Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I have the feeling a few might have been annoyed by the previous 2-part post and thought "the topic lacked substance."  At the same time it seems to have engendered some excellent idea-exchange and provoked some thought.   That, alone, shows me there was no lack of "substance". . .  ."au contraire. . . ."   ;-)
 Here is another item  asking/ maybe provoking some need-to-be-raised questions and discussion, reactions and ideas.
Thanks for your help. . . . justin
Posted: 12 Apr 2011 10:12 PM PDT
Richard_b500I heard from a friend recently who told me about a recent conversation with a young friend over dinner.Seems the young guy had recently split with a boyfriend after finding out that his man had been sleeping around.The conversation turned to gay men and sex. Why is it so hard to find a gay man who is interested in monogamy?  

Why is it so hard to find intimacy and sexual connection in the same person? My friend told me he was stumped and found the questions a bit haunting. What is it about gay men and sex? Are all gay men promiscuous? We may wince at the word “promiscuity,” but research and personal experience both indicate that gay men have more sexual partners than heterosexual men. It’s reasonable to question why that might be, and to think about the costs and benefits of our sexual choices.
Sex is important to gay men. In addition to the obvious reason – sex is highly pleasurable – until recently sex between men was illegal, disapproved of and marginalized in most parts of our country. And gay male culture tends to be both sexy and sexualized. Ellen DeGeneres tells a joke about looking in the gay yellow pages when she first came out and remarking, “Wow! Look at the abs on that mortician!” 

Gay men have always had long-term, committed and monogamous relationships, of course. That’s quite an accomplishment when you consider all the obstacles placed in the way of such relationships’ success: lack of legal recognition, frequent lack of family support, etc. But gay men don’t always assume that sexuality can only be healthy in the context of a committed relationship. (Contrast this with the situation of heterosexuals, where sex is supposed to be only within marriage, yet sex outside of marriage isn’t at all uncommon.) 

Pleasure makes the sexual urge very strong, but that doesn’t mean our reasons for having sex aren’t complex. Sex can be lovemaking – celebrating the passion and connection with a partner we love. But there are all sorts of other reasons why people choose to have sex: maybe they’re horny or lonely. Maybe they’re drunk or just bored. And some men have learned to use sex as a way to escape from stress. 

Sex can be a deep expression of intimacy, but pursuing many sexual partners can reflect just the opposite – a fear of real intimacy. Casual sex can allow us to scratch our itch to physically connect with another person without requiring us to do the hard work involved in having a healthy relationship. Over time that can decrease our ability to have those sorts of committed, fulfilling relationships.

Does the gay community encourage gay men to have a large number of sex partners, particularly outside of relationships? The sexual infrastructure of our community includes cruisy bars, circuit parties, bathhouses, sex clubs and Internet hook-up sites with names like Manhunt or Cruisingforsex. Sex is instantly available to anyone with a car or Internet connection. It’s not that recreational sex is a bad thing, but sex can become compulsive and unhealthy if it becomes the source of our identity or if it becomes compulsive. When we become preoccupied with sexuality or anything else, life loses its balance.

Back to my friend’s dinner conversation. Is it difficult to find gay men who are ready for committed relationships? I don’t think so. Our community presents lots of alternatives, though, and guys who spend a lot of time in the hypersexual parts of the gay community aren’t good candidates for monogamous life.

Chalk up another reason why it’s good to take plenty of time to get to know the person you’re dating before you imagine giving your heart to him.

John R. Ballew, author and contributor to GAYTWOGETHER, is a licensed professional counselor in private practice in Atlanta. He specializes in issues related to coming out, sexuality, relationships and spirituality. If you have any questions or comments you can submit them directly to GAYTWOGETHERor John R. Ballew, M.S. -

~~~~~ thanks, Michael 


Coop said...

Some of who were annoyed saw the error of our ways ;-) and I apologize.

This is a thought provoking piece, Justin Dude. So I will think.

Stew said...

I have to stick with my belief that gay men and straight ones too are all the same. It's the club scene that everyone thinks of when they think of gay men. Not all of us are club guys. Not all of us are even OUT. So when the statistics look at how we all sleep around, they are only sampling a few.
Of course when you're going to break the rules anyway, you might as well make your own, I say. In my own home, I am in a commited relationship. I love my husband and couldn't imagine my life without him. However, he is not sexual at all. And he's given me permission to "do what I need to do". Of course I am careful and keep it to only one other guy. With that guy, it is only about sex and we both know it. We don't try to pretend that it is anything else.

JustinO'Shea said...

STEW, you are such an honest man! And I agree with you and the COOPSTA, not all of us are part of the stats; we don't sleep around. Like many many, I do not "live" in the "bars and clubs"...and I don't live in "a gay world".

They are saying now. . ..whoever the hell "they are" that 11% - up 1 notch- lol - of the population is LGBT. . . .and. . .among those 4 small letters a great variety and many types of people are categorized.

How about you? As i think about it, I am not now, nor have I ever admitted/submitted myself to being "a category". I have many differing traits and characteristics but I am not any ONE of them.

How we think about ourselves is mighty important. . ."who I am" colors totally everything I do, say...etc.

I think all stats and polls need to be taken with a large dab of peanut butter and / or orange marmalade. .

ciao ciao. .

J said...

Men are engineered to be hunters. I suspect they will be less inclined to come "home from the hill" (or the club) without the tug of children.

Gary Kelly said...

I was more or less going to say what J said. Men are engineered to sow their seed. The human brain has gotten larger with better nutrition, an opposed thumb to make tools, and for various other reasons. But most of the other bits haven't changed all that much since we were leaping through the trees.

Consequently, there's continual conflict between our intelligence and "conscience", and our more primal instincts. What's that saying? The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

GreginAdelaide said...

Just like Coop, I'll think on this before commenting.

I'll also watch and see what others say and let that inspire my thought process.

(hoping that he finally got his blog signature correct and working)

Coop said...

Stew makes a great comment. Not all of us are into the club scene. Nor are we all "Out of the closet".
So who are these pollsters talking to??
I say we are individual men and not mere items of statistical data.

The general consensus on the Dunes is straight men sleep around too. Straight men are in committed relationships too. We gay guys aren't so different. I don't think a man's sexual preference determines his attitude towards love and dating.

I don't believe everything the Catholic church says, of course. But I've explored my own yearnings and I don't feel restrained by the teachings of my faith. My faith supports what my heart wants.
To quote and paraphrase from this article: "Sex can be a deep expression of intimacy." Sex can also reflect a fear of real intimacy.

Gary is right to say that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. I can not pretend to tell anyone else what to do.
However... I also know that my sexual desires come and go to coin a phrase. I want a special person in my life.

J and Gary... and the prior article all touch on something very interesting. Men are wired a certain way. So it affects how we interact. Two men in a relationship relate differently than a man and a woman in a relationship.
That I think is more than a factoid. It is something gay men must consider.

((And COOPSTA looks up from his notes to find his audience has fallen asleep)). Oh dear.

The mere mention or sight of the word "statistics" causes an instinctive reaction inside of me. Teehee. As Mr Kelly says, we have beyond our primal instincts. So I am not curled up in a fetal position and sucking my thumb.

JustinO'Shea said...

So there, COOPsta. . . .I see you agree with Stew.
If you look up, there is a statement "I agree with Stew."

Then it must conclude. dear COOPsta, you and I are in agreement!

Now ain't thet noice? ;-)

Coop said...

Haaa... yes it is Justino.

We all don't think alike. And there's nothing wrong with that. Some like Justin Beiber... others like Taylor Lautner. Some drink regular... others imbibe the decaf.
And so on and so faaaawth.

However, two partners should have the same values goals for their relationship? Don't ya think?

Coops. Caffinated.

GreginAdelaide said...

See, sometimes I am clever.
I waited a bit for inspiration from other's comments .... and now find there is nothing I have to add other than I agree with what has been said.

I'll add that I've never been in a gay bar, never been "on the scene", never been in a gathering of gays apart from one time, in another city, when a few friends and I went to a hastily booked restaurant on a New Year's Eve and found oursleves amongst the other 90% of patrons who were there celebrating the gay owner's birthday.

It was a heap of fun....all my friends were straight but we all had fun, I just wish I'd been there on my own.

So, I'm a virgin when it comes to clubbing and gay bars....and like Stew, I believe the statistics are skewed.

Cheers all.

Gary Kelly said...

I used to frequent a gay club in Kings Cross back in the '70s. It was an illegal club called Costellos, run by the local mafia. Every now and then, the cops would raid the joint. But being a friendly bunch of cops (on the take), they phoned first to let the owners know that a raid was imminent. So the owners informed all the patrons of the impending raid, and we all jumped out of windows and scarpered until the coast was clear again.

Yes, they were the days. It's all legal nowadays and no fun at all.

GreginAdelaide doesn't know what he's been missing.

There was also a restaurant in Darlinghurst we called "the hat place". It had a proper name but I can't remember what it was. Anyway, they had heaps of hats on pegs around the walls... all kinds of hats from op shops... wedding veils, hats with flowers and fruit, cowboy hats, school hats, bowler hats, all kinds of hats. And after a few drinks, patrons would try on the hats and assume a particular persona. Then after a few more drinks, they'd go to someone else's table and ask if they wanted to swap hats. Hehe. It was always a lotta fun going to that restaurant, and the food was excellent as well!

I miss the good old days.

Anonymous said...

I really understand where Stew is coming from. Due to a degenerative condition, and the amount of meds necessary to keep me out of pain, I've lost the sexual side of my being. Although I don't know the circumstances of his husband, the result was the same with my partner in that I gave him the option to express himself outside of our relationship.
I should add it's a unique journey when sexual drive/ambition is lost. It's a bit like being the one at the party who isn't drinking. You observe quite clearly what you see going on around you but feel delinked and distanced from the behaviors (the danger is that as a gay man it’s not as though one needs yet another potentially alienating experience on their hands). But I’ve found an extraordinary side to this. Without sex as a preoccupying factor, I’m able to devote myself to other pursuits that had once been out of reach. Looking back, my sexuality made me impatient, depressive at points, even a bit clumsy. I know there are those who suggest that sex enlivens, even enables, creativity to flourish. I’d guess that’s probably true for a lot of gay men and it’s a wonderful integration of life. Yet, I’m experiencing the opposite with my intellectual development soaring (and this while managing quite a difficult medical condition).
Still, like anything pleasurable one once had but lost, there was a mourning and adjustment to it all. Because my condition is progressive and potentially terminal, I can't imagine I'll have the opportunity to recapture those old feelings of sexuality again. Well, life does change, doesn’t it? The important thing is developing what’s good around us. That’s timeless and certainly is valid whether we are ravishingly sexual, non-sexual, or somewhere in between.

JustinO'Shea said...

Thanks, ANON. . .that is quite a story. With a lot to think about. . .will take a bit of pondering to assimilate the depth of your situation.

You appear to have embraced and adjusted to your difficult situation in great grace. . .I mean, there is a graciousness in the way you talk about this and share with us the "benefits" or positive side to your sitz.

In our group therapy seminars we talked about a situation similar to yours which did not evolve into the positive resolution you have reached. The couple were not able to handle all this with the "graciousness" I read in your life.

It became too much for the men involved to endure, leading to a pain-filled termination of the long time relationship. . . .which still remains unresolved and, really without closure.

It is encouraging to read your post this morning. Thank you.
Encouraging to read your own healthy attitudes to your illness and pain. You are a blessed man.

Thanks, again, for sharing your story. ;-)
~~ justin

Coop said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for sharing your story.
And I appreciate your perspective on this topic.

Each one of us has a unique experience that the statistics just glaze over.

Best wishes

Coop said...

The paragraph starting with "Sex is important to Gay men..." makes me feel a bit defensive. It makes me feel like I am not taking sex seriously because I am not getting any.

Stew said...

To anonymous and others,
I brought up my situation because I think it shows what that my husband and I were not willing to give up a long dedicated life to eachother because of something as trivial as sex. Our relationship has never been centered around it. I know, why be gay if there is no sex involved? Because there is so much more to being gay than just sex.
I think that sex is important to most people, not just gay men. But LOVE, is a different story.

Anonymous said...


I'm deeply touched by your response to my post. I've never thought of myself as someone with grace, so it's a very fine compliment. To be sure, if I've been learning from my illness, it has been through a lot of work and help from others, most especially the love and support of my partner. As Stew noted, love is the rarity, and I'm blessed with a man who expresses that every day.

I hope you don’t mind if I tread into more personal territory but I want to note that I think you'll make a fantastic therapist if that's the direction you decide to go. I hope you do as the community needs men like you to help us with strategies to heal from the damage of a still unrepentant homophobic society. Perhaps you’ll undertake scholarly work (if you’re not doing so already) in addition. But Justin, don't forget to take care of yourself. Many in the helping professions overlook their own needs and suffer greatly for it. Be as gentle on yourself as you would with your clients, not because that makes you a better therapist, but because you are an end in yourself needing no justification than to live well, love, and be loved as you see fit.

Well, if I've stood a little too high on my soapbox, forgive me. But I suspect it is advice anyone posting here would agree with. I’d regret if I didn’t say it and life’s far too short for that. Also, thanks Coop for your well wishes. I take them to heart and will continue doing my best.

JustinO'Shea said...

Again, ANON, thank you for your post. .. don;t worry about "soap boxing". . hahaa. . . and I try to be aware of and listen to my needs so that I do not become one of the "burnt men" from the helping/serving professions.

I have made the decision not to take a break in my studies, now that I have the masters degree, officially conferred in early June. All of my class work and oral and written exams have been completed, etc, I will officially go on in the doctoral program. . . .rather than stop now and accept the adjunct professorship wich the university the dean ann psych dept has offered me. If I stop now and get all involved in my work, and a life-style I want for both of us, I just might keep putting the PhD off and not get to it. . .ever. . .

There are other parts to my plans which are still 'in the works'. When this is all done I will let y'all know what is going on. Some very good things are ahead for me! ;-)
ciao ciao