POZlife

POZLife: Life from the Infected and Effected point of veiw.

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Pig?

Posted by pozlife on September 15, 2006

The emergence of a sex-pig subculture is attracting the attention of health professionals and anti-gay groups alike, writes Geoff Honnor.

One of the priority groups for NSW HIV and STI prevention efforts with gay men over the next 12 months will be sex pigs. Research data point to specific risk for guys who fit that description. So, what is a sex pig? And how do you know if you are one (if you haven’t already worked it out already)?

Two testaments might help here. The first is the life-affirming praise for the delights of the gay male arse-munch offered by Sauna Sessions maestro, Seymour Butz, in the letters page of last week’s SX. The second comes from American lobbyists, Concerned Women For America (sounding suspiciously like a South Park episode), whose abridged but still helpfully descriptive mid-year press release runs as follows:

It might well have been called a “Disease Fest,” but a homosexual “pig sex” orgy went forward, apparently without interruption, on May 24 in a warehouse in Chicago.

The event was timed to coincide with the annual sadomasochistic “International Mr. Leather” celebration, which reportedly drew up to 2,000 “leathermen” to the Hyatt Regency Chicago hotel May 23-27. Pro-family activists in the Chicago area had alerted law enforcement and health authorities to the events and noted the potential health hazard.

The “pig” event was advertised as being held from late on Friday night, May 24 until the early hours of the next morning. It was devoted to homosexual men who practice sodomy, and the most extreme and perverse acts of the sadistic “leather” subculture – including “fisting”.

… and more arse-munching than pro-family activists dreamed possible, no doubt.

If your reaction to that is something like, “Woo-hoo! Book the air tickets!”, you’re almost certainly a sex pig but, sadly, you’ll have to wait till IML 2007 for a bit of a wallow.

In the meantime, you probably aren’t short of opportunities to indulge right here. Guys that fit into this category – and let’s acknowledge that not everyone who does indulge wants to embrace a porcine comparison – tend to be innovative, imaginative and pretty much devoted to the down and dirty arts.

Social researchers have come up with some characteristics that can broadly define this group of guys. These include: having lots of sex (which is kind of a no-brainer, I guess), particularly group sex; being older – over 30; a higher likelyhood of being HIV-positive; having a broader than normal sexual repertoire, that might include a whole bunch of good stuff including WS/FF/TT/CBT/GSSG (great sleazy sex generally); and not forgetting, of course, porn – in fact, Concerned Women For America do helpfully point out that the Path to Perversion is Paved with Pornography.

Gay culture and sex culture, generally, owe a great deal to sex pigs. They’re out there on the dimly lit frontier of sexual exploration like a sweaty, greasy Burke and Wills expedition (often with built-in water supplies!) paving the way for successive generations of guys to experience the sheer delight of revelling in their sexuality.

That they do so against a constant backdrop of health risk makes the voyage even more impressive because, for the most part, sex pigs manage the pleasure and health boundary fairly well. Many guys who celebrate being a gay man in this way have a lot of skill and knowledge in negotiating the journey and take deserved pride in knowing how to keep themselves, and the men they get in on with, free from harm.

Gay men have been innovative in finding ways to do this and Concerned Women of America might have done worse than to have dirtied up and dropped in on the Chicago Pig Sex Event to have checked out how it happens.

Perceptions of sexual excess and extremism have always created concern in onlookers and, in the age of AIDS, it’s hardly surprising that the gay sex pig might get a bad rep. What is much less clear to onlookers is how much effort can go into maintaining a shared sense of dealing with risk. Can you find caring, empathy and tribal solidarity in an all-night play scene? You can – more often than some might think.

“Up all night” drugs – particularly crystal – have featured fairly prominently as the issue du jour in community media in recent times and it’s worth pointing out that there’s a significant difference between sex pigs and guys who are so out of it they’d have trouble telling the difference between a session with Bill, Bob, Barry and Brendan and a container-load of telephone poles. If you need a shitload of drugs to enter into the sex pig moment then you might need to rethink whether you actually are one – plus a rethink of a whole bunch of other stuff besides.

Clearly, all in the sex pig sty isn’t satisfactory, otherwise researchers wouldn’t be identifying this group as a priority intervention area, but it’s about approach: if risk is to be minimised then it’s important to acknowledge the fact that sex pigs can be pretty knowledgeable, on-to-it (and into it) guys and work with them on that basis.

A greasy salute to sex pigs everywhere – clenched fist optional – wouldn’t hurt at the outset.


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