Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Safe Sex, Condoms, and M/M Romance
While I was reading a blog post late last night where the blogger was discussing condoms in m/m romance, I realized I'd never posted anything here on my own blog. I once wrote a guest post with AJ Llewellyn and DJ Manly, here, at Jessewaves review site. In that post, we covered a lot of ground, and between the three of us offered varying opinions. The comment thread is interesting.
If writers are motivated by their own personal experiences, which most are, I've remained true to form with my stand on condoms and safe sex in the m/m fiction I write. Right now, I'm finishing up a m/m historical romance set in the Edwardian era, and obviously condoms are not going to be mentioned at all. I'd be an idiot to mention condoms and safe sex in a novella set during this period. And I may be many things, but idiot is not one of them.
I've written many raw scenes (sex without condoms), with characters in monogamous relationships, characters with an "agreement" not to use condoms, and characters who lived pre-HIV/AIDS era many times. But I always did it for a specific reason and that reason was always explained quickly in the book. I don't always believe my characters need to use condoms, based on the situations with which they are faced. My publishers never told me I couldn't do this. My publishers are all women. I find it more than interesting that there's this myth going around that women...publishers and authors...are pushing writers to use condoms in m/m romance. Trust me, it's a myth. And I'm speaking from first hand knowledge, not hearsay.
I've also written many scenes in books and short stories with condoms because I felt this is what the scenes called for. In my own personal life, I wouldn't have sex without a condom, not in the heat of passion, not for the best looking man, and not for the sake of love...I never have and I don't expect less from my characters. In other words, if I'm writing about reasonably educated, intelligent, fairly well-balanced gay male characters in a novel, and they are single and actively having sex, I'm also going to make them responsible enough to use condoms because this is what I would do. This is what most of the gay men I know would do. There's no hidden agenda. Once again, not hearsay.
I know first hand what HIV-AIDS can do through watching friends both live and die with it. Most of my friends who are HIV negative know, too. I'm legal POA for one good friend and I work with his ID doc in Philadelphia...Dr. Jay Kostman...who is a leading HIV specialist. I know ARV drugs cost thousands of dollars a month, which most people living with HIV cannot afford. I know these drugs keep people alive and also cause side effects that diminish bone mass and create many other complications down the road. I've seen people with full blown AIDS trached, intubated,and put in induced comas on Diprivan while they wasted away to nothing. I've witnessed the effects of IRIS...and Bactrim failure for those with PCP. I've seen cases with CMV where people were blinded. And when you see these things first hand it changes you forever. I am no saint, trust me. But when I'm with a guy I call the shots with condoms. I wouldn't expect less from certain characters I've created in a book or story.
I am the first to shrug off PC nonsense. And I "get" the fantasy concept of m/m fiction without condoms. In certain cases, with regard to hardcore erotica, I don't see anything wrong with it because it is fantasy. But, as a writer, I personally choose to use condoms in a book or story when I think the storyline calls for it. I honestly don't care what other authors do at this point in my life. I'm just pointing out that authors are motivated by different experiences in their own lives. In my case I know far too much, first hand, about what HIV/AIDS can do...and I just gave you the abbreviated version of what I know.