By Kristian Johns - @guy_interruptd


Yes, I thought that would make you stop scrolling through the pages. I’m good at headlines, you see. It’s an effective one, isn’t it? “High-profile HIV campaigner in ‘questioning his own values, sen-sa-tion”, but it’s something I’ve been wrestling with lately.

Since being diagnosed with HIV ten years ago, I’ve dedicated a lot of my time to raising awareness about the disease, specifically the ‘how not to catch it’ side of things. I’ve done TV and poster campaigns, I’ve got myself a bi-monthly column in FS magazine, I march at Pride handing out leaflets, I’m in a rock-solid and fulfilling sero-discordant relationship with my HIV-negative boyfriend (happy anniversary, by the way, baby), and I coach many, many people, directly and indirectly, on safer sex practices. I’m a regular (if sometimes uneasy) poster boy for safer sex. So why am I suddenly questioning the values and intentions I’ve held so true for the past decade?

Well, here’s the kicker: I watch bareback porn.

There, I said it. Bareback porn turns me on. I can’t help it. I get off on the sight of a rubber-free dick going into a boy. And I never realised how this could potentially make me a hypocrite until now.

I’m sure most people in long-term relationships will be familiar with the concept of a ‘Monday night wank’. No? Well here’s how it goes in our house: It’s 10pm on your first day back after the weekend, you’re both knackered, you’ve had a weekend of rushing about to various social engagements and you realise you haven’t had sex all weekend. And you’re horny. You want to get off, but you’re just so tired, doing all the prep and humping about seems like so much of an effort. So what do you do? You stick on a porn movie and let your fingers do the walking. Job done. I know, deeply sexy, eh? But it serves a purpose. And that’s exactly what the boyfriend and I found ourselves doing the other week. To bareback porn, no less.

I didn’t realise just how much bareback porn I had until I moved in with my other half. Being the technologically astute geeks we are, we decided to consolidate our music, films and ‘recreational movies’ on to a wireless hard drive, so we could access them from one of our four laptops, two smartphones and two tablets (we like gadgets - sue us).

Going through 120 gigs of porn is a pretty eye-opening (and fun) experience (we got distracted several times), but what struck me was the sheer volume of features, trailers and clips from porn houses like Treasure Island, Machofucker, et al.

Let’s take it down to base instincts: men like warm, wet places to put their cocks. It’s what a cock and all its thousands of nerve endings are built for. So when you put even the thinnest rubber prophylactic over it, it feels a little cold, clammy, and dry against your skin. It’s a bit like taking a shower in a rain mac - you get the sensation, but with none of the ‘wet’ feeling. Disagree with me? Try kissing someone through clingfilm. Not the same, is it?

But, despite the obvious drawbacks in sensation, condoms are vital for preventing HIV transmission, and while I might use bareback porn for my functional ‘Monday nighters’, the last thing I’d be doing is turning to my other half and suggesting we forget about the johnnies for the sake of a little extra ‘feeling’ when we bust a nut.

As a sexually educated adult, I can tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Bareback porn = fantasy, condoms = reality, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But let’s think about young people, or those exploring their sexuality for the first time. We don’t have gay sex education in school (thanks, Thatcher), so it’s a fair argument that a young gay man might turn to porn as his primary means of sex education, and with an absence of condoms in porn, it’s potentially blowing a hole (‘scuse the pun) in the gay community’s efforts to promote the message of ‘rubber up or leave it out’.

So what’s the solution? Ban bareback porn and drive it underground, making it even more attractively taboo? Slap health warnings and graphic images of HIV patients on the covers of DVDs like we do with cigarettes? Like it or not, bareback porn will never go away, and the sight of a rotting throat or “Smoking Kills” on a fag packet has never put me off buying my 20 Silk Cut every day.

I honestly don’t know what the answer is, but I do know this: a little fantasy is never a bad thing as long as you’re clear on where it ends. So am I a hypocrite for watching bareback porn? I don’t think so.

Beating off to a bareback skin flick on the TV is one thing, recreating it in the bedroom with a negative guy is quite another. I practise what I preach, and I know where the battle lines are drawn. Question is: do you?


Kristian Johns is an author and former editor. When he’s not raising awareness of HIV issues, his sole mission in life is to convince his boyfriend to let him have a dog.


 

This article was taken from FS magazine issue 131. To read this in full, click here