Queer sex and intimacy in the age of coronavirus


With much of the world in lockdown in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus, what are the dos and don’ts of getting down? Here’s a handy guide.

The current strategy to contain the coronavirus is one of social distancing, self-isolating and quarantine – staying away from other people to stop you from passing it on or others from giving it to you. It goes without saying, however, that sex is one of the most intimate things you can do with another human being.

Based on what we’ve seen on social media, people’s sex drive seems to be having two responses to the coronavirus pandemic: 1) A decrease in interest in sex because of anxiety or 2) an increase in sex drive as a way to deal with anxiety and/or the boredom of self-isolating. So, should we be having sex at all?

Does the coronavirus spread through sex?

So far, scientists do not know if the coronavirus can be spread through genital contact or fluids such as semen or vaginal fluid, although traces of the virus have now been found in some men who had Covid-19. But they do know that it is definitely spread through saliva and mucus, so kissing is a very high-risk method of transmission. There are also concerns that the virus may be transmitted via faeces so anal play, such as rimming, may be risky.

The reality is that simply being close enough to have sex with someone is a potentially high-risk activity in itself. If you do have sex, consider mutual masturbation (hands only). Make sure you thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after. You can also use sex toys but do not share. And wash them with warm soap and water before and after.

Hook-ups, dates and group sex

Hooking up with lots of strangers is not a good idea during this crisis. You shouldn’t be having sex with anyone that does not already live with you. Don’t use dating apps or sites to arrange any physical interactions with other people. If you cannot stop yourself, at the very least cut down on the number of sexual partners. Going to bars, sex clubs or sex parties is definitely not recommended.

What about my regular sex partners or hook-ups?

If you are regularly dating or seeing someone who does not live with you, rather stay away from them during this crisis. You should keep the relationship a virtual one for now – sexting, phone sex, skype etc… “Distance makes the heart (and genitals) grow fonder,” after all.

What about my live-in partner or spouse?

Sex with someone with whom you are sharing a home and are self-isolating is one of the safer options; you are already living close to each other. Do not be tempted to bring any other individuals from outside of your home into your sex life during this crisis.

However, if you or your live-in partner/s are not feeling well or are showing any symptoms of the coronavirus, rather do not have sex at all and avoid kissing. If you or they suffer from a health condition that may make them more susceptible to the coronavirus (lung or heart conditions, diabetes, cancer and weak immune systems) also avoid having sex and kissing.

All by myself…

The safest kind of sex you can have – as always – is with yourself – i.e. good old masturbation! Take all the time you need to pleasure yourself to let off your sexual steam. This is where the amazing power of the internet comes into play. You can visit free adult sites to get an eyeful of sexual stimulation. You can also use hook-up apps or sites to chat with other people to get yourselves off, but just not in the same room! If you are using video or sharing pictures to have fun with someone online, take great care that the footage and photos don’t get misused to blackmail you, embarrass you or ruin your life. The rule of thumb is to never include your face in any sexually explicit images or video that you appear in.

Don’t stop taking care of your sexual health

While the world is freaking out about the coronavirus, that’s no reason to stop ensuring that you remain sexually healthy and avoid HIV and STIs (sexually transmitted infections). If you are HIV negative and sexually active, then get onto PrEP, the HIV prevention pill. Also, using condoms and water-based lube will help protect you, not just from HIV but also other STIs. Finally, if you are HIV positive, do keep taking your ARVs (or get onto them if you are not currently on treatment). Being on ARVs will not only reduce your risk of passing on HIV to others but will also help boost your immune system.

Source: NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Resources (South Africa):

If you are concerned that you have the coronavirus and/or have any symptoms, please call the national coronavirus hotline for further advice and support: 0800 029 999.

To stay up to date on coronavirus news, developments and symptoms, please save the official coronavirus WhatsApp service number on your phone: 060 012 3456. Send “hi” to the number and follow the prompts. You can also visit the SA government’s coronavirus website here.

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