Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Curiosity

Caution: This blog post will be borderline sexually explicit - as such, it also contains images that are a bit edgy as they express the thoughts I'm trying to convey. While I will try to approach this topic with as much delicacy as possible, please read no further if you are offended by such images/discussions or if you are under 18 years of age.

In a recent email exchange with a fellow MoHo, the topic of "anal sex" came up. Mind you, this is an email exchange between two people who, while not virgins since we are both married, we are both gay virgins.

This topic is such an big part of homosexual culture - at least our perceptions of it. All our lives we've been conditioned with "that is what homosexuals do to each other". I remember, when I was younger, when we would see a gay couple, someone would invariably say "I wonder which one is 'the wife'?"

Perhaps it's my gay adolescence kicking in, but I can't help being curious about such things. I can't help but wonder if, in another life where I pursued a gay relationship, would I be a 'top' or a 'bottom' or neither. I also confess that it's a sort of morbid curiosity since I'm also a little 'grossed out' by the idea - but then I wonder if there is something about it that I'm not seeing. Is it a "don't knock it until you try it" sort of thing?

In my gay adolescence, I also find myself wondering on occasion
  • What would it be like to kiss a guy?
  • What would it be like to caress, or be caressed by, a guy
  • What would it be like to engage in fellatio with a guy?
  • What would it be like . . .
Is this wrong? Or is this just a normal part of human sexuality? Should I start "singing a hymn" when such thoughts enter my mind? Or are such thoughts a healthy way for me to explore my sexuality in a safe manner? Do other gay married men have these thoughts? Or am I a closeted in-denial pervert?

I suppose some would argue that I shouldn't even be thinking about such things - that I'm sinning with the mere thought of such ideas. They could counter my claim that "I can't help it" with "God will never allow satan to tempt us beyond our ability to resist" and "with God all things are possible".

The harsh reality is that I'm a gay man living as a straight man. While all gay folk will say that "it's not just about the sex" - it's also true that sex is a big part of homosexuality. Like it or not - I am sexally attracted to men.

Sometimes, when I'm around certain men, my body experiences certain involuntary physiological reactions - reactions I do not experience around women, no matter how attractive society says they are. It doesn't even have to be physical proximity - just a picture of a man can induce these involuntary physiological reactions - and I'm not talking about X, R, or even PG rated pictures, it could be a picture of just the face. While I'm sure this may disturb some, I've even experienced these involuntary physiological reactions in the temple - where I was certainly not dwelling on such things. It used to really bother me, especially at church or in the temple. I used to berate myself and wonder if I should go talk to the bishop about it. Now I've progressed to the point where I just say to myself "yup, still gay".

(Bonus points for those who can identify the previous two pictures - seriously, is there any gay man reading this who can't? - answer at the bottom *)

It's no secret that many, even most, mixed orientation marriages fail. For those who are single - being a celibate gay puts you in the minority. I'm not suggesting that all gay folk should choose one of these options. I respect my gay brothers and sisters who have chosen to pursue gay relationships (and I hope they respect my choice) - a part of me even feels a bit envious. But, can't we find ways to make it a little easier for those of us who have chosen the gay celibate path?

When I read God Loveth His Children, I'm left with a feeling of a bunch of "don'ts"
  • Don't have gay sex
  • Don't think about gay sex
  • Don't exhibit gay characteristics
  • Don't flaunt my gay tendencies, and
  • Don't have gay friends
And, while not specifically addressed in that pamphlet, many would add
  • Don't refer to myself as "gay"
In brief - it's OK to be gay and Mormon - as long as I pretend to be straight.

Some might counter with the question "What is it I want - short of the church accepting homosexual relationships?"

What is it I want?

What about the "do's"? Yes, God Loveth His Children does include some do's - like praying to God to take these feelings away from me. But, why not explore things like
  • The parameters and boundaries we should use when exploring our sexuality
  • Acceptable ways for gay men and women to bond with each other (e.g. hugging, hand holding, etc.)
  • How to survive gay adolescence
  • Choosing the best gay friends
Why not acknowledge our gayness and accept that we're going to have gay thoughts? Why not provide a safe forum for us to vocalize and explore these thoughts and to help us get closure? Is it even healthy for us to hold all of these thoughts in and pretend they don't exist?

For much of society, the mere thought of intimacy between two men is repulsive and disgusting. I get it! I equate it with the thoughts I have regarding intimacy between two women. I mean no disrespect of my lesbian sisters; but, just thinking about it kinda makes me throw up a little in my mouth (although, apparently, some straight guys get off on it).

But, intimacy between two men is not repulsive to me - it's not disgusting to me. For me - it's beautiful! And, at the end of the day, I am left wondering . . . how can something so beautiful be so wrong? And, it's not helpful to reiterate time and again the repulsion that straight people feel and to accuse me of being unfaithful because I cannot muster up the same level of disgust . . . and to accuse my gay brothers and sisters of destroying society - when they are merely seeking human love and companionship in the only way they know how.

And so, my inquisitiveness continues . . . as a gay man, I sometimes ponder what it would be like to really live my life as a gay man? What my life would be like if I had made different decisions earlier in life? What it's like to love, and be loved by, another man? What it's like to express that love?

I'll probably never know . . . but is there really any harm in wondering once in a while?

* Steve Sandvoss of "Latter Days" and Matthew Mitcham - olympic gold medal winner in diving, and the only openly gay man competing in the 2008 olympics.

20 comments:

Beck said...

Very interesting post (and nice photos!:))

I recently spoke to a friend that I am open and "out" to, and he, being straight had a hard time with it. He's trying to be supportive, but he asks me "how do you know you'll like it (meaning sex) if you haven't tried it." ... Meaning, you may be attracted to guys and want to kiss them and all, but you may not like having sex with a guy. So, how do you know you really are gay?

Based on the definition of my attractions are almost solely for men, then I am "gay". But, because I haven't had gay sex, how do I know that I am truly gay?

Am I just in love with the idea, the romantic notion, of being gay because I'm attracted to men, but I really don't love the idea of sex with a man?

I don't know how to answer his question or yours. But like you, I wonder... and then I wonder if I should be wondering... :(

Beck said...

PS, I knew the answer to your quiz bonus question. So what do I win?

Sean said...

I'll answer for Abe with regards to what you win.... (in the voice of the guy from The Price is Right) A brand new Ginsu knife set. It slices, it dices, it cuts cans and still keeps a sharp edge for cutting tomatoes!

:D

ps. I wonder about this whole issue all the time. Good post Abe. thanks for the thoughtfulness.

aka: loyalist

J G-W said...

I remember asking myself similar questions before I became sexually active.

I remember when I finally allowed myself to become physical with a man, one of the things that astonished me was that -- after years of dating women and feeling very physically awkward with them, never kissing, never touching, never initiating anything physical beyond holding hands or giving a chaste hug at the end of the night -- with a man I realized there was no awkwardness at all. No manual, no instructions required. I knew what to do and he knew what to do, and we were very, very happy.

I think it's natural to wonder about the specifics of physicality between men, especially if you are a gay man who has never experienced that... It doesn't make you a pervert. And I -- or probably any number of your other readers -- could probably answer your questions about how the "sex" in homosexuality works. But if your goal is to stay heterosexually married or celibate, it's probably counterproductive to have that discussion... Where are you going to go with that information?

It's probably enough to say that, for my part, it fits, it works. Sex performs the role in my relationship that we generally expect sex to perform in an intimate relationship. It promotes bonding, intimacy, closeness, happiness, and a general sense of well being. It's not the only part of our relationship but it's a very important part.

I can also say that not everything always works at first... Even though between me and Göran there is an overall, basic connection, there has also been some give and take in the sexual aspect of our relationship. There have been differences over how often, and what he'd prefer to do as opposed to what I'd prefer to do, and so on. So learning to negotiate some of those differences has also been an important part of building a strong relationship, just like all the other (nonsexual) things we've had to compromise and negotiate in...

Does that help?

MoHoHawaii said...

People sometimes think "gay sex" means "anal sex." This isn't true. Anal sex is only one of a number of things that couples can do together. It's not as common as the popular imagination would have it. Some gay couples don't have anal sex at all, and anal sex is becoming more popular with straight couples. It's not just a gay thing.

People who are just starting to have sex shouldn't start with anal sex. There are lots of other things to do first. :-)

But I will say that sex with the-gender-that's-right-for-you is electric. It's nothing at all like the other kind. I have no idea why gender makes such a big difference. Chalk it up to biology, I guess.

playasinmar said...

* What would it be like to kiss a guy?
* What would it be like to caress, or be caressed by, a guy
* What would it be like to engage in fellatio with a guy?
* What would it be like . . .

You will love it.

D-Train said...

Crap. Just when I thought I was "gay enough" (said with jest), I have no idea who either of those guys are. I have so much to learn, though I do have a few answers to your other questions...

Austin said...

I'm so glad that I'm old enough to be included in this discussion :)

You are grossed out by the idea of participating in anal sex. It sort of is a "don't knock it until you try it" thing, but I feel like more than that it comes from your internalized homophobia. You HAVE been conditioned with "that is what homosexuals do to each other" but as a gay man you have this natural desire to do that. Those conflicting feelings leave you feeling... well grossed out. As a psychology student I would normally say that this is a very unhealthy place for you to be in mentally, but I understand the Married Moho paradox. Maybe it's good that you feel that way then.

If things were different, and you were living the gay lifestyle, I imagine that you would be like the majority of us; not tied down to being "a top" or "a bottom". There really isn't too much mystery to it.

While it is common for one of the men in a relationship to be more effeminate, there is no wife. That is why we are gay. :)
This is one of my favorite points. We don't expect someone to have certain responsibilities just because of their gender. We are two men, equals, with a set of responsibilities, splitting up the work load and working together. It's beautiful really.

Its to be expected that you would have curiosities, questions and thoughts. You have chosen a noble path to be a husband and father ( which I ABSOLUTELY respect you for), but as a gay man, that will leave you slightly unsatisfied. I feel like discussing these thoughts here is a much healthier way than... well, other unhealthy options.You can't keep them inside tho, or they will eventually lead you those unhealthy options.

Troy said...

I'd have to agree with J G-W

Grant Haws said...

It turns out I am a REALLY gay because I knew who the photos were of even before you asked the question.

As has been stated, it is natural to wonder those sort of things about gay sex...I think straight kids wonder about straight sex all the time. And I think for straight people to be confused about gay sex too is normal. I don't understand straight sex, and I don't really like thinking about it.

But gay intimacy and sex feels more natural than people think.

Ned said...

Regarding the ick factor...
whether it's a penis or a vagina or an anus, I think our creator had a great sense of humor to combine the bodily functions of elimination with the playground aspects of sex, the bonding power of human touch and the reproduction capacity of males and females.

He (or she) seemed to be into "multiple use." Granted poop is gross, but so is menstrual blood and urine. Maybe our creator is saying to us, "Hey, I want you to honor all your body parts and to make that easier I'm going combine something as routine as peeing with something as grand as orgasm. Oh, and just as a friendly hint to use these gifts, those of you who frequently ejaculate throughout your youth will be blessed with lower rates of prostate cancer when you're old men."

:)

Captain Midnight said...

I totally agree with J G-W. When I had a girlfriend, I felt totally awkward around her, and though she kept telling me that I had full permission to make out with her, I never could bring myself to do it. Haha. When I met my bf, that awkwardness wasn't there. Sure I was plenty awkward enough in other regards, but I didn't feel the awkwardness of not being attracted to him. I actually wanted to do those things with him, as opposed to feeling obligated to do them with my ex-girlfriend.

And as far as the anal sex thing goes... before I came out I believed there was no possible way I could be gay because I didn't want to have anal sex. I agree with Austin though. I think the homophobia we have been raised with causes us to fear and shun it.

Crisco said...

This is a topic I've thought about posting on my blog, but have shied away from. I feel a bit uncomfortable being too specific when it comes to discussing sex.
Anyway, this post and my own thoughts over the years have led me to the conclusion that I might actually be bi. When I was a teenager, I definitely thought about sex with a girl, but didn't fantasize about their bodies. I was always more interested in my friends' bodies and how they were developing.
When I married, at first sex was awkward. We've mostly past that. It's hard to know because I don't ask my straight friends about their intimate moments with their wives, but my intuition is that I'm not as communicative about sex with my wife as some guys are. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's how I feel. That stems from a part of me that is attracted to guys and would probably be somewhat more comofortable with a guy in bed. I can't say that for sure, because I've never been there.
I'm pretty certain that I could get past any qualms about anal sex. Also, I have my fantasies about which position I'd prefer, who I would like to give me oral sex, and other such ideas. On the other hand, there are a few women who do attract me sexually too, While generally I find men to be more sexy, I do have my ideas about what an attractive woman looks like. I also am turned off by many guys' body odor. Maybe I wouldn't enjoy gay sex as much as I think I might.
No, you are not a pervert for having your fantasies and wondering about gay sex. Just make sure they stay just fantasies as long as you are committed to your wife.

Bravone said...

Not quite sure how to respond. Having been down both paths, I will say that, as a gay man, gay sex was very good and satisfying. While it is not as natural for me to initiate, sexual intimacy with my wife is also great. It bonds us together and strengthens our relationship. After each experience, I ask myself why I don't do it more often. Answer, it is not the natural way my brain thinks, and even after 24 years, I am a bit shy about it.

Having said all that, for me, the 'thrill' of gay sex is not worth the resulting damage done to my marriage and family. I have made a choice, and pray for the strength to stick with it the remainder of my life. I love my wife and family and will do all in my power to hold us together.

I hope that as 'family', we will respect each other in our decisions, whether they be to remain celibate, enter into a same sex relationship/marriage, or an opposite sex marriage. Of all people, we should understand that making such a decision is not done lightly.

A.J. said...

"I equate it with the thoughts I have regarding intimacy between two women. I mean no disrespect of my lesbian sisters; but, just thinking about it kinda makes me throw up a little in my mouth." Could it be because you're not sexually attracted to women? :) sorry I have to tease you a little about this statement. :) -A.J.

Rex said...

Beck, what a thoughtful and poignant post. Having, in my lifetime, done all of the things you've wondered about AND having decided like you to live my life as a straight man, I feel very deeply about the things you said.

During the years when I was trying things out, I found I liked some things and disliked others. I don't think the things I disliked were because of internalized homophobia as some have suggested. We human beings have all sorts of preferences for all sorts of reasons. The things I thought were enjoyable filled some basic need, even if not always in healthy ways. The things I didn't enjoy either didn't fill any need or I found them more uncomfortable than enjoyable.

I think it's ridiculous how some people define gayness. You have to like doing ABC and have feelings like DEF and on and on and on.

I don't care for the stereotype that a gay man will have sex with any man. I know young men who prefer older men, skinny men who prefer overweight men, and on and on.

So, how do you know that you are truly gay? Well, I think you just know.

It took me decades to admit it. I didn't even admit it to myself until about 18 years after I stopped being sexual with males. I know I'm gay or whatever because I have been inside this head for 53 years. I remember all of the feelings I had for males and lack of feelings I had for females. I remember the tug at my gut at the site of a good-looking guy.

I got in big trouble in the 3rd grade for telling my teacher how much I really liked the way my classmate, David's, eyes twinkled. He was so beautiful and I longed to be near him.

You know yourself. How you describe yourself is your choice. One word can't distill you. On the other hand, no one owns that word.

Rex said...

Sorry I called you Beck. I just was reading Beck's blog before yours and got it confused.

hiddeninthelight said...

I liked this post. I don't know that I would have agreed with it a few months ago. I remember one time I posted about how I felt bad because I was having a hard time controlling my thoughts and I was beating myself up for it. Scott commented on that post and said something to the effect of "stop feeling guilty for doing something that isn't bad. It's okay to admire a beautiful face. Enjoy the fact that you get to experience intimacy with a man in your dreams". I thought about that a lot, and I feel so much better now. I don't get upset when I check out a good looking guy. I'm attracted to that! I'm not doing anything immoral, so what is wrong with it? Nothing. The crazy part was that I told my mom (who tends to be pretty open minded) that I don't feel guilty about checking guys out and she told me that I was doing what was natural for me. Anyway, I totally agree that there are some "gay" things that are totally acceptable. Thanks for this post!

Nigel said...

I'd have to agree with Beck on this one, althought I guess I'm not "gay enough" to actually know who those guys are. All I know is that they didn't fall out of the ugly tree when they were born.

Who are they, anyways?

Abelard Enigma said...

Who are they, anyways?

Steve Sandvoss - from the film "Latter Days" and Matthew Mitcham - olympic gold medal winner in diving, and the only openly gay man competing in the 2008 olympics.

they didn't fall out of the ugly tree when they were born.

They certainly did not . . .