Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Great Minds

It seems great minds think alike.

A fellow author/blogger, good friend and great guy, Kergan Edwards-Stout, recently questioned his sluttiness vs. his prudishness in his own blog.  It seems a friend of his had commented on the amount of sex in Kergan’s award winning debut novel, Songs for the New Depression, and this in turn, prompted Kergan’s self-examination.  That same week I, too, had posted wondering that if I were to get sexually active once more, could I refrain from debasing myself and feeling like a slut again or was I prudish for not being active?

For his actual post click here: http://kerganedwards-stout.com/slut-or-prude/

Shortly after my ex-husband moved out, I began seeing a therapist. Ironically, I had set up the initial appointment prior to receiving my ex’s now infamous email asking for the divorce, as I felt I was suffering from depression. Well, I was, but not for the reason I suspected. All in all, the divorce has been a good thing, as he was the source of my depression. BUT, as I began sorting through the emotions haunting me because of the divorce and the emerging feelings of “Oh, my gods, I am actually a single gay man at mid-life,” panic began to set in, and I began to discuss all this with my straight, Jewish, older-than-I-am counselor, who promptly reminded me of how youth-obsessed the gay male community is.  Gee, thanks. It seemed even my counselor was telling me I’d never date again, let alone just have sex.

I believe the younger one can come out, the better.  A woman recently wrote an article for the Huffington Post about her own not-so-proud-of-herself moment in her life with her gay son.  But, it is a comment to that article I want to address. Another woman wrote that her family went to Disneyland for the day. No big deal. They had a seventeen year old gay son. Still, no big deal.  Well, depending on the family, maybe. But in this case, no. He was out to them, they loved him, they accepted him. BUT, during the outing, his fourteen year old boyfriend joined them.  This was her first time seeing him with a boyfriend.

Children, both gay and straight, need that time of adolescence to explore what relationships mean to them. To do so openly with family support is very healthy. And in the case of the 17 year old above, totally awesome!  When I came out at the ripe age of 23, I hadn’t had the typical teenage years of exploring my relationships with girls, or even clandestine relationships with other boys. I mean, I thought I was straight, and I tried dating girls, but really wasn’t interested either in girls or even in dating. I was a shy, quiet boy, who was bullied for whatever reason; nerd, queer, goodie-two-shoes, or I was always the new kid in school as we moved almost every year. So, I stayed home a lot. And read. Or watched television.

I also had a Born-again Christian background which meant I couldn’t be gay; God wouldn’t do that to one of His followers, right?  Fortunately, now I believe otherwise and in other ways. So, when I came out back then, I still wanted to maintain my faith and integrate it with my sexuality. No whoring around for me. But, I needed that exploration to discover what I really liked to do in bed with another man. But, I still wanted to have some connection to him, not with just some random stranger off the street; though to this day, one of my most powerful memories is of a handsome young man, who was making a delivery to a convalescent hospital near my home. Our eyes met across the parking lot, his muscles straining with the heavy oxygen tank, his smile melting my heart, and yet I kept walking, when I turned to look back, he was watching me walk away…still smiling. I walked home. Alone.

As I later let my guard down and began exploring my sexual self, I explored with abandon. Now, I must say this was back in the stone-age; pre-smartphone with all the mobile apps, pre-dumb phone with just text messaging alone, pre-Craigslist, pre-internet with online dating sites.  We just had landlines in 1983, sounds absolutely Jurassic, doesn’t it? Or is it Paleolithic? I get them mixed up.  But, with landlines we did have 976 numbers. These were special phone lines you could dial, get connected to someone “LIVE” and you’d have three minutes to chat initially and take it from there. This wasn’t free. You were charged anywhere from $2.00 to $5.00 each call for that first connection. One month I had a very slutty $500.00 phone bill! If you liked what you heard in those first few minutes, you exchanged your own numbers to continue, either via the phone or to meet in person.  A few times, l liked what I heard, would make arrangements to meet, and once I met him would be quite distressed at what I had gotten myself into. It was after one of these encounters, one where we had to hurry because his boyfriend was due home soon, and he then left the room once he finished and I still hadn’t, that I felt like a whore and should be charging for my services.  That was a very deep depression to crawl back out of. I’m afraid of going there again.
Photo courtesy of Kergan Edwards-Stout

Yet, I still have urges. My friend, Kergan, is forty-seven with a husband, two sons, a full-time job and all the hubbub of a life that goes along with all that. Plus he finds time to write a blog and promote his book. All of this still doesn’t prevent him from having urges. After all, he is only human. I’ll admit to being human with a full-time job and to being just a bit older.

He theorizes that sexual longing by people of a certain age may be discomforting for some. I agree, to a point. After all, America was founded by a Puritanical group of people. Sex was not part of their lives. Yeah, right. Do a little digging and you might be surprised.  But, it is this ‘Puritanical culture’ surrounding sex that can do some damage. One only has to look at the evolution of television programs to see how the perception of sex has changed. In the fifties, married couples slept in separate beds. How they ever had children, I’ll never know! It was censorship laws that prevented any representation of a real sexual life.  But, as far as I could remember, my maternal grandparents not only slept in separate beds, they slept in separate rooms.  When I asked, I was told my grandfather snored. Yet, on a week-long camping trip with them when I was about nine or ten, the three of us shared a one room cabin, and his snoring did not keep me awake. (Maybe I was too tired to notice?)

My mother and I theorize that it was a "family situation" that was never talked about involving my grandmother’s sister that left my grandmother paranoid about sex, plus it was the era she grew up in. She may have transferred this paranoia to my mother, who in turn may have passed it on to me and coupled with what I’ve outlined above, may explain my reticence. That, and a few other issues which I may have mentioned before.

My doctor, counselor, and plenty of friends and internet articles say a healthy sex life is good for you and my doctor says I am physically healthy. So, my problem must be psycho-emotional.  Let’s see. Other than the normal feelings of fear of rejection, fear of performance, and fear of just being used for someone else’s pleasure and not mine, I’m good. I will need to address those.  So, on to the big one; if I were to have sex, would I feel like I was cheating on my ex-husband? Is that preventing me? No.  Post-divorce, I did meet someone and over time, I wanted to make love to him, I felt I was ready to take that step with him. It felt right, but it felt right just to me. So, maybe it’s the individual situation I need to look at, and not just look at sex in general.

Maybe I just haven’t met the right man, yet.

Kergan’s debut novel, Songs for the New Depression, won the 2012 Indie Book Award, was shortlisted for the Independent Literary Awards, and is available now in paperback, hardcover, and e-Book.  Kirkus Reviews calls it "distinctively entertaining," while Frontiers Magazine says it is “Simply stunning." 
For more information click here: http://kerganedwards-stout.com/songs


  1. Jeff, you and Kergan are two of my favorite guys and I love both your posts. I admire Kergan for the love he shares with his two adopted sons and is so family oriented. You...you are missing this ...at the moment. But love will come your way. I know it in my heart, and when it does, the happiness and sex will restore your being. Till then...you're stuck with me! Haa, Haa! Love ya! XOXO

  2. Nancy, I can't think of anyone I'd rather be stuck with!! Except maybe Ricky Martin, or Christopher Meloni or...but, seriously, I appreciate the time you take to read and comment. I, too, believe I will find someone, but it will be at the right time, and now is the time for me to get other parts of my life in order. The Universe is preparing me for big changes and I need to take this one step at a time.