I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel just a twinge of disappointment when my trick-du-jour, Jason, reached over to the nightstand to fetch a condom. But while it wasn’t exactly the entrée I would have ordered, I didn’t argue—I wanted him to feel comfortable and to do what he needed to do.
Unbeknownst to Jason, I was in the middle of a personal experiment. For most of my adult life, I had striven to use condoms as often as possible but, like many gay men, that ambition often gave way to desire. I started taking PrEP last year precisely for that reason: I was hardly ever using condoms and I recognized that I was a prime candidate for HIV infection. I knew that taking PrEP once a day could almost entirely eliminate my risk of testing positive. I felt emboldened by the newfound safety of condomless sex to be more explicit about my preference for it. Why beat around the bush? Why not ask for what you want?
I quickly realized that talking about condomless sex is like breaking the first rule of Fight Club. Time after time, I would hook up with guys who said they were looking for sex with condoms and time and time again they’d fuck me raw. But naming that desire and being open about it was a serious deal breaker for many guys. It marked me as a dangerous bad boy.
Although I felt conflicted about playing such a trite and ridiculous game, I realized that if I wanted to get laid I’d have to play along. Thus, fast-forward a couple weeks, and there I am, face-to-face with Jason in bed. After fucking around with the condom for a while, he collapsed and begged for a break. He took the condom off and we lay next to each other, idly touching each other and making small talk, eventually becoming more and more entangled in each other’s arms. And then he was on top of me, his big green eyes locked on mine. He reached down and pushed back inside of me, no condom and no question. It felt…exhilarating. Intimate. Sexy.
As I sat gossiping about my romp with Jason the next day over pancakes and mimosas with a friend, I wondered out loud why he even bothered with the condom in the first place. “What a dog and pony show!” My friend sat across from me, staring quizzically into his plate of syrupy pancakes. “Weird. It’s like he was trying to show you that he’s a good boy.”
Reflecting on the experience, I realized that it wasn’t the first time this has happened. A few years back, I had a fuck buddy (also named Jake) who would always fuck me first with a condom and second without. With few exceptions, every time we’d bone he’d use a condom the first round and go bare the second. At the time, I found the whole bit a bit odd—and of course crazy erotic, if a bit silly.
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