It’s a potent word, queer. I remember the first time it was hurled at me. I was a teenager doing what seemed natural, turned out I was misreading a signal from a friend as I reached for his crotch to have a go with his juicy bits. For many years after that, it felt like the equivalent of having to wear a pink triangle. Yet, I was only doing what was natural for me, but which I wrongly assumed was the case for everyone. Through the lens of hindsight, I wonder now why some of us are branded as queer and others not? Why is it that homosexual desires are seen as unnatural when in fact they are very much a part of nature? At the root of our personalities, desires, and needs is a unique and naturally grown tangle of neuronal networks. These are the connectomes that define who each of us is and that together make up a wildly diverse ecosphere of human sexuality.
A few years ago, a friend of mine who has found his erotic fulfillment in the world of BD/SM invited me to sit in on an interview with a potential playmate. Since that is a dimension of human sexuality that is outside of my own, it was a great opportunity to gain insight into his world and hopefully to understand him better. What struck me most about this first meeting of theirs was the absence of judgment during their exchanges of highly personal information. They gave each other the space to talk about the kinds of deeply erotic desires and needs that oftentimes close friends have a difficult time revealing. More than the detailed things they shared, some of which I had not known were possible, I was struck by the openness and sense of caring these two complete strangers had for each other as they probed to see if each could fulfill the other’s sensual needs. Even now when I reflect back on it, I think about how refreshing it was. Even though the world of BD/SM is not the sphere in which I exist, I felt energized, maybe even nourished, by being in their presence and a part of their exchange.
As a species, we have so tightly regulated our planet that we are in danger of ecosystems collapsing from being overly cultivated into mono systems. The same is true of the erotic ecosystem from limiting erotic expression. If you think about other areas of knowledge such as cosmology or biology, to name but two, it is often said that things are queerer than we had ever imagined. Whether it has to do with dark energy, connectomes, or just two friends enjoying the feeling of their differently textured bodies touching each other, the world is really a queer place. And, it is life’s very queerness that gives it such a rich dimension – in fact so rich that our desires to categorize, confine and limit human expression are not only ironic but completely hollow by comparison. We daily give lip service to the creed that diversity is a font of energy and source of future growth, yet we refrain from applying this to erotic diversity. There is hope because life is a powerful force that does not take heed of our attempts to constrain it. It’s wisdom and hope are in its very queerness.