Written on : 2011-08-12
Ever noticed that your sexual appetite and behaviour change when you’re stressed? When you’re depressed? When you’re happy? Your state of mind affects how horny you get, how often you want sex, and what kind of sex you might have.
We live in a society where gay and bi guys are told from a young age that we are sick, immoral and even criminal. Some gay and bi guys are rejected by their family or friends. Discrimination against us is commonplace, especially those of us who are HIV-positive. It only makes sense that this would have a negative impact on our mental health.
Often, gay and bi men live with depression, anxiety and feelings of low self worth. For many guys it’s just the reality of surviving homophobia, racism, transphobia, and many other forms of discrimination. Some of us have also survived traumatic events in our lifetime, such as childhood abuse, sexual assault, or we are living with post-traumatic stress.
Being in this state of mental health, whether temporary or more long-lasting, can make us devalue ourselves and take more risks with our health. We might also take risks in an attempt to satisfy some other need, such as:
- self-worth and affirmation
- having meaningful connections with others
- feeling desired sexually and comfortable with ourselves
- feeling at ease
- reducing anxiety
Maybe you notice these issues when you are hooking up? Maybe you notice them after a pattern of behaviour. Maybe you don’t notice them at all. These are bigger issues that can put us at greater risk, but require more than just knowledge about HIV transmission to overcome.
Before you go to have sex, think about how you’re feeling. Notice patterns of behaviour, or triggers that make you take risks. Acknowledge realities in your life that you might need to change, or you might need to accept.
Decide on some boundaries about what you will be comfortable with before you go ahead, and make a contract with yourself to stick to them.
If you find that your state of mind is making it difficult for you to make decisions you’re comfortable with, in the moment or later on, you can try one of these or other options that have worked for other guys:
- Talk to someone like a trusted friend or family member about it. Just expressing our reality can help.
- Increase your activity level through exercise, taking a class, connecting with others through a social group, or volunteering. Physical activity releases chemicals in the brain that elevate our mood. Connecting with others reduces feelings of isolation.
- Get proper food and rest. This helps balance our mood.
- Seek professional help from a counsellor, AIDS service organization, psychologist, etc. Sometimes it’s good to talk with a nonjudgmental and objective person who can also help connect us to other supports.
ASO 411 - locate an AIDS Service Organization (ASO) or other HIV related service in your area.
The Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line is a toll-free Ontario-wide peer-support phone line for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, 2-spirited, queer and questioning young people.
Distress Centres Ontario/Liste des centres d'écoute