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SELF >> Sexual intimacy ( the gift )


Sexual intimacy

(This passage is largely informed by the book: Drigg J. & Finn S. Intimacy Between Men: How to Find and Keep Gay Love Relationships, Plume, USA c1991.)

"Sexuality is a life-long process involving feelings, fantasies, and behaviors that promotes an adaptive, pleasurable, and competent use of your body to experience affection and intimacy and to build personal identity." (Intimacy between men, Drigg/Finn ,79)

Adult gay men often face the challenge of both aging and career advancement. There is an increased need to establish a position in the world, to be a significant person. Aging forces them to find a relatively more stable and meaningful life that involves less risk. Currently, older gay men suffer largely from alienation and isolation that are worst than straight men of the same age. This is due to lack of supportive social construct; and perhaps lost of partners. Be aware that how you decide to conduct your life as a young person can greatly affect the wellness of your later stages in life. The message I am trying to bring here is that gay relationship, like all relationships, have their difficulties; but the unique beauty that awaits us is worth the journey.

Gay people suffer greatly from living in a bipolar culture of the straight and gay. Diversity among gay men (e.g. religious believe, background, values, and aesthetic taste, etc. ) further complicate the cultivation of cultural belongings. Yet, such position also have the benefit of bridging different cultures. These paradoxic experiences forces gay men to consider the relative nature of values and rules, their personhood forces them to deeply contemplate the meaning and process of human culture and life.

There are many unique advantages for gay people (especially men) when dealing with intimacy and sexuality:

- men can say no better
- men can better separate emotional perception from reality
- their less focus on gender stereotype allows the heart to play a stronger role in a relationship
- gay couples tend to share more in common
- they tend to have more similar interest, hence enjoy better leisure life together
- gay couples are better at arranging play-work time, where straight couple often have disagreement on how time should be spent.
- they are better at pleasuring partner
- same sex condition also lack the problem of gender-unique difficulties, both partner are from the same "planet"
- the lack of children may be a sadness, but it also means more resource (time, money, energy) can be allocated for cultivating the relationship
- a successful gay relationship is a witness to both straight and gay people in doubt

But, there are also problems that are unique to us:

- lack of role model, although intellectual exchange about gay male couple is abundantly available, real life social role model is hard to get by. Many decisions needs to be made with little advises. Struggles and mistakes increase because of it. Such failure can contribute to a negative snowball affect, inducing the false impression that successful gay relationships are not possible.
- Most successful gay couple choose to remain unseen by the society for their relationship and safety sake. Many of them also withdraw because they find involving in the gay community tiresome for being "the role model" all the time.
- The above also translate into little social supports in general. There are many social and legal advantages that are not available to gay couple, e.g. tax, insurance, employment benefits, religious recognition. Such inequality suggest the wrong message that gay relationship is not legitimate.
- social isolation, gay partners can become too dependent on each other due to the pressure faced outside of the home. The symptom is that the couple is physically together all the time, lacking the security to be socially dynamic. This increases inability to take social risk.
- The diametric differences between man and women creates tension as well as encouragement of individual personal development. The existence of children may also force parents to widen their scope of existence. Gay couples lack these.
- the problem of power struggle can appear in a relationship where one is more open about his sexuality than the other. The standard of behaviors may become a battle ground. In such situation, the bicultural feature of a gay person can be great help. Understand your partner's difficulties and be sensitive to your partners disagreement. Negotiation and compromise is crucial in resolving such problem. Don't be afraid to express your request, but respect the answer you received.
- the in-law problem as usual, but gay couple can have ghost in-laws (when you are just a "friend" of their son)
- the family as a system has to adjust to the gay couple, not everyone will be understanding. The family may even test you for it.
- gay male couples tend to be more competitive: income, attractiveness, and career advancement. It's part of being a man in today's society. It is often a symptom of insecurity.

The disadvantage listed seems very long and scary. A careful look though, we would realize straight couple faces many of the same problems (like in-laws and competitiveness) in their own version. Some others are a result of social intolerance (like lack of social support and role model). Such inequalities, unfortunately, is our unique battles. These struggles make our life harder than straight couples, but it also pushes our character and spirituality to the next level of sophistication. We are made into a stronger people in God's eye because of it.

Here are a few advises you may take for future references in relationship or in life:

- when facing the problems of injustice, insist that you deserve the same treatment; don't be apologetic about being gay. Refuse to take any unreasonable blames.
- face your own family, don't expect your partner to do it for you.
- don't allow the in-law to use you as a catalyst for stirring up unresolved emotional problem between them and your partner, stand clear.
- respect your lover's family, don't manipulate him/her by putting your partner on the spot
- know that families can be difficult, go slow and be understanding on deciding when to mess with them
- Don't allow yourself to me sexuality rigid, the more non-essential (especially physical attributes) qualities you weed out of your spouse requirement, the more likely you can find a suitable partner. The vice versa can be disastrous, an attractive men can be a relational hell, leaving you as the "helpless, abused wife".

Life is a journey of struggle. I can give you all the advises I have ever stumble upon, but the key to succeeding in YOUR life depends on your own struggle. God never leaves his children, trust Him, love Him, and seek Him. For love or whatever: Seek first the kingdom of God, and His justice, and all things shall be given to you. (Matt 6:33)

"The beautiful man you are seeking lies within you, waiting to be discovered and cherished. When he is uncovered, many of the complexities we have spoken of become easy and natural. Perhaps in search for the perfect partner, you've really been looking for the beautiful part inside of you. If you surrender yourself to this beautiful part, the possibilities for connection with others are endless."(page ??, Drigg/Finn)