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Dear gay boys: An open letter about sexual assault in the queer community

, by Marc Silva

Dear Gay Boys,

If you wanna fuck a guy and he was into it yesterday and not into it today, back the fuck up.

If you wanna fuck a guy and he is fucked up on drugs or alcohol­—you don’t know he wants it, so back the fuck up.

Marc Silva

Marc Silva

If you wanna fuck a guy and you start touching without knowing if he wants you to touch him, definitely back the fuck up.

If your friend fucks a guy and you also wanna fuck that guy but he says “no,” then back the fuck up.

If you are about to fuck a guy and he wants you to put on a condom, but you don’t want to—back the fuck up.

If you are in the middle of fucking a guy and he says “stop,” absolutely back the fuck up.

If you wanna fuck a guy at a play party, and he says, “no,” back the fuck up, and move on.

If you wanna fuck a guy and he says “no,” at any point and time…

Don’t get mad,

Don’t act annoyed,

Don’t bitch him out,

Don’t become defensive,


If you wanna fuck a guy and he says “fuck yea!” Then you should fuck that guy.

Are we fucking clear?

— Marc

I posted the text above to Facebook a couple of months ago. Quite a few people asked what led me to write this.

The short answer: I’m a victim.

The long answer: Being out and active in the gay community for a decade has put me in a lot of complicated situations. Whether it is a guy on Grindr who can’t handle being turned away for sex, and proceeds to explode into obscenities. Or a guy who preys on people who are high or intoxicated at sex parties. Or even a guy who grabs the butt of a stranger at a dark bar. These acts and behaviors are violent and a big problem–yet, rarely identified as such within the community.

It even seems like we are conditioned to accept these types of behavior. We often label them as things that are okay for confident and dominant men to do. We’re even told to “take it as a compliment.”

Sometimes we call out assholes or openly address sexual assault, and are met with language that is meant to bully us into silence and guilt. We are living in a uniquely complex and sexually charged environment without a platform to discuss how it affects our lives. No wonder we find ourselves in this situation.

The reality is that sexual assault looks different in the gay community than in other communities. Once I accepted that this was true, opened up to my friends about it, and realized this was something I was not alone in—I wanted to write about it.

I live, work, and play in the Castro, the gayest neighborhood in the world. I can’t walk down the street without running into a good friend, a bartender from one of my favorite spots, or a one-night stand; hell, sometimes all three at the same time. As messy and complicated as these relationships can be, I care and love these people. I can’t go to a bar on a Sunday without having to pay a cover or buy Jell-O shots for a fundraiser. The people in my community do care and respect each other, and I have hope that my community will take a stand against rape culture and put an end to sexual assault.

Marc Silva is the senior administrative assistant for programs at San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

Read more on BETA about sexual assault in the queer community, and what you can do if you’ve been victimized. 


2 Responses to Dear gay boys: An open letter about sexual assault in the queer community

  1. Chris says:

    Thank you.
    Several years ago, I was assaulted at a party by someone I knew. It was an out in the open situation at a party, and he decided to insert himself despite us having had an explicit conversation about my lack of interest.
    Since then, I have become much more sensitive about sexual touching and find that people are critical of my establishing boundaries. I have been told that my manner of dress, friendliness, presence in a bar, HIV status, existence as a gay man, and even my beard are equivalent to consent and that I need to lighten up.
    As a result I rarely go out now, and when I do it takes very little to cause anxiety. I wish people could just learn to be respectful, seek consent, and take no for an answer.

  2. Karim says:

    It’s interesting how gay people can complain about inappropriate touching, and yet there is never a conversation about the atrocious way many gay men treat each other. The verbal abuse and bullying that occurs is horrendous. Feeling left out if one is unattractive, older or poor. Instead, of feeling like you belong to a brotherhood, it denigrates to sex quickly. Looks are still only currency in the gay world. Rather than embracing strangers at clubs an events people give side-eyes and ignore. It’s all so very superficial. Solve that too.