One area that seems to cause a lot of debate within the gay community is along the subject of STDs. We really don’t want to admit that our community has STDs running rampant, even though this isn’t necessarily a criticism that can only be made amongst gay youth. Straight teens are just as much at risk for STDs as anyone else.
So what you need to do right now is strip out the politics, the health studies, and the media and think about how STDs think about your life. You want to ensure that you are taking care of your body, because it’s the only one that you have. You don’t want to get caught up in a web of lies that can take away your health.
First and foremost, if you are sexually active, you should be getting tested — period. Don’t think that just because you can’t see anything on your partner doesn’t mean that you can’t be passed something. The reality is that some STDs can take weeks, months, or even years before it manifests in a person. You have to ensure that you are staying safe. If you feel that you might be at greater risk for passing along an STD due to a direct contact with someone that has an active infection, you need to be honest with anyone else that comes along.
One of the worst breaches of trust that you can think of is when you have someone that has an STD but doesn’t tell anyone. This is actually how STDs spread like crazy. You wake up to find that so many people have a disease that they can give you, and that’s not anything to laugh about. Would you really want someone to treat you that way?
If we want to reach for equality, then it starts at home. We need to make sure that we’re treating each other with respect. Hiding an STD out of fear is understandable, but it’s still not acceptable. If you really want to ensure that everything is taken care of, then you definitely need to start thinking about getting checked regularly.
There are many planned parenthoods and sliding scale clinics that offer STD testing. You can also check out GLAAD’s resources on the matter — a quick Google search reveals all of these points and more.
The bottom line is that we can’t just pretend like STDs aren’t an issue. In fact, if we treat them faster, we may be able to prevent more people from getting exposed.
It’s equally important to make sure that you’re not only disclosing, but you’re practicing in risk aware sexual safety practices. Safe sex is a bit of a misnomer — you’re never fully safe, but you are at least risk aware of what’s going on. You are aware of what can go wrong. You are using protection.
For gay teens today, this means that you want to use condoms. You can also use dental dams for oral sex. If you are using sex toys in the bedroom, they need to be used with condoms as well. There are non-latex condoms if you have a latex sensitivity.
Be sure that you are really taking this seriously. It’s your body and it’s your life — live it the way you were meant to live it!