Sexual stigma and respect

The gay community suffers sexual stigma, some of it from inside the community, such as shaming for sexual promiscuity and describing people as ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’. Stigmatising sex does nothing to reduce sexual risk but respecting people’s sexual choices and keeping yourself safe does.

Marcelo says he experiences most stigma on gay apps. “Because I am open about having bareback sex I get a lot of criticism online. People assume that you are giving everyone HIV. But I am always honest with guys, telling them I am HIV positive and undetectable and asking about their status too. It is not risk-free sex but everyone is informed and makes a choice.”

Equally, guys who use condoms can experience stigma too. “I had a guy basically have a go at me on for mentioning condoms to him,” said Richard. “He said he didn’t sleep with ‘people like me’. Sometimes you feel under pressure.”

So, what can you do if someone doesn’t respect your sexual choices?


Only do what you enjoy

Don’t feel under pressure to have sex that you aren’t comfortable with. This increases the sexual risks you take, causing anxiety and worry.


Understand we are not all compatible

Move on. Lots of men aren’t compatible for lots of reasons; whether it is in a relationship or in the bedroom. Declining someone politely is absolutely acceptable.


Be clear

Being clear from the start about your own sexual choices makes it much easier than having a conversation when you’re about to have sex.


Don’t get caught up in an argument.

Don’t fight fire with fire. If he’s disrespectful to you don’t throw it back at him. Just end the conversation calmly and forget the drama.


Respect others

Spread the love. If you are respectful of others it’s more likely they’ll be respectful to you. Building a respectful community starts with you.