self-hatred. But again, what does that have to do with these epistles, there was nothing in either of the two letters about abstinence. However, I will say that would many of us set aside our sexual play and sit with themselves and listen too, learn from, and hear what our bodies and spirits are trying to intuit to our souls, I bet there would be a lot less sex happening, because we'd all be a bit more busy working out some of our stuff and getting well.

I think we are not moving forward when we preach and prescribe. I am very vigilant about being put back in the closet by a bunch of statistics that can be equally proven totally off by other studies.

Sorry, but that rhetoric is getting quite old. No one discussed oppression, going back to the closet, giving rights away, etc... It is all about accountability, healing, survival, love, honesty, wisdom, and living life to the fullest without the need to do whatever it takes, at any cost to get laid.

Sex is beautiful, and it should be taken seriously. When we give of ourselves sexually, we are also opening ourselves spiritually and emotionally. That is the beauty of having that feeling of nirvana that goes beyond the climax.

I am really tired of not being able to maintain a healthy human conversion without someone drooling, not listening to anything I say and just wanting to jump in the sack. I am sure everyone is familiar with that sick, glazed over look, and only nodding and agreeing with the conversation for browney points and a chance to jump in the sack. I feel these people lack character and substance, and cannot be trusted. I find these individuals desperate and repulsive.

I wish I could make reading this essay a requirement before I could be emailed here. We must begin to take responsibility for our own health.

Humans are just a couple of chromosomes away from apes. We have been forced into the monogamous behavior by religion, law, and female expectations. This is why the divorce rate is so high, why husbands kill their wives or beat them. They are living a lie. Gay or straight, we are not monogamous animals. Only a small percent of the animal kingdom is monogamous, no mammals are
In the heat of passion and lust not many are going to remember or care to be safe, you are behaving on a primordial impulse, but expected to use your frontal lobes...hard to do. I haven't had sex in two years. I was never really a sexual person, although I did have my time. But what do I or anyone have to show for days or weeks or years of whoring...nothing. It's just a momentary thrill and that's it. To me, people, gay or straight, that are in "open relationships" are just room mates. Not " In love" you may love your partner, but if you are "in love" with that person, you don't even notice anyone else. If that has left your relationship, then get out of it, or be room mates
Pardon my spelling mistakes.

Let me start by saying to everyone, there is no such thing as reasonable risk. Risk is risk and if you take it one of two things will happen, you will either be fine or not. There is no middle ground with risk. That being said, we are by our nature sexual beings. However I have to agree that having multiple partners is a choice that we all make gay or straight. I have multiple partners by choice because I do love the variety. I have no fear of monogamy and if my husband hadn't died many years ago from heart failure I would still be his one & only. I haven't found anybody to date that makes me want to be monogamus but I have found many men that make want to keep my whore status if you will. At any rate, if you are going to be in a relationship with one guy make sure he is the guy for you and your not kust doing it because of social pressure or you are afaid of dying alone, we are never, ever alone. If you want to continue to be a whore go for it but again make sure it is because you really want that, be careful, you can have your fun just make sure you know your partners and I know I will probably catch some shit for this but here we go. We are also animals and like all animals we have the ability to sense a bad situation, pay attention to that, seriously. It is that little tingle at the back of your neck telling you what you are about to do is a bad idea. It hasn't failed me in 22 years, I'm just saying.

I agree that the initial essay left no room for the psychological and physiological benefits of sexual contact. Experiencing that has a value for many gay men that has little to do with poor self-esteem or sexual addiction--although of course those factors play a role in some cases. And the essay-writer did come across as if anyone who has sex outside of a relationship is a sex addict or totally irresponsible. There are ways to have sex that protect you and your partner, and responsible piggy gay men like me adopt them. Life has risks. Men are different from one another. Some like monogamy and others don't.

There are alot of theories on what human behavior should be considered normal. As far as I can remember, sexual behavior was a bad thing to even think about out of marriage. Please take into consideration, I was raised a Pentecostal, born again, spirit filled. bible fed child. This lasted 'til I was 18. All my thoughts of the same sex were under the catergory, "think about it and youre going to Hell!!!". I learned very quickly not to say this or look at that. Stand this way, act like this, talk like that.
Looking back, I did enjoy the christian upbringing. There were alot of social and networking skills I learned. But, the ongoing terror of some one finding out haunted me. Well it did happen. At 14 my mother's husband figured it out. And, in one of his downfalls from the path he decided to act on his desire. This lasted 5 years. And by the time I was 18, I had enough. If this is who I am and it can be evident by my own actions, then why hide it. I shifted from the church boy persona into a depressed man over night. Sex for me was the tool I used as a way to drown out the failure I have become.
See it doesnt matter what role you think you play in this sexual aspect of life. It is irrevelant. If you do not listen to your own conscience then it doesnt matter if a risk is being taken. I tried to live with as less complications as possible. I believed if I did, everytthing would find a way to fall into place. The almighty Father would spare me from "turning" into a homosexual. When things fell into place it was very opposite of my idolized views of life.
I believe if from a young age you teach a child to be honest about their self of being, many of these "sexual no-nos" are automatically notice and can be properly understood by the time puberty kicks in.
Sex is not a curse. It is an expression of ones self. It is an intended act of human behavior. It is as natural as it is breathing. To catergorize any or all acts of sex is too dificult. The mind creates too many shapes and forms for one to enjoy it's partner(s). Sex and our conscience has been able to adapt to any time period and all "safety guidelines" for the preservtion of our humaity. It is all automatic.
God (yes i still believe in HIM) has created us to continue living despite any thing that comes along. He has given us all we need to provide for ourselves. I have come to truly believe He doesnt discriminate. We are who we are and through out history there has been no religion, person, government, social status, profession or anything as such that has stopped the "spread" of homosexuality. We are here to stay and survive.
Go enjoy life. Adapt to what will help you keep living. We will never stop a disease from trying to kill off Humanity. If there are safety measures take them. But, remember circumstances can make you want to forget you have a conscience. LIFE HAPPENS .................. this is the ultimate ride of our lives

Holy crap! Has a single person on this board considered the possibility that there is no one natural response? That monogamy works for some people and not others? It's not about what's honest to human nature, because that's different for everyone. Me? I'm not the monogamous sort, but I know guys who are, and hey, if that's your bag, go for it. If you're like me, and you like to roam around, that's good too.

Being monogamous doesn't make someone a stunted prude any more than being open to multiple partners makes them some psychologically scarred lowlife. Neither one is inherently good or bad. It's just a matter of who you are, and we should stop trying to validate whatever works for us by asserting that the alternative is bullshit. Frankly, if you feel the need to do that, I question how secure you are in your own beliefs and convictions.

What's natural is to live in accordance with your nature, and only you can know what that is, and the damage comes in when people have the arrogance and self-righteousness to insist that their personal truth is the only one.

Wars get started over shit like that. Let's not be those guys.

I'm with you, mate. Different strokes. You be you, I'ma be me.

BRAVO....! ;)

When I read the posts that associate sexual behavior as being linked to low self-esteem, and other negative concepts, it just reminds me how perniciously the entire "sex is sin/bad/shameful UNLESS it falls under these circumsribed criteria" has become part of our social structure.
We must remember that virtually every one of us is a product of this western culture mindset...including the doctoral student currently studying psychology. Please remember that Freud was also a product of this social background and had a tendency to project his own insecurities onto the world at large.
Eastern culture(s)--the few that weren't tainted by British or Briton-ish contamination--simply do not view sex nor have inculcated these concepts into their social structure.
One must also take into account that encouraging a sense of self-loathing into the male population works in favor of the ruling class, historically. I'm not talking about the last century...I'm talking about thousands of years ago, during the dawn of the creation of the concept of society.
Progeny meant power. Women provided progeny. Other males, if allowed to form positive self-images and therefore confidence, constituted threat to the ruling male. These concepts of control have been insinuated into modern society through many means, psychiatry and psychology among them.
Historically, again, virtually every effort by the NOT ruling class to recognize themselves as worthwhile human beings, empowered human beings (women, slaves, children, lower class males) has been met with resistance most usually based in medicine, biology, and later, psychology...the province of the ruling class. After all, it wasn't the blacksmith's son who could even hope to gain further education than how to do his father's craft.
So, I would really like to assure the men here that the majority of the cause of their feeling of low self-esteem is culturally engrained, passed down from generation to generation for the last few thousand years or so, literally becoming a science in the last century or so.
As you point out: Some men prefer the same, some men prefer different.
Some dolphins are monogamous...some aren't.
My life got a lot easier when I discovered my pagan roots and disabused myself of most of the utter philosophical crap that has been artificially inculcated into Western society.
Do what thou wilt---AND HARM NONE.
It's really pretty easy.
The old golden rule. Don't do it to somebody else if you don't want it done to you.

Having sex with random humans is more of a risk than animals doing it with other animals. Animals are not going to play psychological and political games or have underlying motives behind the words that sound dazzling and amazing and so clinically sterile with no warm humanity attached beyond the clinical verbiage. The beasts do what comes naturally without dogma making them fear for the lives if they are exposed as being gay. The act of being gay was recognized by a Psychiatric association in the 50's as being a mental illness and an association's opinion has never mattered beyond what we as free individuals feel about things on our own. Creating a lot of extensive vocabulary that many people have not heard before doesn't make the content any more valid just because it may sound poetic. Many con-men use such language to sell us cheap products for nineteen ninety five plus shipping and handling - hehe. Men online can be like politicians where the higher the education then the more extensive and impressive the mind games are till they start to think that life is a Shakespearean stage. The best thing is to not get too full of oneself for sure. Not sure whether the psychological verbal spanky is better than the swat - hehe.

how do i get info bout ashram west
i moved to ca to find a man who would be spiritual but most of the spiritual men are not

perhaps a good life would be long term marriage of not sharing cum or precum until years of proven quality time have been experienced.
remember loose lips sink ships
you can reach me

God bless
Spiritualist Christian with background in judaism,buddhism,kabbalicism,spiritism(different)lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll

You can get information about Ashram West at www.gaytantra.org.


This was the first time I read most of the responses here. Usually I just check my messages. Occasionally I look to see who's on-line but I am extremely gratified to read so many thoughtful remark on what is basically a hook up site.
I have been living with HIV/AIDS since my test in 1988. I've lost most of my friends and two long-term partners for whom I was the caregiver in there last months. These were all very painful and difficult experiences. Since my second partner died in 2001, I have been mostly alone. As I've aged and have adjusted to one medical problem after another, I have discovered that I am invisible. When I was in my 20s and living in SF, the world was a big candy store and there were only small prices to be paid. Granted, some of the treatments for things like Giardia, were pretty awful but there was a false sense of security in knowing that anything I contracted could be cured.
Since my HIV has been relatively stable recently (t cells in the 4 to 500s, undetectable viral load), my problems have stemmed from consequences of the medications I take to stay alive. I've had some opportunistic infections, become type 2 diabetic, had kidney failure and congestive heart failure. Worst of all, my social life has shrunk and my sex life is virtually non-existence. I used to tell my first partner who had issues about monogamy, that for me, sex was communication and that there were various levels, all valid. Or to put it another way, sometimes you want a hamburger, sometimes a steak. One isn't better than the other. Now that I am 57 and recently diagnosed with bursitis, tendonitis and glaucoma, all I really want is someone to hold me and tell me that it's all be okay. I would give up ever having sex again to be able to look into a man's eyes and have him say 'I love you'. The pain of loneliness and isolation is so much greater than the impulse to pursue sexual realtions, even if I could find them. I admit that I've become somewhat isolated since my partner, my mother and my cat all died within a few years. Dialysis four hours a day, three days a week, is no picnic, nor is limping along with a cane and feeling unwanted, unattractive and unloved. My two greatest fears at this point are having a second stroke (the first was minor, thank G-d!) and not being able to exert any control on my life. The second is living out the remainder of my life alone. If you are young and reading this, take heed. The future has a way of creeping up on you and things don't always turn out the way you think they will. I wouldn't change my life in those exciting days in SF during the 1970s. Being a part of the Gay Rights Movement and consciousness raising and the creativity of the people I knew, was a gift. Appreciate what you have now because it can easily and unexpectedly be taken away from you. Maybe too many of us gay men then were like Peter Pan, only wanting fun and excitement, not wanting to grow up. Be that as it may, I wouldn't want anyone else to have the life I have now or lead them to believe that being HIV+ is easy. It's not and in my case, everyday is a challenge to find meaning and the desire to go on living. Don't take anything for granted and don't risk your life and your future for a moment's pleasure. EVERYTHING HAS CONSEQUENCES.

Selfsuckah: Having read through the epistles, a brief hurrah, and considered thoughts;your piece struck a note. One might argue, social, mental, religious concerns as the "root" of all that is bad. It stuck me that your notations took a "middle of the road" consideration and approach to the subject of discussion.
I shall not go forward to defend, nor disavow, that which has been previously stated; as in poly, mono, religion, the nature of the male specie,etc.; for that is tedious examination and is/are posits of dubious and personal consideration.
Having lived in N.Y.C. through the late 70's/early 90's; I did my fair share of "... what do like..", "...I like this.."- to be base, instant sex. Hello,drop your pants, bye. I, as so many have, had friends die. Though painful, I remember N.Y.C. in the mid 80's as a place to be rather openly Gay, from the "trick joints", bathes, and all the bars.
It strikes me that the "Self", the being,yeah the Man, carries his own cross when" playing". I lucked out and through the dark" Middle Ages " of what is now called HIV/AIDS I came free after being of being a player.
When one pauses to consider, ALL the ramifications of," want to come to my place",the sum parts of religion, philosophy, economics,etc., strike me as rather moot. It is the preservation of the Self,in general, that transcends the need to be animal-like in the hunt for sex, countered by commonsense, intelligence, and the capability to take matters into ones' hands as required.

..... "When POS men are on the drugs, the viral count is so low that it is almost impossible to contaminate people." .....

Well, if ever there was a line of pure bullshit - there it is - completely unsubstantiated with any scientific evidence or empirical data to support the claim. And just another justification for POZ men to have an excuse to NOT DISCLOSE up front and honestly their HIV status.

"POZ but undetectable" is the new "gay trend" these days freeing POZ men from any responsibility and personal morality of full disclosure.

thanks for your comment......it does make sense Bro........

From www.thebody.com:

"In January 2008, an important and prestigious panel of experts from the Swiss Federal Commission for HIV/AIDS boldly produced the first-ever consensus statement saying that HIV-positive individuals on effective antiretroviral therapy and without sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are sexually non-infectious. This opinion was also published in the Bulletin of Swiss Medicine (Bulletin des médecins suisses). Hotly discussed at the International AIDS conference in Mexico City this summer, it was soon followed by a rejection statement by a joint Australasian group of experts."

Now, the article goes on to describe the conflict and confusion in the global medical community resulting from this study. I encourage you to read it.

But twistedle, it seems you spewed a little bullshit of your own. There IS evidence and data -- controversial and disputed, surely, but it does exist. And this article is from Nov/Dec. 2008. I'm not encouraging or discouraging any behavior, except knowing more about what one is talking about, rather than less.

...... "Some of us engage in polyamorous sex because we like it and believe in it." .....

And here we have yet another hijacking because the term (polyamorous) that is intended to describe a "committed" multi partner LOVE is now being used to describe uncommitted serial tricking.

Polyamoury means you have a vested and sincere interest in the emotional, psychological, intellectual and perhaps spiritual health and longevity of all the "partners" in the relationship - in other words,all the partners have some fucking skin in the game. With serial tricking, there's nothing vested or personally risked other than a cum shot and ego. Big difference between these two lifestyles.

Now we got to get off the computer and see how the verbiage plays out when we meet a guy and start reading from this blog - hehe. A lot of hookups are a game of physical or psychological dominance and submission where another bottom pounded means another notch for the bedpost. In such cases the sense of satisfaction comes from social and emotional dysfunction where aggression and control are out of control like a bull being loose in a china shop. Dominance and submission can be quite wonderful within a framework of commitment however.

There was a Jewish GLBT conference at UCLA this last weekend. Most of the 150 in attendance were 50 and older. I looked around the room and thought "and how many more would have been here if not for AIDS?" To me, it was a constant, unspoken subtext of our time together. Your piece is an eloquent reminder of when we still spoke of the AIDS "crisis"; unfortunately, it's now simply a part of being gay and American. Thanks for reminding me that reality can hit home harder than we can ever imagine.

I would also like to add that several posters seem to have confused "love" with "sex".
As a male, I can have sex with someone I do not love. I can love someone I do not have sex with. I can love one man, and have sex with another. I can have sex with a man I love. These are completely separate functions.

If you truly believe that, let me ask you this. If you truly love someone, how can you go out and have sex with another and take the risk of later infecting the one you truly love with some disease you might have picked up? Please explain to me how that shows "love" for the one you truly love, and also explain to me how the love and the sex are totally separate and distinct ! With all due respect, people who espouse that line of thinking are totally self absorbed, and are only concerned with their own personal gratification with little regard to the potential consequences of their behavior on anyone else.

Maybe we should all STOP telling each other how to live OUR lives, It's his choice, agree or not, please just accept it. In part i understand why he chooses not live by a pre programmed set of rules he had nothing to do with making. For that he gets my respect and a little admiration, as do you, because clearly your value system works for you.

The problem becomes when a few irresponsible individuals affect the others by playing with their emotions or spreading diseases throughout the communities.