3 min

Cupid shoots the sex pig

Love & sex can happen simultaneously, can't they?

While vacationing in Brazil last month, I ended up chatting with a guy from São Paulo.

Sergio loves the city, has a good job and has been in a live-in relationship for seven years. His boyfriend is sweet and gives Sergio his blessings when he has sex with other guys in bathhouses or other places. Sergio seems to have it all, and I told him so. Not really, he said.

“I like sex. A lot. I wish I had more freedom.”

“You can have sex with anybody you want. What more do you want?”

“I wish I could take guys home. It would be more comfortable.”

Is that the biggest relationship problem he could come up with? I could understand discontent over heavy drinking or money or even somebody leaving the cap off the toothpaste tube. But not being allowed to bring tricks home? Oh, please.

Am I a freak for believing that “sexually satisfied” and “happily in love” are states that can exist simultaneously? Sometimes I think so. At a recent party, someone told me there are sex pigs and there are romantics – and declared himself a romantic. Sure, he cruises parks for sex, but when he meets a guy he likes, “I just want to talk.”

Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell – the men who have turned their 2001 wedding at the Metropolitan Community Church Of Toronto into a cottage industry – are typical of the “love above all” school. In their advocacy of same-sex marriage, they have targeted sexual libertinism as the enemy. When a column by the managing editor of Xtra West, Xtra’s Vancouver sibling, was mentioned at the federal hearings on same-sex marriage last month, the couple blamed Gareth Kirkby’s perspective for hurting their case.

“We know that the instant intimacy involved in that perfect 20-minute blowjob in Stanley Park can be a profoundly beautiful thing,” Kirkby wrote back in 2001. “We know a two-year relationship where people live apart is as beautiful, absolutely as beautiful, as a 30-year relationship where people live together. We know that the people involved in an open relationship can love each other as deeply as the people in a closed relationship.”

It’s a strained analogy – might four green jujubes be as beautiful as 18 minutes of Will And Grace? – with the power to set off alarm bells. But as far as political pragmatism goes, Bourassa and Varnell are barking up the wrong tree. Marc Hall and his successful 2002 court case – which forced Hall’s Catholic high school to allow him to take his boyfriend to the prom – will likely do the most damage to the marriage cause. Conservative committee members live in terror that, if they recommend legalizing same-sex marriage, Hall’s precedent could result in forcing churches to bless the unions. Same-sex marriage advocates have been spending a good chunk of their testimony time arguing against this fear.

But Bourassa and Varnell haven’t distanced themselves from Hall (nor should they). It’s the sex thing that bugs them.

I can understand the irritation. The “sex above all” crowd is annoying when it rails self-righteously about the patriarchy, heterosexism and puritanism, as if wanting to cuddle a special someone until the apocalypse indicates naïveté, ignorance or perhaps even treachery. I’ve sometimes listened to people going on about how they have various erotic needs met by various people and I wonder: Could you ever be deeply in love with anyone?

But I think the sexual libertines do have a heart. Jaded? Cynical? Perhaps. Or maybe they’ve just ruled love out of order when talking about sex and politics, leaving others with the impression that there are only reasons, not feelings. But in this life there are both.

And I think the romantics can be sex pigs – they’re just a little shy.

What I know for sure is that the people I know who have managed to make these worlds collide are the happiest I’ve met.

* Paul Gallant is Xtra’s managing editor.

* For more on sex & happy couples, see the next item. The Standing Committee On Justice And Human Rights started touring the country this month, asking Canadians about same-sex marriage. You can find out more at