Monday, October 27, 2014

Growing Up Sleazy by Simon Sheppard




I was recently reading about yet another sex-education brouhaha, which made me oddly nostalgic. Not that I remember anything about my high school sex ed class. That’s not really surprising, considering I was in high school over four decades ago. But I grew up in a fairly enlightened Northeast suburb, so I’m assuming there was one.

Actually, I do seem to recall that one fateful day, the boys and the girls were put in separate classrooms so some ultra-qualified gym teacher could deliver the hard facts about Down There. You know, “When a man loves a woman very much, he sometimes puts his penis in her vagina.” That kind of thing. But that might just be a constructed memory; if I’d known there was going to be a quiz, I would have taken better notes.

I also had good, liberal parents. I’m sure Dad and I had The Talk, during which he imparted lots of useful information like, “When a man loves a woman very much, he sometimes puts his penis in her vagina.” There was a copy of The Kinsey Report in the house, sitting right there in the open next to something by James Michener, as well as the copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover that I found in my mother’s underwear drawer. It wasn’t like I was raised by Amish prudes.

I was in any case a precocious little snot; by eleventh grade I was reading Naked Lunch. To my mom’s chagrin, I hung an Avedon photo of naked Allen Ginsberg on my bedroom wall. I took a train into Manhattan to see a Tennessee Williams play. Stuff like that.

And though I was, in those dim pre-Stonewall days, awash with guilt about being queer, going so far as to jack off to Playboy in a damp attempt at conversion therapy, I didn’t let that guilt stand in the way of my erotic education.

Those “physique” magazines full of photos of oiled young men flexing in posing straps and gladiator drag? Yep, they were hidden under my bed. Now I wish I’d saved those issues of Young Demigods; I’m thinking that retro porn might earn a pretty penny on eBay.

And then there were the “nudist pictorials” I furtively thumbed through in the backroom of a newsstand across the river in Trenton, New Jersey. The sign on the bridge read “Trenton Makes, the World Takes,” but I was too young to take those sun-drenched journals of naturism home. Those photos did, though, instill in me a lifelong love of exposed pubic hair, and I still can’t watch beach volleyball without getting naughty thoughts.

So I guess when it came to sex education, I was, to a great extent, home schooled. (And, thanks to masturbation lessons from the Boy Scout next door, self-abused.)

In these enlightened times, any high schooler—at least one who doesn’t live in a town where the board of education is controlled by right-wing fundies—will learn stuff in school that would have made my teenage jaw drop in amazement. But I was of a generation where sex, most particularly queer sex, was still naughty and taboo and snicker inducing, and those cross-sectional penis diagrams that Coach Schneider showed us didn’t change that.  All of which is most likely why, in my formative years, I got the idea that sex was somehow dirty.

And you know what? I still do, I think that sex, at least good sex, is at least a little schmutzy. No, not shameful, not something to feel guilty about. But, well, kinda nasty. In a good way. A wallow-y way. Male/male blowjobs? Naughty. ButtSex? Yeah, absolutely…dirty. And kink? Delightfully more so. Not hoity-toity redemptive, not safely therapeutic, and I’ll leave Tantra to the folks in Taos and Tibet. Give me something that makes me feel gleefully soiled and I’m satisfied.

Transgressive is good, if you ask me. Growing up gay in an anti-queer world made me look askance at hetero-normative bullshit, got me alienated enough from mainstream culture to have to figure it out for myself, and well, I can easily live with that.

Sure, I’m glad that school kids now learn lots of sex-positive stuff about orgasms and STDs and—except maybe in Alabama—dildos and lube. That’s great. Really. But from where I stand (or, more likely, kneel) I like the dicks I deal with to be metaphorically dirty…and literally a little smelly. I enjoy getting off in unclean, dimly lighted places for sex. Outlaw fucking is just somehow better than something Oprah approves of. Safe, sure. Consensual? Absolutely. But sane? Well….

But the edge is getting harder to find. I suppose when the movie version of Fifty Shades of Grey comes out, even a nice hard flogging won’t seem the least bit outrĂ© any more. Yeah, that’s a boon to Middle-American men who want their wifeys to walk on them in spike-heeled boots. But when sex, like life in general, loses its fucked-up frisson, it’s not an unalloyed plus in my book.

Take the whole victorious sweep of the gay rights movement. I surely don’t want to go back to the bad old anti-gay days of the 1950s and ‘60s, and hey, I love having a legally wed husband. But back when I was a “babyfag”, there was a feeling that craving cock somehow made you special and different and—might as well say it again—naughty in ways that today’s fortunate queer youth will never know.

So two-and-a-half cheers for modern sex ed, and may those parents opposed to it have their names be discovered in the client lists of the prostitutes they secretly patronize. But—though it might seem immature, self-indulgent, and even smacking just a wee tiny bit of internalized homophobia—I still like my sex to be on the sleazy side, something you do in the dark. Or the park.

Because, you know, if a man sticks his penis in another man’s anus, it may well be because he loves him. Or it may not. But it sure as hell is because he’s figures out how he wants to fuck him.
Simon Sheppard is the author of Man on Man: The Best of Simon Sheppard, The Dirty Boys' Club, Sex Parties 101 and Jockboys. Visit him at www.simonsheppard.com, and email him at simon@simonsheppard.com.
Simon Sheppard is the author of Man on Man: The Best of Simon Sheppard, The Dirty Boys' Club, Sex Parties 101 and Jockboys. Visit him at www.simonsheppard.com, and email him at simon@simonsheppard.com.

Simon Sheppard is the author of Man on Man: The Best of Simon Sheppard, The Dirty Boys' Club, Sex Parties 101 and Jockboys. Visit him at www.simonsheppard.com, and email him at simon@simonsheppard.com.

Simon Sheppard is the author of Man on Man: The Best of Simon Sheppard, The Dirty Boys' Club, Sex Parties 101 and Jockboys. Visit him at www.simonsheppard.com, and email him at simon@simonsheppard.com.

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