Hello again. Last Friday everyone had fun with Stuart and his questions about why M/M authors write about twitching penises and thumping the hell out of them.:) This week the topic is a little more serious. Here’s what he wanted to know about why authors use this term in M/M books when the connotation is anything but what was intended:
“I’ve noticed that authors of m/m fiction generally refer to being HIV negative as being ‘clean’. I’m a 46 year-old gay man who lived in NYC from 1988 -2004 and I’ve never heard ‘clean’ used among gay men there (or anywhere else I’ve visited) in any sexual situation or in casual conversation. Instead, it’s customary to ask a potential sexual partner if they’re ‘positive’ or ‘negative’.
I’ve always been surprised at the prevalence of ‘clean’ in m/m fiction since it implies that an infected person would have ‘dirty’ blood. In a potential sexual situation where you don’t know your partners sero-status and they don’t know yours, using the word ‘clean’ would be incredibly insulting and would ruin the night. I wonder where and why m/m fiction picked up this trope.”
You may remember the book by horror and M/M author, Rick R. Reed, NEG UB2 about a gay man who had been diagnosed as HIV+. I don’t recall any mention of the word “clean” in the book to refer to the protagonist’s sero-status, and it would appear that this is a term used exclusively by female M/M writers.
I asked Rick about this because he’s one of my “gay” consultants and here’s his comment
‘”In my own personal life, I have never really heard the word “clean” used much. And I could see how it could be insulting. Most gay men I know would say poz or neg or maybe, if they were online, DDF (drug and disease free). I think the guy from NYC is right. If someone asked me if I was “clean”, it would probably kill the mood. I think it’s much more likely they would ask if I was poz, which is just fact, with no judgment attached (as with using the word “clean”). I hope you can perhaps get some writers to not use this term since it’s demeaning to HIV+ people everywhere. Having a disease (or the antibodies for it) does not make someone “dirty.”‘
Authors, can you clarify why you use the word ‘clean” in this context? I noticed that gay male M/M writers never use this term in this situation so I’m wondering if this is a case of ‘follow the leader’ where one M/M writer uses a word and everyone else follows?
As always, I look forward to comments from both authors and readers on this topic.
If you have a burning question on M/M books or gay fiction that hasn’t been answered in any of the polls conducted to date (you can check out all the Polls under “Navigation” on the website – it’s the last topic), please email me and I would be happy to post your question.