by Admin on May 28th, 2010
filed under Wide-Eyed and Musing
I was once asked if I’d ever abstain from having sex with someone if I thought they were the right guy and worth waiting for. To which I replied: well how would I know he was the right guy if we didn’t have sex? SNAP.
I’m hardly the person to make a case for abstinence. I’ve never abstained from anything in my life. Probably says a lot about me actually…but let’s just leave that alone. Clearly being celibate just isn’t something I’ve ever done. I’d like to say I admire those who are, but I’m not entirely sure that I do. Sex is natural, fun, and it can be healthy. More than that though, knowing and exploring myself sexually is and has been a huge part of my development as a gay man, and it’s an important part of how I relate to the men in my life (and nooooo not ALL the men in my life, just the lucky ones :p).
I’m a very sexual person, just going to throw that out there if you couldn’t tell. Before I was having sex—particularly before I was having sex with men—I don’t think I understood myself very well. Sure everyone has a few awkward teenage years, but more than that having sex was such a liberating force in terms of body and self image, learning to be more honest with myself about what I want and what I need, and perhaps most importantly being able to communicate those things. I can’t imagine the kind of person I’d be if I’d ever made a decision to abstain from sex. Probably ignorant, clumsy and lacking in knowledge of myself and others. For as I jokingly replied to my friend’s question, it’s impossible for me to really get to know someone that I want to be intimate with unless…I really get to know them intimately. Weird right?
So that’s why celibacy is never something I’d consider, at least not any time soon. I’m in my early 20s, and still figuring out what I’m all about. Being sexually active is a big part of that. There’s a reason why Maslow put it at the bottom of his pyramid, right between food and sleep. Think about it
And to me, teaching abstinence is not only pointless in most cases, but potentially dangerous. It encourages ignorance. It encourages people to rush into marriage or, as the case may be, long term partnerships without being physically or emotionally ready. Not to mention it’s just plain hypocritical. Sex is everywhere. It’s in movies, it’s on TV, it’s in magazines and books, it’s in your neighbor’s backyard. Teach safe sex, sure, but don’t teach conformity to something from a moral high ground you’ve got no business standing on.
I will admit though that there are probably many reasons that someone might choose to be celibate at any point in their life. You can say what you like about strength of character, but you have to wonder what motivates a person to be celibate?
I’m going to leave religion out of this for now, and turn to my friend Casey, who was committed to being celibate for a little while for much the same reason I’m committed to being sexually active: he wanted to know himself better. After years of being involved with one guy after another, by not having sex Casey was getting the time and space to figure himself out. This makes sense for him, because Casey is what I like to call a serial monogamist: date to kill. Going from one relationship to another with little space in between, many of them superficial and short lived. For those who don’t have sex casually and tend to always get involved with their partners, having one partner after another after another might not leave much room for self -discovery. Celibacy, then, for those like Casey, becomes a way to make room for personal growth. Myself, I’d just suggest getting a therapist. Sure it costs more than, say, investing in a solid porn collection, but you’ll probably be less stressed out.
In the end I can only speak for myself and…well…just about everyone else I know, but when it comes to abstinence as a lifestyle choice, you can keep it. So I’ll leave you with this ancient proverb from the immortal elder goddess Madonna: express yourself, don’t repress yourself.