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Let’s Talk About Sex

Lets talk about sex

The first time my Dad gave me any advice that could be considered relationship advice I was 19. It was just a few weeks before I left for my university studies in Australia. There was no big prelude to give me any sort of inkling as to what this was going to be about. He just cut straight to the chase saying to me “I trust that me and your mother raised you the right way – with morals, to be always respectful and God fearing. At the stage that you are right now there is not much we can really forbid you from doing. Especially now that you are going to be living alone, 12000km away from home and us your parents. We wouldn’t let you go that far and spend the money that we are spending if we didn’t trust that you fully understood what is expected of you. You are young adult now. A man. You are going to have certain urges, be even more enamoured than you are with women now and vice versa. That’s perfectly normal. But I wouldn’t be doing my job as a father if I didn’t educate on the potential consequences of recklessly following through on those urges. Everywhere around us people are dying of AIDS. It’s no secret that’s what killed your uncle. But people, and even families avoid discussing it. And yet people continue dying. I am not going to tell you not to have sex, but what I will tell you is that if you choose to please always take precautions and use condoms. Respect and love yourself enough to at least take that precaution. That being said I would rather you didn’t rush into it” And just like that he was done.

Condoms

I was gobsmacked. I had never discussed girls, let alone sex with my dad until that moment. It was something that had always remained unspoken. I mean even at 19 I was a virgin, a baby and maybe even a bit of a prude. Yeah I liked girls but I had never seriously been in a situation where sex was an objective or even a possible outcome. My six years at an all catholic boys boarding school had seen to that. I had had girlfriend’s but it was mostly innocent. Whilst I had fooled around a bit, the actual act of sex had not been an even remote possibility in my mind’s eye.Not forgetting that it was logistically impossible. I spent 8 months of the year at an all boys boarding school and the rest at home with my parents. If the street lights came on and I wasn’t home, somebody was going to get hurt real bad. I never missed curfew.

But here was my dad telling me to use condoms. Where from? How? Why? To him it was a foregone conclusion that I was going to have sex some time in the near future. I wanted say to say to him “Don’t worry dad, I’m still a virgin and I plan on staying that way until I get married.” But I didn’t. Eyes to the floor I just kept quite and nodded hesitantly.

In retrospect I am glad I didn’t say anything. It seems my future self knew better.  Because only a few months later now at university I lost my virginity. And thanks to that practical advice from my dad, the only thing I seemed sure about during that forgettable experience was the need for using protection. How quickly things had escalated from just a few months before when I had my self imposed vow of chastity. And it wasn’t even with a girlfriend or someone I loved. This was just some random girl who though I looked like Will Smith (I don’t) that I had only hung out with a handful of times. Left to my own devices and away from the shelter of boarding school and my parents my resolve weakened.  I easily succumbed to the casual hook up culture that is prevalent in university life. No one actively pressured me to do it, it was something that all of a sudden felt like the next logical step.

I remember though that I was too embarrassed to tell my partner in crime that I was a virgin, but I am sure she figured that out. I had no idea what I was doing and a little over a minute later it was over. I cringe just thinking about it. I didn’t have any regrets though, even though I had previously planned to stay celibate til marriage. At that point that was the right decision for me and seeing as I placed no value at the time of doing it with someone I loved, I am glad my dad had that talk with me. Just hearing it from him had made sure that it was always going to be at the forefront of my mind.

Years later, I was much older but not that much wiser I was back home at my parents. Having lived away from home for years I had grown some balls and figured I could pretty much come and go as I pleased. On one such occasion I ended up sleeping over at a girls house. When I sheepishly returned home in the early hours of the morning my dad wasn’t too impressed and he let me have it. This talk I brought onto myself. After establishing that I had slept over at a female friends house, he went on to ask me if we she was my girlfriend. She wasn’t. She was a friend (with benefits). Although I didn’t disclose the benefit’s part.

No matter, that was just the launch pad he needed.  He pointed out that I was grown man fully capable of making my own decisions, but he was my father. And he wouldn’t being doing his job if he didn’t say anything. No one else might tell me this but I had to hear it. He pointed out that I was an eligible bachelor, with a very bright future in front of me. Most women will see you as a good match and probably fall over themselves to be with you. And that could make me a target. Whilst I had achieved quite a bit he knew very well I wasn’t responsible enough yet to be a father. so he gave me this advice. If you are going to sleep with someone, at least make sure that on some level you can visualise that person as the potential mother of your child. If the very idea of that person carrying your child makes you uncomfortable then keep your pants on.

The point he was making was that by indulging in sexual intercourse, protection or not I needed to be cognisant of the possibility of pregnancy. The expectation was that once that happened there was no shying away from the responsibility that lay ahead. He put it to me that I wouldn’t end up happy if I ended up marrying someone just because they got pregnant. Neither did I want to be an absent father or have someone else raise my kid. The way he saw it, I needed to be more thoughtful of the potential consequences of my sexual ambivalence. And the way I took it, if I can’t envision whoever I sleep with being the mother of my kids, then I shouldn’t be playing Russian roulette with my penis.

At this point in my life that is the most relevant and practical advice that my dad could have given me. And I am grateful for that.

 
 

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OK, lets have a quickie then

Ha!Its not what you think..shame on you.But it got your attention.In the spirit of World AIDS day I decided to write a quick blog.My small contribution in raising awareness on the AIDS pandemic.One of my good mates put it to me recently that while they have enjoyed some of my previous blogs , they have been a bit too long. Well today dear friend ,I will treat you to a quickie.

I am actually typing this on my phone on my way home after a very productive day(If you call spending the vast majority of the work day on the various social sites productive )To those who might have missed it .Today is World AIDS day .A day set aside to promote awareness of the AIDS pandemic which has had a devastating effect, especially in Sub Saharan Africa. I m sure most of my fellow African brothers and sisters can testify that the reality of HIV/AIDS is all too familiar on the continent. Most of us know off or have had a relative or friend pass away from the virus.

My time today on the social networks was enlightening as people did their bit to raise awareness through sharing articles & posting updates /tweets to raise awareness .Whilst this was commendable what struck me was an article I just read titled Every Day is World AIDS day .The author of this particular blog pointed out that they found the concept of World AIDS day bittersweet , with particular reference to the role the media (and by extension I guess social networks play.Since a vast majority of us get our news & subsequently share it using these platforms )

The reason this particular Blogger felt it was bittesweet is that on the one hand, it’s a day when much of the media focuses on a global pandemic that desperately needs attention. On the other hand, it’s become the only day when much of that same media shines a light on the issue even as millions more have become infected with HIV worldwide and when we are at critical juncture where we could see the end of AIDS if efforts – and media attention – are brought to bear.The same it could be argued applies for social media trends .I personally don’t recall ever seeing anything raising awareness of the pandemic other than today.

I find this intriguing because as an African , naturally a huge chunk of my friends list whilst diverse is still predominantly African. All of us have at some stage I believe been affected by the pandemic .The stats don’t lie .It is estimated that 34 million people are living with the HIV virus & here is the thing, the vast majority of those infected live in Sub Saharan Africa .In fact an estimated 22.5 million people were living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa at the end of 2009, including 2.3 million children.During 2009, an estimated 1.3 million Africans died from AIDS. Almost 90% of the 16.6 million children orphaned by AIDS live in sub-Saharan Africa.Those are depressing stats.Cry, beloved Motherland.

Other tid bits I picked up from the various media today is a worrying trend .The majority of adults in Africa who have HIV get it from their partners,with a high prevalence amongst married couples.That is scary! But not surprising. Especially when you factor in the whole concept of “Small” houses that seems to be generally accepted in our culture.It is not just this several other elements of our culture also contribute to the prevalence of the birus on the continent.Chief among that being that it seems generally taboo openly discuss issues around sexusl health.. Our people are dying ,we seriously need to get over that.We have embraced foreign cultures with aplomb and even let go of some of our perceived backward cultural trends.Why cant we do the same in this case.One might argue that is mainly a problem with the older generation the older generation(the refusal to discuss issues surrounding sex) but our generation has its own shortcomings.The biggest of which is exemplified in a track called Doing it wrong by Drake of his Take Care album where he sings “We live in a generation of not being in love & not being together but we sure make it feel like we’re together“.The Booty call generation.People are dying.

One of the experiences that still haunts me to this day is a conversation I had with a close family friend years ago who was on his deathbed from HIV related complications.He was as thin as an anorexic at the time.The little hair he had left was thin and wavy almost as if it had been relaxed.He was a pale shadow of his old robust self. The once proud, loud man who could keep any room spellbound with his stories was no more. He needed a walking stick and used the walls of the to help him keep his balance as he walked around the.It was a sorry sight.But it was not all some kinda freak show.He actually said something very poignant that has stayed with me.He went on to spoint out that whether I was sexually active or not did not really matter to him,because his advice was universal .Always use the ABC rule in issues of sex .That is… Abstinence .Be Faithful .Condomise.You don’t want to end up like me. I thought I was invincible,but look at me now.He passed on a few weeks later .But his last words to me have stayed with me.

The final thing I will say is this.I hope that The issues surrounding AIDS become a more common dialogue especially but not exclusively amongst my fellow Africans.Lets aim to get rid of the stigma attached to the AIDS pandemic. It is bad enough that people are dying of AIDS, but no one should die of ignorance! Be responsible. Know your status. Get tested.Not Just today on World AIDS but regularly.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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