Mating Season

I’ve been neglecting the blog again, as I have a tendency to do when life gets busy and I spend considerably more time doing than thinking.  

Ah, summertime. The days are long, the weather is warm, the calendar is overflowing with more social engagements than my introverted little brain can handle. We’re going to parties and meeting new people, and inevitably, some of them are cute and charming enough that I want to rip their clothes of. Lovers from far-away lands come to stay and we go to visit. It’s mating season. 

Throughout all of it, I’m enjoying the flirting and dating, but I’m finding myself less and less interested in one-off hook ups, especially through connections made online. The apps and websites have their place, even more so in areas that are less gay than Boston, but they’re no longer for me. Quite simply, I’m sick of the behavior of within the apps, and even more sick of the way they’ve become a sort of barycenter for gay culture. 

I hear it all the time, in person and online: lamentations from men seeking boyfriends and complaining that every Grindr hookup has been a disappointment, and has never led to anything more. I sympathize. I really do. Gay dating can be intimidating in a heterosexist society, and hookup apps can seem like the easy way to go. You know everyone you chat with is gay and available, and rejecting someone is as simple as ignoring his message.  

But it’s a meat market, or like puppies in a pet store. You pick the cute one, or the body that looks like the ones you jerk off to. Maybe, if you’re looking for a real connection, you’ll write to the guy who’s wearing a Batman T-shirt because hey, you’re a “geek” too. You filter them by arbitrary and ill-defined types.  

You message him and chat just long enough to decide that he’s not a serial killer and meet up for a fuck.  

True love? 

Not impossible, but unlikely. You know nothing about these guys, and your initial attraction will be based off the physical and sexual compatibility you share, bolstered by a post-orgasmic endorphin rush. When that burns off and you start to really get to know one another, often the relationship fizzles. 

Instead, do what you love. Sometimes gay clubs and sports leagues get a bad rap, especially in more gay-friendly areas, because it feels self-segregating and like fulfilling a stereotype. But having a gay social network is healthy regardless of where you live and how supportive your straight friends are. You get to do things you love and meet people who share your interests who are also potential partners.  

You get to know them first, and then attraction might develop. Or maybe they introduce you to their friends, and one of them catches your eye. You get the opportunity to have a crush on a person rather than lust after a photo.  

So put your damn phone down and stop making faces into the front-facing camera.  

Go outside. 

Make new friends.  

Fall in love. 

After all, it’s mating season. 

On Justice and Community Policing

Several months ago, I let a guy named Jefferson host a party at my house. A prominent figure in the kink, blogging, and spoken word spheres, we ran in the same circles and were both members of a group with a pretty high barrier for entry– one that prides itself on emphasizing consent to ensure the safety of its members. Because of this, I felt comfortable opening my home to him and his friends for a night.

The party was a disaster– the agreement was that I’d provide the space and invite a couple of my friends, and he’d do the legwork. Despite initially agreeing to a men’s only party, the original invitations said that though the party was “focused on male-on-male action,” all were welcome. He said some deeply misguided shit regarding trans people, but I chalked it up to ignorance and dismissed it. When the day came, Jefferson arrived late, fucked up, and alone– none of the men he’d invited ended up coming. I wonder whether he invited them at all, or just expected my friends to carry the party.  Determined to have his dick sucked by 50 different people throughout the month in honor of his 50th birthday, he unceremoniously waggled his cock in front of each attendee’s face to add another notch to his belt. He’d been there maybe an hour, but I was already regretting my decision.

The last straw came when he interrupted a scene of mine and punched my bottom. I told him to ask the bottom’s permission. He ignored me and did it again. Louder this time, I told him to ask. He tried for a third time, and I had to physically intervene and tell him to get the hell out of our way.

The following Monday, I shot an email to the moderators of the group that introduced us. To my surprise, they replied that they had received multiple emails about him and they were investigating. He’d violated the consent of other members at different parties (yes, plural) throughout the weekend. Upon further investigation, we found evidence that suggested he’s been at this a long time. There’s an internet trail alluding to consent violations as far back as 2005 (see here and here from 2008, Jefferson’s own long, narcissistic diatribe from 2010 in which he gaslights his former partners, an anonymous account of a different consent violation on a kinky blacklist, and an incredibly difficult to read account of a scene in which he gave his bottom a third degree burn). The moderators decided unanimously to boot him from the group and withdraw their support for his sex-related storytelling night.

Some members notified the venue of his storytelling night of his history, and the venue decided to discontinue hosting the event.

Months later, the event reappeared at a different venue. Jefferson gets away with his behavior by establishing himself as an authority figure within sex positive communities and drawing in new people who may not have experience with the kink scene and enforcing their boundaries. It’s an M.O. I’ve seen before. They start “fresh,” never mention their backgrounds, and continue hurting people.

We notified the new venue and they withdrew their invitation. He found another, and we repeated ourselves. We’ll continue to intervene as many times as we need to before he gives up and accepts that he and his events are not welcome in our city. We won’t accept him as an authority figure anymore, and we won’t let new faces to the scene see him as someone to be trusted because of his status and connections.

We can’t protect everyone. We can keep him away, but there are dozens like him. The best we can do is to share information freely and keep these men and women out of positions of relative power and make it clear to the scene that abusive behavior won’t be tolerated. We are a community, and we need to protect our own.

On Butt Fucking

These days, I bottom more than I top. I own the “power bottom” label, despite its somewhat nebulous definition. (To condense it into a soundbite, I like to say that I “fuck from the bottom.”)

99% of the time, I’m bottoming frontally. Oddly enough, I’ve encountered more partners who expect me to avoid my front hole rather than use it, but I’ve been fucking with it for more than a decade and its resilience and independent control is what makes it so much damn fun. I can accommodate damn near anything and it rarely feels uncomfortable (nothing another glob of lube won’t fix) and never painful.

Bottoming anally, on the other hand, is an exercise in patience and acceptance that some days, it’s just not going to work. I need to take it slowly, and adjust and re-adjust constantly. Don’t get me wrong– once I’m comfortable, it’s absolutely worth the effort, but it’s almost always undertaken as a solo endeavor as part of an hour-long self-love session when the mood strikes and I have the house to myself.

I’d love to bottom anally more often with my partners, but I’m caught in a catch-22. I want to bottom anally in the same aggressive, dominant style that I bottom frontally. That’s a skill only gained with experience. I can only gain that experience by having the sort of sex I don’t really want to have.

Despite that, I was butt fucked successfully a few weeks ago, for the first time in over two years. It felt great and I came like a rocket launcher. The top was an ex of mine, a relationship where the power dynamics have always been clear, so when I told him, “Fuck my ass,” he eagerly did as he was told (after briefly whining, “What?! I thought you were going to fuck my ass..”). Knowing that I was still in control– control of him, not just the empowered “take charge of your sexuality!” sort of control– was part of what made it work.

I don’t know where I’ll go from here. More butt play is in my future; there’s no doubt about that. It’ll probably be a while before I’m really ready to butt fuck from the bottom, but as they say, the journey can be every bit as much fun as the destination.

On Friendship

I had surgery a few days ago, and while recovery has gone as well as possible, I’m still pretty limited in what I can do. As someone who’s usually stuck in overdrive and working constantly, being stuck in my house and unable to lift my arms above my shoulders or pick up anything more than fifteen pounds is like hell on earth for me. Allyn has been a hell of a trooper throughout, but he still has his own life to live and the tremendous shift of responsibility has taken a toll on him.

My friends have been absolute rock stars and made the wait bearable for both of us. One took the pup for a few days while we were across the state for surgery, and returned her to us thoroughly exhausted (if you know our dog, or any Australian Cattle Dog, you’d know that this is quite the feat). My childhood best friend spent a couple of days here, during which she washed all our dishes, did all our laundry, and cleaned our entire kitchen. She’ll also be driving me back across the state on Tuesday for my post-op appointment. The Opera Singer came by last night to cook us dinner and keep us company.

These are the days I’m reminded that I’ve done something right with my life. I was a bit worried about the post-op situation. Many of my friends have gone home to their biological families, at least for the initial phase, but I haven’t even told my mother I had surgery and my father wished me the best but reminded me of his disappointment. But my community ties are stronger than I’d realized, and today I’ll be spending my internet hours searching for gifts that encapsulate the gratitude I can’t find the words to express.

The coming months of recovery will be frustrating for me as I’m forced to learn the meaning of “taking it easy.” But the love of my chosen family makes the struggle that much easier.

How I Came to Be Part I: The Beginning

“How I Came to Be” will be a three-part series, exploring the path I took to finding relationship dynamics and styles that are right for me. Each part covers an era in my life defined by my relationships during that time. This story is ever evolving.

Fair warning: part I of this story is the ugly part.

I fucked a near-stranger while on vacation in Texas the summer before I started high school. I was young. Very young. But even then, I didn’t like the concept of “losing your virginity” as some sort of milestone; I just wanted to get it over with. We never saw each other or spoke again, though many years later I heard he’d been killed in Afghanistan.

Months later, my high school boyfriend hated that someone had “gotten to me” before him. Someone other than he had “broken the freshness seal” or some other slut-shaming nonsense. Consequently, Tod and I waited several months to have sex– I think he meant to test me, to see if the whore had any self-control. At fourteen, naïve and sophomoric, I told him loved him and swore he was my one-and-only.

It was what he wanted to hear, because the only love he’d grown up with was in myth and movies. His family was from Southie stock, and he imagined the ugly past with rose-colored glasses, because he needed an escape from the reality of his mother’s health issues and his father’s Vietnam-induced PTSD. I told him what he wanted to hear because I’d learned quickly that when I said things he didn’t want to hear, things went downhill fast.

I never heard the word “codependency” until I was much older, but it was an accurate description for our relationship. We were young, stupid, and desperately insecure. He was controlling, forever afraid that I would stray. In his mind, I validated his fears when I expressed interest in a close friend of mine.

I asked for an open relationship, swearing it was only about the sex. The manipulation, gaslighting, and psychological and verbal abuse started. I retaliated by cheating, first with the guy I’d originally been interested in, and later with several others. I wasn’t “allowed” to break up with Tod, so I carried on as if we weren’t together at all. Eventually I started an entire second relationship behind Tod’s back, which continued until I moved away to college.

Of course I didn’t deserve the abuse, which had become physical by the time we split up, but we were both bastards to one another. I didn’t like the relationship and I didn’t want it, but I was held hostage until I moved away and didn’t tell him where I was going. It was the only way I could end things for good.

The relief that came with the end of my relationship with Tod was tremendous, and it felt like coming out of a fog. Unethical as my behavior had been, I saw the value of dating two people at once. The sexual variety kept that spark alive in both relationships, and I came to understand that one person could never be everything for me. It fit with my outlook on life and my need for independence. I’d been reading about non-monogamy and nodding along in agreement with the principles laid out in The Ethical Slut, and at seventeen, finally free and on my own, I swore off monogamy for good.

Walking the Line

Double standards.As I’ve mentioned before, bisexual erasure is a thing I feel pretty strongly about. It sucks– bisexuals have been around forever, and yet we’re still subjected to eyerolls and disbelief when we come out. Because of this, I think visibility is important and the more bisexuals who stand up to be counted, the better.

Yet I refer to myself as “gay” half the time. Where’s the logic in that?

I’m not one to dwell too much on labels, but after many years of alternating between the two in conversation, I stopped to think about why. The answer is almost unsatisfyingly simple: I identify with both.

I am bisexual in that I am attracted to all sorts of folks, among whom are men, women, and non-binary individuals. My sexual history reflects that diversity, and though I can’t predict the future, I expect the next five years won’t look two different from the past.

Despite that, I am also gay. All but one of my serious relationships have been with men. I’m open to another relationship with a woman or non-binary person, but all the partners I’ve introduced to my family and colleagues have been men. In other words, I navigate the world as a gay man and my romantic experience largely reflects that identity.

Is it disingenuous for me to straddle that line and claim both identities? I don’t really know. I do think my sexuality is more complicated than a single word (something which I think is true for most people) but I’m going to choose the most appropriate word to convey the point I’m trying to make.

These distinctions are all arbitrary anyway.

Rate of Exploration Over Time

I dove into the world of kink headfirst as soon as I was legally able. I’d been sexually active for a few years already, and I was chomping at the bit to become a part of a culture I’d only been able to interact with by falsifying my age on the internet. I went to munches, met people, sought out parties, and tried everything I could get my hands on. I was starving for experiences.

And then a couple of years in, something happened: I withdrew. I noticed that I was using fewer and fewer of the toys I’d collected, and munches were no longer a priority on my calendar. I no longer actively searched for new partners, and I stopped playing with a number of regulars.

What happened? Even I was surprised, and I started questioning myself. Was I “more vanilla” than I’d previously thought? Was it just a phase? Was I in some kind of funk?

I chewed on the question for a few weeks and came to (what now seems like) an obvious conclusion: I came; I experimented; I refined.

When I started out, I didn’t know what I wanted or what I liked. I had a general idea: I knew that I got off on hurting people and that I preferred being in control. But beyond that, I was clueless. I had to experiment to really understand my desires, because they are much more subtle than that. Through experimentation, I found the activities that really pushed my buttons and those that I could do without. I found the kind of partners that were right for me, and which would be incompatible.

My kink activity slowed down not because I had lost interest, but because I’d just stopped doing the things I didn’t like. These days I can summarize my style of play pretty easily: I like primal rough body play with active bottoms and lot of physical contact, especially in the context of consensual non-consent. I don’t mind being hit back within that context, but I don’t like to bottom or sub. I’m relationship-oriented, and I like service-based dynamics. My style of dominance is Daddy-like and protective.

I’ll still try new things and occasionally surprise myself, but I’m pretty content with sticking to the things I like. Sex and kink are meant to be fun, not a competition. Just as kinky sex isn’t inherently “better” than vanilla sex, those of us with relatively narrow interests aren’t doing it wrong. 

When Winter Gives You Snow..

I haven’t been writing much lately– the past couple of weeks have been busy.

Old Man Winter kept us away from Winter Fire last weekend, leaving me massively disappointed. We’d overcome so many frustrating, ridiculous obstacles, and when we were all packed and the dog was settled at the sitter’s, our flight was canceled. C’est la vie; there will always be next time. To put a positive spin on things, it gave me a much-needed rest and Allyn and I an opportunity to really spend some time quality one-on-one time together. I saw the Opera Singer too, which is always a bonus.

I’m an introvert by nature and need much more alone time more than most. Without an opportunity to regroup and collect myself, I get stressed out way more easily than usual and generally become a more unpleasant person to be around. Still, it’s tough to sit at home while your friends are out having fun. I *want* to join them, but sometimes I have to pick the less-fun choice that saves my sanity.

It’s not them; it’s me.

I guess the last few weeks have been an exercise in learning my limits, which will again be put to the test in June when my annual Montreal trip and Fusion coincide. Meanwhile, I’ll be laying low and working on some personal projects while I try to get my head on straight.

On Demographics, Part 2: Facilitating Polyamory

For several years, I was involved with two men simultaneously. Both relationships ultimately ended, amicably and for reasons unrelated to non-monogamy, but I have a hard time imagining an encore of that situation any time in the near future.

When I read Vivienne Chen’s post, “Polyamory is for White, Pretty People,” I found myself nodding in agreement and relating to my own experiences. When I was living with Rose and Azal, I could sustain both relationships because I was in college: I had the time and a flexible schedule to nourish both relationships, especially at the start when they needed it most. Maintaining a relationship presents unique challenges, but requires less of a time investment than building one.

Our location helped the situation, too. Boston still has some of its puritanical roots firmly intact, but it’s become something of a sexual liberation mecca. My relationships were rarely questioned, and I was free to come out about our non-monogamy socially and professionally. My career was never jeopardized, and I didn’t have children or custody cases to worry about. My social circles are largely secular, and I was not at risk of losing a community I depended on.

In other words, if I were half of a young couple with kids in the Bible Belt, things would be different.

Now I’m getting a small taste of that firsthand. I’m theoretically open to another serious relationship, but working full-time makes serious dating a lot less feasible. I’ve got the Opera Singer on the side, but it works well precisely because he’s busy and we keep things casual. I have a hard enough time making sure I see Allyn enough when we live together, let alone trying to balance our relationship with another that requires a similar time commitment. I could do it, but the rest of my social life would go out the window—not a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

So is polyamory just for white, pretty people? In a word, yes, although I might swap out the adjective “pretty” for “wealthy.” Though it’s not a lifestyle in and of itself, a certain lifestyle (namely, one with considerable free time) facilitates success.

On Demographics

Allyn and I had a blast in New York this weekend, spending time with friends and seeing Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in Waiting for Godot. The show sparked an invigorating conversation about the continued value of live theater and dance, and left me with a storm of thoughts about theater, accessibility, and appealing to a younger generation raised on explosions and CGI absorbed passively from behind a television, separated by a degree of sterilization and impersonalization.

Food for thought, though not what this blog is about and not something I’ll dwell on here.

February is a big month for us, between the NYC trip this weekend, flying out to DC for Winter Fire next weekend, and our roommate’s birthday later in the month. We’re appreciating the opportunity to really spend time together, where the question of what we should do for dinner is more exciting than dreaded and our hedonistic flag can fly at full-mast (…get it? It’s totally a dick joke).

Still, I am undeniably an introvert at my core. For every night of debauchery, I need at least three of video games, reading, and silence. I’m not heavily involved in our local scene mostly because it’s just outright exhausting. There seems to be an expectation that being kinky means being a part of the scene, but I haven’t got the stomach for it.

When we consider the demographics of kinky people, we take a look at the scene and generalize from there. But how many more of us out there who keep our fun to ourselves?

“There are so few dominant women.” “Kink and non-monogamy go hand-in-hand.” “Kink events are so white.” “Lesbians aren’t kinky.”

Why do we assume that these are facts, rather than a reflection of a small subset of the kinky population? Why do we argue that there “aren’t many dominant women” rather than acknowledging that we live in a culture that actively discourages dominance and assertiveness among women, and that the scene isn’t exactly welcoming for them?

Why don’t we factor in the exorbitant costs of participating publicly when taking our demographics into account? Even if attending weekend-long retreat events didn’t cost hundreds, it still involves taking the time off work and ensuring that you’ve got child/pet care covered in your absence.

We only see the overwhelmingly homogenous tip of the iceberg. I suspect that the demographics of the kinky population are much broader than the scene would have you believe.