The Bareback Brotherhood Is Not Composed of Bombers, Radicals or Religious Nuts

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Today, I stumbled around the Twitterverse and ended up checking out entries from Chris Ashford’s @lawandsexuality, which mentioned barebacking, for which he apologized for writing about again. Apparently drag porn producer Chi Chi LaRue and Treasure Island Media are in some kind of public relations war that Chris’ blog is much better at explaining. You can visit his blog here: http://lawandsexuality.blogspot.com.

Imagine, though, my surprise to see on February 7th that Chris wrote an entry titled: “Raw Pride and the Bareback Brotherhood,” which you can read in its entirety before getting into my response.

His blog explains that Chris is a “Reader in Law and Society in the Department of Law at the University of Sunderland in the UK” (for Americans and others unfamiliar with the United Kingdom’s academic system, here’s what a “reader” is). As any academic, Chris makes a great many assumptions about the Bareback Brotherhood and relates our group to some really interesting things including the revolution in Egypt (as all the Founders are either from the United States or United Kingdom, I’m having trouble figuring that out) and we’re also equated to Muslims.

Rather than just address Chris on his blog, I thought I’d also engage him here so everyone in academia and law might understand that these were more synaptic leaps in Chris Ashford’s own brain rather than an actual discussion with me or any other Founders of the Bareback Brotherhood.

You will forgive me, but I must repeat the entire entry because it is relevant. The opening sentences seems benign enough:

I’m struck by the rapidly developing nature of the online space for barebacking men. There are well known commercial websites that have been discussed by academics and journalists alike, and they do seem to be undergoing steady growth.

But by the third sentence, we’ve made a radical turn, as you’ll read:

One bugchasing discussion board site is in decline owing to the sites owner not apparently paying pays but that has spawned new sites and a collective discussion about ‘identity’ and perhaps most fascinating of all, the notion of saving an online community. As one site dies, people have come to realise the value of these sites for expressing their desire and identity.

Now I’m not certain how familiar Chris is with the right-wing, extremely biased Fox News or the left-leaning MSNBC News in the United Kingdom, but what he’s just done for his readers is establish this:

FALSE POINT #1

Barebacking Equals Bugchasing

Boy, where the hell do I start? How do I start explaining to someone that barebacking does not equal bugchasing.

For those of you who might not know what bugchasing is, let me explain. Bugchasing is the act of someone who is usually HIV negative purposely seeking out people who are HIV positive with the intention of being repeatedly infected and seroconverted. Bugchasers are a segment of the barebacking community, but I would suggest a small portion.

Let’s continue down the path of this entry rather than going off on a tangent of bugchasing.

Set against this background, Twitter and Facebook are enabling the barebackers and bugchasers (there is overlap but it’s wrong to lump everyone together) to establish and consolidate a sense of community.

Now notice that Chris says it’s “wrong” to lump everyone together but yet he does.  He’s set us “against this background” and “overlapped” us together. And now the Brotherhood is introduced.

The latest of these, with a new Facebook page and also a Twitter hashtag – #BBBH – is calling itself ‘The Bareback Brotherhood’.

The IBlastinside blog (NSFW) is written by one of the group’s founders and he reveals on his blog how the group came to form. He writes: ‘Over the last week or so, a group of Twitter users have really stepped it up a notch and connected online. This sudden enthusiasm for barebacking seems to have reached a tipping point where enough men have finally found each other’.

The group has a Facebook profile and a discussion board. It’s all non-commercial and seems to have genuinely grown organically from a community of men who have found each other online. This emerging community is of course fascinating for socio-legal scholars, for as I have previously written, I believe that there is a coming culture crisis involving bareback sex.

Chris introduces us as a group of barebackers and bugchasers. From this, he indicates there’s a “coming culture crisis.” Okay. Now I’m interested.

The emergence of a radical identity is therefore really significant. Bareback ceases to be merely a form of casual sexual behaviour, but a conscious empowered and radical act and identity. The Facebook page has one posting with the slogan: ‘By barebackers, For barebackers – no judgement; fucking without fear – Raw Pride’.

A new word is introduced here. One we haven’t noticed before. Do you see it. “Radical.” Interesting. Notice that he says that we have a “radical identity” rather than “casual sexual behaviour.”

FALSE POINT #2

Barebacking Equals Radical

I’ll get back to “radical” in a moment because Chris’ last paragraph is coming up. That’s where we take the next big leap. And it’s a huge one.

The notion of ‘Raw Pride’ is fast gaining currency and the phrase ‘fucking without fear’, similarly gaining recognition. Bareback is a means of defining identity, it has a tangible community in cyberspace and is now honing a political and activist message. The Bareback Brotherhood (which amidst the crisis in Egypt has overtones of the Muslim Brotherhood – a group often labeled as ‘extreme’), may well fizzle out, but either way, it could be another important moment in the bareback phenomenon.

Okay, how the fuck did we get equated to the Revolution in Egypt? Because we used the word “brotherhood”?

FALSE POINT #3

Barebacking Equals Muslim

Let me suggest to Chris that he might have been missing something but there’s been a barebacking community for a helluva long time. As a long-time barebacker, I’ve been involved in groups. Don’t get me wrong, I welcome the Bareback Brotherhood and the space we’ve created online. I am glad that this group grew from a grassroots discussion among some incredibly normal people, none of which want to strap a bomb to their chest and blow up a condom factory.

I would also not want to step out and speak for any of my Brothers but I am offended by the words Chris Asford uses. Equating the Bareback Brotherhood as a group advocating, encouraging or even suggesting that bugchasing is our intention sets a premise that is wrong on so many levels.

Then we get into the word “radical” — a word so politically charged, it cannot be uttered.

Let me state this plainly, as Chris does.

Barebacking is a “casual” sexual act that so many men does but will not admit. Barebacking developed a stigma somewhere along the way. We are left with men who fuck bareback in the dark and wake up the next morning in shame and embarrassment that they actually enjoyed themselves. Bareback sex isn’t a radical act. It’s the most natural act.

I’d suggest the radical, unnatural act is to put a piece of plastic between you and the person with whom you’re being intimate.

And finally to suggest that we even though about being Muslim, the Muslim Brotherhood just plain sickens me.

I am the person who came up with the name the “Bareback Brotherhood” and the hashtag #BBBH. You want to know why, Chris?

Alliteration.

Hell, I even thought about #BIC (Brothers in Cum) but that hashtag was already in use by the Brethren in Christ. Bareback Brothers and #BBB or #BB wouldn’t work (Better Business Bureau and BlackBerry respectively).

As an academic, Chris, I hope you’ll consider contacting me or any of my Brothers to ask us what we think rather than making these leaps.

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4 Comments on "The Bareback Brotherhood Is Not Composed of Bombers, Radicals or Religious Nuts"

  1. Seaguy says:

    Muslims are not barebackers period. You never see therm at the bathhouse.

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  2. MarkBentson says:

    While clearly what Chris Ashford wrote regarding the Bareback Brotherhood is not intended to be any form of a scholarly piece (as he cites no references), the Bareback Brotherhood is introduced into his lengthy academic works as a “random thought.”

    I do wish our introduction to his scholarly work had been on its on and not tainted by bugchasing or the Egyptian revolution, neither of which were within our points of discussion at all on Twitter, Facebook or my blog.

    This explanation now equates barebacking’s “radical” stance with the “queer” movement — again, something I don’t think relates since I neither identify “queer” nor participated in that particular movement when it occurred. Chris never mentioned “queer” in his original piece.

    Chris might have simply shot off a piece meant to begin a thought path toward some new theory regarding the bareback community. I don’t know. Already a couple of tweets asked if we’ve become some form of a cult. And we’re not. We’re social, loosely knit and pretty normal men.

    Finally, as for any attack, I apologize to Chris if he felt such but his short piece did deserve a response at the very least because it went down the wrong paths. If I know anything about perception, I know leaving people thinking “Bareback Brotherhood” and “bugchasers” and “Muslim Brotherhood” together in a short piece — no matter how innocent Chris’ intention — will leave some radical thinker to decide the worst about us.

    Robust debate is good in any academic setting. I hope that even Chris agrees with that.

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  3. ..and yes I just noticed the ‘you’re’ typos before anyone points them out…another example of rapid responses…

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  4. I think it’s a shame you’ve not taken the time to read and familiarise yourself with my work and instead made wild assumptions yourself. I do recognise a distinction between bugchasers and barebacking and I don’t think I lump them together (but I do think there is sometimes overlap and that is supported by scholarly work of numerous academics), but you’ve obviously interpreted things in a certain way.

    I do think it’s radical behaviour and I defend that in a radical queer theoretical framework. Perhaps you should read some of the academic work before dismissing this. Are you familiar with queer theory? You are making linkages between radical and the later Egypt remark. They are entirely separate points but for someone who has not read anything else and stumbled on a short blogpost, I can see how you came to be confused. One relates to queer theoretical identities (the barebacker) and the other is a clearly speculative sentence (about the branding of this network).

    Finally we get to to the Egypt link which was a topical aside that you have interpreted to colour the whole post. Clearly you were pretty steamed about this point and it’s then coloured you’re whole reaction.

    As an academic, I write lengthy scholarly articles, but then I also post random thoughts on a blog. You should not confuse the two.

    There are few academics who defend and explain the practice of barebacking. I’m one of them. Your attacking the wrong guy.

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