On condoms, safer sex, and the One Rule

Chi Chi and I agree... always wear a condom!

Chi Chi and I agree… always wear a condom!

 
Dirk and I have only one rule in our relationship: “Never bring home anything you don’t want to share.” It works on all sorts of levels. In a having-sex-with-others context, it means we don’t keep anyone to ourselves. If Dirk meets someone he thinks is hot and wants to hook up with him, I’m always invited to join them… or I can feel free to say “No thanks, but you boys have fun.” I’m extended the same courtesy. It fosters a sexual openness that is both liberating and exhilarating; as long as I feel included, I’m not jealous at all, and neither is Dirk.

There’s more to the One Rule, though, and it pertains to sexually-transmitted diseases. We have what some people might term an “open relationship,” and on top of that we both work in the adult film industry. The bottom line is that we’re having sex with men other than just ourselves. And accidents happen.


Use a condom.

Use a condom.

Let me tell you a story. A few years ago I dated an amazing man. We were together for two years and we’re still the best of friends today. We originally met online; he lives in a different city, and we decided to meet in person while I was there on vacation late one summer. We really hit it off. It was the middle of a record heat wave, my hotel room didn’t have air conditioning, and I’d been miserable for the first two days of my visit. He kindly offered to put me up for the remainder of my stay so I checked out of my hotel early and moved my stuff to his place. We were inseparable; our chemistry was great and we had a ton of fun. By the time the week was over, we knew we wanted to try dating (despite the distance). We saw each other every two weeks on average. We had sex… lots of it. He and I had both tested HIV negative, but he’d lost a former partner to AIDS and was adamant about having safe sex. We always used a condom.

Fast forward four months. The holiday season was approaching, and there was a benefit fundraiser in Boston that I was really looking forward to taking him to. Two days before the party I got a very strange voicemail from him. His quivering, quiet voice said, “Hey, it’s me. I can’t come to Boston this weekend. I don’t even know if we can be boyfriends anymore. Anyway, bye.” Needless to say, I freaked. Things had been going great. What could possibly be the problem? I called him back, shaking as I dialed. When I spoke to him, he was choking back tears.

He’d just tested positive for HIV.

Use a condom.

Use a condom.

He said he hadn’t slept with anyone but me since we’d met, and I believe him; he’s a man of unimpeachable character. Nor had I; I’d been focused entirely on him. But about a month before he’d met me, he’d hooked up with a guy who didn’t disclose his status. My boyfriend had used a condom, of course… but as I mentioned earlier, accidents happen. Who knows… maybe the condom leaked or tore (it happened to Dirk once… more on that in a bit), or — and I prefer to think this didn’t happen, but who knows — perhaps the other guy pulled off the condom intentionally at one point and my soon-to-be boyfriend didn’t notice. In any case, he’d unknowingly taken a full load of HIV+ spunk. A month later, he’d gotten tested (as he, and I, always do every three months) and the result came back negative because he was still outside the detection window (HIV tests can take up to 12 weeks to show a positive result). Not having any reason to suspect he was positive, he assumed he was negative.

If you only take away one point from this blog post, make it this: NEVER ASSUME ANYTHING.

Use a damn condom, already!

For fuck’s sake… USE A CONDOM!

I love my ex-boyfriend to this day, and I trust him. I had every reason to suspect, for the first four months of our relationship, that he was negative. He wasn’t. And the only reason I’m still negative is that he and I used condoms. Now he’s on medication and undetectable, but the entire experience has been one big headache for him. He experienced tons of nausea and terrifying nightmares while adjusting to the meds, still needs to tweak the dosages once in a while (causing even more discomfort when he does), and pays thousands of dollars a year in medical expenses just to keep the infection at bay. He has to go to the doctor all the time to monitor the medication’s effectiveness and track his T-cell count. And the psychological challenges it posed to him were enormous: He’s encountered tons of AIDS phobia (including people who consider him “unclean”), and on top of that, due to a sense of guilt over having become infected in the first place, he withdrew from the gay community. Our relationship changed; we were nowhere near as social, and he was exhausted a lot of the time because of the nightmares. While our relationship didn’t end because he became HIV positive (when we did break up two years later, it was more a case of the distance between us simply becoming too great a challenge), I can definitely say it was a huge stressor. No one wants that shit.

As I referred to earlier, Dirk had a somewhat similar experience. In December of 2011, a few months after he and I started dating, he was in New York visiting friends. Dirk and I had been open from the very start; our first sexual encounter, in fact, was a threesome with our good friend and fellow actor Dolan Wolf. Anyway, when he was in New York, he hooked up with an old friend of his who’s HIV positive… and the condom broke. It separated at the ring, leaving the balloon wedged up inside my boyfriend along with his friend’s load. Dirk and his friend were both quite upset, but Dirk called me right then and there to tell me the news, and first thing in the morning he went to Callen-Lorde’s Sexual Health Clinic in Chelsea and got himself on post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP. (PEP is essentially a morning-after pill for HIV exposure that you need to take as soon as possible after you’re exposed, and absolutely no later than 72 hours; it’s available from almost any doctor or clinic. You should learn more about it. Now. Go ahead… I’ll wait.) And, sweetheart that he is, he bought me a cool gift tin of different condoms and exotic lubes for us to try. Who needs roses with a gift like that?


So far I’ve only talked about HIV, but there are plenty of other STDs out there, and condoms are our best blanket defense against their transmission. According to the CDC, condoms provide an “essentially impermeable barrier” for such nasties as HPV, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. These are all diseases that can be transmitted from skin-to-skin genital contact, so simply not ejaculating inside your partner isn’t enough. And I don’t want to seem alarmist, but there might be all new nasties forming out there that are poised to enter the scene, just like HIV did back in 1981. Condoms are cheap, widely available, and one of our best protections against all of the above. With the addition of PEP in situations when accidents happen, you’re as protected as you can be against HIV and all that other stuff without sacrificing your ability to be a happy, horny, sexually active gay male.

My point here is that you never know what’s going to happen. That’s why Dirk and I always play safe. For my part, if I didn’t, I’d probably be HIV positive right now… and I simply don’t want all that hassle and cost, not to mention the inevitable guilt and anti-HIV stigma that my ex-boyfriend had to endure. It’s just not worth it.

Besides, I don’t want to break the One Rule; an STD is something that Dirk and I definitely do not want to share.

26 replies
  1. Frank
    Frank says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful commentary about sex and protection, something I mentioned previously, but not nearly so eloquently, in another one of your blogs.

    The one thing I think needs repeating is this: No one knows what’s out there in terms of disease. We need to vigilent about the things about which we know, but the ones about which we don’t know are equally, or maybe even more, scary.

    Reply
  2. Julien75019
    Julien75019 says:

    Thank you very much for your public support against HIV. All what you wrote is smart. It’s always a pleasure to read you : you’re a smart and very nice guy, not just another porn hottie.

    Reply
  3. Ray Atkinson
    Ray Atkinson says:

    Thanks for your honesty, as well as, your sincerity about such an issue, that some still refuses to accept. Yes it is 2013, but I have had guys to hit on me alot in my past, and when it come to having sex, the first thing they want to suggest is can we do it raw…on I think not…so I have chose to remain abstinent for the past couple of years. Not because I have to to be, but more because I am waiting for the right man to come into my life. I do however find you and your movies quite entertaining. I would love to meet a man of not only your sexiness, but intellect as well. As I stated to you previously through brief introduction on your page, I feel that its quite diffucult to find some one of quality, as oppose to the tasteless quanity in my current location. But thats neither here nor there. But I will say this in closing, that you and your partner Dirk give me hope, that I to will meet the man of my dreams. I applaud you both for being so open-minded about your relationship, and respectful. I think thats what make you guys even more for being loveable, that you too do what it is that you do so well, and still remain together….As always, you guys keep making those amazing films, and the next time I come to Boston, maybe, I may be so fortuante to meet the both of you.

    Sincerally,

    Ray Atkinson….

    Reply
  4. Randy
    Randy says:

    I have been and HIV/STD Counselor/Educator since 1989. Condoms do help alot. Know how to put them on properly does as well. Always read the directions that come with the condoms. It could save a life, probably your own. Blessed Be.

    Reply
  5. Arunas
    Arunas says:

    Thanks for sharing it. Tear in my eye… I don’t know what to say. I am always had sex without a condoms. But is my ex wife and few ex girlfriends.. I am come out just 11 months ago…. I know that I have problems with condoms, my ex not once got pregnant even I’m used condoms.
    Thanks you for your advice and story. I am love you guys dearly. And my support for you. I am still not been in realiationship with any guy. Just looking for one.. but you advice is stuck in my mind. I am every day thinking about one boy, you definitely know him. His get infected with HIV. My heart is stopped. I am taking about one of your coworker. I am thinking industry keep advice just safe sex.
    My support and love to you.. XX X 🙂

    Reply
  6. Randall
    Randall says:

    I wishmore people would speak about this. It seems like it has been swept under the rug. I have been poz for 18 years and can relate to your friend on the issue of losing friends. It is a lonely disease. When I do go on a date , which is rare, when I bring up the subject and inform him of my status, It is almost always the last date. To all, Keep in mind we still need friends and are capable of having healthy relationships. My best, Randall

    Reply
    • Randy
      Randy says:

      Hey Randall. Thanks for letting us know where you are at. Hopefully you will find the friends that will be there to support you, and give you plenty of hugs. You get your FIRST CYBERHUG FROM ME. Blessed Be.

      Reply
    • Jesse
      Jesse says:

      Thanks. By the way, my post specifically doesn’t address safe sex practices in the porn industry. That was a conscious decision. I just wanted to share my own personal story and that’s all. (For now.)

      Reply
      • Randy
        Randy says:

        Thank you for sharing Jesse. If more people shared their stories, and supported one another, this would be a better world. People need to understand that someone who is HIV+ is still a human with feelings. You can hug a person with HIV, its not transmitted that way. Time to get back to the facts of how HIV is transmitted and not transmitted.

        Reply
  7. DRB
    DRB says:

    Thanks so much for sharing. As usual, I love your blog posts and appreciate you letting us into your life. I more or less have my own story to share and how I’ve missed a few bullets.

    Long story short, I’m a young guy, college student. My first boyfriend and I, I was 18 and heading to college, he was 26 at the time. I didn’t want to commit to anything since I had just come out, was going off to school, and he wasn’t the ideal type I’d always imagined. I’d slept around on many occasions while we were dating (he knew- the beginning of our relationship was cat chase mouse because, as I said, I wasn’t taking him seriously and it took longer for me to develop serious feelings for him). Dumbest decision ever, due to my inability to cum while wearing a rubber, my dissatisfaction having sex with him bc him being uncomfortable with my size, and him being kinda lousy in bed anyway (and trying to compete with someone else I banged that I had named ‘Super Bottom’- to this day, still the best bottom I’ve ever experienced but that’s another story), we ended up foregoing condoms and did it raw on all occasions.

    Fast forward 7 months: we went to get tested. This wasn’t my first time- my parents had it done at the doctor shortly after I came out and I think I had gone another time on my own afterwards. My bf was one of those people with an irrational fear of going to doctors and just puts it off for years and years.

    So, this late March afternoon, after he’s had weeks of ‘signs and premonitions’ that he’s positive, I finally made him go get tested. We’re at the testing center in two different rooms, my result is negative and I’m jolly as can be. I go outside to find him. Turns out, he’s a crying mess in a back room because his results came out positive. For whatever reason, my then 19 year old self was ok with him being positive and we would both become more educated and of course go back to condoms.

    The scary part…. for once, I had let him top me- only 7 weeks before. He came in me. TMI, my butt ejected a massive glob of spunk in my boxers the next morning. Needless to say, I was still very concerned. I went back to get tested 3 months later- still negative. 4 months later- still negative. As of last week, 18 months later, still negative. I got lucky. On top of that, I’ve topped enough people bare as a top to have also put myself at considerable risk, but thank my lucky stars, I’m still negative. To clarify, these days I realize that and I’m much safer.

    Not to wage a top vs bottom debate, but these days I’m fairly versatile and I’m much more careful as a bottom than I ever was topping. If I had been as careless bottoming as I was topping, this may be a very different story. That said, I realize it only takes one.

    Reply
  8. david
    david says:

    You is a crazy bitch….you like the drama in your life, the nasty but the love too….but who don’t…lol……but complain when it get tough….someone takin your image….Ah hello…..you are blessed, life good, partner in your life, for now….but you is good……remember the blessings….cuz they far and short, in a gay mans life…….David…..

    Reply
  9. dave
    dave says:

    Once again you show how Beautiful Man you are, you show besides a Great body,cock, you Mind is just as Great! You Speak from experience, but reality is it is the Truth. If you were able to start or join a out source speaking group to share this info besides on the net, I think it may help many newbies out there to Keep clean. I hear so many virus hunters to be infected thinking its a great thing, they are so wrong. You point out how your friend past boyfriend went and no doubt is going through hell with meds and all the money he has to spend.
    Thank you again You BEAUTIFUL MAN! AS WELL AS YOUR NOW PARTNER!
    Would be a blast to just met and have a meal, dave.

    Reply
  10. dominique
    dominique says:

    Hello,
    I just saw this article that caught my attention, I’m not a big fan of pornographic film but once I happen to watch, by cons I’m not usually this is when I’m in a sauna . Yes condoms is important, and more in porn movies is even more important in the sense that the actors shown in the example and the more they protect against all sexually transmitted diseases.
    I know you have often heard the same thing, but hey I’m starting, I find you very sexy and manly I like you a lot, physically you’re hot, a little teddy bear and a fabulous smile. You do a little daddy, and I love it. Frankly speaking you make me feel too. My name is Dominique (facebook Domdom Blondie) I am 32 years old.
    I wish you good luck for your career. Kisses from France
    Regards
    Dominique

    Reply
      • Barry Alves-Brown
        Barry Alves-Brown says:

        Jesse, Quand on sens ou dit une expression de doubt, on dois utiliser la forme subjonctif. Par example, ‘je crois qu’il soit important toujours.

        Reply
  11. Craig
    Craig says:

    Great blog post Jesse…..one thing I got from it was how being sex positive has strengthened your relationship. The honesty you & Dirk share is something swingers & people in polyamorous relationships are missing, meaning I see you and Dirk are honest with yourselves about what going on and were able to put your ego’s aside.

    Reply
  12. Sam Glass Jr.
    Sam Glass Jr. says:

    Thanks once again, Jesse, for sharing yourself and your experiences in such an eloquent and poignant way. Yes, this is 2013, but the message is one that people need to hear, more now than ever before, and hopefully because of your status as a VERY popular porn personality, it will be one that gay men – the younger ones, especially – will sit up and take notice of more than if they heard it from a complete stranger.

    At age 53, having lost both friends and acquaintances to AIDS back when the epidemic was still doing its worst, I find it something of a major miracle that I am still HIV-negative and healthy to this day. I was very sexually active in my twenties on up to my late forties, but probably nowhere near as much as some people I knew. I frequented the bathhouses in their heyday quite a bit, and I think that may have played a part in my health status in no small way. Mostly because water-based lubes and condoms were provided EVERYWHERE, and free STD check-ups were offered by the local health clinic at least once a month, on the premises and completely confidential (VERY important for the closeted-and-married and the bi-curious.) That’s not to say I was ALWAYS careful. There’s the accidents you mentioned, but also those times in the heat of the moment, when a condom just seemed…inconvenient. But as for the latter, I always got tired of the morning-after guilt and the fear that came with it, until the next time I could start yet another round of tests, that hopefully would NOT produce positive results.

    Porn became a very large part of my life during the AIDS crisis. Not just because I worked at a video store that made it readily accessible, but it became an invaluable refuge and an outlet, when the fear of bringing someone home and having them leave you with a ‘death sentence’ (at that time) was at its greatest…and most realistic. This is why I have always had the utmost respect for adult performers whenever I have had the good fortune to meet them, especially some of my ‘heroes.’ It provides a service that is more valuable and necessary than anyone ever will realize…or would be willing to acknowledge. But I am well past offering my two cents’ worth, so I’ll stop before I just dump out the whole goddamned piggy bank, (pun definitely intended.) Thanks again for this post.

    Reply
    • Jesse
      Jesse says:

      Sam,

      What an absolutely amazing story. I really can’t imagine what it must have been like to live through those days. The lessons you learned through such devastating loss and tragedy must not be lost on younger generations. Please, please, please keep telling your story. It matters.

      Thank you, and god bless.

      Jesse

      Reply
  13. Barry Alves-Brown
    Barry Alves-Brown says:

    Jesse thanks for your bold courage to share such a real world & personal encounter to all whom subscribe and follow you. Your message was poignant and definitely more effective than any (PSA) Public Service Announcement could be. Especially when you related your personal, close & abrupt experiences of potentially harmful risks. Your scenarios were tangible, full of implied hazards, yet you kept us focused by injecting your precautions/warnings climaxing in a poignant prevention statement. You highlighted your humanity, while causing us to emote and reconsider our impulsive decisions, which may result with costly medications, physical discomfort & loss of friends, abandonment, desolation & and the receipient of unsavory comments by our peers. Jesse, I hope your message will have an impact upon many unsuspecting men considering a bareback group experience! You might not be a ‘life saver,’ but consider yourself a ‘life preserver.’ Jesse you are the ‘Messenger,’ “”GOD Bless You.”

    Reply
    • Jesse
      Jesse says:

      Barry… thank you. That comment really made my day. The only way I know how to write is to be honest and open… and I’m gratified that it comes across. Speaking of PSAs, by the way, I’m currently in negotiations with Fenway Health, the world’s largest gay- and lesbian-oriented health care organization (at least I think this is still the case), to become an official spokesman for PEP and PrEP. I have clearance from Titan and from the Fenway leadership… all I have to do now is work with their outreach group to set something up. We’ve had some initial discussions… I’m hoping for some print advertising (posters in clubs and the like), and maybe a video along the lines of what François Sagat filmed a few years ago:

      Great things are happening, and I’m very, very excited to be a part of it.

      Reply

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