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 have been looking for a website like yours for a very very long
time. I was so thrilled to find BENT that I had to write to you.
I hope you can help me
At the end of December 2002, I was in a gay chat room and met a
guy that lived close by. After a week of chatting on line, he broke
two of his rules. 1. Never meet a guy without a pic and 2. never
spend the night, he did both!
day's later he suffered a c/6-c/7 incomplete fracture after a fall
from bed (he was having sex with another man) and was in hospitals
and rehabs for nine months. I stuck by him the entire time. We knew
we were soulmates and he moved in with me when he was discharged.
I quit my job (police department with a great retirement and fantastic
benefits) to take care of him full time, I have never regretted
doing so. His recovery has been outstanding, upper body is anywhere
from 85 to 95 % return. Lower body is much more lower but he has
feeling all over and is able to get an erection.
His daily desire for intimacy and sex is almost 0%. The only time
we do try anything is after I have not been able to take it anymore
and he knows that I am on the edge. We have tried Viagra, sex therapist
and just plain old talking over and over and over. He say's he is
not connected anymore sexually and I believe him.
Keep in mind, I was married for twenty years and had very little
of the gay life (nothing but sexual hook ups), while he had well
over twenty years of gay relationships. I desire him and want him
to be intimate and sexual every single day of my life. The frustration
level is beyond comprehension.
As much as I want him to connect again with sex and intimacy, I
have reached the point that maybe it will never happen and maybe
I need to find someone for just a hook up now and then. I will always
stay with him and give him the best as I always have, I just can't
go on not being held and kissed and made love too.
I don't know how to deal with this anymore, when the very rare times
we do have any type of intimacy and or sex, I am a different person
the next day, happy and glowing like a freeking lark! Then a day
or so later I realize that everything is going to fall back to the
same old routine. There has to be an answer for us Max, I know he
loves me and cares for me without any doubt whatsoever. HOW CAN
HE CONNECT AGAIN ?
you raise a lot of issues, and I fear that my answers may not be
as easy to swallow as you might hope. The main difference between
you and your partner seems to be that you came to your current relationship
from very different backgrounds. That alone would set up conflicts
that sooner or later would have to be played out. Your situation
makes me think of what it might be like to watch one movie, maybe
a more than slightly dated Frank Capra film, only to find the images
morphing into the gay version of the same subject that Hollywood
has yet to make.
Your personal film began with a twenty-year marriage, presumably
to a woman. His revolved around having gay relationships for an
equal span of time. The straight version of the film implies an
exchange of vows that guaranteed a partner sensitive to your needs,
a tidy cottage complete with picket fence, and smiling children.
Add a song or two and your film would be no different from any number
of movie musicals that reflected life as the studio imagined it.
But that all changed for you with a new image on the screen, one
of two men breaking through the celluloid fantasy and entering a
world where they looked eternally fabulous, acquired endless wit,
and walked off into the sunset in a Satyricon kind of world, complete
with endless sex. Am I the least bit close to what the reality of
your changed life actually was? Somehow I don't think so. But I'll
bet that somewhere in the back of your mind you still believe that
life is an MGM movie musical and that you deserve the perfect ending
that guarantees you will leave the theatre humming.
I used the metaphor of two seemingly conflicting screenplays because
I think you might have exchanged one potentially mind-numbing plot
line for another that seems to offer far more titillation. But I
wonder, have you exchanged one set of unrealistic expectations for
another set that's equally mired in fantasy? Have you ever asked
yourself if what you might expect from a relationship changes if
the characters in that relationship are straight, bi, or gay? If
the answer is "yes," then I will also ask what you envision those
differences to be. If you have come up with something that resembles
the absurdities I created in the paragraph above, then I think we
need to talk. Even if what you envision is far more realistic, we
still have to talk.
You set up an almost too-good-to-believe scenario in the beginning
of your letter; finding a man who reached out to you, an accident
that would have prevented most men from ever committing to each
other, your leaving your job to care for him. True, the accident
could not have been a good thing, but you stuck by his side, which
is more than admirable. And you gave up a part of your life to make
his better. The plot even has upper body movement and erections.
What more could anybody wantexcept for sex? And not just sex
now and then, but sex every single day of your lives. If my summary
sounds cynical, it's because the second half of your letter seems
to contradict so much of what you had said before the insertion
of that tiny little fly into the ointment. And what you say next
is what I think has more to do with unrealistic expectations than
with actual feelings between the two of you.
"Keep in mind," you write, "I was married for twenty years and had
very little of gay life (nothing but sexual hookups), while he had
well over twenty years of gay relationships." You also write, in
probably the most telling statement in your letter, "I desire him
and want him to be intimate and sexual every single day of my life."
I want to read between the lines and ask if you actually believe
that a straight marriage or a long-term gay relationship will result
in intimacy and sexuality every single day or your life? If that's
true, you have been spending way too much time searching for the
Wizard of Oz, with Dorothy in tow. And while the Wizard of the 21st
Century might be the great Lord Viagra himself, not even a priapic
pill is going to make your man click his balls together three times
and produce instant intimacy.
put it bluntly, I think you have sex and intimacy confused with
love. You also say that you "…. Just can't go on not being held
and kissed and made love to," but you don't say much about love
itself. The only time you two seem to attempt to have sex is when
you can no longer endure your frustration and he appeases you by
giving you what you want. This may leave you skipping down the Yellow
Prick Road, at least for a while, but is that love?
Maybe getting it from someone who lacks the desire to give it could
be called an act of selfless love. But how does that leave your
partner, especially if he knows that you will fall back into depression
if you don't get it the next day, too?
Love and "making love" are not the same. Cats can "make love," albeit
with some neck biting, and only if the female is in heat. Dogs make
love anytime, anyplace, and with no concern for pedigree, good looks,
or manners. Birds do it. Bees do it. And as we all know, even Cole
Porter did it, gaily, and got to write a song about doing it. None
of that is real … love. Love is listening to someone tell the same
story for the twentieth time and smiling and laughing at the no-surprise
ending, or standing in a grocery line and splitting the bill.
To claim any success as a gay couple you must take a very long,
very serious look at both your needs and your partner's. He seems
to have no sex drive. Maybe he assumes that a man in his situation
cannot function, or he might genuinely have lost desire. He might
not want to give you intimacy in bed if it cannot be the same kind
he gave you before his accident. Perhaps with some counseling that
can change. You seem to be all about sex and desire and, believe
me, I empathize. But you might have to come to terms with the fact
that while your partner cannot give you the physical connection
you need, he can still give you love, not the sex-scene kind of
love you find in almost any movie, but the kind of realistic love
that Hollywood mostly ignores.
might have to do exactly what you thought you might have to do:
look elsewhere for the sexual gratification that you need. That
is the reality that both of you need to discuss.
I know I am being harsh, but I don't have you in front of me to
shake some sense into, let alone to give you a good hard slap and
say, "Snap out of it," as Cher did to Nicholas Cage. But snap out
of it you must. In the end of your letter you ask, in emphatic boldface
and capitalized letters, "HOW CAN HE CONNECT AGAIN?" I am far more
concerned with how you can connect againto reality. He might
have fallen out of bed with one man and into your waiting arms,
but he fell out of that bed a changed man, physically and mentally.
You were there to catch him, but did you really expect to catch
a newly disabled man with mouth and butt hole ready for you whenever
you got that seven-inch itch? Do you think that relationships, gay
or straight, remain sexual even when men enter their fifties, sixties,
and seventies? Do you think that anyone can have sex with the same
partner every single day of their lives, or even every seven days,
or seven weeks, without once yawning and performing on auto pilot?
If you did, then you have, indeed, been chasing the all-too-elusive
All movies end, and I think it's time to put your little opus to
rest. Decide once and for all, Is it better to get a quickie in
the last row of the theatre or to go home to someone who loves you,
puts up with your snoring, and is there long after the audience
has left and the critics have gone thumbs down or thumbs up? Do
you really want to pump him with Viagra and equal amounts of guilt
just so he can give you a sympathy fuck whenever you say you need
it? Or do you want to get rid of some unrealistic expectations and
give him enough room to breath and maybe come to you without the
pre-set script and deadline for getting to the kind of happy ending
you think is mandatory?
I'm no expert on what does or doesn't work on the screen. I love
a good fantasy as much as the next guy , but as the lights come
up I know that what I have been looking at was escapism. When I
ride the subway home I am as shaken as anyone else about how the
world of cinema can contrast so sharply with the world outside.
But I also know that the world I'm traveling through is the real
one, that I have little control over how it plays itself out, no
matter how I tinker with the script when no one is looking.
If I were you, Joe (and to some extent all of us are you), I would
start by throwing out those tapes of movie classics. Love never
had anything to do with never saying you're sorry. Love was always
what was right and what was real for those lucky enough to find
it. You might have that love, but I believe you think it has to
come with libido as well. It would be nice if it did, but if it's
not part of the screenplay you were handed you will have to leave
your expectations back in Oz and return to Kansas.
that I've shot you up with a hypodermic full of reality, go out
and find those men who might give you the kind of gratification
you seem to need. Give it to them real good, for me and the Gipper.
Then go home to the man you've chosen and ask yourself if love is
a squirt of semen or someone you ride into the sunset with. But
keep the answer to yourself, Joe. I already know which one it is.
Now I want you to learn it and know it too.
© 2006 Max Verga
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.