Gay Sex, Excess, Spirit and Wisdom

August 1st, 2015 was a big gay day… Pride marches took place in two of the famous homes of European queer life – Brighton and Amsterdam, plus in Belfast, where we are still struggling for social acceptance and legal rights on a par with the neighbours in rest of UK and Ireland.

A bomb scare in Brighton caused a long delay to the parade, keeping thousands shivering in the wind on the seafront. This delay seems to mirror what I see as the STUCK POINT gay life has reached. Yes we have rights, we have scenes, we have lots of sex, we have great parties, we look good…. but where the fuck are we going? New HIV infections continue to rise in number, serious mental health issues and suicides among gay men are far too common and drug use seems to be spiralling out of control…. Our cruising sites and apps are full of guys of all ages looking for anonymous, drug fuelled sex. Compared to the thrill and instant highs these can provide, romance and dating can seem a bit dull, and rather challenging. We may have equal marriage now but is anyone actually looking for love any more?

I am back from a visit to Krakow, Poland, a country where the age of consent for homo and heterosexuals was set at 15 way back in 1932, but in which negative public attitudes towards us, reinforced by the powerful Catholic Church, kept gay life suppressed and subject to police harassment until the fall of Communism. Societal attitudes towards same sex relationships have not yet changed much, and what I found in Krakow reflected this – gay life exists mainly as late night culture of sex clubs, one sauna and one disco. Grindr etc are changing the way guys find each other so outdoor cruising is pretty much history. Grindr offers potential for meeting and forming friendships of course, but as we know well, it also encourages us to view each other as sex objects in a market, for sizing up and getting what we want from. Whether we do this with a bit of humanity, with heart energy as well as lust, is of course in our own hands.

The vast majority of those appearing on Grindr in Krakow are under 30 years of age, suggesting this is the tool the new generation .. .the first to grow up post communism… are using to create their gay subculture. Within minutes of switching it on my first hit came from a lad asking for a picture of my dick. There was a fair bit of this, and of lads who were seeking a drug high, not a human connection. A visit to one of the sex bars, Blue XL, threw me into a fairly dank cauldron of shadows, where shame, fear and dodgy attitude were easily as common as any sense of fun and pleasure. Maybe it was just a bad night – and I shouldn’t complain, I was introduced to the place by a gorgeous local lad who was genuinely desirous of my company and my attention with no other agenda than pleasure (in several parts of the world I have experienced that underlying the interest young guys show in older there is of course a lust for cash as well as cock). This bar was where the older guys were, but they didn’t seem to be at all social, simply pursuing lusts and needs… and I was left with an uncomfortable feeling that our global sex culture is so obsessed with the ‘divine’ male body (which is everywhere in the imagery around, the porn etc) that we have to shuffle in the dark to have sex so we don’t see the bitter realities of the human form. Sex in the dark is fun, no denying it, but sex with drunk, repressed homosexuals who won’t even look you in the eye, isn’t great, ever.

Eg Hard On in London where I got to fuck hot fit men – but only their bodies, I could not sense that they were actually present with me, they were on their own internal trips. We are good at facilitating each other’s individual journeys sometimes but less good at making the effort to create a shared journey, it seems. Not that I want to knock Hard On: Suzie Kruger continues to provide a gay sex space that is celebratory, welcoming and fun… needed on the London scene as much as it ever was as gay men get sucked into a life lived cybernetically, where sex becomes about pics and stats rather than about flirting and surprising, where chems are increasingly replacing the chemistry of two beings merging their energies as the doorway to connection.

I don’t wish to knock any of it. There are times when dark room sex is just the thing, when lust needs to lead the way. But while in Poland I found strong lurking energies of shame, fear etc that may appear to have been largely vanquished from our western european sex culture, I am wondering what is really fuelling the massive rise in chemically enhanced sex in the last decade. Post AIDS holocaust the gay community seems to be falling apart – we went from a time when crisis made us pull together in compassion and grief to a post apocalyptic hedonism, where escape into sexualised oblivion seems to have become the height of gay life. Great sex, fit bodies, great parties – I believe many guys have achieved all these and do not know where to go next. In a culture that denies the transcendent spiritual part of our human nature, what else is there for us to aim for beyond extreme physical pleasure? But let’s remember that William Blake pointed out that the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. It’s time we thought about getting there without the collapse/crisis stage where we learn the hard way that a life lived solely for pleasure leads to trouble…

I am sensing that the shame and fear that I found stalking in a Polish sex club is not absent from our more ‘advanced’ culture here in the UK.. it’s gone underground… retreated into our subconscious. We are all out and proud and visible now, so to admit our feelings of shame about our sexuality becomes a little embarrassing…. so we keep smiling, keep fit, march at Pride … and get to the dealer at the first opportunity. There is a repression in gay men that has not yet been fully addressed. Drugs are a shortcut to uninhibited intimacy and a brush with ecstasy – but intimacy and ecstasy are soul states which we will only fully access when we live fully from our souls. This repression is perfectly understandable, the inheritance of centuries of denial of our nature, but it leads us into desperate behaviours in our search for validation, it cripples our lives and our growth as human beings. So intoxicated sexual experience becomes the escape route, over and over, until some of us can find no way to escape the escape.

This repression will not lift until we remove it for ourselves… and while projects such as The Quest for Gay Men, such as Loving Men, do much to help heal the wounds of growing up gay in a straight patriarchal world, this process needs us to dive into the area where our validity as human beings has been the most denied – the spiritual side of life. Although attitudes are shifting in some religious circles, the most aggressive hatred and denial of us still comes from religious sources, so it is no surprise that the soul is something we talk little about in our gay culture. We fuck like animals because many of us have chosen to believe the biological view that that is all we are. Sexual excess produced the AIDS epidemic, and is currently fuelling the drug crisis spreading not only in cities like London but across the land, as more and more guys become hooked on chemicals as the way of interacting with each other. A lot of us are so lacking in confidence, probably from growing up in fear, that drugs make things easier.. in the short term. Sex becomes functional, commodified and fails miserably to lift us to the heights we dream of…. because there is a missing factor: open, joyful heart is required for real bliss to flow through our system.

Five decades post decriminalisation of sex between men in the UK why is our culture still so riddled with fear, shame etc… why are we becoming increasingly dependent on drugs to get along with each other? Is there something keeping the repression in place? Whom does it serve to keep older men in a state of shame, whom does it serve if the younger gay generations end up drug fucked and damaged beyond repair? Are there powerful forces at work keeping us in these dark places and preventing us from realising the love, the creativity, the natural joy, that is the nature of our souls? Or are those forces just within us?

That bar in Krakow could have been anywhere in the world. Hi-nrg music from the ‘golden age’ when gay life and public play was all so new and exciting, macho man porn imagery, dark labyrinths and too much booze. Since we rarely exchange words, it really could be anywhere. But is this kind of sex venue serving us any more? Would more people perhaps go, and younger people, if there was a ‘light’ option as well as a dark?

Sex clubs… saunas.. cruising apps and sites… promiscuity is accessible to the masses like never before. Our homes become pleasure palaces, drug dens, and too often also our cages, where we hide from the world on painful comedowns. The spirit of celebration and play is huge in gay life, but without some spiritual grounding and awareness we can become stuck in a world where sex is the ultimate goal, but there are limits to what the body can take and there are other demands our souls wish us to be aware of.

Gay spirituality is not about us finding our place within religions. It is about us finding ourselves. Coming out is one step on that path. Drugs and wild sex are part of it too. Our culture needs a vision of the goal beyond unlimited pleasure, beyond pride in our sexual conquests, beyond the right to have our relationships recognised… we need to reach the palace of wisdom and start looking around it, because the casualties of our sexual excess continue to mount up. Its not only HIV and HEP C we are facing now. A much less visible mental health crisis is already gripping gay culture. We are creating a scene where men become monsters, where young guys fall into deadly dependencies just in order to keep up with the in-crowd, where beauty rules over brains and love is a four letter word few will mention.

The spiritual journey for gay people is not about what religion we buy into. It is about us finding our own relationship with planet earth, with the cosmos and with consciousness. It is about recognising we are more than physical beings.. .then finding our own queer ways to explore and express that. Many of us put so much energy into the excesses that open our energy fields and bring us the pleasures of enhanced connections, but we will grow much more as a people, as a sub-tribe of the human family, when our culture supports that exploration of our nature as energy beings, as souls, through wide and varied means, not just drug use, when our culture recognises that coming out is not the end of the journey – it’s not a case of come out and now we can have shame free sex… that’s not the end of it…. we are on a journey that all humanity is on, a journey to the Self, to the core of who we are and what life is…. as souls born to reject and transcend the old, crippling rules around gender, sexuality and worship, we are scouts finding the way for the whole of the species. Our scouting works produces a lot of casualties, but the power is within us to reduce the number of those and create a culture that recognises the spiritual drive underlying all our searching for pleasure, for transcendent experience. Then we will come home to a liberated gay 21st century and be a sign to those still struggling for the most basic acceptance of who they are in other parts of the world, that the effort is worth it.

Blake_Quote_on_wisdom

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2 responses

  1. beautifully written Shokti, and some very good points indeed. Gay culture is at crisis point, too many people accept the unacceptable just because ‘its normal’ or ‘everyone else is doing it’. Bollocks! We will not let them win! xxx

  2. I am so glad I found your page shokti. I was guided here by a radical faery friend of mine in australia. The faeries are growing in australia! Your articles touch my heart and at 33yrs old I am at crunch time on changing my life dealing with everythong you spesk off. Ot does my head in. I have come to india to help sort myself out. Thanku so much for your courage

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