Free flow of thoughts without a point


On dangers of safe sex

I should not assume that everyone craves for an adventure. I should not expect everybody to be story-obsessed. I guess many guys do not find the sets of "real-life" particularly inviting, needless to say stimulating. They do not find pastime in chasing, continuous searching, endless effort. Shopping on the dating sites is so comfortable, time-saving, safe. Safe from physical danger, safe from unnecessary drama, safe from long silence, safe from biiiiig mistake, safe from embarrassments of thousand kinds.

The idea of crossing the seven rivers and being lucky enough to find prince - not charming, just with bearable royal manners - whom we could approach playfully and creatively (Don't throw yourself in my arms yet!), actually to try, to struggle, to win him with whatever sexy blessing at the end of the day - and then start all over next morning - sounds truly like an utopia. It resides safely stored in museum of lifestyles behind the colourless glass with abstract label: "fantasy of free love". It's not possible! Even God is against it - he punished us with (at least) ten sexually transmitted plagues.

And that's my topic, that I dared not name in the title of this article. While the most of us have rejected the notion of God's wrath, punishing patriarch or Supreme Being at all, this narrative (story, bitch!) haunts us in a spectre of our freely chosen response. We've retreated into the god-approved monogamous family (-imitation), fidelity venerating and eternity aspiring concept of exclusive relationship. This covenant proved beneficial in many levels - it's sterile from bugs (pun intended), provides us with supply of free and easy sex of more understanding kind (no need to perform like A-class porn actor), there's a willing shareholder in accommodation, consumption, risk insurance, not to mention caretaker in case of diseases or goddess-forbid death.

I will not deny the tired contemporary man any of these benefits, knowing there's certain appeal to it as much as to a regular salary arriving at my account. Though I dare the reader - in this safe spot of utter safety - to safely explore what lies outside in the vicinity of the comfortable shelter.

There have been and are a lot of spiritual explanations to diseases, especially the most frightening and mysterious ones. There have been conspirational theories - and I admit they are as attractive as the so called rational explanations. Without attempting to drum those strings, I'll try to grasp the unspeakable terror we're living with for last couple of decades in mythopoetical way. Avoiding the questions if the subject deserves this treatment or if it is appropriate (culturally sensitive and politically correct), it's not hard to acknowledge the legend it has become, the weirdest fantasies provoking myth, worth the book of thousand sleepless or nightmarish nights. This is not a research why, this is a mirror of how it narrates us.

No friendship binds people as much as a common enemy. No festivities of peaceful time create such a sense of unity as one god-delivered calamity. I will not call The Plague a blessing for the community - as a cynical spiritualist might do - it is a true disaster, genocide, with a bitter touch of religious approval. While we do not welcome death, disease, accidents, trouble and even obstacles in our life, still they do happen and we find a ways to deal with them, we grow, learn, become maybe not better but at least whole-r beings. We have blessed ourselves in a way we have responded - solidarity in contrast with apprehension, acknowledgement instead of denial, names above the shame - we, the scared and scattered group of similar and similarly selfish individuals recognized the connection and harvested the concept of community.

We know how to cope with unseizable horror, we know how to wake up, make a coffee and go to work (or save lives), we know how to live on... maybe. The terror paralyzes us and holds us in control - often through the painful personal stories. If we find a way to a partial detachment, distance, perspective (without forgetting or betraying the lost beloved ones) we can regain the reins from this point of balance in between. As much as we have accepted the facts of reality surreal beyond belief, we have also accepted various beliefs that help us to cope with it. Some really do help, some help for price, some just parasite.

AIDS is a communal fantasy of something killing us. Whatever that means, whatever way to interpret it one options for. This nameless spectre incites a spectrum of reactions. Togetherness, seclusion, inclusion, exclusion and even premature conclusions. Our almost freshly liberated community has gained the freedom to fuck whoever we like... [note on the margin: without a freedom to fuck]. Sugar without sugar. We fuck safely, monogamously, married. Is that all there was to learn? Is that the lesson? The point? Does our artificial sweetener work at all?

As a response to various epic and tragic situations, humankind devises workarounds, patches and even redefined the systems of co-existence. Forms of government, economy, religion, social patterns, family. In the line of Alexander's technique, we keep professing these reactions even after the situation is long gone, the habits that are difficult to inhibit. We have to develop and enact even more sophisticated tools of self-reflection and sanity checks on these good-old-traditions. There's one quite remarkable tool - a sexuality. It artfully combines features of our animal nature and human love. The sex in one or another way successfully interfered in many politically clear affairs, undermined spiritual utopias, crossed the tribal and family borders.

While straight sexuality was nicely wrapped in concepts of love, marriage, family, hazy mysteries and comical rites of fertility, gay sexuality - until recently - proved very effective countering the (almost) perfect theories of everything written in the Holy Books, procreation imperatives of the warring states, the compulsory knightly battles of the same-sex rivals for their trophy of the opposite sex. Life under alpha-patriarch, life as a competition, using the other person as an object. Different sexuality did not need to achieve it by direct opposition (which is again macho by nature), not by philosophical anti-thesis (another form of battle), but just being so and not fitting in. Naturally.

The sex is (was?) the last institution that may warn one that there is not everything perfect with the sublime regime. It is the last thing that says "your mind-over-matter meditation and selfless care and complete detachment from suffering are so lovely ideas ... but what about sex?" It's simply there! We can forget it, we can transcend it, we can suppress it, we can transform it, but there is still that "it". Many a pure virginal single-minded angry young man (myself not excluded) that wanted to save the world was saved himself by discovering sexuality, in some cases gay sexuality, nowadays maybe even kinky sexuality - that made him not fit into one or the other perfect theory that he took in his head. Where does the safe sex that we are supposed to have and the faithful marriage that we aspire to - fit in this bigger picture?

Lazy mind has found the eternal institution of marriage, proved by the millennia. Lets vex it by the sex. It may wake up and get challenged. Sleepy as it is now, it wants to ask: Can the safe sex be made more unsafe - meaning less boring and more adventurous? Can the unsafe sex be redeemed somehow, become more safe? Are these the right questions? Can we escape the maybe-false dilemma by asking differently?

There are guys who cling to the concept of faithful monogamy with a hysteria of true zealots. They do not want to ask, reconsider, doubt - they just don't want to discuss the matter at all. There is one righteous way and everyone else is a whore, pervert and sick. The very words that we have just recently washed away from ourselves (as the community) are now being painted by some of the community members to the other unworthy ones. Both negative and positive answer is valid for the question "Is this monogamous relationship what you need right now, not because it is supposed to be done so, not because everyone does it, not because it is correct, but because you feel it that way at this moment?" if it is reached in peaceful (non-confrontational) way.

But if the monogamy is established by force of righteousness, it is fragile and will tend to break. It will shatter with noise, it may explode. The priest of monogamy lives in self-denial, suppression of the ambiguity and fluidity and volatility of sexuality (Thou shall Not Taunt it ... or TNT commandment), he often executes the marriage/partnership as a program. Sooner or later he may be dared and pressure becomes unbearable. The more he resists, the more monstrous the temptation will become - and while this need to become acquainted (intimately) with the others - multiple others - is natural, he will find it tragic. It may likely be that his human side will prevail and if it happens, he will have to confront a Shame. As big a shame as shamefully he used to depict it. It could not have happened to him! He will reject it maybe, hide it, be silent about it. And exactly then his partner may get infected by him.

Is it so safe to be around this kind of safety?

There are guys who cannot live in constant fear of getting sick. They decide to meet their monster, to "take control" and become infected of their own will (as a contrast to against their will). They find this not only "empowering" but also utterly "liberating", they don't have to ask and fear whom to have sex with and what kind of sex. There's just zillions of partners to taste and kinks to try in view. And a life-long partnership with a pharmaceutical company, with people not exactly of their liking and choice. Irony?

Despite the delusion of taking control of ones life (and death), there's a strange kind of air of heroism around this act. It is borderline experience, if not beyond the line. A line that might not be pushed much further. It has some untenable appeal for some, maybe many, that teases, provokes, kicks the mind alert and alive. Something that might not keep quiet while being judged. There's an echo of a promise of restoring the omnipotent status of The Sex. Returning of something - maybe not so sharply defined something - that was taken away from us. Maybe a metaphorical sense of taste - in contrast to tasteless life by the rules. Maybe a drama, a story, a narrative of freedom. Maybe fulfillment.

Is it the only way to live unsafe, adventurous, event-some life?

I admire the way how gay community appropriated former insults into self-denominations. Fag, gay, queer, fairy, cocksucker. I admire the way we have playfully redressed our fears, turning them into fetishes. Scary gay-bashing skinheads, being pissed on by hazing mates, military drill, the uniforms and tools of war and violence, homophobic jocks, be it visual kink or the BDSM games, we have embraced the submission and pain, sexualized it, found erotics where straight world did not want to find it, because it understood them too seriously and literally. Is the way we took the sanctity of marriage and widened (or maybe redefined) the concept our counterattack? Is accepting the bug (even as a fetish of pigs with bio-hazard tattoos and total depravity) an attempt to take over?

The one who fights his fear by "converting" may dive in and indulge and forget that there are others who did not make this choice: "I take control about myself, they should control themselves." Some may punish random partners for the carelessness of the one who hurt them: "Why should I care if they did not care?" Some reassert the ownership of their life by owning the others: "You are mine and no one else should touch you." Many have just not learned to read in between lines, the phrases, the poses, the faces: "It's safer to be monogamous, you can never know, they all lie out there." ... while they trust the only one whom they have chosen to be with.

Both responses - sterile and anti-sterile - to the disease are trying to answer the question of uncertainty. Am I healthy, am I not? Is he sick or is he not? Will I get it? Shall I die? Dealing with it may seem unbearable for a modern man raised in a well-calculated scientific and technological creche. However working with probabilities is a basis of statistics and even fuzzy logic is quite an old topic. Moreover, when we crack this civilized nutshell - the life appears to be an un-insurable phenomena. We are born into uncertainty, generations lived in it, we grow up in it as well, we have developed in it and we are well equipped to exist in it.

So what is in between the reasoned monogamy and deliberate depravity?

Just a life. Lovers. One night stands and long-time companions. Aside of dealing with our own safety, the question may not be in which one or how many, but how. How do we choose them? How do we understand them? How do we consider them? How do we connect with them? How do we read them? Who are they for us? Are they objects to have at home? Are they objects to devour?

If our endless appetite may be the unsatisfied need for story and adventure, then the need for life-long (or at least long) partnership may be a wish for honest interaction with another human being. Subject to subject. An unsafe quest for ephemeral safety with the other one. That safety cannot be bought, cannot be contracted, cannot be tricked. It cannot be seen, it cannot be proven, it cannot be ensured or insured. It happens eyes-to-eyes, skin-on-skin, with all the trust and lust and luck and lack we carry. While it is hard to demand it, we can easily give it ... and by knowing how we give it we may learn to recognize if the others are able to share it.