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Let's Talk About H.E.A.L.T.H.

by The 4-Way Panel

Dear 4-Way,

I’ve been sexually active for more than twenty years, and nowadays, it’s pretty darn easy to fall in bed on the first or second meeting or “date”—if that’s what we even call it these days. Here’s the real question: when and how is the right time to ask that all important "sexy health” question? Ten years ago, I thought it was almost foreplay to ask, “Hey, wanna go get a blood test together?” as a way to start off a sexual relationship with a clean bill of health. But we’re concerned about more than just AIDS. STDs are just as critical. To get down and dirty here, my experiences often go like this: making out (kissing, clothes on); heavy petting (feeling each other, under the clothes, clothes come off); oral sex (why this often happens before sex, I’m not sure, but it seems to work out that way); sex. Oral sex can be just as dangerous if someone has herpes for example, and is in no way “safe” sex. But when relationships get physical so easily these days, I’d like to be down about getting that important knowledge on the table before going down. I also don’t want to be a turn-off, mood killer, or turn the conversation into something that seems premature for the emotional stage of the relationship. Thoughts?—NQ

Darren    The gay man’s perspective: Darren Maddox 
 
Hey, NQ, the eighties called and they want their naiveté back! Sweetie, if you think it’s a mood killer to ask a guy what he’s packin’ before you get physical, imagine what a downer it’s going to be when you find out you should have sucked up 2.3 seconds worth of embarrassment to avoid a lifetime living with something you can’t shake! Seriously, I think it’s expected to get that question out of the way somewhere between heavy petting and stepping up to the mic. Why not get it all out on the table so you can really enjoy yourself? If you’re embarrassed to bring it up, you don’t have to come right out and ask about a particular disease. You can ask “do you have anything I need to know about before we go any further?” He’s going to know exactly what you’re talking about. And if he has any self-respect at all, he’s going to give you an honest answer. Otherwise, you will have no one but yourself to blame when you discover some mystery fluid and have to track down the source of it. In today’s sexually active world, not having that conversation is simply not an option for you, me, or anyone else reading this column.
 
Check in tomorrow to read the straight woman's perspective by Rebecca Brown.

The 4-Way is published monthly. If you have a question for our 4-Way panel, please send it to them in care of the editor at rbrown@realgirlsmedia.com. To read more of The 4-Way columns or to listen to our podcasts, visit The 4-Way now.