I recently received an email regarding my blog entry, The Beauty of Being a Slut. The guy wrote, “People like you should be ashamed. This is why no one takes gay people seriously. Instead we are nothing but whores who show our asses on Instagram and give everyone AIDS and herpes. It’s people like you that make gay men think taking PrEP and having unsafe sex is ok. You should be ashamed, you worthless piece of shit.”
I try to take all the comments I get seriously.
So let me fucking get to addressing this one.
First, what is PrEP: PrEP stands for Pre-exposure prophylaxis. PrEP is the use of drugs that can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout the body. Meaning, that people who take PrEP are effectively protecting themselves from HIV while also preventing the spread of HIV.
So this should be a no-brainer, right? PrEP protects people who are negative from getting HIV and is one of the ways we can stop the spread of the virus. So PrEP is good, right?
Well, like all things dealing with sexuality, and queer sexuality in general, it’s more complicated than that.
I think the root of that complication is simple: we are ashamed. We are ashamed of our bodies, we are ashamed of our sexuality, we are ashamed of our queer identities. We have, on some level, bought into the lie that has been taught to us our whole lives: that there is something inherently tainted about us, as queer people, something not right: that we are somehow flawed.
If you question the validity of this statement, let me give you some facts: according to the recent Human Right’s Campaign’s “Growing up LGBT in America Survey” four out of ten LGBTQ youth say that they are living in communities that are not accepting of LGBTQ lifestyles, and 92% of those LGBTQ youth surveyed responded that they have heard negative messages about LGBTQ people, at home, at school and in their communities.
The Trevor Project, which is committed to ending suicide among LGBTQ youth, reported that LGBTQ youth are five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth.
Our whole lives we have heard this message, that who we are at our core is somehow wrong, not worthy. It is debated by our politicians, by our religious leaders, by our parents and our schools: we are continuously told that who we love, and how we fuck, that who we are as humans, is not deserving.
But before we can take on how “They” talk about us, we have to begin to tackle how we talk about Ourselves, about each other, and about our community.
There has been a smear campaign against PrEP since day one. Some leaders in our own community have insinuated that PrEP is a party drug leading to hedonism and sexual debauchery. That PrEP is to blame for rises in syphilis and gonorrhea, that it promotes promiscuity and will be the downfall of respectable gay culture.
The Politics of Shame.
But let’s get real: human beings fuck around. And they suck at wearing condoms. This has been true since the beginning of time. And if there is a pill out there that can help protect us from at least one of the more life threatening STI’s than I think that’s something we should be celebrating and educating everyone on.
Most of us, queer, straight, where ever you lie on the sexual spectrum, are going to find ourselves at times acting a little promiscuous, or not making the best choices in regard to our safety. Instead of judging each other, or ourselves, why not arm ourselves with all the tools available to maintain our health?
I don’t care who you fuck, or how many people you fuck, I just care that you are healthy. So again, PrEP would seem like a no-brainer, right?
I think it’s time we start getting honest. If you are taking PrEP, whether it’s because you are in a relationship with someone who is positive, or because you just want the extra added protection, or because you want to go out and take all the loads or fuck all the asses: you’re a fucking hero. You are part of the solution.
I’m done with the rhetoric of shame. With being quiet, or the polite and good faggot, with being the sexless TV counterpart, or the campy and over the top best friend. I am done with playing into their stereotypes and being told how to behave and what is acceptable.
And I am done being told by members of my own community that the only way to legitimacy is by appropriating hetero-normative values.
Fuck that. I like being gay. I like the freedom, the outrageousness, the sex and the wonder and the amazement. I am constantly in awe of how strong we are: at how we have found a way to survive and thrive, at how we have fought and struggled for basic human rights and still maintained our dignity and our beauty in a world that is determined to tell us we are sick.
The fact that we even have to prove our worthiness is offensive to me. The fact that we have to demand that we be treated as equal, or that we be allowed to live our lives how we want is ridiculous.
So I say fuck it. Go out and be you. Be the loudest, queerest you there is. Wear it on your sleeve. Proclaim it to the world. And fuck anyone who tells you you aren’t deserving.
And for all your guys taking PrEP, thank you. You are heroes in our community. And if anyone tells you different, or implies that your morals are somehow not intact, take it as a compliment.
Who wants their fucking morality anyway?
And for the guy who called me a worthless piece of shit: I’m not here to make you happy. And I’m not here to show straight people how polite and legitimate queer people are. I’m here to say, as loud as I can, that we get to be whoever the fuck we want to be, and how we live our lives is nobody’s fucking business. I am a 50-year-old man, and I am way beyond apologizing for who I am. The only responsibility I have is to be good to those I love, and to treat my family and friends and sex partners with respect and kindness, and to try to live in the world in a healthy and whole way, and to be as loving as I can be to anyone who comes into my life: and to remember, that they get to live their lives how they want as well.
Imagine this world if we stopped condemning each other and judging each other and hating each other and just tried to let each other be.
Maybe I’m naïve, but I just think, life is really hard, but how much easier it would be if we all supported each other and took care of each other: if we kept each other safe?
And hey, you can now go check out my new book, Accidental Warlocks, on Amazon! Your support would be amazing!
7 thoughts on “TAKING PrEP DOESN’T’ MAKE YOU A SLUT…TAKING PrEP MAKES YOU A HERO”
I applaud your response and wording. I am very proud to be a PrEp warrior. I care enough about myself and others enough to protect myself and them. I am also part of the FDA clinical trials for the next generation of PrEp. (Descovy)
For anyone who voices negative words, criticize or comdem those of us taking PrEP, let me ask you something. When is the last time you put your bias bigotry aside and did something for the greater good. Not just for a specific community but, for Humanity?
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You are fucking awesome! Thanks for this!
My pleasure and anytime!
If I can be any other help, please let me know.
Thank you Jeff…..this is beautiful. I genuinely appreciate your thoughtful commentary. We are way past the time when we need to stop the shame and be proud of our sexuality AND our sex. Fuck with zeal and gusto!
I agree with you on your response and your honesty regarding PreP! I started PreP in December 2015 and encountered such hostility when I mentioned it to gay friends or fuck-buddies…. I was SHOCKED…. I couldn’t believe their response-that here was pill that could prevent the HIV virus and offer another layer of protection. I was met with “You’ll just be a cum-slut and you’ll be able to just take more loads”…. it was upsetting that these gay friends and lovers, etc. had such a bitter attitude towards it. I told them that I was being responsible for myself and for others that I was having sex with. Then it occurred to me… it didn’t matter what their opinion or stance was…. I was going to be safe and enjoy my sex life while they were jealous and insecure. Like Gary said in the comments section, “Fuck with Zeal and Gusto!’
Again–Thanks for the being honest,
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This is such a wonderful and necessary commentary !
August 10 marked six years on PrEP for me. I am 62, with a 52-year-old husband who has been HIV+ and undetectable for the 22+ years we have been together. We have a 28-year-old boyfriend. I have a thirty-something boy. We all play with lots of other people. I am happier and more sexual and more confident than I have been in the rest of my life. And my doctor considers me a hero for the guys I have brought to him and gotten on PrEP. So I’m good with being a slut *and* a hero…