Spoilers for Netflix Sex education Season 3, Episode 4
In January, I caught my first STI. I can see exactly how it happened: I had sex without a condom and with someone who had not been tested for a few months and who could not remember their current state of sexual health. Since then, I have had a lot of anxiety about sex and getting sexually transmitted infections. That is, until this scene in Netflix Sex education season 3 has arrived.
This one-minute scene in Sex Education does a better job of explaining STIs and HIV to gay people than anything in school
In episode 4, Anwar (Chaneil Kular), one of the gay students at Moordale High, has hives on his face and begins to suspect that it must mean he is HIV positive. Then he and his friends go to a sexual health clinic after the address was given to them by Miss Sands (Rakhee Thakrar).
Anwar learns that instead of catching HIV, he is most likely having a physical reaction to a new type of lubricant that he and his partner are using. He also learns about the real risk of catching STIs, PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and what it means to go undetected with HIV.
“In all the movies I’ve seen with a homosexual, he ends up having sex and dying of AIDS,” Anwar told the clinic nurse. Side note: after reading Hold man in my teenage years, I felt exactly the same.
What Anwar hears then is perhaps the best sexual health lesson I’ve ever seen for queer people.
“As long as you and your partner, or partners, practice safe sex and get tested regularly, it is very unlikely that you will get HIV,” says the nurse.
“And now there is a drug called PrEP that protects people against HIV if they have frequent occasional sex in situations that could put them at high risk.
“And for those who contract the virus, there are now drugs available that allow them to live long and healthy lives, and even reach the stage where the virus is undetectable, which means it cannot be transmitted to someone else.
“So I don’t think you’re going to die for a while. “
And it came to me just at the right time
Back when I was watching Sex educationfrom season three, I was talking to a boy on Grindr. One night, in the midst of a very exciting conversation fueled by confinement, he revealed to me that he had not been tested positive for HIV.
At the time, I wasn’t quite sure what that meant exactly beyond the idea that I could have safe unprotected sex with him if I was in an exclusive relationship (and not on PrEP). , but I still felt anxious.
Would having unprotected sex with him give me HIV? Would my life be over if I ended up having it? How am I not looking like a jerk while reacting to this news? These are the things that were playing in my head as we were sexting, like a broken record player playing an outdated 1980s record.
See, that’s what happens when you aren’t taught relevant sex education as a queer person. Growing up, if you needed an answer to something, you had to do everything you could to find it. It wasn’t just handed to you like it was for straight teens – yes I know sex education at all levels is lackluster in this country, but at least you got straight guys. Something.
In this sense, this scene of Sex education is as much a lesson for its audience as it is for its characters. Although it lasts less than a minute, it shatters basic superstitions about gay men and HIV, and helps break down the stigma that surrounds those who live with it.
It encouraged me to talk to a counselor at my local sexual health clinic and reminded me that yes, I can still go countdown with this boy. It sounds superficial, sure, but for queer people, these little tokens of simplicity are a reminder of how far we’ve come.
This silly little show does so much for so many different groups of people. I mean, Season 3 gave us an authentic (and hot) kiss with a physically disabled character and a really serious story about a non-binary student’s struggles to find a workbook that works for him. It’s about guiding people through things that other generations just had to cope with.
And, for someone who had concerns about their own sexual health while browsing while talking to an undetected boy, this was an extremely important thing that I needed to hear.
To catch Sex education on Netflix here.
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