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Safely Precautions When Going to Have A "Lil Fun".

Last year I shared my candid story of being sexually assaulted. Not only did I see this as an opportunity to start a much-needed snowball effect on a taboo conversation, but being transparent also opened the door for so much information to be passed my way. Several organizations with resources were out there looking for people just like me. A trip to the California State Capitol and responding to hundreds of digital testimonies later, I’ve made it my duty to share my own realizations and what I’ve learned surrounding the issue of rape.

Something I did not think about was how common my situation is in the 21st century. We are not meeting each other browsing the travel section at the local Barnes & Noble or casually strolling through Central Park admiring the foliage on a brisk autumn afternoon. We’re frantically swiping left and right searching for Tinder baes and potential sexcapades. Instead of creating an excel spreadsheet that was due in our supervisor’s inbox an hour ago, we’re frantically responding to the person(s) you may or may not have ever met who said something ignorant on your Facebook status. How dare someone come into your home with their disgusting views and irrational revelations! Meeting and building rapport (then sometimes feuds) with complete strangers has become the norm in the 21st century. We’ve become completely jaded toward dangerous and compromising situations that we are blindly willing to put ourselves out for in either computer love or a quick nut.

Yes, stranger danger!

Your potential plan tonight is hot, but let’s be real. Honestly, you do not know this beautiful thumbnail from a can of paint. With abs you can wash your dirty drawls on, and with a figure of a Grecian God, you still don’t know this person. He could be the killer. Hell, he could be your distant cousin.

Now that we’ve acknowledged linking up with the stranger who slid in your DMs can be problematic, we can now acknowledge that we’re going to do it anyway. We are still going to “thot bop” around our 2.6-mile radius. Whether it’s culture and religious stigma or the simple fact that we refuse to let people into our business, technology has allotted society an extra layer of discretion when it comes to our sex and dating life. I get it: it’s easy. It’s convenient. And now, more than ever, people are being completely transparent not with what they can bring to the table, but if they intend to have a seat at it at all. So how do we adapt to new age ideology with blind dates 2.0 and keeping our safety a priority?

Every time I see the MTV series “Catfish,” I’m shocked that the show is still airing. Seriously, how many embarrassing emails to Nev does one have to witness before they realize that you need to thoroughly research who you are linking up with? FaceTime is a revolutionary platform that allows real time face-to-face conversations to take place countries away from each other. FaceTime is also a great way to see if the cutie you’ve already sent photos of your genitalia to is who they say they are, at least visually.

Meeting in public is a great way to start off getting to “know” someone. Whether a first date or just a hookup, meeting in a public setting creates a safe environment for a first time meet and greet. You don’t have to stay long. But coffee shops, restaurants or that bar around the corner are great places for the initial “hello.” I would also suggest that you do not give out your address if you do decide to take the route of getting picked up, especially if you have a roommate or live with others. If things eventually go south, you don’t want people knowing where you live for the safety of yourself and your fellow housemates or family. Walk down the street to a nearby shopping center. If you have a car, drive. Lyft is a 24-hour alternative solution to get to and from a late rendezvous or a hot date, especially if you are enjoying an adult beverage or two. If you use the code “jayce21” you will even get up to $50 credit on your first ride. Merry Christmas.

Everyone loves a complimentary cocktail. Hell, with rent prices higher than the Kool-Aid man’s blood pressure, everyone needs to save all the money we can. If someone offers you a drink in the club or a bar and you decide to accept it, make sure you’re accepting their credit card payment and not the actual drink.

Bartenders, who you should be watching as they make your Midori margarita should also be watched, and your drink should be handed directly from creator to consumer. Just like Mr. Right (Now) is not going to pass you his AMEX Credit Card for you to potentially run up a tab for you and the homies, he should not be passing you your drink. Keep the transaction regulated. Letting a stranger hold or deliver your drinks allows opportunities for Rohypnol and other date rape drugs to contaminate your cocktail. It happened to me. Also, know your tolerance. You’re not out with your best friend who will take care of you if things head south.

Always be mindful of your surroundings. You should always be on your guard. But if you are in a situation that is new, another level of acute senses should be integrated into your experience. Where are the exits? What’s the demographic of the company around you? Does someone in the room have a staring problem? If we get to the point of the night where we are at each other’s places we should be even more aware. We know that turning off the lights for a good “Netflix & Chill” session sets the mood, but keeping the lights on is not a bad idea when you don’t know the person’s middle name. Just a thought.

We all have that Samantha Jones friend who we are able to tell all of our promiscuous stories and they jump in with their personal tale of they banged in the men’s stall last night. This is also the friend who needs to hold you accountable for your whereabouts. Just a simple text with an address or a screenshot to let them know who and where you may be knocking boots is a great way to ensure a more stress-free encounter. Ask for the first and last name. I’m not telling you to check passports and take blood samples, but vocally asking lets the other person lets know that you not easy prey. I also make sure that my phone is fully charged and also have an extra charger that I carry around with me. Portable chargers are the new rage and can be purchased anywhere from CVS to RadioShack.

Exchanging of lusty photographs are a thing. I’ve literally spotted friends on Jack’d with a simple ambiguous torso shot just because I recognized their crucifix chest tattoo. By all means, click and send away. Just be mindful as far as who you are sending them too and keep your face and other unique identifiable characteristics out of the shot. I used to use the “what if you want to run for president one day” example… but 2016 proved otherwise.

Finally, trust your gut. If you do not feel comfortable in a situation, get out of it. God only knows the “what if”s that may or may not happen, but your conscience can be your best friend in a multitude of situations.

Listen to your best friend.

People asked me why I did not take PEP right after my assault. The truth is, I did not even acknowledge the fact that I was assaulted until well after the 72 hours time frame to take PEP to prevent HIV. I washed the situation off in the shower of my Hollywood apartment and carried on with life as if nothing happened. I’m a strong man, and in my mind, I was invincible to even being raped. Like plenty of fellas out there, I was wrong. PrEP is another way to protect yourself from HIV. People use the term “Truvada Whore” and a promiscuous stigma has been placed on individuals on PrEP, but at the end of the day, they are taking ownership of your health just like individuals who are positive who is adherent to their medication. It’s not for everyone, but it’s another great preventative tool to protect yourself from HIV in a vast array of situations. If the sex is consensual talk about status. Ask when the last time they’ve had an STI screening. Use a condom. They can always lie, but just like asking for the first and last name it lets them know you take your health seriously.

I was not held at gunpoint in the back of a Walmart alley and violently attacked. It was not a typical scene you would see at the cinema, but it was a typical scene you would see on a mundane Monday evening when your roommate is out of town. I had no intention of being sexual that night, at least not with him. If you want to carry around pepper spray don’t let toxic masculinity stop you. I’m a man who dates and has sex with men, but these guidelines can really be used by anyone. These are not professional tips, but tips from your brother who was sexually assaulted and eyes have been opened to present-day realities. Although there is no if, and’s, or buts about consent when it comes to sex, there are things that I would have done differently or been more mindful of.

Hook-Up Safety: Welcome
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