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About Aram: Aram Giragos has a MA in clinical psychology, with a specialization in LGBT affirmative psychotherapy, has experience performing on stage as a musician and actor, has written for blogs, and performed in the adult film industry. His goal is to use what he’s learned in all these realms to inform his therapy work by exploring issues of sex positivity, body image, gay shame and gay liberation. He is currently finalizing his MFT licensure, and is taking individual and couples clients in Los Angeles.
Can you describe your perspective on having sex with non-romantic close friends and how it can remain healthy long term?
Sex with friends was a repeat question this round. Often times, it’s the way gay men first get to know one another. The gay handshake, as it is often called! Here’s the thing about the gay handshake – I would love to live in a world where we no longer refer to it as a negative or detrimental aspect of how gay men get to know each other, and instead see it as a positive asset to the way we build community. Sex is nothing to be afraid or ashamed of, and if that is one aspect of one of your friendships, I say why not? As long as you and your friend are communicating clearly about the nature of your relationship, this should be seen as an opportune and unique thing to share with a friend. A reason to high five one another, if you will. Sometimes feelings may come up that are difficult to address, and may complicate things – I find that it’s usually a lack of clarity or directness that may derail such a friendship. Otherwise, it sounds hot! High five!
I’ve been seeing someone for a couple months and he’s polyamorous, I’ve always been supremely monogamous. He’s agreed to be monogamous for the time being, but says he can’t do it forever. I’m not 100% sure I’ll be able to mentally and emotionally handle a polyamorous lifestyle… thoughts?
First and foremost, it’s important that you are honest with yourself about what you want in a relationship. He seems pretty clear that eventually, his poly lifestyle is going to be his choice. If you are 100% certain that monogamy is the only way to go for YOU, then you have your answer. However, if you are at all intrigued by going poly, this is a great opportunity for you to work on some mental rewiring – unlearning jealousy, communicating about things you’d normally keep secret, etc. We have been taught for years by our mainstream surroundings (religious influence, heteronormative ideals, media representations of romance, etc.) that monogamy is the “right” way to do it. There is no “right” way. There’s only YOUR way.
Some other questions I received that fall under this topic include whether or not the “couple structure” is possible in the world of gay men, and whether the increased sex drive of gay men would be a hindrance when looking for a relationship. My quick answer would be to say, “Don’t hate the game or the player, just learn the game and get good at it.” But I can do one better. This is a game of perspective. If you see our placing great value on our sexuality as something positive, your attitude might change, too. The monogamous model taught us a system that is not as viable in today’s world of apps and internet dating. If dating means auditioning people to be our potential life partners, then for dating in today’s world, the casting couch has a pretty quick turnover.
Owning our sexuality as gay men, and accepting it as a part of how we relate to one another, is a major step in dissolving the shame and guilt that has surrounded sex the past, oh I don’t know, couple of centuries. We are pioneers, and we are fortunate to live in a world today in which we can explore these parts of ourselves without fear of persecution or judgment, or even death.
Reading recommendation: The Ethical Slut, by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy, is the foremost polyamory bible, and its third edition was just released in August.
I enjoy bottoming more than topping, but I need a very patient top because I am super tight. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been passively or directly shamed for it to the point of the tops just giving up. Any advice?
The thing about an “impatient top” is that all this means for you and them is that you are incompatible sex partners. Sure, it’s fun to jump into things (so to speak) quickly, and get things moving. Good for them. Not for you. No one should ever shame another person for not being compatible with them in the sack. Generally, I would tell anyone to play to their strengths, but if you actually want to be better at bottoming, there are many safe exercises you can do at home to make this easier on both of you. What I have noticed is that a lot of times, bottoming is more a mental issue than it is a physical one, and you should feel very okay with sharing your needs with you sexual partners at any time. Whether that means eating you out for longer, going in slowly, or just using their words and/or dominant energy to make you feel safe enough in their hopefully-capable-and-patient-top hands to open up. Of course, the physical part deserves plenty of attention, but do not forget the mental aspect.