It’s been well over a year since I ended a vow of celibacy I undertook just over three years ago. I wanted to see what it was like not to have sex for a period of time. Fortunately, I was single (as I am now), so didn’t have to disappoint a boyfriend. 🙂
One thing which struck me when I talked about my decision with my gay male peers was how, while some commended my choice, most criticized it. I certainly understand the drive which underlies their criticism (now perhaps better than I did back then). And while I appreciate their standpoint, one thing which troubled me about many of these conversations was how all too many of my gay peers (and it oftentimes seems men in general) have limited the conversations on sexual restrictions to playing safe.
As if there should be no further limitations.
That idea struck me again when I read about how twenty-one years ago, Kevin Jennings handled his meeting with “Brewster.” He wanted to make sure the teen used condoms for intercourse. That’s a good thing, a very good thing, to tell sexually active individuals. But, it’s not all we should be saying. It seems most of us are like Jennings. We don’t want to discourage any sexual expression, provided, of course, it’s “safe.”
And this is where I’ve come down harshest on Jennings, that in the years since that encounter, while he has talked about it repeatedly, he never once questioned whether he should have encouraged “Brewster” to see sexuality as a means not just of physical intimacy, but of emotional intimacy as well. To be sure, he was young at the time and “cnihtwesende,” as I put it in a previous post, may then have had difficulty expressing this notion.
But, as he got older and continue to talk about the experience, having seen more of the world, wouldn’t he have developed a deeper understanding of our sexuality. Perhaps, he addresses that issue in his writings–which I’ll soon find out when the books I’ve ordered arrive.
Now, I know there are many gay men who do understand the emotional aspects of our sexuality, but sometimes it seems even they are reluctant to talk about it. Yet, talk about it we must if we want to have a serious conversation on gay marriage and convince skeptical straight people that we are serious about the institution.
For, a defining aspect of marriage has always been sexual exclusivity. And it’s important that we understand and communicate why that ideal serves a mainstay of the institution.