Usher & “Insecure” – Safe Sex and Accountability

Outstanding freelance Journalist Kellee Terrell wrote an article on B.E.T. five days ago “If We’ve Learned Nothing From the Usher Herpes Scandal, There Needs to Be Condom Use on ‘Insecure’.” In the article, Terrell not only discusses the lack of condom use in the show Insecure (a hit comedy that premiers on HBO created by Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore) but also formulates her own solutions to the aforementioned problem.

Just some solutions I have thought of personally: perhaps zoom in on an empty wrapper on the nightstand, make mention of having to get up and throw a used one away or make a joke about the XL size of the condom and living up to its expectation. Just give us something, please. We adore these characters too much to have them raw dogging it like this.

Ironically enough, On August 13, 2017 at 11:06pm, the oh-so infamously exasperating Charlamagne Tha God, a radio host of Power 105.1 “Breakfast Club” tweeted this:

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This tweet has since been deleted which only leads me to conclude that the “twitter storm” his tweet caused was more than likely not in malice. That does not negate the fact that several individuals re-tweeted and/or commented their agreement (or lack there-of) for the concern about the lack of display and/or mention of condoms on the show.

However Issa Rae, still wanted critiques to know two important things:

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While I do wholeheartedly commend Issa Rae for her response to critiques, such as Terrell and Charlamagne, I would be lying if I said I didn’t chuckle. Let’s be clear: I DO condone safe safe practices such as using a condom and abstinence. Let’s ALSO be clear that I do believe in accountability.

With the Insecure situation and the undeniably scandalous Usher herpes allegations, the themes of disclosure and safe sex are definitely on our minds (at least for some). Pertaining to Insecure, Terrell further explains the importance of viewers seeing condoms:

“While African-Americans make up a mere 12 percent of the U.S population, we account for almost half of all new HIV infections each year. Not to mention, we have disproportionately higher rates of genital herpes, chlamydia and gonorrhea. Yes, there are plenty of reasons why we bear the brunt of these epidemics, but the lack of condom use is definitely a factor.”

“And I get it: Having Lawrence stop to grab a condom can break up the flow and allure of a scene. Plus, plenty of people still believe that condoms on the screen (and in real life) aren’t all that sexy or pleasurable.”

I can’t say that I disagree with Terrell: condoms are important particularly for Black/African-American men and women. I do however feel often times we place too much emphasis on television programming, specifically adult programming, to convey issues we should be teaching ourselves and/or those close to us. If we can use apps on our smartphones such as Tinder and JackD than I’m sure we know how to Google. Now the content you “Google” is totally YOUR control. This is were accountability comes into play.

For some, yes safe sex is undesirable. That is quite evident with the simple fact that we even have a phrase that exist called “bugchasing.” I’m not here to judge. Hey, get your life. Condoms do exist though. While I could not personally find any statistical data that supports the usage of safe sex practices in television programming increasing condom use in men and women, I did find a very recent article published by TIME (14% More Men Are Using Condoms: Study – Time) that, obvious at this point, reports a 14% condom use increase among men in the U.S. So there is success and men are utilizing condoms more these days.

Regardless if you do or do not use condoms, as adults we should ALL be aware of the various STDs that exist and I would personally suggest looking into PrEP and PEP, if you have not done so already. It’s also important (if you’re sexually active) to gain the confidence (if you do not already have it) to ask YOUR sexual partners if they do and/or did ever have an STD. (Note: remember when you dig in the past you may find skeletons). Oh wait, is that not sexy enough for you? Is that too much effort? Is that too much accountability to handle? If that is how you feel, than you would be foolish to believe that I could take you seriously if you were to say “I care about my health.”

Aside from your primary care physician and/or specialized physician, it’s probably wise NOT to put YOUR health in the hands of another individual. It’s arguable to some if you should even be doing such for your doctor. Some may feel it would be or is “too much” (as I’ve personally been told) to inquire about someone’s STD status (rather current or previous). I’m curious to seriously know, how that could be “too much” and you’re allowing someone to experience one of the most private aspects of yourself? Again, if you can meal prep, exercise, count calories, or be vegan (to name a few), I’m SURE you can take the time (however brief it may be) to inquire about something that could potentially impact your health in a detrimental way. Remember, you only get ONE body.

If you’re naive to believe that everyone is truthful and forthcoming, you’re mistaken. There are people in this world that willingly go around knowingly infecting others with a/n STD(s). Seeing condoms on television or Usher’s alleged Herpes will never undermine the fact that you have to protect yourself in a variety of ways. If you do not have that self-love, I know the journey can be difficult for some to find, but search for it nonetheless. It is not only therapeutic, but can be your life-saver. Keep in mind ALWAYS that some people do lie, right to your face. It’s just a shitty fact of life. At the end of the day, even if you are accountable, asking your sexual partner(s) to walk in their truth and disclose their status if they do have something, is not one-hundred percent. Neither are condoms.

Male condoms may not cover all infected areas or areas that could become infected. Thus, they are likely to provide greater protection against STDs that are transmitted only by genital fluids (STDs such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, and HIV infection) than against infections that are transmitted primarily by skin-to-skin contact, which may or may not infect areas covered by a condom (STDs such as genital herpes, human papillomavirus [HPV] infection, syphilis, and chancroid). If you decide to have sex, you’re ultimately taking a gamble so always ask yourself “is it worth the risk?” Also, if you do not know something, it’s okay. I myself would be unwise to speak such a thing, but don’t do yourself a disservice when the information is out there. After all, information is power.

  • Alex N. Wanderland