Anatomy of sexual risk
December 1, 2002 10:02 AM   Subscribe

In the Trenches with Love and AIDS. An HIV-negative gay man shares why he sleeps with seropositive men and how he deals with the danger :
"When his health finally collapses, you clean his diarrhea off the sheets and floor and swaddle him in diapers against his will. When he falls into a coma, you lie next to him every night and jerk off amid the scent of looming death. Your orgasms are great. You hold his hand as his last breath slips away and then his mouth drops open and foam bubbles out. They take him away but you can't let him go yet, so you don't change the sheets for two days, and you masturbate some more."
posted by The Jesse Helms (31 comments total)

what a wonderful way to begin sunday morning. what would i do without homofilter.
posted by quonsar at 10:11 AM on December 1, 2002

Reading the quoted passage, I assumed this must be an article concening one man's death fetish.

Upon reading the article, though, it seems to be an honest and fascinating journey into a world I know very little about. Don't let the quoted passage turn you off.
posted by 4easypayments at 11:18 AM on December 1, 2002

This is one of the best trolls I've ever seen. Salon should be applauded (and The Jesse too). My only complaint is that the author of the article was so gutless as to write it in second-person.
posted by wobh at 11:23 AM on December 1, 2002

Homofilter? Do you mean Homophobiafilter?

wobh, writing in the second person is a standard literary device that allows some distancing from what is obviously personal but deeply emotional material.

A better quote from this article, and one which gives a sense of its complexity, is this:

Still you want to tell your straight friends to think about performing the sexual act they love the most with the person they love the most, and then imagine never experiencing that again for the rest of their lives. You want to tell them that everyone -- straight or gay or somewhere in between -- takes risks all the time, and risks the lives of others, and finds ways to justify it. The other day you were driving to the airport on the freeway in your clunky old Toyota and kept within the speed limit. Everyone else zipped and whizzed right by you. Were they putting you more at risk for serious bodily injury than the HIV-positive man you had sex with the night or week before? Or the guy whose sero status you didn't know?

You think they were. But would they see it that way? You doubt it.

So that, in the end, is your dilemma. You need to touch men and make them feel good, and so do most of the gay men you know. You tangle with each situation and do what feels most comfortable -- or rather least uncomfortable. You know the only way to avoid risk completely is not to have sex at all. You also know that's not possible.

posted by jokeefe at 11:52 AM on December 1, 2002

stick your homophobia right up your ass. no pun intended. a puddle of shit is a puddle of shit is a puddle of shit.
posted by quonsar at 12:04 PM on December 1, 2002

**runs for cover**
posted by jonmc at 12:07 PM on December 1, 2002

quonsar were you ass raped as a child? What the fuck is your problem? Parents divorced? A little too fat? Would you like to write an emotional piece in the second person?

I think you would find a better. more suitable lechery at plastic.
posted by four panels at 12:08 PM on December 1, 2002

a puddle of shit is a puddle of shit is a puddle of shit.

Okay, this is my last comment here. quonsar, have you ever cared for someone you love who is dying? How can you judge how people experience their grief and loss? When my father was dying I spent hours rubbing his back as he drifted in and out of consciousness. He was incontinent. His breath smelled like decay. His body was broken, but he himself was still there, and I loved the last evidence of that body as well as I could, wiping his mouth, giving him morphine. If I was taking similar care of someone who I had been passionately, sexually in love with, I don't know how I would have reacted. My point is: I won't judge. And neither should you.
posted by jokeefe at 12:19 PM on December 1, 2002

blah blah blah. hey everybody, there's a puddle of shit on the mefi front page, and somebodys wanking off in it!
posted by quonsar at 12:37 PM on December 1, 2002

has someone hacked quonsar's site? surely this can't be the same person who has links on his own webpage to: i'm a wanker; toiletology; garbage pail kids; i want to help others experiment with me sexually after my death; stupid human noise; farting nun organ...
posted by andrew cooke at 12:47 PM on December 1, 2002

this is so000. predictable. first the homophobe. then the site check and critique. there are no links to wanking in puddles of shit on my site.
posted by quonsar at 12:51 PM on December 1, 2002

jokeefe: sorry. i tend to get judgemental when i wake up, go to my favorite "collection of interesting links and discussions thereof" site, and find some disgusting twit pulling his pud amid a sickbed full of diarhea and dried cum. but don't let me spoil y'alls enjoyment of "link and wink and touch your dink" day.
posted by quonsar at 1:12 PM on December 1, 2002

holy fuck that was discusting.
posted by delmoi at 2:07 PM on December 1, 2002

Since then, you've done your best to be careful. You've had more sexual partners than most heterosexuals could imagine, but on the gay scale your numbers are probably somewhere in the middle.
Sure, you say, it would be great to meet another negative guy, fall in love, enjoy an unencumbered sex life and live happily ever after -- or at least until you break up. But that's an ideal that isn't happening at the moment.

I don't understand this. Please, someone explain to me. Why is it so hard (at least in the above writer's opinion) to not have (indiscriminate?) sex with so many different partners, especially if you're gay? What is so important about these seemingly random sexual encounters? Why does this seem to be the major (and sometimes only) component of a relationship for many people regardless of preference in partners?

Why is sex so important that a person, straight, gay or otherwise, would risk so much for sex with someone they don't know well enough to feel comfortable asking about their potential for STDs?

I just don't understand.
posted by ahughey at 3:21 PM on December 1, 2002

quonsar - why does predictable make it wrong? if someone is constantly called a homophobe, does that mean they're not? if someone is repeatedly called out for saying one thing in one place and then acting in a contradictory manner elsewhere, does that mean they're somehow not a hypocrite?

if people keep criticising you, maybe there's a reason.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:25 PM on December 1, 2002 I find myself in complete agreement with quonsar...I'm not quite sure what to do about that.

I too found myself completely repulsed by the quote as well as the link. There are some things I really don't need to know.
posted by Plunge at 3:36 PM on December 1, 2002

ahughey - don't ask me. from my point of view, the writer is in a mess (emotionally, psychologically). but then that seems so obvious that declaring judgement is pointless. i've gone through times in my life (without lovers dying horribly on me) when i've done things that, in retrospect, seem pretty weird. it's a big world and my little portion is so far removed from that of the person in that article that there's little i can do except wonder at the horrible strangeness of it all. how much pain is there in all that? thank god i'm not there.

the writer is trying to explain. if even he can't, what chance has anyone here?
posted by andrew cooke at 3:41 PM on December 1, 2002

(Ignoring all the hatred spewing back and forth up above....)

At first brush, I too don't understand how people can risk their lives just for sex. I mean, it's JUST SEX. without a without a condom? Hmm, not such a hard choice I would think! But, however repugnant some of the text in the article were, I found it interesting. No, I don't understand. But I'm not a gay man who has to worry every time I get intimate with someone. I guess people just get tired of worrying and just want to live for the moment. I don't know. But I do get angry at people who contract this disease through their own negligence and risk taking. I mean, you know it's out there! It's like people who still smoke. they know the risks but they choose to take them anyway. I don't understand.
-aacheson (the logout function isn't working so I can't logout my husband!)
posted by msacheson at 6:24 PM on December 1, 2002

So far, quonsar has said he found the link disgusting. Some may not find it disgusting but nobody can say it's unusual or somehow inappropriate to find it disgusting. I too found it disgusting, for the record.

In return he's been called a homophobe, a hypocrite, a victim of rape and what have you. An actual person, quonsar, has been personally insulted here.

You decide where the imbalance lies. Talk about disgusting.

And, for the record, quonsar's (hilarious) website deals in humour, i.e. stuff that some people may find funny, not in the reality of sexual degradation and death. There's no contradiction between seeing the funny side of things and saying certain realities are beyond the pale. Necrophilia, the association of death with sexual pleasure, can be funny (for instance, in Buñuel's Belle de Jour) and the humour and fictionality redeem any disgust. This is not the case. There are limits to everything.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:39 PM on December 1, 2002

The article, like it or not (I didn't) is a slice of reality. Quonsar, like all of us, has trouble dealing with some slices of reality. Instead of accepting that and moving on, or grappling with it and posting something thoughtful, he posted the sort of glib fluff that invites offense, and responded to a serious attempt to engage with him by posting more glibness. The attacks on him suck, but so does his incendiary behavior.

And Miguel: where are those limits? Do tell.
posted by stonerose at 6:56 PM on December 1, 2002

Stonerose: I meant there are limits of empathy and understanding - each person's limits being different. As this thread proves, those with an experience of a loved one's death and its consequences (or doctors, or nurses) are moved and not disgusted. But they would be disgusted ny something else. Disgust is a powerful emotion and, unless it's overcome by empathy and understanding, tends to obliterate all other feelings - even genuine pity.

We are not limitless, omnipotent or solely rational beings. This seems obvious when dealing with disgust. Most people find shit disgusting, specially when mixed with other bodily fluids, never mind semen, the product of sexual desire. The association with death and mourning makes it all the more difficult to overcome that disgust.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:00 PM on December 1, 2002

There are some things I really don't need to know

And that, I'm afraid, is the problem.
posted by four panels at 8:12 PM on December 1, 2002

The article was great - a peak into a lifestyle and mind-set that most of us will never experience or come close to experiencing. No matter what you think of it, the mode of existence the author describes is part of today's reality, and will not go away no matter how hard you try to ignore it - isn't it better to try to understand?

posted by sid at 8:40 PM on December 1, 2002

I thought it was tremendously moving as an expression of the strong attachment the guy had to his lost partner. I have no affinity with coprophilia or necrophilia. I got past that initial distaste by reading further, as was my choice - but I could have chosen to not read further. Just as one has to overcome distaste when one has to care for an infant with a dirty nappy {as an aside, my friend J. used to exclaim, ref. her feelings toward her baby son: 'I even love the smell of his poo!'}

What I find striking is that quonsar felt the need to express his disgust here: I've often discovered by accident items on the web which were repellent. Some came from Mefi. On a day like today, I would have thought a quick "Eww!!" and move on would suffice. We aren't trying to score political points, which is what "homofilter" & "link and wink and touch your dink" comes across as.

Miguel: quonsar was not called a victim of rape - reread it. Being accused of hypocrisy or homophobia is not an insult. It's a personal opinion or judgement, sure: but hardly insulting, even if untrue. And I too read Everlasting Blort: it's one of the most well made tasteless blog-style sites out there. I don't know if I 'll be visiting quite so often now [FWIW]
posted by dash_slot- at 9:07 PM on December 1, 2002

This thread exemplifies why I loathe to post to Metafilter: a million mental midgets, arguing over the price of elephant fleece. Woe be to he who opposes the might of collective stupidity!

Regarding the topic:

The main trouble with this style of liberalism is that there is no solid ground on which to stand. Since, as jokeefe says, no one person has the right to judge any other person, how far into the depths of depravity can we descend?

If someone posts about his love of engaging in anal sex with his boyfriend, is this too far?

If you feel it to be disgusting, why, you must be a homophobe!

If he later describes his boyfriend as being thirteen, is this too far?

If you feel it to be disgusting, why, you are obviously not sympathetic to the needs of those who practice man-boy love!

If he later acknowledges that he prefers engaging in anal sex with thirteen year old boys that are truly unwilling to be anally raped, is this too far?

If you feel this to be too far, why, you are obviously not sympathetic to someone who feels the need to dominate and control another person for his own sexual gratification!

How far can we go?

What about the person who enjoys exhuming stillborn fetuses and inserting their maggoty, writhing corpseflesh into his rectum?

Is this too much?

If this disgusts you, well, you are quite obviously insensitive to the needs of one who is so willing to give the gift of sexual pleasure to a stillborn infant.

You should be ashamed of yourself.
posted by Unxmaal at 9:11 PM on December 1, 2002 [1 favorite]

unxmaal - finally someone understands me! fetus-lovers unite.
posted by sid at 10:16 PM on December 1, 2002

Unxmaal: I have a suspicion that you are trolling, but, for the sake of argument - you know we have guidelines, right? And an FAQ, ok? And a Fuhrer with sensibilities and the delete/ban buttons, yeah? And both individual and collective responsibility for our standards?

So why would anyone find a link on the web about their own boyfriend and post it here: how would that be of interest to the community? Where would the link come from - and why, in the 2nd example, incriminate oneself for Statutory Rape/Child Abuse here?

Actually, the reason you don't post here is 'cos you clearly don't understand what Mefi is all about. Let alone the difference between homo, paedo and hetero.

Go away. Your 15 seconds are over.
posted by dash_slot- at 10:24 PM on December 1, 2002

MeFi FAQ - for those that don't quite get it... [search for the guidelines tomorrow - I can't find 'em right now]
posted by dash_slot- at 10:29 PM on December 1, 2002

*sigh* Yeah, I knew I said I wouldn't do this, but:

The main trouble with this style of liberalism is that there is no solid ground on which to stand. Since, as jokeefe says, no one person has the right to judge any other person, how far into the depths of depravity can we descend?

Actually, my 'style of liberalism' comes with easy to understand guidelines. The practice of cruelty is wrong; causing damage to another human being is wrong. See how simple that is? So if someone posts about enjoying anal sex with their partner, then whatever--it's not an exclusively homosexual practice, you know. If that partner is 13? Big problem--you are causing damage to a child, and it's wrong, no debate. If a gay man, in a situation where sex and death are so intimately linked as they were in his lover's dying days, responds by trying to recapture the echoes of pleasure he once experienced, then that's part of his grief, and I decline to judge his actions. He caused no damage and performed no cruelty.
I can't speak for gay men and won't presume to, but the practice of gathering for anonymous sex is felt by some gay men to be an important part of both their culture and identity. Not all gay men feel that way; but some assuredly do. I learned to understand this, by the way, in part by reading the novels of Alan Hollinghurst--The Swimming Pool Library, in particular.
posted by jokeefe at 11:07 PM on December 1, 2002

in a situation where sex and death are so intimately linked as they were in his lover's dying days

Just to make this absolutely clear: I refer to the fact that his lover was dying from AIDS. The idea that for gay men Sex=AIDS (potentially) is one of the things this article was struggling with.
posted by jokeefe at 11:15 PM on December 1, 2002

Miguel: quonsar was not called a victim of rape - reread it.

OK, dashie, I reread it:

quonsar were you ass raped as a child? What the fuck is your problem?

Being accused of hypocrisy or homophobia is not an insult. It's a personal opinion or judgement, sure: but hardly insulting, even if untrue.

All insults can be personal opinions but that doesn't mean they're not insulting. Being called a homophobe and a hypocrite, unless you think these are nice things to be, is certainly insulting.

But enough already.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:12 AM on December 2, 2002

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