Last night I went to a party. It was with a group of gay and bisexual men, who I know from a peer support group for men who are attracted to men but have been married or involved with women. There was a small in-ground pool which some of the men went into. Bathing suits soon disappeared and the men stood in the water naked talking. After a short while, it became sexual with the men touching, kissing, and ultimately sucking each other.
While the pool scene was going on I sat with my boyfriend on a patio couch, not far away, talking to a group of men who had chosen not to go in the pool. I kept looking over at the pool watching the scene. It was sexual and hot as the men, mostly older, played with a younger hairy guy. While I found the scene sexy, I was not interested in participating.
When I was in my 20s I found it exciting to go to the baths in lower Manhattan. This was pre-AIDS. My favorite spot was the steam room where I might be sucked off or suck someone off. But that was over 35 years ago. Today, intimacy with someone I know and care for is what I want. With the right person, anonymous sex still might have some appeal for me, but mostly it does not.
I sat on the patio couch last night thinking that while the scene in the pool looked hot, I knew it could not compare to the physical intimacy I have with my boyfriend. More than that, other than the one hot younger hairy guy, whom I found very attractive, the rest of the scene, of all older men, was not enticing. I knew that if I were to enter the pool and join in, I would feel deeply empty at the end. I stayed on the couch with my boyfriend.
After the party, my boyfriend stayed over at my apartment. This morning we lay together kissing, embracing, playing, and talking. It was lovely. At one point I lay with my head on my boyfriend’s chest, as I stroked the hair on his chest and we talked. I felt so peaceful and at one with the world. I did not want this morning to end.
This topic in many ways comes back to the question, what makes for a successful gay life. This is particularly important for men, like me, who have come out later in life. For me, building community, as a newly minted out gay man, has been primary. I knew sex with men would come, but it was not my main goal. Building a community has been my main goal. I also knew that building a new life as a gay man was about so much more than sex with men.
Having a deeply intimate, loving, tender, close relationship with a man was what I wanted from the beginning. I also knew that relationships are built slowly — not created overnight. By contrast, No Strings Attached (NSA) sex with a group of men in a pool is the opposite of an intimate loving relationship with a man. While it can be fun, it can also be deeply empty.
I feel so lucky for the loving, intimate, funny, close, interesting relationship that continues to grow with my boyfriend. It makes sex in a pool with a group of casual friends seem faded and dull to me. It also makes me cherish the limited time we have together, given our busy schedules. I miss him when we are apart and look forward to our time together. And isn’t that so much better than groping a bunch of men you barely know in a pool?