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.
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?
Pants & Broken Heart
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
© 2005 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), winner of a 2004 Lambda Literary Award. For
more about Max, see his longer biography.