LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX: The Gift of Desire

“Ask for what you want” is advice that’s easy to give but often strangely difficult to practice. What gets in the way of identifying our desires and sharing them with others? Growing up gay, we probably learned early on to view our deepest desires as shameful, socially unacceptable, or at the very least subject to other people’s negative judgments. No wonder we’re a little gun-shy when it comes to letting others know what we want, especially in the realm of love and erotic play.

As a gay sex therapist, I spend a lot of my working hours listening to people talk about the nitty-gritty details of their sex lives. I meet a lot of smart, soulful, intelligent men frustrated at their inability to find love and connection.

gift of desire

Many gay men live with the nagging feeling that they missed that day in school when everybody else learned to identify their desires, to inhabit them, and to express them to others. Mostly, as gay kids, we were shamed for our erotic desires. We absorbed the message that our hunger for touch and affection, wanting to see and hold other guys’ bodies (or, let’s be honest, their penises) were bad or wrong and we should keep them hidden away. Sometimes we learned that lesson overtly by being punished, harassed, or bullied for showing our desires. But sometimes we picked them up indirectly from the absence of positive expressions of same-sex desire. Either way, we developed a hyperawareness as a defense mechanism. Any hint of desire can feel like a threat to survival: am I going to be okay, or am I going to be rejected, or beat up?

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2 thoughts on “LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX: The Gift of Desire

  1. Charles Squire says:

    I’m super into the bare chested model in the pic. Also, this is a lovely piece. Thanks, Don

  2. Bill Bylewski says:

    Don, I really enjoyed this piece. As I get older I find that other parts of sex besides orgasm become important, as you wrote, “most delicious parts of sex (kissing, cuddling, getting to know each other).” I’m also glad you cited The Velvet Rage. Many of my friends and I have read it and it has given us a vocabulary to discuss where we are on the continuum of growing into our authentic selves especially his device of breaking this process into three stages. Understanding the drive toward covering shame by being “the best” which characterizes stage 2 has given me a new perspective on what motivates other people and my own evolution from one stage to the next. Becoming handicapped jettisoned me from firmly being in the acquisitive, striving of stage 2 to the cusp of stage 3 and being the best “me” I can be. I am mired in a non-linear progression from one stage to another. Learning to ask for what I need and setting boundaries are part of this process. Thank you for sharing this.

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