My last post was about the experience of embracing the sacred feminine as a queer male. But I thought another post building on queer mysteries would be nice. How can we queer men develop our own mysteries within contemporary paganism? So much is based on heteronormative fertility, where do we see homoeroticism represented? What are the mysteries of men loving men? It’s ultimately up to us to take responsibility for our own representation and sacralizing our narrative in spiritual mysteries. Some authors say that homosexuals create on more refined energetic planes than they do on more gross physical planes when they engage in sacred sexuality…maybe…but is that not still heteronormative? Why do we have to make sacred sexuality about “creating” or re-“producing” something? I think we need to really explore the phenomena of our homoerotic feelings, our collective life experiences, and our raw sexual acts and explore what can be worshiped and sacralized in them.
It’s easy to want sacred sexuality to be about reproduction when we are enculturated to think sex is about creating life. Biologists teach us that in schools, our parents tell us the birds and the bees are about when mommy and daddy love each other very, very much they make babies. We are told everywhere we turn that sex is primarily a biological function for the continuation of our species. But you really aren’t creating life or even particularly trying to when you have sexual intercourse with the same-sex. So why should we internalized a heteronormative idea that reduces sex to conceiving something? Let’s break down the feelings and actual sexual realities of a homosexual experience and turn that into a sacred idea we can build on.
First off let’s address the idea of what is “natural.” We already have lots of evidence to see that homosexuality is NOT a defiance against nature. 1000s of species engage in homosexuality, it’s not exclusive to humans. Furthermore, why would the male “G” spot exist in his rectum and release pleasure inducing chemicals in the brain when stimulated if nature didn’t have some purpose for homosexual male intercourse? The prostate is exclusive to men. Who’s sexual organs (or so we are taught) are exclusively designed to penetrate by heteronormative bias. Yet unlike women, one of man’s greatest pleasure organs can only be stimulated when his anus is penetrated. Someone making a heteronormative “natural” argument would say the anus is clearly a waste excretion organ, it is not made to be penetrated. Yet there is the prostate, in that very spot. Nature put it there and made it one of the most pleasurable experiences for men. This is a natural biological fact. Man did not Will the prostate to exist against nature because he wished he could be penetrated, nature put it there and made it pleasurable. Somehow homosexuality (not intended to reproduce) served a useful function to the human animal by due process of natural selection and evolution.
Some scientists have suggested that homosexuality is about alleviating social tension and ensuring social harmony. Bonobos (a type of ape) for example often engage in mutual masturbation and genital rubbing (between males) whenever they get into conflict. Engaging in sexual acts creates a mutually pleasurable experience that alleviates any animosity between males because of a social conflict and ensures bonds of solidarity. So naturally if two men get into a conflict being able to release their agitation into a mutually pleasurable experience that is physically intimate could help resolve the conflict and enforce a positive social bond. Bottom line sex feels good. It doesn’t have to be used merely to reproduce, it can be used to feel good and make someone else feel good. Sharing mutual and physically intimate pleasure reinforces positive feelings, trust, and feelings of mutual value placed in the other. Ancient Greco-Roman civilizations actually encouraged homosexual relationships between their soldiers because it developed a deeper bond between their men who would fight that much harder to protect each other. A whole culture existed of warrior homosexual men that fought as lovers. The idea being that if you were in battle with someone you loved and shared a deep intimacy with, you valued their life that much more. You had more motivation then you otherwise would to survive and fight for them.
So instead of considering sex strictly a matter of “creating” something, we can rather see it as sharing mutual intimacy and pleasure. A reinforcement of social bonds and closeness to another. An affirmation of relationship, affection, and simply “being” a “body” that needs another “body” to have those feelings. There is a growing school of thought in philosophy that wants to deconstruct the idea that consciousness (one’s true essence) is separate from the body. What if when you hold your lover you are not merely holding their body, you are touching their very personhood, their very “being.” A collective of their past experiences of pain, happiness, fears, and desires. All these things ARE their body and you are touching it, being close to it, wanting it to experience the pleasure that you can share with it. You are giving that consciousness an experience of closeness and pleasure. If you give another being pleasure you are essentially wanting them to feel good as opposed to other feelings. Like wise they are giving you a state of being that “feels good.” You are sharing a state of being that is aimed to “feel good.” Some studies have shown that sex with another physical partner present and interacting with you, releases more pleasure hormones then just masturbating alone does. In essence sharing physical intimacy with another human being reinforces the idea you need someone else to “feel good” which is what pleasure is as a “state of being.” I think of the statement “if we replace ‘I’ with ‘we’ we replace ’Illness’ with ‘wellness.’” Something about loneliness is extremely depressing, it’s not a state of being that “feels good.” Sex with another person creates a state of being that feels good and it requires their presence, the physical interaction of another, too be what it is. All this to say, it creates a necessity for others, it enforces a deeper intimacy then other forms of social bonding.
I am not as much a kinkster nor into BDSM as others I have known, in fact I am quite vanilla. But even the interaction of dominance and submission carries its own raw undertones of “feeling good.” Exploring something that is other-wise “taboo” is a form of intimate “exposure” to another. That exposure of pain or what society sees as “bad” creates a vulnerability. Yet the fact that you are exposing something that society has told you is bad, and you are sharing it with another that is affirming a pleasurable state of being with you, is all a affirmation of who you are on a raw level. Here is all my “dirty”-ness, here is my being that does not often receive approval from others…yet you are creating a state of being with me that feels good with all that “exposed.” In Paganism we have a concept of “shadow” work. You have to find unity with antithesis. You have to embrace and become more conscious of parts of yourself that are not always ideal or desirable. With that unity and embrace of your “shadow”-self you make peace with the less than ideal realities of the human experience. It’s trauma, wickedness, pain, cruelty, etc. If you expose all that to another in the context of pleasure, it’s not only self-discovery, but a form of “sharing” it with someone else who can affirm “it’s okay” that, that is part of who you are. If you can expose something dirty to another and they can affirm it with pleasure it’s way of making peace with adversity in your existence, and even more so in “our” existence. When a bond is not merely a fluffy one that only affirms more ideal forms of humanity, but it’s “dirty” ones too it’s more honest and integrated. I can feel good about the fact that I have a taboo part of myself with this other person. This other person is a bond of “safe space.” I might not be able to expose that anywhere else, but here I can.
Beyond just a general kink/BDSM concept of exposure and making peace with taboo. Any homosexual that is engaging in anal sex has to become “okay” with taboos that surround anal sex. Even if you are a total pro with cleaning and make your rectum as clean as you can get it. There still may be some dirtiness up there. If you do anal sex enough times chances are you will have an experience where there is a mess atleast a few times. Have you ever bottomed anally before? It’s a very vulnerable experience especially if you are not use to its sensation. It’s a part of your body that gets rid of wastes, what carries more associations of “gross” and “disgust” than poop? It smells bad, it’s literally the parts of the food you digested that your body could not find a “healthy” use for and needed to “get rid of.” You have to “get rid of it.” It is not something you want to absorb and adopt as apart of your being…it is something you do not want in your body. You are allowing a man to put his body in that place where you store and excrete things inside of you that do not serve a “healthy purpose in you.” Furthermore the experience inevitably has some pain involved, atleast until you relax the muscle that contracts and pushes out the opposite direction of the man coming into you. Yet like we said earlier there is an organ in side of this place that is designed to induce pleasure when it is intentionally stimulated. So when you surrender your control of the contracting muscles and allow it to be relaxed, the pain begins to diminish and you can experience the more pleasurable parts of the experience. There is a “surrender of control” involved and required even to allow a man “inside you” inside a part of you that carries associations with disgust. That’s metaphorically the same experience of “exposure.” You have to let go of a controlled state of perceived security, and let someone into a vulnerable place you try to protect so you can both feel good in that place together.
As a top (if I am a good one) I have to make the bottom feel okay, let him know I respect his boundaries and will go at his pace. It’s certainly nice if the bottom cleans, but the very organ I am penetrating is not designed to be clean. To be a good top I have to be okay with the fact there may be a mess. The bottom is letting me into a very vulnerable place in his body and letting go of his control of that space to let me in. With the motion a dick makes in the place your pushing and pulling air and liquid. Bottoms sometimes have air trapped up their that will get pushed out during the experience, no matter how well they cleaned, unfortunately a mess could still happen. You got to be okay with that if it does, let them know they are okay if it does happen and not react in disgust. Get up go to the bathroom and clean up and try again later. If not in the moment then later when you’re both ready. You’re being okay with being inside someone else’s body where it’s both taboo and designed by nature to be dirty. Yet also designed to adapt to your entrance. The anal muscles, when consciously trained, can expand to fit not only a huge dick…but an arm even. Not to mention, again, the fact the prostate is there in biologically born men. Its in our nature to do this, to enjoy it, and share it with each other. But that doesn’t mean you just simply do it without considering how your partner feels. You have to go at his pace, pay attention to how he feels, allow him to respond and consent to your penetration. He has to paradoxically control his loss of control to allow you into his body in order to enjoy it and move past the pain into the experience of the pleasure. While you may be the “top” the bottom has to be in charge, sense he is the one at risk of getting hurt. You need him to trust you and surrender his control to allow you to be inside of him, but you have to be trustworthy enough to warrant that surrender. Once you earn his trust and he can let go, you are given the control to be inside him and share the pleasure of that experience that two men are men to share at this point.
Could straight people experience all this…to a certain extent…but women don’t have the prostate…there are still differences. Furthermore if we lived before the time of severe life and death STDs, condoms, and birth control. Homosexuals would not have to worry about the consequences HIV/AIDS or of a child. We could engage in sex just to enjoy it. While straight people would have to worry about repercussions of casual sex resulting in a child. That is to say from strictly asking the question of what the purpose of homosexuality is without considering consequences like STDs and the autonomy that birth control gives heterosexuals…homosexuality is unique in that its sole purpose is to create bonds of intimate pleasure and not reproduce. (Note: this is not an endorsement of unprotected sex, in today’s age STDs are a very serious health issue, please use condoms. Unless you are in a closed relationship and not seeing any outside partners and both of you have been tested negative for STDs). It’s psycho-sexual implications have been explored above. We see that poetically and metaphorically there are implications of required mutual trust and exposure in homosexuality that serve to create a deep mutual bond. That sex in the context of homosexuality is not for the purposes of conceiving or procreation but rather sharing a state of pleasure and a deep level of relational exposure between men. “This is who I am…the good…the bad…let’s learn to share this and feel good about it, and through that become fully integrated in our bonds and personhood.” Rather that’s a deep and committed relationship or a one night stand, it’s a moment of sharing pleasure in order to expose a more intimate part of your self you don’t get to expose at all other times. Even if you don’t intend to merry every person you share it with, this still applies. it’s just a matter of approaching it the right way, with the right intentions.
So how do we make all this applicable to Paganism? Well we have to find deities and mythos that can reflect sexuality not through the lens of fertility, but through homoerotic relational bonds. As suggested by author Christopher Penzcak. We could reinterpret the Oak and Holly Kings as homosexual lovers. As such on the solstices they pass their sovereignty to each other as the seasons change and times change from light to dark. Through sharing intimate bonds of physical homoerotic intimacy, lovers endure each other’s light and dark together. They hold a space of safety to explore both each’s light and each other’s dark. Through the act of penetration they learn to trust each other and love each other even when exposed fully in darkness and in light. The King of Light shares his vitality and resources of the harvest to sustain the lovers in good times, in times of starvation and famine the Hunter of the Night uses his skills to survive and bring hope in a time of hardship and isolation from the lights vitality. Together they develop a bond of sharing and trust through the changing of life’s seasons. As lovers they penetrate each other’s souls, keep each other safe, sustain each other, trust each other, and rely on each other’s assets to live. Instead of using their sexuality to create life and develop a relationship around raising a child, they use their sexuality to maintain each other while each pursue their live’s purpose. The Oak King being the vital source of vegetation and the land, the Holly King the skilled hunter of the night. Using his skill to survive when abundance is scarce. Instead of focusing their vitality (their Awen) on the creating and maintaining of family like that of a heterosexual couple…they use it to fallow passion and pleasure.
A priestess once suggested to me that as a homosexual, should I fall in love with another man we had the option to have a sexual relationship without the risk of the responsibility of raising a family. Unless of-course we so choose to adopt and copy the heteronormative model. Which is fine if guys want to do that…the point is our sexual relationship is not bound by the obligation. We will have the option to share the resources of our relationship to do other things in life. We homosexuals have a gift we are not bound by the potential responsibilities of reproduction when we copulate, only the enjoyment of each other, which can inspire us to do other things with our life. We are free to pursue our passions. All the energy, time, and resources a couple typically uses to raise kids, we could use for our passions. Which may be the adoption of a family if we so choose, but could be so much more. We live our lives to sustain each other in our bonds and support each other in the pursuits of our passions. Perhaps fighting for a cause like the ancient homosexual warriors of Greco-Roman times. Creating communities. Artistic and passionate pursuits like the stereotypes of gays in theater and entertainment. We maintain each other through intimate bonds, and use our shared pleasure and vitality to fuel our lives passions. We are a sacred queer brotherhood, a sacred circle of gay men. Our mysteries are about the pleasures we share and what that implies in our consciousness. We are not a circle of fertility mysteries, we are a circle of life affirmation mysteries. We remind the world to affirm and enjoy their life. To love and share the things that give us pleasure. “Keep pure your highest ideal; strive ever toward it” ~ Charge of the Goddess.