Written on : 2012-11-30
Sure, we know that condoms significantly reduce the risk of HIV transmission, but it isn’t always as easy as it sounds to have safer sex, even if you want to! Sometimes we don’t ask or insist on what we want because we’re afraid of rejection, or we might have other reasons.
Every relationship has power imbalances, which can change from time to time. Maybe one partner feels less attractive or smart than the other, or one has less money or education. One partner might experience more privilege in society as a result of his race, ethnic background, age or gender identity. One partner might have more power in one area and less in another.
These imbalances can make it more difficult for you or your partner to express what both of you want, including condom use and other risk reduction strategies. If the imbalance is preventing you from saying what kind of sex you want, consider talking to a professional about it.
Tips for communicating what you want:
Find a way to communicate what you want that feels comfortable for you.Keep in mind that few men are going to react negatively if you tell them what kind of sex you like, or that you want to use condoms. If he does react negatively, do you want to have sex with him anyway?
If you’re in a situation where verbal communication isn’t as feasible, such as a bathhouse sauna or dark room, or you just don’t feel comfortable communicating verbally, use visual cues. Reach for a condom. Display it prominently on the bed. Tuck it into your waist with your towel.
Saying that you want to use a condom doesn’t imply that you are HIV-negative or HIV-positive. The majority of gay and bi guys use condoms most of the time, regardless of HIV status.
Alcohol and other drugs can affect your judgment and ability to communicate what you want. If you’re planning on drinking or doing drugs, plan ahead of time what kind of sex you are comfortable with, so you don’t have to make that decision when you’re under the influence.
Pay attention to what your partner wants, too. Communication barriers and power imbalances aren’t always one-sided. Sometimes you’ll feel uncomfortable communicating, and sometimes he will. Make sure this doesn’t prevent him from bringing up what he wants.
If you’re finding it difficult to express what you want, talk to a friend, supportive family member, or a community organisation.
You deserve the kind of sex you want, and there are ways for you to get it.
AIDS & Sexual Health Information Line
We are a province-wide free anonymous service staffed by professional, multidisciplinary, and multicultural counsellors who offer assistance in different languages.
To speak to one of the counsellors, please call: 1-800-668-2437
The mainline deals with issues related to harm reduction, injection drug use, and needle exchange programs. This service is offered in many languages.
The Mainline: 1-800-686-7544
Condoms Unwrapped: The ins and outs of condoms for gay and bisexual men.
Pozitively Healthy: a gay man's guide to sex and health in Ontario This guide, developed and written by gay men living with HIV, is a frank and fresh look at the issues and questions surrounding sexual health for positive gay men.