Monday, May 9, 2016

What do [+] and [=] mean in someone’s profile?

I admit, the first time I say a profile with [+] attached to the name, I was confused.  Coming from the tech world, a box with a + in it means “closed tree control, click to expand and see content”.

Turns out, though, that this is a handy bit of flagging.

“Flagging” is any sort of non-verbal method for indicating preferences, status, or identity.  It is best known in the gay community via a colored bandana stuck in the back pocket to indicate kink activities, but it goes way deeper.  Hanging your keys from a belt loop indicates top or bottom.  The type of flowers held in a bouquet indicates feeling and availability, as does the specific color of roses.  The online bear community has a coded string of letters and numbers to indicate a large about of sexual and physical details.  Even Queen Elizabeth “flags” with her purse, they say.

One newer revision of the classic hanky code includes a flag for being trans — not for what you are into, but what you are.  This would be an identity flag, one used for disclosing information which might otherwise be difficult to verbally express — for various reasons, including personal security.   (Thanks to Shilo for showing me this one.)

[+] and [=] are also identity flags.  [+] is used to indicate HIV-positive status.  This sometimes also shows up as [+u] for “poz undetectable”, meaning HIV+ and on meds with an “undetectable” viral load, which recent studies have shown to be heavily unlikely to be at risk of transmitting the virus.

[=] is used to indicate “on PrEP” (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), meaning someone who is HIV- and on a daily regimen of Truvada as protection against HIV infection.  While intended especially to be used in conjunction with condoms, studies have shown PrEP alone to be highly effective in preventing seroconversion.  (And thus combined with known [+u] partners, even more effective.)

As with any discussion of these subjects, a few things should be remembered:
  • HIV meds and PrEP may massively reduce the risk of infection, but risk does still exist.  (Condoms also massively reduce the risk but do not remove it completely — they break, etc.)
  • “HIV-” and “undetectable” are only as good as the last test.  Status can change between tests.
  • Those terms are also only good if someone is honest.  Just as there are poz guys who simply don’t know it or who will lie and say they are negative if it means you will have sex with them, there are unquestionably also guys who aren’t stable on their meds or are lying about being on them at all.
  • [+u] and [=] reduce the risk of transmission of HIV and only HIV.  Not HPV, HEP, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, etc.  (However, people who are on the meds and getting tested regularly will tend to have infections discovered and treated sooner, which may reduce both spread and intensity.)
I have even recently seen [=] guys saying that they prefer to only play with poz guys.  Not too many years ago, this would have indicated a “bug chaser”, but today, it is a new version of “serosorting” — reducing your risk by playing with the guys most likely to actually know their status and be in treatment.  Quite the change on that front, eh?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Online Ass d’Jour: Get a New Pic

Date: March 24, 2013 / Place: Seattle, WA / Service: Scruff

This one doesn’t quite count as an Ass.  The only thing wrong is in what is being presented, not how.  If you must use as pic that is older than the service you are posting it on, remove the date.  Let us pretend that it is a current photo.

We have all seen pics on guys profiles which we knew were not current.  My own favorite brand of this is when you can see the film grain, so you know it is a scanned photograph (and thus at least 10 or more years old).  There is one guy I have seen online in Portland a few times who has pictures in this profile which, based on hair and clothing styles, are at least 25 years old.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Online Ass d’Jour: GPS (Gets Pissy Soon)

Date: November 18, 2012 / Place: Seattle, WA / Service: AssPig

Damn, but I hate it when people depend purely on GPS to get where they are going and copy the address in wrong, ignoring all other directions you give them which might clue them that they are totally on the wrong route!

This guy ended up in West Seattle (15+ min away) because he left off the direction character and his GPS sent him to “Ave SW” instead of “Ave S”.  That itself is bad enough (and tells me that GPS itself is problematic), but then he calls, pissed at me as though this were my fault, and says I can come meet him at his place instead, because he has “wasted enough of [my] valuable time”.

I declined.  Once they’re in a pissed-off, state, you don’t want to do much of anything with them.

Adding insult to injury, he then texted me a few minutes later, saying “Please don’t ever contact me again thank u”.  No worries, guy.

(The guy is in recovery and was at an AA or NA meeting shortly before this.  I’ll file that info away for later — not that being in recovery is the problem, but going right from AA/NA meetings to a play session might not be a good idea.  Make sure there is more of a buffer.)

Update: A few hours later, the guy contacted me again in a much calmer mood.  Not really apologetic, but at least not hating on me anymore and again open to playing at some point.  It has not happened yet — and most recently, he got a bit pissy again when I wouldn’t take Thursday afternoon off to play with him because if we played later when it was easier for me, he would have to take Friday morning off.

I think he’s a bit too high maintenance for my tastes.  There are enough of fish in the Seattle sea that I don’t need to work with his issues.  If it happens someday, we will play, but I am not pursuing it hard on my side.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What does “HWP” mean?  What does “Fit” mean?

These two terms show up in profiles fairly often.  “HWP” seems to have peaked and fallen off in popularity in recent years, supplanted by the somewhat more exact “fit”.

What does “HWP” mean?

“HWP” is short for “Height/Weight Proportionate”.

In theory, it is a shorthand way of saying “In good (enough) shape” — someone who isn’t scrawny skinny or fat.  In actual use, of course, it gets used to mean “In (really) good shape”, anything from “no tummy” to “no body fat at all”.

It probably encompasses “really good shape” variants like ripped, chiseled, buffed, and muscled, although those are usually specific enough states that if that is what someone is actually looking for, they will say so rather than using a hazier term like “HWP”.

The snark in me, of course, says that all heights and weights are proportionate.  It’s just that 2:1 (tall and super skinny) and 1:2 (short and round) aren’t the ratios being looked for by these people.

What does “Fit” mean?

With the term “fit”, it is the same issue, but at least its body consciousness is worn more up front.  No one is going to dub a guy over 40 with softness around the middle as “fit”.  (Even if he is technically just fine, health-wise for this age.)

Are they negative terms?

I am of a split mind on this.

In general, “HWP” and “fit” mean “Those without actively used gym memberships need not apply.”

Much of queer theory seems to be about finding the places and ways that the GLBTQ community (and society as a whole) is mean — where “mean” has three meanings: unkind, average, and poor quality.  As such, anything — anything! — which someone (anyone, include a queer strawman) could take negatively must be bad.  That includes any form of labeling and comparison of subjective qualities.  By disinviting people who don’t measure up to an arbitrary (and really, unspecified) standard, those people are put aside, put down, said to be lesser.

On the other hand, how can you express a physical (or mental, or spiritual) preference without shorthand labeling and comparison?  What is behind the use of “HWP” or “fit”?  Probably a desire for shared activities, a level of physical prowess, an avoidance of the health and social issues which people not “HWP”/not “fit” experience… and admittedly, a perhaps shallow focus on looks.  To get those concepts across, you either use shorthand idioms (like “HWP”), or you write a paragraph of prose which will make people skip over the profile.

(I know for myself, while I don’t use those terms in my profiles, I do pay attention to height/weight listings, looking for play or romantic partners who are “close enough” to my build.  If they are shorter yet heavier, or taller yet lighter, I know that the likelihood of a good match decreases a lot.  I admit it, I am looking for “HWP” in some form.)

In the end, I have to draw a difference between perhaps shallow “lookist” labeling of this sort and truly socially unacceptable ways of stating a preference (like the profile I saw recently that said “No blacks or Asians (not racist, just don’t like ethnic)”) or the ridiculously limiting ones (“Be between 27 and 29”).  “HWP” and “fit” can be used negatively, and certainly can be read than way, but the terms are not inherently bad.

(Yeah, I know queer theory mavens will go off on me for stuff in this post.  Thanks, but references to Foccault, repressed patriarchy, and emotional intelligence put me to sleep.  No need to share.)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Online Ass d’Jour: here is slave boy

Date: May 23, 2012 / Place: Seattle, WA / Service: Mister

I'm all for eager boys who go after what they want, but this one went a bit overboard…

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Online Ass d’Jour: Don’t Bring Me Down

Date: April 8, 2012 / Place: Vancouver, BC / Service: Grindr

I'll just let this one’s screencap speak for itself.  You’ll notice the classic “Hello” and “Fine” non-committal replies, indicating “I looked at your profile, or lack of same, and I’m already not interested, but I’ll go through the polite niceties for a couple exchanges anyway.”

The last thing I want at 2:15 am is for someone on a hookup site to tell me he is depressed.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Online Ass d’Jour: I’ll Tell You What I Want, I Want What You Want

Date: March 29, 2012 / Place: San Francisco, CA / Service: Mister

A guy hit me up on MR (the mobile app version of DaddyHunt).  His profile was sparse — a single pic of him in a leather vest, and text that read something like “Ready for hot MANSEX.  Always ready” — but certainly no sparser than many guys online.  (That’s a whole other blog post!)

His initial message said:
u r visitin so prob too busy to play?
Um, no.  I’m on a cruise site, aren’t I?  Admittedly, some guys are on there with no intent to play, or not to play now (i.e., hoping to set things up for later).  It was Thursday night, so indeed, setting things up for the weekend was one of my goals.  (The other was getting laid on Thursday.)  But if you start off all your communications saying “I know you probably don’t want to play,” it’s little wonder if you don’t get many takers.

Here’s our entire exchange:

In contrast to his sparse profile, mine is a couple paragraphs long, giving my stats and preferred fetishes and activities, enough for someone to read (hopefully without overwhelming them) to get a good handle on what I would like to do in sex play.  There is no excuse for someone to hit me up and not know what I’m looking for.

He then sent one final message and blocked me.  (Of course, blocking someone this way means they get notified of your final “Fuck you” message but don’t get to read it, so it’s kind of a wasted effort.)