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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My name's Clinton. I'm 28 years old and I was born in a small town just outside Adelaide. I lived there for eleven years and then we moved to Darwin.
Darwin was where I first started to explore my sexuality; I didn't know what a homosexual was until I was twenty; I didn't even consider it an option in life. Darwin doesn't have a very big gay scene but I lived out in the bush also and homosexuals just didn't exist out there. It wasn't spoken of; it wasn't anything that was involved in life.
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When I was twenty I moved to Darwin City and I got my first girlfriend and she put the thought in my head: one day she said, '"Have you ever thought of having sex with a guy?" just in casual conversation. At first I was embarrassed and revolted by the question but that's when it triggered the thought, 'Hang on a second, that might be nice'.
I didn't really have the freedom to explore in Darwin. I didn't really find anything until I got to Perth. I had no idea where to look. I didn't know there were gay publications, I didn't know there were gay help centres or help lines; I didn't know any of this and I was also too embarrassed to ask about it. I didn't go out clubbing so I didn't see anything there.
I ended up bumming around Perth where I got a job in a café. Everyone except one person there was gay. I didn't tell them I was gay - I didn't know I was gay. One of them was a Christian guy who was gay: he was chaste - he hadn't had sex or a boyfriend or anything for ages. Then there was his flatmate who was like a Nanna to the gay community - he looked after all the boys in the gay community. I didn't come out to them straight away and not once did they ask me.
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Then a friend of a friend of a friend said, "I've got a friend coming to Perth; he doesn't know anyone - you should catch up". So I arranged to have a coffee with this guy. He was gay and I think the reason they wanted me to meet him is because they thought I was gay too. So I met up with this guy and had a great time and stayed in touch with him for quite a while. He'd come to Perth quite frequently on holidays and business trips.
He taught me about the gay publications that were out there and about dance parties and events and fair days and picnics and gay movie nights and he told me all about this stuff that was out there and he also taught me the ins and outs of gay sex. What to expect, what to do, what not to do, what to hold back from - all this sort of stuff.
Later on, I met my first boyfriend. I wanted to get involved in the scene somehow and meet people because I didn't have any friends as such. So I got involved in Pride in W.A, just volunteering for their dance parties. I was just decorating warehouses and setting up props and stuff and I met my first boyfriend there. From there it just exploded! It all just happened from there.
At the time I was 21. I thought he was a lot older than I was but when it came to the crunch of sleeping together, he told me he was only 17. I was only his second boyfriend.
The first experience was at my house during the middle of the day. I was really quite eager, just jumping in head first and he was like, "Whoa, slow down" and I'm like, "Why? I want to have fun!". But he was like, “No, relax, take it slowly” and what-not. It was good advice because he was a lot bigger than I was expecting and the first time we had sex it didn't really happen. I was too excited. It was really quite comical, I suppose.
Basically I jumped straight onto his cock. It hurt. And that was the end of that.
It was way too quick; I just went straight for the anal sex. Not thinking of any foreplay, not thinking of anything else - just thinking this was going to be great. It hurt.
So the second time I let him take control to a degree and we were a lot more relaxed. There was a lot more foreplay involved, a lot more touching feeling a lot more oral, an hour or so of foreplay before we actually tried anything. Then when we did, he suggested for the first time how about we lie on our side together, just spoon and we'll go from there. It was amazing.
The second time was just incredible. It was great; it felt really good. I was a lot more comfortable, a lot more relaxed. I did cum really quickly, because it is an incredible sensation - it's amazing. The second time I suppose a lot more attention was paid, a lot more detail. I learnt a lot more about lubricant, a lot more about how to make condoms more fun, how to involve it a lot more rather than just whacking it on and whacking it in.
He introduced me to condoms: he told me always use a condom, always use lubricant, but I'd never had practical experience. So he was like, 'Here's a condom', and it was like, 'OK, cool'. I've used them once or twice in masturbating and I'd play with them - as you do - so we used condoms.
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We were together for about eight months. He was thirteen when he had his first boyfriend and his first boyfriend was 38. He said 'boyfriend' but the media said 'pedophile'. Basically there was a lot of angst there because his Mum thought I was abusing her son because of his previous experience. Also he didn't want to tell anyone about us being together because of fear of what everyone was going to say.
I was single again so I said to my friend ______ (the guy I was set up with earlier), 'How about it!' and he taught me a lot more, I suppose, than my boyfriend had. My boyfriend was very limited in his experience but he was really accommodating and informative and for a first time he was fantastic. He was really good; gentle, simple and beautiful.
But he got into the nitty-gritty of it all. He was like, "Have you tried this? Can you do this?" and he introduced me to a lot more stuff - toys, a thousand and one different positions, what you can do with condoms. You know, you can use them with lube inside the condoms - I didn't know that before. You can double condoms, different sizes and styles of condoms and things like that.
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In the beginning it was quite monogamous. We weren't together but we would sleep together a lot - but I wasn't sleeping with any one else at the same time. At that time I didn't feel comfortable sleeping with complete strangers. He did. He had a boyfriend in Sydney but they had an open relationship. His boyfriend knew about me and I knew about him and so it was very open. I felt comfortable with that.
He was very stringent, very strict about safe sex. He always used a condom religiously - he told me about brushing your teeth before giving oral sex - don't do it! Or if you do, wait for an hour or two after brushing your teeth before oral. He taught me about rimming and stuff but we didn't do it very often.
Pride also promote safe sex so at all the parties I'd hand out safe sex packs which would have all the condoms, lube and brochures about safe sex, so it was my involvement in Pride that gave me all the information I needed.
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Then I met ____, my partner of four years. He and I had a monogamous relationship for four years. At the beginning of the relationship, after about three months, we both got tested and that was the first time I had been tested for anything. I hadn't even considered it before then - I don't know why. So we got tested and we still had protected sex for about two years into our relationship.
He got tested regularly because his ex used to cheat on him a bit and he told me to do the same - get tested regularly - and I got into the habit of it. Monogamy was something we discussed that we both wanted. He raised it because of his ex sleeping around on him a lot - that's why they broke up. He had mentioned at the very beginning, "I don't sleep around and I want anyone I'm else I'm with to do the same". He said, "In a loving and caring relationship you shouldn't have to sleep around". That made total sense to me, yeah, why would you sleep around?
'It just happened..'
So we used condoms together for the first two years. And then later on they slipped off to the side a little bit. I suppose we got to the stage in our relationship where sex became a little bit boring and then to do it without condoms made it a little more exciting. It just happened, it was a progressive thing. We didn't talk about it, it just happened.
After the first time it happened we talked about it and said, you know, “Maybe we shouldn't have done that”. He said, “Well, I haven't slept with anyone else since you” and I said, “Well I haven't slept with anyone else since you” and since we got tested and the tests came out ok... So from there on in we'd use condoms every so often - for entertainment value more than anything.
I trusted him - I know that trust isn't always enough to protect yourself out there but I hadn't cheated on him and from his attitude towards relationships etcetera I was 100% confident that he hadn't played around either.
That relationship ended because of stress on both parts. He wasn't working, I was supporting us and I got quite sick with Ross Rover Fever and I hated my job - you know, life pressures just build up on top of each other. We still lived together for another six months. He started seeing someone else and I didn't.
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Then I got a job in Queensland. I wanted a holiday and found this gay resort on the internet and thought, 'Fantastic, go there and blow off some steam.' I'd never had a one night stand or a casual fling and it was my last night in Perth so I thought, 'Fuck it,' let's just do this. Let's just go out and pick up'. So I walked into a club and it was like, “Hey, how you going? I'm Clinton, I'm leaving Perth on Sunday, do you want a shag?” He was like, “Yeah, cool”, so we did. He's now my best friend, but that's another long story.
We went back to his place and I was like, “OK, this is it; this is why I'm here, what do you like what do you want to do? Are you a top? Are you a bottom? Do you like head? Do you fist? What do you like?” As it turns out he was new on the scene and I said, “Well this is what I like: I like to give, I like to receive, I like foreplay, oral, blah, blah, blah, where's your lube? Condoms?”, and it was just from there on in. I knew that you had to be protected for a one-night stand. I just assumed that that's what people did.
The resort was a turn-around from what I'd had before. I was suddenly living and working in an all-gay environment. Everyone kept saying, “You're going to shag yourself rotten; it's a big fuck-fest” and I was like, “No, I'm going there to work, not to shag myself rotten.” So when I got there I just put my head down and didn't look at anyone. I didn't even consider sex at all; it wasn't an issue. After about three months your urges get the better of you and you have to have sex.
The first time I decided to have sex there the resort was well prepared. They promote safe sex. All the rooms come with condoms and lube - so again I was immersed in an environment where safe sex is promoted highly.
I began having a lot more casual sex. It was just one-on-one at first because that's what I was comfortable with and then a lot more group sex became involved, and because I hadn't experienced that side of sex I started experimenting and playing a lot more.
One of the best experiences was a guy who never actually touched my dick. We started kissing and what-not and I went down to grab him and he brushed me aside and said, “No not yet”. It was all basically extremely sensual. It was a whole lot of touching, licking, caressing rubbing - he touched every part of my body except my dick.
At first I was impatient but then I realised he was thoroughly enjoying it and I thought, “Hang on, why can't I enjoy it?” So I started to relax and just go with it a lot more and from there it was an experience where he didn't touch me directly but I came. As did he when he saw me coming.
It really expanded my horizons of what sex can be, rather than just getting it in and getting off. That said, we had sex the next night and it was on for young and old; it was just gratuitous hard-core sex. I tried it with several other people but it never took off in the same way. He knew the body well and he knew what he was doing. He knew the hot zones and where to touch and what reactions you'd get from certain areas.
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My first time was with my best friend and another couple, so there were four of us. We were sitting around in my room getting drunk and I think the couple had us in mind already. I looked at my friend and he looked at me like “Hey, what's going on here?” We went to the side and talked about it and I said to him, “I want to give it a try, but if you get weird on me I'm going to get cranky.” Because after you sleep with your best friend things are never the same and I didn't want that. So he said, “OK no weirdness, let's get going”.
I haven't had bad sexual experiences, but I've had uncomfortable ones where I wasn't happy with the environment or what was going on. I was in a group sex situation once and a guy was getting fisted and it really turned me off. I saw that and I was not at all excited. I'd heard about it but I'd never actually witnessed it. I just left.
The next night I got involved with some other guys who'd been there and they were trying to push it on to me - they wanted to fist me. Fingers were involved at first and then it got to too many fingers and it was like, “Hang on guys, this isn't what I want”. Things got a little forceful - they were much bigger guys than I and it was like, “See you later guys, I'm out of here”. I'm not going to have anyone push me around, especially if it's something I don't want to do. It's not going to happen.
'Well, that wasn't the smartest thing to do..'
I had a drunken orgy in the pool once and condoms weren't involved because it was unprepared. It was a spur of the moment drunken floundering I suppose you can call it. The next day I thought back and thought, well, that wasn't the smartest thing to do. I fucked all the guys; I wasn't fucked myself then. And they seemed ok with it. There were about six of them.
The next morning I thought about it a lot. I knew it was the wrong thing but I knew I was in a lower risk area because I wasn't being fucked. But I went and got tested two days later.,
They did mention that if you'd had unsafe sex there was medication you could take for thirty days. They mentioned that to me but it was too late. Anyway, I got tested and I got tested again about two weeks after that and then again another two weeks after that, because I just wanted to make sure everything was ok.
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I didn't know the HIV status of those guys. It never actually came up, I never spoke about it; it never even crossed my mind at the time. I've never actually asked anyone outright their HIV status. I've openly told people I get tested frequently and I'm negative, but I've never actually openly asked anybody.
I know I have actually slept with somebody that was positive. He told me beforehand and his partner was negative. We didn't actually have anal sex then. I was curious as to how they did it more than anything. It was just basically masturbation for me; that was what I felt comfortable with. I just sat back and watched. The guy who was positive received and the guy who was negative was fucking him with two condoms on - which I don't like doing because it numbs everything. But it was a very short experience because the minute he was being fucked he came, so it was over very quickly.
'I assumed that they were negative..'
I suppose I haven't really thought about the status of all the other guys I've slept with. I guess I assumed that they were negative, but assumptions are the mother of all fuck-ups. I've had a lot of group experiences, or with couples, and I've never actually thought about it now that you mention it. They might both be positive or they might not even know.
I'm not a very sexual person in general. It was just that it was there at the resort. It's just not something I feel like I need all the time - to have sex. Don't get me wrong, its great when it happens and there are times when you do crave it, but it's nothing a wank won't fix.
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Now I've come to Melbourne and I see this as my last stop. I moved here with the intention of settling down, regaining a real life and possibly a dog, a white picket fence and a partner. If it happens - but it's one of those things you can't push, you can't hunt down. It happens when it happens and in the meantime, have fun.
Clinton was born in a small town just outside of Adelaide.
When Clinton was eleven he moved from Adelaide to Darwin.
Clinton ending up getting a job in a cafe in perth and just hung around.
Clinton has now moved to Melbourne and is hoping to settle down.