Sex talk
Speaking of Intimacy

Simon Sheppard, QSyndicate.com

Ever have the experience of banging Mr. Right for hours, only to feel utterly isolated once the clothes go back on? Ever have sex with a stranger for a few minutes, only to find yourself falling in love?

Some folks blame many of the ills of the gay community - including the rise in new HIV infection - on "a pervasive lack of intimacy," epitomized by many queers' fondness for casual sex. Now, love is a fine thing, the best thing, and the intimacy of love is, well, lovely. But casual sex can be fine, too, or so many of us gay guys believe; are we just deluding ourselves?

There's no magic answer to the old question "How can I live a rich, fulfilling life?" Let's assume for the moment that a good working definition of "intimacy" is "shared emotional honesty." Clearly, a lot of long-term relationships are pretty short on that honesty. Likewise, many short-term relationships, even very short-term ones, can be, in one way or another, "intimate."

Sure, some of us seem built for satisfied monogamy, and that's terrific. "I never knew what real happiness was," says one friend of mine, "till I gave up whoring around and devoted myself to just one man." And, yes, over time, intimacy can grow and deepen. But how about the rest of us, those of us who don't want, or can't for the moment find, a "real boyfriend"? Is screwing around truly keeping us from finding the bluebird of happiness?

Why not be honest about ourselves and our needs? Let's let our bodies, as well as our brains, do the talking. If magic happens in bed, even if it's just for a little while, and both guys know they'll never meet again, why deny that the magic is real? Being conscious of your partner, letting your needs meet and mingle... how bad could that be? And if you're having sex out of lustful curiosity or just to scatch an itch, understand and accept that and it won't feel like "failure" if boyfriendhood doesn't follow.

Appreciating your partner for what and who he is will make things more real. Let Mr. Right Now know that you're not just attempting to fit him into some pre-existing fantasy. Ask questions. Be aware of his reactions. Make an effort to understand and please the guy; remember, sex is supposed to be a collaboration. If you truly feel affection for a new partner, take things one step at a time. Blurting out "I love you" can screw up, rather than foster, intimacy. Better to reframe the situation; "I love this," is both more honest and less off-putting.

Be realistic about how things stand. Try telling him you know it's early on, but you'd maybe like to see him again and see where things lead; it's less likely to set yourself up for disappointment or scare him off. Assuming honesty leads to intimacy, you'll be off and running.

We queers have the freedom to reinvent the ways we have relationships: for example, the concept of "fuckbuddy" seems so queer, and often so friendly and healing. And just as every sort of intimacy has its limits, so every sexual encounter can open us up to ourselves, our partner(s), and how cool it is to be alive. Instead of dividing ourselves into "good queers with committed relationships" and "bad queers who fuck around," we can try to make all our sex, whether for a lifetime or an hour, in a domestic partnership or an anonymous bit of cocksucking in the park, good. And intimate.

Simon Sheppard is the author of Kinkorama: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Perversion

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