Cass’s Pride Identity Formation and Anger Management

Vivienne C. Cass is a sex therapist and Psychologist that came up with an important model for gay and lesbian identity formation in 1979. While there have been plenty of valid criticisms of her model, it remains to still be a useful tool for homosexuals to reflect on their development. Reflecting on this model and the issues that are encountered in each stage of development has helped me understand my internal reality as a gay male. I’ve focused a lot in this blog on external realities primarily in social issues both within society and the gay community. But this pride month I thought I might write an internal reflection inspired by Cass’s homosexual identity formation model.

Vivienne C. Cass

Vivienne C. Cass

Summarizing Cass’s Model and the Pride Stage

I have left some references about Cass’s model below for those interested in exploring it in more detail. For those looking for a light summery there is a Wikipedia link[i], for those wishing to have greater depth I’ll put in some academic references[ii] [iii](assuming you have access to academic databases). Essentially Cass purposed gay and lesbian individuals go through 6 stages of identity development. We often talk about the significance of “coming out” but our issues of identity do not simply stop there and are more complex than that. Each stage of development has its own tasks, challenges, and issues to consider. I personally am long pass the formative stages of telling heterosexual people who I am. If anything, I am closest to the 5th stage “Pride.” At this stage homosexuals are less concerned about how they are perceived by heterosexuals and gaining their acceptance, and more concerned about establishing and maintaining gay community exclusively around them. I’ve seen some media about Cass’s model that implies this stage can last nearly 10 years or potentially never really end once you’ve established yourself in it. However, it should be noted that not everybody fallows Cass’s model perfectly, and not everyone goes through all 6 stages to “synthesis” at the very end (nor do I feel they have to, to be fully fulfilled as a homosexual).

The 6 Stages

The 6 Stages

At the 5th stage of “Pride,” a sense of anger tends to be a common experience towards the heteronormative nature of society, sometimes even at heterosexuals themselves. For those of us that have watched Queer as Folk (American version) we all know that famous line from Bryan Kenny “There are only two kinds of straight people in this world. The ones that hate you to your face and the ones that hate you behind your back.” That’s an example of the kind of anger that can be common in this stage. There is a greater comfort around other homosexuals then there is around heterosexuals. The gay community is seen as the primary source of social support and community. People in this stage often intentionally distance themselves from heterosexuals in order to pursue and focus on homosexual community and relationships. I know this has been very true of me. Cass also recommends anger management during this stage as it’s a natural side effect of becoming less tolerant of heterosexism.

I have often advocated for the need of the “gay vacuum” effect of exclusive homosexual spaces. There are some things a homosexual will NEVER discover about himself, without a vacuum where heterosexuality is absent and homosexuality is normalized and accessible. I’ve seen it time and time again where we internalize the homophobia and heterosexism around us in statements like “I’m not like most gays…I only like guys, otherwise I am just like straight people…I don’t identify with the gay community.” I use to say stuff like this myself, having no idea how self-defeating and self-isolating these statements were. I would complain, complain, and complain about not having a boyfriend and not knowing any gay people that I liked. Yet held this internalized homonegativity that wanted straight people to feel comfortable with me by distancing myself from the gay community with damaging false beliefs about what the gay community was and what being gay meant in general. It wasn’t until I experienced a week-long retreat at a camp ground of exclusively around 180 gay men, where not a single heterosexual was in sight, that I came face to face with my own internalized homonegativity. Where I began to realize how my desire to feel comfortable around heterosexuals and to make them feel comfortable with me when I came out…ultimately caused irrational and self-isolating beliefs about the gay community. So few gay men ever experience that “gay vacuum” effect at depth where they are forced to acknowledge how indoctrinated they are by heteronormative society and how unnecessary that self-isolating and self-damaging inner voice is. I deeply believe more gay men need access to this experience, I’ve seen it time and time again in myself and in other homo-brotheren. Gay men need community exclusively with each other to put a mirror in front of ourselves and tear down our internal barriers to feeling connected to each other. Having allies is great and when we have a political rally I think they should be valued and welcomed, but when it comes to our social need to have community and relationship with each other…they can’t help us with this process specifically nor is it really about them. There is no point to being gay, without quality gay relationships in our life. We don’t get access to this through a hetero-dominant society, even when it is supportive.

So that’s the important task of Cass’s 5th “Pride” stage. Seeking out gay community exclusively. This can be somewhat politically and social justice oriented, but more importantly its about developing homo-sexual/social relationships and less about disclosing your identity to straight people and trying to feel okay about that. In this process, you become more aware of how heterosexism and heteronormativity has impacted your own psyche. So OFCOURSE you’re going to feel anger towards the fact you had to deal with that, when you realize you really don’t “have to” passively accept it. You can start focusing on gay relationships and unapologetically seek them out. It causes you to face the reality of your sexual desires and feelings. It makes you focus on developing sexual, romantic, and even social connections that heterosexuals could never give you and you never are going to apologize for that birth right ever again. You’re going to respond to straight people saying “I’m not homophobic but…” by cutting them off and saying “…but you can stick whatever your about to say up your ass!”

My Pride and Anger

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My entrance into my Pride stage was characterized a lot by cutting people out of my life. My identity was no longer about just wanting to be accepted by straight people, it was about wanting to unapologetically find and maintain gay relationships and community. Straight people couldn’t give me that even if they were trying to be supportive. After all they are heterosexual and not homosexual. I often found when I would attempt to find gay relationships they would often make it all about them. “Its hard for everyone to find relationships, not just homosexuals.” So when have you ever been in a public space where you had to assume everyone around you was gay and to assume someone is straight could get you heterophobically assaulted then? Have you ever been afraid to hold hands with a date in public out of fear you could be harassed or assaulted because your date is the opposite sex? Have you ever felt like there are so few heterosexuals around you that you have to use a mobile networking app just to feel connected to them? Not even just to date them, just to simply feel connected to them and feel like they are out there? Sure, heterosexuals have relationship problems too…but none of those problems are due to there being a lack of other heterosexuals around them. So I got tired of being silenced by those that could not relate. That couldn’t really appreciate or understand where I was coming from even when I tried to explain my perspective to them. My fuse got increasingly shorter, and my angry reactions to even the smallest microagression increased in intensity. My boundaries turned into a big gay, liberal, feminist, sex positive bubble that had no room for conservative, heteronormative, patriarchal, slut shaming bullshit.

I am not the only queer that has gone through this experience. I think it’s a natural part of our development. I may happen in different ways for different queer identities (ie someone who is Trans might not have the same exact microaggressions or social oppressions, but might be similar in that at some point they start cutting people out of their lives that remind them of or want them to be who they were before transitioning). It was a transformation for me, becoming an unapologetic homosexual and choosing to only be around people that could affirm that or that could support the process of gay socialization. But, especially after this last election cycle, I am beginning to see the wisdom of Cass recommending anger management to homosexuals in the Pride stage. I’ve seen, shared, and expressed a lot of anger with the LGBTQ community. I think anger is a legitimate expression of injustice and the oppressed, but it can easily become so common place that it stands in the way of social harmony in our community and personal resilience and well being.

Critical Issue: Internal Integration, Not Heteronormative Synthesis

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I use to think of Cass’s 6th stage “synthesis” as it is described in some media being rather heteronormative itself. Why does someone “have to” reintegrate into heterosexual society to be a fully realized homosexual? Is it wrong to want to focus on gay relationships, community networking, and so on? If someone feels they are deeply defined by something they are passionate about, such as being an actor…why do they have to belittle that passion and social experience as “just another part of who I am?” Yes there are many other things beyond being gay that make up who I am…but why do I have to compartmentalize that part of me or separate it in any way from the totality of who I am? Especially if I have a deep passion, interest, and enthusiasm about it. I love homosocial experiences. I love watching other guys go through homosocial experiences and discover things about themselves. Watching them process things they never could otherwise, and discover a sense of community and connection with each other. Even when that experience comes with stressors and melodramas, I still love it. No different than would Barack Obama always attach importance to being a Politician. As would Patrick Stewart always see being an Actor as a defining part of who he is. If being gay has so much passion, experience, and meaning attached to it, I do not feel it’s fair to expect me to belittle it as “just another part of me” (as some people describe Cass’s model, though others word it differently) in order to be a wholistically integrated homosexual. I realize not all homosexuals feel this way, but not all homosexuals have nearly as much passion and emotional investment in their community either. That’s really the issue I have with Cass’s 6th stage in  how some people define it as no longer seeing gay identity as a central and important part of oneself. But, that said, I do think there is some wisdom in at least getting to a place where the anger is processed and expressed in healthier ways. This is what I think we should take away as the important experience of the 6th stage. After all she does mention anger towards heterosexism “diminishes,” but does not “go away,” during the 6th and final “synthesis” stage. I take that as being better able to choose your battles. Being able to walk away from that microaggression you may not like, but decide its not worth the emotional energy and there are more important things you could focus on. Essentially being able to “respond” instead of “react.”

Healing Means a Healthier Relationship with Anger

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I am sure some of my readers have seen the commentary that went viral by Lady Bunny the drag queen.[iv] While I do not think it’s realistic or fair to expect queers to stop getting angry and having the knit picky arguments we have, I do think she has a point. Are we letting knit picky battles over microagressions distract us from larger issues? Are those battles even worth fighting half the time? Maybe they are worth fighting in some situations, in which case by all means assert yourself. However, do you find yourself getting exhaustively angry all the time and you can’t just simply take a break from it and enjoy what good things we do have? Queers have a natural process of healthy development that they eventually get to a place where they assert themselves more and cut out toxic relationships that prevent affirmation and happiness in their experience. But with that process unresolved issues in our consciousness surface. After the extreme cultural polarization from the 2016 elections, I know it was getting hard to focus on bigger goals and keeping things in perspective. The cultural wars made me and so many of us so angry and reactionary. So much of my personal wounds festered and came to the surface. Now that I am going to grad school to become a counselor, I am having to challenge myself to monitor my emotional reactions to things and get them under-control. After all someday I may have a LGBTQ youth client who’s coming out, and I will have to work with their parents who may or may not need to process homophobic/transphobic feelings. I cannot be an effective counselor for either the queer youth or the parent if I react instead of responding and allowing it to be a process of slowly getting to a better place.

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Lady Bunny

The anger I’ve carried for so long has been like a defense mechanism, trying to override the anxiety that is triggered by the traumas of my past. I think if most angry social justice queers are honest with themselves, they probably have a similar internal reality. My anger protected me, gave me the strength to assert boundaries and advocate for my needs, and helped me challenge toxic oppressive things I internalized. It was also very useful when I ran an LGBT organization and gave me the motivation to push an agenda to a school administration and get things done. There are times anger is useful and healthy, but there are also times that it’s just masking a deeper distress in your consciousness. Are you really doing yourself or others any service if you just let those wounds remain unhealed and unprocessed? We are so focused on the external realities (which are important and should be addressed) that we can neglect nurturing our internal realities. I am not a fan of shallow New Age approach that would tell you to just “think positive” and pretend like all your raw and very real human emotions don’t exist. I am not telling you that your (or my) anger is something to avoid or that you can easily just let it go.  But I am saying to address where it is internally coming from and own it. Work on processing those emotions, if you doubt it will undoubtedly come out in other ways such as alcoholism, substance abuse, and other self-destructive behaviors. I can’t change the past, the homophobic bullies of my past have left a deep scar on me that will likely never go away. But I can treat and mend the wound…and though the scar will be there forever, hopefully it will become less tender and venomous over time. With such healing work, hopefully I can become a better person everyday, and be a more effective advocate for generations after me who need us to pass on the torch. Hopefully as Lady Bunny said, we should model the gay community, and the larger LGBTQ community as well, to be a community they’d be proud to be a part of. Is a community that only focuses on what there is to be angry (while ignoring what there is to be celebrated) really a community to be “Proud” of?

References:

[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cass_identity_model

[ii] Journal of Homosexuality: “Homosexual Identity Formation: A Theoretical Model” by Vivienne C. Cass, MPsych, MAPsS; 1979

[iii] The Journal of Sex Research: “Homosexual Identity Formation: Testing a Theoretical Model” by Vivienne C. Cass; 1984

[iv] https://www.queerty.com/lady-bunny-lets-cancel-gay-pride-20170616

Witch Competition: Destroys Witchcraft

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Over the past several years I got increasingly tired of participating in the Pagan/Witchcraft community as a whole. Especially after going to college and hyper focusing on a more academic critical thinking view of witchcraft. The greatest down fall of our community is we have a dogma we don’t like to admit we have. We are each very set on a particular belief system that reinforces our perception that what we do is legitimate. In our attempt to break away from a monotheistic-dogma dominate society…we internalize the need for dogma to feel legitimate in other ways. For example trying to claim that what we do is more ancient and rooted in old ancestry, that goes back thousands of years, more so then others. Yet from an academic critical-historical perspective next to no evidence exists that the majority of what we do, how we conceptualize it, and how we practice it looks anything like said ancestors might of perceived their connection to nature, spirits, and old Gods and Goddesses. Essentially everything we do and think is informed by people using imaginative reinterpretations of what they thought and felt it “might of” been like…but there is little to no evidence anything we do was actually done that way in time immemorial. If anything there is evidence to show dramatic inconsistencies in the things we do to what little things we know about ancient societies when you really put it under a critical microscope. Yet so many Pagans and Witches are convinced their version of witchcraft or Pagan Mysticism is more legitimate then others around them, and the more dogmatic they are about it…the more I question “who are you trying to convince…me? Or YOU?”

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I have come to accept my personal path of witchcraft is not about ancient legitimacy, its about both personal and modern applicability. I do not seek my perception of the Gods and Goddesses I worship to match perfectly the ancient world they came from. If they do indeed exist, I feel it reasonable they would change with the time to continue to be applicable to the modern world and those that wish to build a relationship with them (who live modern lives). Or if (as many more psychological modeled witch theorists suggest) they are simply archetypal symbols conceptualized in our mind, then they are more applicable to us being adjusted to our modern perception of the world. I also do not feel my relationship with Gods and spirits has to be the same to other practitioners to be legitimate. The God Lugh comes to me as an youthful very homoerotic image…to you he may appear gruff, aged, and full of old wisdom and completely heterosexual. To me his personality could be very nurturing, gentle, and sensual, where to you he is destructive, powerful, and forceful. Or he could be something grey in between. Does a deity have to appear the same to everyone? Would a deity be effective in connecting to mortals if it could not change its personality and appearance to be effective in connecting to different people that seek it out? Or is the sum total of Lugh only to be rigidly interpreted by what can be found in texts like the Book of Invasions, the and his phonetic counterpart in welsh: “Llew” in the Mabinogion? If there is one thing I learned as a Religious Studies B.A. in college…spirituality and religion is in NO WAY objective like science. Even when spiritual people attempt to borrow concepts from science to legitimate themselves…its still ultimately a subjective and creative, and entirely NOT objective, reinterpretation of the scientific information full of gap assumptions to reinforce a per-existing bias. Is it fair to say no one has a monopoly on what is the most correct perception of deity and spirits? That the spirit realm, rather nothing but symbols interpreted by our minds or conscious beings that operate independently from us (or some grey obscurity inbetween), is not something we can measurement like gravity or chemical compounds. It’s something that will never fallow a 100% objective consistency. Nor will it be consistent with one person’s perception of it versus another person’s perception entirely.

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Lets also consider less theological aspects of our tradition and other supernatural aspects. Such as psychic/intuitive skills. I can tell you now, even the most skilled and respected psychic-mediums are only going to be accurate about 80% of the time. And that’s just talking about people that teach and do said practice as a professional living. Growing up in a community that valued intuitive skills, I can say now watching how intuitives can get dogmatic or locked in a self-referential universe can be rather exhausting. No doubt, in a good group people are going to pick up similar perceptions of things without using words to communicate. It’ll seem and feel miraculous and compelling to assign them an almost blind faith “legitimacy” to lift them above other perceived “fakes.” But I guarantee you that does not make them right about everything all the time, nor does it make people who might perceive things differently or that use different methods less legitimate. Ever gone to ritual where you felt a strong supernatural experience, then to another where your perception of the supernatural mechanics doesn’t feel as strong or even non-existent? Often when people go through this experience what is the first typical thoughts they seem to have? That the less powerful experience is less legitimate? Yet not everyone there is perceiving the experience the same was. Some people there may very well find something “powerful” or something otherwise meaningful which makes them find a sense of legitimacy in that experience. Who are you grand pumba Pagan self-defined High Priest(ess) to tell them they are wrong in that feeling and you are right? OR that you are somehow are more spiritually evolved or more “powerful” because of it. It’s one thing to feel you are simply not compatible with a group, another to try and establish yourself as more legitimate then they are.

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Here in lies the problem, our need to feel like the uncertainty of something supernatural is “real” and legitimate for us…turns into a competition of who’s arbitrary and self-referential dogma is more correct. This kind of mentality destroys good Pagan communities…and frankly makes having a quality community based on mutual love and respect almost impossible. We draw many to our religion because we wish to be a safe house free of the dogma found in our society’s main stream monotheistic religions. However, we recreate the problem of dogma in our own way. Yes you have STRONG SPIRITUAL feelings about something, but so do others and sometimes they are going to not be consistent with each other or they may even conflict. Does it have to be a clash of ego where you have to decide who’s personal experiences are more valid? Or is there a way to realize personal experiences are not the monopoly on Truth? They are not meant to be universal to all. You can co-exist with one who doesn’t share the same perceptions of the supernatural…without being an asshole about it.

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The Pagan communities over the years I have come to respect the most and enjoy the most are the ones that do the best at not getting destroyed by competition to prove who’s personal belief system is more legitimate. They have a good understanding of what the difference is between a scientific fact and personal perception of an experience. They don’t confuse the two as the same. My deity’s are highly queer and homoerotic. They defy traditional heteronormative and gender binary definitions of what occult systems typically define. My Sun male Deity is receptive. Poetically the Sun is the center of the solar system. The planets revolve around it. He explains this as from his brilliance and beauty he draws those in other Gods and people who seek to merge with him and adore him. He’s seductive attraction makes him a Gay bottom God. Totally defying the common idea that the Sun is projective and hetero-masculine. Indeed my Sun God is male and has masculine homoerotic features but he is by no means primarily projective. Does that mean than, that I do not have a legitimate relationship with a Sun God? Pagans who are relying on a more heteronormative model and do not experience his mysteries in the same way. Does that mean those who do not experience the Sun God as homoerotically “receptive” and not “projective” do not have a Truthful connection to him? No, I do not feel this way. I feel its important that if I participate in a larger Pagan community for me to be around those I can express and share my experiences. But also respect and share the experiences of others that do not perceive it the same way.

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Just as my undergrad research on a psycho-social theory application of the study of Paganism found. We are all draw to this counter cultural religion…because the majority of us are marginalized or disenfranchised with society in some way. We have an unhealthy relationship with power in our daily lives, and we need a space to feel “empowered.” But that often becomes an imperfect process of healing for many of us. I know it continues to be with me. Having to challenge myself to constantly ask “am I reacting instead of responding right now?…how can I be more conscious about my emotional reactions to things?” It’s an imperfect process of healing that takes a lot of time and a loving and understanding community of people conscious about the same work. That’s what for me has determined, over the years what a “quality Pagan” community is. These are people who are aware we are a counter-culture of outcasts and have difficult wounds with abusive power in our lives because of the society we live in. Lets create a community where we can heal, and disarm each other with love when we go on unhealthy power trip and compete for legitimacy with each other.

The Next Step Forward: Evolution of Gay Space

One thing I think is often the next step forward in gay progress, is what we do with our unique culture and space. We see a mixture of frustration at the slow death of gay bars and a growing complacency about it. Some of us are sad to see gay bar after gay bar close and/or get over run by sorority girls and brital showers to a point there isn’t enough homosexuality in them to make them worth going out too as a homosexual looking for homosocial oppertunity. Yet heterosexual insensitively taking over the space is only partially to blame…there is also a less motivation for new generations to be proactive and out going due to two things. The prevalence of gay apps and less persecution from heteronormative society that drives one to seek out safe gay spaces. Many guys I talk to of all ages seems to reduce the slow death of gay culture to one of these three reasons. I do not think this problem one of these things alone…but rather a big combination of all three. After all plenty of guys have Grindr, Growlr, Scruff, and the like…but still go out to the gay bars on weekends too. While yes we are getting more comfortable in a heterodominate society…that doesn’t change the fact that society remains heterodominat and because of this we will ALWAYS require spaces dedicated to homosexual socialization. 


As far has hetero gay bar take overs…well that’s just a lack of sensitivity on their part…more conversations need to be had with our allies about how important it is for gay spaces to remain homosexually dominant. We want them to feel comfortable with us, but at the end of the day a straight person never feels isolated from other straight people in everyday life in society at large. They may struggle with dating oppertunities for various reasons, but thats not because of a lack of heterosexuals around them that’s due to other issues which they need to work out amongst themselves. Gay people do feel isolated from other gay people…no matter how many supportive straight friends they have, their supportive straight friends are not gay and do not provide homosexual oppertunities. Gay bars must remain focused on their purpose, which is to provide a space for homosexuals to socialize and connect. Heterosexuals have literally everywhere in society for that. They are not being victimized when we ask them not to invade our homosexual spaces. So perhapse they should be thankful they don’t need to dedicate special spaces to connect to other straight people because of lacking that oppertunity and respect what gay bars are actually about. Gay bar tangent aside, my point is no matter how much social progress we enjoy in society, we will ALWAYS need spaces dedicated to gay socialization. Not because of persecution alone…but rather the need of having access to oppertunities to sexually develop, find romantic oppertunities, and develop a comrodery with those that share homosexuality in common and relate to the nuances of homosexual experiences and perspectives. Thats the next frontier of gay culture.


Thats going to be what the next generations need to talk about. Instead of focusing on gay rights as a political issue alone…its going to become more and more about socialization. How do we create a better future (and present) where homosexuals feel more connected and have more oppertunities to have social experiences togeither? In more metropolitan areas there are more then just gay bars alone, there are gay sports teams, gay special interest groups, gay cafés, and even “gayborhoods.” But not every homosexual has a desire for big city life, we need more things like that in small metropolitan areas. I know in my own hometown of Asheville NC, we have a small amount of gay special interest groups (that frankly often struggle to stay alive). We use to have a plethora of gay bars and all but one has pretty much become hetero-dominant or closed down. We have an annual pride and a LGBT center that is in its forming stages. For better or worse we are a decently small-sized metropolitan area with resources that make up a simi-gay culture. But sometimes I feel there is such apathy to actually participating in that culture. Aspects of it have slowly declined (like the amount of gay bars that can actually be called “gay”). Others have slowly begun to grow (like our annual pride and the proto-formation of an LGBT center). But when I talk to other gays in our area, a good number seem to have a complacency about it all. Feeling comfortable about how gay friendly the general population of Asheville is…why do they NEED gay friends and gay community? To that I answer…why do you always complain about never having a boyfriend? I don’t know maybe because you don’t care enough about there being a thriving space, culture, and community of people where that oppertunity is accessable? Sure in a progressive place like Asheville if your outgoing enough you’ll run in a few fellow gays every now and then…but still the ratio of gay to straight in any given crowd is still going to be 2.5:20 on average. Is that really a “thriving” homosexual social experience? Better then it could be else where…but still not “thriving.” Not all gays feel this way obviously…but just enough of us are complacent and lacking in motivation to care about having a thriving gay community…that its barely able to stay alive. Its not only in my hometown…its happening all over the USA. While I cannot speak for other developed countries at similar phases of social progress in gay rights…I am sure its a similar issue for them too.


We need to challenge each other to think about our needs as more then just political progress. Our needs in society don’t just stop with anti-discrimination laws, marriage equality, and adoption rights. Having those things established are seriously just the beginning to making a better tomorrow for homosexuals in society. Simply not being treated like shit in society and having supportive heterosexual friends are not enough to having an optimum and functional homosexual existance. Having a fully realized thriving homosexual life also includes homosexual relationships and easy access to them. So we need to change how we think about what the purpose of a gay community is. Its not simply to fight a political battle to be accepted in a hetero-dominant society…though that certianly is important…its also about homosexuals meeting other homosexuals and developing relationships with each other. That’s certainly not limited to sexual and romantic ones alone, its also friendships with people that share a common experience. We need to stop limiting our ambition for progress to simply being accepted by straight folks…we need to add the ambition of having more and better oppertunities for homosexuals to connect to each other. 


No body said this would be easy, that you even have to like every homosexual you meet, or that any true community of people sharing common identities is a perfect flawless experience. I certainly don’t “like” every single gay person I meet simply because they are also homosexual. However, I know the value of them being apart of a larger community we share…regardless of my feelings about them personally. Gay people are just as diverse as any community. Some of us are masculine, some femme, some don’t even care to own a gender identity. Some of us are geeks, blue collar, white collar, academic, rich, middle class, or poor. Some of us only want monogamy, some of us want the freedom to explore non-monogamy without judgement or disapproval. Some of us are into kink and BDSM and Leather, others are vanilla. Some are liberal and even though it boggles my mind and makes absolutely no sense to me some of us are conservative. Most of us are some grey obscurity of all these things and more. Having a gay community is not always about having perfect and ideal personal connection to everyone you meet. Its about a diverse population of homosexuals uniting in a common goal. Which I think needs to evolve to become more and more about having oppertunities for homosexual relationships. While some of those relationships are not always going to be an ideal connection…the point is the oppertunity for them is there and that there is more then just one or two rare oppertunities.

Revisiting The Importance on Addressing Internalized Homophobia in the Gay Community.

 

In my undergrad career I spent a lot of time deconstructing the gay community with different psycho-social theories. This process was inevitably reflective on myself and my personal experiences as a gay male. The more I tried to understand gay men and the psycho-social mechanisms that influenced our behaviors and perspectives…the more I had to challenge my own preconceptions about other gay men as a gay male myself. With only very few rare exceptions, gay people are not raised by gay people or in a gay society around them. They grow up with the expectation that they are heterosexual and will sexually mature with feelings and intimate relationships for the opposite sex. They also see homosexuality represented around them if not bluntly with homophobia, then with undertones that always see it with indignation “that’s so gay!” With a combination of wanting to earn respect from heterosexual friends upon coming out and wanting to distance oneself from a negative view of homosexuality…gay men often do internalize negative impulses and perceptions of homosexuality. But we have to understand that internalized homophobia isn’t simply blunt homophobia, it’s a spectrum of attitudes, behaviors, and subtle internalized preconceptions about homosexuality itself (either or both in oneself and in others). You can be completely out as a gay man, have supportive and open minded heterosexual friends, and even have a boyfriend and still suffer from internalized homophobia. Or you could be completely closeted and live a double life hooking up with guys while dating a girlfriend and have internalized homophobia.

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I am revisiting this subject because I am planning on building on my research from my undergrad years in my up coming graduate school years starting a month from now. It is my experience and belief that most of the barriers to having a positive and affirming experience in the gay community is rooted in our internalized oppression. Many gay men suffer from feeling isolated from others like themselves but don’t even realize so much of that isolation is self-imposed by beliefs, prejudices, and preconceptions they hold against each other. From the monogamous gay that “wants to be just like the straight people” who thinks all gays are any number of negative stereotypes because we don’t want the same things he does. To the free spirited gay that owns his sexuality and explores it uninhibitedly that still has a certain discomfort or aversion with particular kinds of gay people. Its always there, influencing the attitude, behaviors, and preconceptions we bring to the table in our common spaces. We need to bring more awareness to how internalized homophobia and homonegativity influences us in a large spectrum of ways and how we can treat it.

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As a growing number of people in mental health, LGBT studies, gender and sexuality studies, and social science fields continue an ongoing discussion about internalized homophobia and it’s effects on homosexuals, more and more studies reveal a large range of ways it can impact us. Substance abuse for instance, risky sexual behaviors, emotional intimacy issues with our lovers, behaviors and prejudices that self-impose isolation from the gay community, and so on. Think about substance abuse for instance. I don’t know about you but my first gay bar experience came with A LOT of anxiety. A place where homosexuality was for the first time in my life, accessible, concentrated, and common place around me. There was a curious and irrational discomfort inside of me because it was so new and unusual. I had been out of the closet for years before my first gay bar experience and even had a boyfriend or two…but I had not previously ever been in a space where I could assume all the men around me were also interested in the same sex and that it was socially acceptable to openly pursue that desire without shame or fear of homophobic response. That anxiety can drive you to seek out intoxication to calm your nerves…and right there in that very moment of internalized homophobia (the discomfort of having sudden access to homosexuality for the first time) leads to a developing alcoholism…something that easily can become a dependency every time you interact with other homosexuals if there is no interventions to change the pattern of behavior. Given that the most accessible and common gay space for us is bars for the most part…its no wonder they are finding LGBTs have high rates of drug and alcohol dependency issues. If there was less general discomfort and anxiety when socializing with other gay men in a gay-normalized space…would there be as much substance abuse in our community? I believe so myself. Some studies suggest that risk factors for substance abuse are reduced when individuals feel connected with positive relationships and live in a quality environment (though they do not go away because other factors can contribute to substance abuse, they are generally reduced and become less common).

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Lets also talk about partner selection behaviors. Holding preconceptions against a generalized belief about what the gay community is or is not (that carry undertones of disapproval or dislike) significantly reduces your openness to meeting the diverse people you can encounter in the gay community. It reduces your motivation to go to places where making gay connections are more common and accessible. It also puts out an off-putting attitude to gay people you encounter. If you want a same-sex boyfriend…but the entire gay community is this terrible thing and you say that every time you introduce yourself to other gay people…that comes across a bit negative and stand off-ish. With a changed internalized relationship to how you regard and relate to other gay people. You may find a totally different social experience with them. Mainly that your social network will get significantly larger and you will find gay people are significantly more diverse then you allowed yourself to believe.

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Not only does internalized homophobia effect how you perceive others…but it can impact your self-esteem as well. Now we all know the stereotype that gay people have a huge ego and are narcissistic, but again it’s a stereotype that is only sometimes based in truth and we have to differentiate between a healthy sense of “self-esteem” and an unhealthy narcissistically enhanced ego. These are totally different concepts and impact peoples behavior in different ways. Someone with a healthy sense of self-worth is going to feel more worthy of love, respect, integrity, and emotional well being. Someone who has a massively inflated ego is going to be dismissive others, probably compensating for a poor sense of self-worth by replacing it with self-gratification, and little to no empathy for others. Self-esteem is more important then most people realize and the pop discussion on how emphasizing it creates narcissistic “little special snowflakes,” has a poor sense of accuracy is what “healthy” self-esteem is and isn’t. With a strong sense of self-esteem you become less needing of gratification from others. You are less likely to put up with harmful and unhealthy behaviors from a partner just so you can have a boyfriend that says “I love you.” You can handle a rejection in more resilient and positive ways. You also are going to be less likely to settle for something unhealthy to find a false sense of being loved. Internalized homophobia does impact a sense of self-worth both in how gay men treat each other and in the more subliminal messages we internalize from a society that holds homosexuality in contempt. So realize you are worthy of love, respect, dignity, and a life where you are emotionally healthy and happy. Realize other gay people are worthy of that to and we all play a role in the social reality we create with each other that impacts that.

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Our sexuality itself is often impacted by what we internalize. As sexually liberated as we seem to be…it’s actually very common for gay men to feel discomfort with sex. Internalized homophobia could manifest in the guy that is perfectly comfortable giving you head, but really uncomfortable getting to know you and your name. Or it can manifest in the gay that is comfortable getting to know you and your name, but struggles to feel comfortable being sexual with you (even when the mutual interest is there). Holding on so tight to being perceived as a model homosexual that makes a heteronormative society comfortable with you can really erase the reality of our sexual desires sometimes. Its dangerous to remind those around you, that you are in fact a sexual being and like having sex with men…and that can internalize into sexual aversion. Or a discomfort with homosexuality as a dirty thing, it can create a cycle of trying to separate personhood from dick. In such cases, it feels a lot easier to get that primal dirty sexual urge scratched then it does see a person with the urge you are releasing. I personally do not like placing a monogamous expectation on gay people, nor do I think it’s fair to discourage traditional monogamy for those that want it. I do think both gays that want traditional monogamy and those that practice ethical non-monogamy do have to examine their sexuality though and try to deconstruct their motivations, discomforts, and behaviors to ensure it comes from an authentic and healthy place. Maybe you might need to challenge yourself to try out a hook-up for once…its not as bad as you think and you may enjoy it (or if you’re in a traditional monogamous relationship…explore outside your sexual comfort zone with your partner). Or maybe you need to challenge your personal barriers to emotional intimacy with gay people. Both issues can come from internal barriers that keep us from our optimum sense of happiness and fulfillment in our gay experience. Wanting to be loved but always denying ourselves the opportunity, or wanting to engage our sexual impulses but never allowing ourselves to enjoy it.

This and so much more makes up the realities of the lives of gay men and our internal struggles. Sometimes we see our identities as so attached to political issues…we neglect that sometimes to live happier lives we have to focus on the things that are less about how society treats and accepts us and more on our relationship to each other exclusively. Granted internalized homophobia does stem from the oppression we face in society, which is why social justice will always be important. However, we cannot erase the damage that’s already been done and that continues to take place (although progressively becoming more contained and reduced) and impacts our internal experience. We must take a moment to think of ourselves as an internal community and work on the problems that take place between us exclusively. We need to interrogate where our feelings of disconnection come from and challenge the internalized mechanisms they come from. What is having the right to marriage equality worth to us…if we all feel isolated from each other?

Pagan Spirituality: When You Hit A Plateau…Take A Break

 

Some of you may or may of not come across the concept of “hitting a Plateau” in a process of spiritual development. During my spiritual development in my path, I hit a time in my life where my peek experiences began to lessen and my connection to my guides and Gods and Goddesses began to feel fainter and fainter. It felt as though my spirituality was slowly fading away and I began to ask…why do I still do it? The immediate answer most fellow Pagans would tell me, meditate more or meditate in a different way. Or to just stick with it eventually once my new stage of spiritual evolution had time to settle and digest…a new shift and direction would come…The truth was the more I tried to force it, the more cynical I got. The more I focused on intellectual aspects of Paganism to keep me engaged and stave off boredom…the more it ultimately only made me more cynical of everything that I once was so inspired by. My primary spiritual teacher at the time told me I was hitting a Plateau and I needed to give it time to integrate.

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What does that mean? Hitting a Plateau…essentially it means you’ve had so many peek experiences that seemed life changing at the time and miraculous that now they have reached the limit of how far they can take you and seem mundane and ordinary. It no longer leaves you in awe, and thus it no longer feels miraculous. I kept trying different things and would get a small glimmer of new information or new ideas that might feel gratifying or even entertaining…but my spirituality did not really make me feel “connected” like it once did. It fit the description of what some might call the “dark night of the soul.” Where after you’ve have a major life changing spiritual awakening…you lose the connection. The more I tried to stick with it though, the more disingenuous it felt. I was going through the motions mostly because it felt familiar and kept me connected to friendships and communities I valued…but I really didn’t believe in any of it anymore. The Gods and Goddesses and spirit guides had become hallow shells and psychological symbols my mind attempted to imaginatively play out, where once they were miraculous and mystical beings. Perhaps it was a Plateau, in that what I once thought was mystical and miraculous could no longer help me evolve and grow in the ways I was suppose to at the time.

The more my frustration at hitting walls of emptiness, void of meaning and inspiration, the more I felt like my identity was becoming distinctly less Pagan and more secular. After I finally finished my seminary training I felt exhausted with the world of Paganism…I still loved my friends I met from it…but I no longer really felt like the practice and worldview really gave me any meaning or anything particularly useful. So I slowly separated and distanced myself from it and focused on material and worldly pursuits. A serious relationship with my boyfriend (at the time), focusing on getting a new job and getting admitted into grad school. I spent my free time doing something worldly like playing video games or reading up on the news and learning more about political affairs and stopped meditating all together, stopped thinking about Gods and Goddesses or anything remotely spiritual at all. The alter room that I had filled with Pagan and new age paraphernalia began to collect dust and locked the door which almost never opened for an entire year except maybe once or twice.

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To be honest this is exactly what I needed. I devoted so much of my life since childhood in spiritual pursuits, I almost never put much attention on to developing much of a worldly identity. I, ofcourse, played video games and things like most geeky kids my age…but I never missed a meditation, did yoga every day, and was always studying some form of spirituality rather eastern based or Neo-Pagan based. Spirituality was such a deep and strong core focus in my life and I never thought of myself being who I was without it. I began to realize how much I neglected the need to have a more mundane identity. Ever since I completed my shadow work initiation in my tradition my slow shift into cynicism lead me deeper and deeper into a moderate hedonism and greater materialism. The more spirituality began to become less inspiring, the more I turned to material pursuits to fill the void of my time and energy. It was what I needed, many people I talked to during this process did not grow up spiritual like I did. They left a religion they didn’t feel connected or a mundane life that was unfulfilling to find their path. I started my path early, and the spiritual feelings and awakening I had was genuine and authentic…but I begin to think the Gods wanted me to leave my focus on them behind for a little while. I needed to develop a more material mundane connection to the world. It is the fault of many who develop monk’s pride to feel their spiritual attainment puts them above those that live material lives and have mundane problems. I am grateful to be spared that vice by being forced to fall from the graces of spiritual loftiness and get a reality check in a world without Gods and spirits.

Now I am about to become a counselor as I go to Grad School to get my MS in clinical counseling. Had I not gone through the dull-drums of a secular and mundane break from my spirituality…I really don’t think the service I hope to one day soon give would be all the meaningful or deep. Insisting the answer to someone’s problems is always rooted in something spiritual has been the down fall of many around me growing up in an alternative spiritual world. Sometimes someone needs a more pragmatic and secular answer to their problems, a soul retrieval with integrated reiki is not going to help someone with diagnosed schizophrenia. Without proper medical treatment, some conditions will not stabilize no matter how much aromatherapy and shamanic healing you do. That alcoholism you’ve developed won’t resolve itself with some rose water and LBRPs…but choosing to admit you have a problem and seeking professional help might.  By leaving my spirituality behind for a little while I was able to work out some melodramas and work through some of my own issues that my spirituality frankly was only an escapism from. I’ve known many that have used spirituality to do the same thing in many different ways.

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Now that I’ve had some time off, I’ve been getting a small glimmer of a slowly reopening gateway welcoming me back to the spiritual connections I thought I had lost a long time ago. But with new perspectives, new understanding, and new priorities. No person really can tell another where they are spiritually or where they aren’t, if they are doing something correctly or if they aren’t, who they are spiritually or who they aren’t…there IS NOTHING objective about spirituality at all…I learned that a long time ago when I got cynical of it in college getting my Religious Studies degree.  Spirituality is entirely subjective and never fits a common pattern fully. So just go with what feels right for you…even if that means leaving it entirely for a little while, if you are really meant to come back to it, you will. But if you force yourself to stay spiritual even though you’ve lost the motivation and inspiration to feel genuine about it…take a break. You’ve probably gotten all the spiritual peeks you’re going to get and no matter what people tell you to change, what you’re doing wrong, what you should do more or less of…there is no true rule book that’s going to guarantee your personal spiritual success. So give yourself permission to leave the Gods behind for a little while. Try being yourself without Gods, spirit guides, and power animals. Just be you, play some video games, enjoy some material pursuits and pleasures. Focus on work, human relationships, hobbies, whatever it is you need to. If spirituality is really meant to ever be a part of your life again…it’ll come back, in the right way…and it likely won’t even look like it used to and will take you to new places you never saw coming. If it’s not meant to come back, then its not…but that is far better to dogmatically forcing yourself to do something that isn’t working. If you’ve hit a Plateau that’s going nowhere…just take a break!

Sexual Bigotry Versus Preferences: Deconstructed

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Here is something I have spent a lot of time thinking about in my gay experiences: sexual bigotry. Because sure there are many things that “turn me on” and that “turn me off” in potential partners…but when does likes and dislikes become prejudice? That’s something that’s not always discussed and made crystal clear. In the gay world, in everything from grindr, scruff, and all the rest. We see a plethora of profiles with headless torsos and announcements of what guys don’t like “no fats, no femmes, no blacks…” Its such a common rhetoric at times one wonders if gay guys ever actually define what they like in each other (perhaps all too common in other contexts of our socialization with each other too). But there is growing backlash in the gay community that pegs the “no <insert here>” profile gays as bigots. On the other side of the argument guys want to say “its just my preference” trying to defend that they do not have any obligation to like something sexually that they do not authentically feel attracted to. Often this issue focuses to much on the polarity of the problem and ignores more practical conversations. Indeed, nobody should ever feel obligated to be attracted to someone (therefore feeling like they have to have sex with someone) when they do not authentically feel that way. But is it appropriate to introduce yourself to someone (even when your intentions are purely sexual and nothing else) by announcing things you are repulsed by in sweeping generalizations? This is the paradigm I want to deconstruct.

Sexuality is a very personal and individualized experience and yet such a dynamic spectrum of social relations. Its difficult to cover any topic of sexuality without both considering its social function and its uniqueness in individuals. We all find things “attractive” and we all have things that are “turn offs.” Some people are turned on by pain for instance…I am not one of those people, that’s definitely a boner-killer for me. But regardless of your likes and dislikes it’s so important that we find partners that are compatible with our sexual desires. I definitely do not want a partner who wants me to participate in sadomasochism, not because I have moral problems with consenting adults that want to participate in it…but because *I* do not want to participate in it myself with any potential partner I want to have sex with. That’s pretty fair, right? I think so far anybody I talk to would agree with me there. If you don’t…you’re pretty much advocating for unconsensual pain-inducing sexual violations of people (there is a word for that, it’s called rape)…that’s just not cool. But when we get into the realm of generalized qualities about people such as being masculine or feminine, being in a certain ethnicity or race, having certain physical characteristics such as a big or small body, all of a sudden liking or disliking such qualities becomes a social issue of debate.

The reason I believe these discussions end up getting really messy is because of the moral conflict between “bigotry is bad” and “rape culture is bad.” People sometimes look at the debate and see a conflict between those values. People feel their preferences are their sovereign rights and they have no obligation to have sex with anyone they don’t want to. On the other end people feel announcing a dislike of vast generalizations of people “No femmes, No fats, No black” is a form of bigotry. I feel both bigotry and rape culture is immoral so how can we have a discussion about this issue that respects both of those values? We have to start by not polarizing the issue into extremes. You can “not be a bigot” and say you aren’t interested in having sex with someone. You can also find ways to hold bigotry accountable without implying that people “ought to have sex” with someone when they don’t want to.

When I have different partners, I would be lying if there were not unique characteristics about them that I find attractive. I’ve liked guys a lot bigger and stronger than me and get turned on by that quality. I’ve liked getting lost in a partners dark eyes and dark hair to match. I could write an entire homoerotic poem about physical characteristics that turn me on in my partners. I’ve liked partners with intelligence that can go deep into a discussion about something I am passionate about and legitimately been turned on by it. I’ve also been turned off by things like smoker’s breath when I make out with a guy that smokes a lot. I am turned off by qualities like “neediness” or “pushiness.” I am turned off by certain personalities if they are incompatible with mine. And yes I am turned off by female anatomy, I am not disgusted by it, the human body is beautiful in all its forms and spectrums of gender identity combinations, but in strictly the sense of my individual sexual feelings, biological organs do make a difference for me. But is it appropriate for me to put on my grindr profile: “only guys with dark hair and eyes, must have a dick not a vagina, smokers are disgusting, if you’re not strong enough to pick me up and throw me around I don’t want to talk to you!” Wow I just made a great impression, didn’t I? Such a polite way to introduce myself to a world guys. Some that may fit these parameters and others that don’t. Such as guys with blond hair, some with skinny bodies, some that smoke, and some that may actually have a vagina (but are still very much men)…But it’s just my preferences right?

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I may not like smoker’s breath…but I am not going to call someone who smokes “disgusting.” I may like having a sexual partner that is stronger than me, but I am not going to treat guys that don’t have that quality rudely because of it. There are plenty of characteristics and manifestations of the male body that I am unattracted to and it’s not even always clear why nor is it always consistent…it just is. But is it really necessary for me to introduce myself to people by announcing what kind of guys I don’t like? It would be like getting a sign and wearing it as I walk around in a gay bar saying “I do not like guys that are…” and then expecting the people around me to not have a problem with that, including the ones that fit those characteristics. I think we could agree this would not be appropriate behavior in an “in-person” social setting…so why is it appropriate to put on a social media profile? Many people respond at this point with “it’s just a hook up app.” Well besides the fact that Grindr is not limited to that purpose and is often used for many other reasons beyond just that…having intentions to use it for hook-ups “only” is no excuse to be an asshole. If you have intentions to hook-up in a gay bar (and many guys do) would that justify the sign we just talked about? No it wouldn’t.

Also for those that want to define Grindr from their narrow perspective as “hook-up app” only. May I direct you to their website that defines itself as “dating and social app.” You may also find their “our values” section an enlightening read about how the company defines itself:

“Grindr is a global community for men of all backgrounds to connect with one another. We strive to create a safe space where all are welcome to be who they are and express themselves without fear of judgment…You can find what you’re looking for on Grindr without stepping on anyone’s toes. We have zero tolerance for discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender, race, body type, or age. Basically, we don’t like assholes. Instead of sharing what you’re not into, share what you’re into.”

In short, the company does not define grindr that way, YOU DO. You’re the one trying to create that reality, not the app. The company itself does not define their product to be used in one limited way nor do they endorse sexual bigotry. So whatever delusional idea you have about some make-believe grindr rule book that limits it’s use and endorses behavior to what you are attempting to justify…let me enlighten you in that, that rule book does not exist! There are many kinds of “connections” men can have…rather dates, hook-ups, or friends both on grindr and in-person…and guess what…you don’t have be an asshole in whatever connection you want to have. Grindr does not endorse this behavior, so stop using that as an excuse. Gay spaces have always been a spectrum of intentions (rather cyber or in-person). You have people hooking-up, dating, and developing friendships all in the same space simply because we have nowhere else to have connections to other gay people in a heteronormative society. If you want to hook-up in one of the few gay spaces available to you…GREAT! If you use it for other things…GREAT! It should be that way…but still, you don’t HAVE to be an asshole about it when you want specific things out of it.

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I think personally that Grindr gives good advice in the cited quote above taken from their official website. To preserve your right to both like and dislike things sexually without being a bigot, all you have to do is focus on what you want, not what you don’t want when interacting with people. Don’t introduce yourself by defining people that you are repulsed by. If you don’t want to talk to someone, simply don’t talk to them. If you don’t want to have sex with someone, don’t have sex with them. You are not obligated to respond to someone simply because they spam your inbox with endless “hi” and “looking” messages. In fact someone expecting you to give them attention just because they are attracted to you and want it is harassment. Use that block button. I know I have. But you can enforce your boundaries without wearing a sign that says “no fats, no femmes, no blacks.” You can reject someone without implying that you find something about them repulsive. If you find masculinity attractive maybe you could say “masculinity is hot, I’ve always had a thing for guys that….” If you want to celebrate something you like, you can do that without implying that people are repulsive. I celebrate the fact I like dick. It’s a beautiful organ, its smooth soft skin, the pink head at the tip…the liquid that comes out of it when you play with it the right way…the places you can put it when it gets hard 😊. But I don’t need to start talking about the reasons why I am turned off by vagina to celebrate my sexual feelings for dick. Got it? I don’t have to call someone vapid to be attracted to a deeply intellectual personality. I don’t have to call someone a skinny bitch to chase after big strong guys.

Sure maybe in a conversation with a good friend you can talk about your sexual likes and dislikes as a matter of sharing intimate information about your lives. That’s not a crime to like or dislike something. But you don’t have to wear a sign and make announcements to the whole world implying what kind of people are repulsive to you. You can exercise your right to say “no” and enforce your sexual boundaries without putting someone down for thinking your attractive and having the audacity to say it. A compliment is always nice, harassment isn’t…but a compliment is not a crime don’t treat it as such. I mean lets put a reversal on it “no whites, no cisgenders, no fit muscle jocks, no masc. Femme4femme.” Sure if you are on the receiving end of that rejection you probably haven’t heard it enough for it to really phase you (because the social dynamics have always been in your favor). But imagine hearing it ALL THE TIME, and feeling like the only reason you can’t get laid or find a date as much as you want is because the majority of the world finds you repulsive for being those things. It probably would piss you off to see people advertise the fact that they don’t want anything to do with you all the time and insult you just for looking at them. Sure you might understand that you’re not entitled to anything from others when it comes to having sex or getting their affection…but it would be nice of them to not put you down all the time just for being in their presence and being yourself.

I have written many blogs about the spirit in the gay community and our internal issues and social dynamics with each other. I love you guys. I really do. Some of my closest friends are other gay men and I have always felt a special connection to my gay friends and to gay spaces. There is just a unique life force and understanding between gay men (when you learn how to find it and tap into it)…but only when we play nice with each other. We have the opportunity to co-create our common spaces in ways that are more positive and supportive for all of us. Believe it or not each one of us plays a part in the reality we create in our community. Being gay is hard enough without us always putting each other down for shallow reasons. Lets celebrate our homosexuality and the diversity of it, instead of choosing to impose limitations on the potential of how wonderful our gay spaces can be.

Celebrate Loving Yourself on Heart Day

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This Valentine’s day I find myself single after my first long-term and serious relationship. I won’t say there isn’t a small part of me that misses what could have been, or that wouldn’t like someone I could share a candle lit dinner with and a long walk holding hands under moon light. But I can honestly say I am not as distraught as I have been at earlier Valentine’s Days in my life when I was single. I think honestly, it’s because over time I’ve learned how to love myself more. It can be a hard lesson to learn and usually people don’t learn it unless they are tested by emotional adversity in their relationships and have a few heart breaks. But I think this recently failed relationship really was affirmation for me that self-esteem and a sense of being whole in oneself is more important than placing all your self-worth and needs for validation on another person telling you that they love you.

There was a time in my life when I was less mature in my sexual experiences and dating experiences, that I was a love sick romantic. Every fiber of my being wanted a life long love with Mr. Right. I wouldn’t say that adversity has entirely killed my inner romantic. I will say, however, after a few heart breaks and a bit more life experience on the matter I am less attached to the need to be validated by it as a person. It’s a hard life lesson to learn, but you really do not need someone else to be happy. Often people that experience that overwhelming need for someone to say they love them, find themselves putting up with abusive and dysfunctional relationships just to hear the words “I love you.” Is hearing those words really worth sacrificing your sense of integrity and self-esteem? I learned a while ago that I would much rather be single and have a sense of peace in my life, then be in a relationship with someone that makes me lose my sense of self-esteem and value.

Heart break is never easy and taking the risk of loving someone opens you up to that risk. But as hard as it is to accept that experience really does become easier when you have a better sense of self-esteem. Some have criticized this kind of philosophy as a form of narcissism. However, there is a difference between a healthy sense of self-esteem and neurotic inflation of your ego that is toxic to yourself and others. It’s important to distinguish the two.  A healthy sense of self-esteem contains an inner sense of peace with yourself, knowing that regardless of who comes and goes in your life, what people do and say, you know that you are okay and worth caring about. Another boy to cuddle at night does not define yourself worth and your sense of inner peace. You can find satisfaction in life simply by knowing you deserve to be happy and are whole and complete in yourself. You are one who does not need “your other half” in an external person.

I am not saying that the desire to fulfill sexual urges won’t exist, nor the desire to find romantic companionship will just disappear. But there is less attachment to that defining your value and worth. There is less need to be validated by someone else’s love. Human beings are social creatures and we will always have an innate need to have a relational connection to others, but how fulfilling are those connections when you don’t love yourself? Ideally, a healthy relationship would be people who are complete in and of themselves, yet complement each other in their individual completeness. As opposed to two people desperately needing each other to be “complete.”

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Once I began to get comfortable that I didn’t need someone else to be okay, to live a happy life, to find fulfillment, moments like these got easier. I would still like to find a fulfilling and loving companionship with mr. right, the only difference now is that I am not as attached to out comes. I can pursue that desire without needing everything to work out perfectly. I can accept a break up due to incompatibility much easier and gracefully. I also can enjoy valentine’s day when I am single. One of the hardest lessons you ever have learn is how to love yourself enough not to be completely destroyed after a failed romance. Love yourself enough to know you are resilient enough to go on with life, to know life is not over, to know this is only a stepping stone of learning and growing to the next phase of life. Love is a risk every time…but you should never have to sacrifice your self-esteem and self-worth for it.

How Feminism Has Become a Core Value for Me as A Gay Man

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All my life I have never fit any molds. You could call me a hippie given I am very Pagan, vegetarian, and way out in left field politically…yet I do not fit any of those boxes perfectly as a stereotype. After all the whole past year of my life I dated a military man and was keeping an open mind about a world contrary to the cultural background I came from. Yes I am vegetarian, but no I am not evangelical about other people eating meat…nor am I vegan. I am a gay man and there are many stereotypes about that (defined both by straight people and fellow gay people as depending on which group is defining the stereotype of what it is to be a “gay man” changes depending on the perspective) that I fit, but still not completely. Straight people see me as like Kurt from Glee or Jack from Will and Grace (essentially the ever so objectified GBF “gay best friend”). Other gay people however have tried to pigeon hole me into thousands of different molds: the slut, the twink that dabbles in drag, the geek, the rad queer. These concepts represent surface aspects to a very shallow degree…but none of these truly fit a holistic view of my personhood. I have lived a life on the outskirts of how every social group defines itself, never truly fitting in fully anywhere. But I do have to say the majority of friends that have always understood me the most are Feminist that have those tools of language to deconstruct oppressive social molds.

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I am not saying feminism is perfect, nor that all feminist are the same in this regard. Indeed some feminist are so locked in a small box of thinking they create their own self-referential bubble where the only perspective or issues that matter are their own. But that’s not what feminism is at its core. Atleast not for me and the feminists I know. It’s really just an attempt to deconstruct cultural issues and lift up those that are marginalized so they have equal opportunity and respect in society. Yes, that does require having a conversation about privilege. Yes, those conversations sometimes can feel a lot like oppression Olympics. “You think you had it tough?! I was poor and my parents both died OD’ing on drugs when I was 16! Yet I am still successful because I worked hard to rise above that!” “Well that may be so but society still has given you more opportunities to rise above that as a white-heterosexual-cis-gendered male!” Yes, we’ve all had these conversations. They are difficult, frustrating, and often do go in unproductive circles. At times in conversations like this, I just get to a place where I feel like you have to choose your battles and battles like that are just not worth it sometimes (and sometimes they are, only you can decide what is and isn’t a useful expenditure of your energy and time).

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I do have privileges in many aspects of my life. I was fortunate enough to have a middle-income background with a supportive mother who joined PFLAG when I came out. The rest of my family was not so supportive, and some of them have been cut out of my life. But atleast I have her, and yes I realize many other queers didn’t even have that. Yet don’t let that make you think my life was adversity-free. I was severely bullied and made fun of long before I came out because people thought I was gay before even getting to know me. Beaten up, called “Fag,” and tortured by hyper masculine men. To this day there are still times just the fact my voice doesn’t sound masculine enough is reason enough for someone to put me down or deny me equal respect and opportunity. Some of the things hyper masculine men have done to me are just horrific, no need to discuss the details, point being it wasn’t good. Also, I was severely dyslexic to an extreme degree (and had several other learning disabilities) and couldn’t read, write, or keep up with math until I was in middle school. Even then, that only came with lots of continuous tutoring and education with specialists that could help me get there and scrap by when I couldn’t function optimally. No I am not using that as an excuse, I had psychologists that put me through extensive tests, I was certifiably severely dyslexic, not just saying that because I was lazy. I still to this day struggle with it and people tend to measure my intelligence based off basic learning skills they took for granted and had the privilege to just come naturally to them. Luckily, I had access to enough resources to at least by-pass those things and find large amounts of academic success in more abstract fields of the humanities (social sciences, philosophy/religion) in college in spite of that (using writing centers to proof read my writing, getting access to extended test time, etc.) Yes, to have access to those things is a privilege as many with dyslexia never do…that still doesn’t mean my status as dyslexic doesn’t often create a barrier to opportunity and equal social respect though.

To this day I just have a quality that makes people make assumptions about me long before getting to know me. Maybe because it’s because I naturally have an androgynous quality that doesn’t fit a masculine mold. I am deeply in touch with my emotions. I refuse to let my dyslexic tendencies hold me back from a hard hitting and deep intellectual discussion (or typing them for that matter). I own my sexuality in a healthy unapologetic way (that is not in an objectifying others way, just talking about the date I had last night, or discussing sex as a reality, or seeing non-monogamy as ethical and respectable). I’ve grown accustomed to not wasting my time with people that put me down because of these things. I cut them out because they’d only become a toxic influence in my life anyway and would likely never change, or would take too much emotional energy on my part to try to change. So, if I appear to live in a feminist, liberal, gay bubble, that’s only because those are the only communities that accept me and give me opportunities to find success and happiness. Other communities don’t…they often reject me right off the bat and make my life a miserable living hell. They do not value people with my perspective and unique experiences. My point being that everybody has aspects of who they are that gives them some form of social mobility, but that doesn’t mean there are no other things about them that create unfair barriers to opportunity in specific ways and contexts that aren’t worth discussing.

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So this is why feminism has become a core value for me. At its core, it’s created sub-cultures and a larger cultural movement that deconstructs the details of these issues and provides solutions through empathy, compassion, and understanding where it’s often severely lacked. I have found more compassion, understanding, and human decency from people that consider feminism to be a value they hold…then I ever had from people that dismiss it as a “man-hating, little special snowflake, cry-baby” philosophy. I think this is because as feminism began it deconstructed an oppressive hierarchy called “patriarchy.” Women were denied career opportunities, opportunities to pursue a life of autonomy and independence, and the right to demand basic respects and decency from men that saw them as objects to adore and use. Women know exactly what it’s like to be told to stay in their place and just be grateful they have what they have when it’s not fair or morally right. As their movement evolved, they began to have increasingly more common discussions with others who are marginalized and oppressed by the same basic pattern of behavior: Someone with power and privilege exploits, and/or is blind to empathizing with, someone without it. So, the movement has evolved today to have that same basic conversation from many, MANY perspectives. Cis-gendered heterosexual women AND everyone else put in a marginalized and oppressed social position, included.

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Feminism is really at the end of the day about having compassion for the little person and lifting them up. Trying to make a culture a better place for those that it leaves behind. Often by focusing on those perspectives and giving them a focus when they are otherwise often dismissed or ignored. I value feminism at my core because I’ve learned from trial and error and life experience that someone who does not empathize with the marginalized and oppressed will never provide a relationship where others around them are truly respected and acknowledged, unless of course they too have lots of privilege and power. The world needs feminism because there are far more that are left behind to support the luxury of the privileged then there are those that enjoy those privileges and abusive power. We need that in a world where a man can “grab ‘em by the pussy” and be successful enough to become president of the United States without any consequences.

Dispaire in Trump’s America: To My Fellow Liberals, I Feel Your Pain…Here’s What We Can Do Next


The emotional unwinding of this election has been fierce for many of us. I’ve had multiple moments of letting the tears fall with friends and family. Many of us simply can’t be rational right now and that’s okay. I am not endorsing that we go out and destroy property like a few of us have, peaceful protest maybe…but let’s not get violent. I am saying it’s perfectly okay to vent be angry and yes even distance yourself from people who don’t understand and dismiss your need to be emotional. This is a huge loss for us. I think many of us could have agreed as we have processed this with each other…it’s not so much Trump himself…it’s the message he used to get where he is and the fact that it was as successful as it was. The fact that our culture endorsed and legitimized that. The fact so many acted nonchalant about it like it was something America could gloss over and look past like it’s not a big deal. Liberals have a soft spot for the weak and vulnerable and there is nothing we hate more than a bully. What we are most hurt and insulted about right now is America chose not to intervene with a bullying behavior. This election for us was not necessarily about our ideal candidate, we chose to give up on that after Bernie Sanders lost the primaries. This election, for us atleast, was a cultural war to preserve a message of hope for victims of bullies and bigotry in our country, to tell America that bullies don’t prosper and their behavior is not acceptable. America failed to do this and we feel like our culture failed us because of it.

A lot of us are not being rational right now, I know I am not. But that’s okay, we don’t have to. We do have to be rational enough not to completely lose control and do things that we regret (like violent protests). But we can give ourselves permission to bitch and moan for a little while, we are human and our emotions need to go through the process. But as we slowly come out of the shock, misery, and despair, we need to own up to somethings and decide what we are going to do moving forward.

First off, Hillary was not our champion. 

I don’t know about you but I “felt the Bern” like everyone else in the primaries. Were the conspiracies about DNC true? Well I am not 100% invested in either side of the argument, but see the merits in both. The problem with most conspiracies is that they are often based on highly fragmented information. That said the gaps between those fragmented obscurities are interpreted through a lens of assumption and bias. No more or less bias then my comparing Trump to Hitler and neo-nazism. Maybe Hillary did do some things she shouldn’t have, but maybe she wasn’t as bad as people wanted her to be either. Either way there was just enough sketchiness in her record that pushed moderates and swing voters to the right (or even more so create apathetic voters that didn’t want to turn out). Not everyone wants to do or die in the liberal mission to stop bullies from succeeding. That’s what makes us mad at America, but that do or die attitude that made us gloss over the public’s concern about Hillary was also our down fall as a movement. Because we let our sense of righteousness cloud our judgement. We can stick by our convictions in our quest, but we’re going to have to own up to the fact that we needed a better champion. One that moderate America could have respected more. Elizabeth Warren could have been respected more by the public than Hillary. She didn’t lose because of misogyny, she lost because her image was not clean enough for America to respect. Even if she was not as bad as many tried to make her out to be, she made just enough mistakes in her career that cost her the election. We have to own that. We were willing to forgive her only because we felt there was so much at stake and the cultural significance to the first woman president beating a bully gave us hope. But she lost and now the American liberal needs to examine the problems of our image and do some house cleaning.

Second, we have to separate the reality of who Trump really is and the divisive message he used to win. 

There is media information chaotically flying in multiple different directions about what Trump is going to do and what he’s not. The administration he’s appointing and the promises he’s intending not to keep, as well as the promises he does. This media, like all media has been this election, is conflicting and highly fragmented. Only time will tell what he is really going to do and what he’s not. I hope that the more moderate information bias is correct and he’s not going to be the monster he portrayed himself to be to the ultra-conservatives. That he really isn’t going to build a wall and deport people, that he really isn’t going to overturn marriage equality and reinstate don’t ask don’t tell. That would be great if that’s all true and maybe I could come around to a willingness to work with it if it is. But given the people he’s putting in power, like Pence and Sarah Palin, it’s hard to tell what really will happen because they REALLY ARE terrifying. The fact still remains (to the liberal agenda’s credit) that regardless of who Trump REALLY is or is not, he used a message of bullying, bigotry, and xenophobia to succeed. That says something very serious about the culture of America. Liberals need to continue to oppose whatever it is in our culture that permitted that to succeed. We need to focus our counter attack moving forward more on the culture that created Trump and less on if that’s truly who he is or not. If he is the monster he claims to be it will become apparent over time, if he isn’t then we need to focus on the culture that voted for him and keeping it in check.

Third, we MUST create community. 

Some of us grew a little complacent during the Obama administration as we gained rights like marriage equality. America was slowly becoming a culture that LGBTs and other minorities could succeed and live happy lives in. More and more of the gay community become homogenized. We thought we could just live a comfy life in suburbia with our husbands and settle down in a middle-income lifestyle. (Well us millennials doubted the middle-income thing because of all the student loan debt we’d face to get that kind of income, but that’s another story.) We took that progress for granted and slowly got more complacent about creating gay community and resources for our needs. Now our ability to have that life and many other things is threatened by people like Mike Pence who have an agenda to take that away and even put us through correctional shock therapy. Again maybe the Trump administration will not make good on their claim to do this…but then again maybe they will. I know I have a lot to lose as a boyfriend to a man that serves in the Navy. If we lose our right to marry each other and be recognized as legal spouses, I will not be able to travel with him as he gets re-stationed in the coming years. I will not have access to Tricare for my medical needs, and will not have the economic support from the military to make all that goes into a military couple’s lifestyle work. Maybe if my career as a counselor generates enough income for me, I can travel with him as he goes from place to place on my own dollar. But that’s not really likely given the debt and average income counselors with a master’s degree get. Not to mention getting advancement as a counselor that constantly has to move with his non-legal military spouse is not likely.

So yeah the world will pretty much go up in flames for us if either Don’t Ask Don’t Tell or a traditional marriage act gets reinstated. Our life as a couple might have to end because we will not have the same support heterosexual military couples do to stay together in the complications of a military lifestyle. That would be devastating to both of us. If this does happen the gay community is going to have to stick together. We will have to work our asses off to fight for our rights (yet again), defend ourselves against hate crimes and bigotry, and create an internal community that compensates for the discrimination we face. We can’t do that with grindr alone…we are going to have to organize, put time and resources into it, and come together and be accessible and visible to each other. As a pre-professional counselor, I am going to have my work cut out for me to advocate for minorities that are impacted by the coming cultural shift and I plan to do just that! I am afraid and I am not going to pretend I am not, the fact that I could lose so much is very real for me. But I will not let that fear silence me or the good I can do with the kind of career I am going into. So be visible and accessible to other minorities that will be impacted, offer your time as a volunteer, or your resources if you have them to give. We will need each other more then we have previously as we are impacted by the coming cultural changes.

Fourth, be engaged in the Liberal agenda and PLEASE GOD(ESS) VOTE FOR IT! 

The biggest problem with the left is that its notorious for not being proactive enough or united enough. Conservatives always turn out to vote with loyalty to their party, society by default tends to represent them and create community for them. Liberals must actually show up to create community and make their voices heard. Our challenge is we do so with more diversity and differing perspectives. That’s often why conservatives win against us. When they are, for the most part, entirely white, Christian, heterosexuals, they rarely have to argue about who is being represented and who isn’t and dealing with that divide on their agenda. What little differences they do have still is not significant enough to stop their voter turn out in elections. They pretty much just all reach a consensus that they will represent white, Christian, heterosexual interests and vote on it. The minorities in their party are so loyal they are still willing to vote, even if it’s against their own interests sometimes (I am looking at you LGBTQ republicans). Liberals are attempting to advocate for many different (and sometimes conflicting) minorities. Thus, we have large amounts of internal fighting that discourages our attempts to have effective and united action. We are going to have to at least TRY to come to consensus to challenge the bullies in Trump’s America. Sometimes our infighting is extremely petty and our oppression Olympics only defeats ALL of us in the end. So we’re going to have to address that moving forward in a way that consolidates better unity and less division. Maybe the privileged in our communities are not listening enough and maybe the victim mentality gets out of hand and misplaced. We’re going to have to do something about both sides of the issue and reach a solution that results in better unity and proactive engagement.


Finally support each other, affirm your emotional needs, use your feelings as motivation to do something.

We are hurting and there is going to be a lot of fear, anger, and sadness going forward. We’ve all been at a point of emotional break down at some point in our lives…so be as understanding as you can if people need the space to do that. Give yourself permission to do that. Regardless of if you were for or against Hillary…I do agree with her slogan “stronger together.” Bernie had a similar message and tried to encourage unity too, even if it meant compromise. Our vision as liberals is about trying to make the world a better place for those that are under privileged and face injustice by society’s bullies. Let’s own that what we are really hurt about here all comes down to the fact that our culture permitted bullying to be successful. That’s where the pain is rooted. So lets process that, and support each other as we do. Use that pain and anger to motivate you to address the problems of bullying in society. Bullies use terror and violence to intimidate those who cannot defend themselves…it’s our job to intervene. So we have to better ourselves and become an advocate that does exactly that. We have to clean up our act, address the issues with our political communities, and better ourselves so that we can create an America where bullies truly never prosper. Use your fear, anger, and sadness to acknowledge there is a problem and find the motivation within you to go out and CHANGE IT! We have only ourselves to blame if we don’t even at the very least “Try”…so “try” because it’s our moral obligation to intervene when there is injustice…otherwise we permit bullies to shape the society we live in. We have only ourselves to blame if we don’t intervene when we see bullies prosper. We aren’t perfect, we are human and make mistakes, but even if we fail we can at least “try” and that is something!

To All Those People That Think I Have “Seen the Light” Just Because I am Monogamous Now

 

 

I run into something common in discussions now that I have a boyfriend and we are monogamous with each other. There are many conventional people that talk in such a way like I have finally “seen the light” and abandoned my inferior values as “ethical slut.” Such erotiphobia needs to be addressed, I may be monogamous right now which is a change from being “non-monogamous” but no, I still have the same values and still think monogamy (specifically in the context of being a normative expectation) needs to be dismantled as an institution. Sex positivity is not a movement about immoral sexuality or lost souls who don’t know how to have loving relationships. It’s about deconstructing toxic and unhealthy cultural ideas around sex and promoting an attitude of celebrating it as a life affirming and positive thing in the many diverse ways it manifests itself. This includes the entire spectrum from monogamy to polyamory to open relationships to closed ones to just being a proud ethical slut and any other identity you can think of.

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Before I met my current boyfriend, I was exploring myself by practicing “non-monogamy” in my own unique way. I was not nearly as sexually intense as some of my friends were, nor was I interested in traditional ideologies around love and sex either. I was just experimenting with having sexual/intimate experiences with people without putting any expectation that sexual interests had to result in the goal of monogamy to be legitimate ways to enjoy sex and intimate interactions with other guys. Some guys can get a lot out of the anonymous hook up way of sharing their sexuality with others…but I didn’t find that personally fulfilling or particularly interesting for the purposes of what I wanted of my own Willful consent. I just liked getting to know other guys with no expectations around what we were or weren’t going to do sexually and just enjoy the experience of meeting other gay men. If the chemistry felt right as we got to know each other it might result in something sexual. Or it might just of been a person I had the pleasure of getting to know and going out with a few times in my free time. It was like a grey area somewhere between dating and hooking up as people conventionally understand the two concepts. Frankly that was one of the most liberating and fun times of my life. We grow up in a heteronormative society with strictly defined roles between men and women in dating, and limited cultural norms around how the interested parties can interact with each other in terms of love and sex. We never take the time to explore other ways of consensually and healthily sharing sexual experiences and emotional intimacy with others. This was precisely what I was doing and why I often said to people up front “monogamy is not for me, I am not really interested in it.”

 

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People reacted to this in many ways, they assumed that meant I was having wild orgies all the time and engaging in wild promiscuous sex like some Whore of Babylon. Well, I certainly think it’s perfectly healthy to have orgies amongst consenting adults who (let’s hope) are using protection. I suppose in the strictest definition simply because I was not defining myself within rigidity of traditional monogamy that made me technically “promiscuous.” Also, I frankly love the Whore of Babylon as a Pagan, to me she’s synonymous with the architype of Mother Mary except she embraces sexuality as a beautiful thing worthy of sacred regard that does not make someone “impure” in her eyes. But all that said, I actually was quite vanilla in how I expressed my sexuality and shared it with consenting other men. I frankly also probably only got laid once a month to three times (on a good month lol). In some more competitive sex positive individuals that makes me an amateur (which is a word I will gladly accept because it defines someone who does something for the love of doing it as opposed to trying to live up to professional standards), in others eyes it makes me some sort of Whore of Babylon (again another thing I will gladly accept because frankly I worship her image and architype as a Pagan and think she’s awesome). I was not trying to compete with anyone or frankly or tone myself down to make myself look unthreatening to traditional monogamous prudish limitations. I was really just trying to be a free spirit and do what made me happy. Frankly I have a personal history with being sexually abused by someone that was religious and would preach monogamy and slut shaming. So embracing a sex positive view of sexuality and leaving behind the limitation of traditional monogamy was not only healthy, it was both healing and empowering to realize I could have intimacy and sex with other guys consensually without a corrupt idea that monogamy and people who practice it are somehow “morally superior” to those that don’t. My life experience seems to prove the opposite in fact.

 

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Now before you monogamous people get all offended at that last statement, let me repeat what I said at the beginning for your lack of reading comprehension skills. “I am in a monogamous relationship and quite happily so.” I am talking about people who believe monogamy is a morally superior or a healthier way of life for all people. People who expect the entire world to conform to a limited view that monogamy is a superior way of life and if only all people conformed to this, the world would be morally superior to its current state of sexual promiscuity. If you believe that, then I flat out disagree and think you likely are sexually repressed and probably have hooked up at some point in your life (or will at some point). In that reality you want to pretend that never happened and harbor some sort of sexually repressed guilt that you want to impose on other people that are more sexually liberated then you. If monogamy was practiced in a healthy way, it wouldn’t need to impose itself on others as a “superior way of life.” People would just mutually agree to it without being expected to do it because it’s right for the individual people involved in that decision. Not because you or society expects it.

If you just come up for a little air out side of the brainwashed cage of what we’ve been told to believe our whole life about sex and love…you might find the possibilities are limitless really and relationships are about consensual and mutual agreements not Disney’s subliminal toxic messages. (Much though I love Disney…all I am saying is question what you are exposed too instead of accepting it blindly). When I first met my boyfriend, I had no interest in monogamy. I told him that upfront, like I did all boys that approached me with some sort of implied interest. He accepted that but still wanted to take me out on a date anyway. Besides as a military man he had just finished his previous stationing and had three weeks or so until he had to move to his next stationing. In the meantime, he was in his home town for the winter holidays, so it was practical to just have a guy to go out with and see where it goes for a short term romance. It was sweet and romantic. It was without the pressure of a long term expectation we got to just enjoy what came out of what we shared together.

 

Without that expectation we found we just simply liked being around each other, I felt so at ease and comfortable with him that before long he had the code to my garage and was staying at my house while I was gone at work and spending the night with me instead of his family (which he still would visit from time to time while I was at work). We fell in love, not because we expected too and were looking for some idealistic “prince charming.” But simply because that’s what happened without the pressure of some idealistic naïve idea about what love is. After all we are told to think love has to have this looming pressure to have an end goal of marriage and raising kids…and people naively accept that blindly and never give themselves the pleasure of getting to know someone and letting love happen on its own without pressure for the other person to either fit that expectation or “you’re wasting my time.” Before long I asked him to be my boyfriend, because I liked him in my life and wanted to keep that connection alive. Not because I wanted him to be the father of my children or because I was making some sort of long term investment in expecting him to be something in my future. Just because he walked into my life and we got to know each other and it just simply felt right. No expectations that because we went out on a date or shared something sexual that, that had to mean something about what we had.

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So to all those people that give me a smug look when they say “and to think you use to ‘not believe in monogamy.’” No, your comprehension of what I was trying to say is intellectually deficient, and I am still the same person I was then with the same values. Just because monogamy is what me and my beloved navy boyfriend agreed on, does not mean I have somehow converted to a better way of life because I have “seen the light.” I still promote ethical non-monogamy, I still surround myself with polyamorous communities, ethical sluts, and think sex workers are awesome human beings deserving of respect. Not because I have any intentions to break the agreement I made with my boyfriend to have an exclusive arrangement sexually between the two of us. But because I believe in a world that is liberated of erotiphobia and ignorance around sexuality and the social structures we perpetuate around it that are toxic.

 

I think monogamy is no more or less legitimate or so called “moral” then great consensual sex with a one-night stand. What is immoral in regards to sex and relationships are rape, breaking the agreements you make with someone, disrespecting someone’s boundaries, or expecting them to conform to your expectation of who they “ought” to be. If you are monogamous and like that way of expressing love and sex, I think that is great. After all my boyfriend and I are monogamous and it works for us, and who knows that may change some day as our relationship matures, or it may not and we may stay happy with being sexually/romantically exclusive. Either way that’s not up to you to decide or society, it’s up to him and myself and what we are mutually most happy with. I love him and respect his feelings and he does mine. We both came to the conclusion we were in love and wanted to express that through being exclusive in sharing our sexuality together. I stand by that agreement and would not dream of breaking it, and that agreement could be renegotiated at a later time in our relationship, or it very well could stay the same. That does not mean though I renounce my sex positive values or that they were ever at all in conflict with making this kind of decision with someone. I still believe that within the context of “consent” and “respect” that “the possibilities are limitless” as stated in the ethical slut.