The un-spoken day out (Lee Mears)

I (Lee Mears) was recently nominated for at the ‘South Yorkshire LGBT Awards‘ award for the ‘Most Inspirational Role Model’.

Unfortunately, I didn’t win and never, not even for a second did I think I was going to win, just to receive a nomination was an honour (I must admit I blushed for a second and it takes a lot to turn these cheeks red). I went along to the evening with all intentions of getting mortal, enjoying myself and looking fabulous…this was 100% achieved.

I had practised my Oscar nomination losers face, modelled solely on the way that Leonardo DiCaprio has looked at every Oscar awards ceremony pre-2016 and managed to squeeze myself into my tuxedo (after being on slimming world since the nominations were announced).

The evening was a huge success and my commendation and thanks go out to the organisers for letting me be part of such a memorable night. I met some great people, true advocates of the gay community and people who were passionate about all things LGBT. The evening was a roaring success with many deserving winners. At the end of the night I was on the train on the way home slightly blurry eyed from all the rosé wine and I thought to myself my next article is going to inspire at least one person if it does then I am doing my job right.

Stigma around sex especially gay sex is all over the place and I recently went through the gruesome process of going for my yearly MOT. Yes, that’s correct I dragged myself to the sexual health clinic. I always feel like I’m being judged even though I know everyone in there is in exactly the same boat.

I hate going, let’s face it no one enjoys this day out but it has got to be done. Don’t get me wrong I always play safe, don’t be silly wrap your Willy but condoms are only 96% effective. This is not what I want to be doing with my morning off work, I would much rather be dashing around the sales grabbing some skimpy little shorts for my summer holidays at a bargain price but instead I am sat in a sterile waiting room with a mixture of people (some of them quite unsavoury characters) waiting to be poked, prodded and asked intrusive questions.

A very pleasant lady nurse calls my name (I wish I had used a code name) and I head off with her into a tiny room. She enquires about my sex life (it wasn’t a long conversation), she then asks me to piss in a tube, shove a cotton bud up my bum and then sticks what feels like a javelin into my arm to take some blood. The nice Nurse then offered me a Hepatitis B vaccine, these are now offered to gay men for free due to Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men having a higher chance of getting viral hepatitis including Hepatitis A, B, and C, which are diseases that affect the liver. About 20% of all new Hepatitis B infections are among gay and bisexual men. Many men have not been vaccinated against Hepatitis B, even though a safe and effective vaccine is available.

The vaccine gives protection against the hepatitis B virus, which is a major cause of serious liver disease, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. Obviously, I took the vaccine to prevent getting Hepatitis B but I still couldn’t believe I didn’t know this even existed. I believe if you can help your health in any way then this must be done. I wasn’t aware of this vaccine and I am sure a lot of you aren’t either. Next time you go and get tested make sure enquire about the hepatitis B vaccine as prevention is almost better than the cure.

The woman had poked me with needles given me some free condoms and sent me on my merry way telling me to expect a text or phone call over the next few days. I left covered in plasters which, when prized away from my skin removed my fake tan so I was left with a very suspicious pale white plaster shaped mark on my arm and a long difficult wait for my results.

The days awaiting my results slowly passed by and when the fourth day arrived I had convinced myself I was riddled with every STD under the sun. However, the text came back reading “The results of your tests are negative” meaning I had gotten the all clear, I was elated, I nearly did a little jump and a skip through pure joy. The relief enthused through my body and the ordeal was over for another year. However, I do have to return next week to get the second part of my Hepatitis B Vaccine, which is done in 3 separate vaccines over a 4 week period.

No matter what your age, gender or sexual orientation if you are sexually active you MUST ensure that you are safe. Please go to your local sexual health clinic or Doctors and have the relevant tests. I know the experience isn’t pleasant and everyone tries to put it off until necessary but visiting may save your life and free condoms save you having that awkward moment between you and the cashier in Superdrug. I know I didn’t win the award for the ‘Most Inspirational Role Model’ but if this article inspires just one of you to get tested then I am a winner, just without a trophy.

You can find out more about being “tested” and when/or where to get “tested” quick, easily and confidentially right HERE!