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Interview 29

Age at interview: 23
Brief Outline: He went for a check-up to a sexual health clinic run on the premises of a local youth advice centre.
Background: Young gay man who works as a volunteer in a youth group project in the inner city. He plans to go to University and continue his studies.

More about me...

 

Describes his experience of going for a check-up to a sexual health clinic run on the premises of...

Describes his experience of going for a check-up to a sexual health clinic run on the premises of...

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I've wanted to have a test for a while, but I've always been scared of going into hospitals and I don't really like hospitals and the whole thought of going into a hospital scares me.

But there's an organisation in [city] that I went to that has a clinic on a Monday night, so I went there and it's a nice environment, safe, colourful and it doesn't feel, it's not a hospital so, you know, they have a clinic downstairs and it felt comfortable there. So..

So it was sort of embarrassment or...?

I was embarrassed, very, yeah. I went there and they ask you awkward questions like about your sex life and you know, how many partners you've had and stuff like that and it was a bit embarrassing, so like you know, asking questions, especially when there's two people in the room with you. So I was a bit, a bit nervous and scared. But it was OK, they made me feel welcome and safe and I felt OK.

And how was the experience of having the tests done?

Scary. I'm still a bit nervous.

Can you describe to me sort of what it is like, for the website?

Yeah. What they did is they took me into the clinic area, asked me a few questions and personal details and partners I've had, if I've used protection, have I been tested before.  And then they suggested what I'm, 'cos I'm a gay man, young gay man, what I should be tested for HIV, syphilis, 'cos there's an epidemic going around [city] at the moment of Syphilis and Hepatitis.

And they give you a blood test, HIV test and then they give you the vaccine, Hepatitis vaccine. And then in two weeks time I get my results and then I have another vaccine of Hepatitis, and then I have to go back in six months for my third one.

It's just that I wanted to make sure that I was safe, I've never been before and I've been sexually active since like '98 and it's like five years now and I've not been tested at all, so I thought it was about time that I was tested. Just to be on the, to make sure for myself, 'cos I've had a few partners, and casual partners.
 

Says that unprotected sex with casual partners is very risky for gay men.

Says that unprotected sex with casual partners is very risky for gay men.

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Do you feel at risk or not at risk of a sexually transmitted infection?

 

Definitely at risk.

 

Why because you have had unprotected sex?

 

Yeah, in being a gay male I think you are more at risk if you have, if you have casual partners as well and you don't know where other people have been, if they have gone cruising in parks or, you never know what you're gonna pick up, so the best way I suppose is to use protection to be safe.

 

So why do you say gay people are more at risk?

 

Because a lot of people are frightened of coming out, or having relationships, or a lot of, a lot of gay people are, that are not out, have wives and kids and then they go to toilets or parks to have sex with different partners. And they do it, some people do it every day, some people do it, you know, twice a week, three times a week and have sex with their wife as well, so the different sexual partners they have, you could catch anything, you know, crabs, all sorts.

 

Explains that his awareness about safe sex springs from working in a youth project and thinks...

Explains that his awareness about safe sex springs from working in a youth project and thinks...

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Since I've been working for the youth organization, I've been working for a lesbian, gay, bisexual project before in [town], and that's when I started to find out about STD's properly. You know I heard a bit at school but it wasn't nothing that stuck in my mind until I actually worked for this organization. And I found that out, and found out quite a bit about STD's, which are now called STI's.

When I was doing voluntary work, when I started doing voluntary work, I was finding out a bit more about STI's and stuff like that. And it was quite, quite shocking actually how you can get STI's and stuff like that. And then reading up some information on stuff, and that's when I got my knowledge, from them.

Definitely at risk.

Why because you have had unprotected sex?

Yeah, in being a gay male I think you are more at risk if you have, if you have casual partners as well and you don't know where other people have been, if they have gone cruising in parks or, you never know what you're gonna pick up, so the best way I suppose is to use protection to, to be safe.

So why do you think gay people are more at risk?

Because a lot of people are frightened of coming out, or having relationships, or a lot of gay people are, that are not out, have wives and kids and then they go to toilets or parks to have sex with different partners. And they do it, some people do it every day, some people do it, you know, twice a week, three times a week and have sex with their wife as well, so the different sexual partners they have, you could catch anything, you know, crabs, all sorts.

It might seem horrible and weird the first time putting on a condom, you lose interest and stuff, but it's for your protection so, you know, it's the best way.
 

Describes the situation he found himself in after he was kicked out of his home by his stepfather...

Describes the situation he found himself in after he was kicked out of his home by his stepfather...

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Well, I've sort of always known I've been gay from, from being young I've always liked men and stuff, and like fancied boys at school and stuff like that. I first told my sister in '95 that I was gay and I suffered a lot of depression because I didn't know how to handle the fact that I was gay or that I liked men. 

 

'Cos living in [city] it's not the normal thing to be gay really, it's like family orientated and stuff, so I, I went through a depression stage of coping with my sexuality.  

 

So I told my sister in '95 and then in '98 I came out to my mum and the rest of my family that I was gay. My mum was OK with it actually. I was surprised! 

 

Why were you surprised?

 

Because I thought she was gonna like reject me or something like that. 

 

'Cos you know, there's always like sniggering remarks about gay people in the family, you see someone gay on telly it's like 'ooh gay man, ooh' you know, and stuff like that.  

 

So everyone in the family was like that, so I was a bit nervous about coming out. But everyone was fine actually, I was quite surprised. My step-dad didn't really like it that much and he kicked me out of the house that I was living in with my family, so I was homeless for a while because of it - for three years.

 

Well I was on the streets for a week and then I was approached by an organization that told me about the hostel that I was going, that they could be into, so they put me into the hostel for a week.

 

OK.  And how long did you live in the hostel?

 

Three years I was in there.

 

OK.  And during that time what did you do with yourself?

 

I had to give up my job and I had to give up my college course that I was on because I needed to be on benefits to be in a hostel otherwise they wouldn't let me in. So I had to give up my life basically to be in the hostel. 

 

But I found myself doing lots of voluntary work with like youth organizations and stuff within the area to keep my mind occupied and stuff. And it was basically recuperating and finding out what my rights were and you know, what I can do, so it was a lot of, a lot of thinking about my life and stuff like that.

 

I had a gay youth worker that was helping me, like chatting to me basically, but there's not much he could do really, so it was about finding out myself really, I had no one really to look up to or you know idolize because I wasn't out within myself, I wasn't like 'camp' as people say.  

 

And there was no one, I can look on telly and say yeah they've gone through it, there was nothing like that at that time. That I could see, so I had to cope by myself.

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