When I would share my bed with men, which wasn’t that often in my early 20s, I sometimes felt like I was doing it because I had to.
It’s not as if I didn’t want to have sex. I was a sexual gay guy in college. I wanted to see naked bodies, all kinds, attached to different personalities. I was horny. I wanted dick, ass, moans, hands molded together as one. I wanted a human connection and to wake up in the morning feeling satisfied and complete. Just like you, I’m sure.
But sometimes it was hard for me to discern why I slept with the boys that I did. Was it stemming from actual desire or did it come from some bizarre sense of obligation? Did I really want to sleep with the boy I had nothing in common with or was I just 22 and in dire need of life experiences? By dating different men, I thought I would learn new things about myself. I could contribute my own tales of sexual woe to the conversation with my friends and feel included in the happenings of their life. Most importantly, I could think that I was normal, that I was having the healthy amount of sex a boy my age was supposed to be having. At times, it felt like I was just following a script, crossing off my lines, and turning the page.
Maybe I would’ve felt differently about sex if I cared about most of the people I was with. I tried, I tried, and I tried to muster up some feelings that resembled love — these were all good men, not one-night-stands — but the more I tried, the worse I felt and was certain that I was broken somehow. Damaged goods. That’s what dick taught me. That was my takeaway lesson from sex. You have trouble connecting. You have trouble finding ones that “get it.” You have trouble finding your tribe.
Maybe it was all me. Maybe it was all them. Maybe it was just called being in college and not knowing what made sense at all. Either way, all of the partners added up. They all ended up to zero. “You want my number? Guess.”
I used to read Butt magazine, a now-defunct gay quarterly, and feel pangs of envy as I learned about gay men who were leading their fabulous alternative lifestyles and having loads of amazing sex with random people or their loving boyfriends. They were ultra sexual and loved their bodies. As far I could tell, they had no hangups. Being featured in the magazine seemed like shorthand for, “We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re having a blast with it.” Ironically, my first piece of published writing was a sex review in Butt magazine. I was proud of it, not just because my writing had finally ended up in print, but because I was now tangentially associated with the kind of gay lifestyle I had always longed to be a part of.
Sex is a great way to learn about yourself and others. It allows you to be tuned in to a different kind of frequency and have a greater understanding of human behavior. But if you spend too much time sleeping with the wrong people, if you fall in to too many people’s beds who you couldn’t care less about, it’s going to gnaw at your heart. Instead of gaining clarity and understanding, you’re going to start to feel like a stranger. Everyone’s going to feel like a stranger.