Dear Bianca, I teach safe sex practices to youth in Memphis. I'm very proud of this, and I feel like I'm doing good work. But I have a little conflict -- I do not have safe sex with my boyfriend. We don't use condoms at all. But we are in a committed, monogamous relationship so I don't fear catching anything. We're gay men, so pregnancy isn't an issue either.
But I feel like a hypocrite, especially since I tell the kids to use a condom EVERY time. What do you think? Should I practice what I preach? Or is not using a condom okay for two consenting, monogamous adults?
Bareback in the Bluff City
This is a sticky issue, and my answer may tick off the local Planned Parenthood office. But safe-sex educators hear me out.
My initial reaction to your quandary was, "Of course, you should be practicing what you preach, you hypocrite! Those poor kids look up to you, and look what you do behind their backs! If you were a governor, you'd be Elliot Spitzer!"
But then, I thought about all the married, straight people who surely dont wear condoms years into their relationships. And since you and your partner are gay, it's not like you can just go get married and start screwing without rubbers. You can thank your president, the conservative assholes in Congress, and the Christian Right for that one.
I think the answer to this question depends on several factors. First, have you both been tested for every STD under the sun? And did you go together? Or are you taking him at his word?
Secondly, how long have you and your partner been dating? And how serious is the relationship? Are you practically married? Would you be willing to commit to him for the rest of your life?
If you've been tested together, then you know he's not lying when he says those mysterious bumps are pimples, not herpes. If you're totally committed to one another (and I mean committed enough to be married if the closed-minded powers-that-be would let you), then I think it's probably okay for you and your partner to forgo condoms.
If, however, there's any doubt in your mind (or suspicion that there may be doubt in his) that you will remain loyal, I'd say better safe than sorry.
On another note, don't let your decision affect the good work you're doing in the community. Teaching kids about condom use is crucial. Not only does it prevent the spread of nasty STDs, but it also keeps those brats from reproducing. Good for you!
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Exactly seven years ago this week, I wrote a column decrying a proposal by city engineers to turn the Overton Park Greensward into an 18-foot-deep "detention basin" designed to stop flooding in Midtown. The engineers claimed we'd hardly notice the football-field-sized bowl. "Except," I wrote then, "when it rains hard, at which time, users of Overton Park would probably notice a large, 18-foot-deep lake in the Greensward. Or afterward, a large, muddy, trash-filled depression."