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Therapy

Sex. Gay sex. What comes to mind when you read these words? Think about it for a minute. What is the first thing that the words “gay sex” make you think of?
“Taboo, sies, guilt, shame, fear, anxiety, cheat, bad, dirty, sin, promiscuity?” Hmmm, okay, so what about…


“Natural, normal, fun, pleasurable, exciting, feel good, intimate, celebration, joyful, JOYFUL?
Has sex become so associated with elements such as stigma, morality, stereotyping, the dangers of HIV and safe sex messaging that we’ve lost the ability to enjoy sex?
It seems that all the messaging we receive on a daily basis advising responsible sexual behaviour and warning us about health risks is not just keeping us informed but is also provoking a great deal of anxiety. It’s taken the simple joy out of sex. Sex these days seems to have become about responsibility, fear and danger.
We’ve forgotten that sex between consenting adults is natural. Maslow, an American psychologist, presented sex as one of the basic human physiological needs in his hierarchy of needs.
Freud, another great psychologist, said that we enter the world as pleasure seekers. We are born with an Eros which is our drive of life, love, creativity, sexuality, self-satisfaction, and species preservation. Our Libido is our vital impulse or energy and often sexual desire. According to Freud, we seek pleasure from a series of erogenous zones. These are areas of the body that have heightened sensitivity. Stimulation of these areas may result in sexual arousal.
The question is then, have we lost our mojo in the HIV/Aids era? I recently had a discussion with a colleague and he admitted that he feels like he’s lost his sense of play due to feeling anxious about engaging in sex.
There are a number of issues that may play a role in removing the liberation and excitement out of having fun in the bedroom (or the kitchen, or the bathroom…).

Heteronormativity
This is a social construct that views all humans as either male or female with the associated behaviour and gender roles assigned, both in sex and gender, and that sexual and romantic thoughts and relations are normal only between people of opposite sexes and all other behaviour is viewed as “abnormal”.

Heteronormative Model
The typical heteronormative family consisting of a father (male bodied person), mother (female bodied person) and offspring.

Homophobia
This is the irrational fear of homosexual feelings, thoughts, behaviours, or people and an undervaluing of homosexual identities resulting in prejudice, discrimination and bias against homosexual individuals.

Internalised Homophobia
When a homosexual individual internalises (makes it his or her own) the shame and hatred projected onto gays and lesbians by a homophobic society, even if they are not actually aware of doing this.

Emotional baggage
Fear, shame and guilt that individuals carry with them or experience during and/or after sexual play.

Stigma
Refers to when a certain individual, with certain characteristics, is rejected by their community or society because of that characteristic which might be considered as “abnormal”.

Risky Sexual Play
Awareness and fear of the possibility of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) such as HIV.

Safety matters
Risk of your own safety during hook-ups, especially with the recent Gauteng gay murders in the news.

Sexual Dysfunction
A sexual dysfunction is defined as a disturbance in the sexual response cycle or as pain with sexual intercourse. Sexual dysfunction can be due to biological or psychological factors.

Dissatisfaction with penis length
Does size really matter or how you use it? A non-erect penis usually measures between 8.5cm and 10.5cm (3-4 inches) from tip to base. The average length is about 9.5cm (3.75 inches). Many factors can cause a temporary shrinkage of two inches or more, for instance cold weather or going swimming, so you needn't worry if you happen to fall short of the average figure.

Interestingly, most penises are very much the same size when erect. A guy whose non-erect penis is smallish will usually achieve about a 100% increase in length during sexual excitement. A guy whose non-erect penis is already quite large will probably manage about a 75% increase. This means the great majority of penises measure between 15cm and 18cm (6-7 inches) when erect, with the average figure being about 16.5cm (6.5 inches).The average width of a flaccid penis is 3.1cm (1.25 inches) and 4cm (1.6 inches) when erect.
Remember, a penis is not the only sexual play organ!
Despite these all these elements that can cause anxiety, fear or shame, sex can and should still be enjoyed. Sex does not have to be kept in the closet!
• Accept yourself for who you are and who you were created to be. In the words of RuPaul: “If you don't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”
• Heteronormativity is just a social construct. It is not set and it can be changed. Even though we are a marginalised group, we are here to stay. We are unique and we cannot measure ourselves against nor compare ourselves to the Heteronormative model.
• Internalised homophobia can be dealt with. If you have feelings of shame and self-hate, speak to someone about your internalised guilt.
• One does not have to carry those heavy suitcases filled with emotional baggage alone. Find someone who can assist you in unpacking them.
• Always play responsibly by ensuring consistent use of condoms and condom-compatible lubrication and try and make this part of the fun of sex. Other strategies to stay healthy include regular and early testing and screening and Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP).
• Ensure your hook-ups are safe. When in doubt rather listen to the voice inside warning you and stay away.
• Can’t get it up or keep it up? Seek medical advice or psychological intervention for guidance on how to work through this current challenge. It happens to most guys at some point, so don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed.
• Remember, penetration is not the only type of sexual play. You have more than just a penis. Explore each other’s bodies and find those erogenous zones – make sex more than just “wham bam thank you m'am”.
• Communication is key. Talk to your sexual play partner about your needs and fantasies.

Gents, get your engines started and enjoy responsible BUT FUN sexual play!

Xander Flemming is a registered counselling psychologist and the Health Manager at OUT in Pretoria. For more information about your sexual health needs, including PEP and HIV screening and treatment, contact OUT on 012 430 3272 or visit www.men2men.co.za.

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