I’m jerking off before an eleven AM hook up to a bisexual gang bang. All the porn I’ve watched this week has just been a loop of the same oversized cock going into the same well-manicured hole. Always with the facial cum shots – you can tell these porn performers have been working a full schedule – the anemic semen being desperately squeezed out onto that girls cheek. It’s sweet the way she spreads it around before licking her fingers clean.
Then I get on my bike and ride to this guys house. He’s hot but it’s awkward, we’ve determined that we know each other from HIV counselor training, but I don’t remember his name. I wait outside his door smoking a cigarette and chewing gum at the same time, and he answers wearing tiny red shorts and a yellow shirt cut off at the sleeves. Inside, my layers upon layers of clothing seem not a tribute to the weather, but rather a symbol of an inner prudishness. I wait while he calls his mother in spanish, sitting on the floor talking at his wheezing pug until he hangs up. Then move to join him on the couch and start to spit out small talk but then his tongue is in my mouth. We make out pushing against each other until we fold together. His clothes evaporate but mine are still very much on while I’m sucking his semi hard dick into shape.
Hook ups are so irritatingly respectful – they only make vague movements to unhook my belt buckle but thats it. I much prefer my paying tricks who expect me to be ass up, buck naked within 10. I say: “do you want me to keep my binder on or take it off?” They reply:“Whatever makes you comfortable.” It’s like I’m making love to a social worker when I want to be ripped to shreds by a butcher.
I told him I’m a bottom but then I’m on top of him, my palm fitting against his neck my tongue rolling up his armpit. I rub my dick against his and feel the thrill of him almost slipping in. I remember our counseling role plays. We both were supposed to create characters for the other to practice harm reduction on. His was a gay man in a relationship who sometimes fooled around, used poppers every time he fucked a stranger and the rush would make him want to slide his dick in bare, just for a minute. Now, emerging from under my body, he takes the poppers out of a drawer and holds it under his own nostril before passing the bottle to me. Then he takes out a condom and rolls it over his thick, uncircumcised cock. I’m disappointed, am I not enough of a stranger? I want him to fuck me raw just for a while – away from the CDC guidelines and our trainers listening for open ended questions – but in my head it sounds unconscionably depraved. His dick goes soft after banging into me for a while, my cunt has become used to being fucked with a lot more than the Manhunt version of 7”, and he could stick in in my ass but nobody really seems that interested in doing so. I guess the novelty of fucking someone with a vagina makes people want to use it. I go shower and we make small talk as a way of closing things up–because neither of us came. He says: “well, that was interesting”. “Have you ever hooked up with a trans guy before?” “Never.”
+ + +
In my dream I’m on Jeopardy – the other two contestants are my friends – one who died of AIDS complications and a another who is HIV+ and doesn’t want to take anti-retrovirals. The host is the CEO of AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the two of us are in cahoots – the categories are all rigged to be obscure obsessions of mine – tigers, the history of gymnastics up to 1996, parasites, Mariah Carey… Every time I get an answer right Michael Weinstein shoves a handful of Tipranavir and Sustiva into one of my friends mouths, then massages their throat to push it down like you do with puppies. At first they fight back against him spitting and cursing but then they become resigned and passively swallow the pills. I’m standing in between them but they never look at me, like there is a one way mirror separating us. I feel disgusting – I want this crazed man with his toupee sliding down over one ear to get the fuck out of their faces – but I keep answering the questions. There is this threat in my mind that if I stop, I will lose them – they will disappear and I will be left alone in this game show hell. But the pills seem to be making them sicker and I don’t know what happens when all of the categories are finished.
+ + +
I remember reading this article in Rolling Stone magazine as a teenager about “bug chasers”. My recollection is of reading it on a couch in my high schools library but the internet says it came out in 2003 – when I was 18 and had already long since been expelled. However, I do know how I felt reading it, flushed and angry and excited. I knew the article was bullshit – not that some people wouldn’t desire being infected with HIV, but the way they were written as mindless homo zombies, dumpsters for cum, making up 20% of new infections.
I would have barely known what HIV or AIDS was in high school – our sex education teacher had just had a mastectomy after a bout with breast cancer and it was all she would talk about. But the tone that the article took towards the gay men interviewees felt the same as how the world looked at me – a destined conduit of venereal disease. I was a compulsive slut and a boastful one – like someone had given me the wrong manual on how to participate in sexual relations in high school. Instead of being a good girl, only submitting to a fumbling finger banging in exchange for romance – I was bad, brimming over with lust, telling my 9th grade classmates that I’d already slept with 12 men when I’d only managed to bed 2. I was also poor and my clothes smelt like moth balls – too weird to be attractively tragic. I desperately wanted to be friends with the men in that article – not because of their barebacking tendencies, I didn’t use condoms either but it didn’t come with the thrill of taboo breaking – but to me living in small town New Mexico something about this story felt comforting.
+ + +
My friend turns towards me – smirking, he’s being deliberately provocative which is dangerous, this feels dangerous. We’re interviewing each other on a tape deck which plays him back as a valley girl and me as a distraught chipmunk. “So” he says “when you are getting PLOWED without condoms, is HIV on your mind?”
I feel hot and flushed and it’s not just the pressure of being recorded but of talking about me and AIDS, instead of the government and AIDS or queer trauma and AIDS or racism and AIDS. And fuck lets talk about those things as well because I miss ACT UP like my birth mother who I never knew, dreaming about what could of happened if we’d shared the world at the same time. HIV and AIDS are such carefully managed topics in San Francisco though, and I want something vulnerable, messy, and real. Not to be shamed like my friends who had condoms thrown at them at a queer festival, when one was giving the other a BJ. That is as unhealthy as any possible transmission of gonorrhea or syphilis that could have plausibly happened in such an interaction. We are all scrambling to create distance between ourselves and any concept of infectivity. Which is not to say that safer sex isn’t important and hot and awesome, but that it needs to be a choice, of both HIV positive and negative people. That people should not be afraid to talk about who they are and what they do – because that is how lies are told and all the work that has been done gets erased. I’m telling you this because I’m scared of being alone. And yes I’m scared of me and my friends getting sick but I’m also scared of people disappearing –not feeling capable of talking about their desires and their needs and their bodies – and then one day they are gone.