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IGNITING THE POWER OF BLACK SAME GENDER LOVE

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RAW SEX, REAL(?) TALK

At the most recent Gatekeepers Collective, Brothers took up RAW SEX, REAL(?) TALK, Part I.  More than 35 years since the advent of the HIV epidemic, same gender loving (SGL) Black men are still the sole group among which incidence continues to increase at alarming rates every year.

As ever, The Gatekeepers Collective (TGC) is intent upon engaging Brothers in frank, open, and solutions-focused dialogue about where we are in relationship to living our best and most powerful lives…Both, how we come to be where we are and, to the extent that we are not where we want to be, how to get there.

With respect to issues of our sex, the question is, to what extent is raw sex a celebration of same gender loving male intimacy.  And, if it’s truly a celebration then, will it involve putting ourselves-and-each-other at risk for HIV/STIs?

TGC operates from the conviction that it’s well past time we began celebrating, even reveling in the magic of same gender loving Black male sex and sexuality.  And with that:

Facilitator asks: To what extent is sex a celebration for you?
“What do you mean by celebration?”

Facilitator says: “Glorying in ecstasy…reveling in delight…exalting in the wonder of the connection, and the sensations sparked by the connection…”

“Love making…”

“It could be euphoria…”

Facilitator says: “It could be a lot of things…But, it isn’t necessarily celebratory…I remember for my part, for a long time I was deeply conflicted about my sex…In many instances, sex was a furtive, clandestine act about which I felt shame and guilt after the fact…Because I believed the myths that my sex was dirty…deviant…depraved… perverse…sinful…and some other wrong stuff…And that my sex made me those things too…And, it took a lot of work for me to arrive at a different relationship to myself and my sex…So that, by my last relationship…sex was cosmic…I mean, I would be talking to God during sex…and meaning it…The question is, what is it for you?”
“It’s always a celebration…if this is somebody you taking your time with…For me, I don’t do hookups…I gotta’ really know you, and like you…I celebrate it cause I like me…So, when it happens, it’s going down…”

“I’m with a group with my grandson…”

Facilitator asks: “Your grandson is SGL?”
“Yes…and he’s in a group…[And, I told them] it’s natural…there’s nothing better…They’ve indoctrinated us to believe [that our sex] is wrong…”

“It took me almost ten years to re-acclimate myself to having sex without Miss Tina…[the nickname for] crystal meth…I mostly have sex by myself now…I’m listening to this Brother talking about making love and saying, ‘Huh?’…”

“It’s the most beautiful thing in the world…”

“Celebration?...I’m going to have to take that to my therapist…I look at celebration as a reward for having earned something…”

“I place a very high value on relationships…As much as we say, it’s natural and celebratory, I place a very high value on it because of the high value I place on relationships…I always think of the opposite…Even in the act…How would I feel if this person wasn’t here…”

 “For me, it’s contextual…For me, to have sex, it’s special…I don’t know if I would go to the extreme to say it’s celebratory…It depends on how I feel about the person…”

“Young kids today are coming from all over and asking people, paying people to infect them so that they can get $328 per month, and an apartment for life…It sure beats [the streets]… HASA for All [the HIV/AIDS Services Administration program] has just been approved…”

Facilitator says: “I believe that trend is called bug chasing…”

“Yes…”

“When I meet people sometimes, I have sex, and I don’t feel anything…a lot of times I don’t connect well with the person and it becomes routine…”

When might you opt not to use protection with a partner?

“I have to be honest…since I’ve become [HIV-] positive, that’s the only way to go…Sometimes, I coyly put down a condom, and if the man doesn’t put it on, then you know what you’re getting into…There’s just something about that skin on skin contact, and giving and receiving the seed…Like Greek knowledge…You know that’s how they thought of it, as giving knowledge [to their partners]…And, I’m grateful I can be honest and freer myself…”

“I prefer to use a condom…”

“I do that most of the time…”
Facilitator asks: “What percentage of the time would you say you use condoms during sex?”

“Probably eighty-five percent of the time…”

Facilitator asks: “And, when you don’t, what going on?”

“Sometimes I’m scared [my partner will opt out]…And sometimes, I just don’t care…”

Facilitator says: “That’s honest…So, where does that leave us?”

“I remember when it [HIV/AIDS] started…and now, I’m on and off [with using condoms]…”

“Now they’ve got Truvada [to help seronegative people safe]…Truvada…[aka PrEP, aka Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis] is $2,983 per bottle*…And, there’s another new [antiretroviral medication] called Genvoya…”

“I used to use condoms…I’ve been celibate for a number of years…If I found someone who I wanted to be with, I would again…”

“Now, with undetectable viral loads for those of us who are positive, negotiating safety is something of a new frontier…”

“There is no universal threshold regarding [what constitutes an] undetectable viral load…”

Facilitator says: I think the standard is fewer than fifty copies of HIV in the blood plasma for at least six months…”

“Having raw sex for me is pleasurable…Would I call it risky?...Yes…[But,] If I’m feeling it in the moment…Chances are, if it’s going to happen, it would be in the park…[Because] I have condoms in the house…”

“In my relationships, we make agreements…In my last relationship, for instance, we agreed to not have sex for ninety days…[And,] We both got tested together…”

“I try to stay away from sex as much as I can…I don’t have much experience with same-sex sex…I’ve been in traumatizing [same-sex] situations…I think it’s going to take some time for me to heal…It’s not very…I find people very attractive…I have the urge…But, I try to avoid [sex]…”

Facilitator says: “Thank you for that acknowledgement…That you realize that you have been traumatized is important…For that realization, your capacity to commence a healing process is apparent…In the same way you’ve mustered the courage to acknowledge your trauma, and that you experience attraction to men…a powerful next step for you might be seeking out therapeutic support to address the trauma…If you desire it, you deserve to experience sex as a celebration of your beautiful humanity… In fact, many of us go through our entire lives without recognizing that we have been traumatized around our sexuality…And, not only through physical violations, which many of us have experienced, but for regular assaults on our sexuality because of myths and lies we are told about our sexuality every day of our lives…And that trauma can make sex sickly, instead of celebratory…We’ll continue this, shall we?…”

The group says: “Yes.”

* The cost for Truvada tablet (100 mg-150 mg) is around $1,564 for a supply of 30 tablets, depending on the pharmacy you visit. Prices are for cash paying customers only and are not valid with insurance plans. – Drugs.com
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