Sex is awesome, however you like it. It’s always a good thing amongst consenting adults, (and whatever appropriately-sized objects we wish to include). I do think though, that sex can be complicated for gay men. We hid our desires from a sometimes judgemental and cruel world as teenagers. We feared rejection and torment for our most innocent and natural longings. We grew ashamed of our awesome feminine traits. We developed fears of disease that we took into the bedrooms with us. We desperately sought community and inclusion in places that might not always have been the most conducive to our emotional development. And a lot of these experiences created vulnerable adults trying to survive and avoid rejection amid a defensive and sexually liberated culture that sets standards of beauty and sexual confidence that only heroes and narcissists can thrive in.

And so, we developed tools to cope, tools that make us heroic. Super-grooming, fitness, fashion; all the things that guarantee inclusion. We learned the sex moves from our pornography, we fine-tuned our straight-acting performance skills to perfection; we make brilliant actors. We fit in on the dance-floor, and we appear invulnerable. We communicate this confidence online with strong opinions, and we are always ‘fit and sorted’ and up for it on Grindr. Such, such high standards. Gorgeous, gorgeous, vulnerable young men with such high standards. And when the performance fails… we have the easy availability of drugs to deliver what is expected of us.

Or what we expect of ourselves.

Sexual liberation is a brilliant thing. Imagine trying to cope as gay men without it. But it must exist in tandem with an awareness of, and affection for, our vulnerability. Our innate need for intimacy and inclusion. The hero in bed with us, the hero we’re trying to be, must also have the space to be proudly vulnerable; and to have that vulnerability celebrated and nurtured. ‘Cos they are fine, sexy things, imperfection, diversity and vulnerability. As are the courage and honesty required to unleash them and let them flourish.

The greatest thing of all, is the kindness we possess to allow our friends and lovers to communicate their fears and vulnerabilities to us. In the bedrooms, on the apps, on Facebook, on the first date. We might have to overcome our own bravado to be that kind; we might have to be the first to express a vulnerability, model it proudly, before another finds the courage to reciprocate. When it works, it’s awesome. And the good news is.. it works every time. Every damn time.

Sexual liberation is a brilliant thing; but to survive it intact amid an HIV epidemic and chemsex trends, we need to be robust. We need to be better.

We’ve overcome so many hardships, achieved so many things; one of them being sexual liberation. It’s mighty, hear it roar. But it’s not so loud that we can’t hear the cry for help our community is shrieking. The cry for help that exists in the chemsex problems, the busy sexual health clinics, the online cruelty and the loneliness our brothers experience. A celebration of our vulnerability is one more hurdle we’ve yet to leap; so let’s be a great community. A brotherhood of vulnerable, sexy, kind, great gay men.

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