“Quarantined & healthy. Available to see clients who are the same.”
This ad from a popular escort site, reads like a personal ad from 1985. Love and sex in a time of pandemics is nothing new to the LGBTQ community.
Some of the community responses echo the early days of the AIDS crisis – bathhouse closures, criminalization of transmission, stigma against potential virus carriers, an initially tepid government response, the battle over testing. Even Dr. Fauci is back!
How do we chart love and intimacy in the time of coronavirus?
Steven /Carnal_Knowledge is “vice” president of Building Blocks School for Kinksexuals, or as he prefers to be called, “Headmaster.”
Since 2014, Building Blocks has taken a hands-on approach to instruction in kinks, fetishes, sex toys and alternative amore of every kind.
Does social distancing mean that school is out for kinksexuals? No, says Headmaster Steven, “We are doing more now than a month ago!”
“As of March 16, we’ve moved all of our classes online,” /Carnal_Knowledge said. “We don’t do anything in person, it is all online.”
Although sex online is hardly a new concept, Building Blocks was resistant to trying it. Headmaster Steven said, “Meeting in person at our classes was part of the magic.”
“Being online has made classes better,” Steven said. He can now exploit media to create an individualized experience tailored to each student. For example, in the Toys for Boys class, he can pull up links and videos to match gender and sexual identity.
Being online, Steven said, also helps people who felt shy or awkward about phone or video sex to try it out and “to get out of their self-conscious space into their sexy space. It takes practice.”
Even massage classes work well online, he said. They become like “anatomy classes,” he said. “’Can you feel that muscle on yourself? Can you feel it on another person who might be with you?’”
The administrative side of the transition from in-person to online was “a nightmare,” he said. “But the community side was great. We are stronger because of it.”\Steven said the shutdown has been a “dark spot” financially for Building Blocks. The transition online was expensive with no income coming in.
The school depends on donations from students. Many of Building Blocks’ students are employed in the entertainment and casino industries and are out of work due to the shutdown.
Another large percentage of students works in the medical and tech industries and they are all too busy working on the front lines of the pandemic to play right now.
As Nevada cautiously reopens from the shutdown, Building Blocks will return to live meetings again, too, Steven said, following social distancing guidelines in classes like Throwing Whips.
“Throwing whips requires people to stand 12 feet away from each other to stay safe,” Steven said, “and there is no sharing of whips.”
Building Blocks students also have participated in a virtual kink crafting class online, making face masks for health care providers and the elderly.
What are Headmaster Steven’s tips for practicing safer sex during coronavirus time?
“This is a great time to experiment with playing with yourself – masturbation, toys,” he said. “But remember to keep clean and wash your hands and toys.”
“The virus is not found in semen or vaginal fluids,” Steven said, “Kissing is probably more dangerous than…” (anything you might do alone).
He said it is better to play with partners you are already in close contact with.
“The reality of now,” Headmaster Steven said, “is that we need to show a little bit of restraint to stay safe.”
“Treatments are available for SDIs (sexually transmitted infections), but not the coronavirus,” he said, “Yet, people will say no to sex with someone who might present a risk for an SDI, but ‘I’ll risk it for coronavirus.’”
“People can choose what they want, but their choice may not make sense.”