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Thursday, November 20, 2003


Gay Men, HIV, Barebacking, and Safe Sex

Please visit The Body, the most comprehensive AIDS and HIV resource on the internet. It includes information, Q&A, support, communities, and more, with areas devoted to the health of gay men.

This poem deals bluntly with unprotected sex among gay men. "Bareback" is from my book Holding Me Together, which also includes some of my most popular essays (such as "Reactions to Homophobia" and "Not Worth Dying Over"). The HIV-infection rate has been rising again in the US, despite all we know about how to stop its spread.

Bareback, by Duane Simolke

Louder, louder, the music pulsing
harder. Lights flashing, faster.
Young male bodies grinding harder
on the crowded dance floor,
in the ecstasy of ecstasy.
Heat, sweat, eyes, hands,
another night, pulsing faster
than crystal shooting
through your veins
harder than a stranger
in a hurry, in a daze.
Simply in. He says it’s better

And you think it can’t happen to you,
but if it did, the new magic pills
would make it go away,
but this time it pulses faster
than crystal shooting
through your veins,

faster than insurance running out,
faster than parents walking away,
faster than friends dying off,
faster than a virus mutating,
faster than another cure failing,

faster than the thirty seconds
he wouldn’t take
to open a package
and slide on a condom.

But all that happens off stage.
With perfect hair and perfect clothes,
we live in the safety of the dance floor.

Make up a name,
and tell me, do you ride
skin to skin?

Some related books or DVD.
(This is not a “select” or “official” list—just a sampling.)

The Crisis of Desire: AIDS and the Fate of Gay Brotherhood
My Own Country: A Doctor's Story
And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic
Holding Me Together
Latino Gay Men and HIV: Culture, Sexuality, and Risk Behavior
Queer Latinidad: Identity Practices, Discursive Spaces
On the Down Low: A Journey Into the Lives of "Straight" Black Men Who Sleep With Men
Making the Man: A Young Man's Guide to Safer Gay Sex
It's My Party
And the Band Played On
Longtime Companion
Alive & Kicking

Bareback also appears in my eBook Selected Poems.

Entry updated 7/6/13.