About Staying Negative

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.


Chris's story


1. Chris's story

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Chris has been involved in gay activism and HIV prevention since HIV hit Australia in the mid 1980s. Here he describes, among other things, how he and his longterm partner negotiated an arrangement whereby they would not use condoms within the relationship but would use them with casual partners. What went wrong...?

Getting started

I can remember, when I was nine years old, being very excited and aroused by the sight of boys in leopard skin jockettes in the change rooms at school and realising that this was a bit naughty. I went to a Catholic boys’ school so it wasn’t just a bit naughty, it was going to send me to hell forever. (Religion and sexuality)

Of course, back in those days - 1970-1971 - sex with men was illegal, so it wasn’t just a sin it was also a crime. Oh, and a psych illness. So I didn’t act on it until I moved out of home and went to university. But first I got a girlfriend because I thought if I experienced ‘proper sex’ all these evil, illegal and sick feelings would go away. Of course they didn’t.


My crash-test-girlfriend left me because she wasn’t getting enough of the good stuff. Two weeks later, having just turned 18, I told the only gay man I knew in the whole world – a very flamboyant and out-there guy – that I “thought I might be bisexual...” He said, “Faaabulous! There’s a gay disco on tonight!

So we went down to the Chevron Hotel. I had enough money in my pocket for the entrance fee and one gin and tonic. I took a l-o-o-o-n-g time to drink the gin and tonic - and surveyed the room. My friend prompted me by saying, “Do you see anyone you like?” I said, “He’s quite cute”, indicating a young man dancing. My friend suggested I go and ask him for a dance. I did.

I went up to him on the dance floor and said, “Would you like to dance?” and he said, “Well, I am dancing”. Maybe it was my moves, but he said to me, “Are you camp?” I didn’t know what the word meant but I kind of figured if I said yes I might get a root. So I did. And I did. His name was Michael and he was 17. We went to his place and I had my first proper kiss-on-the-mouth sexual experience. We did everything I had long dreamed of doing - kissing, oral sex, anal sex and all combinations. (First time)

The next morning on the tram back from South Melbourne to Parkville, where I was living, I had the rose in the cheeks and the twinkle in the eyes; the birds were singing, fireworks were going off and I was pretty happy with myself. Of course everyone else was just gloomy going to work. I got off the tram and I was run over by a car! Fortunately no serious damage was done but I got a big bruise on my thigh and lost skin off my knees and hands.

I didn’t mind too much; I spent some time in bed recuperating and over the next couple of months went back to the Chevron a few times. I thought I had fallen in love with Michael, but he proved to be someone who didn’t share many interests with me; he could only really talk about post-war British sports cars and Royal Australian Air Force jets and that was all he was interested in. I was interested in more than that so the relationship only lasted a couple of months.

He was a lovely, sweet boy. He dropped dead suddenly in 1989 from AIDS-related meningitis.


Skin Hunger


2. Skin Hunger

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I have always loved to dance, like a maniac. Completely free but don’t tread on anyone. In kindergarten I got the lead roles in The Nutcracker Suite, as the Sugar Plum Fairy, and as Peter in Peter and the Wolf. Suspect. The other boys sat frowning with their arms folded.

But even with my love of dancing, I found the gay venue scene initially quite scary. I was deeply worried about losing control, of having other, older people take control of me, or that people would make me do things that I didn’t want to do. I also found it very hard to communicate with people in gay venues: real conversation generally only happens after you leave the venue and by that stage of course you’ve already thrown your lot in with them for the night.

Kissing is what I like to do the most and you need to actually kind of like someone to kiss them. It’s a bit scary if you end up going home with someone and you find out that you don’t actually like them very much – and a venue can be a very difficult place in which to find out whether they’re likeable.

You need to have a certain attitude or confidence to work for you in venues; you need to be able to smile. If you can’t muster a smile it’s probably not a good night to go out that night. You need to be able to walk out of a venue without having picked up and feel ok about it,

The need for physical contact, a cuddle, a touch, I call that ‘skin hunger’. Even with a really bad case of skin hunger you need to go out prepared to walk away from a venue and say, “I was not successful tonight”. You need to have that kind of love-it-or-leave-it attitude. There is nothing so unattractive as desperation.

Going to venues was initially very exciting. However, if I didn’t have friends to go with, or if I couldn’t smile that night, or if I had a desperate case of skin hunger, it was very scary. So I stopped going. I had an off-again, on-again relationship with the gay scene for quite a few years: I’d have enough self-confidence to go out there and play the game for a few weeks, then I’d stop going for three to six months at a time. This was during the early 1980’s.


Sugar Plum Fairy


3. Sugar Plum Fairy

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I recall a close friend in the early days saying to me: “The hardest thing you will ever have to say is, ‘No, thank you’”. It sounds really trite but on reflection it’s absolutely true. On the odd occasion when a situation has arisen, all I’ve had to say is, “No, thank you”. It has worked for me. If someone is offering you something, or you know you don’t want to go there, all you have to say is “No, thank you”.

One of the greatest experiences of my life was going to my very first warehouse party. It was a fundraiser for the Victorian AIDS Council at a disused factory in Abbottsford. At a certain point of the night, after maybe three VB’s and a suck on a joint, I looked around the room: there were maybe 2,000 gay men - mostly gay men - dancing under the mirror balls and I had a real, almost spiritual experience of looking around and thinking,

“Hang on; this is my tribe! I belong here! I can be free here! Hold hands with someone, be myself, dance like the Sugar Plum Fairy - freely and with more self-expression and sexy desire than anywhere before - and not feel afraid!”

- and that was a joyous and liberating experience. It still is.

I knew about Steamworks for a long time, I didn’t go because, I had an image of it as sleazy, dark, dirty and covered in mould, rampaging tinea and cockroaches. I also had, courtesy of the health section of a book called Young, Gay and Proud, a mortal fear of anal warts and I was not sure whether at the sauna I would be able to check his willy for lumps before he got to put it there in that ‘special place’. (Genital and Anal Warts)

When I did go, it was with a friend and we kind of put each other up to it. We both wanted to go but were afraid to. So we went together and had a lot of fun. We laughed a lot and treated it like a game, which is a great way to deal with what scares you. It wasn’t as dirty as I had feared. There was a kind of democracy to it too, everyone was in towels, with no clothes on. No fashion. I hate fashion. It wasn’t as noisy as a bar and there were parts of it that were lit well enough that you could actually get a good look before deciding to do anything. And you could talk! Find out if a guy was likeable...

So I felt quite confident to go there again, in fact more confident than to some of the pubs and discos. At a sauna you can look and then talk to people more freely - or not talk at all and still satisfy ‘skin hunger’. I have made some very good friends at the sauna: I still see some guys I met there who became my closest friends, very important ‘life-changing’ friends. I miss the ones who are dead now, and there’s a few. The difference between me and them? Just dumb luck really. Just dumb luck.

I am actually a big fan of saunas. I think in some way they are a very ethical and sensible solution for young horny gay men. I started having casual sex with men in 1979 and I was a big time sauna user in 1983 at the arrival of HIV. Unlike a number of friends I’d made at that point, I was not wildly prone to being fucked within these environments. I didn’t have to have anal sex to have a good time: I still don’t. Although I do like anal sex now more than I did then. (Saunas) (Casual sex)


Young, Gay and Proud


4. Young, Gay and Proud

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I was lucky because I came out at university and I was around people who were connected to gay community of one sort or another. For example, a copy of Young, Gay and Proud (YGap) fell into my hands and I read it from cover to cover. It was produced anonymously by the Gay and Lesbian Teachers Cooperative as an underground - and probably illegal - guide to being gay for young people. From it I learned that all these people I was learning about, all these heroes I was studying at university, were gay: Michelangelo, Leonardo, kings of England, authors, movie stars... Reading Young, Gay and Proud I thought: “Actually, being gay is not just OK, it has contributed a lot to Western culture!” I started to think about ‘people like us’, not just here and now in Melbourne, but across time and cultures.


YGaP also contained a guide, before HIV, for basic sexual health. So, when I was 19 and I got crabs, I worked out what they were and I marched into the local chemist and said, “I’d like a bottle of crab lotion please”. The nice little old lady behind the counter looked at me and said, “What? For you?” and I looked her straight in the eyes, said, “Yes!” Sure, I was a bit nervous, but I figured if they’re brave enough to sell it, I’m brave enough to buy it! YGaP was a real help. (Crabs)

Getting a job also helped; I was able to pay my own way completely. I was able to get a flat by myself and I didn’t have to subject boys I might bring home to the scrutiny of my housemates who, in at least in one student house I shared, didn’t know I was gay. At one stage I was inventing stories that these boys I was bringing home were part of a Christian group that I was involved in at university. This was a big lie, of course, especially when we retired to my room to presumably pray - it was just a different kind of praying, still dropping to our knees and saying “Aaaah... Men!” and “Oh God” and “Jesus”, but that’s another story...


In my first year at university I studied the history of the Russian and Chinese revolutions. I read a book on American foreign policy that documented all of the American wars since World War 2 - and there have been many, involving many countries. I became morally outraged, indignant, furious about the threat to global peace posed by the United States. I joined People for Nuclear Disarmament and became involved with left wing groups thereafter.

I can recall going to a left wing conference in 1982 where I met some other politicised gay people for the first time. These were people who were involved in left wing or gay community politics. Some had been involved in writing Young, Gay and Proud. One of them looked me straight in the eyes and said, “What are you doing wasting your time with this left wing group when there is work that needs to be done for our community?” A penny dropped.

I started to think ‘our community’ was not just a venue to go and find nice boys to satisfy skin hunger but that there might be some way of translating what I was learning about history and ‘progress’ and social justice to my own situation, for ‘people like me’ here and now. So I got involved in the Collective organising of the Ninth National Conference of Lesbians and Homosexual Men, which was to be held at Latrobe University in 1982.

The bit of me that still confused me then - and others – was my long-term desire to have children. I wanted to have children and I still want to have children. That did not fit with notions of being gay in the early 1980s. People treated that with anger and contempt and told me I was being retarded or stupid or bad or “co-operating with the dominant heterosexist paradigm that oppresses gay people”, so I just learnt to stop talking about it.

Social activism

It was a joy to experience that getting involved with other people to solve social problems could also solve some of my personal problems. It was part of my journey. I was very angry with my old school, for example, for never explaining anything about who I am, for making me feel guilty, alone and ashamed, for hiding the truth about Leonardo and Michelangelo. But it was a source of joy to find out that by getting involved with people that we could solve some of these issues to make sure it doesn’t happen to someone else. The process of joining with others to make that change is liberating and sexy and supportive and fun.

When you’re in a room with a group of volunteers planning to make the world a better place you also get to know other people and yourself at a level at which you generally don’t get to do in bars or venues. So, even if it’s just sitting behind a trestle table and handing out leaflets or handing out condoms to cute boys at warehouse parties saying, “Here, I think you need this”, you can have fun, flirt and do social activism all at the same time. And that’s the way it should be for us as gay men. We should be flirting and doing social activism. We should be flirting with each other, we should be flirting with society, we should be saying “this is how free you can be if you let yourself”.


Coming out


5. Coming out

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Coming out was and is a gradual process that started with myself, I suppose, when I was 18. I read that book, Young Gay and Proud, which had a really useful section on coming out.

The big obstacle of course, the landmark one, was coming out to my family. I was raised Catholic – my parents are loving parents, teachers, but still Catholic - and these matters were not discussed at all at home. By the time I had read Young, Gay and Proud I knew that I was what was then called ‘gay’ - although the first time my sexual identity was named it came from Michael at the Chevron and he asked: “Are you camp?” So I’ve been ‘camp’, I’ve been ‘gay’, I’ve been ‘queer’ and I’m looking forward to being whatever comes next.

Anyway, I knew I needed to tell my parents, otherwise I was going to be telling lies - and I loved my parents so I did not want to tell them lies. I also knew that what I wanted long-term was a partner. I knew that I wanted my partner to meet my parents.

The section on coming out in Young, Gay and Proud suggested not making a big deal about it. When you’re ready to tell your parents, wait for the opportunity where it is a natural thing to do, because If you say: “Sit down Mum and Dad, I have something important to tell you”, it makes it sounds like it’s a cancer diagnosis or something, which is not a good thing.

That being said, when I broke up with, my one-and-only girlfriend, I waited for them to ask any questions about my sex life. I was waiting to say, “Actually, no, I’m not going to have another girlfriend because I’m gay”, but they didn’t ask! By that time I was becoming more involved in the gay lib stuff and I was worried that my name or photo would be in the newspaper. So I wanted to force the issue but I didn’t want to make a big deal of it. A conundrum...

Right earring

The solution I settled on was to get my right ear pierced because someone told me that if I got my right ear pierced it meant I was bent. So I sat down at a hairdresser and told this lovely young lady that I wanted my ear pierced and she said, “The left ear, I presume?” I said, “No, right ear please” and she scowled at me and didn’t say another word. I fully expected to get bashed on tram on the way home because I had my ear pierced, but I wasn’t.

So I went home for lunch on the weekend. Mum was fussing in the kitchen and Dad was reading the newspaper in the lounge room and I walked in and started to talk. We talked about university – I was then studying part time – and work, but they didn’t mention the earring! Then my young sister walked in her school uniform, took one look at me and said: “Hi Chris. You’ve got your right ear pierced! But that means you’re a poofter!”. Dad pushed his glasses down his nose, put his paper down and said, “Well, Christopher, are you a homosexual?” I said, “Yes”. He said “Oh!”, pushed his glasses back up his nose and continued to read the newspaper.

Mum went through all the Elizabeth Kubler Ross stages of grief and loss that night: denial, anger, blame – she blamed my ex girlfriend - sadness, bargaining... My poor parents, it wasn’t easy for them. Dad and I probably didn’t have a straightforward discussion for about two years after that. Mum was trying wrestle with it as she didn’t know really what it meant, other than the dominant false view that gay was a life of misery, oppression and loneliness.

The turnaround

In fact, things only really changed when they met my first boyfriend Tom (not his real name). The change in Dad especially, but also Mum, was remarkable. Within weeks they were using the G-word: gay’ instead of ‘Those people’ or ‘Homosexuals’ and talking about “Your partner, Tom”. They liked him, and they became much more accepting generally, not only of my lifestyle and me, but also of my sexuality generally. They would ask me questions. They would ask after Tom. They became visibly much more relaxed.

I think, for parents of gay and lesbian kids, the concern is the same as for the parents of any child: “Will my child be happy?” and “Will my child be loved and looked after?” If those two questions can be answered “Yes”, the parents will be more relaxed.

Parents of my generation labored under the funny idea that being gay is automatically a recipe for loneliness and misery. The paradox is that this fear is realised, for, as long as parents fear that homosexuality equals loneliness and unhappiness, it will. Because that fear will make it more likely that lesbians and gay men will hide their relationships. The parents won’t know, and the relationships will suffer.

The whole debate around recognition of same-sex relationships is a case in point. The paradox is that, by recognising gay relationships, you will remove some of the ignorance, the cause of the loneliness and unhappiness that most parents fear. Yet, as loving and accepting as my parents are, they and many of their generation still think marriage is for heterosexuals only. I’m working on them gently like drops of water on a stone...


Sex and relationships


6. Sex and relationships

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I have known for as long as I have been kissing boys that I want a long-term partner. I want someone with whom I have no secrets, who I trust, who I love, and who I can kiss and be kissed by - completely. That being said, you can choose to eat a-la-carte or you can eat fast food. I like both.

I met Tom at a meeting at Melbourne University’s Gay Society (GAYSOC) in 1985 during my second attempt to finish my degree. I saw him there and thought, “Hello, you’re a bit of alright”. I invited him for coffee afterwards and then we started dating. It did take a little bit of perseverance; he was very new to the whole gay thing at that stage - he was greener than I was.

At that stage in my life I did not believe - and I’m not sure I do even now - that men, or indeed women, can be relied on to be monogamous. So any relationship needs to allow for the at least the possibility that there will be sex outside the relationship. I said to Tom straight away that sex outside the relationship is going to happen, if not now then later. I worked from that presumption. (Monogamous or open)

Because he was less experienced than me, Tom was kind of silent and accepting of that - and I took his silence as acceptance. We did talk about it: the agreement was that any sex outside the relationship would be safe, which meant either that we didn’t have anal intercourse outside of the relationship or, if we did have anal intercourse with anyone else, it would be with condoms.

At that time there were no books or guidelines to help figure out how to do this safely: there was no Young, Gay and Proud or equivalent on negotiated safety at that point. There was lots of AIDS education material that told married heterosexuals that they didn’t need condoms, but all the other material for homosexual men said ”Use condoms every time”, including your long-term partner. I thought that was rubbish: if it was good enough for heterosexuals, it was good enough for me and my partner and - hello - marriage is no guarantee that people won’t have sex outside of that relationship, so let’s not kid ourselves. (Negotiated safety)

There were nights Tom came home late and I didn’t ask him what happened and then there were nights he came home late where I did ask. There were nights I came home late and he didn’t ask any questions and there were nights where I came home late and he did ask. If either of us didn’t come home at all that night there would be a discussion over breakfast.

We changed the rules as we went along. There was some hurt, but we loved each other enough to put up with the hurt and keep going. The rules grew over time to include ‘please let me know where you are’ and ‘if we have shared plans and your plans change then please let me know so that dinner is not left cold on the table’, for example.

One rule we had we called a parking ticket. You couldn’t have sex with the same other guy too many times - like parking for two hours in a one-hour zone. At the start, there was no specific number of times, but it did get reduced to that once or twice. At one stage Tom started to have an affair – an ongoing long-term affair - with someone I felt a bit threatened by. I had to say, “Please stop seeing this person” and when he didn’t stop seeing this person we broke up for a while. They subsequently decided not to see each other any more so Tom and I got back together again - but it was very dreadful period. When Tom and I got back together there was a lot left unsaid.

I think that any two people in a relationship have to start by acknowledging that there will be parts of their lives that are private. Honesty is for me maybe the most important thing in a relationship, but that’s not like telling every detail blow by blow. I don’t need to know how good it was, how big it was, how many times they did it, in what position, or how fabulous it was.

But I do need to know: “Did you put yourself at risk? Am I at risk?” I also need to know: “Is your relationship with him more significant that the relationship I’m having with you?” Then I need to hope and trust that the answers come back the right way, which means I have a responsibility to ask the right way - respectfully.


He’d been having unsafe sex


7. He’d been having unsafe sex

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I did continue to ask those questions, not always respectfully. I discovered one awful night, at about two in the morning, as a result of a fight with Tom about another matter, that he had been having unsafe sex for the last six months, with strangers at a sex club; that he had been putting himself at risk and therefore also me. That was an experience I would not wish on anyone. I experienced something like vertigo - the rug had been pulled out from under me. Suddenly I didn’t know who this man was.

I thought I knew him: I thought this man I was sharing a house and planning a life with was not like that and that I was safe with him. That proved not to be the case. It was deeply scary. The relationship never recovered from that; we split up shortly thereafter.

We tried counseling and it was at that point that it became clear that the way we had negotiated the relationship was not equal. Tom felt that I was bossing him around and telling him how it was going to be. However, instead of challenging me at that point, he had just gone silent and then undermined it through his actual behaviour. I had interpreted his silence as consent when it fact it was resistance. I now think silence in a relationship is something that really needs to be examined and opened up. Respectfully.

I went into a deep dark hole for a while. There was a lot of ‘skin hunger’ in that deep dark hole; occasional drugs and alcohol and casual sex, then lots of staying at home alone and listening to really loud music and reading books. There was the support of good friends and this made a huge difference – the most. There was anger, fear and resentment. There was also, sadly, a perverse satisfaction when I learnt much later that Tom had become HIV positive shortly after we broke up. But I was the last of our circle of friends to find out. (Counselling) (Drugs and alcohol)

There was also deep grief and sadness because, at that stage, treatments were not as advanced as they are now. Happily Tom is still alive and well; he is responding well to modern treatments. The good news is that we have managed to salvage and re-establish - cautiously, respectfully, carefully - a really good friendship again. (Treatment information)

I got HIV tested and I was very, very safe for three months. Then I got HIV tested again and breathed a huge sigh of relief. I was still HIV negative. Just dumb luck, again. (HIV testing)


My second partner


8. My second partner

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It was a long time before I was ready for another relationship. I attempted a few times. There were a few short-term relationships that just didn’t work out, because ultimately I didn’t think we had enough in common. There was a memorable on-again, off-again, very, very physically passionate but emotionally fraught relationship with a very, very sexy and appealing guy; but he was still at the stage of experimenting and having fun and wasn’t interested in settling down. I decided - maybe stupidly - that it wasn’t going to work, and I walked out. I still wonder about that. I had reconciled myself to singledom when I met my next partner. This was five or six years after I broke up with Tom.

I was very aware with Mark (not his real name) not to be a bossy boots from the very beginning. Courtship with him continued a lot longer; negotiating an agreement took a lot longer. So we were having only safe sex for nearly two years before we started negotiations about not using condoms.

Mark made it clear straight away that he was not interested in a monogamous relationship, so that took that weight off my shoulders. At that stage, if he’d said he was interested in a monogamous relationship, I might have,

Because we were having only safe sex, the first eighteen months of our relationship were uncomplicated. It was the joy of getting to know each other, without having to worry about HIV. They were some of the happiest times of our nine years together, partly because we didn’t have to complicate things early on with agreements based on trust and honesty.

It was a nine-year relationship but, about seven years in, Mark went overseas for work for sixteen months. He changed a lot while he was away, starting to become only attracted to Asian guys. I didn’t realise this was happening, but when I visited him there it was quite clear that he had changed. I ignored the evidence and just hoped.

Sadly, he was not confident enough to talk about how he was changing or what it was that he wanted, so there was a break in our communication. We made new agreements, then they were broken again and again. I waited as long as I could, but I became bewildered by his behaviour and started to feel really bad about us. A final agreement broke and we broke up very messily. I don’t think I’ve ever been in such emotional pain. It still hurts, but the cliché is true: time heals all wounds.


Why Stay Negative?


9. Why Stay Negative?

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For me, safe sex is a selfish decision - it’s about looking after me. I’ve seen what HIV has done to people because Michael, the first boy I ever kissed, had died from it. And I’ve met and had sex with people in saunas and had friendships with people who I knew had HIV or who later developed HIV illness and died. I’ve been on a care team and I’ve wiped the bums of people dying from AIDS. HIV isn’t abstract, it’s real.

I don’t want to have to take anything more than vitamins every morning. For me, having safe sex is about avoiding a lifelong hangover. I can live with a hangover from too much beer - not every weekend, but on the odd weekend. I can live with the hangover from taking recreational drugs - not every weekend, but three or four times a year. But I don’t want to have to deal with the hangover from unsafe sex.

HIV/AIDS means taking pills every day for the rest of my life. That’s more than any one night is worth: I don’t care how good the sex is. If I can’t tell myself that before I leave the house then I don’t leave the house.

Yes, I have been off my face on drugs and alcohol and really wanted to have unprotected sex - but I just do something else. You make yourself a promise before you get drunk, before you take the drugs - because there are all kinds of magical thinking that can kick in after the third beer or that extra bump of crystal. (Drugs and alcohol)

Let’s be really blunt: the most risky thing you can do is get fucked up the arse without a condom. If I’m being fucked up the arse I’ll check that there’s a condom. It’s easy to check - I just reach around and feel. If my partner at the moment is slow - or reluctant - to put a condom on, I’ll put one on for them. Or, if the condom is giving me a floppy, let’s try wanking.(Bottoming)

Just do it

A lot of people think that having safe sex means that you have to stop and talk about it. Not in casual sex you don’t - you just have to do it. If they ask a stupid question when you’re just about to get down to it - like, “Are you clean?” I just say “I think so, but we’re going to use condoms.

The scary thing is that I find more guys are willing to have unsafe sex now than any time since 1983, based on my own random sample. Normally, they’ll accept if I get the condom, but once or twice they’ve taken the condom off and tried again. I just put it back on them. If they take if off again, that’s when I might have words – or head out the door.

If they wave their legs in the air before I’ve put a condom on I’ll just reach for a condom. Whether I’m about to fuck them or they’re about to fuck me, we don’t talk about it, I just put the condom on. I find it a real turn on when my partner puts a condom on me, it makes it easier for me to keep a hard-on.

Sex with positive men

I’ve had sex with positive men. I’ve had sex with men that I’ve known to be positive. I’ve had anal sex with positive men who I have known are positive. Condoms are safe because condoms prevent HIV infection, so you can have all the sex with a pos guy that you would have with any other stranger, without any discussion at all. (Disclosure dilemmas)

I’ve been getting tested twice a year since I’ve been having casual sex. If I’m having lots more casual sex than usual I’ll bring the test forward. I’ll also bring the test date forward if there’s been a bit of a grey area around things like cum in the mouth, cracked nipples, cracked lips or cum-sticky fingers near my bottom. (Sexual health checks)


No Kiss, no fuck


10. No Kiss, no fuck

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I laugh with my friends because I describe myself as ‘radical vanilla’. I love to kiss. My rule is: no kiss, no fuck. I have only broken this rule a few times. Someone who doesn’t know how to kiss probably doesn’t know how to fuck, at least to my satisfaction. Radical vanilla is about gaining pleasure from giving pleasure. If my partner can demonstrate that, then it’s automatically going to be a much better fuck.

For me generosity is an important part of sex - not just treating the other person as an object, but soliciting and getting reactions; bad ones don’t last very long. There are some dud roots, the starfish for example: they’re a passive object and you can’t get them to do anything.

It helps when the person you’re with is smiling like a Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland at the end of it and says, “Let’s have a coffee” and gets your telephone number so we can do it again. It’s a pretty good sign and it makes you feel good about yourself. The same applies to whether or not anal sex is involved. You don’t need to have anal sex to have really rock-your-world sex. If you’re smiling like a Cheshire cat and the person you’re with is smiling like a Cheshire cat, even without the coffee and the phone numbers, it’s a good experience. Your whole body as an erogenous zone - That’s radical vanilla!

Melbourne Wankers

I was involved in organizing Melbourne Wankers. They are an excellent group who hold parties twice a month in which the rules are 1. No fucking; 2. No sucking; 3. No arse-play. 4. Don’t use force. And 5. Don’t be shy. They’re still going strong; they’re packed out at every event. I’m proud of it as one of the better social movements I’ve been involved in. A social movement - get it? .. up, down... Oh never mind. (Melbourne Wankers)

Sensual touch, massage and masturbation are the order of the day at the parties. It’s not about wanking yourself. Everyone has two hands and one cock, so the number of combinations are almost endless. These parties are some of the most erotic and rewarding sexual experiences that I’ve ever had.

We’re talking about a room full of twenty-to-fifty guys with boners and as much cold pressed vegetable oil as you can, well... rub onto someone. There’s no need for condoms because there’s no fucking involved. Most of the touch that happens is very sensual touch, but the sex is pretty wild. I haven’t been to one of those parties now for a few years but they remain some of my hottest experiences. Some of the images I have burnt into my memory... But these days, I’m more interested in one-on-one sex.

I’ve tried B&D twice, both times we had to stop because I was laughing too much. It’s really hard to maintain an erection when you’re laughing. Don’t get me wrong; I can understand where people are going with this and why – hell, I can imagine it being fun. It was more humorous for me though. I’m the kind of guy who likes to do it with the lights on; I get a real thrill at looking at the expression on guys’ faces when they are being driven crazy with desire by my expert administrations.


The future


11. The future

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Survival is number one. Happiness is number two. I am going to keep looking after myself. I am going to keep looking for the man I can live with. I will possibly need to start doing that a bit more energetically! In my experience, the people who get what they want are people who know what they want and ask for it. I probably need to ask more people...

I also need to be confident to keep applying the checklist when leaving the house. 1. Can I smile? 2. Can I have a good time even if I don’t get laid? 3. Can I say, ‘No, thank you’? 4. Can I stick to safe sex?

Plans are underway to become a Dad. I am doing things in plastic cups at the Royal Women’s Hospital. My partner in the project is a friend I’ve know for about five years. She said she was going to use anonymous donor sperm in Albury but she likes my genes and would like to have a known donor who is prepared to have some role in the upbringing of junior. We are negotiating how much of a role I’ll have. There will be legal documents. I want to have a role in junior’s upbringing. I like kids and I’m arrogant enough to think that I have something worthwhile to pass on – genetically and culturally.

Last words

Look after yourself! Take measures! Have your own small but vital ‘going out’ checklist. Don’t wait for the other guy to do: just do it!

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Tell us your story

Tell us your story


Come and tell us your story! We would love to hear from you! If you want to find out a little more about how it all works, give Jessie a call at VAC on (03) 9865 6700, or email staying.negative@vac.org.au