Speaking up for yourself

Talking about the sex you want can be hard. And stigma, discrimination, shame, and misunderstanding make it even tougher to speak up.

So how can you assert yourself, or stick to your plan in a tough situation? For example, how do you react when a guy doesn’t reach to get a condom before fucking, and you haven’t talked about sexual health? Confident guys speaking upOr how do you respond when that really hot guy you’ve been cruising for years finally agrees to meet up, but says something ignorant about HIV-positive guys or trans people?

Sometimes standing up for yourself or being honest can put a stop to the sex you’re having, or are about to have. This is especially true when it comes to conversations about HIV status. Sometimes insisting that you use condoms, or that you don’t, might mean passing on the opportunity to have sex with a guy you want to hook up with. Sometimes saying aloud what feels good or bad to you will make you stand out. It’s not always easy to accept that you’ll miss out on something you wanted in that moment. But it can help stop you from losing control over situations that might end up with you feeling guilty or regretful.

Speaking up for yourself often means gathering the guts to disclose something to the guy you’re hooking up with.

Sometimes it can mean asking your doctor for what you really need, or finding a doctor you can trust with that information.

An important part of speaking up for what you want is the knowledge that you deserve what makes you feel good and safe. With a bit of practice, talking about it becomes much easier.

Whatever the situation, you are always the best person to speak up for yourself. If you can plan to do it, and find the confidence to say what you need to say, you’ll be one step closer to the sex you want.

Finding Resources

Life isn’t easy, especially not for gay guys and other men who have sex with men. There are lots of factors that can make us feel alone, like stress, anxiety, depression, body image, racism, violence, relationship issues, substance use… the list goes on. Dealing with this kind of stuff doesn’t have to be something you do on your own — there’s help out there.

Counselors, coaches, therapists, and other mental health practitioners can help you think through the problems going on in your life and offer you help to solve them. It can take some courage, but finding someone to talk to can help you get through difficult times and issues that don’t seem to go away. The 519 Community Centre has a great resource on finding queer and trans affirming therapy.

So take care of yourself. Get support.

ConnexOntario operates three helplines that provide health services information for people experiencing problems with gambling, drugs or alcohol and mental illness. They can:

• provide contact information for services and supports in your community
• listen, offer support and provide strategies to help you meet your goals
• provide basic education about gambling, drug or alcohol and mental health problems

The Canadian Mental Health Association has 32 branches across Ontario providing community mental health services. Click here to find your local branch

Community based AIDS Service Organizations provide a safe space for gay men to connect. They can also be very helpful at providing referrals to a variety of community support services. Everything from mental health and substance use to housing and income support. Visit our finding local services page to find your local organization.