Staying Negative aims to emotionally engage, inspire and facilitate imagination in sexual health practices. The campaign profiles the real life stories of gay, bisexual and trans men who have sex with men (MSM). Men talk about all aspects of their life from coming out, relationships, sexuality and a broad range of other topics. While HIV and safe sex is an important part of all stories, it is not the exclusive focus.
Prior HIV prevention campaigns have traditionally focused on providing gay men with information that will encourage them to adopt safe sex behaviours. In reality, safe sex practices are influenced by a whole range of environmental and cultural factors. The campaign also provides an opportunity for HIV positive men to talk about their lives and discuss how their strategies to staying HIV negative were not successful. We understand that there is more than one way practice safe sex and adopt healthcare seeking behaviours, so let's be creative about it!
There are no real criteria for participants other than that they are MSM and happy to have their stories appear as part of the campaign. In addition to the personal stories, the website provides information on HIV/AIDS, sexual health, relationships and broad of the other relevant topics including domestic violence, drugs and alcohol and depression.
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Mike is a Melbourne-based DJ. In his story he describes liking both men and women and the difficulty in reconciling a desire for a serious relationship with a desire to play the field.
Growing up in Adelaide the gay scene was fairly underground; you didn’t really hear about it unless you were in the right circles - and I was never in the right circles. But one night some friends of friends dragged me down to what they regarded as an ‘alternative’ club. They said, ‘Just keep your eyes open; it’s something very different and unusual’. It was the club that’s now the Mars Bar.
That’s Not a Real Woman!
I was greeted at the front door by this stunning lady on the staircase who came up to me and said in a very deep voice, “Hi love, my name is Lila, but you can call me Chris”. My mouth dropped to the floor and I thought, ‘My god, that’s not a real woman!’ and that was my first introduction to a gay club and a gay person as such. I was 18.
I Was Always Straight
Growing up, I was always straight. I had a few crushes on guys, but they were nothing different to the crushes I had on girls, so I just took it as part of growing up. Sometimes we would smoke pot or get drunk and we would sleep in the same bed together just as mates, and your hands might move around and things might start happening, but you wouldn’t think of it as anything more than a couple of teenage boys fooling around.
Rack Off Poof
I am embarrassed for him now, but at school you would pick someone out who was slightly different and you would ridicule them like, “Oh rack off poof’, and in a very derogatory way you would put people down. And even though inside I thought, ‘Well, that could be me - but hey, thank god it’s not me’ and I’d just play along.
I wasn’t getting my head dunked down the toilets or anything like that, but I was also different because I had a lot more girls as friends than guys. A lot of my girl friends, who would never sleep with me or kiss me, would come around to my place and cry on my shoulder about their boyfriend problems. I was kind of a mate to the girls; I was the reverse of a ‘fag hag’!
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I started DJing when I was twelve. I used to roller skate and someone asked me to play the music at the rink on Saturday mornings. It all progressed from there and I started DJing at birthday parties, school functions, things like that. By the time I was 16 I had my own mobile DJ business.
When I went to that club they asked me if I wanted to DJ there. By that stage I had been DJing in straight nightclubs for a couple of years. So suddenly I was DJing in this gay place as well. I remember in the early days I was categorised as the straight DJ. Only gay guys or gay girls had DJ’d there before. There was myself, DJ Josh, BJ, Chook and a few other high-profile DJs down there and I was the only one who was not ‘gay’. I used get offers - I used to get people grabbing my arse. In a way I was scared, but flattered.
I didn’t want to be forced all of a sudden to become gay, but at the same time I didn’t want to feel out of place because I was the only straight one there. I had fitted in so well; I became good friends with all these people as the so-called ‘straight DJ’ but deep inside I guess I really wanted to try it out.
I remember always saying to people, ‘Look, I’m not gay, but if I ever wanted to try it you would be the first guy I’d call’ - and I must have said that to at least 40 different guys! And now 39 of them are really pissed off because I didn’t call them!
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There was one regular who’d come down all the time and bring new music for me to play and he opened my mind to different sides of music. He befriended me and was constantly saying, ‘You know you’re going to come home and sleep with me one day, so why don’t you just do it now rather than later?’ Eventually I went back to his place and eventually I stayed overnight and nothing happened. And then another time I stayed overnight and things started to happen and then I think the next night I stayed over I was fucked senseless!
When I first started coming out there was not a huge amount of anal sex, I just lay there letting someone else do things to me, experiment with me. Eventually I got the confidence to do the stuff myself.
Anal Sex is Next
I would like to be able to say that I remember my first fuck, that it was so beautiful and so romantic and whatever else, but I can’t. I think I was trashed and I had gone back to the guy’s place and I had eventually said yes to letting him do it, because each time we got together we had progressed a little further. I guess I just thought, OK, anal sex is next, off you go and it happened.
So discovering sexuality was a slow process for me, but even then I never took it to mean I was gay because I still had girlfriends.
I still was not afraid to kiss a girl and I think that is where a lot of gay guys freak a bit and say, ‘I’m gay and that’s now going to close off a whole different avenue of my life’ rather than thinking, ‘Well hang on, I like guys too: wow, I don’t have 50 percent of the community to choose from, I can have 100 percent of the community!’
Yeah, Mike, That’ll Happen!
I mean, hey, if Kylie Minogue walked up and said, ‘Hey Mike, I’m horny, let’s fuck!’ am I going to say no? And does that then say that I am not gay now? As far as I am concerned you have to take each person for the way you like them and if that experience is with someone who has really got inside your head and your heart, it shouldn’t matter if they have a dick or tits. But at this stage of my life I like cock!
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This all happened in around my twentieth year and I regret that I had not become more experienced in my teens, because I look at it now and think wow, I missed out on all that cock as a teenager! I think about the fooling around with my schoolmates and I think, why didn’t I do more and do it properly?!
I would have loved to have gone to my first gay nightclub and picked up at eighteen; there were so many things I would have loved to have done as a teenager.
It wasn’t until my twenties that I discovered that I liked the same sex just as much, if not more, than girls.
My First Relationship
My first ever relationship was with a guy. It happened when I had only just started experimenting and had just come to grips with not describing myself as a straight DJ. I met him at a gay venue. Like me he was saying that he was straight and that he wasn’t into guys, but that if he was going to experiment he would probably give me a call. And sure enough, he came around to my place one night and one thing led to another and we spent the next six years of our lives together.
It was an on-again, off-again relationship conducted between South Australia and Victoria and he was the only boyfriend I’ve had. Now it’s over, I’ve gone back to being a slut and I love cock!
The relationship was totally monogamous. We didn’t have sex with other people, we never had a threesome - it was just the two of us. There were so many things that we didn’t do together as boyfriends - there were sexual activities that neither of us had even tried. Neither of us knew any of this stuff. We were both so naïve to it all.
We’d break up and then I’d fool around with someone else and he’d fool around with someone else and a month later we’d get back together again.
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Finally I moved to Melbourne. I went to Three Faces and thought, ‘My God, this is fantastic’.
I walked down Commercial Road and there were guys holding hands together - you didn’t have to do it discreetly and only at night - and there were rainbow stickers in shop windows. It was so much more open. I just wanted to run down Commercial Rd naked and shout, ‘Give ‘em to me!’
I met people through friends who’d say, ‘You’d like such and such a guy; he’s really cute, he’s your type.’ I’d meet him and we’d kiss and there was never any love at first sight or romance. For me it was all like, ‘Sunday, I’ll do him, then Monday I’ll do him. It was kind of like Brian from Queer as Folk eat your heart out!
Drugs and Sex
And that was when I started experimenting in the whole drugs side of clubs too. I think the drugs helped to make you more relaxed about who you would go home with. Sometimes you’d let your guard down and let your standards drop and go home with someone you wouldn’t look at twice normally.
I guess being in Melbourne on my own opened me up more to new experiences – I didn’t have any family here so I wasn’t afraid of anyone in the family discovering anything about me that I wasn’t ready for them to discover.
Take Me or Leave Me
I wasn’t by any means out there screaming ‘I’m gay’ because when I moved to Melbourne I was still flirting with girls as much as with guys. I was working as a DJ predominantly in straight venues, so when I was out I’d get girls coming up and giving me their phone number and I played on it - it kept my profile happening and that kept me with so many different circles of friends. It was fantastic; I didn’t have to say I’m straight or I’m gay. It was like, ‘I’m Mike; take me or leave me. If you think I’m cute I might sleep with you; if you don’t, so what?’
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When I came to Melbourne I experienced being with different people and tried different things and I realised that all that is fun but the one thing missing was that one person I could connect with, that I could share not just the bed with but my life, my happiness and the upsets and all the dramas as well.
And that’s where my on-again, off-again partner in Adelaide really had an effect on me, because I didn’t want to be on the other side of the country always wondering who he’s with and wondering if he’s thinking that I’m with someone else and that I’ve moved on. I realised that I really loved him a lot.
On again, off again
I convinced him to come to Melbourne to be with me. We were together and all the one-nighters and the fun things stopped. We just picked up where things left off and after a few years it kind of didn’t work out the way we wanted to, so we ended it.
After that I didn’t want to get into another relationship that was going to be long-term, because I was in a new place now - nothing had to be long term. You could live for the moment and accept everyone for who they were and enjoy the time together at any level, whether they were friends, fuckbuddies, relationships or whatever.
Ever since then, for the last four years, I have loved that way. I’m sure I’d love to get back into a relationship and settle down with someone, but I’m not going to look for it. I’ll wait until it happens; at the moment I’m having too much fun.
I’ve fallen in love. I’ve fallen for guys and I’ve thought, ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be grand to set up home with him and the picket fence, the mortgage, the dog and the kids’. But at the same time I’m a Gemini - I also want to be single and be able to fuck around. I want both.
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To me as a teenager HIV was one of those things I’d never get. As I used to say to my Mum, you can’t get sexually transmitted diseases if you’re not getting any sex. I never regarded hand jobs or head jobs as sex and I don’t think I even knew what HIV was. I knew what AIDS was, but I didn’t realise how you get it.
At school we were never really taught how to use a condom and as far as they knew you only ever wore a condom to stop getting a girl pregnant. I always used a condom because I always believed in being safe. In fact, if I was just doing a line of coke I’d be wearing a condom! With girlfriends I always wore condoms and with guys we never got that far to even need one.
When I got to Melbourne I realised that HIV wasn’t something hush-hush but something that was talked about. The venues here in Melbourne were so much more educating about HIV - they provided you with condoms and lube and safe sex packs.
And when I did get to the stage of shagging around I had a personal little stash of safe-sex packs that I pinched from the venues and kept in my record cases. Now I don’t go anywhere without them. If you pulled out one of my CD boxes you’d probably find a half-used thing of lube and a condom sitting in the back. I can’t recall ever having sex without a condom being in the picture somehow.
I have always been safe. I hate to use alcohol or drugs as an excuse and I don’t think I ever got myself in a situation where I wasn’t going to be safe. If there was no condom then we just didn’t go that far to worry about it.
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Back then I was probably overly cautious. I never let anyone blow in my mouth for a start. I didn’t know if it was safe or not and I wasn’t taking any chances.
There were situations where I was probably too safe. I think me and my partner only had unprotected sex on the rarest of occasions and only in the situations where we hadn’t been with anyone else - at all.
We didn’t go through some, ‘We’ll use condoms for the first month and then we’ll get tested and then we’ll make a candlelit dinner date and then we’ll have our first unsafe sex’ routine. I can’t remember the first time I had sex without a condom; it just happened at a time when we both knew it was safe. I’d rather be too safe then not safe enough.
I never really thought about, ‘Am I having safe sex with someone who might be positive?’ because I always knew I was having safe sex anyway and it didn’t really matter. But none of the guys I’ve been with ever said, ‘By the way, I’m positive’. If it happens I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
But if you’re having safe sex it shouldn’t matter if they’re positive or not, because you’re being safe.
Healthwise I go to my doctor and have my bloods done every six months, for everything from HIV to cholesterol. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never had a full sexual health check done though - I’ve never had a bum swab or any of that stuff. I’ve had friends who say they got tested and the doctor stuck a needle up the eye of their dick and all this sort of thing and I thought, ‘Ooh, horror stories! Let me just keep getting my blood test done; the doctor will tell me if I need to get anything further done!
I guess I’ve always thought, ‘Oh well, if I’m always safe and I don’t have any aches or pains and I’m not feeling ill, I don’t need to get checked. I go for my usual blood tests and leave it up to my doctor to say if we should test for anything else. He’s the doctor, I’m just the shagger!
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I love the internet. You can’t get me off it. A lesbian friend took me for a drink down Commercial Road one day and we got on the internet. She made me a Gaydar profile. It was all a bit of a joke but the next time I logged on I had all these messages and offers for sex and I thought, ‘Bring it on!’
I tend not to go picking up people while I’m working because its already a given that if you’re a DJ you’ll sleep with anyone and do every drug under the sun. DJs have got this stigma attached to them. I don’t pick up much while I’m DJing but I do pick up while I’m out in clubs and I will flirt like the best of them.
Shag, shag, shag…
Being on the internet started out as a joke. I just built this profile to send messages to people but I started getting offers from all types of guys. I have my fair share of situations where it’s ‘chat, chat, chat’, they’re on your doorstep in five minutes and, my god, they’re drop dead gorgeous and it’s ‘shag, shag, shag, goodbye, don’t give me your name, don’t give me your number, I don’t want to see you again’.
Then there’s the ones where you’ve opened the door and this guy doesn’t look anything like his picture, so it’s, ‘Sorry, I’ve just been booked for a gig, I have to go’!
I’ve made some fantastic friends and they’ve come over and we’ve had fantastic sex and we’ve stayed friends or they’ve come over and we haven’t had sex but we’ve become friends anyway.
I think the internet has opened up a whole new world for young people who don’t want to have to face the whole club thing of, ‘Am I standing the right way?’ and all that stuff, whereas on the internet they can relax – I have met so many more twinks on the internet than I would never have met in the clubs.
For my own personal taste I like younger guys. With them it’s like I’m experiencing that whole first experimental time all over again. Every time I meet someone new who hasn’t been with many guys or who’s only kissed or something I just seem to love going through those first new experiences with them.
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Some of the best guys I’ve ever been with, it has never gone to third base - it’s been more enjoyable just spooning and going to sleep together. And I don’t think that anal sex should be the be all and end all of a shag. With the right person it can be fantastic but with the wrong person it can ruin it. Anal sex has been there, its great, bring it on, but it hasn’t been the major part.
The funny thing is I hate the whole top/bottom thing. I think we all enjoy pleasure - I prefer to be the top but I’ve met guys that wouldn’t bottom and I’ve had to bottom and I’ve enjoyed it. I think if the time is right and the guy is right and I’m prepared to let him do the active work, then OK. Provided he’s not too big: I like to be able to walk in the morning!
But cock’s cock; if it can’t go in one place it will go in another!
I’m HIV negative. Provided I keep going the way I’m going and being as safe as I’m being I don’t have a worry in the world. I have some positive friends and they’re leading normal healthy lives; they’re not letting it be the end of their life. You’ve got to be safe and do everything you can to stay negative, but if you become positive there’s nothing saying your life ends there; your life can keep going on for a long time. But I’m happily negative and I’m going to make sure I stay that way.
I leave Australia at the end of the year. I’ve realised if I don’t get out of Melbourne soon I’m going to be shagging the same ones for seconds or thirds! No, seriously, I’m going to discover Europe! I want to discover all the different guys and experiences that will make Melbourne seem like play school in comparison. I want to have fun and stay 28 for the rest of my life!
Mike grew up in Adelaide
Mike moved to Melbourne where he continued to DJ