Sunday, July 31, 2005

Beaver vs. the Dam

Safe sex and protection should always be a priority when we are about to romp around town or find ourselves entangled with a new sex partner, but not everyone cares whether or not they use protection. Not every woman believes they can catch an STD through having an intimate moment with another woman. As lesbians, we have challenges as far as sexual protection paraphernalia goes. Heterosexuals and gay men have it so easy when it comes to protecting themselves. Lesbians, well, they have dental dams. Why do we have to settle for a piece of rubber that is much like a fruit roll up on our partner’s genitalia? If only this lovely invention tasted like a fruit roll up, it wouldn’t be half bad. The only option for avoiding that horrific latex taste is to use Saran Wrap… What a romantic thought, huh?
“Hold on honey, let me grab the Saran Wrap!”

Heterosexuals and gay men have it fairly easy when it comes to this option. They can roll a condom on their penis, and have it stay there. Lesbians have to literally hold up this square, flat piece of floppy rubber-like paper on their partner’s genitalia and try to poke their tongue through this pliable barrier. Who thought of this? A woman’s anatomy is complex, and has so many different areas that need to be attended to. I’m not saying that the dental damn is a bad thing, and that it should not be used; I just wish that we had another option.

The other flip-side of this problem is the act of ‘genital-to-genital’ sex. Do you think a dam is going to stay in place during this activity? The most known case for lesbians to contract an STD is through genital-to-genital sex; through vaginal secretions. It baffles me that we have not come up with better solutions for “better sex”…Women have to get creative a lot of times living as a lesbian. Sometimes we even resort to sexual toys. The one thing to remember is, when protecting yourself against an STD; always, always wash off your ‘pickle of love’ before using it on your partner, and vise/versa. Depending on the two people involved, this can be a very enjoyable way to experience a sexual encounter with someone, and yet—be safe. There are a lot of lesbians who do not prefer toys. They like the ‘natural way’… If you are single and playing the field, either keep that Saran Wrap handy in your glove compartment, or consider using a fruit roll-up! I’d rather use that than a dental dam any day.

The funniest thing is to watch these old sex therapists on television explain ways to have better sex, and answer questions from callers around the world. Have you seen this? An old lady comes on television and basically gives sexual advice in explicit form. The sex therapist was explaining how to use the dental dam. She held up the flat, square piece of rubber, and started darting her tongue through it. This was enough to make me turn from lesbian sex all together. I have to say, this was very comical. I give this lady credit for even going on television to demonstrate dental damns, vibrators, dildos and other wonderful things in her bag of tricks. No doubt, the best way to stay safe is abstinence, but…umm…really now… I can suggest it, but will you even listen? Will I even listen? I’d be a hypocrite to even give that advice! Sex is a wonderful thing and should be enjoyed. It’s a shame that we have to fear it for dear life. The question remains, do all of us fear it? That is even a scarier thought. A lot of people do not fear unprotected sex, which makes for an unsafe community. Why have we become so careless--as if we didn’t care if we live or die? It is a matter of life or death.

The consequences of our actions are crucial. Thinking before our actions is so important. Believe me, I was no angel when I was younger. I have had some wild days that will last me for a lifetime. We all had to sew our oats at a certain point in our lives, but there comes a time when we just need to settle down and get hit with a reality slap. I got hit with a huge scare in my life. When I was nine-teen years old, I went with a woman and had unprotected sex with her. Unbeknown to my knowledge, this beautiful woman who was four-teen years older than me was a prostitute. She led me to believe that she was monogamous in our relationship. Not only did I find out she was a prostitute, but she was also a drug user. My heart was literally broken. I loved this woman and thought the world of her. Why wasn’t she honest with me? We had unprotected sex, and I had to find out myself if I contracted anything. I’ll never forget walking into the doctor’s office having to tell him that I was a ‘lesbian’ and that I had sex with someone who had numerous partners. I requested an HIV test. They took blood tests and sent me on my way. “We’ll call you with the results...” It took two weeks for them to call me back with the results. Those two weeks were torture! The frustrating part about this was, when they did call, they asked me to come in. Come in??? That must mean bad news. I was shaking like a leaf. I thought right there, my life was over. I was about to be given the worse news of my life. As I sat in their office, the doctor calls me in. He sat me down and said, “Well, you’re not pregnant.”
Err… Where did this guy get his degree? He then went on to explained how it is so important to have safe sex and lectured me on my irresponsibility. At this point, I thought he was about to give me bad news. He didn’t. I was HIV negative. I was so happy and relieved to hear this, yet very pissed off at this doctor for putting me through the stress of ‘his little scare tactic’. I’m glad he did that though, because it gave me a slap of reality, and some sense of awareness. I went home feeling as though God had given me a new life; a new beginning. I just couldn’t believe how careless I was when I was young and dating numerous women at a time. I thought I was invincible; as though nothing could overcome me.

I even went with straight women, brought home barmaids, had one night stands with women in night clubs, as well as have multiple girlfriends at the same time. It was careless and irresponsible behavior on my part, which I regret. In another aspect, I do believe that we all go through certain things in our lives in order to make us realize what’s really important. I think if I hadn’t gone through that crazy ‘wild life’---I think I would still be trying to sew my oats today—and a scarier thought, I probably wouldn’t be afraid of a sexually transmitted disease.
There was a time when I was working as a temp for a corporate company, and I started becoming close friends with my immediate supervisor. As time went on, we began to establish a friendship outside the office. She was married to a man that she has known practically all her life. The troublesome part of it was, he constantly cheated on her with other women. She confided in me and was upset, as well as confused. I made it known to her about my sexual orientation, and she was okay with it. The only thing that bothered me is how much she would remind me not to tell anyone in the company. For personal reasons, I didn’t plan on doing that anyway, but for her to remind me made me feel as though I should be ashamed of who I am.

Time went on, and we started spending every weekend together. We went out for lunch, got our nails done together, went shopping, had dinner and even had sleepovers. We were practically best friends at this point. Her husband worked long hours as a cop, and then went out every evening with his friends… (or so he said) One evening, while dining at a local restaurant, she started asking me a ton of questions regarding my sexual preference, how long I have been gay, and would I ever date men again. We talked, and I was trying to be as honest and open as I could to her, since she was open with me. She then told me that she had a three year relationship with a woman before she married her husband. She said she was gay. How could this be? She married her husband out of fear of what her parents would think. He was a childhood friend who was in love with her, so she felt ‘comfortable’ marrying this man. Needless to say, we started being intimate and having unprotected sex not too long after that. Our relationship was an intense one. I fell in love with her and wanted more, which I knew that may never be possible. I had to end everything due to my strong feelings towards her, and had to accept that she would never leave her husband for another woman. My point of this story is-- having sexual encounters with this woman led me to the thought of her intimacy with her husband, as well as his intimacy with ‘other women’. So, by me having sex with her, I was ‘in a way’ having sex with her husband, and all of his mistresses. Where does that bring me? Yes, back to the ol’ doctor’s office for a check up. It was well worth it, and I was happy to find out, once again, that I was HIV negative. Sometimes we all get into situations where we have no control over our actions due to our intense emotional bonds that we create. We don’t want to believe that the person that we fell in love with has a disease, so in most cases, we tend to block it out of our minds and continue being careless. Hopefully it doesn’t come to a point where the ‘scare’ becomes a reality.

I do believe there are differences between gay men and lesbian women in the sexual aspect. Although, both men and women are all susceptible to all diseases if we are exposed to it, the increasing amount of men who are contracting the HIV virus is becoming almost mainstream. Since men are more apt to satisfy their sexual needs at will, the increasing amount of men who are catching this virus is overwhelming. There are certain groups where they call themselves, “Bug Chasers”… These groups of men actively seek HIV positive men to give him ‘the gift’----which is HIV. In their mindset, they would rather diminish the fear of contracting HIV, so that they can have sex with anyone they want, without a condom; without thoughts of ‘what if I catch it’… By contracting HIV, these men will set up “POZ parties” (HIV+ parties) so that there are no need for concerns. ‘Barebacking’---which means men having sex without protection is being practiced at an alarming rate. Barebacking parties are mostly found on the internet so that these men could have access to look this up at any given time.

In their eyes, sex is worth all the medications and headaches that go along with being HIV positive. Since medicine today is doing a better job having HIV positive men live longer, the disease now is no longer considered, ‘dangerous’ in their eyes. There are stories where men catch HIV, to only die within that year. It depends on each individual and how strong their immune system is. Has sex become such top priority for men that they are willing to risk their lives for it? What does that mean for lesbian women? The majority of lesbian women with HIV have already had an encounter with a man or they are bi-sexual. I’m not saying that you cannot contract the HIV virus through another woman, but in most studies, it shows that women mostly get HIV if they are heterosexual or have been with a man at one point in their lives. There are women who have contracted HIV through women, but not as much. It’s a rare occurrence, but should still be taken seriously. Mainly, if a woman had high risk activity in her past, such as unprotected sex, the use of intravenous drugs/unclean needles, then precautious should be taken. The topic of safe sex has become taboo for most lesbian women. HIV can be among anyone, even if they look healthy. Never be scared to ask your partner about their past, or their HIV status, or other STDs-- and never be afraid to both get tests together.

No comments: