Love Stories

Love in the time of the coronavirus epidemic

At a time when the whole of life seems to be changing Daniel Warner asks if looking for love in the time of the coronavirus is the most selfish thing we can do?

The way we behave in the coming weeks and even months is something we have to think about in an unselfish way.

So here’s the thing, as I write this feature, information is changing all the time so this is more of a reaction to what we know now, at this point, rather than a guide of do’s and don’ts and why’s and what if’s?

What I do know for sure is this: the whole of our scene and our community is facing a challenge that we haven’t really had since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic back in the 1980s. Our reaction to that crisis changed our attitudes towards dating, love and sex and at this moment in time, the coronavirus is starting to feel rather similar.

The difference is that HIV and AIDS was thought of being primarily a ‘gay disease’ and so it did not get the huge amount of media coverage and worldwide interest that the coronavirus is currently getting. In the 1980s there was a huge government campaign that informed us that being promiscuous and having unsafe sex were the main reasons for the spread of HIV.

Fast forward almost forty years and we are being told that shaking hands and being within a couple of metres of someone with the coronavirus puts us in danger of catching it. So not only does this make a difference with our choices as to who we get naked with, it also has a huge impact on our social interaction with other guys.

Our ‘safe spaces’ like bars, clubs, gyms and saunas are all feeling the impact of the coronavirus. We are being forced to make decisions that may lead us to ‘self-isolate’. If anything, these are the two words that define the coronavirus, much like ‘safe sex’ has defined HIV for so many years. With HIV the decisions we make regarding our sex life can have an impact on us and our partners (however many partners we choose to have) but with the coronavirus the decisions we make socially will have an impact (healthwise) not only on ourselves but also our family and friends too.

This is a new path we are treading, a time when deciding to go out for a drink, to go on a date or even to start a new relationship can make us fearful and even hesitant to be open to the idea of starting something new.

Of course, these are personal decisions and we all have different reasons for not wanting to go on a first, second or third date or wanting to reschedule something. We can all make an arrangement on an app and then bail on it at the last moment. We could chat to a guy in a bar, swap numbers and then never call but have we ever really had to make those decisions because we are worried that our actions may impact the health of a family member or friend in a week’s time?

The way we behave in the coming weeks and even months is something we have to think about in an unselfish way. For me, it’s a decision I have already made. I will take a break from the apps for as long as it takes for this epidemic to be over. I want to go out and support my friends who have bars and restaurants and clubs but I will wait and see what information is forthcoming before I decide to stay out from Friday until Sunday.

I don’t want to make decisions based on fear or suspicion but I do have to be responsible as I have people I love who are vulnerable during this crisis. The coronavirus has made me think more pragmatically rather than emotionally. I’ve never been one to let reasoning get in the way of any of my actions. I’d normally be the first one at the bar and the last one to leave, the one to jump head first and then head over heels into any type of fun, be it naked or otherwise, but these are strange times and a second date with some guy I’ve met in the gym could also be the reason I don’t get to see my best friend or parents for a couple of months. So at this time, I’ll make the decision that the second date is not going to happen, not for a while anyway.

As I write this I hope in a month’s time when my next column in Boyz is published that everything I have said here will mean nothing and we can all go out, get drunk, shake hands, kiss, get naked and do whatever we want and what we’ve been used to doing, but I’m not sure things will go back to ‘normal’ that quickly?

What I do know is this, things at the moment are tough for all of us. I love being part of the LGBTQ community and I’ve always said that being gay ‘saved me’. I have a much wider view of the world and a much more open interpretation of everything around me, but at this moment in time it might just serve me and those I love better if I ‘close ranks’ a little. What I mean by this is not to act in a selfish way but to think about the impact giving away too much of yourself socially, sexually or emotionally is going to have on you and those you love. Love in time of the coronavirus has made me feel like it’s the right time to appreciate those I already have in my life, rather than looking around for something or someone new.

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