Us vs. Them and Sad Dichotomies

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One huge issue that bothers me with religion is how so many people are under the impression that spirituality and sexual orientation (or any kind of being different) are mutually exclusive. Even my therapist once said to me that he didn’t know what they were going to do with me, and I asked him what he meant; he said I obviously had a strong devotion to God and deep spiritual calling, but I was gay, which was a lifestyle that some people would say is sinful.

My response?

I told him that maybe my sexual orientation was there to confound his way of thinking, to show him that the worldview that gay people aren’t religious or devoted or in tune with God may definitely be false.

On one hand, I think the issue is that religious people and gay people who are suspicious of the other group have a poor idea of what religion and homosexuality are, respectively, usually drawing on the absolute worst possible images. The point is, people often forget that religious people and gay people are PEOPLE, so in attempt to point out the horrible things that they do, they also forget that most people are, for whatever reason, either ignorant or stupid, and that those people are going to be the ones without the sense to keep their mouths shut.
Of course, I’m generalizing here myself- so understand that I mean “some gay people” and “some religious people” and have no intentions of lumping them all into one category.

Some gay people seem to think that “religious” equates with “comically conservative” in the sense of hating gay people, subjugating women, and despising pleasure of all kinds. This just simply isn’t the case. While Jansenism does exist within certain Catholic circles, at least implicitly, Catholicism and Anglicanism alike are known for their embracing the ordinary world and the pleasure it has to offer- if only people would look a little deeper into the matter, they might find this.

Likewise, some religious people think that gays are all horrible humans who lack any scrap of morality and are absolutely obsessed with nothing but sex, and they distort the fight for civil rights by saying that gay people are just trying to “normalize” gay sex.
Then you have the third group, the most important one, of individuals such as myself who are both gay and religious, who can give insight into both realms, who explain what it’s like to hang in the balance between two worlds that seem contradictory to one another, at least to other individuals involved.
First, the distortion of religion is a major issue with which we’re contending today; any mystic has to face this, as the exoteric expression of a religion often has forgotten the true esoteric meaning. Some people are still able to grasp at the Ineffable God as His Mystery is called into the Mass, but just as many are obsessed with rules and regulations, and still just as many want a concrete, solid set of rules they have to obey- the sheer amount of brain power it takes to question the rules and to try to find the underlying abstraction guiding them scares the hell out of these people, and they would rather not exert the necessary energy. To bring this to my point, it’s no wonder that gay people have a poor idea of religion, as religionists themselves often have a poor understanding of the religion.

Second, the distortion of gay people is just laughable to people who have common sense and actually know gay people. Most gay people are so normal that being gay actually makes them more interesting and saves them from being only slightly more interesting than tapioca pudding. To suggest that gay people are any more or less obsessed with sex than straight people is also ridiculous; have you ever spoken to a straight man? Yeah. Also, Erik recently directed me to an ex-gay organization of sorts that referred to “gay” as a “reductionist sexual identification.”

Here’s the issue: it’s about more than sex. It’s always been about more than sex. It’s about falling in love with someone of the same sex, it’s about husband and husband, it’s about two men who are pair-bonded, it’s about an expression of the Divine Mind of Christ that we apparently have neglected, and also, much to horror of the comical conservatives, the more we try to fight gay people’s expression and existence that God Himself is giving us, the more we’re going to see it. In other words, you’re setting yourselves up, dear comical conservatives, and the end result is going to be God laughing at you for trying to stop Him.
Anyway, having an identification does not mean it is a reductionist identification, as most gay people will tell you that being gay is only one part of their lives, albeit an important one. We are humans, we are people, who just happen to be gay.
Oddly enough, the author failed to realize that since he’s a priest, he could easily be said to have a Reductionist Religious Identity.
Of course, we all know people who seem to be one thing and one thing only; this is the basis of how stories are written, as we assume people in a specific role will have specific qualities, and that’s okay for a novel, but this is real life, and real life is far more complex than a story.
Whether or not religious people and gay people will ever get along is definitely a big question that’s looming over our heads, but hopefully, in the meantime, those of us who are in the middle will be able to address the situation the best that we can and try to keep both sides from hurting the other.
Another thing that gay people should realize is that for all the vocally anti-homosexual religious people, there are just as many, if not more, devout and extremely pro-gay religious people who are working FOR equal rights- and trust me, the not-gay-friendly religious people do not like them at all.

On Celibacy and Things I’m Encountering

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This update has been long-coming, and for whatever reasons, including my busy social life, I’ve neglected to write a good post and update here, and now we’re going to tackle several issues.

AS A FOREWARNING: I will be discussing sexuality and specifically my sex life at certain points in this blog. If this offends you, bothers you, disturbs you, or you’d rather not know, read no further.

A couple of years ago, a former friend of mine referred me to a book entitled Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow. The general premise of the book explains the functions of falling in love, orgasm, and various psychological and neurological changes that occur with orgasm in the brain. The basic idea that the author sets forth is that when a human has an orgasm, they also encounter a so-called B-phase after the orgasm- a post-orgasm hangover that causes all kinds of mood changes and shifts and so on, and that it can last for up to two weeks in the individual’s body.

This is also the premise on which the author relies to explain why so many relationships fail- people become “habituated” to their partner and see them as less appealing. The science behind this is that it would have historically caused a person to seek out new and more partners in order to spread their genes.

At the same time, there is another part of the brain that allows for bonding between two organisms- touching, cuddling, kissing, acts of service, and so on, the sort of things we do when we fall in love. This allows us to bond emotionally to a partner and to stick with them, and this bonding process is also especially important to parents bonding with their child.

We’re not going to totally analyze all of the science here, as that isn’t my domain, and I’m not concerned with all of the hypotheses that are set out- I’m only concerned with what I have personally encountered and how it fits into the entire system as a whole.

First, some intimate information: it’s been almost three weeks since I myself have experienced orgasm. Believe me, this is no ordinary feat, and one can’t imagine the degree to which people are essentially “addicted” to sexuality. Now, admittedly, it sounds strange for a person to speak of being “addicted” to something that’s obviously biologically programmed into us, but the point is that people use sex to cope with all kinds of stresses, and we can all attest to this. Moreover, “resisting” sexuality is almost impossible.

But I wanted to know what would happen. Seriously. I wanted to know what would happen to me psychologically in going without orgasm.
The first thing I want to say is the the author makes it sound like this is a panacea- and it is not, not by a long shot. I still experience social anxiety, I still have mood swings and so on, I still have issues from my childhood that bother me.

However, and take note, as this is important, I do have a greater sense of confidence in myself, a greater sense of who I am, a greater clarity of thought, and a generally higher mood. My dreams are extremely vivid (when I have them), and I have more awareness of subconscious happenings during full consciousness. Various spiritual insights come to me, and many times, I experience feelings that I haven’t really had since I hit adolescence but before having any kind of sexual release.

Also of importance is that I do practices to transmute the energy- meditation, chanting, certain yoga positions, visualization, and so on. This is crucial, especially if one doesn’t have a partner.

This is not about demonizing orgasm or sexuality or pleasure. I wanted to see practically speaking what would happen. The big question is whether the pay-off is worth it, and I definitely think that it’s a more interesting state in which to be. The even bigger question is whether or not I could do this in a relationship, and if I could find a partner who was willing to do the same.

Another interesting aspect is a greater sense of my own totality- that is, there isn’t the same kind of longing or needing of a companion or a sense of hopelessness in finding one. The single life suddenly isn’t so tough, it suddenly isn’t such a bad thing, and while I would love to be in a relationship, there’s a perk of not having to answer to anyone, of not having to worry about anyone but myself, of not having any particular thing that I must do out of obligation. There’s a greater sense of impressing myself on my environment and a reduction of the environment’s ability to affect me as well. I few times I’ve noticed that whereas someone else’s opinions may have affected me, I’m now able to disagree with them but not feel attacked OR like I’m attacking them. Again, a greater grounding in myself and in liking myself.

So it’s been well worth it during the first two weeks. The second two weeks is a different experiment for me- what I’m attempting to see now is where exactly the energy will go from here. What happens next? Will there be an even greater boost of energy? Will I enjoy myself even more?

People also seem to be more apt to talk to me; my popularity and magnetism has gone up, in other words, and it all happens at a rather subconscious level. I don’t do anything differently; people just seem more interested in me. Likely the greater amount of energy in me makes me more valuable to them.

If I make it to the third set of two weeks, we’ll set up a different experiment to see what happens.
There’s been a light at the end of the tunnel regarding my emotional entanglements from the past as well. I am convinced at this point that a great deal of our emotional problems exist on an unconscious level and that we release them, albeit it temporarily, with orgasm. But this doesn’t solve the problem- it’s rather like an alcoholic drowning his problems and not facing the real emotional wound. To abstain from orgasm, then, allows for the issues to be dealt with or to heal.
My situation’s problem may be a lack of definite companion, and that could be the piece of the puzzle I haven’t experienced with Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow. I’m also not fond of the author’s heterosexism, as she states that gays and lesbians “definitely know more about the problems between the sexes than anyone else.” The implication in said statement is that people are gay and lesbian because they have problems relating to the opposite sex- but the reality is that there’s no interest in the opposite sex to begin with, so it isn’t an “issue.”
I try not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, though. Even if she’s wrong on this point, she’s still made some other good points. My questions haven’t fully been answered, and even though a lot of what I personally have experienced lines up with what she says, not all of it does, and I’m not about to concede that I’m the one that’s incorrect.
The author also implies that various sexual fetishes and practices are actually the result of using pornography, and that abstaining from orgasm will basically “cure” one of those fetishes. That did cause me a moment of being open-minded and considering whether or not maybe my own homosexuality is the result of a sexual “conditioning,” as it were, but I can guarantee you almost three weeks in that I’m gay without a doubt, and this fact is actually even more clear at this point than it was before.
Abstaining from orgasm becomes remarkably easy as time passes. The reason is that sex works like an addiction- the more you have, the more you crave it. But I’m also using the sexual energy, so that can account for how much easier things have become.
I’ll keep everyone posted and let everyone know what’s going on with this.