Sex is everywhere it seems. While taboo on one hand, our society glorifies sex and capitalises on it. There appears to be no escape from it, and our gay culture is certainly no stranger to getting caught up in its allure. You can’t thumb through a gay magazine without seeing advertisements of beefcake and sex dripping from the pages.
A lot of literature exists on how to super-charge your sex life and boost your bedroom antics – and that’s all well and good if you have a sex life. But what about those who aren’t having sex for whatever reason and want to be? As one reader pointed out to me, this is an overlooked population whose needs have been minimally represented and addressed.
“I’m a gay man who stopped having sex unintentionally after a series of experiences that span from unfulfilling to outright bad. Time has passed and unsuccessful attempts have been made to connect to new partners. I’m an attractive and outgoing guy with a lot going for myself, but resuming a healthy sex life seems futile and understanding how to overcome these blocks eludes me.”
Being celibate when you don’t want to be can be extremely frustrating, and at times depressing, particularly when it seems like everybody else is having it, when sex is everywhere you look, and when your desires demand your recognition. While there’s no easy answer to remedying this problem, Part 1 of this article series will discuss the reasons behind “sexlessness” and how the gay community can help curb this problem.
Reasons For The Sex Void
There are a whole host of possible reasons why we may not be having sex when we want to be. Whether a “dry spell” has been temporary and short-lived or far-reaching in time span, understanding the rationale behind your impasse can help in identifying underlying problems or symptoms that could be targeted for resolution. Here are some possible origins:
- lack of access to potential partners (e.g. living in rural areas)
- other priorities in life have become distractions, putting relationship development on “the back shelf”
- lack of sexual experience or stunted sexual growth, creating insecurity and emotional blocks
- “baggage” from prior relationships getting in the way of one’s ability to form other attachments; fears of intimacy
- history of trauma, abuse, or sexual dysfunction
- shyness and weak social skills interfering with the ability to relate well to others, be assertive, flirt appropriately, and initiate dating or cruising rituals
- low self-esteem and poor body image holding oneself back
- discomfort with being gay, sexual identity struggles, and internalised homophobia
- too much emphasis on one’s being “sexless”, causing spirals of negative thinking that could affect one’s mood and outlook; others could detect this and distance themselves because of the signals you may be unconsciously projecting
- religious reasons, family expectations, medical issues, being handicapped
As one can see, these individual-oriented dynamics could be culprits to the lack of a sex life, and there could be many others. It is not, however, always going to be attributable to anything you are or aren’t doing. Part of the problem could also be victimisation as a result of society’s definition of what beauty and attraction means. For example, if you don’t “fit in” with gay culture’s standards of what’s viewed as desirable (young, physically fit, well-endowed, etc.), you may be made to feel alienated and rejected from the sexual pool (if you let it!).
There is both individual and societal responsibility for this dilemma. Since impacting social change is a long and arduous process, try to examine the role you may be playing in your difficulties to begin trouble-shooting those areas. This may expedite your accomplishing your goals.
Problem Or Symptom?
Exercise: Take out a piece of paper and brainstorm a list of all the possible reasons that you may be cut-off from a sexual life. Once finished, go back over your list and after each item, indicate whether this reason is something you have control over or if you lack control or power over it. Remember we only have control over our own behaviour and choices, not others’. Your answers to this will help streamline your efforts as you now problem-solve potential strategies for overcoming your hurdles. Channel your energies into the things you do have control over to make the most impact. Those things beyond your control will need to be accepted as you learn to surrender, “let go”, and adjust to the reality.
“We should not be limited in how we define “sexy.” One of the great things about the gay community is that we are diverse.”
As you examine your list, what did you learn about yourself? Are the reasons you named reflective of the problem itself or are they telling you that they’re a symptom of a larger more underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Until that issue is resolved or those needs are met, a celibate lifestyle will likely continue because of some form of self-sabotage. Could it be that it’s not really about sex at all, and it has more to do with intimacy fears, difficulties attaching with people, social skill deficits, and not being in relationship with someone? What hurts? What’s missing in your life? Get a good handle on this before moving forward and take a realistic appraisal of what, if anything, may be holding you back.
What The Gay Community Can Do
- Reduce the sexualisation that goes along with gay media, film, and advertising. Capitalise on other strengths that being gay means. We are multi-dimensional! So much stock should not be placed on our looks, bodies, and sexuality.
- Broaden the scope of what desirability is. Break out of traditional models that define attractiveness by shallow, superficial, physical characteristics that objectify people. Substance and emotional depth can be the ultimate turn-on.
- Be kinder to our gay brothers and sisters. It’s hard enough being gay in a homophobic society to then be rejected and mistreated in our own community. Fostering closer bonds with each other will help reduce the sense of isolation and bridge more connection and relationships.
We should not be limited in how we define “sexy.” One of the great things about the gay community is that we are diverse. If your sex life is hampered by distorted beliefs that you don’t “measure up” to the gay standard of attractiveness, just remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there are many subgroups in our community that value all “types”. And being labelled an “Adonis-type” isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be either; sometimes it can be a deterrent to those who feel too threatened or intimidated to get close to him or he becomes viewed solely as a sex object and can struggle with finding true intimacy outside of the sexual act itself. We all have our challenges and if we work together collectively and develop more empathy and respect for one another, great things can happen.
In Part 2, specific strategies will be offered for you as an individual in coping with unwanted celibacy and how to breed more connection with others to improve your sexual opportunities and chances for intimacy. Just remember that you are not alone in this predicament and there is nothing abnormal or defective about it. We all have periods of sexual dr