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Sexuality: Calm amid the storm

by Race Bannon

Race Bannon with his latest reading selection, Brent Heinze's 'Redefining Normal 2.' photo: Mike Pierce
Race Bannon with his latest reading selection, Brent Heinze's 'Redefining Normal 2.' photo: Mike Pierce  

Originally, I was going to write an entirely different column this week than what is before you now. I was going to stand on a metaphorical mountaintop overlooking all the happenings and goings on amid the pandemic among the many people who read what I write and offer a bunch of advice.

Since I write, speak and opine about adventurous sexuality and nontraditional relationships, I have fielded a healthy share of people contacting me and asking some version of the question: "How are you dealing with all this?" This of course being the pandemic and the sudden restrictions it has put on our lives.

That is what I was going to write about — how to adjust having sex with others to sexting and webcam-based affairs, how to maintain a sense of community by joining various Twitch and Zoom meetups and parties, ways to best self-pleasure, and how to start assessing your individual circumstance of risk to decide when and if you can have sex with others, until this whole COVID-19 mess has subsided.

Those are all still worthy of discussion and I will likely touch upon such topics again, but what really struck me as I started to write was that I am rather okay right now. When I realized that I was not feeling overly stressed about sex or my relationship sphere, I had to ask myself why.

That led to me sitting quietly and attempting to figure out why I was not freaking out about not having sex for nearly three months when I'm such a highly sexual being or why my separation from so many with whom I have intimate, loving relationships was not sending me into a spiral of depression.

Not only was I feeling okay, but many of my friends and acquaintances I have chatted with are reporting the same lack of stress or anxiety, at least around sex and relationships.

Do not get me wrong. There are without doubt aspects of sheltering in place that are absolutely stress-inducing. I am not discounting the severity of those factors. What I am referencing here is an interesting specific phenomenon I have noticed in myself and that others have reported experiencing as well.

Honesty with self is an interesting animal. When we bump up against a truth about ourselves that runs entirely counter to how we supposedly see ourselves, it can be disconcerting. It can weaken the foundations upon which we have placed our identity.

The most honest answer I came to is that I am doing okay, at least in terms of my sexuality and far-flung relationships, in large part because I needed a respite from it all. I needed to slow down and just be me for a while. I needed the counterbalance of complete inactivity and idleness to better reflect on my usual life of rabid activity and busyness.

During a normal week I would be attending at least three or four gatherings such as bar meet-ups, gear events, or sex education workshops. I would be meeting with or communicating constantly with my inner circle of intimate relationships. I would be attending a sex party and probably having sex elsewhere too. I would be busy. Extremely and nonstop busy.

I am often encouraging my readers to attend one of the gazillion events our rich abundance of local queer culture offers. Whether it be beer busts, contests, classes, discussion groups, dances, or any of the plethora of events the Bay Area usually has on its calendar, I would be championing them all and encouraging as many people as possible to attend. Truth be told, when we can do all that again I am likely to return to such encouragement.

However, I have not been entirely angry at the pause in life.

Has anyone else noticed that since leather and contest events have been put on hold that there has been relatively little online social media mudslinging? I sure have, and it has been gloriously calming. I see people being much kinder online and I love it.

Does anyone else approach a Friday or Saturday night and feel a sense of urgency, then suddenly realize that no, you do not need to get your gear ready, groom yourself to perfection, clean yourself out, or check that all your tickets are in place for the night ahead? I do, and I catch myself releasing an exhale of gratefulness that none of that is required of me.

Might others also feel a tiny bit less guilty for not meeting up with certain friends in real time because the virus is keeping us socially distant and therefore you have a solid reason to simply curl up on the couch and read a book rather than force socialization that doesn't always feel comfortable?

I have not longed for any specific leather of fetish gear since being sheltered in place. Apart from a couple of online purchases to improve my own masturbatory fantasy sessions or to empower a type of remote erotic play, my inner kinky consumer has not been as engaged as it typically manifests. The desire for more stuff just is not there.

What I am getting at is that the peace and time alone is the silver lining I am choosing to acknowledge as we experience the shit show that is our national COVID-19 reality.

Others appear to be doing the same and my better self hopes that what lessons I am learning about my usual busyness and driven behaviors might inform my future self to slow down and smell the roses a bit more.

Now I am going to go back to masturbating or reading a book, because right now that seems to be exactly what I need.


Resources Guide
The LGBTQ Leather, Kink and Sexuality Communities Resources Guide is a "living" document and will be updated ongoing as more information is made available. Link Here

Race Bannon is a local author, blogger and activist. www.bannon.com


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