Dear Bearded Confidant,

What is the consensus on oral sex and HIV?  Is sucking safe?

Dear Tom,

Of course, the world is no longer our petri dish, and it's not safe to cruise around doing chemistry experiments with every man who makes eye contact. Alas, if you let a man shoot off in your mouth, you're taking chances one way or another. Even condoms and dental dams can't promise 100% safety. Camille Paglia once made an interesting point: gay sex is risky, and men throughout time have accepted the risks for the sublime pleasure mansex offers. Paglia reminds us that gay sex has always been dangerous—before the outbreak of deadly viruses, men have historically been shamed, incarcerated, and beaten to death for daring to partake of the forbidden ecstasy. The very fact that men have risked and continue to risk their very lives for mansex is testament to its supreme power.

Alas, in this age of safer sex, men's body fluids have become taboo, and the wetter the action the more forbidden it is. Recent years have introduced special terms for sex without a condom: "bareback" and "raw." I'm not here to advocate unsafe sex, but allow me to boldly state a generally unspoken fact—fluid exchange is what it's all about. Condoms are often referred to as "protection," but how can lovers become one flesh if they must "protect" themselves from one another? When two men melt into one another, their fluid passions are supposed to intermingle, too. When our body fluids mix, we share all sorts of hormones, chemical processes occur, and an alchemical intimacy transforms us. But this level of intimacy is now reserved for monogamous partners, not strangers (at least not without increased risk and fear, and fear shouldn't be part of lovemaking, as fear is the opposite of love).

Passion is most often compared to fire, but it operates more like a river that overflows into a rampage. Similarly, sex should be wet and frothy. If you aren't ready to settle down into a monogamous relationship, at least practice your safe sex in the shower or hot tub. There, your condom is just another kind of shower cap.