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A chat with a BB fanatic

They may know the pros (and perceived cons) of practicing safer sexual practices, but there remain men who have sex with men (MSM) who still opt to have unsafe sexual practices. Outrage Magazine chats with one whose experience is highlighting that, truly, not all HIV-related lessons are coming across as they are intended to.

Sure, the PlanetRomeo.com profile of American Jason* (with Latino ancestry) is eye-catching because of his naked – albeit headless – photographs, showcasing his “must be tried to be believed” genitalia, as he brags in his profile. But just as attention-grabbing (if not even more so) is his insistence on “only having sex BB (shorthand for bareback, or having sex sans the use of condoms).” For him, it’s a “take it or leave it” proposition – “I offer great times with what I have – but only BB,” he stressed, adding: “For those with guts, grab the offer; or else leave.”

Since his profile also noted that he is not into “small chats – just state what you want, then we’ll see if we hit it off”, when asked about his BB preference, he was – surprisingly – quite friendly, agreeing to be interviewed via a chat. “It’s a non-issue with me,” he said again when asked about his preference. “I just do BB.”

And, in what may worry safer sex proponents, Jason noted that, yes, “there are many, many takers.”

It was in college, sometime in the mid- to late 1980s, when Jason said he started barebacking. “Despite (it) being in the midst of the HIV epidemic and despite knowing that condoms might protect us, sometimes after parties, while a bit drunk or having smoked some marijuana, it sometimes just happened,” he said.

Jason admitted that in the past, “we were all scared to death somewhat to even have sex with a condom, and (doing so) without was considered all but a death sentence.”

However, in his way of thinking, “since BB was so taboo, it made it even more alluring.”

It didn’t help, too, that – at least for him – “porn was also in transition during this time (1980s to 1990s), when condom use became prominent (among porn performers). But some of the first (porn materials) I owned were ‘pre-condom’, and they seemed again more exciting than the later ‘condom porn’.”

And so, “over time, I did come to think BB felt better than sex with a condom.”

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There were times in the past when Jason said he tried using condoms, but “I sometimes experienced sexual anxiety while trying to fumble for and open a condom and put it on.  By the time this all occurred, I was soft and sex was frustrating.  BB was plain and simple much easier.”

Jason admits liking the control that BB gives him. “I am a strict and total top,” he said, “and there is a sense of domination, of control and power, and of ownership of the one I BB… when I cum in my bottom.”

Jason is a self-described “total top; I never bottom. I don’t even give BJs (blow job or fellate). I guess I am somewhat sexually selfish that way.”

Jason said he follows “rules” in his sexual contacts. “I never knowingly BB with someone who is HIV-positive; I ask and sero sort my playmates as best as I can.  I never BB if my dick has any type of cuts or abrasions on it (usually from a BJ gone bad, since some boys just don’t know to keep the teeth from scraping your dick). I always wash up after (sex) and pee.  And while I know the research is conflicting, I am also circumcised, which I do believe helps protect oneself.”

Jason also “only BB with younger, attractive, and healthy individuals who I have discussed status with. I also do not use drugs or BB with those who use drugs.”

Jason added: “I am almost now 45 and have been having BB sex for over 20 years and continue to test negative.”

HIV is, of course, only one of the infections that Jason can get, but he’s adamant with doing BB. “Yes, I worry (about other) STIs, of course. But everything is treatable,” he said. “I guess I have been lucky thus far in setting my limits such that I have been able to avoid these things.   At least access to effective treatment for HIV in the US is readily available, and is no longer a death sentence, but is a manageable treatable chronic disease.”

As an American with comparatively easier access to HIV treatment, though, Jason’s experience is largely different from those in poorer countries like the Philippines, where HIV treatment – or even testing – is not yet as widely available (and yes, acceptable). And yet this is something Jason admits not closely thinking about, mainly because “what we’re doing is… our choice.”

As for finding sex partners, “I find it somewhat hard to find HIV-negative bottoms (I can BB with) in the US who I am attracted to, (since) a lot of men who BB are HIV-positive and are older white men, who are not my favorite (sex partners),” he said. However, “when I travel to the Philippines, it seems it is the norm to BB rather than not.”  Also, “due to me being a foreigner and half-Spanish, it is very easy to find young attractive guys that want to BB with me.  That seems to carry over to US-based Filipinos, too. I think they are more apt to BB for some reason – it seems to me anyway.  I have postulated it may be the Catholic influence, but I am not sure…”

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Because of the comparative ease to find attractive younger HIV-negative BB partners in the Philippines, “my trips to the Philippines and Thailand are frequent,” Jason said.

Jason is – obviously – an exemplification of those who are being missed by current HIV-related efforts. Though not because the information disseminated about HIV and the need to curb it – and how safer sex practices could help in curbing it – is not reaching him. Instead, it is because the information is – simply – wasted on Jason.  A surprising thing about Jason is, “believe it or not, I work in the medical field and have studied biology, microbiology and immunology, and (so I know that) the basic rule in biosafety is if you are never exposed, you will never be infected. There are three ways to achieve this – abstinence, practicing safer sex or only having sex with those that are not infected. I choose the latter.”

At the end of the day, “I consider it a matter of informed consent,” Jason said, “I know the risks and consequences, (and) as such, those who choose the first two practices (abstain or practice safer sex) should not judge others’ decisions.”

“Call it what you will,” Jason said of his insistence to BB, but for him, “I choose this. And so this is it for me.”

*NAME CHANGED AS REQUESTED BY THE INTERVIEWEE TO KEEP HIS ANONYMITY

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