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​P​lay Fair!

Play Fair | Be Queer | Self Care


In 1982 the San Francisco Order of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence produced what was to become a landmark document in the emerging AIDS crisis. Play Fair was the first safer sex material written by and for gay men. Today we continue to update and promote it here for all queer folks.



Several months ago, Mother Superior noticed a lot of sniffing, coughing, grimacing, twitching, scratching and farting around the convent. Several Sisters were complaining about itchy pussies, burning buttholes, sore balls, swollen glands, drippy discharges, sore throats, lumps, bumps and tingling between their legs (and not the good kind).

When Mother Superior found a crab walking up her leg, she decided to get to the bottom of all these ills. It seems these Sisters were suffering from numerous Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and thought perhaps folks outside the convent could benefit from some saintly suggestions. We give these diseases to ourselves and others through sexual activity; and we can do something to stop them in their tracks. Self care and care for others is the purpose of this pamphlet. If we make an effort towards self care, we will all be better off when getting off. Let’s always Play Fair! Cum clean – even if you don't think that you have an STI, consider getting checked out before putting others at risk. Be sure you do what you can to protect yourself and others. After all, we’re very special people!


This is the deadliest of STDs. It hides in the deepest, darkest places in our hearts and minds. We often don't even know we have it.

Symptoms: Feeling bad after a trip to the bars, baths, bushes, and tearooms, waking in someone else's bed or watching porn. Low self-esteem, excessive drug use, being mean and/or judgmental to friends, family, co-workers or total strangers.

Symptoms Appear: From two to three years of age and in many cases persist throughout life. If Untreated: Can result in loss of ability to be happy; loss of spontaneity; large therapy bills, loss of love; Random Acts of Meanness; impotence; sexual dysfunction; excessive drug use; epidemics of sexually transmitted diseases.

How You Get It: Someone Else's Family Values; Catholic, Jewish, Mormon or Muslim schools; three or more hours of TV a day; America Online; letting someone else decide what is good for you; politicians.

Cure: Respect and love yourself; Random Acts of Kindness; your own family values; a good giggle; lighten up.


Consent is when a person freely agrees to something. When it comes to sex, consent is mandatory, every time.

Before we talk about sex, we have to talk about consent! Consent is not just SEXY it's REQUIRED. That means if you want to do something sexual with someone, you need to ask first. If you don’t ask first before you touch, kiss, or do anything sexual with someone, and they don’t say yes, then you don’t have that person’s consent, and that's not Joyful for anyone. 

Click To Learn More About Consent


Life is dangerous. And love can be even more hazardous. However, if you’ve made the decision to be sexual, you’ve made a decision to allow a bit of risk in your life (if life is the soup, risk is the spice). That’s where the notion of “risk management” comes into play. No, we’re not suggesting you insure your family jewels with Lloyds of London. But we do encourage you to think about what kinds of risk you are comfortable with and learn about steps you can take to lower your risk for HIV and STDs. Safer sex is not a one size fits all deal. Nor is it an all or nothing proposition. Anything we do that moves our sexual practices in the direction of taking care of ourselves and our partners is a positive stride that should be commended!

We all know it’s not polite to speak when you have something in your mouth, so you may want to plan in advance what you would say to Stranger Steve or Mysterious Mary when you find yourself in an intimate situation and need to address certain issues pro-actively. About what? It helps to know your own limits and those of your partner (reading below will help you find them) and being able to tell folks what makes you comfortable, and what does not.


Here in the convent, we believe the more we know about our individual health, the better able we are to take care of ourselves and our partners. We encourage sexually active folks to get tested regularly, not just for HIV but for STDs as well. Every three to six months is a good benchmark for the horny ‘mo-on-the-go. But testing is only part of the equation. It’s also important to talk about testing, HIV/STD status, what level of risk you’re comfortable with, and risk reduction measures you use to keep yourself safe and sane both “in the moment” and after. And remember, this “disclosure” thing is a two way street. Just as it’s important to Play Fair by telling folks if you think have some kind of critter crisis in your nether regions, it’s also important to Play Fair when hearing that someone may have inadvertently exposed you to some kind of STD. Making difficult disclosures like that demonstrates that your partner cares enough about your health to step out of their comfort zone to make sure you can get the screening you need. Be gracious, thank them for their honesty, and remember someday the shoe (or high heel) may be on the other foot. Pay it forward, and Play Fair. 

Click here for local testing resources!


Wrap it up! Condoms and other barriers are the best way to prevent the spread of some diseases, especially the nasty ones. A good rule of thumb is no fucking without a condom. Plastic wrap is a cheap and inexpensive alternative to dental dams and other costly barriers. Just be careful about the kind of wrap: The microwavable kind is only good for cooking your meat, not protecting it from STDs. Also, remember that condoms come in lots of varieties these days (latex, polyurethane, ribbed, studded, etc). There is even the new and improved insertable condom suitable for anyone with a hole to fill. Try out a wide variety to find the one that works best for you.

Think ya know it all? Well, indulge us and review the basics anyway. Condom breakage is often the result of improper use, so learn to use them correctly.

Click To Learn More About Condoms & How to Use Them


Throughout the years, “barebacking” has become a very charged term, loaded with guilt. We believe that guilt and shame are never helpful. When having unprotected sex, assume everyone is possibly positive (mindful that barebacking can expose you to other things besides HIV, too). If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck … it might really be the Easter Bunny. Assuming that your play partner is coming from the same space as you is one of the few risks Mother Superior discourages. Better to assume your partner has no idea what’s inside their body. We suggest that folks assume everyone is possibly positive and Play Fair from there.


Just like the Scouts, Nuns like to be prepared. A Condom is always great, but... If it rips, if it slips, or if you just forget it on your nightstand PrEP can be a great option. PrEP is a daily pill that greatly reduces the risk of contracting HIV (but not other STIs). PrEP may be a good option, especially for those who bareback but PrEP can be there for everyone just talk to your doctor or a PrEP Clinic. 

Click here for local PrEP resources!


Silicone-based lubes are the bomb. Oils will break down the surface of latex condoms, reducing their effectiveness. Oil-based lubes (including baby oil and Crisco) are only good for barebacking, cooking, and the occasional wrestling match.Remember that there is no such thing as too much lube. Be wary of chemicals, fragrances, MSG, hot sauce and the like. These can irritate sensitive tissues around your ass, pussy, cock or mouth. Experiment with lubes to find one that works for you. Mother Superior’s motto: Wrapped or bare, remember lube to reduce wear and tear.


“Lick it before you stick it” is the mantra of many. However, eating out can be a risky sexual behavior. Sure, it’s fun, festive and feels oh-so-fabulous, but there is still a risk for STDs. Here’s the bottom line: even the cleanest looking, most desirable pussy or ass can be full of germs or concealed STDs. If you are going to eat out, thorough washing does help, but a latex barrier makes for a more effective risk-reduction strategy.


They slow down time … and increase your heart rate. When combined with blood pressure meds or boner booster pills, you might as well have EMTs standing by before your date starts. If you are gonna use poppers, avoid smoking around an open bottle, clean up spills with cold water, and sip cold water or milk if swallowed. Best to avoid the liquid and put a cotton ball soaked but not dripping in the bottle instead.


We are not ones to discourage a smart cocktail (or two or three) once in awhile. Just be aware that when you are intoxicated or high, you sometimes forget to take care of yourself. It is wise to not mix sex with too much alcohol or drugs: you could wake up with more than just a bad date.


Look before you lick. Check out your partners before you lay hands on them. Feeling someone up and scoping them out takes on new meanings when you are caring for yourself. Some Sisters carry little flashlights for those dark and mysterious encounters. Trust your instincts. If you get a sense it isn’t safe or that something is amiss, it probably is. Instincts are seldom wrong.


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Wash your fruit before you eat it. Cleaning up afterwards or between partners is a good idea too. Remember, cleanliness is next to … well, you know.


When giving beejays, spit or swallow, but don’t gargle. And don’t forget the courtesy gag.


To douche or not to douche, that is the question. Douching can cause a lot of problems, and it isn’t recommended; but if you do douche, it’s best to use water, not harsh chemicals.


Be a whiz kid! Pee as soon as you can after having sex – the sooner the better.

History, Sistory and Credit Where Credit Is Due

Play Fair is a product of the Mother House, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in San Francisco. This current is a compilation of work both old and new. The original Play Fair was drafted in 1982 and produced by Sister Florence Nightmare, RN and Sister Roz Erection, along with pioneering community members such as Doctors Bill Owen and Tom Waddell. Play Fair was groundbreaking as the original call to action on the emerging, as yet un-named AIDS epidemic, and the first queer-positive, safer-sex pamphlet. It was (and remains) an alternative life-affirming manifesto for alternative people providing alternative information to help folks decide how to play safe, play sane and Play Fair!

The reboot of Play Fair in 1997 reformatted the pamphlet and updated its content, calling what we used to know as “gay cancer” by the name we eventually all came to know all too well: HIV. The 1997 updated provided more details on specific STDs – including expanding the section on the worst STDs, guilt, and stigma, from which all other STDs get their power. Thanks to the amazing Play Fair committee at the time (Sister Dana Van Iquity, Sister MaryMae Himm and Sister Saki Tumi), along with Dr. Virginia Cafaro, Michiko Bailey, and Stephan Thorne, Play Fair 2.0 became a resource to a whole new generation.

The Play Fair 2012 Committee enhanced inclusivity and notions of harm reduction in the revised text. They also took on topics long considered taboo within the community conversation around sexual health such as barebacking and the broader notion of “risk management.” The committee included, Sister Eden Asp, Sister Dana Van Iquity, Sister Reyna Terror, Sister Eve Volution, Sister Constance Lee Craving, Sister T’aint A Virgin, Guard TheO Pressed, Sister Pat N Leather, Sister Honey BE!, Sister Violet Sin Bloom and Novice Sister Dharma Gettin. 

This online version maintained by the DFW Sisters of Perpetual indulgence, as well as the print version the DFW Sisters distribute is maintained by Sister Delilah Dolittle and Guard Benzo Anxious. Now, stop reading this and go out and Play Fair!