Mindful Sex and Gay Men

mindful sex

Gay men tend not to have mindful sex. They lean towards sex with much distraction, like drugs, alcohol, technology. There is a good reason for it.
The gay community has been ostracized for a long time. Homosexuality was perceived to be a perversion, a mental illness and a criminal offence.

It is only in the recent decades that gay people have become decriminalized, with equal rights. However there are still many countries where homosexuality is still unaccepted. Some countries still hold the death penalty for gay people.

You might be wondering why I talk about gay rights on the subject of mindful sex. The block to mindful sex for gay men is rooted in our traumatizing history. Although we may now be ‘gay and proud’ on the surface, the world is still hostile to gay men. Even in the pro-gay countries of the West like the UK, many gay men don’t feel comfortable holding hands in the street.

How does this translate in the bedroom?

The gay culture pride itself on sexual freedom. This is a very good thing. But the other side to this is that there is pressure to always be sexual, the pressure the have the perfect naked body, the pressure to be the best lover. In the bedroom, when we take our clothes off, we become naked physically and emotionally, we become vulnerable.

Vulnerability can reach the deepest part of our psyche that links to our trauma history: the rejection, the shame. This process can be largely subconscious. Gay men may feel very uncomfortable in the sexual context but they may not be conscious that they bring with them in the bedroom not only the pressure of the gay culture but also the ghosts of our history that says: ‘be careful, stay safe, you’re not wanted here’.

Gay men have always found ways to chase away the ghosts:

1- Frequent sex or group sex: the more we are together the more we can believe that we’re accepted and wanted.
2- Alcohol. Many gay men struggle to have sober sex. Some even struggle to go out and meet others sober. This is because of a strong sense of shame, much of which can be subconscious.
3- Drugs. The gay scene is notorious for drugs. In the 70’s and 80’s, it is was problem but not as much as it is a problem now.

The drugs have evolved, and in 2018, they kill young healthy gay men every weekend, across the world. Today’s drugs are very popular because they are perfectly designed to meet the subconscious ghosts of gay men: they melt away the shame and increase sexual confidence. It is worrying because there is a Chemsex epidemic at the moment.

When I talk to gay men about mindful sex, they laugh, they dismiss it, they want to run away. I don’t blame them. Mindful sex for gay men equates being unacceptably vulnerable. It can be so scary.

I tell my clients that sex with distraction isn’t always bad. It’s ok to have sex after a glass of alcohol, it’s ok to have sex whilst watching porn. It’s ok to have group sex (group sex can be mindful, by the way).

However, I think it is important to promote choices. Learning to have mindful sex means you can choose: sometimes you can have distracted sex, sometimes you can have mindful sex.

What is mindful sex? And what is the purpose of it?

If you think about the image I tried to describe earlier: when we go to the bedroom having sex, we bring with us the multiple pressure of the gay scene’s high sexual standard and the trauma ghosts of our past (also called internalized homo-negativity). So, if we think about it, the bedroom suddenly becomes very crowded, with a lot of mind noise, all of it being quite unsexy and actually very scary. Mindful sex is learning to banish the ghosts and stop the mind noise, and be fully present with what is going on in the moment.

The purpose of mindful sex is that you can enjoy an enhanced body and mind sensation with your sex partner in a way that is authentic to you and fully engaged in what is going on without any other thoughts.

How to get started?

First, you can start to get used to Mindfulness. It is a non-religious meditative process to be fully aware of what is going on with yourself in the here and now. It is a process of awareness with the ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’. It is actually quite difficult to do it at first. It takes practice. So you can practice for 10 minutes first. There are Mindfulness apps that can help you. Or perhaps we can find a local mindfulness class.

Yoga is a good exercise to start being attuned to your body and your mind together in a mindfulness state.

Then, you can experiment with mindful masturbation: being fully present with your body and being fully aware of your own touch on your body.

And after that, you can experiment with mindful sex: find a partner whom you feel comfortable and relaxed with. Discuss with him the idea of mindful sex and check if he’s going to be happy to try the experiment. Slow the process down. Spend a long time with foreplay.

Try not to be erection-focused. If you don’t have an erection during foreplay, no worries! You can be aware of all the other parts of your body that produce pleasure when touched or caressed: the ears, feet, inner thighs, belly, nipples, scalp, and so on.
Try not to be orgasm-focused. Orgasm is what happens in the end. Being orgasm-focused means that you’re already thinking about what happens next rather than staying in the here and now. Instead, be fully aware of the pleasures that are happening now.

Erotic pleasures can be derived from touch, sounds, smells, sight. Be aware of all your senses.

And most of all, have fun with it! The more you practice mindful sex, the easier it will get. And you might reach a different level of sexual pleasure in a sober state, slowly chasing away the unhelpful messages of the gay sex scene and turn your internalized homo-negativity into a flourishing, happy and vibrant sex life.

(Psychosexual & Relationship Psychotherapist)

Silva has extensive experience working with individuals and couples struggling with their sex lives and their relationships. He works with all sexuality and gender diversity, including members of the LGBTQ community. Silva Neves is passionate about helping people achieve their best sexual health.

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