BENT's own Bear
Everybody knows what bears do
in the woodsthey sit around telling each other their life's
stories and giving one another advice. What else would those big,
hairy beasts do when they get together for their Teddy Bear Picnics?
Inspired by the wisdom of my fellow
growlers, I'm here to give advice, when asked. So, if any of you
have questions you'd like answered by someone who's been around
the block a couple of times, please send them to Bear@bentvoices.org.
And in case you're worried that
you might have to censor your thoughts, please remember that my
walks around the block were often done while dressed in kinkwear
and with a thought or two about who I might encounter along the
So let me know what's on your
mind. If it's a Big Unanswered Question (or even a little one),
let me have
a crack at it. It is, after
all, what bears do best.
I've been disabled since birth
and I think my parents overprotected me so my sexual experience
has been pretty limited. In the past couple of years I've been trying
to get more experience. Last week I went to bed with a guy and things
were OK. I was enjoying it until he started to bite my nipples.
I told him to stop. He did, but then he started doing it again a
few minutes later. I told him to stop again and he did. I like the
guy and want to see him again and I didn't want to scare him away
by being negative, but this frightened me. Am I too na´ve to enjoy
sex? What should I do?
said it beforenobody, no matter what his disability or prior
experience, should be denied having the kind of sexual experience
that is mutually pleasing to both himself and his partner or partners.
Everybody has to start somewhere, so I am glad that you have overcome
your early overprotection and have decided to pursue the sexual
satisfaction that is your due.
have discovered that overprotection sometimes results in a negative
byproduct, which is not fully understanding the complexities of
social interaction, let alone the even more complex interaction
of sexual contact and social interaction in a sexual context. But
the fact that you have recognized something was not quite right
with your most recent experience tells me that you are well on your
way to achieving that understanding.
saying that things were "OK," rather than "great!" or "wow!"
like a television commercial for cell-phone service, shows that
your less-than-glowing review of the event might indicate you were
disturbed enough by the nipple biting to lay the blame on yourself
(for being "too na´ve to enjoy" sex) instead of where
the blame really lies, on your over-ethusiastic playmate. Even if
you have nipples the size of lag-bolts, nobody should assume that
you want them manhandled, let alone bitten. Getting rough or even
inflicting pain might be desirable, but only if both partners agree
that it is.
that reason many encounters in bed begin with a question like "so,
what do you like to do?" As corny as it sounds, it can prevent a
lot of subsequent misunderstandings. Even if you were to answer
that you've had too few experiences to say definitively what gets
you motivated, your bedmate should not assume that that's the green
light to begin experimenting on your body parts as if you were Frankenstein's
aware partner might rattle off a list of his own likes and dislikes
and gauge your reaction to them. An enlightened partner might even
say something like "OK, let's experiment and if I do anything you
don't like you just tell me and we'll move on to something else."
Once you tell him that you dislike something, he should stop doing
it and not try to push your limits. If he's gone beyond enlightenment
into the category of "sex god," he might even know how to expand
you limits and ease you into new areas of exploration without even
letting you know that he's expertly guiding you, but it sounds like
your partner was nowhere near that stage.
If he has had a lot of experience, maybe he failed to grasp that
what might seem child's play to his usual partners could be scary
and painful to someone with a lot less experience. One touch should
have given him a clue about your level of nipple sensitivity. It
shouldn't have taken a second "no" to tell him that he had gone
too far . . . again. That doesn't mean that you should give up on
him, but you need to let him know that you were uncomfortable with
his pectoral attack and want a rematch only if he files down his
fangs. If this scares him away, then he's not worth a rematch in
the first place.
many people with disabilities have been made to feel like passive
players in their own lives. Being overprotected is part of that.
In the bedroom, don't feel that you need to be grateful for any
attention, even if it stings. That kind of self-putdown is more
of a psychological sting than any nipple-bite could be. But you,
I think, nipped it in the bud (ouch!) by asserting yourself, and
I hope you enjoyed being assertive. But don't think that if he can't
deal with your demand for pain-free sex that the fault is yours
and not his.
this guy can't respect your preferences I hope you will try again
with someone else, putting to use the knowledge you've gained about
technique and communication. Getting to know a partner sexually
can be almost as rewarding as the act itself. Finding out what excites
you both can be a form of foreplay, especially if the minute either
one of you tells the other what you like you act it out between
the sheets. You don't need to be apologetic about being a beginner,
either. Being in bed with a novice can be an exciting experience
for someone more seasoned. It gives the more sophisticated partner
a chance to demonstrate what an amazing thing sex between two people
can be. And even if new and possibly kinky elements are brought
into the hookup, there should always be some communication before,
during, and after, to gauge how both of you like it or don't.
of sexual experience should never scare anyone away. Instead, it
can offer an opportunity for both people to learn from each other,
whether it's about sex techniques, using patience, or just understanding
something about what kind of communication is needed when two or
more people have sex. Standing up for your limits is not being negative,
it's being smart and assertive. It's also being sensible, especially
when one partner could literally have a physical advantage over
learns all there is to know about sex from one or two experiences
or maybe even from a hundred. You just learned one very good lesson,
that you have rights even in bed, including the right to give and
receive pleasure and to not be treated as if your body is a testing
ground for your partner's erotic whims. Let's hope he's learned
something, too. And if he hasn't, well, just bite the bastard back!
© 2004 Max Verga
Let us know what
you think of this BENT feature.
VERGA has been
an activist ever since getting a call from a friend reporting that
he'd been in a riot at the Stonewall Bar only hours before. His
work is featured in "Queer Crips: Disabled Gay Men and Their
Stories," edited by Bob Guter and John R. Killacky (Harrington
Park Press, 2003). For
more about Max, see his longer biography.