". . . .AND THERE WAS SILENCE IN HEAVEN. . . . ."
book of revelations
Anyone still at home?. . . . . . . ;-))
“There is a sadness as deep as the Grand Canyon over the harm that he has unleashed in our country, a sadness that can’t be quantified. But that still doesn’t mean I delight in his death. I’d delight in the end of the Westboro [Baptist Church] mission.”
"Michael Schuttloffel, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, said Phelps and his congregation still represent 'an easy device' for gay-marriage supporters to "short-circuit the conversation" on that and related issues in recent years." 'People were justifiably, appropriately outraged by the things that they did,' Schuttloffel said of Phelps and his church. 'As soon as someone, then, is able to tar you as being related to them or thinking the same way as them, right away you're starting behind the eight ball.'
Posted: 21 Mar 2014 05:25 AM PDT
I 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, M.S.an 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. - www.bodymindsoul.org.
I think 0f the word complete in the sense of complimenting each other. . . .
making the couple more fully themselves and
thus Peter and Justin become more one.
Does that make sense? Please. . .. jump in with
your ideas, if you will. Thaanks. . . . . justin ;-)
Posted: 19 Mar 2014 05:25 AM PDT
[ continued from yesterday ] This is the third installment in a 3-part article series about struggles with intimacy that are relatively common in gay relationships. In Part 1 of the series, “intimacy freak-out” was defined and the reasons why gay men are prone to this phenomenon were discussed.
This article will address some of the common intimacy fears that could block your potential for true connection with your partner and will offer some tips for enhancing your comfort with intimacy to help you achieve ultimate relationship bliss!
The “Freak-Out” Checklist: In my training and work with gay men, I have found some common intimacy fears that can prevent us from experiencing the depths of fulfillment that love can offer. Take a look through this list of fears to determine if there may be anything getting in the way of your ability to be uninhibited and free with your lover.
Identifying your emotional blocks to intimacy is the first step toward freeing yourself from their grip. Add your own to the list:
Self-Analysis: As you can see, any one of the above intimacy fears can stifle you to the point that you’re not fully able to be “at one” with a partner because you’re holding yourself back. Fear may be too strong a word for some of the items---any hint of uneasiness or discomfort is indicative of an “issue” of some form.
While it’s important to have boundaries and protect yourself from emotional harm, these characteristics can act as a barrier to experiencing love to its fullest capacity if they become a patterned response.
In addition to these fears, it might be helpful to examine some of the contributing factors that led to the anxiety in the first place. Here are some questions to ponder to get you started in looking at how the difficulties with intimacy you may have could have developed.
·How did your parents show affection and intimacy when you were growing up?
·Any childhood wounds, abuse, or loss from the past that make relationships difficult?
·Any unresolved family-of-origin issues that create baggage for you?
·Are you unable to grieve and “let go” of the break-up of a prior relationship?
·How about internalized homophobia? Low self-esteem?
·Any negative experiences with other males growing up that left an imprint on yo?u
Whether you’re partnered or single, knowledge of your intimacy blocks and contributing factors can help armor you in defeating them so you can have the most ultimate relationship possible.
Become An Intimacy Champ: So you want to be a pro at this intimacy stuff and really super-charge your relationship and knock your partner’s socks off? While it won’t happen overnight, with persistent practice of the following tips, you’ll begin to see a positive evolution take place in your relationship with more connection and emotional intimacy.
What You Can Do As An Individual:
Face your anxiety head-on. The more you run from it, the stronger hold it’ll have on you. Learn and practice relaxation techniques to calm and soothe you.
Identify your triggers. How are your “freak-out” symptoms manifested and under what conditions?
Combat your male gender socialization script by becoming more proficient in emotional intelligence and expression.
Develop positive self-esteem and confidence through taking risks to further your personal growth and work aggressively at defeating any internalized homophobia.
Identify any negative, limiting beliefs you may have about relationships, masculinity, and being gay and counter them with new, affirming messages. Read up on cognitive restructuring techniques for help with this.
Gain closure on unfinished business from the past. Your past doesn’t have to keep you stuck, no matter how traumatic it may have been. You have the power to shape a new destiny.
What You Can Do As A Couple:
Make your relationship the number one priority in your lives. Devote lots of quality time together and protect your partnership from competing outside sources.
Build a relationship tool-box filled with skills in communication, conflict negotiation, boundaries, and problem-solving.
Cultivate a hot sex life together, filled with creativity and passion.
Develop a shared vision and goals for the future together as a couple.
Give each other frequent “positive strokes,” appreciate each other for who you are, share your feelings, take responsibility for your issues, and practice the art of forgiveness.
Through a relationship with another man who is just as motivated as you to nurture a positive connection on all levels, you too can experience one of the most powerful and healing forces life has to offer. It’ll mean confronting some of your anxieties directly and being receptive to encountering a wide range of emotions and experiences. It’s worth it! After all, the road to gay self-acceptance and happiness has been hard enough to then rob yourself of one of life’s most precious gifts; you shouldn’t have to sacrifice what’s rightfully yours to claim and enjoy. You deserve love! Cheers to your intimacy quest
*References: The term “intimacy freak-out” taken from Crowell,Al(1995). I’d Rather Be Married: Finding Your Future Spouse. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
© Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, The Gay Love Coach
THANKS to Brian and to Michael@gaytwogether.com
Posted: 18 Mar 2014 05:25 AM PDT
( continued from yesterday )
The ability to be intimate requires positive self-esteem and a solid “sense of self.” Growing up in a homophobic society, gay men internalize an onslaught of negative messages from many different sources that denigrate our identities.
As such, most of us grew up feeling different, inadequate, defective, and anchored with shame. We may still even feel that way now. Internalized homophobia settled in and the idea of having a genuinely intimate relationship with another man became very triggering of that shame that was instilled.
Nonetheless, many of us eventually ventured out to explore our sexualities with other men and sex became a way to establish a sense of connection. Navigating into relationships, some men who were successfully able to negotiate the coming-out process were able to replace sexual conquest as a means for connection with men with needs for more relational depth and substance (emotional intimacy).
For others not quite comfortable with the idea of emotional closeness with another man, fleeting and superficial sexual involvements may remain the objective to meet their needs and keep themselves safe from getting in “too deep” (and there’s nothing wrong with that considering that one is honest with himself and his partner and that he genuinely is not looking for more than just sex as opposed to it being a defense against getting close). While still others desire true intimacy in their relationships, yet remain blocked by their fears. These are just a few of the many scenarios that exist.
Socialization as males in our society teaches us that we are expected to be strong, independent, self-reliant, and emotionally self-sufficient---at all costs. These traits don’t always mesh so well in intimate relationships which require vulnerability, exposure, and some degree of dependency.
In addition to overcoming the traditional male gender role programming that limits true intimacy potential in relationships, gay men have the added burden of conquering internalized homophobia and its psychological consequences in achieving the capacity for intimacy in their lives. An unfair and challenging de-programming process it is, but that’s why we gay men are so resilient with our experiences in dealing with adversity!
As one can see, man-to-man relationships are fertile grounds for potential problems with intimacy. Below are two interesting quotes from the book “Couple Therapy With Gay Men” by Greenan & Tunnell that are relevant to our discussion here:
“As males, gay men have been exposed to the same gender acculturation that all males receive: Men should be strong and not show their feelings. But, for straight men, male-female relationships are one of the few culturally sanctioned contexts where a man might reveal the full range of his feelings without censure or shame.
"In heterosexual romantic relationships it is permissible for a man to let down his guard, show his feelings, and not be judged weak. This is not to say that considerable numbers of straight men do not find intimacy difficult, since adult emotional intimacy violates their earlier years of male gender acculturation. But part of gender acculturation is the male’s expectation that females will be more tolerant, accepting, and encouraging of his shortcomings and self-doubts, given their supposedly stronger interest in mutuality and connection.” (p. 38).
“Intimacy with another man can provoke a man to feel unmasculine and worthless, whereas distance may render him lonely and depressed. For such men, sexual orientation is experienced as a perpetual double bind, permitting no comfortable solution and causing havoc in their couple relationships.” (p.27).
Put two men together who have been conditioned with the same gender role socialization and expectations, coupled with potential sexual-identity struggles, and that lays the foundation for the possibility in their relationship for excessive competition, pursuer-distancer “dances”, and discomfort with tenderness and emotional abandon with each other.
Whether you’re a single or coupled gay man, how comfortable are you with the idea of “letting yourself go” completely with another man? If there’s the slightest hint of uneasiness, you could be missing out on one of the greatest feelings and experiences life has to offer.
What’s holding you back? What consequences do you essentially suffer as a result? Do you derive any potential benefits or gains out of having these blocks? Are you willing to do the hard work and to take the risks involved in facing your fears and resistance?
This article has covered a lot of theory surrounding intimacy as it pertains to love relationships between men. In tomorrow's part 3 of this article series, the “how-to’s” of enhancing intimacy will be addressed. Common fears of intimacy will be examined and practical suggestions for strengthening your comfort with intimacy and bridging more connection with your partner will be offered.
In the interim, explore the role that intimacy plays in your relationships. How much “intimacy freak-out” exists in your life? Do some journaling surrounding the areas of childhood experiences, internalized homophobia, male gender role socialization, emotional blocks, and self-esteem and their association with your development as a gay man and your current capacity for intimacy.
Finally, recognize the gifts that true intimacy can bring to your life and begin thinking about ways you might be able to “get out of your own way” to invite more intimacy into your world if you choose.
*References: Crowell, Al (1995). I’d Rather Be Married: Finding Your Future Spouse. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
Greenan, David E. & Tunnell, Gil (2003). Couple Therapy With Gay Men. New York, NY: The Guilford Press
(Continued Tomorrow - Part 3 - Enhancing Intimacy In Your Life )
© Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, The Gay Love Coach
Thanks to Brian and to Michael@gaytwogether.com
Posted: 17 Mar 2014 05:25 AM PDT
“Intimacy freak-out.” You’ve seen it before. You’ve probably encountered it during your dating escapades. It happens when things seem to be going famously with that special guy you’ve been dating, and when things start getting just a little bit serious, BAM! He disappears, never to be heard from again, for no apparent reason.
Or those men who will have sex with you, but they refuse to kiss you during foreplay and then they’re immediately clothed and out the door faster than a speeding bullet after they’ve had their climax.
Or perhaps you’re in a long-term relationship and your partner isn’t a real big fan of cuddling or showing displays of affection. He seems distant, aloof, “cut off” from you at times. Or maybe you, yourself, struggle with detachment from your lover or have been told by him that you’re “too needy and clingy.”
Welcome to the wonderful world of “intimacy issues!” Intimacy deficits are a phenomenon and common cause or symptom of relationship problems in both gay and straight partnerships. It’s been called a “man thing”, but gay men can be particularly vulnerable to “intimacy freak-out”. Part 1 of this three -part article series will address the reasons behind this and help you gain a better understanding of the dynamics involved in intimacy in gay relationships.
What is Intimacy Freak-Out?
To understand this concept, an understanding of what constitutes intimacy is needed. Most people immediately think of sex when the word “intimacy” is used, but that’s not what we’re talking about here; that’s just one component.
Intimacy is the ability to be emotionally close to another man, being able to be who you truly are with no facades or defenses, to be uninhibited and express yourself in a reciprocal way with your partner so both of you feel safe and open to share and communicate about anything and everything. There’s no need to feel guarded or defensive with each other because you’ve established a foundation of security and unconditional love and acceptance in your relationship. You know you are loved for who you are
Intimacy is not just about “togetherness” though. Healthy intimacy requires a balance of “we” and “me”; there’s a flexibility between the amount of closeness and space that exists between you and your lover.
You both exercise good boundaries and respect each other’s limits, knowing that it’s important to have your own individual identity as well as your identity as a couple. It’s like a dance the two of you do together, flowing back and forth between merging and separating. But you don’t stay stuck in one for too long and you both develop a rhythm and synchronicity, communicating your needs and feelings all the while and being attuned to your partner’s.
“Mature intimacy requires both a capacity to be independent and separate and a capacity to be close to the other emotionally and to acknowledge needs for attachment, connectedness, and dependency” (Greenan & Tunnell, 2003). Intimacy is the ultimate validation of your relationship.
Sounds good, huh? Not an easy feat to accomplish! “Intimacy freak-out” is a term coined by Al Crowell, MS in his book “I’d Rather Be Married” (1995) and basically describes this process as being a defense we put up to cope with disappointment and ambivalence in our relationships. He goes on to say that we all have different thresholds for tolerating intimacy, and when we don’t match up with our partner’s level, fear and “freak-out” occurs to protect ourselves from perceived vulnerability by putting up psychological walls and barriers to closeness.
For example, sometimes when couples fight, engage in negative “drama”, or retreat from each other, these types of conflicts could actually be signs of intimacy overload and the behaviors are used as a way to ward off this feeling. So the next time you and your boyfriend have a knock-down, drag-out argument, don’t be so quick to assume that you’re incompatible…it could be an example of differences in your abilities to tolerate intimacy!
The key is to learn how not to act-out these feelings and to achieve a better balance with your partner through assertive communication, productive conflict resolution, nurturing each other, gaining more self-awareness about your particular triggers and issues surrounding intimacy, and other strategies. More to come on these!
( Continued Tomorrow - Part 2 of 3 - Intimacy Freak-Out - Growing Up Gay )
© Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, The Gay Love Coach
Thank you, Dr BRIAN. . .and MICHAEL@gaytwogerher.com
"Have any of you ever come home in the evening and turned on the television, and there is a panel of people -- nice people, respectable people, smart people... and they're all sitting around, and they are having a 'reasoned' debate on the television: a reasoned debate about you?""About what kind of person you are, about whether or not you're capable of being a good parent, about whether you want to destroy marriage, about whether or not you're safe around children, about whether or not God herself thinks you're an abomination, about whether in fact maybe you are intrinsically disordered. And even the nice TV presenter lady... even she thinks it's perfectly okay that they're all having this 'reasoned' debate about you and about who you are and about what rights you deserve or don't deserve."
Posted: 13 Mar 2014 05:25 AM PDT
"I am in a new dating relationship with someone I’m very interested in maintaining. I think he may be my “Mr. Right.” Things started out very well for us in the beginning but over the last several months things have faded. Neither one of us is “out” and I believe I’m the first guy he’s been with. How do I foster and maintain this relationship?"
Dear Holding On:
Conflagrations on finding someone whom you feel a strong connection with! It sounds like you’re very excited by the prospects that abound with this new relationship and are wanting to maintain and grow it in light of a recent sense of decline in interest in your friend’s part. That can be very frustrating, especially when you feel you’ve found someone truly compatible after such a long search!
I wish I had a special formula I could give you that could ensure the continued positive development of your relationship, but chemistry and relationships are more art than science and I can only offer you some tips that might possibly help you stay on track with your goals.
There’s nothing really anyone can do necessarily to “make” someone like them back; attraction is a natural phenomenon and can’t be forced or contrived. The problem in trying to do so is that it increases the likelihood of someone behaving in ways that aren’t true expressions of who he is because he’s too focused on performing and becoming someone he thinks the other guy wants. This is a recipe for disaster and I encourage you to try and take the focus off of what you can do to impress the guy and to just be your genuine self.
Nothing is more sexy than a guy who is authentic, honest, and true to his personality and values.
All relationships require pacing and must evolve at their own rate. Pushing things too hard or trying to make things happen too quickly can sabotage what you want because intimacy and connection needs to develop and mature on its own accord. Particularly since you’re dealing with someone who’s never been involved in a relationship before, he will likely need time to fumble and figure things out along the way…at his own speed.
Any efforts on your part to try to get him to want the same thing you do could put undue pressure on him to where he might feel smothered or pressured. You will have to find that delicate balance between showing him of your interest in him while tempering your desire to push things to the next level until he begins to reciprocate your feelings.
So be yourself and let him get to know the real you. You can always add some extra spice to keep his interest going by planning creative dates and surprising him with spontaneous gifts or affirmations of your interest him; just don’t overdo it and make sure the things you do are in alignment with your true character and personality. Some playful, non-demanding flirting doesn’t hurt either.
You can try keeping him engaged by being sure to show interest in his life and asking relevant and supportive questions, validating him and keeping good boundaries. Making sure you live a full and invigorating life yourself separate from the relationship is also vitally important; not only does this help you take the emphasis off your relationship worries, but it also tends to be a magnet for others to be drawn to you.
Somebody who is happy, passionate, and energetic about his life and has intriguing and eclectic interests/hobbies can be quite an attractive turn-on. Also, keeping yourself physically and emotionally healthy is a plus and having a great sense of humor also goes a long way; taking some comedy classes or improve can be great ways to learn how to integrate humor into your life if you’re not a born comedian.
I hope this helps! My fingers are crossed for you and I hope your guy quickly comes to realize the good catch that’s right before him! Take good care!