Do Gay And Queer Men Struggle For Intimate Stability? by Sean Smith of MUSED

intimateConversations with socially conscious LGBTQ identified associates and friends occur often in my life, but few of them leave me with lingering thoughts which I find myself intensely analyzing a few days later. I recently had a conversation with a friend who posed a question, which at the time, I did not think too deeply into; only to find myself sitting here a few days later pondering our discussion.
He wondered if gay/queer men who engage in intimate – emotional or sexual – connections with their friends bear connection to gay/queer men who struggle to find permanent intimacy (in layman’s terms, could fraternal intimacy be detrimental to the desire for permanent intimate stability). Honestly, when he first asked the question, I personally did not see a connection. Actually, I told him that I think gay and queer men have a difficult time finding intimacy simply because we do not want to.  I often felt and still feel to some extent that many of us avoid seeking permanent intimate relationships because we fear being neglected, objectified, and faced with the burden of defining a sense of stability that has been void within many of our lives. Our lack of understanding who we are, our constant struggle for acceptance, and our fear of neglect are all valid reasons as to why we settle for fraternal intimacy.

I personally was raised in an environment and situation where stability was not the norm for me. From the age of approximately 10 until 18, I moved from house to house every two to five years. I was forced to witness domestic abuse – my father was and still is absent from my life – and intimate relationships were impossible because I struggled with my own identity. It was nearly impossible for me to become accustomed to anyone else. For many gay and queer identified men, I feel that we share similar stories. We not only struggle with determining who we are or may want to be, but that any sense of permanence for us is simply a disaster waiting to happen. We are books still waiting to be opened and interpreted and statues devoid of a stable foundation. It is not uncommon for us to read stories of gay and queer men who struggle to build a relationship with their father, or simply exist with an identity that is consistently questioned by discriminatory social norms; so it is not shocking to me that we also struggle to create and maintain romantic intimacy and instead settle for temporary fraternal companionship.
We all enjoying cuddling; sex is one of the best things around, and who better to call then that friend who will offer you both sex and companionship on a rainy Saturday night. But relationships operate on stability, a characteristic built on communication, confidence, security, and trust of ourselves and our partners. If we were unaccustomed to stability as adolescents, how can we expect ourselves to reproduce that behavior once we mature? It becomes second nature to say we have difficulty finding our type, but in all honesty I think we have difficulty in finding and understanding ourselves.
Permanence requires an investigation into a realm of new possibilities, and quite frankly, it is hard to break old habits even if they are our parents’ that we never understood from the beginning. While I personally do not believe that there is anything egregious with fraternal intimacy, I will say that the game of intimate hide-and-seek that many of us have elected to play only further destroys the opportunity to repair ourselves. Many of us are broken, feel invisible, and continue to carry around in a Ziplock bag the baggage that was unknowingly placed upon us and our mastered action of avoidance continues to foster missed opportunities at the stability that many of us desire.
Friends are amazing, especially friends who can relate to every part of our being. But friends are often as toxic to us as we are to ourselves. Friends or those we call friends are often consumed with painting over their own problems that any advice or sexual assistance they may provide is filled with so much pain and strife that finding stability becomes as unbearable as watching a drag queen who has forgotten the lyrics. I implore you that the next time you call that cuddle buddy, instead ask yourself what is it that you really desire; can your two-hour snack and movie session truly fill the void of your desired happiness – I think not. As gay and queer identified men, it is time we move beyond our common practice of avoidance and internal destruction and give ourselves the permanence that we all at some point seek and desire. How you gain internal stability is up to you, but just a bit of advice: it first begins with understanding yourself and avoiding the toxic relationships of/with others; including those you may create with friends.

Kyle Phoenix
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  1. you know it's interesting I did a workshop and also a support group around male/male intimacy and what I found surprising is most gay bisexual men were not able to define their needs for intimacy apart from sex. Even when I listed the five levels of intimacy most men found it challenging to define how their need for other forms of intimacy showed up in their life beyond sexual intimacy. It was also interesting to find that most of the people who listed sexual intimacy as there #1 need later discovered they were starving in their need for physical and emotional intimacy but did not know anyway outside of sexual activity to try and meet this need. When you add love langues and people's narrative identities to the mix, what I found is the most people discovered they were pursing relationships and sex in a way the was not at all inline with what they really wanted and this translated into sex becoming a means to fill a void. The trouble with this was there needs were never being met so sex became more and more of quick fix while they subconsciously learned just get by with out their needs for intimacy being met.

  2. I'm tired and as I read more I educate myself asking myself what is it I really want and should I continue this lie that sex will make it all better but in this life life keeps infolding its mysteries