Being single has its advantages. You’re free to do as you please without checking in with a significant other. That obligation to have dinner with your boyfriend’s parents? Nope, there will be none of that. Hanging out with your girlfriend’s sorority sisters at some shitty bar while they black out and leave you to carry them to a cab? Hell to the no! Being single means complete freedom to live your life according to you. Oh, and it means having unattached sex with multiple partners whenever available, right? To varying degrees, yes, it does, but for me it meant being celibate – for an entire year.
Now, before I go any further, some background: I'm a 31-year-old decently intelligent, self-sufficient gay man living in gay mecca (aka the Castro), and yes, I haven’t had sex for a year. A year! And contrary to popular belief, my penis hasn’t fallen off, inverted itself, or stopped pointing in the direction of every attractive man who’s crossed my path. I haven’t become a social recluse, given up on taking care of myself, or as many of my friends hypothesized, died.
San Francisco is a wonderful place to open your eyes sexually, and knowing this when I moved here eight years ago, I was ready to test the waters. Sometimes that meant actually participating and sometimes that meant observing things from a comfortable distance. Hell, occasionally that meant catering a sex party with over 100 men in attendance. Trust me, you need to be pretty accepting to cut up melon while less than 10 feet away from you three men are having a very rowdy threesome.
Contrary to popular belief, my penis hasn’t fallen off, inverted itself, or stopped pointing in the direction of every attractive man who’s crossed my path. I haven’t become a social recluse, given up on taking care of myself, or as many of my friends hypothesized, died.
But I digress.
So given that I was around so much sex, how have I gone for a year without it? Well back in September 2013, much like a Sex and the City story line for Miranda Hobbes (which, I'm, like, totally a Miranda), I found myself in your run-of-the-mill sexual slump. A month became two months. And then the holidays hit so I was traveling and busy. And then every man that I did meet was either so action-packed with issues I was terrified he'd start crying in the middle of sex or he was so flighty that dating him was essentially just one long cock tease. So I decided to put an end to the bullshit and challenge myself. No sex for one year!
My friends, who are usually inquisitive and supportive in their own sarcastic way, unanimously replied with "WTF? WHY? WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU MASOCHISTIC FUCK?!" After all, why would you live in a candy store and not at least try some damn candy? Well, the fact is that I've had a ton of candy (I mean sex). Yup. It's true. I've been a huge candy slut (still mean sex) at certain times in my 31 years. I've had chocolate bars, French macarons, Pocky sticks, churros, cannoli, Otter Pops, gummy bears, and Twinkies (yup, still talking about bangin' dudes). Sure it's been fun for the most part. But then there were the parts where you get an STI and shamefully walk your (sometimes literally) sore butt into the free clinic to get tested for whatever bacteria has taken over your urethra and generally made you wish you were dead. Or there's the time where one of your sexual partners calls to tell you that he tested positive for HIV and you suddenly realize that in your clouded moment of passion two months prior, you decided to forgo using a condom because, ya know, it's cool – you know this guy. It's not cool. And neither was the feeling of helplessness that washed over me.
Now, in all fairness, after being responsible and getting myself tested and the results coming back negative, I did cautiously reenter the world of having sex. But random sex had lost its luster. Pleasure no longer outweighed risk, so why was I even bothering? And in talking to friends about their sexual escapades, their stories began to share common themes. They would hook up with someone out of lust, conquest, or boredom. Seriously, I've heard the line, "Eh, well, I was bored and he was horny so I told him to come over." Really? REALLY? When I get bored I go to the gym, cook something, go for a walk, or ... I don’t know, find a Law & Order: Special Victims Unit marathon that is undoubtedly on somewhere. I don't go wandering around trying to see where I can stick my dick. But hey, I'm not here to judge. And if you're gonna be slutty, just own it. Don't pass it off as something that happened because you had nothing better to do with your time.
In talking to friends about their sexual escapades, their stories began to share common themes. They would hook up with someone out of lust, conquest, or boredom. Really? REALLY? When I get bored I go to the gym, cook something, go for a walk, or ... I don’t know, find a Law & Order: Special Victims Unit marathon.
I eventually realized that this sexual spectrum San Francisco helped me discover is even wider than I had previously thought. Being someone who was not having sex didn’t exclude me from being involved in it, but rather just placed me on the extreme opposite side of it from most people I knew. I realized that reverse slut shaming was a real thing. Just as the passed-around party bottoms were chastised for their sexual decisions, I found myself being judged for keeping it in my pants. With every “Jesus, just get laid already” or “Well, since you’re not gonna go for him” as a friend swooped in for the kill, I could feel my self-esteem dying a little bit. It took everything in my curmudgeonly soul to realize that making a conscious choice to protect my physical and emotional state did not make me a prude. It just put me in a different part of that sexual spectrum.
So what happened after not having sex for a year? Absolutely nothing. I'm still alive and well, still socially active, and my junk has yet to morph into an unknown human sex organ. The experience has, however, made me wonder why there is so much emphasis placed on sex, specifically among men, and even more specifically among gay men. Is it because we know that we'll never accidentally get someone pregnant? The extreme Peter Pan syndrome? I can’t even pretend that I know the answers here.
But what I do know is that I’m ready to have sex again. Hell, maybe I’ll revert back to some of my more sexually adventurous ways. And maybe I’ll even start dating someone again and see what happens. So long as I don’t have to meet his damn parents anytime soon.