This week has felt aimless. Some of it has been the stress of moving and busyness at work, being around people, feeling overwhelmed by all of it, and consequently shutting down. Kind of like my computer shutting itself off when it overheats.
One of the areas I’ve been examining is sexuality—specifically, some of my own hangups about it. I’m always suspicious of latent fundamentalist Christian programming from my youth gumming up the works of my life and mental processes, so I’ve been trying to listen more to those voices and identify the negative ones. Mostly, this process is just frustrating rather than helpful, but I suspect that it will be helpful in the long term.
Lately, I found myself having a number of conversations about sex. Nothing explicit, exactly. More just thinking out loud with other people about it—why we feel the way we do about certain areas of sexuality, how we view ourselves, our bodies, what we look for, etc.
Because I haven’t been having much sex lately. Shortly after breaking up with Jason, I went through something of a slutty phase, trying to catch up on all the sex I hadn’t been having, though by that point I was becoming more aware that I’m really not interested in sex for its own sake. Rather, it’s more about the personal and emotional connection than getting off.
My “love style” is definitely more storge. (See the video below.)
However, I’ve been judging myself for feeling this way. Part of that, I suspect, is a reaction against my prudish, Puritanical roots; that I feel I ought not to care so much about emotional connection and throw myself into simply enjoying physical pleasure.
Another part of it is seeing other people do this and judging myself for not being more like them. For example, the other night, I had dinner with a friend of mine, and around 8:30pm I had to leave because he had to get ready for a “hookup date.” Frankly, I’m quite jealous of his prowess, of his ability to go after whomever he desires and be desired in return. Because I certainly don’t experience that myself. On the contrary, I more see myself as being invisible to most other gay guys—a TARDIS-like gay perception filter.
But if I’m being truly honest with myself (and you, dear reader), it’s more that I seem to be invisible to the guys I’m attracted to. I’m aware of being noticed (and, to a certain extent, desired), but it always seems to be by the men who I’m not interested in or attracted to. It never seems to be a mutual thing.
And I judge myself for this—yet another personal failing, something else that I hate about myself. And then I worry that this kind of self-hatred is partly to blame for this feeling of being invisible, that it’s holding me back from being truly free and uninhibited.
I’ve also discovered that yet another friend of mine is into bondage. A few weeks ago, I talked with a girl at a friend’s gathering about her involvement in the BDSM community, and her interest in being tied up, dominated, humiliated, etc. All things that truly perplex me. So it was curious when I learned that this recent acquaintance of mine is also into bondage, to an extent that even seeing watches on guys’ wrists is exciting to him.
This is also something that I don’t understand, and consequently judge myself for not understanding or being more open to—knowledge from experience, and so forth. As far as I know, I don’t have any fetishes. The thought of being tied up or dominated is truly disturbing to me, as is doing the tying or dominating someone else. I’ve no desire to do either.
The fact is, unless there’s an emotional connection with the guy I’m having sex with, it’s very difficult for me to stay present in the moment. It’s difficult to resist starting in on judging myself or thinking that my partner is having the same negative thoughts about me.
As you can imagine, this is a bit of a mood killer.
And the maddening thing is that I know the root of this is the toxic beliefs about sex (and homosexuality) that I got growing up. While I wasn’t consciously aware of the reality of my sexuality until around age 15, I knew prior to that I was attracted to guys.
I also knew it was something to hide and be ashamed of.
For we who grew up in predominately heteronormative environments, we become deeply self-conscious, ruthlessly critiquing our behaviors and mannerisms for anything that might out us to our communities as faggots.
Because, intentionally or not, that’s how we were taught to see ourselves: as dirty, sinful, depraved faggots.
When a kid grows up seeing only heterosexual marriages, hearing pastors quote passages like Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:26-27, and putting all that together when he then figures out that he’s gay—what other conclusion could there be?
So how could I not grow up to be self-judging, self-hating, self-critical? I never felt good enough to begin with. How could I believe that anyone else could think me good enough?
Basically, I’m still a thirty-one-year-old teenager when it comes to sex and relationships. I’ve only been out for five years, which means I’ll probably have gray hair when I actually find a guy to settle down with… if I find anyone.
This is why it’s said that many gay men go through a second adolescence, because at some point, we have to go back and do what everyone else does when they’re actually, physically teenagers.
Because we learn a different set of lessons about ourselves as teenagers, which we have to go back and unlearn as adults.
That’s all so unspeakably irritating.