What’s up with the Bareback Brotherhood?

June 7, 2012 in General

A victim meets his fate in a perversely homoerotic scene from the horror film "Hostel".

In the horror film series “Hostel”, men and women pay sums of money for the exclusive pleasure of sadistically torturing, maiming and ultimately killing other human beings, sometimes with graphically sexual overtones.

To become a member of this brotherhood, one must sign a contract, which includes having a logo tattooed on your body to show that you are, to follow the company’s name at the heart of this depravity, an “elite hunter”.

As the cruelty is mercilessly depicted for the viewer, the question of “why” rings as loud in one’s ears as the screams of the victims.

Not “why were these films made”, because the atrocities on display can barely hope to live up to those which have been committed by one human being against another across time and probably at this very moment.  The question is why would somebody want to do this?

For the various murderers we meet in the films, a number of reasons crop up: the forbidden nature of killing as pleasure, the adrenaline rush of intimately draining another’s life force, a chance to live out a fantasy, substitution of the victim for someone the murderer has been unable to confront in their real life.

The parallels between the elite hunters and members of the online social network Bareback Brotherhood (or #BBBH as seen on Twitter) are striking.

The brainchild of Mark Bentson, the Bareback Brotherhood is:

“…a social group of men around the globe from all walks of life. We agree on one thing — sex between men without barriers is natural and a legitimate choice…

Fuck more. Fear less. Regret nothing.”

Before AIDS swept through communities of gay men in the 1980s with its unstoppable scythe, condom use among gay men was not the norm.  When it became apparent that the riskiest activity for acquiring HIV was via unprotected anal sex, massive behaviour change occurred in order for gay men to “fuck more” and “fear less”.  A majority began to use condoms.  Health organizations endorsed their use for survival.

Unsafe sex indeed became demonized, in the same way that other harm-causing behaviours such as smoking, drink-driving, speeding, driving without a seatbelt and drug use have been.

When behaviours become demonized, Bentson argues, people stop talking about them in a truthful and honest way.  Or, as he puts it in his own words:

“…I do love a good debate when I can find someone with an open enough mind in which to discuss barebacking rationally.  Few people will, even though when the lights are off, condoms never come out of the packages.”

One could argue with his use of the word “never”, but how else to explain the increase in HIV infections among gay men across the Western world from 2000 on?  HIV infections had, in New Zealand at least, reduced to very low levels in the late 1990s, which coincided with both the invention of antiretroviral drugs and the uncomfortable reality that many of those who had been carrying the virus were dead.

Bentson is a fatalist.  For him, unsafe sex is no different from smoking, drinking, recreational drugs, consumption of fast food and caffeine, speeding, or other undefined things that risk your wellbeing, and we won’t stop human beings from doing any of these things:

“A bus could kill me tomorrow. I could die of a million other things, why shouldn’t I experience intimacy I enjoy with a man? …

Everyone of us on this planet is doing stupid shit. We do it because it tastes good, it feels good, it gets us there faster, it makes us feel better, we enjoy life more…

But of all the life-risking things on this list, every single one is ultimately something you’re doing alone. Even if you’re with someone else, they’re not connected to you. There’s a disconnect. There’s no intimacy in a donut at Krispy Kreme.”

There’s also no incurable virus that destroys your immune system from the inside out.  But these things don’t matter to Bentson, who would also seem from his writings to be a nihilist: choices are choices, each being risk-equivalent.

A decision to eat a donut is no different than a decision to let somebody of unknown HIV status ejaculate fluids into your body.

We all speed from time to time.  And doubtless, it feels damn good to drive fast, especially on the motorway or open road.  With a mate in the car and the stereo blasting, the adrenalin rush and that sense of connection is exhilarating.  But would anyone respect my choices if I decided to start a social movement based around a lifestyle of consistent speeding, or the choices of those who decided to join me?  Would I not be accused of, well, asking for it?

Bentson denies that barebackers are bug-chasers (people who have sex with the deliberate intent of becoming infected with HIV), although he acknowledges that they do make up a proportion of barebackers.  He also denies that barebackers are mentally ill, saying that he personally “has no death wish” and does not want his “life shortened”.

How then, do we explain this?

“Truth is at least once a month, I slip off a condom or use one with a hole in it.

Stealthing is what I do. It’s how I fuck. Funny, the little Latin fucker at the gloryholes downtown no longer bothers with a condom with me because he knows I’ll take it off. He tries to predict when I will cum to avoid my load, but he can never tell.”

This seems nothing short of psychopathy.

Just as the victims in the “Hostel” film series are lured to their deaths through a honeytrap of freewheeling sex, drugs and good times; at least some of Bentson’s partners are drawn into his web through phantom definitions of “intimacy”.

And there are no shortage of stealthers and the deluded on the Bareback Brotherhood site itself.  Here’s a sampling of comments from a thread entitled “What about BBing do you like?”

“Sex in any shape or form is an exchange of energy between two people and a form of intimacy. What could be more intimate than giving or taking the best of the other person. Think about it, in your cum you have your DNA, the best of you, and it is so powerfull that can create an other life!!! So taking the best of you and making it part of me is not only a pleasure but also an honor.”

“I HATE the feeling of condoms. Won’t generally fuck with them… and will try rolling it off if I can get away with it. Then that just builds up to knowing that I’m gonna mark the slut with my seed.”

“Especially love when I fuck raw at the bathhouse with someone and there was no talk about status or using condoms beforehand. Makes the situation that much hotter.”

And some more, from a thread entitled “Conversion parties”:

“I simply went to a bath house, that I used to come to on a regular basis and let someone, who told me he was poz, fuck me silly several times. He pumped my hole full of charge seed and fucked my hole raw and his cum came out pink, mixed with my blood. I had no doubt that I converted geting fucked by him and have never regretted it for a second”

“former chaser here I tried to do a conversion party ended up just finding a willing top. Will admit it was the best sex EVER. But also the over all experience is a serious ordeal, not to be taken lightly. After I converted a friend of mine told me he was chasing and we talked about for a long time. Just saying”

“I’m not necessarily looking to convert, but if it happens it happens.”

With the Bareback Brotherhood, Bentson seems to be successfully marketing a pathology: you can even buy black rubber BBBH wristbands to “show you’re a brother”.

Bentson dismisses as a myth that barebackers carry “disease or infection”, saying they are “more likely to honestly speak about their status and engage with their potential partners in open dialog comfortably because this is part of their daily lives.”

This seems at odds with both his own words and that of the BBBH users.  It is all about the fuck.  They don’t care about their health, so why should they care about yours?

This entire discussion would be somewhat moot in a world where HIV doesn’t exist.  But it does.

In the end, we can only be responsible for our own personal choices.  A key component of real intimacy is trust, and if you are going to have unprotected sex you need to be able to trust two people: the guy you’re having sex with, and yourself.

A last word from Bentson:

“I’ve never been delusional about how the world works as well. While lacking the literal fucking and breeding, I’ve been proverbially bent over and marked through my life in many ways. And I let it happen. Perhaps my own need to breed back is my response to how society decided to use my intelligence, creativity and good will.”

Are you really doing it because it feels good, or is there something deeper going on that you need to address, before you become indelibly marked for the rest of your life?

Originally published on www.bipolarbear.co.nz

Comments are closed.