Attitude’s Bachelors of Year 2017 is brought to you in association with Blued.Greg Owen Bachelor of the Year position: #35
The gay community has a strong history of effective HIV activism, a tradition Greg Owen is continuing. His campaigning work around PrEP saw him set up iwantPrEPnow.co.uk, a place to raise awareness of — and access to — HIV-prevention medication. Such was its success, he was credited with playing a huge role in reducing the number of gay men in London being diagnosed with HIV by 40 per cent in a 12-month period.
Here, he tells Attitude about his work around PrEP, his biggest dating deal-breaker, and his feelings about sex on the first date…
How long have you been a bachelor?
There are two answers to this question. I split up from my fiancé in April 2013, so pretty much for four years. I did have an unofficial relationship with a very lovely guy last year – it was a four month fling and I loved him very much – but it was ‘complicated’.
What was your coming out experience like?
Oh it was kind of hideous! It was the ’90s in Belfast! It was so not cool to be gay back then. I’d been going out on the gay scene in Belfast since I was 16 – around 1996 – and I finally came out to my mum just before my 18th birthday. I came home from work, asked her to join me in the sitting room and said “OK, the thing is I’m gay. That’s just the way it is, you’re going to have to get used to it. I understand that you’ll have to process this and you’ll probably have some questions so think about it and we’ll talk later.” I picked up my flares, platforms, tank top and mullet wig and headed off to the nightclub where I was performing in a 70’s dance show!
It all went downhill from there and the reaction was brutal and painful but thankfully I can say we worked through it and are a very close family today. I have a gay brother too!
Do you find a lot of queer men are misinformed about PrEP? In your experience, do a lot of people still assume it’s about promiscuity rather than safety?
I think it’s getting better, I’m proud of my community. The UK embraced PrEP much more rapidly than the US. Attitudes here shifted in less than a year. It took almost four years for similar shifts to happen in The States. Ultimately: PrEP, condoms and the contraceptive pill all do the same thing. They all help prevent unwanted outcomes from sex. It’s that simple. It’s only when we start moralising or judging certain individuals or communities and their choices/behaviours that the problems pop up. That kind of rhetoric is damaging and obstructive. It can all be resolved by encouraging and maintaining an open and honest dialogue where we establish the difference between facts based evidence and ‘opinions’.
What are the top three qualities you look for in a man?
Honesty. Passion. Kindness.
What’s the worst date you’ve ever been on?
I’m sure there have been plenty but I can’t seem to recall a specific incident. I think not being ‘present’ on a date is disappointing. Like if a guy has his face stuck in his phone every five minutes. That’s a bit off-key.
What’s your favourite part of a man’s body?
So I should probably not say cock or ass at this point right!? I’m joking. It’s often a different part depending on the guy. I’m drawn to the parts of people that are unique or quirky. I notice eyes a lot I guess.
Meanness and sulking!
Do you have an *ahem* ‘three date rule’?
No, I think that’s a load of bullshit. Sometimes I’ve had sex with guys without knowing their name or even speaking! Although saying that, I haven’t actually had sex (any sex) since June 2016! Mainly because I got my heart broken properly last time round and also PrEP has kept me VERY busy! There’s a kind of perverse irony in that isn’t there? I spend most days talking about sex and sexual well-being but haven’t actually got round to having sex myself lately! So I guess it’s true what they say “those who talk about sex most are often the ones getting it least.”
Who’s your celebrity crush?
That’s a hard question. I don’t crush easily. Jussie Smollett does tick a lot of boxes though for many reasons. His Twitter is quite amusing too.
What’s your hidden talent?
I don’t think I have one! What you see is what you get! Not much is ever hidden with me. I’m secretly shy. Not a lot of people know that.
Click here for more information on the free launch event and screening of PrEP17.