Fear of the dark

A gay view of male sexuality by Tony Mansfield

Let's get it over with. Ex straight, ex men's movement, ex new age, now gay. Labels make us feel so comfortable don't they? Then we know where we're at. Sum up this guy, that girl etc and make us feel good about us.

This article is about my experience of sexuality and therefore totally biased. The most I can offer the straight readers out there is that I was straight for most of my life - marriage, two children, mortgage, mates, etc. - or trying to be. But I had to find my way because I just simply couldn't fit into the mould.

Sometimes I yearn to be straight and other times I'm glad to be free, gay and happy.

Looking back I have no regrets. I was lucky to meet a fantastic woman who I had great times with - including a good, intimate sex life and wonderful children. It was hard, deciding to go down another path. After years of analysis and exploring and trying to fix myself, at the end of the day it was something I simply had to do - part of my journey. Unfortunately my family was hurt along the way. I can only try to address that as time goes by through acting with integrity and love as often as I can.

I've formed some opinions along the way I'd like to share with you.

1. The myth of male sexuality: we as men, straight, bi or gay cannot live up to the myth of male sexuality perpetuated by ourselves. The myth is that we are one sided sexual beings forever on the prowl for a woman/man and capable of incredible masculine feats. That we are only totally male if we are totally attracted to the opposite sex. Any crack in the image and we instantly fall from grace and become less than another man. Witness the huge world wide response to Viagra. It highlights a couple of things - the uncovering of widespread male sexual problems, which really stem from deeper stuff than the physical, our desperate need to fix them, sometimes, not always, out of the need to live up to the myth, and simply that we as men are now experiencing the results of the myth we've created and tried to live up to unsuccessfully.

2. With a few exceptions, every man in this universe born a man is a man no matter what his sexual preference. An orgasm is an orgasm is an orgasm said author Betty Dodd. How, when, where and with whom is mostly, but not always, irrelevant. As long as you enjoy it. For most, respect and mutual consideration, consent and enjoyment is preferable for a satisfying experience (but not always for those masochists out there). All of us are unique individuals with a mixture of feminine and masculine qualities/energy and a spectrum of needs and desires. Let's not exclude each other from the brotherhood of man on the basis of sexual preference.

3. Homophobia prevents us from truly knowing and connecting with each other and hence ourselves - if we can't love other men how can we love ourselves? Or our partners or children? The scariest thing for me is to love myself and give myself what I need, but when I do manage it occasionally I find I can give back so much more to those around me. Homophobia is just another name for being scared of the dark, of the unknown. To know the dark is to expand one's awareness and to broaden our understanding of ourselves. And no, I'm not suggesting that everyone needs to explore sex with men. Just loving and respecting others for their differences would be enough.

I've been fortunate in my life to have the support of all those around me and I know it's not as easy for many of us - those who struggle with their sexuality and their relationships, trying to find a way to live happily and receive the love we deserve and to give our love to those we love. It is not an easy task for us to achieve this is in life given the way we are often reared - without nurturing touch, taught to deny our feelings in the name of masculinity, seldom learning about our emotional lives and often not having a sense of who we are, what we want for ourselves, and how to get it. Little wonder our bottled up energies often become intensely sexually focussed and destructive to those around us. I'm not making excuses but attempting to find reasonable answers in the hope that we can assist the next generation to make it better. When our sons and daughters grow up with a more reasonable and balanced view of gender and sexuality, then there is hope that both sexes can share equally in parenting, working, governing and in the creation of a safe world to live and love in.

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