It’s Not Irresponsible to Like Bareback Sex

It’s Not Irresponsible to Like Bareback Sex

Originally published on hivplusmag.com

A thought for my fellow gay men: It is 100 percent OK that so many of us want to have bareback sex.

Even when the risk of complications due to sex is not zero (and when can we really ever guarantee that the risks related to any activity are zero), it is completely, 100 percent OK that we have the desire to bareback. The decision to have bareback sex has never meant that we are stupid, irresponsible, or immoral — it did not mean that in the pre-PrEP [pre-exposure prophylaxis], pre-TasP [treatment as prevention] (undetectable) era, and it certainly does not mean that now. It means that we are human and that it is tremendously challenging (and sometimes impossible) to change our sexual desires and practices.

It is a bummer that the first case of PrEP failure has been found in someone who was being adherent to Truvada — and very sad for that individual that they have acquired HIV. For some HIV-negative gay men, this single case will be enough to dust off the condoms and try to adhere to them again — and that is totally fine. Condoms are easier for some of us, and/or some of us have a very low tolerance for risk when it comes to our sex lives. The decision to use condoms is 100% OK.

For other HIV-negative gay men, this will still seem like a very remote risk, and they will continue to rely on PrEP as their sole HIV prevention method — and that is also 100% OK. We are not designed to all be the same — we all have different perceptions and different backgrounds. For some of us it is easy to use condoms, and for some of us it is nearly impossible. It’s all OK, and I hope that we can accept our variations and our diverse approaches to having sex.

What is disheartening within the current HIV prevention movement is seeing just how much we still feel the need to police each others’ bodies and our sex lives. We have PrEP-Nazis and condom-Nazis — people both inside and outside of our communities who go well beyond offering information and advice and instead move into coercion and manipulation in an effort to get gay men to have the kind of sex that we deem appropriate for them. We frequently do not honor individual choice and empowerment, and it sets the stage for the often bitter, shaming, and defensive debates that we continue to have around PrEP, TasP, and condoms.

As we individually and communally weigh all of the information that we have received over the past five years about TasP and PrEP, I hope that we can accept, respect, and honor each others’ sexual decisions as we individually interpret what we’ve learned and conduct our own cost/benefit analyses of condomless sex.

Even more importantly, I hope that we can each learn to shamelessly and confidently own our decisions to use or not use condoms without feeling that we must defend our choices at every turn, without feeling gripped with fear and shame each time a report comes out saying that nothing in HIV prevention is perfect.

We are all doing the best we can with the information we have — we are not stupid, we are not immoral, and we are not irresponsible.

Written by Jeremiah Johnson

Jeremiah Johnson is the HIV Prevention Research and Policy Coordinator at the Treatment Action Group in New York. His career as an HIV activist began in 2008 when the US Peace Corps wrongfully dismissed him from his volunteer service because he had tested positive for HIV.

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26 Comments

  1. Kenny
    February 29, 06:55 Reply

    It’s not irresponsible to like bareback sex, bareback actually feels good. What’s irresponsible is having it with people you are uncertain about their sexual health. Even in relationships one can’t be too sure, hence the need to be responsible and use protection be it condom or condom & prep. I wouldn’t advise using Prep alone.

  2. Max 2.1
    February 29, 06:59 Reply

    Excuse me Mr… For every person who gets infected, you open a new window for more people to get infected too and that’s why it is considered irresponsible to be having sex without protection these days. By protecting yourself from getting infected, you’re actually performing a civic duty by indirectly protecting other citizens too, and that my friend is the reason it might be good to want it, but not good to engage in it.

    • KingBey
      February 29, 07:00 Reply

      Oops ! They already here. Lmao

  3. KingBey
    February 29, 06:59 Reply

    *waiting on the saints to mount the podium* ?

  4. Mandy
    February 29, 07:11 Reply

    Testament of how much bareback sex is desired is when peeps like chestnut one time talked about loving the breeditraws and rawstrokes of the porn industry, and not wanting the condom rule to be enforced on them. We may be conscious of the risk, but we sure do love ourselves some bareback.

    • #Chestnut
      February 29, 08:15 Reply

      @Mandy: hey, if I can’t do it in real life, at least let me be allowed to watch it nah,lol. I believe those porn companies have ways of making sure everyone is safe b4 embarking on that genre of er…”entertainment”

      About this article though,I feel some type of way. I aint even gonna lie,bareback sex is sweet, but it’s also dangerous. Should we really encourage ppl to “own” something that could be a risk to their lives,just because it’s sweeter? It’s not like condomed-sex is a total dud anyway, so why risk it?

  5. DI-NAVY
    February 29, 07:25 Reply

    I don’t think there’s an atom of irresponsibility having bare back especially when u have one partner. But having bare back with every John, James and phillip is not irresponsibility but outright stupidity. Abeg, I have hots for my bf, when we get into the moon, we won’t get down cos there’s no condom?? Helllliiiiii, that’s my bf not any random guy, I can have bareback over and over again with my boo. Some still have random sex with protection and that makes him responsible? I don’t think so, I rather say he’s tryna be careful. Having bare back most times is not by choice, when the sparks sets in, and u check ur bed end condom Don finish, how u go do? And it’s always nice to know ur partners status so u know the rate @ which both of you have bare back sex. The buttom line is, stay monogamous. Shikina…

    • Pink Panther
      February 29, 07:32 Reply

      And if you two break up after a few months and you move on to the next boo you’re crazy about, that’d be another round of bareback, yes? 🙂

      • KingBey
        February 29, 07:36 Reply

        That’s why he chipped in about knowing your partners status. ???.

        • #Chestnut
          February 29, 08:25 Reply

          @KingBey: so u agree with Pinky’s suggestion that Di-Navy and his boo will break up after a few months? *sips tea*

          • KingBey
            February 29, 09:18 Reply

            I never said that. Or are you expecting any couple to break up?

        • Jon Snow
          February 29, 11:59 Reply

          @Kingbey you do realise the meaning of window period, right???

    • Delle
      February 29, 11:15 Reply

      I read one comment of DI-NAVY’s (think it was on Val’s Day) and he seemed genuinely Liver on hand in love with this boo of his, I actually cried that day after reading his comment (I’m a softie like that). So, I’m all for DI-NAVY and his boo. No being, human or demon, must come and scatter what has been destined to be the first official Gay Marriage in Nigeria…tufiakwa!
      #teamDI-NAVYandBoo

      • Mandy
        February 29, 12:36 Reply

        LMAO!!! Oh Delle, I’ve missed you

        • Delle
          February 29, 13:24 Reply

          Missed you more boo boo kitty!

  6. spy
    February 29, 07:36 Reply

    It is utterly irresponsible to have unprotected sex, considering the dangers and health implications associated with it. Having unprotected sexual intercourse despite its known associated risks doesn’t make us humane. We’re higher animals because of our ability to reason and procure solutions to problems facing us, our sexual lives shouldn’t be an exception. Say no to unprotected sexual intercourse. Say no to irresponsible risky behaviour.

  7. DI-NAVY
    February 29, 07:48 Reply

    I wish most of us here can stay true. Like u haven’t been laid without protection uncountable times? Chai! Ngwanu… *still looking*

    • Mandy
      February 29, 07:51 Reply

      That’s not the point, Di-navy. I don’t see any comment denying the commenters having bareback sex. The comments are cautioning against it. Simply because no one shares your point of view doesn’t mean they’re not being true to themselves. #justsaying

  8. bruno
    February 29, 10:57 Reply

    liking bareback sex is perfectly natural and most of us really do… also shaming people for perfectly natural desires has never achieved anything positive… it’s better to have a frank and judgement-free dialogue about our needs, desires, actions and intentional or unintentional consequences.

  9. Delle
    February 29, 11:09 Reply

    Sorry to say this, but I totally disagree with the writer. If coercion is going to reduce HIV prevalence, then fine. It’s one thing to think of barebacking, heck I hear it’s much more fun and freelanced, but to indulge in it and not just a one-time thing but always? That’s scary and disgusting.

    Having bareback sex with just one person (couples especially) is better than someone whose dick and ass think for him. Please, I don’t support that Jeremiah guy at all. Barebacking shouldn’t be encouraged just cos we have to make decisions for ourselves. Simple!

  10. Jon Snow
    February 29, 12:13 Reply

    for those clamoring that knowing your partner’s status is “enough” prerequisite for a bare back, I hope you are well aware of the implication of the window period, and how sure are you of your partner’s fidelity?

    Fuck political correctness, engaging in bareback is plain irresponsible.

    I’m surprised that something as paramount as safe sex is even up for negotiation. If the value of your life is worth 15/20 minutes of pleasure, then by all means continue bare backing.

  11. Rapum
    February 29, 13:17 Reply

    See how people dey carry fail comprehension questions. The writer does not advocate for ‘unsafe sex’. He says, instead, that bareback sex with Prep is still 99% safe and so it’s not reckless to bareback as long as you are on Prep.

  12. coconut juice
    February 29, 14:44 Reply

    Not only is the writer’s perspective wrong, its dangerous. Especially considering that this is getting posted on the world wide web where people living in countries without ready access to prep would read it and feel that it is OK to bareback.

    Let us not be fooled. The writer lives in a place where he has prep readily available and health care is not notch. also, stigimatization of people with HIV is controlled by a legal system that works.

    And if you think that your boyfriend cannot cheat because he loves, think again. People love and cheat. Its not ideal but it happens all the time. Sex with a stranger plus protection is safer than sex with a bf and without condoms.

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