By LeNair Xavier
Thotyssey presents a column by LeNair Xavier, a writer/poet who has worked in many levels of the sex industry, and has a lot to say about the social politics of sex, porn and sexual etiquette.
I learned I was HIV+ in the fall of 2007. And I honestly forget what year I became undetectable. Due to how I was given my confirmation that I tell in my Medium article “Was My HIV Confirmed In A Color of Care,” one thing I do definitely know is that whoever I had sex with since before becoming undetectable, I was totally into using condoms and honest with sex partners about my HIV status. However, once I became undetectable, I made my condom use be up to my sex partner. And the conversations about HIV status, I totally stopped initiating them like I did before.
What brought this change about?
Because with the advent of PrEP and the advances in HIV medications, I noticed that the conversations about status before an encounter had greatly lessened from my prospective playmates. And I mirrored that. Noticing that many of those who do initiate the conversation today are those who use the term “clean” as an attempt to feel sexually superior as I addressed in my article “Still Saying ‘Clean’ In 2017”. However overall, many don’t ask the question anymore. Of the many sex parties and backrooms I have been in attendance of, it is rare to see a condom used or requested.
SIDE NOTE: Of the few times condoms are used, it would be nice if many of those patrons would be more respectful of the venue and staff by putting the condom in the trash afterwards. Not being self-entitled jerks by throwing the condom on the floor to be cleaned up by venue’s staff afterwards. But I digress.
My becoming forgetful of my status to a point goes back to my history before I became HIV+.
As a single, very sexual man, I had (and still do have) many partners. When I was HIV-, I was always using condoms. I became HIV+ from 1 of the 2 rare encounters between my last negative reading and becoming positive in which I did not use a condom. One in which I topped where I followed my protocol of immediately washing off after a bareback encounter; while the other in which I bottomed. And I’m quite sure I became positive from the latter. Because of this, when I first learned that I had become HIV+, that status weighed on my mind. It weighed on my mind enough that if I was not asked, I at times brought up the topic myself. Or if a conversation about HIV and STIs in general just happened to come up, I would disclose my status.
Once I started treatment and learned that becoming undetectable meant that one could no longer transmit HIV through sex, I was motivated to follow the protocol to get myself undetectable. And until I got word that I had become undetectable, I never realized how much my HIV+ status was weighing on my mind.
My HIV+ status was a constant concern with hookups and dating. Becoming undetectable and being drug-free otherwise, gave me a freedom to not let my status weigh so much in my head. More and more, it got to where I am now. It is a thought in my mornings when my Alexa reminds me to take my Biktarvy, Once I take that pill, it is now no longer a thought. It has become so little a thought now that when I am in a conversation in which the topic of HIV has come up somehow, I completely forget to inform who I’m conversing with that I know of what I speak because I am HIV+ undetectable.
I will admit that to some extent, this might be to compensate for something I did before becoming positive.
Back in 2002, my 1st year of being out and sexually active, Manhunt was the primary cyber means for gays to hook up. Through it, I chatted with a guy whose HIV status on his profile said, “Ask me”.
In one of the chats in which I knew it was leading to a meet-up, I said, “Your HIV status says, ‘Ask me’. So here I am asking.”
The words “I’m positive” popped up on the screen.
I really enjoyed our chats. So I did want to meet him and have sex with him. I just knew I was going to take the precautions of using a condom. But looking back on that always bothers me.
For with hindsight being 20/20, if I was going to use a condom as I had with guys even without discussing HIV status back then, why did I make it such a big deal to ask?
It was because I was following the stigmatizing protocol. A protocol that I see now was meant to make him more self-conscious of his situation & actions. When in actuality, all parties should be equally self-conscious of those things. Be the person HIV-, HIV+, recently STI-tested, and not recently STI-tested.
I feel a great deal of guilt over that. But if any good comes from it, it is that it makes me hope that guy is at a point where despite my unnecessary question back then, that he is now at ease with his status for it to not weigh so much on him. As for why I tell of me allowing my status to slip my mind, it is to inspire others. Others who are HIV+, and those who are HIV- and want to further understand our day-to-day. Inspiring them to live with an understanding that one’s HIV status can get to a point where it being any kind of burden can become mere minutes, maybe even seconds of one’s day.
LeNair Xavier can be found frequently at the Cock, and at various other exhibitionist-friendly venues. He can be followed on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram. He guest blogs occasionally for Kiroo.com.