The Grind

“Did you or did you not just bleed on me?!
~A Gay Friend

One of my friends had quite a bit of an adventure over this past week, and I asked him to share his story with me as long as I didn’t state his name. I felt like his story encapsulated a small vignette of what can happen on a seemingly normal night here.

“I’m a little calmer now and life seems a little bit more settled. Last Sunday I had a scheduled hookup with this dude that I met from Grindr. We had already vetted each other by meeting in public the week before during that awesome 80 degree day. I remember chatting for a long time until I met up with him at some cafe near Johns Hopkins University. We connected and had a good time talking about our beliefs, families, and lifestyles. What really struck me was how we discussed the balance of being Catholics but still believing that being a sexually active gay person fit in with our beliefs.

We both needed to go back to work after our chat at the cafe, and scheduled to hookup on Sunday. Sunday rolls along and he comes over to my apartment. We make out and play around for a bit. At some point I hear him say, “Uh oh!” As most sexual encounters go, hearing “Uh oh!” never represents anything good. It turns out that he started bleeding due to the roughness, and some of the blood entered into some unwanted areas. We quickly stopped the hookup and I asked him to detail his entire sexual history and STI tests to me.

After our open discussion, I started to laugh at how ridiculous this situation had become. I expected a normal hookup and ended up having an HIV/STI scare. I scrambled to find a way to receive PEP, post-exposure prophylaxis medicine that would severely reduce the possibility of HIV taking hold in my bloodstream. On Monday I scheduled an appointment with Chase Brexton, the addiction treatment center that also serves a large part of the LGBTIQ+ community in Baltimore City. Within hours of arriving at the health center I was registered, seen by a specialist, got tested for Gonorrhea, Syphilis, and HIV as well as received a one-month PEP regimen.

I had never navigated the system before, and felt both comfortable and uncomfortable experiencing something so new at the health center. I was sitting int he living room with parents and their small children, transgendered youth, sickly-looking patients, and delirious old people wandering the corridors. However, I felt very content going through the system in order to receive the medication that I needed in order to be sexually responsible. It’s a small, ridiculous story to share with the world.”

I remember laughing at my friend’s story and how ridiculous it was. I couldn’t even fathom something like that happening to me, but it made me realize that if something like that ever happened to me then I would be okay.