THE SAFE SEX ILLUSION
An Urgent Message Of Warning To Gay Men
For many gay men, "SAFE SEX" is proving to be an illusion -- a trap that
could cost them their lives.
Understandably, great numbers of gay men have sought a way to cope with the
AIDS tragedy that would enable them to live with some semblance of the old
life. To do this, they've placed their hope in one answer -- "SAFE SEX".
Hopefully, with some precautions, AIDS could be avoided and life could go
on almost as usual. Leaders of the gay community, the media, churches,
even the U.S. Surgeon General are putting forth "SAFE SEX" as the answer --
the only answer to the AIDS epidemic. The gay community desperately wants
to believe that "SAFE SEX" will work, but in their desperation could lie
the seeds of further tragedy.
For many reasons, we believe that "SAFE SEX" won't work; that at best, it
will only slow down the tragic toll of death in the gay community.
The risks inherent in "SAFE SEX" are not being told for a number of
% First is the good-old American belief that we can work anything out --
even have our cake and eat it, too.
% Second is that the alternatives to "SAFE SEX" are just not acceptable to
much of our population.
% Third is the unwillingness of many leaders in the gay community to be
willing to look at the gay lifestyle realistically, particularly if it
means losing ground in the hard fought efforts to gain acceptability for
the gay lifestyle.
Our belief that "SAFE SEX" won't work is not based on the merits or
weaknesses of the condom, although they should be considered, but is rather
based on the nature of man in general, and of gay men in particular.
Please take a few minutes to hear us out -- even if this is a message you
don't want to hear. As you consider the following reasons why we suggest
that "SAFE SEX" won't work, honestly consider your own life and behaviour
and the lives and behaviour of your closest friends. Judge each of the
following points on it's own merits, not on what you so desperately want to
1. There is a great tendency for promiscuity among male homosexuals.
Gays have seldom wanted to discuss this, but we all know it's true. The
most widely accepted study on this subject (Bell and Weinberg, 1978) showed
that forty-three percent of the male homosexuals in San Francisco estimated
that they had had sex with more than five hundred men, twenty-eight percent
with more than one thousand. We may debate the causes of this, but few of
us who have been active homosexually doubt the statistics. Sex, at that
rate, indicates a tremendous propensity towards sexual addiction. Perhaps
it reflects the deep, unmet needs of homosexuals; perhaps, it's inherent in
the nature of male sex -- the willingness to get involved sexually without
relationship; perhaps it's totally because of society's refusal to support
stable, gay relationships. The causes don't matter; what does matter is
that a large percentage of the gay population is hooked on a lifestyle of
frequent sex, a pattern of behaviour that will be terribly difficult to
break. Sexual restraint isn't in the cards for a great many gay men.
2. There is the so often elusive dream of the monogamous relationship.
Even before AIDS, most gay men longed for that one guy to whom they could
commit their life, that one special man with whom they could settle down in
a permanent, faithful relationship. Now more than ever, that kind of
relationship is sought after, now as a protection against AIDS. But we
know what happens most of the time. You settle into this kind of
relationship and in three months, or six months, it falls apart and you're
off looking for another "permanent" relationship. But with each new
relationship comes a new set of exposures. And within each new
relationship, how many times has he (or you) cheated? True, there is a
much greater motivation to settle down with one person now, but the
difficulties in finding that person haven't decreased.
3. We have to consider the nature of "passion".
Here we're not dealing with just gays; we're dealing with human nature.
There seems to be an inverse relationship between the amount of sexual
interest, arousal, and excitement and our ability to use sound judgment.
Men have a terrible propensity to do stupid and careless things in the heat
of passion. Perhaps, you went out not intending to connect, but you met
somebody new and got carried away. Perhaps, you and your partner agreed to
abstain from certain kinds of sex, or agreed to use a condom, but in the
heat of it all, you threw caution and rational behaviour to the wind. The
world is filled with people whose parents used condoms faithfully -- most
of the time.
4. Sex is often accompanied by drinking or drugs.
Take the risks just described and multiply them many times over if you've
been drinking. In that setting, the best intentions become almost
5. "It won't happen to me."
Mankind has a streak of irrationality in him that defies understanding.
The cigarette smoker, the drinking driver, the gay who takes a chance just
this one time, all operate on that fantasy that it won't happen to them.
Often it does.
6. Great numbers of gay men who have tested HIV positive, are still
Those who have not tested positive or don't have AIDS, can only imagine the
emotional state of those who find they are infected. But we do see the
responses: despair, hopelessness, denial, fatalism. Some plunge into
homosexual activity with a vengeance. Some turn bitter. This is not to
condemn those individuals; who knows how we would act, but many who know
they are carriers, are very active sexually. And many overwhelmed with
their own distress are not protecting their partners.
7. Many refuse to be tested.
Often those who are most likely to be infected are the most fearful of
being tested. Many of these are still very active, sometimes cynically,
sometimes naively, sometimes with an attitude of: "We're all going to die
All this says that "SAFE SEX" is, at best, only going to slow down the toll
of death and suffering. "SAFE SEX", if used, is somewhat effective, but a
realistic look at man, at gay men in particular, and especially at
ourselves, says that there will be just too many times when "SAFE SEX"
won't be used -- and those times over the next several years could cost you
So what is the answer? It's pretty obvious, although it's probably not
what you want to hear. The answer is abstinence. Please, before you throw
this pamphlet away, consider this option. It may be the only one that can
save your life.
Take a few more minutes and consider the following:
% Sexual abstinence is possible. It's only a fairly recent idea that we
have to have sex. Surely, mankind does not always live up to his lofty
moral standards, but abstinence is possible for many people.
% There actually are some very positive things to be said for abstinence,
especially for those who have found that their sexual needs have controlled
their lives. To break the power of addictive sexual behaviour can be
tremendously liberating -- opening a person up to new kinds of
relationships, whole new areas of interest. For so many, what was at first
thought to be sexual freedom, has become sexual bondage, and abstinence has
become the only way to break that bondage.
% As with many forms of life-dominating behaviour, total abstinence may be
easier than constant restraint. Making daily decisions as to how far we
can go can be far more difficult than making the one big decision to try to
% Sexual abstinence often frees people to discover the needs that were
driving them into sex in the first place; the needs for love, affirmation,
and intimacy, needs that were short-circuited by the frequent sexual fix.
Recognising those needs, a person can start to seek new ways to meet them -
- ways that are not life-threatening.
% Abstinence is an extremely hard road to follow, but there are people who
will help. Some of them are listed on this brochure. Great numbers of
people in these organisations have found that sexual abstinence does work.
This may be the point at your life in which you have to make the hardest
decision you've ever made. Let someone help you who has already been down
Your life is precious. Don't throw it away. In your desperate desire to
have both ways, don't let the "SAFE SEX" illusion draw you in. Consider
all of your alternatives, and choose LIFE.
-- Alan Medinger
For further information and help, contact the following Christian
organisations that help homosexuals find an alternate way:
In the Adelaide area, please contact:
LOVE IN ACTION
G.P.O. Box 1115
ADELAIDE SA 5001
Phone (08) 371 0446
For a list of affiliated Christian organisations throughout the South
Pacific region contact:
Exodus South Pacific
C/- G.P.O. Box 1115
ADELAIDE SA 5001
Phone (08) 371 0446
or the world-wide organisation:
P. O. Box 2121
San Rafael, California, 94912, U.S.A.
Phone (415) 454-1017
This brochure was reprinted by:
LOVE IN ACTION
G.P.O. Box 1115
ADELAIDE SA 5001
by permission from:
P.O. Box 9830
Baltimore, Maryland, 21284-9830, U.S.A.
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