In the 1995 movie Jeffrey, based on a play of the same name written by Paul Rudnick, the lead character becomes paranoid about sex for fear of becoming infected with HIV while being sexually active during the height of the AIDS epidemic. Shortly after he’s made the decision to swear off sex, he meets a hunky gentleman at the gym who immediately becomes the temptation he needs to re-asses this decision. As he begins to work through the myriad feelings that result from meeting the gentleman to whom he’s intensely attracted, his friend Sterling, over coffee, counsels—”it’s just sex.”
A few weeks ago, when I posted an ad on my favorite haunt for hooks ups, Craigslist, I was looking for a play partner with whom to try out a new toy. There was a curious result: I received no less than three or four responses from guys who confessed to me that a) they were curious to try anal stimulation/penetration and experience the resulting pleasure, but had never done so; and b) that they were new to exploring sex with other men. As is often the case with the responses I get from such posts, there was only one gentleman who actually showed up at my apartment a few days later after exchanging several emails. He called himself J.
As J. initially entered my apartment I could tell that he was extremely nervous. I thought nothing of it, as guys are often nervous. However, after a few moments of idle chit chat I could tell that J. was really struggling as we were standing and talking. Finally, I said to him, “Would you like to sit down on the couch and talk a little more?”
“Yes, that would be nice,” replied J. As we sat down, he stammered, “As I was driving over here I had what I wanted to say worked out in my head. Now, as I’m sitting here, I can’t recall any of it.”
“We can talk about anything you like,” I offered in comfort.
“I’m not much of a talker,” J. chuckled, “and that makes it kind of difficult for me to tell you what I’m thinking.”
“I find it’s as difficult as we make it,” I observed.
“I guess you’re right,” said J.
As we sat talking for about an hour, J. shared with me that he’s married, but he and his wife are separated by two continents – and that he sees several women regularly for both companionship and sex. He explained that the reason he answered my post was because one of his girlfriends had, at one time, massaged his prostate with her finger while performing oral sex on him. And in his words, “It was amazing.” He further explained that he’s always wanted to experience it again, but for whatever reason his girlfriend has never once again ventured into ass play with him.
The longer we sat and talked it became more and more clear to me that J. was most likely not going to be comfortable with the thought of the two of us having sex. Shortly thereafter, J. confessed that he wasn’t sure he’d be up for having sex upon a first meeting. And though I assured him several times that it wasn’t big deal to me – and that I enjoy meeting people just as much if not more than having sex with them – he kept apologizing and saying, “I’m so sorry to have wasted your time.”
And I kept repeatedly replying, “I don’t at all feel as though you’ve wasted my time.”
After J. left my apartment, and during many moments since, I’ve thought of those three words of Jeffrey’s friend Sterling: It’s just sex. And when I think about those words, there is this weird kind of dichotomy that occurs in my mind. Part of me thinks he’s right. It’s no big deal. It feels good and it’s fun. To paraphrase Jeffrey, it’s one of the greatest gifts from the universe.
Then there’s the experience I had with J. For him, sex is anything but trivial – particularly the thought of making the leap from having sex exclusively with women to having sex with men. As I sat and talked with him on the evening he visited me, I could tell he was struggling with any number of conflicting feelings. And as I sat and watched and listened to him, I realized that at times sex can also bring about within us so many conflicting feelings and desires. Those conflicts often make it difficult for us to freely enjoy ourselves sexually.
“It’s just sex,” dear Sterling?
I think not.