“Times are tough these days, and I’m living like a student again. I still want to get laid but condoms can get expensive! When I was an actual student, I got them for free at the university LGBT centre. Where can I find them for free or cheap now?”
If you’re putting an object or body part into an orifice — especially if you’re using the same object or body part for more than one orifice or more than one person — safer sex means wrapping it up first. So anyone who uses dildos, strap-ons or flesh cocks (and, yes, that includes dykes) needs condoms. This is partly for safety — barriers of latex (or its alternative, nitrile) reduce or eliminate transmission risk for any number of sexually transmitted infections. But for those of us who are both horny and lazy, it’s also partly for ease of clean-up. Just yank it off and toss it in the can. Presto! (Clean yourself or your toys later, of course — but that can wait until the afterglow has faded.)
You’ve got lots of options for sex-on-a-budget freebies. For starters, you can find free condoms at some bathhouses and other businesses in gay areas of town such as Church/Wellesley. Look for the fishbowl at the door — kind of like how some restaurants put out a bowl of after-dinner mints. Most circuit parties will distribute them for free too; if you can’t afford a ticket, get a friend to grab you a handful. Also, condom and lube companies hand out mega quantities of free samples at their Pride booths, so stock up then. LGBT health centres such as the Sherbourne Health Centre (333 Sherbourne St) also keep plastic trays of ’em at the reception desk.
Family planning clinics, university women and trans centres and student health clinics (even if you’re not a student), community women’s centres, sexual health clinics and health fairs, especially sexual health fairs, are all good bets. Free clinics — the kind that don’t require OHIP — such as the Hassle Free (66 Gerrard St E) are another option. Or ask your family doctor if you have one; they should be able to hand over a wad of samples.
Trans and sex worker support organizations such as Maggie’s (298A Gerrard St E) and the 519 Community Centre’s Trans Sex Worker Outreach program distribute freebies either on site or via outreach workers. You can also ask at needle exchange centres and rape crisis centres. In my broker days, I personally tried not to “steal” free condoms from organizations that were targeting people more marginalized than me, so you may want to consider that aspect. Frankly, people handing out free condoms usually don’t care whether you’re in their target demographic — they are there to promote health and safer sex, so if you want condoms, chances are they’ll want to give them to you.
Above all, please don’t be shy to ask for what you need. Be pushy if you have to. Your sexual health is worth it.