One of the more memorable experiences of my college career was listening to a friend tell a brief story. He said, "Yeah, I couldn't stay with him. Every time we had sex, he'd curl up and cry after." That picture horrified me. Tangled up bedsheets and a young twenty-something in the fetal position between the bed and the wall. (That's where I would put myself, if it were me.) It makes me want to just hug him and tell him it'll be all right. It's just sex! It's just sex.
I would, of course, be lying. But in that moment when the action is finished and all that's left is the pain, when the past can't be changed, when it seems like sex is the sinniest sin you can sin (except for murder or denying the holy ghost), then, in that time, seeing sex as just sex is the best, kindest thing. Stop the pain, first.
Sex is on my mind because for the first time ever it's throwing itself at me. I've been in the Bay Area for just a couple of weeks, and I'm fairly certain I could have been with someone every night--there's no shortage of willing men--but I know myself. My cells are still infected with Mormonism; my neural pathways have yet to reform. Some significant part of me would still say I was sinning. Some significant part would end up crying between the bed and the wall.
I did in fact cry after my first experience with a man. Not until the following afternoon, though. I had driven out to my favorite beach on Puget Sound, and I sat in my clunker and looked out on the water and felt that I had Done Wrong so profoundly that I bawled until the snot started dripping. My religious friends would probably say I was feeling the natural consequence of my sin, designed to keep me from doing it again. Helping me learn my lesson: Stop touching hot stoves. Yet I didn't think that I'd Done Wrong; I just felt it. And there are an awful lot of ways to make someone feel they've Done Wrong that don't involve them actually doing wrong.
Mormonism had an awfully long time to mold my feelings, and I don't feel bad admitting that they still have a rather Mormon bend. Truth be told, they will probably always look Mormon-ish. I don't actually want sex to be just sex, although I can see how that perspective could be useful. As I told a friend recently (while debating the merits of hooking up versus not), I really like having sex tied with relationships and trust. I like the spiciness sex gets when it's a little bit scarce, a little bit special.
So, young gay Mormons, my advice is to take it very slow. Build relationships. Don't give in to pressure or expectation before you're ready. Know what 'ready' looks like for you.
To This Day (Ted Version)