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Coming Clean After Getting Clean

Coming Clean After Getting Clean

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COMMENTARY: Someone just messaged me on Facebook to say I am a role model to them, and that excites me and scares me at the same time. I did porn to rebel and not be normal, but even in rebelling, you gotta keep boundaries.

Safe sex is a must.

For those of you who don't know, I did a bareback movie in 2008. I'm not gonna even mention the studio or the title, because I do not want anyone to purchase it, and I don't want to promote it.

At the time I choose to do it, I had just lost my mother and my dog to cancer, within a year of each other. I was using hard drugs to dull the pain. I became an addict and did self destructive things because I no longer cared. Not that this is an excuse, but drugs really screw up your sense of right and wrong.

I was offered more than double what I used to make doing scenes in porn to do bareback. Many thousands of dollars for a two-hour scene. It was a top scene, but one can still contract HIV through topping. It's less of a risk, but still a big risk.

I was, and by some miracle still am, HIV-negative. I have had the blood test for HIV many times since doing the scene, most recently last month, and I am still HIV-negative and free of all STDs.

But when I chose to do the scene back in 2008, I knew I could only convince my close friends that it was OK if they thought I was HIV-positive. So I lied and told people I was so I could do it. Shameful and sad.

I haven't done a movie since that one in 2008 -- my choice. It freaked me out that I did it, and I fell deeper into my drug haze, hating myself for doing something I never, ever thought I would.

I had a contract with the bareback company for 12 scenes, but I pulled out after the first movie. It would have been enough money that I wouldn't have had to work for a year -- two if I was frugal. But my damn morals came up and I couldn't do another one. I scared myself.

The message I just got via Facebook about being a role model solidifies why I couldn't do it again. Had I contracted HIV, that would have hurt myself, my family, and my friends. But promoting bareback sex, which I was outspoken against throughout my porn career, could have possibly caused one gay man to replicate my on-screen behavior, resulting in them contracting HIV.

I don't want to be all Bristol Palin ("Do as I say, not as I do"), but I needed to say something and disavow this terrible choice I made.

Please, everyone, support safe-sex movies. You could be saving a life. Those are real people performing, and they deserve respect and the demand and financial incentive for them to stay safe.

Mason Wyler, with whom I worked in a safe movie for Suite 703, has now gone bareback, saying that he wanted to keep doing porn, but the offers weren't coming in for safe stuff. I find his excuse very disturbing. As porn stars, we are teachers. Younger kids look to our movies as educational and emulate what we do. We have a responsibility to teach behavior that is very fun, very hot, very sexy, and very safe. It can't be all about the money.

Making porn is such a small part of our lives, but the scenes will be around for years and years. Even when I'm old and gray, people will get off to them. I love this. I love porn myself -- it's a great thing.

On a Falcon Studios shoot for Big Timber years ago in Russian River, a very old man who was at the location said to us, "You guys don't know the kind of joy you bring to an 80-year-old man. Thank you." He wasn't being creepy -- he was being honest. The way he got off in his 80s was by living vicariously through us.

What porn stars do isn't dirty or bad. It's a beautiful thing to perform so others can safely get off while watching us. But when the porn stars put themselves in danger to do this, is destroys the whole cycle.

I stopped the cycle for myself. I first and foremost got sober and realized I need to love myself and deal with life's ups and downs the same way I had before: with exercise and being social.

Good friends are better than any drug. The drugs will separate you from everyone you love and everything you care about. Drug addiction is a disease of the mind. The drugs will tell you that you need them. It's like having a plastic bag over your head and wanting air -- that's what the drugs feel like.

I credit Dr. H in Beverly Hills for getting me on the Prometa treatment plan and my family and friends for getting me off the drugs and back to a healthy and fun life. I've been sober for over a year now, and every day keeps getting better.

Play safe, guys. Love yourselves and each other.

I do fear that my one bareback movie may have led some impressionable gay man to think unsafe sex is OK. It's not, but actions speak louder than words. Did someone watch the scene and try it? I get a deep sense of shame and sadness when I think what my careless actions could have, and maybe have, done.

I cannot change the past, none of us can. But I can also choose to not repeat it, and to learn from my mistakes. I also have survivor's guilt for not contracting HIV like so many of my friends have.

HIV shouldn't exist, but it does and we must do all we can to prevent the spread of the disease.

You are not a bad person if you have it. But you are also not becoming part of a club if you do get it. Seroconversion isn't something you want to willingly do.

I still hear of the "gift giving" parties where guys willingly try to seroconvert, so they don't have to use condoms anymore. This makes my heart ache. Because while HIV meds have come a long way, they still have side effects and are very, very expensive. On average they cost $4,000 a month. And while there are programs like ADAP to help with the costs, the current budget crisis is causing those programs to be cut.

You wouldn't choose to give yourself cancer, or even a cold, so why choose to get HIV?

A prominent HIV/AIDS activist who has been a mentor of mine for years has the same fear I do. That we will again need to see a wave of deaths when the virus mutates into a drug-resistant form that spreads and kills fast. Then will we play safe, and not purchase or watch bareback?

I'm not gonna lie, it feels better without a condom. But sex also is better when you are in love. You gotta save something for that right man that you will eventually meet. If you can say that you have never had bareback sex with anyone, and then once tested and in a committed monogamous relationship you can share that experience with your man. What a great thing to save for the man you marry.
Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Magazine - Gus Kenworthy

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