He told me he’s on PrEP and wanted raw sex. Here’s what I said.
My fly is open and his hands are firmly in my jocks. I pull away from his kiss slightly dizzy, feeling the heat from his mouth as he leans in and whispers “I really wanna fuck you raw”, pauses, then adds “I’m on PrEP”.
The bass of his voice and intensity of his tone are reassuring and exciting all at once. And for once I genuinely allow myself to imagine what he’s proposing. Skin on skin. No restraints to our intimacy.
I watch him give the slightest head nod narrowing his eyes just for the briefest moment. Interpreting this as a push for response, I grab the back of his neck, pull him in and kiss his warm mouth hard. It’s mostly a tactic for buying some time.
“I already told him that I use condoms. At least for hook-ups.”
Cognitive rationality wages warfare against emotional and physical desires. Short videos of a lover long gone loop round on the cinema screen in my mind. My body remembers exactly what it was like every night in that house and that relationship. But right now there’s only so much longer I can nuzzle against this new, rough stubble of someone I just met before I have to say something.
To distract from trying to solve this impossible equation, I wonder if it would be any easier if I’d just had more to drink or taken something. Maybe then I wouldn’t be so fucking analytical.
He says nothing as I feel him steadily pull back, hands holding my arms like it’s some unspoken sign of encouragement. Not even our heavy breathing or the background music in my modest apartment can fill the otherwise silent void.
I already told him that I use condoms. At least for hook-ups. Only long gone, long term boyfriends got anything different. Sex without them was hot and intense… as long as I’ve known I can trust my boyfriend. But while this guy could totally be relationship material, I’m pragmatic enough to not to dream about wedding bells on our first fuck.
“I really do feel like I can trust him, but that’s not the heart of this.”
Like we’ve entered into a twisted game of poker, he plays his hand: “Don’t you believe me? I can show you my script.”
“No, no… It’s… it’s OK… it’s not that I don’t believe you…” As my flustered words fly out my mouth, I double check their validity. It’s true. I really do feel like I can trust him, but that’s not the heart of this.
“Look. I’ve been using PrEP for months now. It’s all good. You don’t have to worry about it. Think of it this way. I’m taking responsibility for my own protection and protecting you at the same time.” It’s a well played raise on his first bet.
I know what PrEP is. By no means am I anti-PrEP. I think it’s an amazing concept and good luck to anyone that wants to use it. I’m just not there right now. I don’t hook up that often. I guess sometimes I get high, but it’s not like I’m at chemsex parties every weekend, and I don’t have a problem with using condoms. I would hardly call myself ‘high risk’. Who wants to wear that label?
My reply is measured and spoken carefully to ensure there’s no judgment in my tone: “Is taking responsibility for yourself important to you?”
“Of course it is!” much like the passion of 10 seconds ago the expression in his voice emphasises his point. Pausing for just a split second he continues to say: “Yeah, it’s like the whole point of PrEP. I can be responsible for my own protection. Doesn’t matter what somebody else’s status is any more. I can fuck how I like.”
There used to be a time when I probably would have been shocked by this. Though it sort of makes sense within the world as I know it nowadays. I just see it as more applicable to someone else rather than me.
Despite this unusual and somewhat unsexy conversation right in the middle of our carefree groping, we’re both still hard. I raise my eyes up to his face to see those irresistible, cool grey eyes. With a single nod and gentle smile my decision is made: “Yeah… me too.” For a moment he seems puzzled, and I can’t help but blurt out the rest.
“The fact that you’re taking responsibility for protecting yourself is great. And I do trust you. But that doesn’t mean it’s OK for you to take that right away from me. Thank you for considering my protection… But that’s not your responsibility to take. That’s mine. And for now, that’s what I use condoms for.”
“If this is a no go for him I can live with that.”
He looks back at me as the house music decorates the awkward space and time. My hard on begins to reflect the deflated feeling inside. Fuck it. If this is a no go for him I can live with that. Sure, we could fuck raw but I already know that my mind is going to race for weeks going backwards and forwards about how safe it was, beating myself up for listening to my dick more than my brain. And for the sake of an uncomplicated fuck, I don’t want that. No disrespect to my friends that live with HIV, but even they reassure me it’s best to not join their club.
The only noise to break the discomfort comes in the shape of an ultimatum “So what’s it gonna be?”
I stare down, lost in my breakfast cereal, replaying last night over and over. He left around 10am. The text message beaming out of my phone on the impractically small kitchen table reads: “You’re fucking hot man! That was awesome. Wanna catch up Thursday? Happy to help you figure out getting PrEP if you wanted to consider it. Just saying :-)”
A wry smile curls across my face. Thursday is looking good. And he’s right. I will consider it.
If you’d like to know more about how PrEP can help protect against HIV, check out our Knowledge Hub. If you’re wondering if PrEP could be right for you, or someone else, there are resources online to help you get started and stay supported. Contact your local HIV organisation, or national community groups such as PrEP’D For Change and PrEPaccessNOW.
There are different ways to use PrEP to suit your lifestyle. Discover your options in Same PrEP, new choices: on-demand, periodic or daily.
Charlie’s next stories involve supporting his friend’s concern over acquiring HIV: My mate got an STI from his undetectable buddy – could he get HIV too? and his first sexual experience after starting PrEP: I’ve just started PrEP, here’s how my first hook up went.