With masturbation becoming our national pastime, I recently saw a video that made me wonder whether the skankiest type of sex is now the safest. The amateur clip showed its star being penetrated through a glory hole, and seemed to model responsible social distancing.
I have neither the credentials nor studies for any of this to be mistaken for medical advice, but thus far we know COVID-19 is contracted through one’s eyes, nose and mouth—all of which were obstructed by the setup in the video I was watching. While unconfirmed, the virus does not appear to be transmitted via sexual fluids, although we know neither the rectum nor vagina are channels to the respiratory system.
Converting a spare closet into a glory hole is unlikely to catch on as quickly as wearing facemasks, but as the social distancing net broadens from two weeks to a month, from the rest of 2020 to a date unknown, more people are wondering: When can we have sex again?
Evidence exists that an individual can contract COVID-19 from a single exposure, and even if that individual has no underlying conditions, the virus can ravage his or her respiratory system and lead to hospitalization, assisted breathing (possibly at the expense of someone more vulnerable who also needs a ventilator) and ultimately death. For many, that possibility is not worth satisfying whatever sexual urges they may feel during lockdown.
It’s also possible a person can contract COVID-19 in the course of a sexual encounter, then experience a week of debilitating fever and body aches or have no symptoms at all before fully recovering. For many, that will be a risk worth taking, and some have been testing those odds since the widespread quarantines began.
Social distancing implores us to consider not only our own health, but also our potential to unknowingly pass COVID-19 to those susceptible to its worst manifestations. This responsibility must be accounted for when engaging in sex throughout the pandemic; or walking the BeltLine or grocery shopping, or having any type of human contact that could spark a chain reaction of infections or extend our civic paralysis.
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease and not a sexually transmitted infection, which is worth noting given the social media trend of gay men moralizing a hookup as especially reckless or debased behavior when it might be safer than going to work. One of my more romantically inclined flings suggested watching a movie over wine and desserts but feared having sex, as if COVID-19 would wait for us to sin before jumping to a new carrier.
We wound up not getting together at all, which is undoubtedly the safest thing we could have done. However, it’s just as certain that no level of risk—whether unplanned pregnancy or a virus once considered a death sentence—has ever stopped people from fucking, and indefinite abstinence is as doomed a strategy for eliminating COVID-19 as bombing 5G towers.
Until a vaccine or full-body condom comes along, folks will develop strategies based on their comfort level and risk assessment, with some opting for chastity, others hooking up after 14-day waiting periods, and a few eliminating all human contact except with their sexual partners. Whichever strategy each of us chooses, may we remember none of us are immune to this novel virus, nor can any of us know the only way forward.