Each year I make New Year’s resolutions.
As the days grow shorter, I begin reviewing what I have accomplished over the past year and set new goals for the next 12 months. I include some simple targets — change the cupboard knobs — so that I am guaranteed success, along with loftier aims to keep me striving. I like the process.
Wishes are a bit different, though no less future-oriented. They generally involve less personal agency and are larger in scope. This is certainly true for my wishes as a sex columnist.
My first wish would be for a cure, and universal access to treatment, for AIDS. We are welcoming 2008, which means we have been fighting this plague for 30 years.
From a boomer’s perspective of growing up sexual before AIDS, pregnant was what you got (if you were sleeping with the opposite sex), or maybe crabs. Then there was the more serious herpes, which made casual sex more difficult as responsibility often links to the severity of the consequences. The freewheeling sexual revolution of the 1960s became a blissful memory.
Then came AIDS. We had never seen anything like it before. This STD caused death.
It sucker-punched our new gay communities, spawned by Stonewall. The Religious Right cheered. Politicians and researchers fled the controversy.
We suffered a cultural depression until the advent of the cocktail, which changed everything. Those who had prepared to die didn’t. They organized and funded AIDS research from within the community. Hollywood stepped forward. AIDS became a cause célèbre, but only in limited circles.
Soon enough AIDS spread to “respectable” communities, yet still the cure is not a priority. The blame shifted from being caused by gay sex to being caused simply by sex and the preachers still shout about sin while mothers’ children die.
Yes, my first wish for 2008 is for a cure for AIDS and an end to fear of sexuality.
My second wish is that we stop worrying so much about what other people think of us sexually.
I understand that growing up queer in a straight world sets us apart. Moreover, our culture makes even “acceptable” sex unmentionable, so talking about gay sex is doubly difficult.
Not surprisingly many of us arrive on the sexual scene with little support and a chip on our shoulders.
Nevertheless, sex negativity is learned. Kids have no body shame until taught. Unless told that sex is bad, we enjoy it.
We make wonderful connections through sex, and only twisted folks are scrunched up about it. Sex causes happiness physiologically, emotionally and socially.
My wish is that — regardless of how we must behave out in the world — when we are behind closed doors with our lovers, we let ourselves be naked, triumphantly and ecstatically, defiantly and intentionally, hungrily and insatiably.
I wish we would be greedy with sex, refusing to let those people and institutions who would deny us the thrill and comfort of sex to influence us. Let’s prove them wrong.
I wish we would leave them with their power struggles and stereotypical role expectations and run off to bed and screw like bunnies, wringing every bit of joy possible from the attraction and eroticism we feel for each other.
We don’t need to internalize their negativity, you know. We can laugh, caress, gaze, and hold each other for days on end if only we let ourselves. We can shut out the hostile world and surrender to the lullaby of bonding endorphins, be adventurous in bed, and let our bodies teach us their magic. Soon enough we will have to return to the theatre of the heterosexual world.
My next wish is that we understand better the value of independence within our relationships. There is a simple yet surprising formula for arousal. Arousal equals attraction plus one other element. Communication? Nope. Proximity? Nah. Viagra? Not that either. Arousal equals attraction plus obstacles. That’s right, obstacles.
We love a challenge — need it even. The chase is the basis of romance and eroticism. A glimpse of a thigh is more arousing than a fully naked body. The anticipation of a kiss is as thrilling as the touch of the lips.
When we get too much of a good thing, it dulls our appreciation. When we know everything about our mate, we become bored.
Two whole people make a better couple than two halves of a pair. Merging can be death to great sex. Mystery, anticipation and wonder all fuel eroticism.
If you want to be having wild monkey sex 10 years in, opt for a long engagement. Maintain separate interests and friends. Refrain from finishing each other’s sentences. Resist merging your lives.
Your friends will envy your ongoing heat. They will sense you’ve got something going on, and they’ll be right!
My last wish is that you all continue to send in your letters. Each is valuable, instructive and community building. Each adds to our knowledge and experience. Thank you for them all.