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You can always say no

I came as gay during my early teens, and became sexually active when I left for college. Chicago has a few underage clubs, and I often went with my friends just to dance, socialize and to have fun. It was really difficult for me to meet people in those venues - and the guys that I did meet would often proposition for sex in bathroom, or even to sleep with them in their car. This completely turned me off, and made me search for more in a person.


So where did I turn? To the internet chat rooms. I couldn't meet people in clubs, nor in my public social life, so I turned to them. I soon discovered that sex is easy, especially for a 18 year old, gay man in a large city. While I initiated a few terminal relationships via the chat rooms, most of my internet contact was short-term, and sexual. I thought that I was completely safe in using a condom during intercourse, but I later discovered that there is risk of STIs from oral sex.


I met an amazing guy - outgoing and exciting who made me feel alive. I believed that there aw no risk in having oral sex, so we did it, and often. Unfortunately, a few weeks after turning to school, I discovered that it burned when I urinated, and I could only urinate in spurts or else it would feel like I was urinating hot sauce. I knew that something was wrong, so I went to the health services at my school. The nurse called me to tell me that I had Chlamydia. In my mind I was ashamed. I felt like I could never say, "hey, I've never had an STI." It was true. Luckily, Chlamydia is curable, unlike HIV. The nurse advised me to have an anonymous HIV test just to make sure that I was not infected. I declined. I later learned from an acquaintance that the guy who gave me the disease was also a known prostitute who had unprotected sex with many people. It shocked me to find that he had been keeping count on the number of people he had sex with, and the tally was at 500+. I fell into deep depression. I avoided the HIV test because I knew there was a chance that I was infected.


After waiting nearly a year, I conjured up the courage to go to an independent health service facility to be tested for HIV. They took a blood sample, swiped my credit card, and told me to come back in 5 business days. I hit rock bottom. I combed the internet to learn as much as I could about the risks I had taken in the past. I read other people's stories. And most depressingly, I planned my suicide if the test was positive. I returned to the testing center, and the nurse began her schpiel. I was being counseled. You are NEGATIVE, she told me. The weights of guilt and depression melted away. I vowed never to put myself at risk.


So in the past few weeks, I met a guy, highly educated, motivated, driven - someone who I could have endless conversations with. He respected me because I told him that I would not have sex with him until after I knew his status. He respected that. His semester in university resumed, and I felt like I needed some attention from someone. I went online, and a guy who I had met a few months back sent me a message. We decided to meet, to 'hang out', and I went to his apartment. After 30 minutes or so, he asked me if I wanted to have intercourse with him. I said not without a condom, and asked where the nearest store was. He said never mind and we continued to be intimate. Be for I know it we were having sex, and I pulled away. I decided that the night was over, and that we had passed the boundaries. He agreed, and we just laid there. He then proceeded to tell me about all of the unprotected sex that he has engaged in over the past few years, citing that he would often do it multipe time per day with guys he barely knew.


I began to realize that in having unprotected sex with him, all of the knowledge and insight I gained from my last scare was rendered useless. Knowing that he belonged to one of the riskiest demographics in the country, I still allowed a brief stint of unprotected sex.


Bewildered, I left. I realized that no one can look out for me but me. In the back of my mind, I could feel the development of that same mindset that was o-so familiar to me. What would I do if I am positive? How will I tell my parents, and my sister? Even worse, how will I end my life?


Well this happened last night (14 Jan 04). I hope that I can go on without slipping into depression. I hope that I can make it through the incubation window, and make it to the test. Hoping that my partner was negative is not an option. The facts are that he has engaged in unprotected sex with people, and I participated with him, putting me as risk.
My birthday present to myself will be an HIV test. I hope to god that it is negative. Life is too short to risk it all for nothing. I can testify to that. I will let you know in a few months of my results. Be smart, and be safe, and remember that you can always say no. I forgot that fact, and it has temporarily cost me my sanity.

 

Sent via Email Jan 15, 2004 from Chicago, IL, USA

 
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