In Celebration of Homosexuality
Some of my most cherished friendships are with gay and lesbian people. For some reason I have always felt connected to the plight of the person who couldn’t fully be him- or herself for fear of being shamed, too different, or, where I grew up, an abomination to God. Today I have several gay friends, and I have the pleasure to learn from them as they live out loud, unashamed and fully themselves.
I’ve spent the last two years experiencing my own sexual revolution, coming out as a woman who celebrates her sexuality and makes her own rules. Gay men have been inspirational to me in this respect because they seem to have a sexual freedom that I’ve never seen in heterosexual women. Of course, I’m speaking only from my own experience, but gay men generally make no apologies or have little shame about who they are sexually. Rarely do I hear them speak of “rules” around sexuality, such as the “right” number of sexual partners or when it’s appropriate to have sex with a new lover. They treat their sexuality and sexual expression as simply part of their humanity, and not like a prize to be rewarded or taken away.
The beauty of some of my friendships with gay men is that I can have very explicit sexual conversations with them that are purely based on sharing information or experiences with no judgment or sideways looks. There is no shame, no pressure and no judgment. When I say “I want to fuck a stranger,” rather than raise a question about sexual safety or morality, they usually share an experience they’ve had to encourage my curiosity.
It has been my experience that heterosexual sexuality is riddled with rules of engagement, negotiations for specialness, and shame. Sex is a prize to be rewarded to the man with a good deal of money, who waits ninety days, and who can provide a woman with the lifestyle she desires most under the guise of romantic love.
Since this exploration has begun for me, my work has been to acknowledge myself as a sexual being. I need sex the way I need food. Sex is a function of my humanity and not necessarily a pathway to love and a long-term relationship. I watch as my gay male friends give themselves to the pleasure of sex without attachment, and I have to admit I envy their ease. It is so deeply engrained in me that sex needs to “mean something,” that even when I’m certain I’m only interested in just having sex, that idea won’t leave my consciousness.
As a woman in her forties who has spent the majority of her life feeling that her natural sexual instincts were somehow wrong or sluttish, gay people bring a freedom and authenticity that I rarely find in my straight girlfriends. It seems to include the very basic truth that sex is natural, nothing to be ashamed of, and not at all a prize to be rewarded to I’m so grateful for my gay friends. Their acceptance of who they are sparks a desire within me to be deeply and unabashedly true to myself.