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The “Bareback Brotherhood” And The Disturbing Trend Of Unprotected Gay Sex

It’s no secret: gay men enjoy sex. They have vibrant sex lives like nobody else. It’s, like, epic. Speaking from experience, it’s all right. We get it. Going back to time immemorial, dudes have enjoyed getting it on with other dudes. There’s art, literature, movies, songs, jokes, limericks and several Golden Girls episodes dedicated to it. That’s not going to change. Ever. Except that the number of people enjoying it and feeling good about themselves will increase as our social acceptance skyrockets.

The adoption of safe sex practices in the age of HIV is a key part of our liberation.

Yet in the past five years, HIV infection rates have increased, and barebacking has becoming somewhat “mainstream” among gay men. For evidence, gaycentric underwear brand Andrew Christian prominently featured bareback porn star Antonio Biaggi a recent promotion. Perhaps exacerbating the trend is the increased popularity of hookup apps like Grindr and sites like Adam4Adam — a recent study found that nearly 50% of men who used hookup apps engaged in barebacking. Then, earlier this year we reported on a Facebook group that glorified unprotected sex — it had over 20,000 followers but the Facebook powers-that-be subsequently (albeit temporarily) shut ‘er down.

That why we were disappointed to learn, thanks to a tip from an intrepid Queerty reader, about the so-called “Bareback Brotherhood,” operating openly on Twitter. The Brotherhood [read more here] is an online social community that claims to have over 6,000 members worldwide, and nearly as many Twitter followers, dedicated to the glorification of raw sex. According to its mission statement:

The Bareback Brotherhood…stands a beacon [sic]. The Bareback Brotherhood is as [sic] a social group of men around the globe from all walks of life. We agree on one thing — sex between men without barriers is natural and a legitimate choice. As consenting adults, skin-to-skin intimacy should be a choice that is not demonized or marginalized. The Bareback Brotherhood advocates on behalf of raw sex, knowing that many men engage but hide. The Bareback Brotherhood is a group without judgment and with mutual respect for all, no matter sero-status — positive, negative or unknown. Fuck more. Fear less. Regret nothing.

While that last bit makes for a good rallying call, there’s nothing particularly noble about bareback sex. It’s not some revolution or revelation. Rather, in advocating raw sex, they are in fact advocating unnecessary risk taking, which for some has become a turn on. We don’t purport to be the moral compass of the LGBT community, but we’re big believers in condoms because your health is just generally something you don’t want to f#@k with. Contracting HIV is no longer a death sentence, nor should having HIV be a stigma. And it is true that scientists are closing in on a cure.

Serosorting has become a legit way to reduce infections in some cases, and Poz guys indeed should have more latitude. But whether you’re positive or not, it’s still important to take steps to protect yourself and your health. Just think of the wonderful array of sexually transmitted diseases available free with purchase of this ideology. For a taste, Google images of syphilis and then try not to scratch the corneas out of your eyes.

If you don’t believe us, hear it from this Golden Girls gif:

condoms-rose

More and more gay men are eschewing safer sex and as a result rates of HIV infections are on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

MSM [men who have sex with men] remain the population most heavily affected by HIV infection. Comparing 2008 to 2010, the number of new HIV infections among MSM increased 12% from 26,700 in 2008 to 29,800 in 2010, with a 22% increase among MSM aged 13–24 from 7,200 in 2008 to 8,800 in 2010. Although MSM represent about 7% of the male population in the United States, in 2010 MSM accounted for 78% of the new HIV infections among males.

Groups like the Bareback Brotherhood are partly to blame for glamorizing unsafe sexual practices, but there’s also a lack of awareness as to the risks involved, particularly among young people. Research has shown that a lot of kids today just don’t care about getting infected with HIV. On a related note, abstinence-only education is the dumbest thing in the entire world.

So what we have here is not only a lack of education, but also a complacency over the threat of HIV/AIDS. That same hookup app study found that 47% of respondents who engaged in unprotected sex were knowledgeable about HIV and were afraid of getting infected. Their reasons for not using condoms then? Nearly 85% claimed “with condoms it does not feel the same” and nearly 74% did it just for kicks.

At the end of the day, consenting adults will do what consenting adults do, but if you insist on engaging in unprotected sex, at least get regularly screened for STIs and make sure your partners do, too. Sex shouldn’t require due diligence, but with all that’s at stake you should at least have some protection.

What do you think? Are we being too uptight or is a Twitter (and Facebook) bareback-sex page—and one that advocates unsafe liaisons—not a such a grand idea?