Exploring Sexual Ethics: Personal History

Quite a few days ago, I got into a discussion about sexual ethics and how people respond to others who have a different (mostly more permissive) sexual ethic than their own.  As the conversation continued, I’ve considered how my personal sexual ethic has changed over the past year.

Prior to March 2010, my personal sexual ethic was still more or less what it was like when I was a Christian.  While I felt other people should be free to come to their own conclusions about what was appropriate for their own lives – provided their choices treated others with the dignity and respect that they deserve – the best course for me was to continue to seek a life-long partner and enter into a monogamous relationship with him.

In retrospect, this did cause me to act rashly and rush taking a few of my romantic relationships to a more sexually intimate level more than may have been prudent.  I quickly convinced myself that I was experiencing “true love” so that I could acknowledge and consummate that bond through sex.  And then everything would crash and burn, and I would feel miserable, get depressed, and kick myself for being such a fool.

After a particularly abysmal failure at love and a relationship in early 2010, I decided that I was tired of that pattern.  I decided that I was even tired of looking for “true love” and a life-long partner.  I decided that I wanted to have short-term fun.  In short, I wanted to have sex for the sake of having sex.  And I spent a few months doing exactly that.  I looked for friends with benefits.  I looked for fuck-buddies.  I even looked for one-time hookups.  I had sex and I enjoyed it.  I found that I really could enjoy having sex with another man without first having some sort of emotional bond.  And in many ways, it took a lot of pressure on me to find Mr. Right.  I was able to relax rather than worrying about being single quite so much.

Of course, it wasn’t all roses either.  More than once, I found that I eventually developed those emotional attachments anyway.  I remember in one case, I was quite devastated when one of the guys I saw a few times suddenly quit showing any interest in me and even quit talking to me.  I was terribly upset about this, despite the fact that our arrangement was supposed to be no strings attached.

And of course, there was the incident where I caught an STD, despite the fact that I was  extremely careful.  I was fortunate that it was treatable/curable.  The experience was traumatic, but not the end of the world.  And then there was the incident when, despite the fact that I was being careful about such things, one of my partners managed to steal from me.  Being taken advantage of like that left me feeling quite betrayed, and I remember spending over an hour crying and blathering to a very dear friend.

I can honestly say that despite the bad experiences I had, I don’t regret anything that I did during that time.  I learned a lot about myself in the process, I ended up making a couple good friends, and I had a lot of great times too, far more than the bad times in fact.

All that being said, though, I can honestly say that I’m happy to put those adventures behind me.  While I feel like I needed to give myself that chance to explore and play and heal from my past experiences, I think I’m ready to think in terms of long-term relationships again.  After all, in the end, I personally will be happiest when I’m with that special someone I can share every part of my life and body with.

That’s not to say I’ll never explore a more casual experience again, mind you.  Truth be told, if I ever reach a point where I feel I absolutely need to have sex – after all, there are just some things about sex that cannot be reproduced or satisfied through manual or mechanical stimulation – I might give myself permission to do so.  I think it’s far healthier than trying to rush around, find Mr. Right, and push myself prematurely into a relationship that’s not going to work out.  (In some respects, I think it’s also more respectful towards the other person and more ethical.)  And so long as I’m honest with the other guy and treat him respectfully, I see no problem with that.

That’s the thing I learned from the whole experience, I think:  it’s all a question of what someone needs at the time.  Different people have different needs.  Sometimes, the same person has different needs at different points in their life.  As long as the person is honest with themselves about what those needs really are, is honest with any partners and is clear about what they are willing to give in return for those needs, I think there is a lot of flexibility in what behavior is acceptable.

Coming Out Considerations

Rainbow flag flapping in the wind with blue sk...

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I came out to myself and my best friend at the time on Monday, 1 April 1996. Today, 1 April 2011 marks the fifteenth anniversary of that event. In honor of that, I’ve decided to do a series of posts on the topic. This is the third one.

Given the fact that I came out on 1 April, I often like to make the following joke when discussing that night:

If you find it necessary to start the conversation with “This honestly isn’t an April Fool’s Day joke,” then you probably picked a bad day to come out.

This year, it’s particularly funny because Merion commented on the fact that I really did start with that disclaimer.  However, this year, the joke has me thinking about the practical matters of coming out and timing.

Truth be told, there is such a thing as a “bad time” to come out.  For example, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) cautions students to think about their financial and emotional safety when struggling with questions about whether to come out — coming out may prove to be a mistake if you’re one of those unfortunate souls who will find yourself homeless as a result.  I’ve also seen others caution against coming out to family during holidays, family reunions, and times of great stress.  After all, it’s important to consider how the other person’s or people’s states of minds at the time may shape their immediate response, or even their overall attitude.  So yes, there really is such a thing as a “bad time” to come out.

However, the rest of the message needs to be considered, too.  When I make that joke about my own “bad timing,” I also like to point out that I had to come out the day I did because I was in crisis.  I had reached the point where waiting simply would have continued to leave me in a state of mind and bondage that could have very easily led to my total self-destruction.  Plus, there’s the fact that Merion — the one person I knew would support me — was only going to be on campus for a limited time.  A day or two after I came out to her, Merion was back on her way to her new college (and her incredibly cute roommate, though I didn’t meet him until the following year) in New Paltz.  If I had delayed coming out that night, I’m not sure when I would’ve gotten another opportunity.  And then, I’m not sure what would happen.  (I shudder to think of what might have been the most likely outcome.)

So while it’s important to think about many factors in considering when the best time to come out, one should always remember that some factors are more important than others, and that sometimes, a sense of true urgency could override many pieces of otherwise good advice about when it might be better to wait.  In the end, only the person coming out can make that call, though.  That’s the person who has to live with the decision and whatever consequences might come of that decision.

Yes, all bullying is bad, but Matt Barber is being disingenuous

Bullying on IRFE in March 5, 2007, the first c...

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Yesterday, I ran across a Truth Wins Out blog post by Evan Hurst.  Evan dissected an interview between Peter LaBarbera (of the disingenously named Americans For Truth About Homosexuality) and Matt Barber (of Liberty Counsel).  Both men are professional (and by that term, I only mean that they get paid for those efforts) anti-gay activists.  Matt was talking about the recent flack he’s been (justifiably) taking for claiming that gay kids commit suicide because they know deep down that being gay is a sin.  During that interview, Matt made the following infuriating comment.

They promote these propagandist ‘LGBT’ laws to the exclusion and detriment of other classes of kids who are perhaps even more frequently bullied and in larger numbers: Overweight kids and racial minorities come to mind.

This is infuriating to hear, because the statement is nothing more than a diversionary tactic by s9omeone who doesn’t care about anti-gay bullying.  It’s not only disingenuous, it demonstrates that they don’t really care about anyone who gets bullied.  Want proof?  What “all-inclusive bullying protections” have Matt Barber and company actually supported?  What “all-inclusive” legislation have they pushed any level of government representative to introduce, sponsor, or support?  Any?  Any at all?

And truth be told, Matt is ignoring the institutional church’s and many religious organizations’ complicity in anti-gay bullying, complicity that encourages and condones (if not explicitly, then implicitly) in ways that the bullying of overweight kids or racial minorities aren’t.

I know of know major Christian denomination who has an official doctrinal stance that states that overweight people or racial minorities are inherently disordered.  I know of no religious organizations that have been formed specifically for the purpose of “fighting the evil overweight agenda.”  I have yet to hear an entire sermon preached on the evils of overeating or being black.  I have not ministers, religious organizations, or political organizations make a concentrated campaign to spread defamatory and damaging propaganda about overweight people, and no one outside of organizations who attack racial minorities would even consider remaining silent when confronted by those organization’s tactics.

No, this kind of institutionalized dehumanization and vilification is currently reserved solely for QUILTBAG individuals, and it’s the kind of thing that not only condones anti-gay (and anti-QUILTBAG)  bullying, but implicitly (if not explicitly) encourages it.  And that’s the painful truth that people like Matt Barber are trying to obscure when they pay lip service to the truth that all bullying should be stopped.  They’re trying to shift attention back to the cases of bullying they can fully get behind so that no one notices their silence regarding the bullying they’re okay with.