Two in a week! It must be something special!
Well, it is, in a number of ways. #1, today is World AIDS day and, shame on me, I’ve been hiding in my writing cave for so long, I’d forgotten that it was coming up. Especially bad on me as I write gay fiction.
Though, I want to take a quick aside and remind people that AIDS isn’t a gay disease. It is a human disease. Everyone can contract HIV, everyone is susceptible to the disease.
One way I know this is that, though I am not, myslf, a gay man, I am bisexual, I am sexually active and have been since I was 15. I will admit it now, I like sex now and I liked it then. I was what many would call “promiscuous” but I don’t like to use that word as it takes away from me the idea that I get to choose what I do with my body and it’s no one’s business but my own how much sex I have and with whom. And that’s not pertinent to today’s post.
What today’s post is about is the fact that, even though I am female, I had plenty of my own AIDS/HIV scares and fears when I was younger (and, even, not all that much younger, truth be told). I grew up in the 80′s. Came into my own in the early (VERY) early 90′s. I remember seeing the AIDS epidemic grow. I remember knowing people affected by it. Seeing them die from it. Not a many as some of my fellow authors, but enough for it to leave an impression.
And yet, I wasn’t always careful. I wasn’t always safe. And I had plenty of scares about it.
I read an article today about how today’s young people–and gay men in particular–are basically oblivious and uncaring about the risks associated. It was written from the point of view of someone who’d lived through the rise of AIDS in the 80′s (like I did) and saw friends die (also, like I did). Because it was such a big deal for the author of the article and because his life centered so much around AIDS and fighting for awareness, education and so on, I believe his views of the newer generation are a bit skewed. I believe that it’s only because HIV/AIDS isn’t the focus of their lives, that he then believes they don’t worry about it.
I think it’s something different. I think that they are very aware of it. (And I’m not saying that his other points aren’t valid, I think he just leaves some key things out.) I think that, because it’s such a big deal, these gay men, who have been fighting for a long time to just be themselves, have often just decided that it wasn’t going to rule them. Yes, take precautions. Yes, know your status. But focusing on it too much can cause its own problems.
A very very big debate among authors of gay romance is The Condon Question. Should we write it in? Some say that we should be the moral compass and show what *should* be done–be safe, be aware, etc. Others insist they don’t want reality intuding in their fantasies and don’t want to see them at all. I think the best bet is somewhere in between. I think the characters should be responsible when the story calls for it, but they should be realistic and, realistically, not everyone uses them responsibly.
In my new Christmas story, Daniel lives in a post-apocalyptic world. He doesn’t even think he’d see another gay man, much less find himself in a situation to have sex. But even when he finds himself in a very sexual situation with another person for the first time in years, he keeps his brain long enough to be safe. So, realistically, guys do use them, they are safe, even some of the younger guys.
But I think there’s another aspect to this that comes into play. In my current novel, No Sacrifice, one of my characters is very aware of HIV and the havoc it can play on someone. He saw one of his closest friends contract it. So it was a much closer issue to him. He was safe as a result. But he also, when he ends up in a long-term relationship, finds himself wanting to lose the latex. And let’s be honest, none of us likes to use them. They’re a necessary evil. So, he and his partner decide to go for testing together. And during the counseling portion, after they get their results, the counselor asks them about their plans for sex outside the relationship.
Chance is well aware that this is a common thing in the gay community. Patrick, on the other hand, is stunned and confused. He’s bisexual (this is NOT gay for you) coming from a heterosexual background. And while open het relationships aren’t non-existent, they are relatively rare. And he’d, certainly, never been in one. So the idea that this would be a thing is so foreign to him, that he’s completely shocked.
They aren’t interested in going outside of their relationship. Not even to play with other couples or friends (at least, as of the end of the story). But I think this points to another assumption that I think needs to be challenged.
The idea that gay man *can’t* be monogomous. That somewhere along the way, it’s a *given* that they’re going to want to sleep with other people. And/or cheat.
I call bullshit. Heterosexual men can be monogomous. They can stay faithful. There’s no reason why homosexual men can’t be just as monogomous. And I know quite a few gay couples who are. (That’s not to say that open relationships aren’t out there and don’t work. I’m sure they do. But there are also plenty of them that stay monogomous.)
One of the problems that comes with this, is the idea that even as a “monogomous” couple, they should never lose the latex. But I think this undermines the trust in a relationship. If you live your life as if you are convinced your partner (husband, boyfriend) is absolutely going to cheat on you, I think that is setting the relationship up to fail. I don’t care who you are, no one wants to be *cheated* on. And assuming that you will be is akin to living the relationship with one foot out the door. And honestly, how long could you go with your partner expecting you to cheat before you get resentful and do, just because that?
So, what this boils down to is that I think we need to remember that there should be a focus on the emotional side of a relationship, too. If they’re not expecting the other person to cheat, then honestly, I think there’s a much less chance that it’ll happen. If they work on the relationship to make cheating not an appealing possibility, then you don’t have to worry about bringing something home.
It’s still safety, it still works on reducing the spread of HIV, but from another angle altogether. One, I’m afraid, is all too often ignored.
My new Christmas story is now out! It’s available for purchase from the Dreamspinner store, Amazon, and AllRomanceEbooks. I am really happy and excited about this story! The cover is done by Paul Richmond and interestingly, it was done before my story was finished (I hadn’t seen it yet when I wrote it) and it worked REALLY well with the story! So happy with it.
With the world’s population down to almost nothing and his husband dead, Daniel is sure he’ll spend Christmas alone with his dog, cats, and goats. Jake has been wandering aimlessly since the world went to hell and he lost his partner. As far as he’s concerned, there’s nothing to celebrate. But he finds himself helping Daniel with his Christmas tree and listening to him describe all the things to be thankful for.
Through tree decoration, dinner, and a chess game, Daniel and Jake discover a connection between them that hints at a possibility both had long declared impossible. When the chess game is over and they’re in each other’s arms, they realize how good it feels… and how right. But after having lost everything, are they willing to believe in the possibility of something beyond basic survival?
I got a VERY lovely review for Coronation from Becky Condit at Ms Condit & Friends Reads! FIVE SWEET PEAS! I am so, so happy! Becky says, “…don’t miss the opportunity to meet Teman and Bathasar and become acquainted with the fantasy world Ms Duncan has created.”