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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I was born here in Sydney, Australia as an only child. I’ve always known I was a bit different, but it was never really acted upon because I had things to do, a whole world to explore. I remember when I was really young, as a kid back in primary school, I kissed a boy and I liked it. We sort of crashed into each other and kissed. It was really odd. We were walking past each other and then he went left, I went left, I went right, he went right. It was very in the moment. It wasn’t like, I kissed then he kissed. It was sort of both at the same time, ‘Let’s pucker’. We both didn’t know what it was so we just sort of kept on playing. We were young.
Not a single soul knew I was gay at school. Not even my parents figured when I told them. I was and am very plain and a boring sort of person. I went to a very homophobic boys’ school. I would have to have been, really stupid or really strong to come out during then.
It was quite homoerotic, but very macho. Very, very macho.
When I finished school I graduated as one of the top at high school. I’ve always been an Asian top. I took a gap year where I worked for a health organisation. I wanted to find myself and see what all the fuss was about - the 9.00 to 5.00 monotony. After that I spent two years as a web designer and then that pretty much was my life. I plan on doing a Bachelor of Arts (Writing) next year.
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My first crush was during English class. I spent the entirety of my first English class staring at this one kid. We had a closeted relationship for four years, which was all through school. It was with him that I had my first sexual experience, which was the most awkward thing in the world. We were in Europe, both of us. A hotel room, the night sky and a bottle wine. Just the two of us; we were both virgins. We didn’t know what to do. “How does gay sex work? I don’t know. I guess we put our penises the other way. Just let’s fuck. Oh wow, this is interesting, gosh”. It was so awkward because my boyfriend was very asexual. He didn’t masturbate or anything like that and I did... lots. So it was just me sort of trying to get both of us off. It was so sweet and awkward and weird. It was great.
While I was in Europe there was also this guy, a Maori guy. A massive body builder type. We had a jack-off session together and that was nice, you know, seeing some other guy whack-off for the first time. I was 16. It was great. He had a small penis, and it made me feel like Godzilla.
Anyway my boyfriend and I broke up because he didn’t want to come out. I wanted to come out. We were adults. High school was over and I wanted to be proud. I don’t want to be ashamed of my life. For him it was very hard because he came from an English background with Catholic parents. They were very religious and the pressure of all that and being gay, it was too much so he broke up with me. He was more heartbroken than me, so I can never hold it against him. After that I worked, really hard. My life was all work.
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I came out to my parents when I was 20. My dad says “As long as you’re happy, son” and my mother, she doesn’t really mind. They’re pretty cool about it. The rest of the family are pretty cool about it too. There never was a whole big thing. I was having a four hour long talk with my parents. We were just catching up with family, family history, stories and things like that. I wouldn’t say that I blurted it out. It was very ‘In the moment’. That was a pretty cool moment really. It was relevant to the subject we were talking about. I was actually challenging the notions of my parents given the rejection rate for kids that come out. So I was challenging whether or not my parents really meant that our family bonds would over come anything. I didn’t really see myself as closeted but rather my sexuality wasn’t talked about or thought about at all. Nobody ever asked me about girlfriends.
My parents are Buddhist, which I think is the most Asian religion in the world. In Buddhism a soul is neutral it has no gender. This is because in reincarnation you could be a man, or you could be a woman in the next life. Being happy and being loved by someone, that’s such a precious thing. Gender is something that’s really not that important in Buddhist society because it’s all about the soul, with the soul being a silhouette.
But I will say that in Buddhism things like celibacy and stuff like that are very important. Like the ultimate path of enlightenment is unlocked by throwing away all your sexual desires, your financial, attachable, consumer desires and everything. For the most part, my mum is very religious. She goes to temple and all that sort of stuff. My mum is the only religious one. My father not so much, he’s agnostic I guess. I think my family’s spiritual beliefs definitely contributed to it being so easy for me to come out. I’m a complete atheist. I’d rather focus on the present and the options now, instead of praying for a would-be afterlife.
I still live at home with my parents and I don’t bring guys back to my place. My room is full of stick-up notes and bits of scribbled paper. It is essentially more for work and just happens to allow me to sleep as well, in the corner. I don’t sleep around much. I’m more for relationships and commitment, as weird as that is for a man to say.
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When I came out, I got more into the scene. It was fabulous. My first night in a gay bar was at Stonewall on Oxford Street. It was my friend’s birthday. It was amazing to dance and to get drunk and be in such a hypersexual atmosphere. Looking back, Stonewall is fairly tame but for me it was like, “Hey, there are so many gay guys, lesbians, queer folk and diva drag queens everywhere. And glitter and lasers and things, it was awesome”.
I love Bear culture - that’s the type of man I am attracted to. Thick muscles. Masculine guys. I got in that community through going to the events and I’m friends with a lot of Bears, so I just sort of went along. As a gay man I guess there are all these stereotypes that you have to battle against. I’m a pretty slim Asian guy. I only ever go to the Asian gay boy nights like Sticky or FANTASIA to be an encouraging wingman. So, I guess fighting the stereotypes is the biggest thing that I’ve struggled with. Asians are not all bottoms, as my London lad boyfriend will attest.
I haven’t had too many challenging experiences on the gay scene. I guess it would be that I was placed amongst the stereotypes. When I first started going out with Bears and that, I felt like the odd one out because I was a slim slinky guy amongst all these masculine muscled hairy guys. It made me want to be more masculine, more muscled and more hairy despite my genetics. I started working out and stuff like that, but for most part I have always been proud of who I am. It wasn’t a huge thing it was just like, “Oh, I wish I sort of belonged to the Bear community more. That would be easier”. However once I got to know them, I realised that they are so inclusive. Harbour City Bears gave membership to a woman. That’s how inclusive they are. So yeah, I’ve been to Twink Town at Slide where I did feel out of place too. However, everyone was really welcoming and friendly, but there are definitely nights like that where you don’t fit the stereotype and feel like the odd one out. But that’s just like an immediate reaction. Once you talk to people it’s never like that. There are a lot of good people in Australia, especially in our scenes.
The reason why I’m working out and dieting properly now isn’t so much because of the Bear community or because I’m gay. It’s because I was sitting on a computer for 12 hours a day as a web designer and not doing any exercise at all. It was part of a get-healthy push. For the most part I’m very, very happy with myself. I have abs which apparently every gay guy has standard. I think I’m the only gay guy in the world where abs doesn’t do anything for me. I’m not ashamed of mine, and my boyfriend seems to really like them but then again, he’s enthralled by shiny lights too.
As intimidating as it is, once you see past the stereotypes, past the cliques and stuff like that, pretty much everyone in the gay community is a nice person and very welcoming. I see a lot of closet cases that see ‘gay’ as meaning fashion designers and all that sort of stuff. So they don’t feel like they belong, but once they get into it they’ll see that being gay is just one part of a person and then the fear and all that sort of stuff goes away.
The weird thing about me is most guys in their 20s only have friends in their 20s, but for me it’s been very diverse. To see the way the gay community is, it’s very inclusive, everyone meshes together and it’s not so much age that defines you, it’s being gay and that’s what everyone is.
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So my current boyfriend is an Englishman who grew up in London. I saw him with a beer bucket and I immediately went up to him and said, “Will you marry me?” I think that beer buckets are just the most attractive of displays.
On the first date we were at the Comedy Store watching stand-up, and half way through the intermission, he said to me “You seemed really fidgety all day long. Are you not enjoying yourself?” I grabbed his hand; put it underneath my shirt and up against my heart. He felt my heartbeat which was very quick, and I said to him, “You make me very nervous”. From that point on it seemed really comfortable because, it’s weird to find someone that you can be so upfront with and honest. I guess we just gel together really naturally. So I guess my favourite thing is how comfortable it is with him. He’s very lovable and cuddly.
The first time we had non-penetrative sex. It was pretty good. We had to change bed sheets halfway through, we knocked things over, like the bedside table, knocked drinks over and stuff. It was very primal and savage. He has the most perfect cock in the world. It’s really thick, even when flaccid it’s got a nice weight and heavy sort of look to it. The second time was me trying to top him, and that was, my weirdest sexual encounter. I ripped my dick on him. There was blood.
Yep, you know with foreskins when you pull the skin back, there’s that bit on the underside of the penis that keeps it connected to the head? I ripped that and immediately there was so much blood and we freaked out. That was the weirdest sexual encounter I’ve had. It was really hot before but yeah, instant soft on. I didn’t go to the hospital or anything; I just ignored it and hoped that it went away. A week after we re-tore it, so I’m thinking about just being a bottom and picking up knitting.
I know that many STIs don’t have visible symptoms, so I get regular check-ups. I don’t sleep around much so I do have a clean bill of health. To sleep with a guy I need a certain amount of trust. I’m sure I make really dumb faces when I cum. I guess for me the best prevention of STIs is getting to know the guy, disclosing, trusting him and practising safe sex. I like to go on a few dates and get to know the guy first.
I work as a web designer from Monday to Friday when I wake up till when I go to bed. I’ve been trying to break this habit by going over to my boyfriend’s house as many nights as I can. He cooks. Holy shit, I’ve found a man who can cook, wow! Weekends: I do the same as much as I can. I do a bit of photography and spot the odd bit of writing for SameSame when I’m immersed in the gay community. Nowadays I pretty much spend my weekends at the boyfriend’s. We sit in bed reading; him, his crime fiction and me, my popular science because we’re wild like that.
We’re very committed and monogamous. I trust him a lot. I don’t get jealous; I don’t get protective or anything like that because I know he’s not going to do anything bad, that’s just how sweet he is. Ideally we would like an Australian De Facto relationship or a British Civil Union. I would like to become, a pair of DILDOs. Double Income, Little Dog Owners.
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I did one year in administration for a health organisation which is just lots of office work. I worked around doctors, nurses and professors mainly. The finance manager used to be a researcher who drove a giant electron microscope. So that’s the sort of work environment that I went into straight away. I had a really strong work ethic imbued into me from that one year.
From that I saved enough money to afford all the equipment I needed to see if I could make it one year as a web designer, and that’s gone on for two years. I have a lot of flexibility, because I can juggle really well and wasn’t confined to a 9.00 to 5.00 work schedule. I could basically wake up every day and get loads of work done whenever I wanted which I do. I’m usually always stuck at home with my projects. I’m really obsessive with my craft so I do end up just waking up, working, going to sleep and repeating.
I’ve got to stop this web design. I’m going to get a nice 9.00 to 5.00 job, back to the office work that I was doing. The reason for this is because I want to, after a hard day’s work, go out with the boyfriend and have dinner together and all that sort of lovey-dovey shit. Do that and get my uni studies done. I have a half completed Bachelor of Computing but I don’t want to finish it or do that as a career. I want to do more writing and become a newspaper editor if I can.
I love writing about stuff. I don’t want to be a journalist. I want to be an editor and write about the good stuff. I like to promote things that are worth seeing because in Sydney or Australia at least, there is so much worth seeing. The blog that the Victorian AIDS Council found me from is something that I’ve always done. It’s helped me refine my writing. However, I wouldn’t say that merely blogging and writing on the internet, has spawned this editor dream. I like having a platform and telling people “Look at this, it’s really awesome.” I’ve written things for video game syndications, Australian and international, but I hate video games so much now.
I want to support things like this because I see so many closeted people all the time and I just want them to not be closeted. I want them to see that it’s alright to be gay, that just being yourself is enough, even if you are not a stereotype.
Raymond was born here
The first gay bar Raymond went to was on Oxford Street