Father Tony

His Closet is a Duplex!

Filed By Father Tony | January 15, 2009 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: coming out of the closet, gay advice, gay priests, gay relationships, gay sex, read my beads, read your beads, sex

Message: I am a happy self-identified gay man living in San Francisco who has had a number of successful long-term relationships with men. But for the last couple of years, I been having sexual dreams and fantasies about making love with women, in addition to my continued fantasies and attractions to men. Am I cracking up, emerging from another closet or just going through a phase? Read me my beads!

-- Joe

Dear Joe,

In 1972, I first heard the phrase "Child, stand back. I'm gonna read your beads." It came from the mouth of a tall, black and in-the-life seminarian/classmate from Atlanta. It didn't require any definition then, but it does now because you have used it incorrectly unless you think my response will be chastising. To have one's beads read is to be told off. That is not what I am about to do. But it's lovely to hear it again. Is it in common usage in San Francisco? If so, is it still used in tandem with its mate, "Ooo child, he threw some shade at that girl!"

On to your predicament. I think that in the future, as the human race grows up, folks will be able to have recreational sex without regard to gender, and loving sex without regard to gender. Maybe you're just a few years ahead of the rest of us. You should not be unnerved by your dreams of women.

I myself had such a dream several months ago. I don't remember what the woman in my dream looked like. She was certainly no one I know, and, the sex we shared was satisfying, albeit rather mechanical on my part, as if I were with the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, piloting a new model that may or may not prove airborne. Waking up, I thought "Well that was interesting." I chalked it up to the fact that I've pretty much done everything else, and that being constantly bombarded with images of women oozing their sexuality on TV and billboard has to eventually invade one's subconscious.

In your case, the fact that those dreams are repetitious is significant. Is your heart trying to tell your head something? Maybe. Should you be disturbed by this? No. Should you act on it? Maybe. Do you want to act on it? Are you afraid to act on it? Are you afraid that once you have sex with a woman you may never want to go back to having sex with men again? Afraid you'll lose that old and familiar desire for men? Afraid you won't be able to wash off the scent of a woman? (I am told it does wash off completely.) You may never know what your dreams mean until you explore the possibility while awake.

You might want to ease into the exploration by having a threesome with a man/woman couple. I did that many years ago out of curiosity in one of those adult-video stores with the peep show booths. A man and a woman beckoned me into their booth. Because what ensued did not involve sex according to the Clintonian definition, my friends insist that I must not claim to have had sex with a woman. What did happen between the three of us had me laughing as I left the booth, and I am glad to have pushed myself into uncharted waters.

I think there are many of us who, although we don't feel strongly enough about it to pursue it, are not averse to sex with the opposite. Your attraction to women may be stronger than ours.

Have you ever considered having sex with someone who has in some way transitioned (or is in the process of transitioning) from one sex to another? The feminine/masculine mix might help you discover what you're after, or, it might prove to be a muddled and badly mixed cocktail of sensations. Once, in the sauna of a gym in Manhattan, while I was quietly reading a copy of Details, a tall, long-haired and smooth-skinned man with a huge dick, and breasts enhanced with female hormones, approached me silently for sex. He had an enormous and mesmerizing black star tattoo overlapping the cleavage of those breasts. We didn't do much more than handle each other's parts, but he was insistent that I bite his enlarged nipples. It was just about as odd an experience as a man of my age could hope for. I felt nothing, and decided that this should bolster my belief in the strength of my own traditional sexuality, but who knows if that was a correct conclusion.

This is seriously what I'd like you to consider: There is a huge difference between feeling attraction for the opposite sex and just wanting to feel attraction for the opposite sex. Some gay men, never fully accepting their homosexuality, hold onto a residual desire to be heterosexual. They never grow to love themselves enough to shed that niggling and wistfully adolescent desire for "normalcy". Is that you? If so, resolve that issue and your dreams will disappear.

Also consider this: Are you a fishin', huntin' and cussin' kind of guy who spends a lot of free time with your straight guy friends? If you are, it would be understandable to wonder about doing that thing that they like to do, just as they have undoubtedly considered doing that thing that you like to do. It's natural, dude. Don't sweat it. It's like when I watch porn (and that happens rarely). I find the men in straight porn much more attractive than the men in gay porn. Now that, my friend, is a can of worms, and one that I don't even want to get to the bottom of, except to note that whenever I've said this to my gay friends, I've had my beads read most severely. Take the easy route: rent some porn that mixes it up and let me know what happens.

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Maybe he is in a realization that he may be bi or he may be in the process of becoming bi. Sexuality is plastic and bisexuality is quite common.
I like your idea that eventually sex will be considered without gender, I know that it has been that way for me all of my life. My mother always says that she feels that bisexuality is the future of sexuality. Which is a good position to have considering my self my sibling and my child. Makes mom pretty easy to deal with.

I find the men in straight porn much more attractive than the men in gay porn.

I'm the complete opposite. Gay friends joke about my gay porn collection.

So trans people are just fucks for people trying to figure their sexuality out? No respect for these real trans people who are trying to find happiness and love?

Not even respectful enough to use the right pronouns for the person you describe?

Yes Z, and any mention of right-handed people is an insult to those who are left-handed.

You can't even write a honest defense of your characterization of trans people in that section, and you don't care that your pronoun use was disrespectful.

Why do I even read Bilerico again?

Father Tony,

I think what Z is trying to get at is that it's important to be aware of the context in which your advice is being taken. And being ethical around our sexuality there's an obligation to make an attempt that each person involved is getting something out of the situation, or at least is fully informed that the encounter will not fulfill any of their needs.

There's a long history of trans people being exotified and exploited by those seeking "the best of both worlds" or an experiment to act out their bi-curiosity. So I'd want to add a mention for anyone who does seek out such an experiment: make sure that your subject is aware of your intentions and will not be harmed by your experimentation. It helps if the focus is not on how odd and unusual those encounters are. For those of us who are trans, every sexual encounter includes a trans person. So it's a bit disconcerting to have our existence seen as odd -- especially by those who we are intimate with.

Myself, I've actually considered seeking out a bi-curious experimenter for this kind of scenario -- but that would be to fulfill my kinky fantasies of transphobic objectification rather than because such scenarios tend to be beneficial to the trans people involved in them.

(And about the pronouns, was there any additional context of your sauna liaison that might lead you to assume male pronouns for such a person? With just the details you mention, one would assume your encounter was with a woman who had a huge dick and not a man who had breasts. That's why your use of male pronouns is a bit perplexing and appears insulting.)

Dear Tobi,

Thanks for weighing in. I'm more than mildly aware of the sensitivities that fill this air, but I am not responsible for nor will I cater to private humorless grieving. The spine-damaging chips on the shoulders of a small handful of commenters at our little oasis cannot not be removed because their owners love those chips too much.

Regarding the pronouns in the sauna, It was in the MALE locker room, in the MALE sauna, where only MALES are allowed. I somehow doubt this person identified himself as other than MALE for the purpose of ingress. If we are dissecting his sexuality, any of us would be on equal footing naming his constellation, but if we are arguing language, my grammar is correct,

I do love gettin' my beads read but only when the reader is intelligent, and that fiery reading is afterall, what this is all about. Hope she/he/z got off on it.

I agree with Tobi. The idea that trans people are "the best of both worlds" is obnoxious, rude, objectifying, and mindnumbingly common. It doesn't make any sense, either - what's the best of each world? Is the best part of the female world breasts, vaginas, outie bits (like penises, girlcocks, strapless cocks and so on), a female gender identity, or something else? What about the best part of the male world? What if you finally find the person with the exact set of charactistics you find "best" in each world, and it turns out that the parts you think are best are the parts they least like having attention drawn to? Or what if they love every part of their body and don't want to be a lab bench for you to figure out your sexuality on?

And speaking of experimentation, having sex with a random trans person is hardly scientifically rigorous. Many, if not most, trans people identify as either male or female, not both. So if you're a lesbian and you have sex with a guy with a cunt and facial hair, it doesn't matter how much more you like his cunt than you like his facial hair - you're still having sex with a guy. That doesn't mean you're not a lesbian anymore - it just means that you had sex with a guy, just like if you had sex with a cis (not trans) guy. Trans women and men are not the lite version of cis women and men. So to actually find anything out you'd probably need a large sample of bi-gender people who are interested in helping you determine whether you are consistently only attracted to them as one gender and not the other. Or you could just accept that sometimes hot people come in genders we don't expect, and no amount of hotness can break our identities without our consent.

Tony, if you're throwing around ad hominems about my "intelligence" or lack thereof, may I suggest that it is rather arrogant of you to suggest that simply because someone is in a room or building that is gender coded, that gives you all the knowledge you need to overrule a person's self-identification -- it is just as absurd as if you called a trans woman who may begrudgingly use a male bathroom male on this fact alone.

It is arrogant of you to dismiss valid criticisms that two other readers have brought up about the sexualization and exploitation of trans people with glib non-responses and belittling comments about "humourless grieving". You haven't even addressed Tobi's valid comments about "trans people being exotified and exploited".

It is arrogant of you to say you're aware of these sensitivities, yet choose to exploit and take advantage of them; trans people have been suffering under these tropes for an astonishingly long time, and yet you perpetuate them.

Look, I don't expect every contributor here to get things 100% on trans issues. But I don't expect a contributor to be a privileged ass when they're brought up on something that insults and degrades a portion of your readership.

The resounding fact of my arrogance is indisputable, and it is at the root of my charm. It's why I make a big noise when I trip and fall, and it's why people can laugh when I do just that. You don't seem to get that. It's like you're tone deaf to it. Therefore, I invite you not to read me. I'm off to bed to get me some other zzzs.

Oh, okay. Transphobic attitudes are okay, just as long as they come from arrogant people.

I think I'll see your offer and raise you; I'll go read some other blog that actually has a clue about such things.

Quick question:

Why is it okay to suggest that someone have sex with both men and women, but not with a transperson? If it's just objectifying the trans person, why isn't it objectifying the man or woman? I mean, when we're talking about sex like this as an act - is it really "transphobia" or inclusion?

I didn't gather from Tony's article that he advocated "Go grab the first transperson and fuck 'em cuz they're only good for getting your rocks off!" Instead, I read a post full of good advice to someone questioning their sexuality that also included trans folks (who, let's face it, often get left behind in any discussion of sexuality). Instead of going one of the two often-taken routes of either a) ignoring trans sex altogether or b) pumping up the "he-she/chicks with a dick" shock value, I read Tony recount a very nice and respectful paragraph about fooling around with a transgender person.

As a gay man who often also struggles sometimes with the rabidly PC group we are as versus the imperfect humans we all are, I'd suggest we give Tony a pass on "terminology." He wrote respectfully, he spoke his truth, and he was trans inclusive in a frank manner. He may not have gotten all the terminology 110% correct, but how about we look past that to the intent?

After all, if I'd gone to the baths and met a trans person, I'd also refer to the person as "him." It's a male bath, so there has to be some level of self-identification as male there...

Quick note to Z: Threatening to take your toys and leave over one post out of 60+ contributors is just silly and overly dramatic. At this point you've painted yourself into a corner. Now, if you leave we think, "What a fool for getting that upset over one column out of almost 100 that ran that week." If you stay, we think, "Oh there's that drama queen who tries to hold folks hostage to their own views by threatening to remove us from their presence." Next time, just stick to arguing the merits without the hyperbole.

Ok, I'll bite. *sigh*

Bil, trust me, it's not just me taking my toys and going home because of just one contributor, it's a growing dissatisfaction in the kind of direction that your site and content from most contributors seems to be taking; this is serving as just the icing on the cake.

And no, it's not *just* because Tony mentioned sex with a trans woman -- it's how he's done it and it's the reasoning behind it, in light of the historical context behind such an attitude. Toni explained this point extremely well, but it seems you don't have anything to say to her comments either.

Bil, if you really want to educate yourself on these matters like you said in posts previously, I'm sure you've been pointed to Whipping Girl, but go read it. It will make this all abundantly clear to you.

OK, now, really, that's the last thing I'll say on the matter; I'll get out of your hair.

Interesting discussion. I'd hope that some people would let go of their knee jerk defensiveness to discuss these issues with an open mind, but could fill up a lake with all the things I hope for but don't get.

Personally, I can see how that paragraph is offensive to transwomen. It does suggest a fetishization along the lines of "chicks with dicks." Since I'm not trans, I'm not going to comment on how that should make someone feel, but I can understand how that could get annoying.

But must we post one or two sentence agitated, attacking comments instead of a longer explanation of where we're coming from? I know it's more work, but it's also more likely to have the desired effect. I think we'd all get a lot further if we assumed that people who label themselves as allies were assumed to be acting in good faith unless proven otherwise.

Well, I'm not leaving the sand box just because things get heated... I'll just stay around and throw some more sand.
As I see it Tony sometimes says things that irritate others.. but we all do.
But from reading past posts by Tony I have to agree that I think he was acting in good faith with no intention to denigrate anyone and so that intention was not projected in his words.
But that intention may have been seen in his words by some readers.
I can only speak for myself and so I will use my own mind as an example. I'm touchy, I've been a long time activist especially where it concerns bi inclusion. My first knee jerk response was that he didn't mention the possibility that the person may be bi. But I had to temper that with my familiarity with Tony and realize that there was no intent to exclude anyone here. So rather than rip into Tony (which let's face it I'm not shy about ripping into anyone who deserves it IMO) I posted a response to include the subject of bisexuaity as a possibility into the discourse.
That approach I think would have been far better here re: transfolk. Rather than finger pointing and getting upset I think that we could have all learned more if the intention had been to educate and expand discourse.