You thought we had the tea before? We have a whole ‘nother pot brewing just for you. We’re getting DEEP into one of the universal truths of DMV life: Dating is harder than getting a TS clearance. This week, we’re chatting to friends of the podcast, Ashley Donald and Sean Simons, and even getting some intel from the streets of DC. Get ready to clap along and commiserate as we get into the DMV’s *ahem* unique challenges and what we can do to find our boo.
Sean Simons: I think everyone's defensive, especially if you had bad past experiences. It's just like, man... I gave myself all to the last person. I'm going to do it different this time.
Tei Pearson-Hall: What's up, folks? Welcome to another great episode of Positive Voices Season 2. I'm one of your co-hosts today, Tei Pearson-Hall, and I'm here with my other co-host.
Malachi Stewart: I'm Malachi Stewart.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Today, we are talking about dating in a DMV. Now, I know season one had a dating in a DMV, and some of you said we need a part two. Today, we had part two for you. Is it ghetto or nah? But Malachi, before we get into that, talk about why is today conversation important to us?
Malachi Stewart: Well, listen, Tei. After season one, when we talked about dating in a DMV, the episode got a lot of attention, got a lot of attention on social media. A lot of y'all slid in my DMs and not in the way I wanted y'all to. But people were sliding in my DMs and really telling me that they really noticed in the episode with there being a diverse panel, or I guess panel of people talking about it. Some of us gay, some of us straight, some of us super conservative, some of us more liberal, that they were able to see no matter how people identify, orientation, your serial status, that means whether you're positive or negative.
Tei Pearson-Hall: I was about to say I know that.
Malachi Stewart: That we all kind of meet in that same space of love and relationships and that happens before you even get to talk about HIV status and disclosure, any of those things. And so actually that leads me to talk about the fact that we have a diversified guest list today. Sean and Ashley, do you want to introduce yourselves and tell people a little bit about yourself?
Ashley Donald: Hi, I am Ashley. I'm from Richmond.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Hey, Richmond.
Sean Simons: RBA.
Ashley Donald: What else do I say?
Malachi Stewart: That's it.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Whatever you wanted. That's all you wanted to tell them?
Ashley Donald: Yeah.
Sean Simons: I'm Sean. I'm 38, and I'm from Capitol Heights, Maryland.
Malachi Stewart: Period. Well, I need to represent the fact that I'm from Philly up in this thing. People are out here talking about where they from, big Philly, not the little ones.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Oh, don't play games land over land. Don't come for us.
Malachi Stewart: I love that for y'all.
Tei Pearson-Hall: We do. It is.
Malachi Stewart: I want to start off because one of the things that I think I noticed in my DMs is that everyone was saying they seem to be having the same experiences when it came to dating despite the fact that everyone kind of shows up differently. I'm interested, what has y'all experiences been like dating in a DMV back where you're from? What have y'all experiences just been like?
Tei Pearson-Hall: Richmond included.
Ashley Donald: Well, I've been in DC for like 10 years.
Malachi Stewart: Same, same.
Ashley Donald: Yeah, most of my dating has been here and it's been a lot of relationships. Not too much dating, but it's been interesting.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Hold on. How do you get to the relationships without the much dating?
Ashley Donald: Oh, I guess that makes sense. I guess it'd just be moving fast and everybody that I've been in a relationship with, my past two relationships I met at work. It didn't feel like dating at first. I was getting to know people while-
Tei Pearson-Hall: Work bay.
Ashley Donald: Work bay. I have a history of work bay.
Malachi Stewart: Oh, interesting. I don't. Sean, what about you?
Sean Simons: A lot of microwave relationships, starting off fast. Starting off fast and then cools down even faster. A lot of people were just enjoying that honeymoon stage and just knowing that, man, relationships take work and it is just more about being physically intimate with somebody and going out on dates.
Malachi Stewart: Do you think that quick start and then the fizzle out is because people don't show up as their authentic selves? I hear a lot of people say that people show up as their interview self. If you start off the microwave, you wanted to start off fiery, don't bore me. But if people aren't showing up authentically, it's like the quicker your real self come out, I'm good on that.
Sean Simons: I think everyone's defensive. Everyone, especially if you had bad past experiences, it's like man, I gave myself all to the last person. I'm going to do it different this time. And I just feel like a lot of people are not two feet in. It's kind of like one foot in, one foot out. And it's just, I would say dating in a DMV is just so small.
It's social media. It's hard to date people because back in the day, man, you go to the go-go, man, you got to go through the ugly friend. You got to go through five friends, you had to put in the work.
Malachi Stewart: Sean, you did not have to go through five friends. You chose to do that.
Sean Simons: You got to go through the big joint, got to through the ugly friend.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Date security.
Sean Simons: Exactly. You had all these different obstacles, but now it's like you said, you DM and then you're on a date. You're not really vetting these people because people... You hear women say, "Oh, my biological clock is ticking." People want companionship. Especially you think during the pandemic, we're built for companionship, so people are lonely. People are in a rush to jump into something that they're not ready for.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Do you think the hot girl era has anything to do with that? Not wanting to quite settle down?
Sean Simons: Man, I can't really just blame the women. I got to blame the men.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Come on now.
Sean Simons: Or just to keep it a buck. I don't mean to be a no Steve Harvey stuff, man.
Tei Pearson-Hall: No. We're liking a buck and no change.
Sean Simons: I feel like if you have a great woman. Now if you have a bad woman, you got a bad duck. But if you got a good woman-
Tei Pearson-Hall: It's a duck for me.
Sean Simons: But if you got a good woman, I feel like in my experiences, a woman is down for you. If you're honest with her, you treat her good, you use your resource, you're thoughtful, you have the emotional capacity to comprehend-
Tei Pearson-Hall: You better come on.
Sean Simons: A woman going rock with you. But if men, now this is the thing is it's so many women and not enough quality men. It's hard for men to settle down, because guess what? You know what? I ain't like the way you dress today. I can go find another woman that's... Maybe I can't find another you, but I can find another woman who looks as good as you, who makes the same amount of money as you. That's not the same for a woman.
With the hot girl era-
Tei Pearson-Hall: You are right about that.
Sean Simons: Yeah, I really blame men for that. It's like women are getting tired of just putting on their all, ain't getting a return on their investment.
Tei Pearson-Hall: That part, that part.
Malachi Stewart: Ashley, how does that sit with you as far as an experience, as a straight woman in the conversation? Were you tired of not getting a return on your investment? Is that your experience?
Ashley Donald: Oh absolutely. Because sometimes you feel like you're committed, you're doing all the things you mentioned. You're writing, you're communicating, you're being there. And then this person is still not trying to make the better commitment to you. And with the hot girl era, sometimes I feel like that's trying to cater to what we think men want too. I don't know, I feel like-
Sean Simons: Oh man, we don't fit it on with that. I don't want no hot girl. I want a cold girl.
Ashley Donald: Really?
Sean Simons: I want a girl iced.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Yeah, but you might be the minority though.
Sean Simons: No, I think I speak for most men. You think about it, when you look at social media, you see the guys click on these views and stuff like that, and then you see their baby moms. They don't look nothing like these girls. It's a fantasy because yes, men are physical. When we see women, we see nice face, nice body, nice silhouette. But that doesn't mean that she's a great woman. That doesn't mean she's going to be a great mother. She's going to be a great partner.
A lot of men are not even dating these women. They have sex with these women.
Tei Pearson-Hall: ... stink too.
Malachi Stewart: You would have sex with them, but you wouldn't wife them?
Sean Simons: Yes.
Malachi Stewart: Okay, that makes a lot of sense.
Sean Simons: And men are not honest because men will... I feel like most men, what happens is when you meet a woman, it's two categories. It's like, hey, I want to be physically intimate with you and that's it. Or I want to see where this goes and be physically intimate with you. But a man is not going to tell a woman that. Now she might be in a situation where she thinks she has something and the man, he's not being honest because if a man-
Ashley Donald: It also feels like sometimes you're waiting to see if a man is done with his messing with hot girl era, and I'm ready to settle down with somebody.
Malachi Stewart: And hard to gauge that sometimes.
Ashley Donald: Yeah, sometimes it's hard to gauge. Or you get with somebody and then all of a sudden, they're getting distracted, they're floating away because there's a hot girl that it is distracting them. It's like, are you done? We call them F-boys.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Oh, poor you. I'm about to say, call it what it is.
Sean Simons: What does the F mean in F-boys? I'm curious.
Ashley Donald: I mean, you know?
Tei Pearson-Hall: Some place, but that's just trying to...
Malachi Stewart: We got the straight perspective. I'm definitely not an expert and y'all look straight dating. I don't know what's going on. Friends talk to me about it, but I really wouldn't know nothing about that. But I'm interested to hear a perspective I don't hear a lot is from a lesbian perspective. Tei, I know you'd married now mama, but what was dating like? Because you also didn't always date women, so you have an interesting perspective.
Tei Pearson-Hall: I gotta had two husbands. Let me sound like I'm in a meeting. I'm Tei, I'm a lesbian and I've had two husbands before.
Malachi Stewart: Definitely not a gold star.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Hello, baby. I should have left them on the internet because that's-
Malachi Stewart: Well, women. Can I tell you what I heard out here on these streets and what I've experienced with the lesbian women, because we get a lot of.... People always say, "How come there's no lesbian clubs?" And I'm like, "Because they would all meet the first day and get married."
Tei Pearson-Hall: I was about say pretty much-
Malachi Stewart: Every lesbian couple I know y'all get in a relationship, y'all meet each other in three months, three to two months y'all have moved in and y'all stay with that person forever. And I think it's because women are you going to do it. You have two emotionally intelligent people. Two people, women are black, especially black women are the rising, the top rising group. It is a win-win situation.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Yeah, but it's tough as hell. I ain't even going to hold you. But it's pretty much like what Ashley said when you was like, yeah, we go... It's pretty much no dating. It goes straight to relationship. I was going to say, yeah, that's a straight lesbian relationship right there, because if you find somebody that kind of meets you where you are and the interest is there, the love is there, the soul ties is there, the synergy. It is connected and it's like, "Well shoot, I don't even need it going nowhere else." Like, "Hey, how you doing?"
When I met my wife, I knew she was going to be my wife, and so I knew to treat her as such even way before the proposal. But when I was with my husbands, I was trying to figure out if I was the wife. I'm going to let that say it.
Ashley Donald: Or if they're still with hot girls trying to figure it out.
Tei Pearson-Hall: One of them might've been the hot girl, I'm not quite sure, but I'm going to drop that and lead that, where that go. But it is definitely very quickly. It's definitely very quickly. But it's like you said, genuine.
The difference between my husbands and my wife now is it's a lot. But for one it's the connection. To have another woman who does social service work understand what I do, and for us to be able just to have that common conversation. We're both moms and so we come to the table as moms. What I hate though, somebody actually asked me this on Sunday and he was like, "So you have a wife?" And I was like, "Yeah." So, he's like, "Well, which one are you?"
That is the question that I think a lot of-
Malachi Stewart: I definitely got that question-
Tei Pearson-Hall: Oh right, so which one are you? And I'm like, "So which one are you? You have a wife, which one are you?" And so then that usually shifts the conversation. But I think that there's this false fantasy and we kind of talked about it before that I think with lesbians, people just assume we have sex all day. It's just always a sex conversation.
Malachi Stewart: I don't. I assume that y'all have conversations all day actually. We actually have a joke among gay men. We'll be like... I'm a huge communicator so I always would say, "Oh, I communicate like a lesbian because I always want to talk things out."
Tei Pearson-Hall: We definitely communicate.
Malachi Stewart: Yeah, that's what I assume. Can I ask you a question though? You talked about your husbands, did you marry the first woman you dated?
Tei Pearson-Hall: I did.
Malachi Stewart: This supports the theory that y'all just out here getting married. Listen, to all the lesbians out there, sign me up. I'm sick of it. Just ghetto over here-
Tei Pearson-Hall: And I'm her first.
Malachi Stewart: You said you're her first?
Tei Pearson-Hall: I'm her first.
Malachi Stewart: You're her first too?
Tei Pearson-Hall: Yeah.
Malachi Stewart: This is ghetto. Why am I still gay?
Sean Simons: I'm glad you educated me, because I thought a lot of lesbians, one of them is just broke and they find a good woman. They're like, "Oh, let me move in."
Malachi Stewart: Sean, who told you that?
Tei Pearson-Hall: Nope. Nope. I had a home.
Sean Simons: Just some lesbian relationships.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Nope, I had a home. She had a home. We sold the homes and bought one together.
Sean Simons: Would you say you're in the minority though?
Tei Pearson-Hall: Probably, but I think because I've already played, you know what I'm saying? Because in between husbands I was with the woman and trying to figure out, what's going on. And so when I was like, "Oh, I'm ready for a wife." And then I saw her and I'm just like, "She's dope. I could take her home to grandma."
The same thing that I assume straight men say, "Who can I take home to mama or grandma?" And so for me that kind of connected but I also cut my sight off, because I don't have an interest of looking anywhere else or anything else, because I feel like I already got it. So, when you talk about the settled down-
Sean Simons: Did she give you a tingle?
Tei Pearson-Hall: She had more like electrocute.
Sean Simons: No, this is a great thing because I say with men and I can't speak for all men. I know immediately who I'm going to take serious, because it's just something about them that I don't feel. If I have that feeling, I'm going to go down a whole different route. And you don't get that with everybody. And a lot of people when they're dating and they like somebody, they feel like, "Hey, I like you, you like me, this is supposed to work." "Hey, I have this many degrees, I make this amount of money, I dress well, I'm compatible with you." And that's not the case. You're not going to be with everybody that you like. You're not going to be with everybody.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Can I ask question?
Sean Simons: Yeah.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Do you brush your tongue?
Sean Simons: Yeah.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Do you take care of your skin?
Sean Simons: Exactly.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Do you moisturize?
Sean Simons: Do you put the toilet paper on the right way?
Tei Pearson-Hall: Pull or over?
Sean Simons: Ketchup, refrigerator or cabinet?
Malachi Stewart: Yeah, but I just wasn't [inaudible 00:13:34] marry me the first time that we... I'm still stuck on that. That's a convenience. I think definitely gay men show up differently. We just have a different culture. Hookup culture shows up differently with us.
Tei Pearson-Hall: That's what I was going to ask you because we got to look different for you.
Malachi Stewart: It absolutely looks different.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Because I don't even know, do gay men get in relationships?
Malachi Stewart: Yes, I was married. Everybody's different. Everybody doesn't want that first of all. People, I think we got to acknowledge that everybody wants different things when it comes to long-terms. However, I think a lot of times with gay men, particularly from my era of a particular age, we didn't come up with it being normalized.
I wasn't able to hold little boys' hands in school. I remember when I went, one of my friends actually asked when we were in high school, prom was coming up and he asked if he could bring his boyfriend, because we were all cool with it and he had to get permission. The class had to decide if he could do that. You would never be able to do that now.
When I go in the malls and I see little boys holding hands and see two little girls holding hands, I'm like, y'all are getting into court in a way that we really, most of us, especially gay feminine men, who grew up hanging around girls. Your first introduction and especially if you were a black man and had that whole, I didn't have the father at home, your first introduction to males was hooking up. And especially my age, I couldn't date men so I was getting on a party line.
I'm getting on with men that are much older than me. I jumped into a predatory environment. It's all sex. There was no dating. Nobody who was 14 years old dating me. We're a 14-year-old talking to a 30-year-old having sex in the back of a car at two o'clock in the morning when you snuck out of the house.
When you have had those experiences, it's 30 and 40 where people catch up and they never grow up and never come out of it. And then they realize... Oh, it's not until people realize. And I think that's also the way men are wired to really realize it. I watched so many gay men here. DC not just Atlanta, but DC has some of the most attractive, well-paid diversified group of men who are gay, especially black men. You could find you a black man here with a good amount of money and some sense on his head.
You look at these friend groups, you'll see a whole bunch of them. All of them are attractive, all of them are well-paid, all of them are well verse and y'all together talking about the same things, all of y'all are saying, y'all bring the same thing to the table. All y'all complaining about being the same, why y'all not dating each other?
Tei Pearson-Hall: That's what I was saying so why not connect?
Malachi Stewart: That's the question I have. I have that question from my community. I would say from my opinion, what I observe is that when it comes to doing their work, I think a lot of people don't realize how much they don't like themselves. Because if you don't like what you are, then you are always going to be showing up at the table with, I'm glad to be there. If you are a gay-femme man and you don't like gay-femme men, you think, "I don't like that. I'm attracted to masculinity," then you're walking to every masculine man happy to be accepted. And that is not an energy that produces positive long-term success in my opinion.
And I think also, if you don't like what you are, so you have a group of you and your girlfriends who, if you take away the things that you don't like around I guess femininity or masculinity or just, I guess some of the more trivial things, y'all actually with perfect relationships. It's been your best friend for years. These are people who you've known to be loyal and known to be...
Those are places that I just feel like as a community we still trying to work that out, and I don't think the generation that comes behind me will have the same problems.
Sean Simons: You made a good point about people not being comfortable with themselves. I think a lot of men, you just think about women, how they make more than men in this area. I feel like a lot of men, they're not secure with themselves. Especially if, just think about it. If the only thing you've been good at, say, you got an okay job, you know what I'm saying? You're okay friend, you're okay son, but women love you, you're going to focus on women. But you might not be particularly happy where you are as far as career and other things.
Then it's like you start dating these women but then you have resentment towards them because they can do things for themselves and you think, "Hey, I'm supposed to be a man. You're supposed to be depending on me." She don't need you.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Because she pay for dinner and all that stuff.
Sean Simons: She's messing with you because she likes you. But I feel like that's a huge issue in dating culture in here because it's so lopsided. And it's not too many people, people are dating people that they want to date and that who they need to date. You like this person, but the difference between, I don't think people like people's character. They like their personality. These are two different things.
Malachi Stewart: Two different things.
Tei Pearson-Hall: You got to say that part again.
Sean Simons: I'm going to say it again.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Yeah, rewind it.
Sean Simons: People like people's personality, not their character. Your personality is you're charismatic, you're out, you're on the same, people love you. But are you a good person? Now they fall in love with your personality, but then you might have shady character. You might be grimy. Now, I see with, I have a lot of women friends. Now, you bring-
Tei Pearson-Hall: Oh really?
Sean Simons: You're three months in and now a guy got you right here. Now it's hard to detach because you're in love with his personality, the things that he can offer you. You like his friends, you like the places that he goes to. But now you like, you know what? You're really a shitty person, but it's hard to let that person go.
Malachi Stewart: I think also just to say because you were talking about that issue that men have with women. As a man who dates men, we actually have that same problem. And it actually hits different because I've seen... I have a lot of straight male friends. There's one thing when you have that issue and you feel emasculated by a woman, but to feel emasculated by a man is very complicated because-
Sean Simons: Our egos are too frail.
Malachi Stewart: Yeah, and it's almost like, it caused a different level of tension because it'll just show up in other ways. If you are even as a person who's more on the scene or more visible in my field and you have someone who is not, it'll show up in passive ways. Sometimes people cheat just because it's like you get so much attention, I need some.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Yeah, but I think that's the side person personality, because I think the side person is going to give you what you're on the home, might not give you a hundred percent because it's the selling tool. When I was straight, we would go out and we'll have the guys that come and they want to chit chat and they want to do all this, bring the representative like we talked about earlier, bring the representative to the conversation with the charismatic personality.
He smell good, got his little fresh shape up, like Sean came in with all this good stuff going on. How do you navigate that, with your dating? Is that something that you feel like is important? Like that walk-up thing?
Ashley Donald: Oh, yeah. Your swag when you come out is important. But I think you mentioned microwave relationships and I think women, me personally, I would always be like, "Oh, I'm in love. That's the one for sure." And then three months later I'm like, "Dang, so I got to be a breadwinner, then I'm going to have to..." But there's a whole conversation around with women, how you maintain a household and kids, and then also making more money and also being more educated.
And so there's definitely been relationships where you get in and you realize that this is not what I thought I was signing up for. And you do want somebody to be a provider and step up and have that good character. And sometimes when you move too fast because they were swaggy on approach and it's fun and their personality, you get three months later and you're like, you have the ick. It's like I don't even want you to touch me. I don't understand.
Tei Pearson-Hall: That's too much for me.
Sean Simons: There's too much pressure on women. Women are doing way more than a lot of men. I'm not saying all men, but-
Tei Pearson-Hall: You can talk. Well, talk for us.
Sean Simons: No, women are just doing a lot. Even in my past experiences where I thought like, man, why this relationship didn't work? And then I look at the demise of it, I'm like, "You know what? You wasn't that great of a boyfriend."
Tei Pearson-Hall: Wow.
Malachi Stewart: That's very self-aware, very self-aware.
Sean Simons: No bullshit, because women have to deal with so much. Man, one of my friends, she said this the other day, she's dating this Murray guy, right? I'm like, why would you-
Ashley Donald: Wait, what? Sorry?
Sean Simons: She's dating this Murray guy.
Malachi Stewart: Well, you want your [inaudible 00:21:54] past that.
Sean Simons: She said 25% of him is better than a hundred percent of some other guys. He does way more than some guys that are single. So that's what I'm-
Tei Pearson-Hall: I see that in married men. They do make you feel real good back in my story.
Sean Simons: Some of the men, so you got to think when men are not, some men are doing the bare minimum because a lot of other women are not asking them to do that much. Just think, so I started dating you and you're asking me to do this, this, this. I'm like, "Yo, shorty over here?"
Ashley Donald: Nothing.
Sean Simons: "All I had to do is show up."
Ashley Donald: As a woman, I feel afraid to ask for too much. Because I know you can find somebody else that's going to do what you need for less.
Sean Simons: You got to set the mark off bucks. And that's how you filter out people. You say exactly what you want. If things matter to you because guess what? You're going to filter out these because if you run off a man, he's not the man for you.
Tei Pearson-Hall: That's it.
Ashley Donald: I've heard that it's better to get you a good man and kind of help and train them in how you need to be treated and respected.
Tei Pearson-Hall: No, that's the build-a-bear.
Ashley Donald: But they say, you do have to coach.
Sean Simons: ... to love you how you want to love them.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Not build all the way though. They got to take their way.
Malachi Stewart: There's a difference between teaching somebody how to love you and learning from each other, giving each other's preferences. You can't teach people, build their character. You have to come. You did that part.
Tei Pearson-Hall: That's some of them guys.
Malachi Stewart: Now, there's a way that we relate differently, that's different. I have a question actually, because kind we've hinted at it a little bit, but this is a question that's for everybody. Do y'all have a type? And if you do have a type, what is your type? We'll start with you.
Sean Simons: I ain't got no type.
Tei Pearson-Hall: All positive.
Malachi Stewart: What was your type in men and what is your type in women?
Tei Pearson-Hall: My type with men was like that Gerald Levert, that nice old teddy bear.
Sean Simons: Little pot belly?
Tei Pearson-Hall: Just a little pot.
Sean Simons: Just a little bit.
Tei Pearson-Hall: But see, because the chubby guys will take you out to eat. I ain't even going to hold you.
Malachi Stewart: They do. They do.
Tei Pearson-Hall: The chubby guys is going to pick you up, "You hungry?" "And well, yes I am." And then you're going to go watch a movie and then you're going to go get a snack.
Malachi Stewart: I was born hungry.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Hello? And they're going to love all the rolls, the stretch marks, extras, and they're going to love it. And so I like the Gerald Levert, fresh haircut, little beard, real smell good type. Put about another honey some, [inaudible 00:24:06] the one, add it back. But for women, tall, chocolate, thick thighs-
Malachi Stewart: Like your wife?
Tei Pearson-Hall: Yeah.
Malachi Stewart: You did. You better say it.
Tei Pearson-Hall: That's hard. I was trying to describe her. Don't we try to get... My [inaudible 00:24:21] you try to get me in trouble. Everything my wife is, is just my type.
Malachi Stewart: Period, period. What's your type, Ashley?
Ashley Donald: I don't think I have a type, because when I look at all my exes... Okay, here's the thing. I will never date a Capricorn ever again. I had five Capricorns in a row. That's the only-
Sean Simons: You got a type clearly, Capricorns.
Tei Pearson-Hall: She learned that that ain't her type. That's what she wanted.
Ashley Donald: First, Leo, I'm good to go. Once I strayed away from Capricorns, I've been good. I don't know what that was. It just kept happening that way. So, no Capricorns.
Malachi Stewart: Nothing that you look for particularly in each person. You're like, okay, you have to have this. It could be character or physical?
Ashley Donald: You have to be a man of faith. I'm a Christian woman and so that's something I look for. And I know I-
Tei Pearson-Hall: He can be bow-legged, no teeth, cock-eyed, musty?
Ashley Donald: They got to be fine.
Malachi Stewart: Be fine and be a man of faith. Fine and faith.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Fine and faith, yeah, it is.
Sean Simons: That's good.
Ashley Donald: And has the potential to be a provider. You don't have to be fully there yet, but I do want-
Tei Pearson-Hall: But how close he got to be to that line though?
Sean Simons: And what is a provider? Because everyone has a different definition of what a provider is.
Ashley Donald: I've always looked at it as somebody who wants to have children, I should be able to do that without being stressed about finances.
Malachi Stewart: If you weren't working, you would be-
Ashley Donald: If I wasn't working.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Or for your maternity leave, you expect to be confident?
Ashley Donald: Yeah. Or I just know that with my man, I'm good.
Malachi Stewart: Keep me in the lifestyle I'm accustomed to.
Ashley Donald: Facts.
Malachi Stewart: Sean, what's your type?
Sean Simons: As far as physical description, I don't have a type. I've dated short woman, tall woman, big women, small women.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Lesbian women.
Sean Simons: Lesbian women.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Hello, hello?
Sean Simons: Black Puerto Rican, Haitian. All flavors, butter, pecan, chocolate, deluxe, Sean had dated them all. But what I've realized as I've gotten older, you have to let me be who I am. I can't walk around the eggshells. I'm a very social person. I know a lot of people. I do event planning, so honestly, I'm going to be around a lot of women. So, you have to be secure.
Now I also have to make you feel secure.
Tei Pearson-Hall: I agree with that class too.
Sean Simons: It's a two-way street. But you have to allow me to be me because if I'm not me, I'm going to resent you, because I allow... Anyone I date, you know what this person is, you've been dating them. Four years later down the line, I don't want to hear, "Oh, why are you doing this? Why are you doing that? You already knew this. You knew this."
Tei Pearson-Hall: That's it.
Sean Simons: If I started dating a stripper, three years later down the line, I can't say, "Oh, why are you stripping?"
Tei Pearson-Hall: That's part. You better still live-
Sean Simons: I met your assets, you know what I mean? Somebody, I think the most important thing is someone that allows me to be me.
Malachi Stewart: Okay. And let me ask you a quick question. Are you a man of faith?
Sean Simons: As far as church?
Malachi Stewart: Yeah, God.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Spirituality, not religious.
Sean Simons: I don't go to church. I do believe in God, but I don't go to church. But you can believe in the devil. And I could, but I think we do have to be aligned in faith.
Malachi Stewart: Okay.
Tei Pearson-Hall: So do you think you're fine?
Sean Simons: Fine?
Tei Pearson-Hall: Yeah.
Sean Simons: I feel like I'm okay.
Malachi Stewart: You caught where I was going with that. Are y'all both one less? Are y'all both single?
Ashley Donald: Controversy. I am not single, not single.
Malachi Stewart: Well, we were trying to turn Positive Voices into a dating show, trying to get love chat.
Tei Pearson-Hall: I just felt like we was about to send them off on a date and come and check in and how the date was?
Ashley Donald: Oh, my gosh.
Malachi Stewart: Right. I guess I'll go. My type, I actually really have dated all types of people when it comes to physical presentation. But my type is definitely, you have to be communicative, you have to be compassionate, you have to be empathetic because I'm a big softy. I'm way different in how I present in life and how I present in my relationships. And so I'm very careful with who I allow in that space.
But this has been a great conversation and before we started having this conversation, we actually reached out to some people in the community because you all again really loved the first episode. We wanted to ask a couple questions and kind of include you all in the conversation. We're going to go to our correspondent, Joy, to hear what some of you had to say on the streets about dating.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Let's see what's happening.
Joy: Anthony, welcome to the Positive Voices podcast.
Anthony: Thank you.
Joy: We are here on the streets to ask you about what you know about HIV and dating in the DMV. What is dating in the DMV like?
Anthony: I haven't been around DC much, but I do feel like it may be a bit of a hookup culture here. A lot of people don't want to stay in the city, so you could have a mix of two groups where the guy wants to stay in the city or the girl wants to stay in the city or the guy or girl wants to go to the suburbs, the one you're having sex with. It just kind of really all depends.
Joy: And are you from DC?
Anthony: No, I'm not.
Joy: Where are you from?
Anthony: Northern Virginia.
Malachi Stewart: Well, we didn't hear how he identified, but when he said that it seemed to be more hookup culture that seemed really broad. Are the streets, are y'all hooking up? Because, okay, I'll tell you why. We are really leading in our culture, and hookup culture is such a big thing. You go on a Grindr, Jack'd app, you're not only leading with what your preferences are. We are leading with our status. We're leading with the last time we got tested. Do you all have those... Do some people even ask people their status and the last time they've been tested?
Ashley Donald: Hookup culture for me was interesting because I'm down, but I want it to be real close to dating but not dating. I need you to get tested and then we can do our thing. And then when you're ready to move on, just let me know. We'll get retested and then we can keep hooking up. But it was-
Malachi Stewart: Oh, so you were having those conversations?
Ashley Donald: I was like, if you want to go hook up with somebody else, cool because we're not exclusive, but we're just hooking up on a consistent basis.
Tei Pearson-Hall: And communicate. You're not regular.
Ashley Donald: I was like, you got to get tested though. That was my-
Sean Simons: Do you really want to hook up with somebody who's hooking up with somebody else even if they're getting tested?
Tei Pearson-Hall: Because they might not even be on a PrEP.
Sean Simons: Because that's honestly, that's-
Ashley Donald: I've never had them go hook up with somebody else. And if they did, I can't speak to who-
Tei Pearson-Hall: They might not had told.
Sean Simons: Because a man is not going to tell you because he does not want to mess up his chance of continuously hooking up with you.
Malachi Stewart: That's the difference with us. You can tell me.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Lesbians definitely talk.
Malachi Stewart: You also?
Tei Pearson-Hall: Yeah. And so the ones that carry the backpacks, they'd be having hookup backpacks and so, yeah.
Malachi Stewart: What is a hookup backpack?
Tei Pearson-Hall: From what I had heard-
Sean Simons: All the tools.
Tei Pearson-Hall: From what I had heard...
Sean Simons: All the tools.
Tei Pearson-Hall: The tools that you need to satisfy your moment.
Malachi Stewart: But y'all having conversations about sexual health?
Tei Pearson-Hall: Well, my wife and I did, but that's because we came from marriages to two men. She had a husband, I had a husband before we connected. And so we had conversations, but we've also done the work. And so for us, like no, let's go get tested because we don't know what was going on within the marriage.
But I think just basic lesbian talk, you might be like, so let me do a sniff test and do a little finger, little john and that don't smell right. And so I might not really go down there, but I still might mess around or I put on my hookup john and don't care and just smash and pass without the necessarily, because otherwise the intimacy is the kissing.
If you're not a kisser and you're not kissing, you're just smashing with a backpack.
Sean Simons: A smash pack.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Come on now. That one got cleaner for that.
Malachi Stewart: It feels like it's a low level perception of the risk when it comes to lesbian community. And if that's the case, does that not support the efforts you see around like... A lot of times, we get a lot of feedback. We've gotten feedback here in Positive Voices like why aren't a lot of lesbians included in the conversations?
Tei Pearson-Hall: Yeah, that's a good question.
Malachi Stewart: We kind of matches back to them like, "Well, the data shows that not only you are at a lower risk because of the type of sex you have, we just also have lower instances."
Tei Pearson-Hall: Yeah, but that's not necessarily, I think a hundred percent true because like I said, it's like I had a husband before. My wife had a husband before. Every lesbian I come out with, I'm liking just girls. Sean told us he does smashed a couple lesbians. And so-
Malachi Stewart: Sean, you smashing lesbians?
Tei Pearson-Hall: Hello? He has before in his previous life. Don't do that.
Malachi Stewart: Butch or femme?
Sean Simons: You said what?
Malachi Stewart: Butch or femme lesbians?
Tei Pearson-Hall: Both.
Sean Simons: No, either. A woman is a woman to me. If I find you attractive, it doesn't matter if you're wearing tights or you're wearing sweats. If we got a connection, we going to connect.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Hello? What did you say?
Ashley Donald: Did you get tested first?
Sean Simons: No, I was going to let Tei talk. Honestly, I will say I don't request anybody to get tested unless we're having unprotected sex. And honestly, I know men be out here wiling. I love sex and if I was not able to have sex anymore, I would be very sad. I can count on one hand how many people that I've had unprotected sex with. I'm 38 and I've been having sex since I was 14. I don't play around with that.
Tei Pearson-Hall: You better run them numbers. Carry that one.
Sean Simons: For example, I don't do anything... I know it's some things like herpes where skin is skin contact. I think a lot of people are taking risks, but I don't-
Malachi Stewart: It's a calculated risk.
Sean Simons: I don't do oral sex. You can't go down on me orally. I just don't do it. I won't go down on you orally unless if he get tested.
Malachi Stewart: I have never heard a man say that before.
Sean Simons: Because I always feel like if a woman is so willing to do it to me, I'm not the only man.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Oh, everybody.
Sean Simons: She did it to everybody. And men are nasty. I always say men are probably responsible for most of the STDs because this is what happens. A guy jazzes you up, you like them, then you start having unprotected sex with them. He's having unprotected sex with all these people because honestly, with all the women that I've had sex with, I have not had one woman ask me to go get tested. Honestly, I've maybe had one woman ask me to put on a condom. The thing is you don't got to ask me, because I'm packing.
Tei Pearson-Hall: You doing it anyway.
Sean Simons: I had a lady that came to my spot one time and she said, "Why you got so many condoms?" I said, "Would you rather me not have condoms?"
Tei Pearson-Hall: So, what you got like a jar?
Sean Simons: I got a jar.
Tei Pearson-Hall: A jar of condoms?
Sean Simons: Because the thing is, you don't even got to go to CVS. If you're getting tested, they give you free condoms.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Hello, what you say? Tell them again. Talk to the camera, when you say free for the free 99?
Sean Simons: It is just that, especially if I'm having unprotected sex with somebody, I could change the trajectory for the rest of your life. And people are very selfish. I know I'm telling a lot of stories, but I had a friend who basically contracted HIV for the first time she had sex from a guy because he jazzed her up, was saying all this stuff. I couldn't imagine that, very nice woman. And men are just out here being reckless. And I just feel like, like I said earlier, women need to vet these men. They need, he could be cool. There's no such thing as looking clean. There's no such thing as looking clean.
Tei Pearson-Hall: That goes all back to why I think lesbians need to be at the conversation table because most of us have been with men. And then we have all of the reasons that Sean just said of men being dirty and da-da-da-da. Not all men because some... Okay, I'm going to let you speak for that.
Sean Simons: No, because men, they feel like, oh, it's different without the condom.
Tei Pearson-Hall: And a lot of them don't show signs of STDs either. They don't show the symptoms. And so I think that's another reason why lesbians need to be at the table because most of us have had a past relationship in our hetero days.
Malachi Stewart: Before I move on to Ashley, what I'm hearing you say is that lesbians should be included in the conversations because how people identify as far as their orientation is not necessarily consistent with the type of sex they have and who they have sex with?
Tei Pearson-Hall: That part and it's not always a linear thing. You know what I'm saying? Lesbians, some of them know straight out early, like I'm into girls and that's all I'm ever going to be with.
Malachi Stewart: Gold star.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Hello? And some of us are like, I've ran this gamut of men and for whatever ever reason, now I'm with a woman. We've had sex before with men. And so all of that equals a risk. And so we should have a table.
Malachi Stewart: I feel like it's actually the same with gay men as a gay man. Let me ask you quickly, when's the last time you think I had sex with a woman?
Tei Pearson-Hall: Yesterday?
Malachi Stewart: No. No, really?
Tei Pearson-Hall: For you? No. I would say probably a couple of years ago.
Malachi Stewart: This year, January. And so I recognized that that's not... It was awful.
Sean Simons: What was awful about it?
Malachi Stewart: It was awful about it because I only did it because the guy liked me. And that's why I'm going to pivot to you Ashley because the guy clearly liked me, but he and his girl partner have a thing where they always have to be together. And I'm like, "You really don't want me to suck your man dick in front of you, sis."
Sean Simons: You're like, "I'm going to go crazy."
Malachi Stewart: And in the middle of it, the amount of attention when he whispered in my ear after the oral session, he whispered in my ear and was like, "Do you have a condom?" It was over for her. But I did have sex with her. Unfortunately, I did. And so it happened and shout out to her. But Ashley, I have a question.
Ashley Donald: Quick pivot.
Tei Pearson-Hall: You was moving as a lesbian that night. Could we go-
Malachi Stewart: I want to know your feelings about this because what I noticed, there are a lot of DL men as you know. And we know again, we talk about a lot in the show how women are second most at risk here in the district.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Before you move on, what's the DL for the people who may not understand-
Malachi Stewart: People who were down-low, so people who are not openly gay. People who are men who have sex with men but may not necessarily identify as gay because they separate the sex from how they-
Tei Pearson-Hall: Yeah. Some people may not know, so I just want to make sure we-
Malachi Stewart: No, for sure. We definitely want to educate. But none of the DL guys or the straight guys that I've had sex with, none of them have ever asked me my status. So, I'm always leading you-
Sean Simons: You said there's straight guys that you've had sex with?
Malachi Stewart: I'm acknowledging how they identify. And yes, we had sex, because I send a lot of people's husbands back home to them. And when I do, I'm always very disturbed for my sisters because I'm like the willingness, I'm definitely... Your man definitely is smashing me real and he never asked.
Sean Simons: But you're having sex with him, so how you?
Malachi Stewart: I don't know the hell. I don't know about nothing. Let me tell you something. I used to have a rule. I had a rule for years that I would not have sex with you if your partner was a black woman. I cut that because black woman got in these spaces and it was calling me all types of things that start with a F that I can say on this platform.
Sean Simons: Fun?
Malachi Stewart: That was like shit. Listen, but the women was getting real. Even the fact that first of all, if we look at these statistics, the fact that women are... The prevalence of HIV among women nationally, not just in the district and the correlation with MSM, we're clearly having sex with the same people, ma. But for some reason, black women are so, in my opinion, particularly black women are so pressed to disassociate themselves with us. It's like you feel like you...
First of all, the men you're dating are trash. They ain't wifing you anyway. How dare you sit there and act like he's so good that-
Tei Pearson-Hall: And he don't want the jail.
Malachi Stewart: And so now I'm snatching your husband because-
Sean Simons: Why do girls not require men to use protection? Is that self-awareness? Is it something that...
Malachi Stewart: I don't like condoms. And I think that as a person who works in sexual health, it's why we are so hell-bent on identifying the fact that protection doesn't necessarily just mean condoms. A lot of people don't want to have condoms. And if you were trying to have sex-positive conversations and good sexual health conversations with people and you're pushing condoms, you are doing a disservice because people are only going to have the sex they want to have.
Sex then looks like, okay, maybe protection for you don't look like a condom. Does it look like PrEP, maybe which would be a pre-exposure prophylaxis, something that you take to prevent HIV. Okay, maybe it doesn't look like condoms but does it look like doxy-PEP which is something that you can take to prevent STIs after you've had sex?
Tei Pearson-Hall: But where do you get that kind of stuff from?
Malachi Stewart: All of these things are provided at DC Health. You can get condom at DC Health and we will pivot again. But always just want to tell you now, www.dcendshiv.org, you can get any of these resources.
Sean Simons: Quick promo.
Malachi Stewart: Quick promo, pay the bills. But those are all things that I looked at and we aren't having... When you don't have those conversations, when you don't talk about the fact that there are different even types of condoms, that there are insertive condoms. We stop calling them female condoms because I know males who were putting insertive condoms in before they go to the club and it's already in there.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Really?
Malachi Stewart: Yeah, child. I know women who do it too.
Tei Pearson-Hall: The woman can, but-
Malachi Stewart: I know people who have a vagina and people who have a penis, both can do that.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Okay, I didn't know that.
Malachi Stewart: We can go back to the Beat the Streets. I want to get to the other questions that were asked, but thank y'all for participating.
Joy: Welcome Maurice to Positive Voices, to our Beat the Streets segment. Our first question is what do you think dating in the DMV is like overall? What is it giving?
Maurice: It's trash in the DMV. It's too small. Everybody knows everybody. You can start messing with somebody today. They know your friend. They did something with the friend.
Malachi Stewart: Have y'all ever had that happen to you all?
Tei Pearson-Hall: Trash love, Let's put it say.
Sean Simons: Yes, yes. It's my turn now, I don't care. I believe in vessels. No. One of my boys said to me, he said, "If I didn't date any woman that you didn't date, I wouldn't be able to date anybody in that area."
Tei Pearson-Hall: Right, because you had a jar condom.
Sean Simons: Whatever happened between us two years ago or three years ago, it didn't work out. Why would I block your blessing? I never got that. People say it's a small world, you think of DC. I don't want to report any inaccuracies, but DC is very small. It's like 24... You're going to run into people because you think there's tiers of people. And I don't want to sound superficial, but certain groups of people date the same people. You have four different groups.
Of course, you're going to run into people. You got to think basketball players hang with basketball players. Barbers hang with barbers. Social workers hang with social workers. If you're in the proximity, you're going to meet the same people. If you only like a guy with a certain aesthetic who makes a certain amount, yes, you're going to run into these circles. And people, especially men, I never got this. "Oh, you had sex with her before. I can't be with her." You might be blocking your blessing. That might be the person for you.
Tei Pearson-Hall: You better stop talking about blocking her blessings. They better get into it.
Sean Simons: Yeah, I was dating this girl once and this guy DMed me. He was like, "Oh yeah, I used to smack that."
Tei Pearson-Hall: So?
Sean Simons: I'm smacking it now.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Hello? Would you say, what's the problem?
Sean Simons: What was the point of you telling me that? That was unnecessary.
Malachi Stewart: It gets messy. I think sometimes when people, but it doesn't have to. I agree, first of all with you, especially for gay men. I have friends who, especially the ones who are from Philly living here, we give the same energy. We already know. I immediately assume if you're trying to talk to me, you have either or would talk to my friends because we give the same things. We're about the same size, similar aesthetics, but we have our own little system.
Because we're friends, I could tell if my friend, I could tell by the mention of their name of the person whether this person was a person that is a no on their name or is a person, because we don't really share men but we have shared hoes.
Sean Simons: I like that.
Malachi Stewart: ... hoe and somebody pass around like-
Tei Pearson-Hall: Ashley, what's your thinking?
Malachi Stewart: Listen, we will sit and have a conversation about it. We'd be like, what? Do we came over there-
Sean Simons: That's a good point. Me and my friends, we have untouchables. You know who's a person's untouchable.
Tei Pearson-Hall: I think that's how the women worked too.
Ashley Donald: It's like a code.
Sean Simons: Yeah. You know like, first off, we're close friends. I already know who you have a serious interest in. And then she's my sister. She's my sister forever. You can stop dating-
Tei Pearson-Hall: Would you say off limits?
Sean Simons: Yeah. But if I know you've been playing around with this woman, yeah. Now I still might... I'm talking and he would be like, "That ain't nothing." It depends on the relationship that you have with your friends. But I think most people know who's off limits.
Ashley Donald: I think sometimes the messier part is the information that's being shared. Sometimes you might date somebody and then you get all of this flood of information from five people in your circle and then you feel like you have a preconceived notion of who they are, how they're going to be. And then you can make a whole decision on if you want to move forward or not based on somebody else's experience.
Sean Simons: And also, this is the thing, and I'm speaking from a straight man's point of view. Sometimes, women just be hating because now she's mad because he's doing way more for you than he was going for her. Oh, he didn't do this, he didn't do this, he ain't taking me out. But he's taking you on trips. He's praying because he sees the value in you.
And I tell people all the time, all women are valuable. I think women are the best thing to slice bread. But just because you think that you're valuable to me, I might not hold you in the same light as you hold yourself to me. I might be dating you and maybe I dated an acquaintance of yours and I didn't like her that much. But now that I like you, I'm doing way more than I was doing with her. But now she's put all of these negative thoughts in their head, so it might kind of like...
Tei Pearson-Hall: Don't block your blessings.
Sean Simons: Exactly.
Ashley Donald: Don't block your blessings. That's right.
Malachi Stewart: I think it's definitely why it's important to have your experience with the person because everybody experienced people differently. Somebody better did this to him, they might not do that to you.
Ashley Donald: He ain't like you like that, sis.
Malachi Stewart: For sure. For sure.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Let's see what else Joy got for us.
Joy: Would you date someone if they disclosed that they had HIV to you? Why or why not?
Anthony: To me I would but if there was a way to prevent it. If there was some medication that she could take where if we had sexual intercourse, then I wouldn't get HIV too, then yes. Yes, I would.
Malachi Stewart: Okay. Before we start kee-keeing about it, honey, there is a medication that you can take that you don't get HIV. It's called PrEP. It's a medication that you can make an appointment with your doctor to talk about if PrEP is right for you. You simply have to test negative first.
If you come to DC Health, DC Health and Wellness Center, we will definitely get you started the same day. Another medication is PEP. Some people call it PEP. And it's a medication that if you, let's say you had sex with somebody, the condom broke or you had sex and you thought about it later and was like, "Actually, I'm not sure of their status." You could always within 72 hours take the medication and it would prevent HIV.
Speaking of that, because I'm the only gay man in the conversation, lesbians, straight woman, straight man, do y'all ever think about me? I know y'all see the commercials for PrEP. I'm sure y'all heard about PEP. I've heard sure you heard about doxy-PEP. Do y'all think that it's for you? Would you take it? Why or why not?
Tei Pearson-Hall: In my straight day, we didn't have the commercials for PrEP. But I think knowing what I know now if I was still not married, even to my wife, but just a lesbian out, because we know that we talked about the little sneak eggplant and stuff, so I want to make sure I would still probably take it because I don't know where my other female partner may be and doing what she's doing.
Ashley Donald: I have a question about that because with all of the conversations around sexual health and being a lesbian, it's almost like, yeah, you have to be careful because they may have been with men before. Is there no risk if somebody's only been with women their whole life and they're with somebody that's also only been with women, is there just that much less risk that you don't have to-
Tei Pearson-Hall: Yeah.
Ashley Donald: Really? Okay.
Malachi Stewart: Never could we say no but it's so-
Tei Pearson-Hall: Definitely lower because there's no penetration, which causes a lot of the transmission method.
Malachi Stewart: Yeah. It's less exposure to the fluids that it... That's why we say the type of sex you have, it's a lower risk, because we would tell people like we know that we've talked about oral sex being lower. Well, if two gay men were only having oral sex, we have people who are side, some people who don't have penetrated sex. The type of sex they have is lower risk.
Ashley Donald: Right. Okay, that makes sense.
Tei Pearson-Hall: You just have oral sores and the cold sores.
Malachi Stewart: Yeah. Never impossible.
Tei Pearson-Hall: ... things all of that stuff.
Ashley Donald: Okay. I didn't even know that women could take PrEP until very recently.
Malachi Stewart: Oh my god, really?
Tei Pearson-Hall: Pregnant folks too.
Malachi Stewart: We should be doing a better job then in how we are...
Ashley Donald: I don't remember the commercials look, but it just never came across like that was something that was being marketed to me.
Malachi Stewart: Who do you think it was being marketed to?
Ashley Donald: To men and to gay men specifically.
Malachi Stewart: Okay. And now that you know if you were single, would you take PrEP really?
Ashley Donald: I would. I think, because I don't like... I probably would if I knew I was in a relationship with somebody that was positive. I'm not sure that I would just as a single person because I just wouldn't be having that much sex.
Malachi Stewart: Okay. How would you determine if they were positive? By that you mean I saw the negative test. Would you assume he's a straight man, he's negative?
Ashley Donald: That's a good question.
Malachi Stewart: Because I feel like straight people just assume that they're negative. And as a person, I always say this a lot, I beat this, but when I worked at a large gay organization, people assumed because my program was geared towards people who had HIV and were having adherent issues, that I had a lot of gay men.
I had 90% of the patient load throughout the five years I worked in that program. I can count on one handy amount there were gay men. The majority of my clientele was women, all of whom had found out why they were pregnant. And all make that same assumption, "Oh, we're both straight people. HIV is not a thing for us." So that's why I'm asking, like sort of interested.
Ashley Donald: Well, I guess, my thing is I always like to get tested before being sexual with somebody. But at the same time, somebody could be stepping out. You don't know even with the most trust people have. So I guess it is always we'd be on PrEP.
Malachi Stewart: Yeah, because I feel like when I kee-kee with my straight girlfriends, it's like we have this shared bond of like you can't trust anything. And then I'm like, "But you wish you trusted him, sis, because you're having sex with him."
Tei Pearson-Hall: But then that trust don't equate to me going to no clinic and sitting, and they may see somebody that I know and then I got to answer to them of why I'm sitting here because they all knows him and want to know why I'm there.
Malachi Stewart: So discrete testing programs would be helpful.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Discrete testing would probably do better.
Malachi Stewart: Like get check-dc.com.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Hello? More discrete, right?
Malachi Stewart: Because we do have that. We have discrete testing that we'll send to your home. Okay, positive, got it.
Sean Simons: I've learned a lot just sitting here with you guys because I didn't know any about this stuff. And I feel like a lot of, especially straight men, most of them I feel like are not getting tested. You're having unprotected sex with your woman. She gets checked out. You'll be like, "Well, I'm only having sex with her."
Tei Pearson-Hall: She good.
Sean Simons: She good.
Ashley Donald: I'm good.
Sean Simons: I'm good.
Tei Pearson-Hall: And she don't look sick.
Sean Simons: I ain't sick. I'm good. I ain't got no bumps on my shit. You know what I'm saying? You know certain things, so it's like I never even thought about this.
Malachi Stewart: Do you and your friends talk about... Do straight men sit around and talk about testing or risk of STIs?
Sean Simons: No, because I don't think men or women care in the majority because like I said, most of the women I've dealt with, they've never asked me, "Did you get tested? When was the last time you get tested? Do you want to have unprotected sex? Do you have any condoms?" It's, "Man, I'm feeling you. We ain't a heat no more. Let's get it on." And then they're thinking about this after, and this is just from my experience, I can't speak for all men. I can't speak for all.
Tei Pearson-Hall: And I can tell you they probably called their friends and be like, "I hope that ain't had nothing because we sure I ain't use no condom."
Sean Simons: But I had a talk with a friend maybe like a year ago, and he was saying that how he was having unprotected sex with multiple women. And I'm like, "That's wild, fool." That's like super wild. But I'm sure he's not the only man like that.
Tei Pearson-Hall: And what was his response though?
Sean Simons: "I don't like condoms." You don't like condoms, but until you get something. I feel like a lot of people, they do not fear. Even when you talk about birth control or we were having a conversation about how men should be on birth control. I said, "Y'all don't want men to be on birth control," because men are only worried about babies. They're not worried about STDs. If men were on birth control, none of them would be wearing condoms because they're only worried about babies. They're not worried about catching STDs. Y'all want to trust men to be on birth control? Hell no.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Hey, you say that the outside is open.
Ashley Donald: How did you get that way? You're such an anomaly compared to everybody else. What happened for you to be like, "I'm going to wear condoms"?
Sean Simons: I read a lot of books.
Tei Pearson-Hall: It's the literacy for me.
Sean Simons: I read a lot of... And honestly, I'm just scared to... Fortunately, I've never contracted an STD. And then I'm thinking about it. I'm like, is it me being lucky or is it just me being prepared?
Malachi Stewart: It sounds like you're prepared. You have a lot of... From what you recorded, you have a lot of condom usage.
Sean Simons: Man, I got condoms in my wallet now.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Just in case.
Malachi Stewart: What was you thinking? We wasn't filming that.
Sean Simons: I might meet a young Jezebel.
Malachi Stewart: This ain't that.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Walking down the street and might want, "Don't block his blessing."
Malachi Stewart: We support you being prepared. And I appreciate you saying that you learned a lot today. Because again, just the reason that the adherence program was such a heavily cisgendered, hetero population is because for people who are gay, especially particularly gay men, there's a high level of susceptibility for us. We are always trained to be waiting for it to happen. You're expecting it. We don't have to really do a lot of HIV one-on-one.
But then when people who are not expecting it and you have that diagnosis, now I have to tell you what a viral load is. I have to tell you how HIV works. I have to tell you that you're not going to die. I have to tell you things, things that most gay men that they get HIV now, they know they're not going to die. They dated somebody who's openly identified like, it's not a different thing.
And so I'm glad you said that. With that being said, I have a question. And last question, would any of you date someone who is HIV positive? And I want you to answer from two perspective. Think about if you met them, they said they're HIV positive versus if you got in a relationship with them and fell in love and then they identified later.
Tei Pearson-Hall: They told you upfront is the first scenario?
Malachi Stewart: Yeah, either one. Would either scenario be one where you're like, "I'm in it"?
Tei Pearson-Hall: Yeah, I would. I would. But also my dad had AIDS and one of my good sisters I talked about on another show, Monica, she had AIDS by the time she passed away. And so to be in the space with them wasn't like I'm allergic, I'm breaking out. And I think that I read books too, Sean, and so books would tell me of what the can and can't. But I think I definitely would, especially if they're a dope ass person.
Ashley Donald: I wouldn't rule it out. My best friend is HIV positive and I just couldn't imagine if I fell in love with him being like, oh, never mind for that reason. It's something I never thought about because I have an autoimmune disease already of like, am I more at risk because of that? How does PrEP interact with my current medication routine? There's a lot of clinical questions I feel like I would have to ask, but I wouldn't rule it out.
Sean Simons: I'm sorry, guys.
Malachi Stewart: Don't be sorry, be honest.
Sean Simons: I wouldn't. I just feel like I could find a woman because just to... It wasn't HIV, but I was dating this woman and she had herpes. She didn't tell me, so we're dating. I liked her, fine woman. We went on a couple of dates. I went over our house the first time. First time is too soon, so I didn't try my hand. The second time, I fell asleep. Third time, I'm like, "Okay, it's a go." So I'm like...
Malachi Stewart: Is this straight math? Okay. All right.
Sean Simons: She's like, "I want to tell you something." She was like, "I've been burnt before." I'm like, "Ah, fuck it." You know what I'm saying?
Tei Pearson-Hall: Are you in the midst of the...
Sean Simons: She was like, "No, I've been burnt for life." I was like, "Oh." You know what I mean? I'm so appreciative that she told me that because she didn't have to tell me that. But I just couldn't continue on because I was not educated. I was younger, but even with now, I feel like I could just find a woman that's not HIV positive.
It was a two-part question. It's like, well, if you start dating them and then you find out, but usually sex when I'm dating with somebody, it's going to come way before I even fall in love with them. It's like I can see if we're that six months in, I will probably have a different, because now I'm already in love with you. Now I'm going to, all right, fuck it. Let's go for the long haul. But I don't know if I could even fall in love with somebody-
Malachi Stewart: If you knew that they were positive?
Sean Simons: Yes.
Malachi Stewart: And I think that makes a lot of sense to me now as to why so many people who are positive. As a person, I'm ready to yell out loud with you. It's always been, but I think that makes sense to me as to why people don't share. It's a pressure on them to share.
Sean Simons: I was going to ask you this question. Is there a difference between, because especially as a black man, the ridicule in a... In our society when a black man is gay, they're viewed as less masculine, feminine, weak, which is crazy to me. A man is still a man. It doesn't matter what your sexual preference is, but is there a difference between-
Tei Pearson-Hall: You got to come on, Sean.
Sean Simons: Is there a difference between the DL or a man that's just not comfortable coming out because they know how societies want to view them?
Tei Pearson-Hall: Ooh, that's a good question.
Malachi Stewart: I would say that the DL men, because they do still identify as straight, they operate like straight men and they feel like HIV even though, "Child, you're having sex with men," but they just don't think it's a thing and they don't ask about it. That's my experience anecdotally, that's going to be a lot of people experience in the comments. It's not a thing, it's not a conversation that they have. They don't worry about it. They just go in and they have these moments of having the type of sex.
But I also think that a part of that component is that you can't... Preparing for something is admitting that you like it. If you identify as straight and you are in a world, especially as a black man that shames you for being gay, then you can't ever prepare because you have to admit to what you're constantly doing as opposed to, I can pull out my app because in this moment I'm horny and I'm going to go have sex with this person because I want to have sex with this person and then I leave and pretend this didn't happen.
You can't expect them to be prepared for a conversation. So that's why they're going back to their baby mama and they're, right. Sort of like how are socialized to receive people in their truth? And I think that ties back into if we are socialized to say like, if I'm in love with you already, I'll accept your status. I think we have to consider that in the conversation of when we're asking people who are undetectable, recognizing that undetectable is untransmittable, that you can't catch HIV from someone who's undetectable.
If you're asking them to tell you, but telling them, I won't accept you unless I already fall in love with you. And maybe not even then, well maybe they want to be loved and that they feel like it's not worth it for them.
Well anyway, it was a great conversation. I appreciate everybody showing up. Honestly, listen, I feel like we definitely touched topics today that you don't hear a lot. And listen, to everybody at home, I hope that y'all know that we are paying attention and committed here at Positive Voices to having a conversation that you want to have and really providing education around things that are interesting to you.
If you want to continue the conversation, please like, comment, share, put this on your social media. Tell us in the comments what you think about it, and please log on to www.dcendshiv.org/podcast. There are going to be a lot of resources there. Every resource I talked about, PEP, doxy-PEP, PrEP, conversations. There'll be dictionaries there to be able to tell you what these things are and talk more about it.
Also, if you like Sean and you want to have a condom jar on your table, we will discreetly send free condom to your house.
Tei Pearson-Hall: Not the condom jar.
Malachi Stewart: Listen, we want to start your condom jar today.
Tei Pearson-Hall: We want to be the first input.
Malachi Stewart: Start your condom jar today with Positive Voices. And so please go and see all of the resources that we have there. Please comment and again, and subscribe and thank you again. We'll see you next time.
Tei Pearson-Hall: See you next time.
Ashley Donald is a podcast producer and audio engineer based in Washington, D.C. When not working behind the scenes on productions, she enjoys going on hikes with her dog, playing Zelda, and reading.
Born and raised in Capitol Heights, Maryland, Sean Simons became an entrepreneur 10+ years ago when he and his business partner built a company called Stamped Entertainment. Sean has curated some of the largest events in the DMV area, as well as supported start-up businesses with their marketing and branding strategy. Sean is a devoted father of two boys and a community advocate for Black fathers. Sean believes wholeheartedly that family is everything. In his free time, Sean enjoys traveling, spending time with loved ones, making music, and playing basketball.