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As gay, bi or straight men who have sex with other men, we know that the world at large remains uncomfortable when it comes to man-on-man action. It can lead us to create hidden ways to hook-up with other guys. Other than its ease of use, that’s one of the many reasons the internet dating scene has blossomed within the gay community.

There is, however, a potential problem when these internet hook-ups come into our houses, making us vulnerable to attacks. Picking up someone from the street also opens us up to danger. When you have sex where no-one is around (like your home or a park), the pick-up can attack you. He could also lay false charges against you or blackmail you.

There is admittedly some thrill in the anonymity of casual sex, but do not let this put you in unnecessary danger. On-site sex venues might be a better place to have casual sex as there are other people around and it is a controlled environment.

South Africa is often described as a more violent and aggressive society than most, so be smart. Here are some common- sense suggestions to help make your hook-ups safer. But do remember that when you have sex with someone you don’t know in an isolated environment that there will always an element of risk.

Things to avoid

  • When first chatting to someone online look out for stories or comments that contradict other things he might have said. Look out for any obvious lying and deceit. It could be minor, but be aware that he could be hiding more than the fact that he’s married.
  • Don’t be naive. Be aware that not everyone you meet online is looking for the same thing as you, even if they say they are. Some may be more interested in your money than your body.
  • Avoid giving out your address too easily and to just any guy you meet online. Try to first get to know him by chatting over a few days. Exchange a couple of e-mails or try to meet him in a neutral and public space first, like a coffee shop.
  • Avoid anyone that starts asking for some kind of financial assistance or money (unless this was something made clear up front and you are willing to pay for sex).
  • Don’t go to a hook-up without leaving some record of where you’re going. Ideally tell someone where you’re off to – even if it is just in an e-mail to a friend (don’t be shy to mention to your hook-up that you’ve done this).
  • Don’t leave expensive items lying around if you invite a strange guy to your home. Put away any items of value – wallet, laptop, money, iPad etc.
  • When hooking-up, be concerned if the guy doesn’t want to use condoms or water-based lube. Just because he’s hot or you’re feeling hot n’ heavy doesn’t mean you should risk your health.
  • Try not to get too drunk or high when going out, rather do this in a safe environment. If you’re drunk and/or high you are more likely to do things that may not be good for you.
  • Don’t do anything that you don’t feel comfortable doing. If it feels wrong or dangerous you may want to turn around and leave the situation.

Things to do

  • If possible, organise to first meet the guy in a public place, say for coffee or a drink, before hooking-up. Be seen with him by other people and if you feel comfortable then consider going home with him or taking him to your place.
  • If you meet him at a club or bar, introduce him to a friend and let your friend know that you’re leaving with the guy.
  • Be prepared. What will you do if the guy arrives and he turns out not to be who or what you expected or hoped for?
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Is there an opportunity for you to leave if he becomes aggressive? Are there people around?
  • Rather than inviting someone to your home or going to his, it is probably safer to meet him at a sex club or steam bath, where there are other people around.
  • Make sure that you have plenty of condoms and water-based lube at hand when someone comes to you.
  • If you’re going to a guy’s place take your own condoms and water-based lube. Don’t assume that he will have this available.
  • If you do end up having unsafe sex or your condom breaks, make sure you contact a clinic (such as Health4Men at OUT) or a doctor for a course of PEP within 72 hours to avoid becoming infected with HIV.

For advice and information on PEP and health services for men who have sex with men, contact OUT on 012 430 3272 

Luiz DeBarros