We begin right off with sex this issue. Jay Turner has submitted a call for "a radical gay sexuality." He raises intersting issues that reflect on the following articles -- and which perhaps will spark some discourse. The next issue of White Crane Journal will feature a section on gay archetypes. Certainly one of the archetypes is the gay man as sexual rebel. Contributions for the upcoming issue are invited.
I disagree with Jay about his put-down of "vanilla sex." I've always liked vanilla myself -- and certainly don't think it has to mean poor quality sex. And I'm not sure I agree with his main point that we're desexualized. I think that -- though with an awful lots of safeguards and dampers due to the presence of a contagious virus in our midst -- gay men are still experimenting boldly with sexuality.
Jay mentions leathersex and painsex as examples of sexual activities American society hasn't come to terms with yet. Tho' then goes on to suggest that the goal is not bringing these out so much as finding new forms of sex. I've always thought myself that many of the sexual patterns deemed, and lauded, as kinky are symptoms of "neurosis" that really limit sexual enjoyment -- albeit some are admirable feats of athletic prowess. But I strongly agree with Jay that there're problems with the way most people incorporate (or fail to incorporate) their sexual natures into their lives. Rather than see the culture as desexualized, I'm inclined to see it as adolescently sexualized. Sexual pleasure and joy are matters for disapproving tut-tuts or embarrassed giggles, not joy in the joy of others. Sex is supposed to be about reproduction and childrearing, but everybody knows -- and titters about it -- that sex is really about physical pleasure and inducing of orgasm.
The really radical thing is to shift what we understand sex to be -- beyond both procreation and pleasure -- to see sex as a practice of generating an altered state of consciousness (like meditation or "peak" moments in sports). This state of consciousness is unlike any other we regularly enjoy. It is a direct experience of a mechanism in the workings of consciousness. It doesn't exactly have any "content"; it's not "about something."
Sexual arousal is a state of heightened awareness of consciousness incarnated in flesh. It is stimulated by the look and feel of the body, but it is really happening in the mind. One of the odd things, for example, about porn is that you can't see the great pleasure, joy and satisfaction the models are experiencing; indeed, they look more bored or in pain than in the ecstasy of consciousness experiencing itself as incarnated flesh. The pleasure sex generates is the joy of consciousness rejoicing in the beauty of fleshly existence. And insofar as "God" is the source and collective totality of consciousness, sex is "God"'s jubilation in creation. The "purpose" of sex, if you would, is participation in "God"'s consciousness. So what is radical sexuality? This certainly is an issue of gay spirituality.
Jay Turner recounts experiences at a gay bathhouse as examples of the need for a change in sexual attitudes. He doesn't draw this conclusion, but I wonder if one implication of his argument is that the most "radical" sex might be to have sex with the people who want you, instead of just with the people you want, i.e., the "mercy fuck." For herein is a radical transformation of sexual desire -- away from issues of ego and self-approval and pleasure-seeking or genetic reproduction -- toward participation in the great impersonal force of consciousness experiencing itself in all its multifariously wonderful ways.
At the time this issue is being composed the news is full of stories about President Bill Clinton's sex life. It's a circus with Hillary Clinton's "right wing conspiracy" folks seeming to try to undermine the President's power by exposing him for sexual pecadillos that suppsedly threaten "family values." To a gay man's sophisticated sensibilities all this sounds just silly. Clinton is, after all, the first U.S. President to have come through the Sexual Revolution. You wonder why he just couldn't explain that, for instance, his agreement with Hillary, by which he is bound by solemn marital vow, is that he will (safely) limit all outside sex to being passive partner in oral sex and will never engage in heterosexual coitus and he won't tell her about it. Thus he had to deny the charges of "adultery" out his prior commitment to his wife. Or you wonder why the President couldn't just remind everybody of the policy of his Adminstration, forced on it by Congress, regarding sexuality: Don't Ask, Don't Tell. They weren't supposed to ask him about sex. And he isn't allowed to tell about sex.
And then everybody should shut up about the subject and just be happy for the President and for his White House intern. If "it" did happen, it must have been a blast for both of 'em.
That gay men might be able to think about these issues with such obvious good sense and absence of wrong-making is evidence that we have a mission to enlighten the general public. The world would be a much better place if everybody rejoiced in other people's pleasures and nobody resented any one else's joys.
Perhaps that's a cornerstone in gay spirituality!