Magazine Featured Hard sex - exposed Stuart Haggas (@getstuart)Photo by Chris Jepson ©. www.chrisjepson.com It used to be that taking a cock up your arse or down your throat was in itself a non-standard thing to do – so if you tried it and liked it, who knows what else you might like? This could explain the ‘try anything once’ mentality that exists on the UK gay scene. It requires more than a Recon subscription and a leather body harness to make you proper hardcore though, so why do some of us progress from cock to multiple cocks, catheters, toys, pup-tails, piss and fists? Tom is from Sao Paulo, but now lives in London. He explains how he first had gay sex when he was 23, and was soon experimenting with harder sex: “Two years ago I stumbled over a guy who did electro. It’s basically electric current that is applied to specific parts of the body, primarily cock, balls, inner thighs, and inside of the butt via a butt-plug. Electric current can be ‘shaped’ in a quite versatile way, ranging from gentle waves which can be a rather pleasant electric way to jerk off; to throbbing thrusts and random hits that are truly an SM experience. I realised that this was exactly my thing, and since then I’ve got more into it and narrowed down more precisely what kind of scenes I am really into.” Tom also does BDSM, piss, breath play, dog play and sounding. He explains how this is all incorporated into the sex he enjoys. “There is one type of scene which is a bit like a workout in the gym – effective bondage to really tie me down on an St Andrews cross, on a stretch bench, on a bondage table etc, and then slowly building pain – slowly expanding my limits just like you expand your limits in weightlifting. The other type of scene deals with the psychology of submission/domination. I found that this scene is a bit more difficult to pull off and requires a top/master with the right charisma.” “My willingness to try new things meant I was always on the look-out for more experienced guys to play with,” says Nathan, 32 from London, “and there was something incredibly satisfying about being more sexually open-minded than most guys my age. My first time fisting someone was when I was just 17.” Dominic Davies is a psychotherapist and sex therapist with over 30 years experience. He is Director of Pink Therapy and a kink-knowledgeable practitioner. “While in the past psychiatrists have tended to view BDSM as being pathological, this view is now outdated and they have started to recognise that BDSM is just a recreational activity for most people,” he explains. “It rarely causes any major difficulties in a person’s life, and if they’re not distressed about it then it’s a perfectly normal and natural variation of human sexuality. Recent research supports this, and in fact one study found BDSM practitioners to be psychologically healthier than their control group of non-kinky people.” “It’s worth remembering that fetish or fringe sex is not exclusive to gay men – the appeal is universal!” adds Andre Smith of Positive East. “There seems to be no definitive answer as to why someone is or isn’t drawn to having a fetish. Fear, excitement, curiosity and pleasure are powerful emotions which the body remembers as a physiological charge, and for some those moments become subconsciously eroticised – often lying dormant until we become sexually active.” “For some gay men, fetishism/fringe sex is used as a way of re-energizing their sex lives,” says Andre. FFUNHaving first fisted a guy when he was 17, Nathan explains how this fuelled his appetite for harder sex – and made him eager to be fisted as well. “I’ve always considered myself open minded so my attitude to sex has been to try everything once,” he says. “The appeal of harder sex I guess for me is the psychological aspect. Fisting, for example, I find can create a hugely intimate and intense connection between two people and it becomes much more of a mental challenge than a physical one. “One night while in a sling and incredibly high at a group session I had one guy playing with my arse and another guy distracting me by snogging me. In that moment, the guy at my arse managed to get it in and at that point everything changed. The sensation at first was unfamiliar and a bit uncomfortable but the realisation that I could take it, combined with the feeling of my hole relaxing made my head spin. It was like the illusion of the ring of bone had been completely destroyed and replaced by the more accurate reality of a flexible muscle.” “When you get fisted it’s the most intense feeling. Better than a drug,” says Mark, 30 from London. “Piss is just a bit depraved and horny. Always looking to push the boundaries, and getting piss-fucked then fisted is pretty extreme.” “Overall, men like Tom and Nathan have offered some pretty good psychological explanations for their actions and behaviour,” says Dominic Davies from Pink Therapy. “Most of these men have clearly thought about what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.” “The anal sphincters are muscles that can be toned and maintained very easily with pelvic floor or Kegel exercises. In general I don’t get to hear of long-term negative consequences from people who have been fisting for years. I do sometimes hear about people rupturing internal organs from violent punch fisting, and this is where having chem sex can be an issue, in that it alters one’s pain levels and one’s capacity for thinking clearly about what is safe and sane and healthy. It’s well known that people are more likely to take risks because of the disinhibition they feel when on drugs, and when you combine this with the anesthesia that might come from being high on endorphins then it is a potent combination for potential physical damage.” Matthew Hodson of GMFA, says: “The risk of HIV transmission from fisting itself is pretty low. It’s possible, if the fister has cuts on his hand and isn’t wearing gloves, but it’s pretty unlikely. However fisting is likely to cause tears in the anal lining, which is really delicate, so if you fuck afterwards, especially if you don’t use condoms, then the risk of transmission is increased. Fisting is also associated with hepatitis C and if you’re at a sex party and the same guy is fisting several people, infections can be passed from one bottom to another. Hep C can survive for longer outside the body than HIV, so sharing lube is also a risk. Using gloves, changing gloves if you’re changing partners and not sharing lube can all reduce the risk.” GANGBANG STYLE Some hard sex scenarios require the stamina of an Olympian – or a stallion. There’s a men only party in Germany called Fickstutenmarkt, which roughly translates as the Horse Fair fuck market. Guys identify themselves as mares or stallions. The mares arrive first, either naked or in chaps, jockstrap or fetish gear, and are tied and blindfolded – a white blindfold meaning safer sex, red meaning bareback. The stable doors then open, with the stallions able to fuck as many mares as they want. There’s even an award for stallion- and mare-of-the-month. However, gay group sex doesn’t need to be so high-concept. It’s something we can try at home, as evident by the number of house and hotel room gangbang parties that are taking place throughout the UK. “I really love bottoming for groups/gangbangs,” says Alexander. “Very happy to pleasure men without reciprocation as knowing that I am being treated like a whore and providing pleasure and satisfaction for another man (or men) is enough to get me off.” “I love gangbangs as it’s just way more fun than traditional one-to-one,” agrees Conrad, 25 from Barnsley. “The most extreme thing I’ve done is have a seven-way and have people watch. It’s just that feeling of being sexually liberated and not sticking to normal mainstream sex. Letting someone control you sexually and giving up your self-control is such a turn on.” “Many gay men enjoy group sex: the opportunity to experiment with a range of partners, to be exhibitionists or voyeurs,” says Pink Therapy’s Dominic Davies. “The main context in which these group sex parties are happening at the moment tends to be involving chem sex and bareback sex and there are likely to be a proportion of HIV-positive guys there. Many of them might have undetectable viral loads, but there are also likely to be guys who don’t know their status or who are newly infected and have high viral loads.” “It used to be the case that most people who went to chem sex parties were already HIV-positive,” adds GMFA’s Matthew Hodson. “Recently drug services, such as the CODE clinic at 56 Dean Street, report that they are seeing increasing numbers of men who believe that they are HIV-negative joining that scene. For many gay men the prospect of uninhibited, wild sex is going to be more appealing than the idea of careful, cautious sex – but there is a real price that is being paid in terms of the sexual health of our community as a result.” “There are parties where guys will use condoms and be careful,” says Dominic. “It’s not obligatory to only have condomless group sex. Also in the BDSM scene there is a mantra of ‘safe, sane and consensual’ and it is more likely that people are going to be acting responsibly within that context.” Matthew Hodson of GMFA, says: “If you get fucked bareback by lots of guys, who are also fucking or getting fucked by other guys, then it probably won’t be long before you pick up HIV and a host of other infections too. Some positive men have the attitude that they’ve already got ‘the big one’ and so it doesn’t matter what they do from then on. But, beyond the very real risk of passing on the virus to the men that you have sex with (and not everyone who goes to these parties is going to be HIV-positive) you’re making yourself vulnerable to a whole range of other infections. These include hepatitis C, which positive men are much more likely to get, and is difficult and extremely unpleasant to treat, gonorrhoea and syphilis. We’re seeing increases in lots of these STIs, so if you have lots of sexual partners you’re going to pick up these infections more and more often.” ADDICTED Almost everyone we spoke to said that they found this kind of sex addictive, with the majority saying they no longer enjoy vanilla sex. “I usually end up having that kind of sex almost every weekend,” says Nathan. “And to some degree yes, it can become addictive, but what you’re chasing is your last great experience. Most can be fun, but there comes a point where what you’re after, that incredible experience you once had, or are looking for seems harder and harder to get. There are many times I’ve come away from a sex party feeling disappointed, but it doesn’t stop me going back the following weekend looking to improve upon it. I need to remind myself regularly that it’s quality and not quantity – both in terms of numbers of partners and frequency of sessions – that I’m after.” “It has gotten to the point that with the piss and scat it happens at least a couple times a week,” says Fred, 26 from London. “The gangbangs do occur at least a couple times a month, more if I find another group is getting together. For me, yes, it can be addictive to the point I search for a gangbang because I need it. It is like my nicotine. I am always looking for the next sex party.” “When people talk about addictive experiences I don’t think they are using the term literally as in the way certain drugs can be addictive,” explains Pink Therapy’s Dominic Davies. “I think they are meaning the activities are exciting and they want to do them again, like describing riding rollercoasters as ‘addictive’ because it’s a lot of fun. We are generally unlikely to say we are addicted to riding rollercoasters and if we don’t get to do so we’re going to suffer painful emotional or psychological consequences. So I hear the word ‘addictive’ here as being indicative of the excitement someone gets from doing something and a desire to repeat that excitement.” Matthew Hodson of GMFA, says: “Many men on the hard sex scene think of it as an addiction. Like any other addictions it can become a monster to feed. Constantly trying to top the high of your last experience, as the novelty decreases, can lead people into increasingly extreme scenes.” DRAW THE LINE Pushing the boundary is not a green light to go beyond the boundary, because we all have our limits. So where would you draw the line? “Anything I knew was sexually unsafe/risky. I wouldn’t do anything that could leave me with any damage – I just wouldn’t find that fun!” says Gerry, 24 from Leeds. “Unsafe and risk of death,” agrees Simon. “I want to live, and would worry if seeking the next big thrill pushed things too far.” “Scat, felching and watersports,” says Conrad. “These are waste products coming out of your body. Apart from the smell, it’s full of bacteria.” “Scat,” says Andy. “Piss is mostly sterile, poo is not. Blood – if there’s blood then extreme pain is being caused that is likely to cause scarring or temporary marks. And permanent marks – sex is separate from the rest of the day, permanent marks overstep that boundary.” “I draw the line at physical or psychological pain or damage,” says Nathan. “I’ve done things like CBT (cock and ball torture), whipping guys, hard fisting etc, and there’s always a part of me that gets off on the idea of pushing it further. Personally I can’t and won’t take pain or anyone forcing me to do anything against my will. And even in a dominant role, although I can get off on the thought of doing it, I can’t bring myself to cause serious pain or injury to anyone else even if they do willingly want and ask for it. “Being HIV-positive I’ve encountered a lot of guys who want to get infected, and I’ve met positive guys who get off on the idea of infecting others,” Nathan continues. “I can certainly understand the appeal of both scenarios but in reality for me that’s a step too far.” PRECAUTIONS “With a trusted sexual partner there are few risks,” says Andy, “but if you’re meeting guys for the first time that you’ve met online, especially for a sub, that can be very dangerous! I would get to know someone VERY well before I agreed to meet.” “I realise my desire to be controlled by a dom could leave me open to being manipulated,” adds Gerry. “Sometimes I do wonder if I’m a bad person for liking the stuff I do, and that can make me anxious. I try and chat to a guy for a bit first, and wouldn’t meet at his home the first time. If he won’t respect me on safer sex, I wouldn’t go near him.” “For me, barebacking, group chem sex and fisting are my biggest turn ons,” says Nathan. “When I used to use condoms, I didn’t really enjoy getting fucked that much. Generally I couldn’t handle it for a couple of minutes before it became uncomfortable. More and more often I found myself barebacking, and five years ago I became HIV-positive. As soon as I got my diagnosis I started sero-sorting and playing exclusively with other positive guys”. “I am aware of the risks and I do not minimise the risk. For me that would just take the enjoyment away,” says Fred. “I have not had any emotional problems. As far as physical problems go I can be sore, but for me it is a good kind of sore.” HARD SAFER SEX? “It’s possible to be into harder sex and stay safe,” GMFA’s Matthew Hodson acknowledges. “In some ways, much of the harder sex scene can be safer than vanilla sex, as a lot of the bondage, CP and SM scenes are less focused on fucking, so there’s less passing on of body fluids and less transmission of HIV. But in recent years I’ve heard more and more often about people fetishising the transmission of HIV, and you see it referred to in a lot of porn too. Not everyone into the harder sex scene goes along with this, and a large element of this kind of play is going to be fantasy scenarios, but even if 90% is just fantasy that still means that some people are putting themselves at risk and becoming infected.” “Personally I consider myself very risk averse. I may like to flirt with danger, even fantasise about it, but for me I’ve always found it incredibly important to be aware of the risks I’m taking and how to manage them,” admits Nathan. “I know the type of sex I have has a higher risk of physical damage and catching STIs like hep C, but knowing the risks I take I also know how to manage them and reduce them. No sex is safe sex, there can only ever be safer sex. The most important thing for me is taking responsibility for the type of sex I have, while enjoying myself. Ultimately I want to continue having this kind of sex for many years to come so it’s important I look after myself and be as safe as I can.” NB:Some names have been changed. FS says: Sex should be a part of your life, not your life It goes without saying that gay men tend to have more sex than our straight counterparts. You can see why we tend to push the boundaries and why the harder sex scene becomes inviting. Nearly all of the men in this feature said that the sex they are having is addictive. They look for the next thrill and are constantly trying to outdo their last experience. Any counsellor will tell you that sex should be a healthy part of your life, not your life. If sex is your life then it’s controlling you. It’s not up to FS to tell you not to have sex. Sex is fun and you should be pushing the boundaries a little, but if sex is controlling your life then you need to ask yourself if this is what you really want. There is a stereotype out there that all gay men are sex-a-holics and sometimes it can be easy to play up to that stereotype. The gay scene makes it easy for this to happen. If you want to have lots of sex then you need to make sure you control it. Know your boundaries, know the risks and when to stop before the urge for sex takes over your life or, even worse, affects your health. | GMI Partnership specialises in one-to-one counselling for gay men. For more information, visit www.gmipartnership.com. HARD SEX AND HIV No matter what type of sex you are having, whether it’s hard, soft or vanilla, there is a risk of catching HIV. In 2012, over 3,250 gay men were diagnosed as HIV-positive in the UK. About 50,000 gay men living in the UK are HIV-positive. HIV does not care what type of sex you have. So if you believe that you are HIV-negative and would like to stay that way, here is some advice you should follow: Condoms: Using condoms while having sex is still one of the best ways to avoid becoming HIV-positive. And don’t forget the lube. Condoms break up to 6% of the time, but using plenty of lube can help prevent this. For more information, visit www.gmfa.org.uk/condoms-and-lube. Partner selection: “I only sleep with HIV-negative guys”. Do you know that about 80% of new HIV infections come from having sex with guys who think they are HIV-negative? One-in-five gay men in the UK who have HIV have not been diagnosed. So asking if someone is negative and then making your decision on that is pretty pointless. For more information, visit www.gmfa.org.uk/is-he-likely-to-be-hiv-positive. Testing is key: All gay men, whether sexually active or not, should test for HIV at least once a year. If you are having lots of sex then you should test more frequently. It takes about four weeks for HIV to show up in a test. For more information or to find your nearest GUM clinic, visit www.gmfa.org.uk/clinics.PEP: Accidents happen, for whatever reason. If you have unprotected sex with someone who you think is positive, or if you’re not sure of his status, then PEP is available from your local GUM clinic or A&E department. PEP may stop you becoming positive if you take it within 72 hours of exposure. For more information, visit www.gmfa.org.uk/pep.Useful links: To find out the risks of all sexual practices, visit www.gmfa.org.uk/how-risky-is. Services that can help: Do you feel ‘Out of Control’ about sex? PACE runs a workshop for gay men who are unhappy about the amount of sex they are having. Visit www.gmfa.org.uk/pace-groupwork.