The other day, I thought I was really being clever when a bolt of inspiration struck me that there could be a word for men being intimate with each other regardless of sexual identity -brogasm. Aha, I thought, I’ve invented a new word, and a really necessary one at that. In doing the obligatory Google search, I discovered that, sadly, brogasm already existed and is used to describe some joyous emotional states men have for other men. However, all sources make it clear these states are not sexual, that’s gay territory. For example, the Urban Dictionary says a brogasm happens when a guy thinks of a lot of his best bros at one time (apparently overwhelmed with excitement), or when an act of magnanimity is inspired by bromantic feelings which lead to such physical displays as chest bumping. I guess that shows how masculine, i.e., not gay, the guys are in the midst of such tender moments of emotional depth.

It was bad enough when the term bromance began circulating in the 1990s with its disclaimer that it did not refer to sexual feelings. The message was clear that it was OK for guys to have emotions for each other as long as they did not include sexual feelings – wouldn’t want there to be anything gay here. In thinking about brogasm, how can anyone seriously combine the words bro and orgasm and not associate a sexual dimension with it? It’s curious that we readily accept the notion of chemistry as being crucial in romantic relationships yet not as a basis for friendship. There is so much about the workings of our bodies and minds we do not understand that I am willing to bet something like chemistry is at work shaping most of the lives we lead and the people we associate with.

We tend to think most people’s sexuality is fluid and that it runs along an evolving continuum throughout life. If sexuality is fluid and chemistry is an important factor in deciding who we are attracted to as lovers and friends, then it makes sense that friendship can have a sexual dimension that is not necessarily a romantic one. The brogasm of my definition would help to fill a gap in language and understanding.

In my 20s as an openly gay male in liberal New York, I remember a couple of times when I found myself getting sexually involved with straight friends. What has stayed with me were their comments about how they had wanted to be naked with another man, touch his penis, and experience orgasm with him. These experiences were quite positive and did not end our friendships – both, by the way, continued to lead straight lives, at least until I lost track of them. Nevertheless, these experiences gave me insights into their worlds, which made me wonder about the emotional and physical tight jacket that has been placed on male to male intimacy. We definitely are the poorer for it.

It’s time to reclaim our physical and sexual selves from the taboo mongers and to affirm the inherent goodness and beauty of the body. As I have written in many of these posts, let touch be our guide – it’s wisdom is much older and greater than our conscious minds. After all, the forces of attraction that have shaped this planet have been at work for nearly 5 billion years – not a bad track record. Or, as DuPont once said, “Better living through chemistry”.

Erotic Play

When I was a teenager in the Boy Scouts, I remember it as being a time of much fun doing things like camping out, hiking, working on projects, and so on. But even more memorable were the times for discovering the joys of erotic play. With the advantage of many years of hindsight, I have come to realize how lucky I was to have had a couple of fellow scouts as play buddies. Not only were our camping trips legendary for the escapades that went on in our tent, but the prosaic weekly troop meetings did little to dampen our ability to find nooks and crannies for keeping alive our spirit of erotic exploration – never underestimate the creativity of like minded and horny teen-age boys!

Our code phrase for when we were feeling frisky was, “do you want to get dirty?” I chuckle at it now because we clearly knew we were breaking a taboo, we were well aware that what was fun and natural to us was sinful in the eyes of others. Fortunately, what the world thought did little to stop us. It never seemed to take long from the time those words jumped from our lips until our pants were down around our ankles as we groped each other in joyful expectation of the climaxes sure to follow. What makes these memories even better is knowing that erotic pleasure had a power for us that by far outweighed the fear mongering taboos we grew up with. Given the homophobic climate of the time, we were painfully aware that having this kind of  fun together needed to be our tightly held secret if for no other reason than for self-protection.

These many years later as an adult, I find that one of the challenges I face when it comes to matters erotic is keeping alive and vibrant that sense of play that was so much a part of my teenage life. That no doubt comes with aging and such things as scars from failed relationships or of an all too serious sense of ourselves. Such things can be drags on our ability to fully engage in eros. We tend to forget that eros is also a playful experience, one which calls upon us to step outside of ourselves and leave our hang-ups behind. Erotic play is about using the totality of our physical bodies, about experiencing the joys of touch and physical stimulation through every pore of our being. Even though I call this a sacred experience, I hardly mean it in the sense of something like a church service with chant or whatever other trappings there are. Not at all, sacred for me is about celebrating the flesh, sharing our bodies, touching all those intimate areas that social customs tell us are off limits. This is the turf for divine play. And, as I have said elsewhere, if it culminates in a  divine squirt praise the universe for such an energizing and totally wonderful eruption.

The most profound inspirations come from joy and play, and eros is no exception. Sure, something this powerful is disruptive and should be treated with love and respect. But not to stifle it. The way forward is to engage with your buddies or lovers in ways that are loving and responsible so that you can fully affirm your whole glistening and naked bodies. Dance the dance of eros, it is a joyful one that is meant to energize every pore in our bodies. To my mind, that is what the divine is all about. So the next time you hear the phrase “play ball,” give your buddy a knowing wink and smile as you both prepare for the possibilities going through your heads!

Touch Heals

Touch is such an integral part of our lives that we hardly think about it or its power to heal. Sorry to disappoint you if you think I am referring to faith healers. No, I am thinking of something much more carnal than that! What I have in mind is the feeling of being healed that follows an intimate touch session and comes to us as we float back to earth, to the present. Yet, as powerful as this notion is it is almost impossible to say what has been healed.

In comparison with other forms of touch, a handshake, hug, arm over the shoulder sort of thing, intimate full body touch is very different. Being naked with your buddy spending a couple of hours in deliberate and intimate touch takes us out of our ordinary ways of interacting with others and opens the door for a healing experience. Entering a space wherein we can practice touch is about casting aside taboos and affirming our bodies.

Taboos can neither erase the deeply embedded need our skin has for touch nor exclude the importance of connecting with those most sensitive of areas – our juicy bits. So it is that we are caught in a bind between needing soothing, loving intimate touch and the societal/religious prohibitions against it. That is why when we are able to open ourselves to intimate touch we feel healed. It’s because we have closed a gap that disconnects us from our most natural state of being. Bridging the gap is not only about being in a state of oneness with another person, but also about becoming  whole with ourselves.

In my last post, I brought up the notion of intentionality, to which I would now add the dimension of healing and the state of wholeness that it results in. It’s important to remind ourselves of these things because we spend our lives being bombarded by messages to the contrary. It is amazing to me that in spite of all the taboos that have been erected around physical intimacy, our bodies still know that they need deeply intimate connections with others – not all that far removed, I would say, from salmon who know when and where to return to their spawning beds.

Mother earth is a powerful force, and one that will always win out over any strictures we humans impose. Men needing men is as natural as men needing women or women needing women – or any variation thereof! This is the way of the world, and when we strip off our clothes along with the limitations they place on us to engage intimately with another person we are in sync with the earth, and thus for a brief time find healing.