Guidebook promotes safer sex for gay men

Anal sex, gay bathhouses and recreational drugs. Those are among the topics that readers of Gay Sex Guru: Safer Sex Guide For Gay Men will learn about as they flip through the pages of the new guide.

Published by Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association, the manual is designed to promote sexual health and disease prevention in the gay community from a pragmatic point of view, physicians and gay rights activists said.

Gender/Sexuality Rights Association Taiwan secretary-general Wang Ping said that closing one’s eyes to sex and recreational drug use was to avoid real life.

Sex education has to address individuals’ needs and be rooted in real-life experiences so that people can learn useful information and make informed decisions, she said.

The Tongzhi Hotline first published a gay sex manual in 2005, using educational material from the UK. The content of the new handbook is based on the experiences of local communities and written by members of the association. Moreover, unlike most sex education materials available in Taiwan that use drawings and cartoons for illustration purposes, real persons were recruited to get the message across in the guide.

“We have learned from Western experience that human models are more attractive than cartoon figures, and if you want people to learn, you need to attract their attention first,” said Tu Ssu-cheng, director of policy advocacy at the association.

The manual offers plenty of grassroots, detailed knowledge on safe sex. For example, the chapter on gay saunas provides information ranging from how to pack for an outing to Taiwan’s gay bathhouses to how to say no to invitations.

In the chapter on recreational drugs, the most common types of party drugs are introduced and suggestions are made to help readers keep the risk to a minimum.

“Sometimes, wearing condoms is just not a viable option. So we will say ‘OK, you can do this or that’ … rather than: ‘No, you have to wear it,’” Tu said. “Our approach is to reduce harm by offering practical advice.”

The main objective of the book is to provide correct safe-sex knowledge, clarify confusion and break sex myths, Tu added.

“The sex education taught at school is designed from a heterosexual point of view. So there are gays who don’t know it is best to use condoms and lubricants, and to apply the lubricant all over the condom instead of on the tip,” he said. “There is a big gap to fill.”

Physician Luo I-chun, who works at the Centers for Disease Control, pointed to the lack of sufficient sex education for teenagers, adding that it was not uncommon for young people to think that sexually transmitted diseases can not be transmitted through oral sex or that they can be detected simply by examining the appearances of external genital organs. Ironically, the manual is off-limits to people under 18 because of its “R” rating.

Hsu Hao-chien, founder of High School Uniforms Federation, a social network for young gays and lesbians, said that safe sex needs to be learned and practiced, not just a thing people suddenly know about when they reach 18.

The guidebook is available for free at the office of Tongzhi Hotline, gay saunas and bathhouses, LGBT-friendly stores, LGBT resource centers and HIV/AIDS organizations across the country.

by Ho Yi, Staff reporter
Source – Taipei Times