When a famous person or politician, usually a man, gets caught having inappropriate sex, there is often a nashing of teeth about how he could have “thrown it all away” for sex. Well, I think I know the answer to that question.
In the age of reason we are expected to use our mind, seen as a higher authority to control our decisions. It is seen as weak to be driven by our sexual desires. But the fact that men throughout history have been driven by sex says that man’s sexual desires can exert a greater control over behavior than we are willing to acknowledge. After all, we are man, our brain should control our actions, right? Well, not always.
The desire for release through orgasm is more powerful than we give it credit for. Especially in our teens or twenties it can override our brain and put us in risky situations. But this drive does not seem to stop in our twenties. How many famous men have been caught in their fifties or sixties in affairs, hookups, or sex for pay with a man or a woman?
My own experience and the experience of hearing from hundreds of other men in a support group for men attracted to men but in relationships or married to women is this: keeping our desires hidden, compartmentalized, repressed and under wraps seems only to have a magnifying effect. So often men in the closet describe feeling their same sex attraction grow over time to the point that they are ready to bust or explode, and are driven to act.
One of the men who captured this build up of sexual energy and drive to act is none other than Larry Kramer, the playwright and activist. Larry Kramer passed away recently. His death was honored in a newly released episode of the incredible podcast, Making Gay History. Kramer says early in the 1989 interview, describing his attraction to men while a student at Yale in 1953, “The feelings would sort of get too strong and erupt, and I would have an experience which would always make me feel guilty in one way or another, and then you’d put it—you’d be calm, Vesuvius would calm down for a while.”
My own experience in college, while trying to deny my attraction to men and find ways to change from homosexuality, was similar to Kramer’s. The sexual drive and urgent need would build up to the point where ‘Vesuvius’ would erupt and I would, after days of fighting off my desires, head off from my apartment in Brooklyn, NY to the baths in Manhattan. Even thought I masturbated almost daily, it was not enough, and I would feel driven to have a sexual experience with a man. In the days leading up to a trip to baths I would have a raging internal fight with myself, trying to ward off the inevitable. Finally I would give in, my body demanding release with a real person. Only that would let me “calm down for a while.”
Mind over matter. Not always. Often, matter, (body), kicks mind to the curb and has its way.