ADVICE from BENT's own Bear

Everybody knows what bears do in the woods—they 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 way.

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.

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"Hot Pants"

Dear Max,

Have you ever heard the claim that all amputees are horn dogs? Well I'm an amp and I'm always horny. Sex seems to do a lot for my gimp self image. I have a wonderful relationship with my partner, except for one thing. He's not all that interested in sex. A few months ago I made the mistake (?) of having a fling with a guy who is very interested in sex and in me. Now my partner is talking about ending our ten-year relationship, and who can blame him? My life feels like it's broken into a million pieces. I feel like giving up either man will be a disaster. What can I do?

Hot Pants & Broken Heart
Sarasota, Florida

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Dear Hot Pants,

Through all of my extensive research on the infinitely fascinating subject of sex, I have never been provided with any evidence that amputees are any more sexually preoccupied a horn dog species than the rest of mankind, which to its credit, always seems to be controlled more by what's between its legs than by what's between its ears. Of course, I am completely willing to embark on any research into that particular topic that I might be called on to perform; performing being the operative word. But I can certainly understand what you are saying when you indicate that sex does a lot for your "gimp self image."

Being sexually desired and sexually pleased is something that I consider an essential part of anyone's well being. It has even greater meaning when, through an act of sex, you are being given the kind of reinforcement that says that you are desirable despite a disability that might be a barrier to good sex for many. I am also delighted to hear that you have a wonderful relationship with your partner, even though sex apparently is not now a major part of it. The only thing that I am sorry not to be hearing is that you and your partner had previously reached an agreement about the fact that he's apparently not as interested in sex as you seem to be.

I do not like to lay blame on any one partner when a relationship reaches a crisis, but I have to be a bit hardhearted and wonder why neither of you discussed this issue before reaching what might be the "way too little way too late" stage. If your partner was aware that his own sexual horizons are limited, for whatever reason, he should not be surprised to find that you have sought to explore yours with someone else. But when it first became apparent that you had seemingly incompatible needs, you needed to reach an agreement that would have allowed you to preserve the otherwise caring parts of your relationship.

If your partner had decided he could not live with your sexual exploration, then maybe that was the time to question the relationship's future. Now two (or three?) hearts are broken. Well, there never was a sewing machine made that could mend a torn heart, but a little skilled handiwork and a lot of verbal work might at least suture up the wounds. You did not say just what the extent of your "fling" was, but it really doesn't matter. Whether short-term or more serious, it has done its job. It has caused a tear. It also seems that you are not willing to let the fling stay flung and that can only keep the wound open and festering. But I wouldn't be such a skilled seamster (my word, thank you) if I couldn't offer some tips about at least creating a patchwork from all the ripped pieces. However late in the game, you must sit down with your partner and discuss all aspects of your sexual needs, what has happened between the two of you, and any feelings you might have about Mr. Fling at the present. You must also make up your own mind whether or not being sexually satisfied provides the same emotional weight as having someone who is a partner. Look seriously at your own needs to determine if you are someone who truly loves sex or has found a way to compensate for your physical loss by using sex as an emotional Band-Aid.

I know how I would like to see the particular quilt of your life and the life of the two men on either side eventually take form. I would like all three of you to come to understand that all of your needs can be realized if you give up some of the notions that life for gay men should be modeled after some Hollywood 1950's version of what life should be. Hot Pants, you can have your man and eat him too. You can love one man yet still want to have sex with others. You can even have a three-way marriage. But what you can't have is the kind of mindset that gets you off any emotional hook when it comes to dealing with all the separate pieces that at first glance might not seem to fit together.

You are the one who has to now sit down and decide if sex is more important than companionship. You must tell your partner that if you are expected to live non-sexually with him, then he should expect that you might have to go elsewhere to get what you apparently need. But you should also understand that while you then have the ability to get all the good stuff your mind and body needs, you will have to balance those satisfactions by avoiding emotional entanglements that might harm your first relationship. To put it simply, you are the juggler on stage and you are the mane responsible if the balls are dropped where they shouldn't be.

Hot Pants, what happened to you and your men is something that I would not have had to look into any crystal ball to have predicted. Your partner should have seen it coming too. The fact that he has delivered an ultimatum without delivering the dick you need to make you happy says that he is not being the least bit reasonable in that respect. He does not understand that you can't be turned sexless simply because his own level of interest is not the same as yours. You are not some "Stand by your man" wife who has to live the rest of his life with a permanent case of blue balls. You are also a man who might need extra sexual attention because you are a man with a disability that brings self-image problems with it.

I hope that once fully discussed and understood, your partner will come to understand you needs and that he must give you some leeway to satisfy them. But in the end, you might still have to tell Mr. Fling that while you can continue to enjoy him sexually and even let that grow into a friendship, you might not be able to let it go beyond that. If he can't deal with that, then there might be others out there who can. The bottom line is, all three of you will have to look deep into yourselves and see if any or all three are willing to compromise in order to keep something wonderful from winding up woeful.

There's nothing wrong with always being horny except for not understanding why you are in that state and not understanding the pitfalls and pratfalls as well as the potential for endless enjoyment. But yes, I can blame your partner for giving you an ultimatum, even if your fling started without his knowledge. You now have to make him understand that you cannot be expected to stifle so basic a part of your being. Even if he comes to accept a compromise, you also have to be aware that you can't just share your sexuality so freely and expect that nobody could potentially be hurt if sex should escalate to something more serious. An open relationship is not an easy one, but it certainly is a more realistic one when one partner is not as sexual as the other. Monogamy can be a straight jacket and the worst thing a man can do to another man with a healthy taste for sex is deny him the food he needs. But remember, overindulgence can lead to complications. You might have to curb some of your appetite to keep the peace at home and the piece on the side.

I sincerely hope that you continue to be the horn dog you seem to take pride in being. The more men with disabilities act on their desires the more society will understand that they have the same needs and capabilities as others. But there is no need to become a sexual super-crip, especially at the expense of an existing relationship. You made a mistake by not being honest and open at a time when it would have meant avoiding the mess you are now in. I hope it's not too late to apply that openness. And I hope that whatever shape your eternal triangle takes it will be one that works well for all involved.

Max

© 2005 Max Verga

 

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MAX 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), winner of a 2004 Lambda Literary Award. For more about Max, see his longer biography.

 

BENT: A Journal of CripGay Voices/May 2004