City Paper is not for tourists
I’m a 21-year-old straight guy with a boring, straight sex life. At least, I was until a few months ago, when something terrifying happened.
Back in May, I was contacted by somebody through Match.com. She claimed to be a grad student at my school and had a very attractive photo, and we began IMing. She talked about how she was looking for a casual deal, and she started going on and on about how much she loved giving head and liked receiving anal. A bit kinkier than what I’m used to, I thought, but it’s Match.com, that’s safe, and she’s a grad student at a good school. Nothing to worry about.
So I agreed—awful decision—to meet up. When I got to the bar where we’d agreed to meet, she called me and told me to come to her friend’s apartment instead. When I got there, it was totally dark. She called again and told me not to turn any lights on when I came in, just to get naked in the bed and wait for her. I decided to leave, because I was afraid I was going to get robbed or beaten up. She called again and said we could meet at another nearby bar. I waited at the bar for 10 minutes. Another phone call. She told me she couldn’t come to a public place because she wasn’t comfortable, but she asked to give me oral sex. Another awful decision: I went back to her “friend’s apartment” and complied with her original instructions. I didn’t turn on any lights; I got naked; I got in bed. A slim person came into the dark room, but there was a towel covering her face and I didn’t get a look at her body. She started going down on me; it was awful and uncomfortable.
Then the horror. While I wasn’t paying attention to her—instead concentrating so I could climax and get the hell out—this person got on top and inserted me into her. Unprotected. I suddenly realized I was feeling something I’d never felt before: anal sex. I was inside for maybe 30 seconds before I jumped out of the bed. “She” ran out. When I turned on the lights and looked around it seemed clear that I was in a man’s apartment. I got out of the place in a hurry and didn’t look back. I should have called the police but didn’t.
Since the moment this happened, I’ve been living with a crippling fear of HIV. During the summer, I got tested three times—four weeks, six weeks, and nine weeks after the incident, all negatives—but that only calms me down for a few days until the panic sets in again. I told my best friend about this, and he pushed me into therapy, and I’ve started seeing a psychiatrist.
Here’s the advice-needed part of my letter: Aside from continuing therapy and getting retested, how can I put my life back together? Casual mentions of HIV/AIDS are enough to induce an anxiety attack. I barely sleep at night. My (nonexclusive) relationship with a girl I care about has been ruined. (Or: I ruined it—no passives.) Do you think I have grounds to file an assault charge? I certainly accept my part of the responsibility for this—it was my horniness and carelessness that put me in a vulnerable position, and I did give my consent to the oral sex. But I did not give consent to have anal sex with anyone, and if it was a man I didn’t consent to any of it.
Shortly after this happened, I contacted the person again, asking if she/he was clean. She/he responded by suggesting that we meet again. Would it be a good idea to arrange another meeting? Obviously I wouldn’t put myself at further risk, but I could at least figure out the person’s gender—by force if I had to.—Scared and Seeking Advice
I’m printing SASA’s letter in its entirety so that other young men can learn from his mistakes. His bedrock fuckup—which, to SASA’s credit, he identifies himself—was letting his horniness get the better of him. If SASA had been thinking with his head and not his dick, he would have bailed on this “woman” early on in their deeply creepy courtship. Had he paused to think, perhaps he would have remembered the first rule of Internet personals—and everything else, for that matter: “If it sounds too good be true, it is.” An attractive girl lurking on a personals site offering no-strings-attached blowjobs and anal sex (but not, curiously enough, vaginal intercourse) to men she’s never met? Not on planet Earth. (Yes, yes: There are plenty of women who are into oral, anal, and NSA, but these women are, by necessity, a hell of a lot more cautious than this “woman” was—and they generally don’t wear towels over their faces.)
I don’t mean to pour salt in your well-salted wounds, SASA. You know you fucked up, and you know how. But I hope you take some comfort in knowing that other young men won’t fall for a similar con after reading your story. And I would urge you to stop freaking out about how long you’ve been freaking out about this. You did something so colossally stupid, so monumentally idiotic, that I would be more concerned if you had bounced back in a week. That would be evidence that you hadn’t really learned your lesson. By spending a few months mortifying and terrifying you in turn, SASA, your brain is making sure that you don’t let your dick do the thinking the next time someone makes you an offer that’s too good to be true.
OK, let’s get to the advice part of your letter. Aside from staying in therapy (which I recommend), getting retested (at three and six months), and refraining from stripping naked in a darkened apartment and accepting blowjobs from “women” with towels over their heads, how can you put your life back together? By taking this statement of fact to heart: Your chances of getting HIV from the encounter you describe—briefly being blown, a moment in someone’s ass—are vanishingly small. Even if this person is HIV-positive, it’s still highly unlikely that you were infected.
But it’s not just the fear of HIV infection that’s keeping you up nights, is it? What really concerns you is this mysterious person’s gender—hence your fantasies about meeting up with this person again and determining her gender “by force.” The suspense is terrible, so let’s end it: You definitely fucked a dude, SASA. There are a number of homos out there trolling the Internet looking for straight guys. The good ones are only interested in straight guys who are heteroflexible enough to accept a blowjob from another guy without having a panic attack immediately after they come. But there are, I’m sorry to say, a handful of extraordinarily evil faggots out there who will—sometimes with the help of an equally evil female friend—trick straight guys into having sex with them.
Were you raped? Should you press charges? I’m running out of space, but my spider senses tell me that shitloads of people—cops, lawyers, rape counselors, and guys who’ve been similarly victimized—are going to write in. I’ll run their responses, and more of my thoughts, in next week’s column.
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Dan Savage’s new book—The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family—is on sale now. Send your Savage Love questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.