Safe sex more likely among gay men than female prostitutes
December 31, 2006
Since men who have sex with men (MSM) are less financially dependent on sex work as income, they are in a much stronger position to negotiate safe sex than female sex workers (FSW).
This is according to results from a study prepared by Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) Consultant Julia Terborg on “Perceptions and Behaviour regarding HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care among Female Sex Workers and Men who have Sex with Men”.
However, there are other conditions, such as location of the sex act, which influences negotiation with a client, whether commercial or non-commercial.
“I go right here at the club where there is privacy and that is the most important thing for me,” one such male sex worker said.
Terborg said that while cross-dressers openly operate in the streets and have no fixed areas where they solicit, gay (homosexual) men are much more discreet.
She noted that usually the location of the actual sex is highly dependent on the particular situation but privacy is a general guideline.
“I go to any number of places to have sex; streets, hotels and in the Gardens,” a male sex worker said.
Some acknowledged the dangers associated with certain recruitment spots but revealed that they are forced to select these places to remain hidden.
“Sometimes sex is unsafe… meaning that I'm at a place where I could be attacked, but it is to avoid recognition. When I run into somebody I know then I will go to unsafe places which put me at risk of being attacked,” the worker said.
According to Terborg , Guyana has a small number of MSM who are highly mobile and travel between countries in particular, French Guiana and Suriname .
These men have regular sex partners abroad and sometimes get involved in casual, commercial sex.
One worker said he has overseas clients that would sometimes offer up to US$100 for his services.
“When I go with a new client, in some cases I would charge $10,000 or even $15,000. I also know of some who would pay as much as $25,000 to have sex,” he said.
However, as the study revealed, cost of services is determined by the type of the sex offered.
“It all depends on what the client may want. If he wants to backtrack or lash off head, the charge would be more.”
However, Terborg said money is not always the main reason why men have sex with men.
“Sometimes when you have sex with someone you develop a closer bond with them and you may not want them to pay for sex,” another worker said.
Other sex workers confirmed that sex is not always for business but also for fun and to satisfy their needs.
Questioned on the types of clients, the MSM said that they come in all ages, ethnic groups, economic positions and marital statuses.
Terborg revealed that the involvement of family in the daily life of MSM is varied and mixed since straight-givers (men performing the penetrating role but never allow themselves to be penetrated) tend to keep their sexual lifestyle as secret as possible from their family.
The opposite situation is found with most of the cross-dressers whose lifestyles are very much public.
Although most families are not pleased with the preferences of MSM, they are normally available when support is needed, Terborg said.
“Not every parent would be pleased with the type of work their child is doing but this is the situation and they have to live with it,” a male sex worker said.
Despite this, Terborg said that some cross-dressers have a very close relationship with their parents.
“My mom and dad are the first persons I go to when I have a problem. My family is aware that I am attracted to my own sex and we have a wonderful relationship,” one said.
Another said, “Your parents have to accept you as you are because they know that they have made a child and that is it. It is an inside feeling.”
Other MSM are not as lucky to have family members accept their situation and are forced to keep it a secret.
“If my family should find out it would be very hard for them. The talk at home about homosexual relationships shows that they are not comfortable with that line of thinking. I strongly believe that my family would not accept this,” one MSM related.