Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Belly Up to the Bar, Boys!

Is someone who stays out until four in the morning drinking an alcoholic? Anon.

I assume you're either talking about yourself or a gay friend of yours, as all sorts of people enjoy drinking until the wee hours. And no, it doesn't automatically mean that someone is an alcoholic just because they close the bar on occasion, especially on weekends and special occasions. Even being a heavy drinker doesn't necessarily mean that someone is addicted to alcohol, which is basically what being an alcoholic means. The question is: how often does a person party? If a person is getting legally drunk every or most nights in the week, it is not a healthy situation. In excess, alcohol is essentially a poison.

Let's face it -- some people like to party, and in the bar scene, alcohol is part of the equation. Staying out late [unless you're constantly late for work and get fired] isn't a problem. The problem is exactly how much alcohol a person is consuming, and how it affects their behavior. In my opinion, a person doesn't have to be an alcoholic to have a "drinking problem" if he: a.) gets arrested on a fairly regular basis whenever he gets drunk; b.) turns hostile and is always getting thrown out of bars when he's drunk; c.) just can't handle his liquor and never knows when to stop; d.) drinks and drives; e.) mixes alcohol with illegal and or prescription drugs for a very bad combination and reaction, and f.) indulges in seriously unsafe sex due to alcohol consumption. [It also has to be said that many alcoholics are not obviously so. That is, they don't go out to bars and come home shit-faced. They can be closet, secretive drinkers. And there are different stages to alcoholism.]

Then there's the question of black outs. If a person never remembers how they got home or who they talked to [or had sex with!!!], they are clearly drinking too much.

I suggest that anyone who thinks they may be over-indulging try this test. Go out one night and make up your mind not to get so wasted that you won't remember the entire evening [not that you have to remember every single detail or half-witticism]. You may get a buzz, feel a little light-headed and happy, but basically -- stay in control. If it's absolutely impossible for you to do this, even if you try it more than once, there may be some reason for concern.

Some people drink too much not because they're alcoholic but because they are going through a particularly difficult period, and they use alcohol to wipe away the stress and temporarily forget what ails them. Of course, this can sometimes lead to additional problems.

But bar-hopping, drinking [moderately], and staying out late isn't of itself a problem unless the other factors I mentioned above are present.

Also remember that some people are unapologetic drinkers, and as long as they're not consuming volumes of alcohol every day, it isn't necessarily a problem. When it was recently said that having more than three drinks at a time was considered a binge, it engendered laughter in many quarters. As one fellow put it: "Three drinks? Hell, I'm just getting started!"

Scar on the Abdomen

I was wondering if you know anything about a scar on the abdomen in the gay guys. My good friend has one and he gets very upset when asked about it, I also noticed similar scar on another gay man's abdomen. FYI my friend is from former soviet union, could that be something with mafia or some gay abuse? Anon,

I confess this is a new one on me. When most people have scars on their abdomen or elsewhere it is generally due to surgery. It's just as likely that your friend from the soviet union may have had an appendectomy (surgical removal of an infected appendix) and he may be embarrassed by the scar, therefore he closes down when you ask him about it. I have never heard of any particular gay abuse in the Soviet Union or elsewhere that has to do with abdominal scars, although in certain nations where homosexuality is considered a crime and immoral, there have been, tragically, cases of gays being tortured and murdered in very painful and horrible circumstances. Therefore scars from injuries are certainly within the realm of possibility. Whatever the case with your friend, he is obviously not prepared as of yet to talk about it, so cut him some slack. When he's ready to confide -- and if he feels a need to confide in you -- he will do so. Thanks for an interesting question.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bare-Backing Lover

My lover and I have an open relationship but recently I learned to my GREAT distress that he has been bare-backing -- and he's a bottom. He doesn't seem to be possessed of the self-hatred that you've mentioned, but when it's so easy to have your sex partner slip on a condom ... I just can't understand his behavior. What can I do about this? Anon.

Frankly, I can't understand his behavior either. [For the record, bare-backing is engaging in anal sex without using a condom.] I know some tops complain that they don't like to wear condoms, that it interferes with the sensations that they feel [although in that case I would recommend experimenting with different types of condoms, and there are plenty] but it shouldn't make that much difference to a bottom (and again bottoms can also experiment with different types of condoms). Let me make it clear that unprotected anal sex is the absolutely riskiest behavior for gay men. While it is much, much riskier for bottoms, there have been documented cases of tops getting HIV because they didn't use a condom as well.

As for your lover's behavior, there are several explanations [besides the fact that he's being very stupid]. If he's very young, he may feel he's invincible and that bad things only happen to other people -- even though, to everyone else, he is "other people." It's possible his "extra-marital" relationships occur when he's under the influence of something, and he's careless. People who are sexually active should carry condoms at all times and be prepared for every circumstance. If your sex partner says he doesn't have a condom, pull one out of your pocket -- pronto. If he doesn't want to use it, say good-night -- no matter how hot he is. Some sexual experiences just aren't worth the danger.

HIV may not be the death sentence that it once was, but people should by no means take it casually. AIDS is still a serious medical condition that can impact a person's entire life. Simply being HIV positive, while nothing to despair over necessarily, can have a serious effect on a person's general health and social status. Too many people, of all races, genders and orientations, mistakenly believe that HIV/AIDS is "no big deal." You have to make sure that your lover is made aware of this by showing him this and other posts on the subject, nagging him until it finally sinks in. Not only is he risking his own health, but yours as well.

You and your partner need to get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Again, being HIV positive, even having AIDS, is not the end of the world, as there are treatments that can help patients lead a more or less normal life [although it must be said that not everyone responds to treatment, which is another reason to swear off bare-backing]. But the fact that AIDS may be more treatable than it once was, does not mean that it's nothing to worry about. And other STDs are on the rise.

As for self-hatred, I've no doubt that some people who indulge in risky behavior have serious emotional issues, but in your lover's case it may simply be carefree, foolish recklessness on his part. If drugs or alcohol are influencing his behavior, then those issues must be addressed as well. [Don't get so drunk or fucked up that you can't wear a condom or remember to insist that your sex partner put one on.]

I'm in favor of open relationships. But for them to work, both partners have to be responsible. Which means safe sex at all times -- no exceptions!

Nag your lover about this until it sinks in.