"Go to bed!"
"Shut up, bitch!"
The glare from the computer was hindering any sleep John's roommate Seth was hoping to achieve. Two full-sized beds sat parallel to each other, each pressing against opposite white plastered walls. At the end of each bed was a rectangular desk, both with computers. One had been turned off, and the other was inevitably occupied.
"Girl! It's 4 a.m.!"
Seth had introduced his roommate to the website Gay.com a few days before. What had started out as a fun little quirk to show his friend was quickly becoming an annoyance he did not see any solution for.
In 2003, at the age of 22, John was in his senior year at the University of California, Irvine, juggling classes between his criminology major and his minor in Spanish. Before his introduction to Gay.com, he spent most of his time playing on the school volleyball team, working out and studying. His 6'2" frame hunched over his desk as a box popped up on his computer screen. "Hey," read the instant message.
John clicked on text that read "show profile." Another box opened up next to his message displaying a rectangle with the words "no picture available" in the center. John typed, "Do you have a picture?" "Ya, I'll send it to you," his anonymous friend quickly responded. "What do you get into?"
"So hot!" John thought to himself as he opened the man's picture. John continued to talk online to his new acquaintance.
"Do you have any friends?" the man asked. "To come over?" "I don't know what you mean." "Threesomes."
"Is that, like, more than one person?" "Have you ever done this before?" "No." John responded, nervous of losing this possibility. "Just come over."
John gave him his address and quietly made his way to the living room. Within ten minutes, a man he had never met sat uncomfortably across from him on his roommate's L-shaped couch. They both stared uncomfortably at objects in the room; the grey, spot-stained carpet, the dusty television, the plastic blinds covering half the wall space.
"You can't kiss me above the neck." the stranger said. His highly defined chest and biceps were clearly visible through his white T-shirt. "I don't kiss guys ... I only kiss girls."
Two hours later, he snuck back in his room, quietly walking passed his restless roommate and went to sleep, unaware that this night's excursions would cause him four days of pain with cautious trips to the bathroom and extreme discomfort with the slightest efforts to even sit down.
With over seven million profiles, Gay.com is quickly becoming a household name within the gay community. First appearing on July 22, 1994, Gay.com advertises itself as an online dating service, providing pictures and profiles about men across the country. Anyone can easily enter an age range they're looking for, body type, geographic location or general interest and will instantly be brought to a page displaying endless photos of promising candidates. More often than not, a variety of photos are displayed, ranging from innocuous poses to body-exposing material.
A few weeks later, John got out from under his covers and walked over to the computer at the foot of his bed. He signed on to his Gay.com account and began browsing through the photos. Within 15 minutes, he found his next trick and soon after, the trick was on his way to John's apartment.
The door brushed heavily against the carpet as John opened his front door. His friend -- whose name he had yet to learn -- stepped over the threshold. "After it's done, you gotta go," John informed him. He nodded and followed John to his room. John hopped on his bed, and his friend quickly followed.
All was going smoothly. They had finished, and John still had 30 minutes before his next friend would show up at his front door. The fan rumbled as he flipped the light switch in his bathroom. He climbed into his brown-speckled shower and began to rinse the morning off.
His next friend arrived and was prompted to follow John to his room. They joined each other, resting on top of John's newly spoiled sheets. After they both found what they had been looking for, his anonymous friend stood up and began looking for his clothes. "Can I take a shower?" the friend asked.
"No," John quickly replied. He took his cell phone in his hand and noticed an icon of an envelope. He flipped his phone open that revealed the text message, "I'm on my way."
In an interview conducted by the Advocate, Will Doherty, executive director of QueerNet/Online Policy Group -- a nonprofit focused on providing wider Internet access -- discussed the connection between the Internet and the increasing promiscuity among the gay community, "It makes it easier for people who want to have unsafe sex to select out people who are interested in unsafe sexual activity." He also noted that people could remain anonymous online, promoting secrecy, leaving a greater likelihood to come into contact with an STI-infected individual. "They don't have to worry about being tagged as someone who is gay or bisexual, or having HIV or AIDS."
Dr. John M. Douglas, also interviewed by the Advocate, is the director of the Centers for Disease Control division for STI prevention. He says part of the increase in syphilis transmission among men who have sex with men came from sexual meetings arranged through the Internet. According to a research summary released by the California Department of Health services, 23 percent of bisexual and gay men who had syphilis said they met their sexual partners on the Internet.
Since 1999, the rate of sexually transmitted diseases has increased tremendously. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 1999 to 2005, the number of positive gonorrhea cases has nearly doubled among men who have sex with men. There has been a 78.6 percent increase in positive cases of syphilis. In 2000 there was also a noticeable spike of STI infections in six out of eight major cities.
Other countries are noticing similar trends in the rise of STIs. An annual survey report taken in Australia, issued by the National Center in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, found that new HIV infections rose from 656 in 2000 to 930 in 2005 -- a 41 percent increase. In southern China, according to the Department of Health, HIV infections are increasing three times faster than 20 years ago, partly due to unsafe gay sex. Wong Ka-Hing, a consultant for the Center of Health Protection, told the Advocate that he had raised particular concern over sexual contact between men and the use of the Internet to find sex partners, saying both practices raised the risk of HIV infection.
"Let's have a look."
A short man in a white coat got up from his chair and made his way to John. John undid his brown belt and pulled his pants down revealing little red dots covering his genitals. The doctor kneeled down and shook his head.
"We're going to have to freeze them off."
John winced with pain. Each wart was being individually frozen off with a large silver device, a long skinny straw extending from its nozzle. His skin stung with each spray, tiny daggers stabbing at his most intimate and sensitive possession.
The doctor straightened up, taking a break after two hours of work.
"Next time be careful."
John looked over, "Careful?" he thought to himself. "How can I be?"
"You get it from just touching. From skin contact," John told the doctor.
"Well, then don't do that."
John bit his top lip, grunted quietly and thought to himself, "Bitch, just spray!"
Scott Weber is finishing his last year as a literary journalism major at the University of California, Irvine. He started as a dance major but soon found a passion for writing and journalism. He's been writing ever since.