1984 I was in the "candy store" days of my coming
out. I had been divorced and on my own for less than six
months and was taking advantage of my newly gained freedom
to meet men, make new friends, and have sex whenever possible.
It was the early days of my leather explorations, full
of experimentation, research, and learning. I was a wide-eyed
novice in a incredible world of sexual delight.
was still, at least in a city like Fort Wayne, an unknown,
mysterious, but not yet threatening disease. Nevertheless,
since my job afforded me a great deal of travel, I was
aware of the risks and took appropriate precautions. Thank
my guardian angels that I did. Just out of curiosity I
kept track of the number of sexual encounters I had that
year. By December 31st, I had had sex more than 250 times
with 84 different men.
don't keep score anymore but I still play safely. Safety
works. The semi-yearly tests I get at the Howard Brown
Clinic show that I'm still HIV negative. AIDS doesn't
mean the end of sex, just the end of unsafe sex.
a recent survey that I completed for Advocate magazine,
sexual activity was defined, for the purposes of the study,
as any action that included an orgasm. Now I will grant
that a great deal of sexual activity doesn't include orgasm
but their definition presents a good basis for discussion.
you'd prefer to use insertion as a criterion or genital
contact. No matter, you get my point. Sexual activity
involves some kind of sex. What is surprising is that
it only rarely involves friends.
I look around at my list of friends, I see that I met
a large number of them under circumstances that included
sexual activity during our first meeting. I can think
of tricks I met a bar, or ones I cruised on the computer
boards, that have become close friends. Soon after our
first meeting or more usually during, we had sex and then
moved on to a platonic relationship that has lasted for
several or many years.
still have occasional sex with friends, but it is a rare
occurrence. Why is it that sexual activity is so often
between lovers or strangers? Why not among friends?
my interviewing an older man last week for my oral history
project, he admitted to having a "formula" for
a successful leather party. According to his rules of
invitation, at least half of the men invited had to be
first timers to the party and a quarter of the guests
had to be unknown to anyone else in attendance. He had
great parties, I hear.
the other hand, I've noticed that my parties have grown
sedate. I invite my friends, who by now know each other
fairly well. They show up, get into deeply esoteric conversations,
stay well-clothed, and leave in time to go to the bars
before they're closed. At least it seems that way to me.
leather, of course, doesn't need to include sexual activity.
Especially in the hetero-leather arena, there is a great
deal of play without sex. This is often to avoid the charge
of prostitution, since a surprising number of submissive,
straight men pay dominatrices for their services.
think that laws against prostitution are an infringement
on my civil rights, a contradiction to free enterprise,
and another way to drive good business people into illegal
activity. I'd much prefer to legalize hooking and tax
it. That would make it safer, less expensive, and help
balance the deficit at the same time. But I digress.
fuck with friends because somewhere in my life history
I was able to shed the hang-ups, misinformation, and societal
limits imposed by family, church, school, and state. I
think that doing so has set me free to learn who I am
and then to be that real person. Others might say that
I'm deluding myself. No matter, I enjoy life.
has invested sexual activity with baggage that has become
un-necessary, especially within the context of homosexual
relationships. After all, we're not going to create children
that will be dependent upon us for the next twenty years.
Neither is the spread of disease a foregone conclusion.
remain emotional issues that are important. If you don't
want to fuck with friends, that is your decision and your
prerogative. There certainly are people who are one-man
men or one-woman women. It is recognizing and honoring
variety of desire and interests that protects the freedom
of each of us to choose.
has been part of that freeing process for me. There have
been other events and situations that have liberated my
consciousness as well, including college, my spiritual
journey, and the vacillations in my career. My early same
sex encounters did much to show me that homosexuality
didn't deserve the bad rap it got from those who taught
sex doesn't deserve a bad rap either.
do you feel about sex the way you do? Is your emotional
response to the idea of fucking with friends based on
a clear vision of yourself, of your friend, and of sex?
Or is it perchance loaded with guilt, with repression,
with expectations and disappointments?
speak the way I do because I distinguish between sex and
romance. I know sex to be a natural activity that is good
for me and good to do. It balances my feelings, calms
my body, increases my knowledge of self and of my partner.
It is pleasurable and there's nothing wrong with pleasure.
there's the rub. Too many of our beliefs are based on
false premises. Rooted in our common psyche are credos
that say that matter is evil (spiritual is better), pleasure
is sinful (penance and suffering are good), and intimacy
is dangerous (getting close means I'll get hurt).
their day, such systems may have worked. I'm not sure
they ever worked well, but they were the accepted world
views: the world was flat, man was highest in the order
of creation, children were chattel, women without souls
or rights. How much of that crap do we still subconsciously
premises rule your sex life, control your selection of
sex partners, flood your consciousness with limitations,
prohibitions, or happily liberate your true self for fulfillment?
Our actions are based on many forces, not the least of
which is our own self image. Know who you are and then
be that person.
not always an easy process. Discarding the should's, the
expectations, the barriers placed on self-realization
is a life-long undertaking. Not every prohibition is hurtful,
not every impulse desirable in the long run. The answer,
of course, is to gain clarity, to see the credos that
determine our decisions and to accept or change them to
reflect our real natures.
are criteria for doing so. Respect for self and for others
is paramount. Christ said to "Love your neighbor
as yourself." Therein lies the key: love yourself,
embrace, affirm, respect, and cherish who you are. Be
free to shed the layers that bear down on you, making
you to appear as someone else.
find myself a leather man. I've discovered my sadistic
streak, my masochistic tendencies, my need for rugged
masculinity, for a radical approach to family. I continue
to discover, to find more layers, more barriers and burdens
and to struggle to bring the real me to life.
don't fuck with all my friends. In fact I find that I
fuck with fewer and fewer of them as the days go by. I
have friends with whom I've never fucked. No matter, in
each case, only one thing is necessary: to thine own self
2000 by Jack Rinella. This material may not be copied in
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