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Rethinking Sexual Roles

By Eric Nicholson

DamballahI want to share something very personal. Writing about this experience is ultimately an exercise in maintaining a present moment awareness of my fear.

For me, this has contributed to the emotional obstacles that have created an arrested development in my intimate relationships.

Perhaps this subject is not readily discussed or written about-at least I've not seen or heard it mentioned with any real intellectual or psychological insight--but I am currently exploring the possibility of a relationship with someone whose sexual preference conflicts with my own.

I am talking about the issue of "versatility."

Perhaps this issue is irrelevant or trite to some, but for me it has been a most vexing and complicated matter. I am faced with an opportunity to reexamine this idea I have always had about myself.

Usually, when faced with a dilemma of this kind, I would simply release the individual and await the next experience, hoping that I would not encounter this conflict again. Well, it has resurfaced, and now, I am presented with the possibility of sharing myself with someone whom I feel would be really good for me.

When we both disclosed our sexual preferences, I figured we would part and disregard our brief, yet significant, time together--but not so. Through expressing how we really felt about one another, we began rethinking our staunch positions (no pun intended) for the possibility of seeing where this relationship could go.

I have discussed, ad-nauseam, the matter with friends. I have been told: that I am being too macho, that this is a physical manifestation of something emotional--not allowing anyone inside physically represents an unwillingness to allow anyone inside emotionally, or that there's nothing wrong with having preferences. I do not know the answer, but what I do know is how this person makes me feel.

We both acknowledged that we want a relationship with no boundaries. Now we are faced with the task of truly accepting this experience. It's really funny how we were both in sexually congruous relationships in the past, never really expecting to be face to face with our sexual inflexibility.

It's been particularly difficult for me because I fear I will lose someone with whom I could have a true spiritual connection.

This issue has presented itself in my life with more intensity and more meaning than I ever imagined. I have always visualized having a sexually exclusive relationship, but my being versatile would be minimal or non-existent.

Now I am learning that a mature emotional experience with someone has no conditions, and what is willing to be shared is what nurtures and develops the relationship.

The worst obstacle, however, is that I am feeling beleaguered by the inherent social stigmas that I have internalized for so long, and also knowing on some level, that this is what separates us as Black Gay men.

I am beginning to realize how this idea about myself has robbed me of truly knowing who I am and probably from really connecting with someone on a more intimate level. Furthermore, it has robbed me of embracing the fullness of my sexuality and celebrating all that I am.

Yet, these realizations don't seem to be enough to permit myself the kind of vulnerability that would be liberating. However, my involvement and awareness in this process bespeaks the development and maturation occurring within me.

I pray that someday I will have the strength and the courage to exercise this level of unconditional love. Until then, my affectation and stubbornness continues to fuel my ambivalence and my trepidation, leaving me devoid of the fullness that may be experienced.