Category: Sex tips

Eros, Creativity, and Healing: Thoughts About Connecting with Yourself

In this unforseen and unprecedented time, I find one of themes emerging in chatting with others involves how to adjust to the lack of opportunity to be in physical proximity and connection with loved ones. Chaos abounds. In our heads, we know we are to stay apart for our health and the health of others. In our bodies, this “shock” of not being to touch or be touched, or even be close to others, is creating what I believe to be a physiological trauma and confusion.

How are we to stay healthy, if one of the ways we knew to stay healthy before this situation was to experience physical connection with others? Touching our children. Shaking hands with colleagues. Patting our buddies on the back as a greeting or for a job well done? Connecting physically and sexually with our intimates; Experiencing the profound pleasure of having sex with others that previously brought us a sense of elation, rejuvenation, comfort, and connectivity?

The answers: Turning back to boyhood

In a recent talk I shared with a group of erotic explorers, I offered thoughts of my own personal struggles with adjusting to the challenges of current times, and how I am attempting to find my way.  Surprisingly, in meditating about this experience, I realized some answers to my struggle may exist in lessons I learned as a young boy.

Journeying back to thoughts of childhood as a way of discovering new ways of coping with a lack of touch and physical connection was not difficult for me. I was an only child for many years; my sister was not born until almost ten years after me.  I did have children around me; cousins, neighborhood kids, and school classmates among them, but for whatever reason, I was still very much a loner as a child.

In learning as a boy about how to entertain myself, I developed skills I am finding now to be helpful in coping with the current reality. One of the most powerful tools for learning I had as a boy was a screwdriver.  I was always fascinated with how things worked. I took everything apart. Radios. Lights. Appliances. Whatever I could get my hands on. It drove my parents nuts, because I was not as diligent about putting things back together, but this practice satisfied my curiosities.

Reading was another passion. One summer an encyclopedia salesman appeared at my front door and convinced my mother to purchase a full set of encyclopedias, dictionaries, and a children’s version of learning books, and soon I had tons of reading material available. I read through every volume; some of them multiple times, especially on hot, lonely summer days when others were out enjoying the sun. I would get lost reading about things I didn’t know and places I hadn’t been. The world, in a way, was open to me.

And creativity was another huge factor. My father purchased a three-wheeler motorcycle for me, and I spent many summers with cousins and friends playing make-believe. We would ride through the desert taking turns; imagining our corner of the world being far-away places. Many times I would take others and drop them off in different areas of the desert to explore, returning to pick them up. It was our way of flying away on jet planes and visiting exotic locales.

When it would get too hot outside, we would gather in my sister’s very large bedroom and set up her closet as a performance stage. Recording our favorite songs on cassette tapes from local radio stations, dressing up in random clothes not in season, belonging to adults, or slated for the next garage sale brought us great entertainment and distraction. We got to be pop stars, movie stars, or strange or unusual beings no one had seen before. It was hilarious. It was fun. And it was healing.

Losing curiosity, creativity, and play in adulthood

Fast forward to young adulthood, and those things began to change. Those practices dissipated, and the need to conform to societal norms, beliefs, and expectations emerged. Questioning how things work was not necessarily encouraged; it was more about learning how the world expected us to fit into how things worked. Reading became nerdy; I was ashamed to admit I enjoyed reading over other activities as a young male. And imagination and creativity was deemed silly and unproductive.

It was these messages, along with my emerging sexual desires and needs, that led to a definite struggle. Recognizing that I was experiencing attraction to those of the same gender went against everything I learned was supposed to be important as an adult. I wasn’t to question how sexual roles worked. I wasn’t to “tinker” with my feelings about my sexual role in society. I wasn’t supposed to be creative in my connection with others. I wasn’t supposed to explore. I wasn’t supposed to try out what it would be like to be someone other than what I was expected to be in the eyes of those in the world around me.

So I tried to hide. I tried to conform. I tried to stifle myself. And, that only led to depression. It led to a lack of connection. It led to frustration and anger. And it led to behaviors that were detrimental to my physical, physiological, and mental state of being.

I was basically lost to my body and my being for almost 20 years.

Rediscovering the keys: Accessing healing in embodiment

When I first entered a space to reconnect to my body (in this case, it was a workshop offered by the Body Electric School in 2007), things began to emerge within me. I was introduced, seemingly for the first time, to my body. I entered a space that welcomed me as I was, without demand or expectation. It was in that community, and many others to follow, that I began to realize that my world was experienced in my body as much as in my mind, and at times, more so. It was where I first started to hear about this thing called eros, and how powerful it could be in my life.

In the years that followed, I learned how to reframe my world. I learned I could walk in the world celebrating what I wanted, what I felt, and what I expected, and not struggle with the thoughts, expectations, judgments and demands placed on me by others. I learned of the power in my body, and I learned that this thing called eros could transform my life. It would help me search for and find my wounds. It could help me bring them out and in front of me; confront them and embrace them and transform them. And this knowledge could help me not only to heal from pain and struggle, but to expand into the person I had the potential to be.

And you know how I was taught to get there? Through my sex. Through play. Through questioning the world and what existed around me. Through exploration. Through creativity and expression.

So I found myself doing many of the same things I did as a young boy, before I “grew up” to become an adult. To not only question and tolerate my desires and curiosities, but to accept them and celebrate them. I was encouraged not to walk in shame of my desires, my body, or who I was in the world. I was encouraged to experiment, to question. I was encouraged to reclaim my body as my own, to do with as I wish, rather than allowing others to control it. I was invited to be creative, to try things. Like role playing. Like dressing up. Like diving into what it would be like to express myself in the moment. To demand to be noticed and honored. To let whatever was inside of me, moment to moment, to come out. And that I did; Over and over.

And I haven’t looked back.

Turning inward: Everything you need is within you

And, in all of this, especially in current times, I’ve realized I’ve done this alone, on my own. So, although I, like I’m assuming most others, are yearning to connect with others, all of this began and ended in my body. And it’s still there.

Yes, I still yearn for others’ touch. I yearn for physical connection with others. But, I also know that I connect with myself. I own my body, and thus, I own what I need to help me not only to survive but thrive in these strange times. I can dress up. I can dance and perform. I can experiment with myself, find new present and conscious ways of performing activities I have taken for granted day to day. Like cook in different ways. Like eat. Like find things to take apart, and (perhaps) put back together, but put them together differently. I can get lost in reading, in drawing, in painting, in taking in the beauty of nature and the world around me…each and every day.

And, I can celebrate my body. I can touch myself. I can use pleasure and arousal to raise vital energy in my body, and revel in it. I can walk in that energy. I can use the seemingly endless ingredients of substances, fantasies, and experiences to create a new reality for myself. And I can do so in a space of absolute abandon. It is my body.

And although I shall never replace the experience of what it is to connect physically with another, I am learning how much more appreciative I will be when that time comes again.

And I look forward to experiencing that with the world.

Namaste.

Useful Resources

Here are some resources mentioned in my recent talk. If you have an opportunity, please visit the offerings available through the New Body Electric School All current online offerings are free.

Broughton, J. Erogeny. Film, 1976.

The film travels in close-up over the mysterious terrains of nude human bodies as they touch and explore one another. It is like an expedition into human geography, an intimate sculpture, an erogenous healing ceremony, and an ode to the pleasures of touch. Also it is an homage to old friends, Willard Maas and Marie Menken, who made the first body poem in cinema history, Geography of the Body, in 1943. .

Lancer, D. The Healing Power of Eros, International Journal of Emergency Mental Health and Human Resilience, 2015. p. 213-218.

Nachmanovitch, S. “Eros and Creation,” Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art, Penguin, 1990.

Cordero, A. Eros, Creativity, and Healing. Slide Deck Presentation, The New Body Electric School, March 2020.

Image by MichaelRaab from Pixabay

Note: This blog posting is based upon a presentation delivered for the New Body Electric School. The presentation is available for viewing here

Tickling Kink? Erotic Play Through Laughter

(ADULT)

When jumping into erotic exploration, most people don’t think about tickling as a way to build energy and connection.

But think about it. What jumps into your mind, and what memories jump “into your body,” when I ask you to remember the last time someone tickled you?

As an embodiment coach (someone who encourages you to stay connected to your body, mind, and spirit), I believe strongly in experiencing every practice before I encourage others to explore it. I want to know what it is like, so I can decide if it may help others and be able to explain what benefits were helpful to me.

Wait… tickling can be sexy?

Before I began exploring tickling, my only memories were unsurprisingly negative. As a scrawny little kid, my cousins would ambush me regularly and tackle me to the ground, then tickle me relentlessly until I was out of breath, exhausted, and often angry. It was “fun” for them – perhaps an easy expression of dominance, but inevitably there were elements of love and belonging involved. I mean, why would anyone who didn’t like me tickle me?

When I first chose to meet ERIK11, it wasn’t because of his interest in tickling. In fact at that time I didn’t know much about what a fetish was, or what the world of BDSM play was about. All I recall was that I found him sexy and his conversation intriguing, and I wanted to learn more about him.

Beginning the journey; appreciating the guide

When we met for the first time, I was astounded by how intelligent, open, and clear he was about his interests and what he was seeking. We spent a considerable amount of time learning about each other, but what stood out was that unlike my interactions with others, he wanted me to know EXACTLY what his interests and desires were, and that I was always in control of my experience.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, he was one of my first teachers about the gifts that many (although not all) in the kink community give to the world—specifically, the gifts of learning how to be clear about interests, desires and limitations, about how to co-create experiences, and how to show true love through unwavering practices around explicit negotiation and consent.

When he first invited me to submit to a session of tickling, I was not exactly enthusiastic. How could tickling be “sexy,” I pondered? All I could remember was that my previous experiences in tickling ended in an having an aching and tender midsection, a feeling of humiliation, a lack of breath, and a feeling of abandonment.

What I found, as I explored tickling as erotic play, was a way to let go, a way to reconnect to the joys and freedoms I recall as a young boy, and ultimately, as a way to feel a sense of belonging and love.

And now the book, and all the knowledge that it brings

Well now, my mentor ERIK11, has published what I believe to be the definitive guide on tickle play. The Dom’s Guide to Tickling is now available on Amazon.com in both print and Kindle versions.

As he states in the introduction, his work results from exploring tickling in erotic play with a wide variety of men; Individually, in structured spaces, in small groups, and at parties and events.

One of the most powerful sections of his book are the discussions related to the neurological, physiological, and pyscho-socio-cultural aspects of tickle play, and why it can be an effective way to connect to the self, elevate energy, and build intimacy. He spends considerable time inviting new explorers to consider that past tickle experiences could be based in trauma and violations of consent. He explains to the reader how to honor those experiences by not engaging in play with those individuals, and instead finding other ways of connecting.

The book also provides lots of valuable practical advice about techniques, tools, approaches, scenes, and building and maintaining safety. He also shares information on how to find fellow enthusiasts, how to create fun and creative experiences, and how to perform after-care-a critical, and often overlooked necessity in the world of erotic play. 

Most of all, he clearly shares that not everyone is into tickling as fetish play. No one should be expected to explore it. But for those who are willing and curious, it can be a wonderful way to expand your connection with your partner or partners.

So if you’re strangely curious… even just a little…

So if you have any curiosity about the benefits of tickle play in creating intimacy, erotic energy, and connection with others, I highly recommend you read this book.

And remember, it never hurts to laugh a little. And perhaps, it feels good to laugh a lot.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

How to “Do It:” Great sexual health guides for diverse communities

Working in sexual health and wellness, I find that folks often seek safer sex resources that speak their language and honor their experiences. Most information available is written from a sanitary, clinical perspective, often without the cultural competency needed to be truly effective.

In my mission to help others with information that speaks to their experience in sexual identity and expression, I’ve found some resources that truly are engaging, informative, and effective. They make an effort to embrace their target audiences and deliver valuable information, often by going above and beyond basic information available in most other resources.

Here are a few of my favorites.

For trans individuals: About the body

For trans individuals and their allies, Safer Sex for Trans Bodies is a great resource about sex, sexuality, intimacy, and connection. Written in accessible language with highly-relevant graphics and images, this booklet can help community members as well as their allies and supporters expand their knowledge of, and appreciation for, the trans sex experience.

Developed in a cooperative effort between Whitman-Walker Health and the Human Rights Campaign, this resource is available in downloadable form in both English and Spanish. The booklet covers such diverse topics as a glossary of terms, discussing sex with partners, and surgical options.

In addition to providing basic information helpful to trans allies to support their loved ones, much of the information is highly useful and relevant to any person seeking information about sexual health.

One particularly valuable concept introduced that I found valuable is the idea of “safer emotional sex.” Safer emotional sex speaks to the need to engage in sexual interactions that emphasize negotiation, consent, and intimacy — key concepts that can help those who struggle with associating sex with trauma brought on through emotional or physical violence.

You can access copies of this valuable resource on the Human Rights Campaign web site at https://www.hrc.org/resources/safer-sex-for-trans-bodies

For BDSM enthusiasts: Safer kinky sex

As a self-identified kinkster, I often find sexual and erotic explorations in the realm of BDSM refreshing and engaging. This type of erotic and sexual exploration often allows me to engage in greater amounts of creativity and role play—aspects of play that I truly love about myself.

Until finding this resource, however, I had to rely on almost irrelevant traditional sexual health resources and highly specialized experts in the kink community when it came to issues of safer sex practices. Although some BDSM practices are inherently “safer” from a sexual health perspective, the lack of kink-specific information available can leave those new to this play space without honest, clear, and contextually accurate information about taking care of themselves and their playmates.

Thankfully the AIDS Committee of Toronto, working in collaboration with a broad spectrum of organizations and allies, found it valuable to publish information on safer sex specifically targeted to the kink community. Presented in a manner that celebrates the unique erotic nature of BDSM, this guide is quite exhaustive, comprehensive, and…well, real. And it’s this reality that makes the guide so powerful and valuable.

The guide comes with a helpful notice of caution for those who are not BDSM enthusiasts or explorers – which I can appreciate. This “warning” of sorts prepares the reader to expect the information beyond the cover to be authentic, clear, and detailed – aspects of the experience that may not be appreciated by others outside the community.

Interspersed with imagery that I know not everyone can appreciate, this guide covers practices that even I – a fairly experienced explorer – had little or no knowledge of. The guide also makes an effort to be trans inclusive. It is written in a way that provides context to the information that is familiar to anyone who explores kink. It describes practices common in the spaces and scenes where play takes place – something that few guides bother to do. The only disappointment I had is that this guide is only available in English.

Ready to dive into safe and kinky? Download your guide from the AIDS Committee of Toronto’s web site at https://www.actoronto.org/health-information/gay-men/bdsmguide.pdf

For gay men: The sex you want

As a gay-identified man, I often find no lack of resources available for gay men on sexual health. However, often these guides fail to consider sub-populations in the gay community, including men of color or the myriad of self-selective populations in which gay men identify – populations that include twinks, bears, pandas, and otters.

For the rest of us, the web site The Sex You Want engages gay men from these various communities through the content as well as the imagery about safer sex practices. Available in French as well as in English, this interactive web site uses drawings reminiscent of those cartoon-like videos available on porn sites. I find these kinds of animated porn videos equally arousing and troubling because…well, they are animations!

Key features of this site that help visitors to engage with content include the playful style of writing as well as the fun and equally arousing illustrations that most gay men can appreciate. My favorite sections in this guide include “Topping and Bottoming,” “Combining Strategies,” “Looking Out for Yourself,” and “Looking Out for Each Other.”

This guide, in an approach not unlike Safer Sex for Trans Bodies, invites the user to consider bringing awareness to choices. The guide invites gay men to recognize that it’s ok to say “no,” and it offers guidance on disclosing HIV status to partners—one of the most challenging aspects for some gay men to tackle. I would consider this guide to be a great “boot camp” resource for gaybies just starting in their journey of explore sex and intimacy with other men. If you know of a blossoming gay boy that needs the info, send them here.

To explore this great resource, point your browser to The Sex You Want at https://thesexyouwant.ca/

I’ve shown you mine; Now show me yours

What are your favorite resources? I’d love to know! Please send me your favorites, so I can share them with others.

Photo by Marcelo Chagas from Pexels

Breaking down barriers: Gay men and HIV

Not too long ago, I found myself in a place of connecting intimately with a men I had recently met.

Tall, strong, with deep dark eyes and a smile that destroyed me many times over, we had flirted off and on, and allowed our experiences to unfold as they tend to do with people we’re attracted to. Beautiful deep conversation, peppered with comfortable gazes in silence. The kind of gazes that are fed by sensing the communication that was occurring despite a lack of words being spoken.

If there is such a thing as falling in love in the moment, this was certainly one of those moments.

Then the time and opportunity arose to spend more intimate time together, the beauty of that flow shifted. I sensed a hesitancy. It puzzled me. Was I sensing something that didn’t truly exist? Had I run away with my own feelings and created the false belief that he wanted to be with me as much as I wanted to be with him?

I was perplexed.

As we prepared to head to bed, he seemed to stumble, fear was in his eyes. A torrent of pain was behind his gaze. I held firm and allowed myself to flow through that with him, unaware of the source or the meaning. Something was amiss. As easy as it had been for me in the past to step back from such deep connections and retreat from fear and rejection, I wanted him, and that was not an option.

I stood and waited patiently for him to give voice to whatever was threatening to consume him.

“I have to tell you something,” he said. “I want this, but I need you to know.”

“I’m HIV positive.”

In that tender moment, I recognized the depth of humanity and the excruciating pain that has plagued so many of us for so many years. What damage was created. Not just in his experience. Not just in mine. But in the collective of men throughout the generations who were, and are, men who love men.

The wounds of generations

In that moment, we were not there alone with each other. We were there with all men who have lost their dearest loves, friends, and lovers. We were there with the pain of gay men and others afflicted by HIV who were shunned, judged, and criticized, rejected and left alone in confusion, pain, and fear. We were there with all the men who somehow escaped the physical manifestation of HIV and AIDS in their own bodies, but who remain scarred, even to this day, with the fear of what they came to know of “that dreaded disease.” We were there with the souls left to die alone, for those surrounded by many at their transition, but somehow felt more alone than ever. Perhaps because it was not their time. Perhaps because they tortured themselves with the “what-ifs.” Perhaps because their death was so swift that they left this world without even knowing the reason for their fate.

In that tender moment, I held space for him, as he held space for me, and I comforted him in letting him know “You are loved.” He stumbled through letting me know he was undetectable, that he has been actively engaged in antiretroviral therapy for years, and that he would do everything to take care of me.

He would do everything to take care of me.

It was in that moment that I let him know that I would take care of him as well. I let him know that I was well informed. That I have knowledge of both HIV care and prevention, and that this was a journey we were taking together, regardless of what our interaction would ultimately become. And I told him that I loved him. And I told him that I was not scared of him, nor was I scared of that critical, essential, beautiful part of him.

His tears welled up and he cried.

The work to healing begins within ourselves

It was in that precious moment, and in precious moments such as these, that I came to have extreme gratitude for working through my own fear of HIV. My journey began with torturing myself for having same sex attractions, and knowing no one who could relate to me. As I struggled to embrace my being, I lived in the stranglehold of hate and judgment, embodying the belief beat into me that I would be destined not to live with HIV, but to die from it, and it was fully life deserving. I dove into the depths of darkness numbing myself through alcohol and meaningless sexual encounters, trying to run away, trying to forget, fearing I somehow “got it,” and being mystified, and even disappointed, when I was told I was still HIV negative.

As I climbed back out of that darkness, I found the most beautiful angels were there to walk the path to self-acceptance and self-love alongside me. Many of them were men living with HIV. And yes, some of them were even thriving with HIV.

As I became more informed and educated, and came to understand the realities of HIV care and prevention, I found that I had nothing to fear. Although I remain HIV negative, I count myself blessed by having so many loved ones around me who have learned to live joyfully with HIV. With modern treatments in antiretroviral therapy, adequate information about risk reduction, and expansion of knowledge about the many wonderful ways to connect intimately with others, we are truly finding our way.

Breaking down barriers: Listening to each others’ stories

A couple of years back, I found myself at a workshop that offered a session on living with HIV. The facilitator was clear to explain that the group that all were welcome–it was not only for those who were HIV positive. I found myself in a room with approximately 18 men, of diverse ages, backgrounds, and life experiences. And, as it so happened, through self-disclosure almost split equally among men who were HIV negative, and men living with HIV.

In the two hours of sacred sharing and discussion, each of us had the opportunity to share with the others what our experience had been living with HIV. The stories ran the gamut. Some men had acquired HIV in the first few years of the epidemic, and had lost countless friends, lovers, family members, and others in the years that followed. Others shared how the epidemic either led them to completely shut down any desire for intimacy, or to conversely act out in ways that put them at greater risk.

Some men shared how challenging it was, and continues to be, in finding partners and lovers, as stigma exists on both sides, and few men are willing to consider those of the opposite status. Some shared how they have taken measures including participating in pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP); others shared how they have stayed away based on factors such as slut-shaming, fear of the side effects of HIV medications, or just avoiding the opportunity all together.

Moving forward

As we walk forward and treatments become more effective, I truly hope that we are just as willing to open our hearts to each other. I am not advocating for people to be denied their choices in spouses, lovers, and sexual partners based on HIV status, but I am advocating for the need to love each other through respect, appreciation, and honesty without fear. When we react with hate, rejection, judgment or fear, we are allowing the destruction of ourselves and of those who walk with us.

This is the time to learn from each other, to bring down the walls, and to appreciate our collective path to a greater humanity.

Here is video related to stigma for those living with HIV:

Photo by Robert Metz on Unsplash

Claiming my sexual health: My journey with PrEP

Tantamount to any decision that I make in my life is to be in full awareness of who I am, what I am experiencing, and what potential information may emerge from whatever actions I choose to take. I always seek to enhance my experience in life moving forward.

For me, choosing to undertake PrEP treatment ultimately was a decision that has led me to learn more about myself, about my body, about my sexual, spiritual, and emotional health, and about my relationship with others in the same. It has given me unexpected knowledge and observations about the world I live in, and the strength to stand in my power despite the ill intentions, misgivings, and judgments of others.

So when I was asked to write about my own experience with PrEP, I realized that there was potential to help others. I realized that sharing my story would help others on their own life journeys, particularly if they are considering undertaking the same treatment in their own lives. I share what I share in this essay without judgment or expectation, without any desire to influence you, the reader, in one way, or another. I simply want you to benefit from my own journey, in whatever ways it is possible as you decide how to make your own choices in your sexual health.

As a single, sexually-active Latino male in the United States who predominantly, but not exclusively, has sex with men, and who fosters and guides and counsels others on a path of celebrating embodiment and conscious, sacred sexuality, I feel it is important to tell my own story, in as open and as authentic way as possible.

What is PrEP?

PrEP, or Pre-exposure Prophylaxis, is a proactive, scientifically-proven way to help significantly limit an individual’s exposure to HIV-1, the human immunodeficiency virus. The treatment, which involves taking a single dosage (one pill a day) of emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, better known by its brand name of Truvada, helps to protect an individual from acquiring HIV-1 by inhibiting the reproduction of the virus in the bloodstream.

The treatment program has minimal side effects. In the United States, the process for taking PrEP requires regular doctor visits for blood checks, screenings for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, and regular monitoring. And the medication requires adhering to the daily dosage to remain effective.

You can find out more about PrEP and Truvada specifically by visiting their website.

For me, the journey of getting to the point of deciding to make PrEP as fundamental part of my sexual health was not easy. The journey since I began has been very empowering, but it has not been without its challenges.

The journey begins: Facing resistance

When I first heard of PrEP, I was most clearly opposed to considering the treatment. There were several reasons for this rejection. I found I was experiencing great concerns because it meant that I would be taking medication to prevent HIV infection. Few of these reasons were logical, but they were fundamental to my experience.

The first was recognizing that taking medication to prevent HIV was an act that would force me to confront that I am sexually active. This resistance was about sexual shaming. Now, people find this silly, because a man in his 40s should have no issue claiming to be sexually active, but there it was. I have been sexually active since my early twenties, and I grew up closeted in a very conservative West Texas community. Until recently, I had never embraced my sexual expression as natural and healthy; it was always grounded in stigma and internalized homophobia. So taking a pill was a radical statement — one of the most radical I had thus far experienced.

The second reason I was struggling with deciding to take PrEP relates to my sexual behavior up until that time. Compared to heterosexuals, sexual minorities often experience considerable challenges in establishing healthy sexual identities and behaviors. Unfortunately, for me, I struggled to even confront my sexual orientation and attractions until my mid-twenties, and I continue to work on acceptance even today. Up until my mid-twenties, I was suffering from depression brought on by internalized homophobia. I experienced suicidal ideation regularly. The beginning of my sexual experiences was paired with excessive alcohol consumption that led to alcoholism. Using substances to alter your sexual experiences often minimize your opportunities to practice self-care. That self-care includes making better choices about sexual interactions.

The third reason I struggled with deciding to take PrEP revolved around making choices to avoid taking medications and non-natural substances into my body. At the time I began exploring PrEP as an option, the idea of taking anything that was not natural was not appealing to me. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become naturally more resistant to pharmaceutical options and the medical establishment in general, but I still resist becoming almost wholly dependent on taking daily doses of mountains of pills and many visits to medical providers to stay healthy. I was, and still continue, to explore homeopathic options for health conditions. But the idea of taking a daily pill of a chemical concoction was disconcerting.

Another reason for my resistance was grounded squarely in my understanding, and lack of understanding, of HIV and AIDS. The AIDS epidemic emerged simultaneously to my own sexual awakening as a teenager. Lacking any support to help me sort out my feelings about my emerging needs and desires, I was alone in this journey. Sitting in school classrooms listening to boys talk about how they would “kill the faggots” and sitting in church hearing about how men who lay with other men would be condemned to eternal damnation did not help with my psychological well-being. Pairing these experiences with coming home to watching nightly news updates of gay men dying of a horrific unknown disease linked to their sexual behavior left me feeling condemned to live a life I did not want to live. In the context of all of this, taking a daily pill to prevent HIV would be a profound political statement — one I was not sure I was ready to make, after 20-plus years of struggling with finding ways to practice self-love and acceptance.

Ultimately, it took almost a year from finding out about PrEP as an option before I committed to beginning treatment.

The journey to PrEP was not easy

Once I was committed to going on to PrEP, I was already in a place of feeling more comfortable about my sexuality and my sexual health. I had proactively sought HIV testing and sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing at least annually and was progressively moving towards finding medical providers that I could speak to openly about my sexual orientation and behaviors.

Going on PrEP would be easy. Or so I assumed.

Once I had done my research, I found that many providers still lack knowledge of the treatment, or, even more disturbing, they either discourage or actively refuse to allow access to patients for the treatment. Even today as an individual who helps patients to access sexual health support, I find that most providers working in medical establishments do not know, nor do they understand, what the treatment is. Many also allow bias to interrupt their process of understanding.

For my part, I ended up finding a gay-friendly provider to attempt to access treatment. Unfortunately, he was not yet aware as the treatment, so I ended up educating him about its availability. He was supportive and respectful, but it took him some time to catch up on the treatment. Although I have become savvier about seeking out providers, I still confront stigma, lack of knowledge, and basic irresponsibility around PrEP from medical providers.

What it’s like now

I have now been on PrEP for more than three years, and in fact, now I actively help others to access treatment. Although generally, access has improved, we still have quite a way to go. It is not uncommon to hear stories of individuals encountering barriers in hospital emergency rooms, providers offices, or even at pharmacies. For some patients who have up until the “PrEP talk” had effective, supportive relationships with their providers, discussion about the treatment can be a non-starter, leaving patients alone to find someone else they trust to access treatment.

Despite these kinds of barriers, for me, the journey has been worth it.

I have found I experienced many intended and unintended benefits after beginning treatment. First, and perhaps foremost, I have gained agency. For the first time, I feel fully in control of my sexual health. I have confidence in understanding and making my choices, and with this confidence comes considerable freedom. As part of treatment, I am tested for HIV and STIs frequently, so I am continuously familiar with where I am in my sexual health. I no longer sit in fear worrying about “what if.” And, parallel to this, I’ve learned much about how to expand ways I interact sexually with others, to reduce the risk of HIV and STIs. I now know many more options for connecting intimately with others that either reduce or completely eliminate risk.

The daily ritual of taking a simple blue pill a day has had some unintended positive results as well. As a guide who helps others learn more about sacred sexuality and the power of integrating spirituality and sexuality, ritual is a powerful practice in my practice. For me, taking a pill once a day to help protect me against HIV was a “mini-meditation” about my desire to care for my body in sexual health matters. That daily ritual has had profound effects by empowering me to stand more fully and completely in my sexual expression and identity. That, for me, has been one of the most profound gifts of all.

Choosing to go on PrEP

To those individuals who choose to go on PrEP, I have some things to share based on my own experience.

Advocate vigorously for your own sexual health.

Congratulations on making a vitally important decision —it shows that you are actively working to take care of your sexual health through your conscious decisions. Evaluating PrEP as a regimen to your life experience is deeply personal, and everyone’s choice should be honored and respected.

Beyond the obvious medical benefits of having an additional layer of defense against the potential for HIV infection, research is beginning to emerge the shows there are psychological benefits to PrEP treatment as well. For many who lived through any aspects of the emergence of HIV in the 1980s, trauma and fear based on the possibility of infection has affected their sexual life experience. Starting PrEP often helps men to either lessen or eliminate fears or anxiety related to HIV and AIDS.

When it comes to your body, YOU are the expert

Recognize that you probably are more informed than most people, and more informed than many healthcare providers, about your sexual body. Some people don’t understand what you are doing, so it falls upon you to educate them. There are no guarantees that you will not be judged for your decision, but you are likely to be judged regardless of what decisions you make about your sexuality.

Do not automatically assume direction or guidance you receive from a medical provider is accurate, complete, or correct. Ask questions. Ask for clarification. Get additional opinions. You have a right, and arguably, a responsibility, to fair, accurate, and non-judgmental information and advice about your sexual health matters.

People will be judgmental, so stand your ground

Recognize also that there may be other biases at work as well. If you are female or trans, if you are gay or bisexual, if you are polyamorous, if you are Black, Hispanic, or other person of color, if you are a sex worker, if you have economic limitations, or if you have a disability, the risk increases significantly that others, including health care providers, will not be listening (not hearing) to you, or may allow their own expectations or prejudices to affect the information, guidance, or support they provide you in your sexual health.

So be assertive, even aggressive, about what you know about your sexual body. Ultimately you are the first and only line of defense against bad decisions as they affect your body.

In conclusion

Remember that you are always ultimately empowered to make your own decisions. Whether you choose to engage in PrEP, learn more about HIV and STI risk reduction strategies, or just explore your options, member that any steps you take can make a significant difference in your life.

I wish you a wonderful journey in embracing your right to your sexual freedom and health.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

The pleasure principle: Reclaiming your joy by reducing your risk

(ADULT) For many people who are attempting to live a satisfying life, having sex without fear and anxiety can be quite challenging. Often there are struggles related to a conservative upbringing, acceptance of identity and expression, and more often than not, fear of sexually-transmitted infections and HIV. As a result, it can become a struggle to experience the levels of pleasure that our bodies can provide us in intimate sexual contact.

Unfortunately, sexual expression is often framed as optional, utilitarian (for birth, within marriage, with only specific acts), and limited by morality. I find that incredibly unfortunate. Limiting our enjoyment of our bodies is an affront to our basic right to pleasure. We own our bodies, and yet, we confront institutions that seek to take that right away from us every day.

Pleasure is our basic human right, and we should constantly push back against any individual, group, or institution who seeks to control us by denying what we do with our own bodies to please ourselves.

Given this, I think it’s always important that we work to eliminate any barriers we may be placing on ourselves from making decisions about sexual pleasure. One of those barriers is the lack of knowledge or information we have to take care of our sexual selves.

As an advocate for providing everyone with all the unbiased, scientifically-correct, sex-positive information they need to make informed choices, I dedicate my life to sharing helpful, unbiased, accurate resources to share with others. One such resource that was recently made available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is the HIV Risk Reduction Tool. This interactive tool helps you to better understand how to reduce the possibility of acquiring HIV by examining a variety of factors called risk reduction variables.

In my work in the sexual health field, I find that there is often a lack of understanding of how to lower your risk for HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).  Too often, I hear people explain that they depend upon unreliable or biased sources, make assumptions that are often based upon rumors or misguided information, or most often, they simply don’t ask because they are afraid, ashamed, or worried about judgment.

If you are curious about reducing risk, visit the HIV Risk Reduction Tool online, or contact your local sexual health clinic for more information.

Photo by Lucas Lenzi on Unsplash

Per a recent study of sex toy purchases: Bondage is big in Texas!

(ADULT) Ever wonder what sex toys are popular in your state? Bespoke Surgical examines Google Shopping data to find out what type sex toys were most popular in each state. Read more about the study here.

Photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash

The 411 on Sexual Health: Real, Practical Guide for Gay Men

Looking for information about sexual health that is honest, real, and appreciative of your sexual expression? Look no further than “The Sex You Want,” a wonderful resource offered by the Gay Men’s Sexual Alliance (GMSA) in Canada. Gritty, real, and engaging, this is a great site to explore to learn the basics of HIV and STI prevention, risk reduction practices, and considerations that honor your way of living.

Check out the site at http://thesexyouwant.ca/

Photo by Sylvanus Urban on Unsplash.

 

Expanding your sexual repertoire: Creating experiments for learning

(ADULT) I often work with men who seek me out because they aren’t satisfied with their sexual and intimate lives. After some discussion and conversation, there is often a key revelation: They don’t know what they want, they don’t know what’s available to them, and they don’t know what they don’t know.

A great way, I’ve found, to gain a better understanding of what you like and don’t like, is to have new experiences, and process them as personal growth experiences.

But when it comes to sex and intimacy, that can be difficult to do. How do you have new experiences, when you may be coming from a place where you have been taught to be fearful of vulnerability, sex and intimacy? How can you learn when you’ve been taught to avoid communicating about sex and intimacy? How do you have these learning experiences when you fall into behaviors of numbing yourself with drugs, alcohol, or other substances?

Enter the scientific method: Sex exploration edition

It surprises some of my clients to learn that a great way to explore some of their sexual curiosities, needs, and desires, is to turn to something they learned in junior high science.

The scientific method, many of us have been taught, is one way to develop knowledge about ourselves, and about the world around us. And guess what – it works for sex and intimacy, too! Creating “experiments” can move us into greater awareness of ourselves. Just like the classical approach we learned in childhood, learning about our sexual interests can begin with identifying a question, creating a hypothesis, setting up an experience with limited variables and a controlled environment, conducting the experiment, gathering the data, and evaluating the results. It’s a great way to learn more about ourselves.

This process can be very liberating. It gives you more to build upon as you seek to find more of what you truly need in your life.

Ready to try it? Here we go!

How to begin: the ingredients and the players

The first step is to figure out what you are curious about when it comes to sex and intimacy. Be specific-very specific. We all have an idea of what we know we definitely like, and what we know we definitely don’t like. But what about those things we’re not sure about? Those things I’m not sure about, I find, are the the best for creating experiments. So, take a moment to make a list of your likes, dislikes, and unknowns. Then, consider choosing an unknown experience for your experiment.

The second step is to find someone to help with your experiment. I find that you can definitely create experiments you conduct for yourself, but when you first begin, see if you have someone to help. It should be someone you are comfortable with sexually and intimately, someone who is supportive and caring, and someone who is willing to help you to learn. It could be a former lover, a fuck buddy, or a partner. Choose someone you trust, someone who understands boundaries and consent, and someone who is willing to keep your exploration to themselves.

The next step is to decide some parameters for the experiment. There are a few ingredients here. Decide what the experiment will look like, meaning what needs to happen. Then, choose a time period. This time period should be long enough for you to explore in the experience, but with a definite beginning, middle, and end.

Create an agreement with the person who will be helping you. Negotiate the experiment. Both of you must consent to what will happen, and agree that each of you will share what each of you observed. It’s always ok to say NO. If either of you say “No,” just find an alternative act or experience that will create the same, or similar, experience. And, perhaps most importantly, agree that when the experiment is over, it’s over.

Finally, both of you should be committed to being unaltered. That means no drugs or alcohol – nothing that will change how you experience the experiment. This is important for many reasons. Most importantly, entering an experiment with a clear mind and awake consciousness helps both of you to stay focused, gather the data, and stay inside the constraints of the experiment. Save the altering substances for another time.

Making it happen: Dive in, gather the data, see what you learn

When you have your experiment, stay inside the agreements and parameters, but pay attention to what you are learning. Sometimes, asking yourself questions helps you to learn:

  • What am I thinking?
  • What am I feeling?
  • Do I like or dislike what is happening? Am I unsure?
  • How could I change it? Would I?
  • What would make it better? Worse?
  • How is this different from I thought it would be?

Remember, you can alway stop sooner than you agreed to, or you can aways ask for something different, but stay inside the time period you agreed to. It’s easy to get lost in the experience, and eventually you may forget you are learning.

When it’s over, take a moment or two to gather your observations and thoughts. Document them however you can. Share some of your observations with the person who helped you if you like, and invite that person to share their thoughts with you. Ask that person what they saw, what they felt, and what it was like for them – it helps you to understand yourself better, and gives you more information to work with.

Moving forward: Figuring out what’s next

At the end of the experience, agree with each other that it is done and over, and not to be shared with anyone. This is important to keeping the experience safe for everyone. It helps to know this so that you can be vulnerable and authentic in the experience.

Whatever you learn about yourself, use it to figure out what you are comfortable with, what you no longer want to experience, and what may open up further for you.

Happy experimenting!

This article was originally written for publishing on Himeros.TV, a project of Davey Wavey, Digital Storyteller.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.

Top or bottom: Playing in the binary

(ADULT) Top or bottom. Dominant or submissive. Giver or receiver. Penetrative or receptive. Active or passive.

We all know the labels.

It might not come as a surprise that the talk around these labels can be controversial. For some, it’s not an “and/or” situation – “vers” or “flip” is a way to have it all. Depending on how you look at these labels, they can be stigmatizing.

This can be true, depending on your perspective.

But I think we can also be empowered when we these labels, especially when it comes to learning how to improve sex, connection, and erotic energy.

Stepping back: How he and me become we

In working with gay couples, one of the things that seems to come up goes something like this – “We’re worried we’re running out of things to try. We feel like we’re out of options.”

Often times, it seems, the key is in finding out how the two in the relationship interact with each other. If they both tend to be givers, or they both tend to be takers (in or out of bed), then the interactions can become frustrating when both are struggling to do the same thing.

Enter the binary: Playing with roles and energy

The solution, I’ve found, is inviting the couple to take turns stepping into only one role. That is, to commit to either only giving or only receiving.

This idea is foreign to most of us, of course. Everywhere else in life we’re taught to demand what we want, or to know our place and do as we’re told. But, for some reason, once we enter the bedroom (or the public bathroom, or wherever you get your freak on) we magically expect to know what each other wants.

That’s the fatal mistake.

Bad learning: Time to unlearn

When you think about how many of us learn to have sex, it’s no surprise we get this wrong. First we don’t get it (sex, that is), and we really want it. Then we get it, and we’re so surprised we’re getting it, we’re not paying attention to ourselves when we’re getting it. Then we’re trying to get as much of it as possible (because we think our opportunities are limited), because it might run out, or something. And then, we find the one (or the ones), and we wonder when the magic will stop being what it is.

So the key, then, is to go back to the basics. Break it all down. Start with baby steps. And as silly as it seems, it can be really powerful.

Playing the roles: Re-learning the pleasure

So, we have to thank our fellow kinksters, sex workers, and other intention-based love warriors for this one.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The key to breaking past the confusion is to take on only one role. And stick to it.[/perfectpullquote]

The top, the giver, the dom, The active partner – their role is to give and ONLY to give. The bottom, the receiver, the submissive, the passive partner – their role is to receive – and ONLY receive.

As silly as it sounds, this exercise can actually be very difficult. Breaking out of the pattern of trying to give and receive all at the same time when you are with a partner is very difficult. Why? Because that’s all that we know. So in forcing the roles to be clear, both can learn precisely what it is to give, and what it is to receive.

Practice playing the notes: The symphony will begin anew

With enough practice, both partners will eventually become more comfortable with giving or receiving. Ideally, they will begin asking for what they want, and negotiating through options when they can’t have what they want.

After all, how wonderful would it be if you don’t have to guess what he wants in the moment? Because he’ll know just to tell you, and you can focus on giving it to him?

And how great would it be to know exactly what you want, and not worry about whether you will get what you need? And both of you can negotiate when need be?

Go play, boys!

This article was originally written for publishing on Himeros.TV, a project of Davey Wavey, Digital Storyteller.

Photo by Alessandro De Bellis on Unsplash.

In our bodies: Breaking through to self-love

(ADULT) For all the enthusiasm that lots of gay men have about their sexual encounters, I often hear quite a bit about the shame some carry about their bodies.

It’s an interesting paradox. How can we fully celebrate who we are sexually and otherwise if we aren’t proud of who we are and how we look?

Getting past how we judge our bodies isn’t easy, but the rewards can be great.

I’m too fat! I’m too short! I’m too hairy (or too smooth)! I’m not hung (or I’m too big)! How about — I’m done with all that?!?

Being confident begins when you recognize why you aren’t comfortable in your body right now. We live in a world where the media, popular culture, our families, and our friends promote ideals that we come to accept are necessary to be wanted, to be liked, or even to be loved.

Don’t believe it? Take a moment, close your eyes, and think about what would make you “perfect” in your body. Got any ideas? It’s fairly easy to do. We walk around with these ideas, and we often don’t even realize it.

The problem with that kind of thought is that it keeps us trapped in ourselves. These thoughts encourage us to create unnecessary pain.

It could be helpful at times to lose a bit of weight, or perhaps it would benefit us to bulk up a bit more. Or, perhaps, it would be nice to walk around with a bigger dick, or one that doesn’t frighten every guy who comes around. Or maybe it would be cool, just once, to have someone enjoy your hairy body if you are smooth, or enjoy a smooth chest if you’re hairy.

But, the challenge with all of this is that it creates barriers to loving ourselves as we are.

How to begin: Move past belief barriers

Too often, the biggest challenge with these beliefs or thoughts is that they keep us from ever becoming comfortable enough with ourselves. When we aren’t comfortable with ouselves, we can’t truly be comfortable with others. A rigid “ideal,” then, can be a source of great pain and limitation.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The truth is we live in a word of infinite variety.[/perfectpullquote]

There is no one ideal type; every culture differs. Some men like short men; some men like potential mates to be tall. Some guys enjoy pencil thin, sinewy-bodied types; others enjoy the cuddly-ness of cubs and bears. I’ve spoken to just as many men who enjoy smooth skinned guys as guys who love to bury their faces in deep pelts of fur. And there are just as many guys who would prefer men with cocks of more manageable size for pleasure as those who we shame as “size queens” because they seek the more endowed among our tribe.

And, it’s challenging enough to know what you prefer in someone else. When the tables are turned, you may realize you are creating unfair expectations of what you think YOU should be for others. These expectations can greatly limit your ability to be happy, much less just satisfied with who you are in the world.

Start by looking outward: Getting past the shell

How often do you reject a guy because he doesn’t meet your “ideal?” I often hear stories from gay men who torture themselves because they “have to turn away” potential partners. Often the guy describes how he ended the possibility of a deeper relationship because his interest was missing something that, in the larger scheme of things, probably would have been a minor issue. “Oh, he was wonderful, but not he was not tall enough,” or “I really fell for him, but he could stand to lose a few pounds,” or “He would have been a perfect package – if he only would have been hung.”

Now, take a pause. If this has been your experience, there is an invitation here. The invitation is to expand your perspective, to pay attention to your limiting thoughts and words, and perhaps, to jettison your unreasonable expectations.

There’s nothing wrong with having preferences, but if you’re out to find the “perfect mate,” you may end up severely disappointed and alone. True, for a few men, they are able to find someone who possesses almost all of the physical characteristics they seek in a partner. However, people age, people change, and perhaps most importantly, relationship deepens, and you may find yourself needing things from that person that have nothing to do with their physical appearance.

And then the inevitable breakup happens, and you must begin again.

And perhaps the greatest damage is done when, in convincing yourself of your needs in another, you are challenged to turn back to looking at yourself. The pain here can begin un-noticeably. You slowly but eventually start to make significant changes in your physical appearance that could possibly be unrealistic, harmful, or keep you trapped in your self-perpetuating situation.

The best way to move past these challenges is to simply begin bringing awareness to where you are in your relationship with your body, and to pay attention to your expectations of others. But don’t beat yourself up if you recognize your are limiting your happiness by judging yourself, or judging others. Just recognize what you are doing. Eventually, for many, the journey to change begins in those moments. Awareness is often the most powerful ingredient to begin the healing.

Looking in the mirror: Learning to accept and love yourself

The toughest part of this process of coming to love yourself in your body is to confront where you are and where you need to go. We are often our own harshest critics, and the ideals that others may impose on us are rarely as damaging as the ones we impose on ourselves.

Recognize too, that we live in a world where we can bring about change to those things we are not happy about with our own bodies – but those changes can come at a steep price. For example, starving yourself or spending a fortune on fad diets may help you lose weight. Hair removal services can help you stay smooth-but the process can be painful and continuous. And there are always gimmicks and surgical options marketed to us if you want to increase our penis size, and most options bring only limited results.

Instead of continuing on with these options, take a moment to stop and ask yourself – Will this truly make me more happy?

The more affordable, and I would argue, the more realistic alternative, is to learn to come to accept yourself as much as possible. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t control your weight or focus on personal grooming habits, but consider being realistic with those issues, and the reasons you are pursuing them. Losing weight to curb potential long-term health problems is a good idea. Losing weight to attempt to attract a mate may work in the short term, but what if you are unable to maintain it? Is that worth the heartbreak of losing a love?

Perhaps, just perhaps, it would be best to learn to love who you are, and to do what you need to do to be happy with yourself. Consider not focusing so much on what you think the world is asking of you. Instead, think if it may be better to find someone (or others) who accept you for you, rather than to be around people who spend their time wanting you to be who they think you should be for them.

And maybe-just maybe-as you show the world who you really are, the world will show up for who you are truly meant to be.

This article was originally written for publishing on Himeros.TV, a project of Davey Wavey, Digital Storyteller.

Photo by leo abdelnaby on Unsplash.

Sex selfies: Narcissist or nurturance?

(ADULT) Admit it. If you haven’t done it, you’ve probably thought about it.

You’ve at least contemplated (if not taken) that cock pic, that ass shot, or that sultry pose (or many), all for that hookup app, that dating site, or to answer that oh-so-tantalizing Craigslist ad.

We live in a transactional, short-order, Twitter-fied, fast-food culture where split decisions are not only convenient, they almost always are necessary. Even when it comes to sex, friendship, or long-term relationship, getting to the point is not only preferred – it’s essential.

It’s no surprise, then, that images have stepped in to play such a powerful role in how we get connected, how we find love, and how we get off.

But if you choose to “Snap shot your sex,” either by phone camera or photographer, should you worry about what this action says about you?

Self absorbed?…ain’t always so

A mythic tale brought to us by our Greek brothers cautions us not to fall in love with our reflections, as Narcissus once did. It not only hurt him – it killed him.

The message from that fateful tale is clear: Don’t become obsessed with yourself, and how others see you. Or, you’ll die.

Now, I don’t doubt it’s possible to become so self-focused that you end up miserable because your looks are all that matters. Truth is, I think it’s a huge problem in our society.

But what we tend to forget is that taking images of ourselves, particularly sexually suggestive or even sexually explicit ones, can help us to heal as well.

You see, for many of us, sexual shame has been a huge part of our lives.[perfectpullquote align=”left” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] We’re taught to be ashamed of our Eros, our desire for, and our actions to achieve, the “P” word.[/perfectpullquote]

No boys, I’m not talking about penis, I’m talking about pleasure.

And this influence has been so powerful that it’s disconnected us from ourselves. It’s a form of control. So, the idea goes, as long as I can keep you from your pleasure, I can keep you from your own ability to transform your life and to heal, and ultimately, from your own right to your joy.

So, getting back to the “naughties…”

So that does this have to do with sex selfies? Well, when we take images of ourselves, of those parts of our bodies that are targets of shaming, we begin to reclaim what is ours. Our cocks. Our asses. Our armpits. And other parts. When we start to take pictures of those parts of our bodies, we can start to reconnect with “us.” And we can do it out and in the open.

Oh, and what does it mean when you start sharing those images with others? Well, at that point, it’s a true political act. Because not only does it say “I own my body,” but it also says “I want others to appreciate it, and celebrate it as well.”

Want to test this? Just let your most prudish friend know what you’re up to. See how quickly the judgment comes. See their reaction? That’s control in action.

And so, as judge-y types may see you flagrantly “objectifying yourself,” you are most certainly also offending the status quo. You are simultaneously declaring to yourself and to others that you recognize your beauty, you appreciate your body, and you welcome others to do the same.

And that act can be incredibly freeing and powerful.

Awareness is empowerment; Experimenting is key

So even if ultimately you decide not to share that cock pic you took, or forward that shot of your ass in a jock to that guy you’ve been wanting to meet because you’re thinking you’re not “good enough,” recognize that just becoming aware of those feelings is a major step to self-love and self healing.

The truth is, few people love everything about themselves, especially when it comes to their bodies.

But if you can at least look at those images, and notice what it brings up for you, that’s a huge step. You now know where you are, and where you can start to finding the real lover in you.

So pull out that phone camera, find those sexy undies that make you feel good, and snap a few pictures. Bring in a lover or friend, if you think you’re ready for that. Then sit with the images you take, and see what they say to you.

I think you’ll find some comfort once you accept what you see as “this is me.” That awareness will be freeing, it will help you get closer to others, and yes, it can even bring you unbridled joy.

“I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. Demille!”

This article was originally written for publishing on Himeros.TV, a project of Davey Wavey, Digital Storyteller.

Photo by Ali Yahya on Unsplash.

Best Sex Tip for Gay Men: Daily Sex Muscle Workouts!

(ADULT) If there is one sex tip that I would give every gay man who is open to anal sex, either as a top, as a bottom, or as versatile stud, it would be…do your daily kegel and pelvic floor workouts!

These exercises, when done regularly, will strengthen the muscles you use when fucking. You will become more aware of those parts of your body when you fuck. If you slow down, focus on flexing those muscles, and pay attention to the pleasure, you are likely to have an experience that will lead to incredible orgasms, both through your cock (ejaculation), or in your ass (anal orgasms).

It’s easy to exercise these muscles. First focus on the muscles you use to start and stop urinating or peeing. Squeeze and release those muscles, in multiple repetitions. As you strengthen those muscles, you will eventually be able to make your cock and testicles bounce.

Next, focus on the muscles you use when you poop (defecate). Squeeze and release those pelvic floor muscles as if you are trying to relieve yourself. You should feel a tightening and releasing of your abdominal muscles, a tightening and releasing of your external sphincter (the muscle that feels like a cock ring at the entrance to your anus), and a “puckering” sensation of your anus (make it talk!).

Although at first it may be difficult to tell the difference between the two exercises, you will eventually be able to distinguish between the two exercises.

Now, the best part!

When you get ready to enjoy booty love, grab your fuck buddy or partner and agree to go slow. Whether you are the top or the bottom, resist the urge to immediately connect and fall into the “pattern of pounding.” Go slowly and relax into your breathing. Once you have connected, stop, focus on what that feels like, and practice flexing the muscles you have been exercising. You will instinctually know which muscles to flex based on your role. If you stay connected and patient, you will gradually sense the pleasure in the subtlety of these sensations, which will energize you to fall into the flow.

Now, go work out, and go have some incredible sex!

Learn more from other experts by watching the video below.

This article was originally written for publishing on Himeros.TV, a project of Davey Wavey, Digital Storyteller.

Photo by Tomas Sobek on Unsplash.

What’s sacred about blow jobs?

(ADULT) It’s no secret that most guys enjoy sucking or getting sucked, of not both. It’s rare to find a guy who turns down a sloppy slurp to release. For lots of us, it’s like cold pizza; even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.

But can polishing the nob really be sacred?

My answer, always, is “most definitely.” The key to a sacred blow is to pay attention to a few things. Follow them, and I believe you’ll find “cold pizza” bjs will turn into gourmet bjs, whether you are standing strong, or on your knees.

First things first: Be present, be aware, set intention

Like most things, the more you focus, the better the results can be. So take a moment when you’ve found your blow-conspirator, and connect. Feel the excitement in your body, gaze into his eyes, and hold off on diving in. Appreciate the joy that’s coming-figuratively and literally.

You’re about to have some intense pleasure – so relish it!

Now, you don’t have to be partnered or even dating to enjoy the experience. BJs with hookups can be hot, too. The beauty is, you get to choose. The possibility of pleasure is always there – so drop the guilt and shame, and do what works for you.

And setting an intention can be powerful. If you are the sucker, maybe your intention is to make it intense for him. I find it powerful when I know I want to please a guy. Making it great for him makes it great for me. See if you can figure out what works for you.

If you’re the suckee, lucky you. Here’s a guy who’s willing to service your trouser snake. It can never get enough attention, right? See if you can get into just having your cock worshipped. Lean back, relax, and enjoy, because for most of us, it probably doesn’t happen enough. Allow yourself to enjoy just being pleased.

In the act: Pay attention, play with the power, feed the senses

Regardless of your role, the goals are the same. How is he responding? Look in each others eyes from time to time. Watch his body. What licks and strokes does he like? Whatever it is, do that more.

The power dynamic can feed erotic charge as well. When I get sucked, I get hard knowing the guy wants to make me feel good. I enjoy my cock being worshipped. When I suck a guy, I get my rocks off spiritually knowing he’s allowing me to please him. What he’s feeling, what he’s enjoying – I’m a big part of that.

Pay attention to the sights and sounds. What does he smell like? What noises is he making? Does he like being touched in some ways more than others? Where do your eyes go? What do you desire?

Get lost in connection, revel in the moment, make it explosive

The sacredness of the experience is based on your intention, your presence, and most of all, your unique connection to your blow buddy – in that moment. [perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]At no time in the past, and in no time in the future, will you both have this again.[/perfectpullquote]

And you’ve both chosen each other for that moment, for that pleasure, for that intention.

Done right, your moments will be an escape. You aren’t thinking about the past, and you could give a fuck about the future. What’s happening is in the now. It’s intense, and it’s beautiful. Those are the moments you are invited to create. The moments that make life worth living.

Good luck. Go forward. And find the sacred in the suck.

This article was originally written for publishing on Himeros.TV, a project of Davey Wavey, Digital Storyteller.

Photo by Charles Deluvio ???? on Unsplash

I’m butting in: Keeping it clean

(ADULT) It’s pretty much happened to every gay guy who’s ever tried to bottom.

That moment in time when you realize… eek!… maybe you weren’t quite prepared for that deep-diving, talented top.

Truth is, no one wants to talk about it, but it’s something we all want every hot bottom to know. And even if you think you’re a contender for the Martha Stewart award for serving up booty, there’s always room for improvement. So let’s dive in, shall we? (Pun most definitely intended).

But no one told me about butt-iquete!

Unless you were lucky and had a fairy gay-daddy teach you a thing or two about how to flush out your love canal, chances are you had to learn the hard way about douching before bottoming. Lots of gay guys, it seems, kinda just start doing the booty-bounce without knowing about cleanliness until someone – probably shamefully – brought it to their attention.

Like the last thing we need is more shame for our pleasure choices.

So the most important thing I ask of dutiful tops is this – show compassion to your fellow budding bottoms. Be ready for the occasional workplace hazards. And, if that juicy butt boy fails the test, go easy on him. He may not have gotten the memo. And you stepping up to get him past the unfortunate poop-hump will pretty much assure he’ll remember you fondly miles down the road when he’s inspiring the world with his talented derriére.

First up: Nutrition, fiber-fests, and routine maintenance

“You are what you eat” may not be quite accurate, but when it comes to your diet choices, what you put in affects what you put out. Generally, if you want to struggle less with preparing for welcoming that hot top into your sugar walls, sugar is not the way to go. Focus on natural foods – vegetables and foods with high fibers. Generally avoid most processed foods, significant amounts of meats, dairy, sugary foods, and refined flour.

Boys wanting to host in their backyards also must become friends with fiber – fiber helps to keep your digestive system clean and clear. No need to go overboard, but a fiber supplement can be helpful, and high fiber offers other benefits as well.

And be loving and tender with your derriére in-between guests. Keep the back porch clean, and consider using moistened wipes instead of dry toilet paper. Keeping your butt free of irritation makes it easier when it’s time to enjoy backdoor play.

Ramp up your game: Flushing out, feeling free

As the day arrives and you prepare to enjoy that tush-attention, do some flushing until water is clear. How much you flush depends on whether you’ll be hosting a basic tush party or a grande deep play affair. If you’re expecting a basic bumper booty ride, then a simple flush of the lower regions is fine. If the play will be extensive, and fists, long toys, or an especially size-gifted boy is involved, go for the deep flush.

“Blindjaw” has created an especially wonderful resource, and he offers it on his website. How to clean your ass before anal sex is a quirky, fun, illustrated guide that holds back nothing and gives you everything you need to know to become skilled in preparing for backdoor play.

Find your ass-confidence, know your choices

Finally, and for me one of the most important things, is to be confident when you open the gates and let your guest(s) in. If you’re in the midst of the booty-lambada and your mind is shrieking in fear about what may happen – well guess what – your top will know it.

So instead of being tense, and worrying about accidents, instead take some deep breaths, focus on his talents, and let go of the fears. Dive in – with him – into the pleasure.

If you’re in the midst of the motions of drilling for oil, and unfortunately he hits black gold, how he responds will say a lot. No rig operator worth keeping around will respond in a way that makes you feel unworthy of pleasure simply because of the occasional mishap. If he shames you or acts out, put him out, and find someone who’s willing to work with you in the real world.

Of course if you find it happens more than sporadically, then maybe it’s time to figure out what needs to be tweaked to tighten up your game.

And always, always, always remember this – bottoming for anyone is always your choice, and that can change at any time. So if you’re unsure you can give your top the ride he deserves, it’s ok to ask for a reschedule or offer other ways to play.

If he can’t respect you respecting your body and your choices, he’s not worth your time.

This article was originally written for publishing on Himeros.TV, a project of Davey Wavey, Digital Storyteller.

Photo by Owen Kemp on Unsplash.

Embracing Kink as Transformative Experience: Mollena Williams-Lee Haas

WLT*I* Easter Conference Talk – Mollena Lee Williams-Haas from Mollena Williams on Vimeo.

One of my favorite kink educators, Mollena Williams-Lee Haas, talks in this video about the sacred, the political, and the transformational in kink. This is definitely worth a watch, especially if you are contemplating how exploring kink can help you unfold through your healing and transformation.

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash.