Originally published June 8, 2017
No one tells you how difficult it is to aim your ejaculate. You will be sitting there in one of the strange jerk-off rooms at a donation clinic, and you will have to get the cup (a small, plastic cup like a urine sample container) in the right position and squirt in a precise yet still orgasmic way that you probably have never done before. It’s not easy at all — unless, maybe, you have done porn.
They will probably have a lounge chair set up for you. Often this chair will be covered in butcher paper. I found that very un-sexy, and discovered the best position for me was to jerk off while on my knees, holding the cup below me like I was asking for change on the street. Maybe this will work for you too.
No one tells you that these donation clinics you go to may have no gay porn. That’s because gay men aren’t really allowed in these facilities (more on that later). You will be relying on old wrinkled Hustler magazines and porn DVDs with names like “Sorority Scandals” and “My Boss’s Daughter.”
The porn offerings will often have very long “lesbian” scenes of women eating each other out. Other scenes will consist of a woman with a tongue piercing and thick contoured makeup pretending she is a teenager or in a college dorm getting fucked by a douchebag straight porn actor who often has a ponytail and wears black front-pleated pants.
Hopefully, like me, you will learn to like straight porn. Straight porn guys turn me on because they are always horny and seem less perfect than those groomed, perfect geldings that trot through gay male porn. You see gay porn stars in Provincetown or on Instagram, swaggering around, stroking their eight-packs, beaming out their beauty like you will never stand a chance. Straight porn actors are, ironically, more attainable, and that makes them hot.
No one tells you that you can, of course, smuggle in your own porn into these clinics. If for some reason you don't want it on your phone, you should make it a DVD (and have a computer with a DVD player) or you will have to ask the staff for the WiFi code. I couldn’t bring myself to do that because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself.
The reason is (no one tells you this) that you and the female friend you are trying to make a baby with need to portray yourselves as “active sexual partners” because you are doing “fresh” insemination as opposed to frozen, and fresh insemination can only happen (at least in clinics in NYC) between “active sexual partners,” because, I guess, that way the clinic can’t be sued if you give your active sexual partner an STD.
All this is to say that a gay man and a lesbian coming here to have a baby is not really condoned. Gay men aren’t really allowed in clinics. Sperm donation, essentially, is inherently homophobic.
No one in these clinics really monitors this, though. They are too busy and have seen too many other people that day to care about you and your personal situation. Still, you and your lesbian friend will feel like you don’t want to make waves and, when you enter the clinics, you will pretend you are active sexual partners just to make sure you don’t stand out.
No one tells you how, when delivering your sperm in the little cup to the lab downstairs from your jerk-off room, that you will feel this sense of accomplishment. And when your friend goes in to get the sperm squirted up her, (the woman you are doing this for who you love and want to make happy, even though you are gay and she is a lesbian and she and her girlfriend will be the parents and you will not be a primary parent) the sperm technician (or whatever you call them) told her, “This is an amazing sample! Great motility! A dense concentration!” and you will feel like a stud, like you are one of the gladiators in “300.”
No one tells you that before you donate, you will make rules for yourself, like “Okay, I won’t have any sex while I am donating.” If it doesn’t take the first time, after a month or two this rule will change to, “Okay I won’t have any sexual intercourse in my mouth or butt” and then after three months it will change to “Okay no butt sex,” which will then, after five months, change to “Okay butt sex but of COURSE with a condom and no orgasming during penetration!”
No one tells you that you will re-examine your sex life. You will look into how guilty you feel all the time for the gay sex you are having. And you will feel horrible about yourself, like the diseased lowlife that mainstream culture views gay men (who aren’t shiny and married and monogamous). You will begin to realize how much you identify with your sperm.
No one tells you that sperm, that stuff you have seen come out of you hundreds of times (oh god maybe thousands?) suddenly becomes more an essence of you than you had thought. It becomes a definition of your life — your virility, your health, your diet. For us single sexually active gay men, it also becomes the sexual secret you have been hiding, the part of you that you keep hidden from everyone else. Because when your sperm goes into the vagina of your lesbian friend, no matter how safe and careful you may have been, you think: Oh god, what if I gave her syphilis?
No one tells you how much of an emotional journey this act of donating sperm will be. You will meet some guys who just donate and move on with their lives and you are impressed by their ability to separate themselves from the child they created. Some even have families of their own.
But you, you single gay male who never ever thought you would be a father or parent or child-bearer of any kind, will feel things you haven’t even felt before, or allowed yourself to feel before. And, if you aren’t the primary parent, you will even begin to question: How much am I allowed to feel?
No one tells you that after all this, when your friend is pregnant and you “come out” to your friends as a sperm donor, countless people will ask you these two questions: “Are you going to be involved?” and “What are you going to call yourself?” You will have your answers for these relentless questions, but, gradually, you won’t feel like you need to define who you are to other people. If you are lucky enough to have a very tough, cool sister in law, you will be put at ease by her when she said, “Who the fuck cares what you call yourself? You are Mike! And you are an awesome “Mike,” and that’s enough!”
No one tells you any of this. So, I am telling you this now. I hope it helps make your donation adventure easier.
Written by Michael Albo, Illustration by Braulio Amado