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  • Gianni Mastrangioli Salazar

Hookups & Corona's Never Ending Story: What Have We Learnt?

© Illustration by INJECTION - Alicia Lupieri

Whoever is without sin, cast the first stone...

‘It’s so frustrating’; ‘I’m bored and horny, you?’; ‘I can’t decide whether I’ll fuck you or not’, Grindr users claim. Shortly after social distancing rules came into existence, dating apps have gone from being places for take-away copulation to becoming online confession rooms.

Many folks out there seem to have jumped straight into the conclusion that coronavirus is a synonym of absolute chastity. But some of them don’t. Not everyone has turned themselves into cloistered nuns for the sake of being sexually unreliable until further notice.

So, how do we adjust our romantic lives to this time of awkwardness despite the dread of infection? Having already passed corona’s first birthday, what have we learnt about sex so far?

Casting aside the heart-breaking stories of patients being jammed into emergency wards and the insolvency landscape UK businesses now face, coronavirus has imposed threats to one-night stand enthusiasts. While common sense suggests that casual sexual encounters should be discouraged, why don’t we be frank? Prolonged lockdown restrictions across Britain have inevitably resulted in singletons longing for release. Carelessly.

© Scruff Conversation Screenshot - INJECTION

Cybersex appears to have proliferated among youngsters since last year; however, the adoption of permanent homeworking arrangements – combined with severe boredom factors and mental health issues – makes it difficult to form a judgement as to why people continue to hook up. We all know that dealing with the insatiable horn isn’t black and white, and that’s what non-for-profit, LGBTQ+-related organisations in England aim to explain.

Team PrEPster, which is an advocacy group that’s been speaking out about equal rights since 2015, has launched a series of ‘tips and tricks’ that provides guidance on how to proceed with skin-to-skin contact… should you choose to do so anyway. ‘One of our ethical approaches to how we do our work is not to tell people what to do. Instead, we help people understand the options that are available and the things that will help people to remain as safe as they possibly can’, says Dr Will Nutland, PrEPster’s co-founder.

‘None of these things will necessarily protect someone from getting COVID or passing on COVID if they have it, but at least it’s working to diminish some of those risks.’

While having sex in car parks, behind buildings or even in the woods at night might help us avoid poorly-ventilated environments, it’s almost never worth the risk – unlike Monopoly, get-out-of-jail free cards wouldn’t apply if caught by police. Fornicating on terraces or in private backyards may therefore be more prudent if we happen to live in a flat that’s got such amenities.

But there’s always a ‘but’.

If we decided to get naked with our friendly acquaintances in the back of our house, we would be scoring a little victory against corona, sure, but don't forget that the British forecast does not resemble that of the Canary Islands. Perhaps agreeing to let the kissing off the menu by wearing appropriate face coverings is what would allow us to stay indoors during high fever season. Is that a little too unpleasant? Well, it depends on how kinky and creative our fantasies are. PrEPster’s booklet says that sneaking your willy into ‘glory holes’, which are holes in doors or water-proof curtains, can increase the fun.

No matter what we’re up for though, we should try to stick to those sex positions that limit breathing on each other. How about trying the reverse cowgirl?

Following a piece of research PrEPster was involved in during the first lockdown, where folks were asked whether they’d hooked up with casual partners, it was found that about one in four gay men confirmed to have succumbed.

‘When we asked the question ‘how long do you think you would be able to go for [without having sex]?’, 25 per cent of people said ‘I don’t think I would be able to last for more than three months’, says Dr Nutland.

And while the libido plays such a big role in most decisions one makes, many believe that being juvenile is some kind of genetic blessing. We might feel confident that COVID seems to be the elderly’s nightmare only, but it’s important to remember that, if we catch it, the virus can develop severe lasting symptoms regardless of our wrinkles-free face.

Hopes of paradisaical sex when there’s a pandemic going on kibosh at the snap of a finger. Even if the majority of us have already acknowledged the risk, we simply can’t seal ourselves in a cage and remain isolated. Perhaps finding a ‘fuck buddy’ by establishing sort of a consensual contract between the two parts isn't a bad idea; that would definitely reduce the number of sexual partners we might otherwise have had contact with. And of course, preventing intimacy with strangers doesn't exclusively concern COVID’s transmission. STIs are still such a killjoy, and that’s why it’s crucial for sexual health clinics not to stop operating.

Some of us might wonder if anything positive has come out of this pandemic, though. Indeed, routine checks are now being sent to people’s home, by which diagnoses such as gonorrhoea and syphilis don’t go untreated. Express test kits had been implemented in previous years; however, it’s probable that reduced capacity within the NHS sped up their widespread across sexual care units.

Obviously, the ideal scenario would be for us to keep our germs to ourselves and rather focus on the final season of RuPaul Drag Race, but the same can be wished for straight young adults as well. Who’s to say that non-gay populations aren’t engaging in sexual activity or are having minimal sexual encounters? ‘When the media talks about irresponsible people going on holidays, they talk about young, heterosexual, white people who go to places like Ibiza. And of course, when it’s about sex, it’s always the gays’, adds PrEPster's co-founder.

‘Even if we take HIV out of the question, the media always has this very stereotypical perception that gays have risky sex, and that we don’t give a fuck about our health.’

So, shall we hook up or not? Post-coital cuddling may feel like a distant memory. But between arranging all sorts of fantastic sexual hanky-panky and running away from corona, watching porn on Twitter isn't that boring after all.


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