I went to the Sexual Health Clinic today. That sentence got re-written a few times because I don’t know if we’re referring to them as STDs or STIs. Disease? Infection? Obviously the former has harsher connotations. I can almost see the self-righteous right wing media headline as I type “Are we getting too soft on syphilis? Going gooey on gonorrhoea? Too calm about chlamydia? In my day, we named these virulent bastards as diseases as an ode to their rampant spread. Some people clearly don’t have the balls to call it like they see it, which is why I’m campaigning to put the D back into the chlamydia zone. Who’s with me?” I’m not. Not fussed really. I was mainly there for the free condoms. The thing is, I’m not the most promiscuous fellow and I’m certainly not the least. I’d always had the view that as engagements with partners often lasted a few months, I should be checking out what’s going on down there after each one. I hadn’t for a little while. I’ve been using condoms, playing it safe and all that, but as sex Ed (Tom Cavanagh) taught us, the only truly safe sex is abstinence. It’s also the least exciting type of sex. Even self-sex is preferable. As Green Day taught us in their salad days, when masturbation’s lost its fun you’re fucking lazy (I also believe that faithful readers need to take a drink for another masturbatory reference. Unless you’re a career alcoholic, this project is NSFW).
Right, I got lost. Oh, back to the clinic. So anyway, I’m used to getting myself checked out after each partner (because there’s usually a significant gap between them). That hasn’t been the case recently. I obviously went to a clinic specialising in gay/trans patience. Fine by me, but the guy behind the counter was a bit miffed I’d come on a Friday night for a general check-up, because it’s usually a busy night for HIV testing. That’s my new thing learned today, not a wasted day. I got into the exam room and he started asking me about my recent sexual history. I told him I’d had 3 sexual partners since the last time I got tested and he looked blankly at me. He kind of started giving me a hard time (in the nicest way possible. This was still in Canada) about getting checked out too regularly, being needlessly careful. “You’re straight and you’ve been using condoms, right?” he asked. I nodded. “So why would you need to come in so soon? I’d think maybe after 30-40 partners or 2-3 years, but there’s very little chance you’ve got anything to pass on.” I blinked and quirked my head “isn’t it best that I know that I’m clean so I can ensure I’m not passing anything on to other clean people?” I asked. He then explained to me the likelihood of catching something. It was lower than I’d expected. I did my blood test and peed in a cup (because that’s a skill in my arsenal now. Thanks CAMH!) then I was on my way (after grabbing a few more free condoms).
I don’t know where I stand on this. Do I suddenly feel prudish? I’d like to think that I’ve been having a pretty fulfilling sex life. I’ve had no real complaints about frequency or the people I’ve been with. I connected with some better than others, but I’ve never felt pressure to get out there and actively work to make it happen. It was strange, I know the clinic guy wasn’t denigrating me for a lack of experience or anything, but on some level it felt like I was at odds with my basic biological imperative (THE PENIS IS EVIL. THE PENIS SHOOTS SEEDS). It felt like a challenge and put me in a strange mood. I started to feel weird that I don’t gain fulfilment through frequent sexual liaisons with numerous partners. That’s what we’re taught by an onslaught of media, right? The guy is meant to justify his worth by a series of meaningless hook ups and conquests. Hearkening back to his days as a hunter, the male shows prowess by revealing his prowess, if you know what I mean (can I be any more obvious, Avril?). But no, that’s never worked for me. There has to be something more to want to connect with someone sexually. Why would I try to accumulate numbers to validate my ego rather than finding people who I like and respect, to share a mutually engaging experience (and hopefully not an STD/STI) with? Once again he probably didn’t meant to imply that at all. I’m just guessing that he was used to gay guys who “get it” way more than straight dudes.
Shame “players”, justify your self-worth now.