COVID Entanglements
An attempt to find comfort & practice safer sex in the midst of a plague
by Corey Saucier

The world is still in flames. The streets are still flowing with the blood of the innocent; bluejays are still falling dead from the orange-red sky; the president is in and out of the hospital with the fifth plague of the apocalypse; Black folks are still being murdered penalty-free by the power-arm of government. We are still on the verge of a civil war; and there are prophesies emanating from the dark web that promise that Earth and Jupiter will tilt off of their axes and the sun will burn black by the end of 2020; but a girl still needs to get her back blown out. So I have a sex appointment tomorrow at 3:33pm and he promises to wear a mask. Welcome to the new gay safe sex.

In the nineties I was a teenager with a high-school boyfriend in ROTC. He sagged his military fatigues, talked dirty, and always wore a condom when we would sneak sex in our parents’ house.

It was the responsible thing to do.

In the 2000s I was celibate (as far as anyone knew). I was nineteen and blond and green-eyed and the skinniest, prettiest ingenue studying theater at UC Santa Cruz. Just don’t ask me what I did on my trips to the San Francisco gay bar back rooms.

I said, don’t ask!

In the 2010s some of the HIV-positive sluts had good insurance and medications that kept them alive and free of the effects of lipodystrophy. The lucky few of us who had been saved by some Divine feminine deity of distended bellies and sunken cheeks…would place our medical records on the bedside table, printed out on legal paper and wrapped in a rubber band for our guests to review, in case we lived in a state where disclosure was mandatory.

It was the responsible thing to do.

Six years ago I was in my Romantic stage. I only went on dates with Rich White Men in five-star restaurants when the magical moon was full and the night was alive with fireflies blinking “Love Me” in Morse code—chartreuse lights circling in heart shapes and landing lightly to sip our Midori Sours: Green on green on green. On the second floor of faux French balconies, we ate veal medallions with rustic orange and purple vegetables, followed by crème brûlée with fresh strawberries and hand-whipped cream. I pretended to be a beautiful African princess waiting for her dowry to be paid by an Icelandic mute prince. And I would only disclose my HIV status on the third date, by candlelight, promising them my bed only after they offered monogamy, Tiffany rings, and a silver tennis bracelet from De Beers.

It was the responsible thing to do.

Then PrEP came along and disclosure and condoms were considered, by most of us in the scene, unnecessary. That’s when things got crazy; and anon, and wild. Boys in jock straps face down with lights out and front doors unlocked waiting for strangers to make their cameo appearance. Everything was up front and open and posted on Grindr and Scruff and the now defunct Craigslist, and not a conversation was needed. Or wanted.

Bottom. Poz. Undetectable.

I call this the golden era: Where everyone did everything they ever wanted. And everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.

AND THEN CAME THE BEAST.

COVID-19 has changed everything. Corona has changed everything. Social distancing has changed everything.

Now death happens within two to fourteen days rather than a slow burn of ten years. Where HIV is a sleeping volcano glowing red and bubbling until one day out of nowhere it erupts, COVID is a flash flood that you can’t see or predict but suddenly you are drowning in blue——gasping in a hospital bed——hooked to a beeping ventilator and praying that you don’t die alone….

I pray that we don’t die alone.

But like I said, a girl still needs to get her back blown out. It’s been more than six months since I’ve been able to order up a random sexual partner off the Internet. And the body is not meant to go so long without affection or touch. So me and my favorite “regular” made ourselves a little arrangement. The kids on TikTok are calling them “entanglements.”

These are the rules:
Level 1: Masks on, no kissing. Windows open for ventilation. Clean sheets. And quickies only. In and out.
Level 2: Two to fourteen days of self-quarantine whenever we break recommended safety precaution when not together. And then start again.
Level 3: Full physical monogamy, which can be more lenient with kissing and spending time. Pretending to be in love and creating a closed relationship loop. Each time always able to engage previous level rules if we feel unsafe.

Now obviously these are not the rules that will be set by the CDC anytime soon.

But sometimes you’ve just got to make your own rules.

It’s the responsible thing to do.


Corey Saucier is an artist and writer living in Los Angeles. He is a Lambda Literary Fellow in Fiction and Non-Fiction and is currently looking for a publisher for his first novel. His musings and wanderings on Love, Life, and Nonsense can be found at www.justwords.tumblr.com.