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 am taking medication that leaves me unable to perform sexually.
You've heard the phrase "up and at 'em"? I can't get "up," much
less "at 'em." Also, I have a skin condition called prurigo nodularis.
which results in scablike nodules on parts of my body. There is
no cure for this condition, but it isn't contagious. I would like
to meet someone, but don't feel comfortable getting naked, and even
if I did, not being able to perform is an issue. It's tough when
the ads I read want partners for "endless sex." I hate
to be alone, but don't know what alternatives I have.
have to admit that it was difficult coming up with a response that
would not seem hollow in light of your situation. A breakthrough
moment came when I reread your reference to "endless sex."
I wonder if anyone seriously believes that endless sex is an achievable
reality, or if it is a substitute for what most of use really want:
companionship, communication, love, and sex in doses so realistic
that variability in kind and frequency is enormous. A "reasonable"
frequency for some guys might not even be what others would consider
But men (especially gay men) seem conditioned to want (or think
they should want) some kind of super sex, even though little
things like jobs that pay the bills, emotional swings, and even
age and disability keep getting in the way of that skewed ideal.
I think that it's probably far easier for us to say that we want
endless sex than to say that we want something that can include
it, but can go deeper. The reality of wanting something deeper is
that once we achieve it, sex might play only a featured role, a
role that can diminish in time, leaving the core of a relationship
that might be what we would have been happier wanting in the first
me observe that there is more to sex, endless or otherwise, than
an erection, and that medical interventions like Viagra might be
helpful (although I'm not qualified to say that Viagra would work
for you). I could also state that sex can be achieved with clothing
on, especially if the clothing enhances a look that excites your
partner. But I'm sure that none of this will come as news to you
or offer a magic solution when it seems that the core issues involve
I have been the odd man out all my life, because cock size and even
the inability of a cock to become erect have never got in my way
when sizing up a potentially satisfying sexual experience. I'll
wager, however, that I am not the only man on the face of the earth
who refuses to get hung up on a partner's ability to have sex in
the usual way. Maybe that means that one of these days you'll be
looking through an ad, or placing one of your own, that's not just
about the ability of an organ to swell at the sight of another one.
BENT's Direct Discourse, in fact,
might be a good place to start looking for what you really need.
I talk about the value of companionship, I want to insist that that
does not necessarily mean putting sex on a back burner. Just as
there are more than fifty ways to leave a lover, there are many
ways to have sex. Some of them depend on how willing you are to
accommodate someone else's needs while taking a more "passive
role," which is, in reality, not passive at all since it often
means doing most of the hard work. And please keep in mind that
the greatest sex organ of all is not the one between your legs,
but the one between your ears. Of course, that will also mean convincing
others that what we normally view as sex is just one aspect of a
very broad spectrum called sexuality.
can be as esoteric as the creative mind lets it be. And who says
that esoterotica (my word, thank you) isn't as viable and satisfying
as the old in-and-out of whatever cavity turns you on? What I am
saying, Scott, is that you face hurdles that make jumping into the
sack more of a marathon than it might be for others. Many people
will avoid the arduous route that running in place with you might
present and take, instead, the shortcut to orgasm that might only
leave them wanting more once it's evident that their partners have
also gone on to the next race.
the long run, I believe what most people who have been together
for long periods of time come to learn: that having someone in bed
next to them who they respect and love is far more important than
having that eternal erection that seems more important in the time
of life when it is usually granted in an endless supply. Persevere,
let people know what you have to offer, then let them decide if
they can handle it and make sexual magic with you.
made a start by stating who you are and not apologizing for it.
Now look for someone realistic enough to know that endless sex might
only lead to endless headaches, while companionship is the need
of the soul. Good luck, Scott. You deserve it.
© 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.