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now available on your Android phone. see inside for more details
tHe fit And sexy gAy mAg issUe #125 sUmmer 2011
Down but not out Fighting suicide and depression
Meet my friend pain... ...then say goodbye to sports injuries
ways to be more confident
Stand up and be counted be part oF
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Join and sign up to this simple ﬁve-point action plan: I will know my hIV status. I will not assume I know someone else’s hIV status. I will take personal responsibility for using condoms. I will value myself and my health. I will stay informed about hIV and how it’s spread. If all of us follow this plan, we can stop hIV in our community.
TogeTher we can sTop The spread of hIV It’s time to stand up and be counted… Join us today at: www.youcancountmein.org.uk
to view the videos of some of the guys who have joined already and to ﬁnd out how you can be part of it.
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Nelson Joel Leon
/youcancountmein #youcancountmein GMFA, Unit 11 Angel Wharf, 58 Eagle Wharf Road, London N1 7ER. Charity number: 1076854
Does your behaviour feel out of control? Can’t have a good time without drugs or alcohol? Wanting a relationship, but can’t stop having anonymous sex? Can’t have sex without being high? If so, we may be able to help.
FREE 8 week group programmes for gay & bisexual men to address addictive behaviour patterns. Evenings 6.30pm - 9.00pm in Central London For more information or to book your place, please telephone Brian Wood on 0207 812 1516 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Charity no 288527 (England and Wales) and SCO39986 (Scotland). Funded by the Pan-London HIV Prevention Programme.
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!& % ! '!$# #! " !
FS Android has landed…
Join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fsmag Come on... do it now! Brought to you by
Yes that’s right... all that patient waiting has paid off and the FS app is now available on Android phones. Now all you Android-heads can download the magazine directly to your phone. And not only the current issue, but past issues as well, so you can start your own FS back catalogue. App versions of FS also have links to enhanced content, like videos, photo galleries and direct links to related websites. Once you have the app on your device, every new issue of FS will be sent to you free! The FS magazine UK app is also available on iTunes for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. To download the free app go to www.bit.ly/fsmagapp or just search iTunes or Android Market for ‘FS Magazine UK’.
Funded by the Pan London Cary James, Editor HIV Prevention Programme www.gmfa.org.uk
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ways to boost your confidence
Everyone’s confidence gets knocked from time to time. So at FS HQ we decided to come up with six easy ways to help give your confidence an extra boost! 1
Don’t be shy, speak up
Did you know that at one point in their careers Richard Gere, Britney Spears, Jim Carrey, and even Cher had to battle bouts of shyness? A recent study at Cambridge University found that only 11 percent of people claim not to be shy which means that, unless you are one of them, we all need help to overcome it. Going on a course that specially targets shyness and helps you develop communication skills for life can be a good way to overcome it. Check out GMFA’s new national course called ‘Power Talking’ at www.gmfa.org.uk/national.
Look into my eyes, not around my eyes... 2
Starting a conversation with a complete stranger can be scary. So here are a few ways to beat this: l Make eye contact l Smile l Say hello l Maintain eye contact, keep smiling and relax l Tell him a bit about yourself l Ask questions l Comment about something you both know about l And listen 3
Make your body talk
When you are chatting to someone you aren’t just communicating with your words, you’re communicating with your whole body. According to research done at UCLA, the words you speak are only seven percent of what you say. This is where body language can help you seem more confident. Standing up straight with your shoulders back and your chin up is a good place to start. Avoid putting your hands in
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your pockets, and try not to cross your arms when talking to someone. Look directly at people when talking to them and smile. For more tips on body language visit www.thesite.org. 4
Let’s get physical
The most common thing people complain about is how they look. Many people say that when they look good, they feel good and when they feel good they are more confident. Exercise has been proven to not only tone you physically but mentally too. Research by the HSE in Ireland has shown that a 30-minute quick walk increases creativity levels and feelings of wellbeing and will help you feel more confident. 5
Try something different
Sex can be a great way to improve your mood, but when you’re not feeling confident it isn’t always easy meeting guys if you don’t have a regular parter. Whether you are after a one night stand or something more long-term, if you are having problems meeting guys why not try something different? If you spend all your time on Grindr, get off it and get yourself to your local gay hangout. If you are always in the bar, try an online dating site. For more tips and suggestions on how to improve your sex life, check out www.gmfa.org.uk/sex. 6
Join us on
Facebook! !& % ! '!$# #! " !
Stay connected with FS every day and enjoy more great stories, more hot guys and more chances to be part of the action.
Just go to: www.facebook.com/fsmag See you there!
And finally, relax
Easier said than done, but try and de-stress at the end of the day. Experts at University College London say that people who worry a lot tend to feel bad about themselves more of the time. If you are a worrier, try and take up a hobby like football or rugby, or do something different to help distract you. There are lots of clubs and social groups you can get involved with. Check out www.gmfa.org.uk/theguide.
Need help boosting your confidence? Power Talking is a new course from GMFA designed to help you learn to communicate with people more clearly and confidently in all areas of your life including your sex life. The course aims to help you set goals for yourself and helps you improve your confidence through simple steps. For more information or to book on this course, visit www.gmfa.org.uk/national or call 020 7738 3712. www.gmfa.org.uk
LLGS Advert for FS.pdf
You can talk to us about anything; safer sex, sexual health, perhaps you’re worried about a recent sexual encounter, HIV or AIDS. We’ll tell you what the risks are and what precautions you can take. C
Whatever the call, for confidential information and support you can talk to us.
Your helpline needs you!
We have vacancies for the following VOLUNTEER roles: • TELEPHONE HELPLINE VOLUNTEERS (full training given, we particularly need people with day time availability) • COMMUNITY FUNDRAISERS • MEDIA RELATIONS MANAGERS • EVENTS CO-ORDINATORS • ADMINISTRATION WORKERS
For more information about all the volunteering opportunities at LLGS call 020 7837 6768 or visit LLGS.org.uk
The nation’s LGBT helpline. Help us to continue to support the community by DONATING or JOINING OUR TEAM of award winning volunteers. To find out more visit LLGS.org.uk Funded by the Pan London HIV Prevention Programme
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Stand up and be counted cover story
HIV has never gone away. Every year more of us are pointlessly infected with the virus and are stuck with it for life. But there is something we can do. Count Me In calls for all of us to play our part in stopping the spread of HIV by agreeing to a simple five-point action plan. Thousands of guys around the UK have already joined and itâ€™s time for you to be part of it. Get ready to learn the plan and meet some of the guys that are already making a difference...
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1. I will know my HIV status One in four gay men who have HIV don’t know they have it. If you don’t find out you have HIV until you become ill, it can cause more damage to your health than if you found out earlier. If you don’t know you have HIV and continue to have unsafe sex you could be spreading HIV without even knowing it. However if you know for certain that you don’t have HIV, you’ll be more motivated to not to catch it. The only way to know your HIV status is to test regularly. New tests mean that you can get your result in just a few minutes, and you may not even have to go to a GUM clinic because there are many places you can test now that might be more convenient for you. Check out the listings at the back of the magazine for HIV testing services or visit www.gmfa.org.uk/testing.
What you need to know... l Almost one in three gay men have never tested. l More than half of men who have HIV and have not been diagnosed believe that they don’t have HIV. l By knowing if you have HIV or not, you can better protect yourself and your partners. l If you don’t get tested, you may take risks thinking that you don’t have it when you really do, and you may give it to someone else. l If you know if you have HIV or not, you can make informed decisions about your health and the sex you have, and your future. l If you have HIV and you find out early, you can start treatment before HIV seriously damages your body. This makes it more likely you’ll live longer and enjoy better health. If you don’t know and don’t get treatment, you will have more HIV in your system, and that makes it more likely you’ll pass HIV on to someone else if you don’t use condoms.
Meet the CountMeIners Guys all around the country are stepping up and being part of Count Me In. Meet some of them...
This is Chris... “Knowing if you have HIV or not is really important. You are really infectious when you first get it and you could give it to other guys without knowing it. If guys would regularly check if they have it or not by having an HIV test, that wouldn’t happen as much. “
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“I think there a lot of people who think that if you get HIV you can just take one tablet a day for the rest of your life and it’s not that big a deal, but they are not aware of what that means to their long-term health. I think as a community it would be good if we began to look after one another better. We, as gay men, need to step up and take care of ourselves and in turn, take care of each other.”
2. I will not assume I know someone else’s HIV status Some people think they can tell if someone has HIV or not by what they look like, their age, where they met them, or if they look ‘healthy’ or ‘sick’. The truth is you can’t tell if someone has HIV or not. To take risks based on stereotypes that you have about people with or without HIV is a bad idea and leads to the spread of HIV.
What you need to know... l Many of the old stereotypes about people with HIV are simply not true. Today most people will not show any visible signs of having HIV. l If you believe stereotypes, like thinking that any healthy-looking man doesn’t have HIV or that only older men can have HIV, you may take risks thinking there is no chance of HIV transmission when, in fact, there is. l Both partners have equal responsibility to use condoms, but if you believe in stereotypes you may not even discuss it and may end up putting yourself or your partner at risk. Most men don’t discuss HIV before having sex with casual partners. l Some men may not feel the need to mention status or safer sex because a partner doesn’t fit a false stereotype, while some men with HIV may choose not to disclose for fear of rejection. Someone with HIV might also wrongly assume that their partner is also positive. l Three out of four men who don’t have HIV expect men with HIV to tell them they have it before sex, but only one in five men with HIV always tell their casual partners they have it.
“The only way to know your HIV status is to test regularly. New tests mean that you can get your result in just a few minutes.”
Meet the CountMeIners This is James...
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Meet the CountMeIners This is Leon... “I have experienced both sides, because there was a time I didn’t have HIV, but now I do. My advice to everyone is to avoid bareback sex because you may regret it. You may see it in videos but in the real world you can catch HIV and all sorts of other things. Use your noggin and protect yourself.”
3. I will take personal responsibility for using condoms “Well he didn’t seem bothered about using condoms, so I just went along with it.” Sound familiar? Some of us end up having sex without condoms because we leave it to the other guy to bring it up, or we are too embarrassed to bring it up ourselves. If we are going to stop the spread of HIV, each of us needs to take responsibility for using condoms, every time.
l Using condoms is the best way to protect yourself and your partners from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Just about any condom you can buy in the shops in the UK or get free on the scene are safe to use. l Using water-based or silicone-based lube will help keep the condom from breaking and make sex easier. Spit is a bad lube because it dries out too quickly “Some and a dry condom of us end up is more likely to break. Anything having sex with oil in it, like without condoms hand lotions because we leave eats away at most condoms it to the other guy making them to bring it up” more likely to break as well. l Condoms can go off and will then be more likely to break. Always check the sell by date on the package. l You can get free condoms in many bars, clubs, and clinics. You may even be able to get free condoms in the post. Check out the listings at the back of this mag for more details.
What you need to know...
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Meet the CountMeIners This is Denis...
“I found out I had HIV three years ago. I was going through a time when I had very low self-esteem and I wasn’t being as careful about safer sex as I normally would. When I found out, it was the shock of my life. Until then I didn’t realise how life-changing having HIV would be. If there’s anyone out there thinking that’s it worth taking the risk and not using condoms, don’t be daft. It really isn’t worth it.”
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4. I will stay informed about HIV and how it’s spread Most of us think we know all there is to know about HIV and how it’s spread. But there’s still a lot of bad information out there and you may be taking risks without even knowing it. Make sure you have the best information by getting it from a trusted source. Check out www.gmfa.org.uk/sex for the most up to date information and advice on how to have the best sex with the lowest risk.
What you need to know... l Almost all men with HIV caught it from having sex without condoms. l You can catch HIV from giving someone a blow job, but this does not happen very often. l It can take a month after being infected with HIV before it shows
up on an HIV test, so it’s possible to have a test and to be told that you don’t have HIV, when you really do. The only way to know for sure is to get tested four weeks after you have taken a risk (without having any risky sex in between). l If you don’t have HIV, and you’ve just had risky sex with someone who does, you should be able to get PEP, a course of pills get from a GUM clinic or A&E department that can stop the infection. PEP needs to be started within 72 hours. PEP isn’t 100 percent effective and isn’t a substitute for using condoms. For more information visit: www.gmfa.org.uk/pep.
5. I will value myself and my health
Feeling good about yourself and wanting to be healthy play a big part in choosing safer sex. If you feel depressed, you are more likely to take risks than if you are feeling good
about life. So if you’re feeling a bit down, ring your mates, get some exercise, or join a social group. There’s free counselling available to gay men around the UK that can help. Check out the listings at the end of this magazine for more information.
What you need to know... l Nearly all gay men agree that HIV is a serious medical condition. Some of us become infected not because we don’t think HIV is serious but because we are depressed or don’t value ourselves or our health enough . l Depression, low self-esteem and feeling out of control can lead to guys not using condoms. l Research shows that men who feel good about themselves are more likely to stick to safer sex. l Feeling down has been proven to be a major factor in guys not using condoms. This might be after the death of a friend or family member, after the breakdown of a relationship, or if you are out of work. Such periods of depression may also result in increased use of alcohol and recreational drugs, which are also linked to risky sex.
Count Me In is spreading all around the country and you can be part of it.
Visit www.youcancountmein.org.uk where you can meet all the guys who have made videos for the campaign so far and find out how you can make your own. You can also find out what is happening in your area and hear from the people who are bringing Count Me In to you. Join us on Facebook and get a free Count Me In key ring, bracelet and window sticker so you can show your support. Just post on our wall “You can Count Me In” and we will be in touch.
www.facebook.com/youcancountmein Or post on Twitter with the hash-tag:
Together we can stop the spread of HIV. 14 |
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Don’t you hate it when you miss an issue of ? We’ll make sure that never happens again…
FS is now on Android Android users can now join their iPhone and iPad mates and download the free FS app. l The app is free l Every issue is free l Every issue is sent directly to your phone of tablet device l You can access special content like videos and extra photo galleries To find out more visit www.gmfa.org.uk/fsapp or search FS magazine on iTunes or your favourite Android app seller. To keep up to date with everything that's happening with FS, join our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/fsmag. FS is brought to you by GMFA, Unit 11 Angel Wharf, 58 Eagle Wharf Road, London N1 7ER
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Depressed? It gets better today When Elton John visited 10 Downing Street, HIV and AIDS were once again thrown into the spotlight. Elton was meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss the work of his Elton John AIDS Foundation which aims to: support people living with the virus, fund HIV prevention programmes, and eliminate stigma associated with the illness. While a lot of progress has been made when it comes to HIV, stigma is menti oned more rarely, even though it’s all around us. Avert, the international HIV and AIDS charity, believes it still exists because people don’t fully understand HIV and react to it in strong ways. There’s also a lot of inaccurate information about how the virus is transmitted, creating irrational behaviour and misconceptions of personal risk. And HIV is related to sex and homosexuality – things that are still taboo in many circles. So FS decided to look at the affects of stigma, and the stereotyping that goes along with it and how it is feeding the continued spread of HIV in our community...
Surviving Suicide – even the best fall down One in four people will experience depression in their lives and a fifth of gay people will try suicide. FS talks to James, a suicide survivor who tried to take his own life three times. Why? Because he was gay. This is his story…
Calling myself a suicide survivor is a bit of a shock to the system. Why? Because when I look back at the person I used to be I don’t relate to him any more. Ten years ago, I woke up with no feelings. I felt numb, had no emotions and did not care what way I looked, acted or what people thought of me. On that morning, I got up and went to school. Throughout the day I barely spoke to anyone, but that was normal for me. School finished, I went home, had my dinner and spent the evening in my bedroom as I usually did. At 11pm, I found myself in my kitchen with a handful of tablets and a glass of water. I downed them one at a time. Every time I swallowed a pill I felt happy, happy at the thought of finally being free. I thought that this was the day that I was going to tak e my own life. And the big question is, why? I grew up in a small town in the middle of nowhere. Discovering my sexuality at a young age, I wasn’t able to relate to anyone. Any gay person I saw on the television was not a representation of me. I felt that I was going to turn into a camp,
obvious gay teenager who would be bullied, beaten up and disowned by my family. I feared society. I feared becoming gay. I feared myself. I was severely depressed and saw suicide as an easy way out. I thought it was my only option. Unfortunately this was not my only suicide attempt. My first attempt was at age 13 when I stood in front of a train, but luckily I chickened out. My second attempt was a year later w hen I stood in the same spot and waited for a train to come. This time I was determined to succeed. The train came and I stood firm. When the train was about ten metres away something clicked in my head and I wanted to jump, but my body was frozen and I couldn’t move quickly enough. By the time I was able to fling myself into the nearest ditch the train was inches away and clipped my foot sending me spinning into t he air. To this day I still have problems with my foot. So what changed? Three days after
my last suicide attempt, I was sitting on my bed looking in the mirror saying to myself, “You’re either going to do this or not.” Hours later I was sitting in the dark with music playing in the background. I wasn’t really listening to it, but then I heard the line “I am the person I was looking for.” I realised that no matter how much I blamed everyone else, how much I asked, “Why me?”, the only person who could change my life was... me. And so I did. From that moment I moved forward. I tried my best to make a plan for the future. I got a part-time job, made new friends and got myself a life. Slowly the depression slipped away. I was me again. Ten years have passed and today I am nothing like that 16-year-old boy who was looking for a way out, and yet being in that position has made me a much stronger person. I now realise that even the best fall down sometimes and you don’t need to be ashamed of feeling like that. It’s much stronger to put your
Ifeared society.Ifeared becominggay.I fearedmyself.Iwas severelydepressed andsawsuicide asaneasy wayout.
My name is James, I’m 26 and this is my story…
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hands up and say – yes, I need help! If you had told me ten years ago about everything I would achieve and experience, I would have told you that you’d got the wrong person. In the last ten years, I have gone to Uni and got myself a degree. I have won many major awards. I’ve been in love four times and out of love three times, walked into a pole, knocked over a nun, broken my hand falling off a bed, and last but not least, had the courage to say, “Yes, at one point in my life I was down, depressed and looking for a way out, but I’m proud to have overcome it”. Some of these memories I am proud of and some I am not, but they are all memories. I would never have experienced them if I had succeeded in killing myself. I have no idea what the next ten years will bring but one thing is for sure, I know that no matter w hat comes my way I will never forget where I have come from and what I can achieve. I will just take a deep breath and believe that every person has the power to change their lives.
Symptoms of depression include:
l Feeling sad or down a lot of the time, even when there’s no reason. l Feelings of despair that you can’t escape. l A lack of feeling or emotion. You don’t feel anything and have lost the ability to feel happy. l Feeling exhausted and lacking energy all the time. l Continuous and long mood swings, when you change from feeling happy to despairing, sorrowful or angry and irritable. l The things that used to give you enjoyment or make you happy leave you feeling numb or uninterested. l Withdrawal from or avoiding family and friends. l Inability to concentrate or a loss of interest in your work. l Putting on or losing a lot of weight. l Different sleep patterns. You might not be able to fall asleep or you can’t get up in the morning. l Feeling so bad that you think it would be a relief to die or hurt yourself.
It gets better We all get in a mood once in a while but, according to a worldwide survey conducted by Gayhealth.com, depression tops the list of health concerns for lesbians and gay men. It even surpassed HIV with a third of gay men ranking it number one. Young gay and lesbian people have an increased risk of suicide, substance abuse, school problems, and isolation because of a hostile and condemning environment, verbal and physical abuse, rejection and isolation from family and mates. According to the Samaritans, each week 10 percent of the UK population aged 16 to 65 report significant depressive symptoms, and one in ten of these admit to suicidal thinking. After a series of young LGBT people in the USA killed themselves, videos started to appear on YouTube telling LGBT teens that no matter how bad things seem now, they will get better and they should hang on instead of needlessly ending their lives. This grew into an international “It Gets Better” movement in which celebrities, sports figures, politicians and ordinary LGBT people posted videos with messages of support.
How you can help When someone you care about is battling with depression, it can be hard to know what to do. Here’s some great advice from the NHS on how to help someone suffering from depression. l Encourage them to seek help, by going to a doctor or perhaps seeking out a counsellor. If they are already receiving help, encourage them to keep appointments and talk about how things are going.
l Be a good listener. Reassure them that they can say the same things over and over and you will still listen. l Be available on all channels. It may be tough for your mate to express his deeper feelings face to face, so be open to text messages, email, Facebook, Twitter or whatever makes them feel better. Shower them with praise. Anyone experiencing depression will often tend to run themselves into the ground, so build them up as much as possible. l Do things together. Even simple things like a trip to the cinema or a walk can buoy up their spirits. Research shows that a 30 minute quick walk can be good for the brain. Avoid the pub or clubbing as alcohol and drugs can make depression go from bad to worse. l Look after yourself. Helping a person with depression can be extremely draining and difficult. Try to get help from others who can also support your friend through his or her depression, so that the pressure is not all just on you.
l For more info on depression and how to deal with it, visit, www.nhs.uk/livewell/depression. l 11 September 2011 is World Suicide Prevention Day. For more info visit: http://www.iasp.info. l For help and support, visit the Samaritans: www.samaritans.org or check out the listings at the back of the mag for more places you can get support and counselling.
Is depression affecting your sex life? Many guys think that the only way that depression affects their sex life is that if they feel down they won’t want to have sex, but it can affect it in other ways as well. Studies have shown that men who are depressed are more likely to take risks in sex that they wouldn’t take if they weren’t depressed. This means you may be less likely to use condoms or more likel y to have sex that you don’t really want to have. Depression can also lead to isolation and loneliness. It’s easy to get shags online with men you wouldn’t normally have sex with because you are feeling lonely. If you are feeling down and taking risks that you know you shouldn’t, talk to someone about it. Check out the listings at the back of the mag for counselling and support services that can help y ou.
l For help anywhere in the UK try: London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard: 0300 330 0630
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You’re at the gym going for that last rep and... pain, pain, pain. Registered nurse, Drew Payne tells you what to do next. Stop Stop whatever you’re doing, as soon as you feel the pain, and rest. ‘No pain, no gain’ isn’t true. Pain is our body’s way of saying, “Stop!” Sit on a chair or bench for five to ten minutes and allow the injured area to rest. Try a bit of gentle massage, but if that hurts, stop.
check After resting check that you’ve got full movement and feeling in the affected area. If it’s your leg, knee, calf or ankle try gently walking on it. If it’s your arm, shoulder or elbow try to gently move it through your normal range of movements. If it’s your back, stand up, gently stretch and try taking a few steps. If you can move it a bit, then apply some heat to the affected area. If you can’t do any of this or you’ve lost feeling (if you’ve got pins and needles or it has gone numb) you need to get some help. If your gym has trained instructors see one of them or ask to see the gym’s First Aid person. If you’re not at the gym, try an NHS walk-in clinic.
heat it up If there are no problems moving, go and sit in the steam room, have a warm shower, or try a warm compress. This can help ease the tightness of a strain. Then go home and rest.
ReSt The most important thing to do is rest. Stay away from the gym. When you sit down elevate the injured area. If it’s your leg raise it up, as high as comfortable, when you sit down. If it’s your arm or shoulder rest it on the chair arm or a pile of pillows. Try to use the injured area as little as possible.
Go to the chemiSt Take some painkillers to ease the pain. Paracetamol and Ibuprofen are good painkillers and can bought from a chemist without the need for a prescription (always ask the pharmacist about painkillers and which ones would be best for you).
NEVER exercise through the pain. Always stop when you first feel it, otherwise you could make it a whole lot worse. cool it down The next day, apply an ice-pack to the affected area. This will help with swelling and bruising and help control the pain. Also, carry on taking painkillers. You can use a support bandage, especially if you’ve injured your leg. This can also help with the swelling and pain.
If you find you can’t move the affected area the next day, especially if it’s your leg and you can’t walk on it, then you’ll need to get medical advice.
Get back into it After two or three days, as the pain eases, take off the support bandage and start to gently exercise. Over the next few days slowly return to your normal exercise level as the pain allows.
l For more info on sports injuries, visit: www.sportsinjuryclinic.net. www.gmfa.org.uk
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Party monster David Stuart from London Friend gives his advice on what to do when drink and drugs start getting scary. “I’m completely confused about mephedrone. I’ve seen some scary reports in the news about how dangerous it is, but it seems like everyone is taking it without any problems when I’m out clubbing. In fact it’s GBL that seems to make everyone collapse and wind up in ambulances. It’s so hard to know just what I should or shouldn’t do these days. What’s up Dude?” I haven’t been called Dude in a while, so thanks for that! Yes it is confusing when the press choose to sensationalise stories about drugs. Last year there were some alarming articles appearing about mephedrone (or “meow meow”) and this often happens when a new, still legal drug appears on the scene. As it turned out, the cases reported were the result of very large amounts of mephedrone being mixed with a cocktail of other drugs, which is always unwise. And when a drug is new, there’s not enough research yet for enquiring dudes like yourself to make an about that drug. Too many gay men informed decision about it. are dying from overdoses, becoming We still don’t know enough about the physically dependent and even dying dangers of mephedrone, we do know from withdrawal symptoms. GBL (and that it can be psychologically addictive, GHB) are very dangerous drugs, no damaging to the nasal passages or stomach if confusion there. snorted or ingested, but mostly that people can make very poor decisions while using it, particularly Thanks for your letter, Dude. As always, my advice is around safer sex. The number of people going to GUM to be as informed as possible when it comes to drugs clinics requesting PEP after having unsafe sex while and partying. You can read up on these things at high have been increasing. www.antidote-lgbt.com/mephedrone. It doesn’t sound as if you’re too confused about GBL. l If you need some advice email email@example.com. If you’ve seen first hand the number of people For more info on drink and drugs and how to get help, collapsing from G and requiring ambulances, then visit: www.antidote-lgbt.com. hopefully that’s enough to make an informed choice
Last year there were some alarming articles appearing about mephedrone (or “meow meow”).
Below the belt
When things get nasty down below... This monTh:
How do you get it? Chlamydia is a bacterial infection most commonly passed on by fucking or getting fucked without a condom, but it can also be passed on by sucking cock or rimming. The most common places to catch it are your cock, throat and arse. How do you know you’ve got it? After one to six weeks, it can
cause a yellowy white pus to come from your cock or sometimes from your arse or throat. It may hurt when you wee and you may feel the urge to piss more than usual. Many infected guys don't show any symptoms at all (especially if they have it in their throat or arse), but can give it to other sexual partners without knowing it. If left untreated, the infection can spread from the cock to the prostate gland, balls, and other parts of the body which can become tender and inflamed. LGV is a form of chlamydia and is more
common in HIV-positive guys. How do you treat it? Chlamydia is usually treatable with antibiotics. Avoid sex until the treatment has taken effect. How do you prevent it? Using condoms when fucking will prevent many cases of chlamydia. If you wanted to reduce the risks further, you would have to use condoms for oral sex. Sucking cock carries a risk even if he doesn’t cum in your mouth.
l For more information on chlamydia and other STIs or to find a clinic near you, visit www.gmfa.org.uk/sex.
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I’ve got a problem! Hey gmfa...
The team at GMFA answer questions from their website that you may be too shy to ask in the flesh... Is it safe to stop using condoms? Is it safe to have anal sex without a condom, if you are both are HIV-negative? My partner and I have been fucking for about four months. We were both tested at the same time and we were both clear of any infections, including HIV. Though I’m happy with everything and neither of us have had sex with anybody else since getting together, I feel I need to ask the question. If neither of you has HIV, or any other infections, you can’t catch them from each other, but there are a couple of things you do need to consider if you are going to stop using condoms. If you tested within three months of either of you having sex with someone else, maybe before you got together, then it's possible that one of you had an infection that it was too soon for the tests to detect. HIV takes up to three months for some HIV tests to detect, so if the tests you had were within three months of either of you having sex with someone else then you cannot be absolutely sure you did not have HIV when you tested. If that is the
case, go and get tested again, as long as it has now been longer than three months since either of you had sex with someone else. Secondly, are you both absolutely sure you have been monogamous since you got together and will remain so? If you have sex with someone outside your relationship, particularly unprotected sex, then you could pick up an infection such as HIV. If you then have sex with your partner without condoms you could pass the infection on. Even if you have no plans to have sex with other people sometimes it can happen, so you need to talk honestly with each other about what you'd do if it did.
your friend during this experience. You can find more information about how HIV is and is not transmitted at: www.gmfa.org.uk/sex.
“We were both naked...” I have an HIV-positive friend and one night we were very close to each other and both naked in a room. Some of his precum got on my unbroken skin. I didn’t notice and it dried there. Can I get infected with HIV this way? HIV will not penetrate unbroken skin and so there is no risk of your being infected with HIV from
lFor more info about sex and sexual health or to ask a question visit: www.gmfa.org.uk/sex.
How risky are… blow jobs It is possible to get HIV from sucking cock but the chances are small. Even so, there are ways that you can reduce the risk further. If you’re giving someone a blow job don't let them cum in your mouth. Although there is HIV in the pre-cum of an HIV-positive man, the protective properties in saliva would usually disable the amount of HIV that there is in pre-cum. A condom, used correctly, will prevent either cum or pre-cum getting in the mouth, although few gay men in the UK use condoms for oral sex. Although the risk of HIV infection is fairly low, some other STIs can be easily passed on via oral sex, such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, herpes and syphilis. There is a small risk of picking up hepatitis B through oral sex, if you have not been vaccinated. If you have an existing STI in your throat you will be more vulnerable to infection and the chances of picking up HIV or hep B are increased.
l For more information on sex and how to make it safer, visit www.gmfa.org.uk/sex.
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Sort it out!
FS readers and a trained counsellor give their advice on how to tackle one of life’s problems.
This month’s problem…
I can’t have safer sex without Q losing my erection I’m 26 years old and often I can’t manage to keep an erection. When I am having sex with someone and they want me to fuck them, by the time we stop and put on the condom my erection often goes or it goes while I am fucking them. If I don’t stop to use condoms it can work a lot better. This has led me to having unprotected sex many times and I don’t know if my partners were HIV-positive. They said they weren’t but you never know. I am worried that unless I can fix this erection problem I will continue not to use condoms and eventually become HIV-positive. Please help. Ravi from Bradford
Dear ravi You are not alone. A lot of men have difficulty maintaining their erections when using condoms. It’s important that you don’t get too hung up about it, or you will find yourself in a vicious spiral, where you get so stressed that you may go limp that it makes it that much more likely that you will. It is, of course, vitally important that you do use condoms for fucking, especially if you’re not confident of the HIV status of your partners. You should also get tested yourself, as you have had unprotected sex. There are some things you could try to help you maintain your erection. A cock ring can help (rubber ones are easier to get on and off). Steer clear of alcohol to avoid brewer’s droop. Smoking is also linked to erection difficulties. Try not to get stressed, as it won’t help. Remember that it’s
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not compulsory to fuck every time you have sex. If you’re not up for fucking, do something else instead. If it continues to be a problem, talk to your GP about getting treatment for erectile dysfunction. Jonno via email
end we used cock rings and even Viagra. Yeah I know it doesn’t sound the best but it might help in the long run. Hope you get there in the end. Barry via email
Even though your main problem is not being able to Sorry to hear about your keep an erection I’m very problem. The same used to worried that you are having unsafe happen to me. It happened sex. Putting yourself at risk is not the when I was much younger and answer. I am a 29-year-old positive inexperienced with sex. I was afraid man and have been positive for of sex and that used to play mind eight years. I thought because I was games with my erection. How I got young I couldn’t become positive over it was to keep the one partner and it would be all right. Eight years for a while, get used to him, how to later and I can tell you it’s not worth please him, etc. The more it. I think you need to talk to a doctor about your erection problems too. comfortable I felt with him the easier it became to keep an erection. There might be a medical condition and maybe you need some help in Over time I trained myself to forget and get over my problem. And now I that area. Wishing you all the luck in don’t have any problems. As for the the future. unprotected sex, taking risks like Chang from London that is very dangerous. I recommend you go to the GUM clinic for a check-up and just make sure you don’t have any STIs. Jack from Manchester
Dear ravi At the beginning of the Twentieth Century, a scientist called Ivan Pavlov identified a mental phenomenon that he called the ‘conditional reflex’ by teaching his dogs to salivate when he rang a bell, even if they were not presented with food. I suspect that over a period of time, a number of things, including anxiety about losing your erection when you pull out a condom, have caused you to lose your erection, and as a result you have developed a conditional reflex, which is to lose your erection when you attempt to have safer sex. You must unlearn what you have learned. A few things can help you do this: find the most comfortable make of condom for you, practise on your own with a condom (what some people call a ‘posh wank’) and if neither of those work you could think about trying an erection drug like Cialis or Viagra, but only under the supervision of your GP. In time you should be able to rewrite your mental software so that the conditional reflex associated with pulling out a condom is a great big stonking hard on. Sam from Sheffield
Dear ravi I really can’t imagine this as I’m a bottom so I never have to worry about keeping a stiffy. However I have been with guys in a similar situation. In the
A counsellor’s opinion… Sona Barbosa, Counsellor Team Leader for the GMI Partnership says: Dear ravi
I empathise with you in feeling concerned as you seem to be putting yourself at risk regularly of not only contracting HIV but also other sexual transmitted infections (STIs). It is important that you keep safe. It sounds like your loss of erection is only limited to the moment when you put on a condom. Are you having trouble achieving and maintaining erections at other times (spontaneously, masturbating, oral sex, mutual masturbation, etc)? If yes, it is important that, before anything else, you visit your doctor and rule out any medical problems. If not, then something else might be going on. Losing an erection when putting on a condom is something that happens more commonly than you probably think. Some men still feel it’s awkward to use a condom and its use is related to a reduced sense of pleasure. The loss of erection can occur because you need to change your focus from the emotional excitement of sex to a more cognitive, rational process of safer sex. It is important for you to reflect on what it means for you to wear a condom. Losing your erection may bring feelings of shame and/or embarrassment as well as making
you feel more anxious; this anxiety may exacerbate the problem, sometimes referred to as "performance anxiety." Simply anticipating putting on a condom can cause someone to lose their erection. Resistance to condom use can arise from previous experiences of erection loss when wearing a condom. However, there are ways to approach the situation. Try to remember that condom use is a learned skill. One suggestion is to attempt to masturbate privately with a condom on. When you are alone and in the mood try getting an erection and put the condom on your cock. Take your time, relax, and be patient. The more pressure you put on yourself, the greater your chances are of having anxiety and losing your erection. Eventually you could get to a point where you can maintain an erection or ejaculate inside the condom while masturbating. I would also suggest you have a talk with a health advisor or maybe a counsellor; this may be helpful for you to identify and understand your thoughts and feelings towards condom use and develop strategies to deal with it and stay safe.
Next month’s problem… I met this great guy and we have been going out for just over a month. I really like him. He has HIV and I don’t, or at least I didn’t the last time I had a test. I always thought I would be cool about the HIV thing if it ever came up in a relationship and I told him it doesn’t matter, but to be honest I do feel a bit funny about the whole thing. Even though we always have safer sex, it is still always in the back of my mind that if the condom breaks or whatever that I would be at risk. It kind of freaks me out and I feel it is stopping us from getting closer. I don’t want to feel like this. I am too embarrassed to talk to him about how I feel and I don’t have any HIV-positive friends who I can ask for their opinion. I kinda want to dump him as I think it would be easier. What should I do? Steve via email
l If you have some advice to give, or you have a problem that needs sorting, go to www.facebook.com/fsmag and post on the discussion tab or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. www.gmfa.org.uk
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Get out there…
Connect with your inner samurai with Ishigaki Ju-Jitsu
So what is the Ishigaki Ju-Jitsu club? Ishigaki is a martial arts club for LGBT and LGBT-friendly people. We train in traditional Japanese Ju Jitsu – the art the ancient samurai practised to prepare for battle. Ishigaki is one of the longest running LGBT sport clubs in the UK having set up in early 1994. We have a fantastic reputation as a premier Ju Jitsu club throughout our association and right across the world with other LGBT martial arts clubs.
How often does the club meet? We run training sessions six times a week in London and Brighton plus additional training, grading and trips. All details are on our website: www.ishigaki.org.uk.
Do you guys meet up outside of meetings? Yes it’s one of the strengths of the club. Most people come to us having never participated in a sport before so we’re really good at giving people confidence to progress. Having a really sensible and healthy social side and drinks after training, is a great way to expand a circle of friends in a non-scene environment and it helps attract people back when the physical side may be a bit offputting – especially at the beginning.
What if I suck at it? All our black belts sucked at some point in time! Everyone sucks at learning new stuff, so we take a lot of care of new people – there’s nothing to prove – you have to step forward at your own pace. We have expert and highly experienced instructors who know how to stretch you just enough to keep you moving
“Over the seasons we have travelled to Spain, Holland and also Brighton with some memorable moments.”
forward. There are always some simple and effective basic techniques that are really easy to use and very effective in self defence situations – it doesn’t matter if you suck – they still work.
How can I get involved? Just turn up. The details are on the website. It’s usually worth calling through or emailing ahead so we know to expect you. But if you decide to just turn up you’ll get a friendly reception and an invitation to the pub afterwards.
l London classes are Monday in Chiswick (7:30pm), Tuesday near Old Street (7:30pm), Thursday (7:30pm) and Saturday (3:30pm) at the Oasis near Covent Garden. Brighton classes are at the LA Fitness (Tower Point) on Friday evenings (7:00pm) and Sunday afternoons (4pm). Beginners are welcome at any class and the first class is FREE. l For more info visit: www.ishigaki.org.uk or call Simon on 07740 857 261
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HeaLtH & advice
Available daily 10am-11pm. lTHT Direct 0808 802 1221. Available Monday to Friday 10am-10pm and weekends 12noon-6pm.
Your guide to the services provided by the Pan London HIV Prevention Programme
Counselling / mentoring
lFor a list of GUM services in London visit www.gmfa.org.uk/ clinics.
lThe GMI Partnership offers free sexual health counselling and mentoring to gay men in London. For more information visit www.gmfa.org.uk/counselling or ring 020 8305 5002. You can also visit: www.gmipartnership.org.uk.
Condoms lFreedoms provides free condoms and lube on the scene. They also sell low-cost, high quality condoms and lube via their online shop. Visit: www.freedoms-shop.nhs.uk.
Helplines lThe London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard: 0300 330 0630.
lFor information about sex, sexual health and what’s on offer in London visit www.gmfa.org.uk.
Workshops and courses lTHT and PACE offer free courses and workshops to gay men in London. To find out more about what’s on offer visit www.gmfa.org.uk/gwk. lAlternatively, for PACE workshops phone: 020 7700 1323 or visit: www.pacehealth.org.uk. lFor THT courses and groups phone: 020 7812 1773, or visit: www.tht.org.uk.
Is your sex life out of control? Always on Grindr looking for the next person to have sex with? Think you’re spending too much time in the sauna? Never satisfied with the sex you are having? Out of Control is a free course run by PACE. The workshop will explore ways to develop a sex life that gives you control, rather than sex controlling you. It starts on Friday 23 September at 6.30pm and continues on the Saturday and Sunday.
lFor more information on this course visit www.gmfa.org.uk/gwk or call PACE on 020 7700 1323.
Too much alcohol and drugs in your life? Are you the type of person who needs to get smashed in order to have a good time? Are you feeling your drug use is getting out of hand? Maybe you can’t have sex without drugs or they are ruining your sexual experiences? THT are running a free course that aims to help people overcome these problems. The course called, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Group for Alcohol and Substance Misuse, and it starts at 6.30pm on 6 September and runs every Tuesday for eight weeks.
lFor more information visit www.gmfa.org.uk/gwk or call THT on 020 7812 1773.
Published by GMFA Unit 11 Angel Wharf, 58 Eagle Wharf Road, London, N1 7ER Tel: 020 7738 6872 Email: email@example.com Website: www.gmfa.org.uk Charity number 1076854 ISSN 1750-7162
The FS team for issue 125 was Cary James (Editor), Ian Howley (Associate Editor), John Adams, Barrie Dwyer, Matthew Hodson, Frankie McPolin, Drew Payne, Shemmy, Gavin Smith, and James Stafford. Design and layout by www.christiantate.co.uk. FS is part of the Pan London HIV Prevention Programme. Appearance in FS is not an indication of an individual’s sexual orientation or HIV status. The views of our writers are not necessarily the views of FS, of the organisations mentioned, GMFA, or of the editor. You can subscribe to FS for just £7 per year. Contact us on 020 7738 6872 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can view the current issue and past issues of FS online at: www.gmfa.org.uk/fs. Volunteers contribute to the planning, writing, editing and production of FS. To volunteer or donate, contact GMFA using the details to the left. To express your views on HIV services in London, go to www.ergoclear.com/express.
FS125_P30_Last Chance_FS 12/08/2011 11:55 Page 30
Last chance Here are some things to remember from this issue...
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FREE FOR GAY MEN
M ENTORING H EALTH TRAINER 020 7160 0941 www.gmipartnership.org.uk gmi partnership
GMI Partnership services are free and provided by Londoners from diverse backgrounds, who are trained and supervised to work with men across the City. The GMI Partnership is funded as part of the Pan-London HIV Prevention Programme. ÂŠ The GMI Partnership 2011
communication skills for life Have you always wanted to improve your communications skills so you can ask for what you want and say no to things you don’t want to do? Want to learn to say no to sex you don’t want and ask for the things you do?
This two day course will help you learn to communicate with the people in your life clearly and confidently, about all areas of your life – your sex life included.
All places on this course are free of charge to you. The courses start at 10.30am and finish before 5.30pm. BSL interpreters available by prior arrangement
Book your place online at www.gmfa.org.uk/national or call 020 7738 6872 10th & 17th September
17th & 24th September
1st & 8th October
Brighton London Manchester Newcastle
THT GMFA LGF MESMAC NE
Birmingham Bristol Leeds Nottingham Southampton
THT & HGL Leicester TRADE THT YORKSHIRE MESMAC 15th & 22nd October HGN Truro EDDYSTONE TRUST GCHS
GMFA courses delivered nationally in partnership with
This intervention is funded by