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

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.


"Is Kinky OK?"

Dear Max,

I am predominantly straight, 33 years old, and want your advice about how best to explore the gay aspect of my sexuality. My gay side is strongly focused on being dominated, submissive, punished, and even humiliated. These aspects play absolutely no part in my straight side, so I feel like two distinct (and totally separate) people. In fact, my straight side is strongly focused on my wish to be in a loving, intimate, and equal relationship with a woman, where there is no need for either partner to be dominant or submissive. I would like to find out how widespread this phenomenon is amongst bisexual disabled men. The whole mystery is starting to worry me a bit (although I'm not suicidal so don't worry about that!). I look forward to hearing from you very soon.

Many thanks,

Welcome, CR, to the wonderful world of kink! No, I do not think you need to be overly concerned about tastes that are a bit more out-there than most; they're not as unusual or rare as most people imagine. And I don't think you're a candidate for psychiatry. I recommend, though, that you try to find someone who will act as a mentor for what will most likely be a fascinating voyage of self-discovery.

As far as your seemingly contradictory desires are concerned, you might simply have a typical Gemini personality, or even Saggittarian (we do tend to be two people at times). Either would explain what on the surface seems like a schism. Or there could be more "logical" reasons. It is not unusual for a man discovering his bisexuality to find that his straight and gay erotic tastes differ markedly. I can't say how all of this feels under your skin, but I will tell you that I started my own gay life playing mostly with married, bi men, a pattern I've seen often. But your impulses—and I will say this very loudly—ARE NOT WRONG, SICK, OR SHAMEFUL! (Though adding disability to the mix undoubtedly ups the complication quotient.)

What seems to be such a distinct separation between your straight and gay sexual sides could, in part, come from guilt. Wanting to be dominated, humilated, and possibly even physically abused might reflect your own feelings about being gay. Part of you might assume that gay is wrong, something that you have to punished for, and humiliated for even wanting to explore. As a disabled man you might be harboring an unspoken assumption that others are expected to take charge of a large portion of your life. All of this might account for your desire to be dominated when having gay sex. But your inherent sexual desires might have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with these factors!

We all have passive and agressive sides. Few gay men get to explore both, since most of us are hung up on the Master/Slave duality, afraid to embrace the two impulses alternatively. Not having been bisexual for long, you might envision a house with a white picket fence when you think about a women to share your life with, and a man in leather when you think about exploring deeper sexual impulses. Neither is an absolute and neither is fully real. What you need to do (and only you can do, ideally with a loving guide) is create your own reality from what might seem opposite desires. Maybe it would be something like coming home to a wife in a leather apron, while spending some quality time tied up by the man who's repairing that picket fence.

And for those who would criticize a bi man for wanting it all, I ask, What's wrong with that? You SHOULD have it all. We ALL should. Maybe you just have a wider range of desires than most. But they are your needs and you are free to realize them.

As for researching your desires, start with the many books by Larry Townsend on the subject of S&M and kink, available at most gay bookstores, where you will also find a lot of other resources. But I doubt that you will find much aimed at disabled men. After all, it hasn't been long since the world realized that people with disabilities can and should be sexual. But no book, no matter how well written, can give you the same background that comes with exploring, discovering, perhaps being hurt every now and then (emotionally as well as physically), and maybe coming out of it all being able to write your own book.

Does the man/woman duality suggest a love/sex duality? No. Who says that a kinky relationship with a man or a woman, or both, cannot be caring and intimate as well? You can have all the cliched lovey-dovey stuff, move on to the bedroom where you can be tied down, dominated, humiliated—and come away totally satisfied. You might have all this with one person, although my own bias is to seek satisfaction with multiple partners.

I've said it many, many times before: when you go to the sexual edge, you must treat your partner with greater care and respect than when you take a more traditional road. Controlling another human being means assuming responsibility for how you effect both his mind and body. If you want to be dominated, look for men who will dominate you out of love, not anger.

Oddly enough, I received your inquiry soon after touching base with a newly bisexual disabled man who also needs to be dominated by men, proof that you're far from alone in your desires. So, consider your inquiry a positive first step. Join some of the gay and kinky chat rooms; create one of your own; with caution, common sense, and a sense of humor, start meeting like-minded people; don't be ashamed of being new and asking questions. Nobody starts from a point of absolute knowledge.

Read books if you must, but know that no book can give you what experience bestows. It is rewarding to find another traveler on a bumpy, winding, but infinitely rewarding road. Think about the journey, not why you want to take it, and ignore anyone who says you're crazy for embarking on the trip in the first place. Along the way you'll find plenty of neat little houses with picket fences. You might find a dungeon or two as well. I am confident that you will discover satisfying places to stay and plenty of people willing to have you as their guest for a night or two—or maybe even a lifetime. Start packing now CR. I know you'll have a wonderful trip!

© 2002 Max Verga


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. He began his activism with the West Side Discussion Group, later became involved with its offshoot theater group, and was one of the founders of Mainstream, a gay-disabled group. For more about Max, see his longer biography.


BENT: A Journal of CripGay Voices/September 2002