What is Intimacy?

I am plagued by a deep desire for intimacy and connection within all of my relationships and friendships. I call this a plague because often people are not taught to be intimate and vulnerable with one other, and particularly in heterosexual romantic partnerships and so it feels like a curse most of the time.** While I’ve had success with intimacy with my female friends, men, on the other hand, continue to be a challenge.

When I say intimacy, I am not describing something that necessarily is sexual. I am describing the gentle way in which we lean into one another for support, care, and safety. I am describing the desire to know someone beyond their outer shell and take the time to understand someone from their perspective. I am describing curiosity, and genuine love for another human being, because you can see their light that connects them to you. I am describing empathy, placing yourself in their shoes and relaying to them, that you too are human. I am talking about soft kisses on foreheads and lips, arm caresses with no expectation, and soothing hugs. I suppose this is an emotional type of intimacy.

It seems to me, at least in my experiences, intimacy is often a second hand thought or something expected to be a by-product of everything except vulnerability, and often, derived from sex. My experience has been that sex alone rarely leads to intimacy; that intimacy is intentional, requires more work, and requires a certain aspect of emotional availability and maturity than sex. This quote speaks to me about that.

“It’s easy to take your clothes off and have sex; people do it all the time. But opening up your soul to someone, letting them in your spirit, thoughts, fears, future, hopes, and dreams – that’s being naked.”

We aren’t truly naked enough with each other and yet, we want and expect others to be physically naked with us. We do this often with false promises of true nakedness that never comes; “Let’s see where this goes” or “go with the flow.” Sex itself is just sex, and perhaps in some circumstances, a gateway to intimacy, but it has never been that for me. Perhaps it is the way my brain has been wired – part genetics, partly influenced by trauma – but to trust someone who has only seen me physically, but does not make an effort to know my spiritually and mentally (and I’m not talking about religion here, I’m talking about my inner being), is near impossible for me.

I have never had sex with someone that I felt intimately connected to in my adult life. Sure, I’ve loved them. But I did not feel the intimate connection that allows sex to transcend the physical and become something supernatural. I have never had a man try to get know me, understand my intricacies and apply that to how he loved and cared for me, both in practice and in sex. In turn, I have never felt 100% safe with a partner. I am admitting this now, but it is painful and weird to say that out loud and to the world. And I know that the key to this is a deeper level of intimacy. But how do we even go about building this? Does this even exist?

I wrote a post recently about the love I crave and I think within that are many metaphors describing what my ideal relationship; freedom, independence, interdependence, passion, and also intimacy. I once had a garden and although a lot of work, it never felt that way, because I loved the work it took to tend to it. I felt connected to it. I spent time looking at it, admiring it, learning about it, and trying to listen to what it was that it was saying that it needed. I gave it quite a bit of my attention and enjoyed sitting with it quietly. It also made me laugh and we had hiccups here and there, and we recovered together. Growing a garden is a very intimate affair, whether you know it or not. And truly committing to a relationship also requires this (and likely more) great deal of intimacy – at least for someone like me.

I wish that we could learn more about what it means to be intimate with one another and not to shy away from it. I wish we could see that some of us need safety and intimacy to thrive, and understand how that contributes to an invaluable amount of love. And for some of us, that fertile ground of intimacy and safety, can lead to the best sex, and even more worthwhile, love of your life. That every time you say, we can’t be more emotionally intimate because we just met, and yet expect someone to disrobe for you and be fully present for sex, in some ways you diminish the ways that sex can be intimate, that each time I try to tell you something about me or is core to my life, and you quickly switch to asking me about the color of my panties or sexual fantasy, to every time you kiss or touch me with only an intention to have sexual relations, that you create more distance, that you get further from your goal, that I mentally dismiss you, and for some of us, you may even make us feel used or detached.

I am not sure I can convince many of you of this. We live in hook up and fast paced culture that seems to often place higher value on pace and quantity, and well, sex feels good. I am not saying that every encounter should or ought to be intimate, that there is no place for hookups and one night stands (trust me, there are places and reasons for this), but rather, I am offering that should we ever want anything more substantial, we have to become more substantial. I’m saying connection still matters. I’m also offering to those who feel like me, that they are too deep, too introspective, too intimate, that you are not alone. I’m offering to all my many clients who have struggled with meaningless encounter after another, that I understand.

I do not know if I will find this intimacy in a romantic relationship. If not, I don’t know if I can ever fully commit to a person romantically. I may have to be content in my close friend circle that provides me emotional intimacy without any conditions. I consider myself lucky to have that. I cannot imagine how some people go through life without it. To me, it seems like a zombie or a shell of a life, not fully realized. I hope for you all, that you find intimacy.

**I have a hunch from discussions with my friends that this may be true in other types of partnerships as well, but I can only authentically speak from my experience, which romantically have been heterosexual. I’m interested in how this differs for others though!.

The Bisexual Dilemma

So it has come to my attention that when I write about sexuality and relationships, I tend to get a lot of hits on this here blog. So, here’s another one for the masses that I hope will shed some light into my view of the world.

There’s this thing about bisexuality…

And when I say bisexuality. I mean, sexually attracted to both men and women. Specifically, in a sexual sense. Because that’s what bisexuality is. Being sexually attracted to both men and women. Emotions are not at play here.

I identify as bisexual (despite popular belief, and it’s mostly my own fault). Reason being is because I have no issue being sexual with a woman, but I could never be in a romantic relationship with a woman. Emotionally, I have no attachment to them. This doesn’t mean I’m strictly Gay (I hear the “Yes, it does” in people’s heads already). Being intimate with someone is more than just being sexually attracted to them. I don’t have that connection with women like that, but I do with men. So if I had to put a label on it, I’m romantically Gay, but sexually Bi. The point I’m getting to is that, when I tell people I identify as Bi, most people would automatically think in their heads “Oh, you’re just gay”. People tend to just have that initial assumption. People have also shared this sentiment with me about other men who have identified as Bi. If a woman identifies as Bi though, there’s not really any opinion or second thought on it. Maybe there is, but I haven’t really experienced or heard it.

Being Bi isn’t this cover up about a person’s true sexuality in most cases. It’s just a label that identifies what a person is attracted to sexually. As we all know, sexuality is a spectrum. We’ve heard it a million times before. There’s this line, where Straight is on one end, Gay is on the other end, and Bi is essentially all the space in the middle. Now don’t get me wrong, Bi, by definition would be smack dab in the middle, but it’s all about perception. For most people looking in from the outside though, being Bi doesn’t seem to be a reality. It’s either you’re gay or you’re not, but sexuality isn’t just black and white though, you know? There are multiple pieces to the puzzle when being WITH someone. Sexuality, Romance, Emotions. These things are all independent of each other, but tend to be tied together when viewing someones sexuality.

And this is where the dilemma with bisexuality comes it…especially for men…

Even after explaining what I’m attracted to sexually, I’m sure there are still people out there that either don’t believe me, or just don’t understand it. This is part of the reason that when people ask me about my sexuality, I just say I’m Gay, even though I’m sexually attracted to both Men and Women. No I’m not back tracking, and honestly, since I am romantically and emotionally attracted to men only, this is another reason I just tell people I’m Gay. But the frustrating part is that it’s easy for women to ride this line of bisexuality, but for men it’s almost not a thing. I’ve been with men who were Bisexual. Being with another man doesn’t make them strictly Gay, and being with a woman doesn’t make them strictly Straight, it just makes them Bi. Plain and simple.

I was watching an episode of Grown-ish a few weeks back. There’s this girl character who identifies as bisexual that becomes interested in a guy who also identifies as bisexual. At first she didn’t know this, but found out at a later time, and since that moment she started having these thoughts of him being intimate with men, and it really bothered her. It bothered her to the point where she decided to break up with him because he’s had sex with men. It came down to the point where she just couldn’t be with a man who’s been with other men, even if she was attracted to him and he to her.

Why is this such a problem? If you’re both attracted to each other, shouldn’t that be all that matters? Most women will say that it’s the fact that their man is gay, or more correctly, has had sex with men before. There’s this fear that their man might leave them for another man. Are you really that insecure? There are straight men out here cheating on women with other women. Is that any better? Would you be less hurt if that happened? And lets not get into the fact that a Bi man may “bottom” (be on the receiving end) from time to time and also be sexually attracted to women. All hell breaks loose.

But when a woman is thought of as Bi, none of this is really talked about. Bisexuality within women is generally much more accepted in society. I really want to know why this double-standard exists, but I’ve not found a good enough answer to even post here in this blog.

And it’s not only straight or bi women have these misconceptions about Bi men; It’s also a big issue in the gay community as well. Bi men specifically, are looked at as “still in the closet” or “he’s just saying that so he won’t have to use the word gay”. It invalidates everything that the person feels about themselves and essentially places them in a category that they don’t want to be in. And yes, there are a lot of people who may use the “Bi” term to make it a little easier for their family and friends, but who re we to judge them on that. What about the ones who are actually Bi? It should be as simple as 123 to understand but it seems to not be.

I think it all goes back to confusing sexual with emotional and relationship connections. It’s like the end all, be all of being gay is once you’re a man dating another man, you’re automatically Gay, and that’s so far from the truth. Someone who is sexually Gay, does not have the slightest sexual attraction to a Woman. They may compliment their beauty, they may even make “sexual” references to them, but they would never entertain the idea of being with a woman in a sexual sense. It’s that simple. Just as a Straight male has no interest in any other man sexually, at all.

So why is it so hard to believe that a man can be sexually attracted to both sexes?

Homophobia…A Story/Rant

I recently read a post about Frank Ocean’s father suing him for defamation about a derogatory slur used back when Ocean was younger.  It was about Homophobia in the black community; and it got me to thinking. Thinking about my own life and growing up dealing with my own homophobia up until I “came out”.

In my experience, there’s always been this issue with black people, specifically black men, standing up for their LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Sure, they don’t mind that you’re LGBTQ, and they even hang out with you and meet your significant others, but in the back of their mind, they still have a problem with it. They might not admit it, because they might not even know they have a problem with it. But if you ask any of your friends that claim to be LGBTQ supporters how they view sex between two people of the same sex, what would their reaction be? (This can also be another topic because being Lesbian compared to being Gay is a crazy double-standard, but we’ll visit this next week, maybe).

I’ve seen where people who say they “don’t care” that people are LGBTQ, tend to have a problem with supporting the overall LGBTQ community. You know, going to PRIDE, hitting up a gay club, watching RuPaul’s Drag Race…you know, those types of things. I don’t know the ultimate reason why this is the case, but I’ve been personally told that there is this stigma that if you associate with a person who is LGBTQ, other people will automatically assume that they, themselves are LGBTQ as well. So I guess it’s just people trying to avoid being identified as gay or something because of their own insecurities.

And we don’t want that now, do we? Especially in the black community.

I’ve read plenty of articles about being gay in the black community. I experienced it first hand, it was the main reason why I didn’t really start to live my life truly until about 25, MAYBE 26. It was an issue…being black, growing up in a black church. Seeing some of the other boys being teased when I was younger and being made fun of because they “acted gay”. I didn’t want that to be me. I didn’t want it to be me because to be gay was to not be masculine. To not be cool.  To like girly things. To basically lose your “man card”. To be thought of lesser than.  I knew how parents reacted when they found out their child was gay. They were ashamed and I didn’t want to shame my family.

(And to the beautiful people who grew up going through this, I can’t imagine your struggle, but I know that you are one of the strongest groups of people I will ever know.)

This is what’s “taught” in the black community. No, not literally, but it IS learned. Be it through the media, through family, friends or whatever, it is learned. And sure, some people will say “well now things are different and we’ve come a long way”, and that may be true, but there’s still a problem with homophobia, especially around the straight, black community.  And the first thing I think about when my mind is directed to this is that there’s this “issue” about the demasculinization of the (black) male. And I truly don’t even understand this train of thought (maybe I’ll pick up a book one of these days). This homophobia found in the black community fueled my own homophobia throughout my childhood even through most of my college years.

I went through college as a straight male. Had girlfriends, had sex with them, it was fun, sure. But when it came down to it, even during one of those relationships I was fighting something that was always there. And I knew it was always there. Juggling between both sides of the spectrum.  But the little black boy from the small town where everyone knew him as a good christian boy couldn’t let that be seen. I’ve said some hateful things in the past about the LGBTQ community, knowing I was a part of it myself, only so that I could save my face and not be accused of being gay, when in actuality I was the whole time. I’ve hated myself to the point where I tried to “pray the gay away” multiple times. I went to church, listening to sermon after sermon thinking that something was wrong with me. I listened to family members, talk so much shit about LGBTQ people that it fueled this self hate.

I’ve suppressed it so much that I became somewhat of a “Pro” at being straight to the general audience. People I knew or hung around on a normal basis always knew or had somewhat of an idea, but generally speaking nobody really caught on. Again, because of the black community, I didn’t want to be ridiculed or shamed or whatever. And to this day, there is this “thing” within the gay community about being gay but not “looking” gay (another post for another time).

Even after coming out, I’ve had straight people tell me that they like hanging out with “gays like me”, because I’m “different”. Which translates to, “I don’t mind hanging out with you because you don’t look gay, therefore nobody will think I’m gay”. And I’m so tired of hearing this. Just because you’re “OK” with it isn’t enough.

Again…

I want you to show it. Truly, show it and be ok, out in public, loud and proud that we’re cool people. I want you to support me by going to events like PRIDE and to Drag Shows. I want to talk about my life with you in detail just like you talk about yours. I want you to go to a gay club and party it up! And no you don’t HAVE to go, but at least entertain the possibility. THAT’s when I know you’re actually OK with it. To tell someone you don’t mind that they are Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, or Queer, and then not support them afterwards is an empty statement. It means nothing and I will always assume that you will always have a problem with our community; And until you get your insecurities straightened out, I don’t want your half assed support.

This whole shit has built up so much resentment and regret in me. I resent the fact that the black culture had made me feel broken. I regret calling whomever I called a faggot that word growing up. I resent that the church made me feel dirty and unloved. I regret not standing up for what was right when I saw an LGBTQ person be ridiculed and judged for who they are. I resent the fact that I waited so long to be a part of a community who tries to do nothing but live life as they are.

And you can blame it on your beliefs, blame it on your personal preferences, blame it on whatever, who cares. We’re fighting right now for our spot in the the world and we’ll keep on fighting long after you’re forgotten about.

The word “No”

No

It has become apparent, that the definition of word “No” has, all of a sudden, been forgotten in the English language.

Let’s review:

1. not any.
ex: “there is no excuse”
2. used to indicate that something is quite the opposite of what is being specified.
ex: “it was no easy task persuading her”
3. hardly any.
ex: “you’ll be back in no time”
4. used to forbid or reject something.

ex: “No Smoking” signs.

That last one is very important.  Why? you say? Because there’s a population of people who don’t seem to understand that when this word is used, that it’s not being used for fun and that a decision is made about something and all conversation should cease at that moment.

No, is simply that.  “No”, and if you don’t like it, then tough cookies, because at that point, you begin to beg and begging is not sexy. If you come on to me, or ask me if I’m interested, and I say “No”, that should be respected and you shouldn’t try and convince me otherwise.  If you ask me for a piece of candy and I say “No”, don’t ask me again.  If you ask me anything and I say “No” as a response.  That it.

I hate repeating myself.  I should only have to say “No”, once.  You are not a dog.

But for some reason, humans (men specifically) seem to have this thing about obtaining things they can’t have.  So they continue to pry, and beg and whine (yes it starts to sound like whining after a while) until they finally get what they want or, in some cases, finally give up.

There’s an issue with this. Because if someone tells you no from the beginning, THAT is when you should give up and let it go.

I’m tired of saying “No” and being ignored. I’m tired of being asked “Why” after I tell someone “No”.  I’m tired of being asked “Why are you so mean?” after telling someone “No.  I’m tired of just being expected to give into YOUR wants. STOP IT.

So, if you notice that you’re starting to be ignored by me.  Just know that I’m finally over it.  And it’s most likely because I’ve told you “No”, but for some reason you’re still trying to avoid that reality that I’m denying you. This should be respected in all facets of life.

 

 

Sex is not sacred…

No…

Not “used to be”

Not “was”

Not “it depends”

The act of sex, itself, is not sacred.

The connections and emotions, and how you value the act of sex IS what’s sacred, but we’re not talking about that in particular, not today anyway.

What I want to talk about is why we should talk about sex more than we do currently. Especially in the black church community.  Please note that I’m speaking from a personal account, so my views may not match yours, but for the longest time, even as a college aged adult, I’ve felt weird about talking about sex.  I’m still not completely comfortable with it today; Even when talking with partners.  Up until some years back, it’s been something I just completely avoided.  And no, not because I’m gay, but because I thought that it was just something that was “sacred” and shouldn’t be discussed.  I mean, sure being gay probably had SOMEthing to do with it but you just lie and say it was with a girl and feel awkward for a bit.

In a sense, sex was just something that just, happened.  And lets get this clear, when I say talk about sex I don’t mean, “Beating that thang up”, or “Making her scream for daddy”, or  “I put it down” kind of talk.  What I mean is that I was never taught how to be comfortable with myself sexually. You know, figuring out what I liked, and how I liked it. Knowing my boundaries, and how to respect another persons body and boundaries.    Understanding what my partner wanted and making sure they were comfortable. You know, things like that.  The talk was just “don’t go out there and get anyone pregnant”.  Other than that, church taught me that sex should only happen between a married man and woman behind closed doors and if you had premarital sex then you are a terrible person and you’re going to Hell. (Most of my childhood I was scared to do most things because of my chances of going to Hell. Right now I couldn’t care less.  My “Hell Points” are probably over 9000 at this point.)

So, again; sex is not sacred.

Our intelligence has allowed us to evolve sex into thinking that it’s so.  And with my lack of knowledge about it, it took me years to even start becoming comfortable with it, in general.  Sex was supposed to involve Love. Feelings. Emotions! But no, sex is just sex; And there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with understanding that and there’s nothing wrong with feeling that way.  But all throughout my christian teenage life, I was taught that to have casual sex was like an ultimate sin, so talking about sex OUT LOUD, wasn’t even a thought in my head.   And then I grow up and was put in this environment where people are doing the nasty with multiple partners, and all I could think in my head is “you’re a hoe” or “you’re going to Hell” or “You need to be saved and delivered from all of this”.  Now I sit back and look at past me like, dude YOU were the crazy one who needed to be “delivered” and “saved”.

sex is not sacred

Not one bit. Sex is not only a natural occurrence, but an enjoyable one as well.  I’m the number one fan of getting it how you live.  If you want to sleep around, by all means do so.  As long as you’re responsible and all parties involved are just as responsible and know about it upfront so that there are most likely no issues.  Obviously, you do put up the risk of catching “feels” and that’s normal. We’re all adults and should act as so.  We should learn to be more open about our sexuality, and just be more open in terms of talking about sex in general.  I feel that there was this thought while I was growing up that if we didn’t talk about it, it wouldn’t happen or exist, but there are a lot of kids out there who don’t know anything, and won’t for a very long time until they grow older.  That was the life I was living for a long time.  I wish that I was more comfortable with my own body and sexuality at an earlier age.

Why?

Because sex is not sacred…