The Price of Intimacy (Out Magazine)

I just read this article from Out Magazine called The Price of Intimacy: The Time I Hired a Sex Worker by Andrew Gurza. It was quite powerful. It sort of framed the notion of intimacy in such a way that wasn’t shameful, the way we are programmed to think it is because of all the extreme conservative points-of-views that we all grew up in.

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Image taken from Out Magazine credited to Emiliano Ponzi

I had a promiscuous run in 2004 to 2006. I was already into casual sex as far back as 2001 but I went haywire in 2004 to 2006. This was long before I found out I am HIV positive. I was still non-reactive at the time.

While I understand that there is a need to be sex-positive in this day and age and to not judge people’s morality based on their sexual desires and how often they wanted it, I consider what I did and what I went through as stupid and reckless and demeaning because it’s not what I really wanted.

I think that is the difference between the article and how it frames the discussion on intimacy and what I went through. I was sleeping around because I couldn’t love. Every one that I was in love did not love me back. And while some of those guys were willing to sleep with me, it wasn’t in the context of a relationship or of “getting together.” And that wasn’t okay with me. I couldn’t sleep with them unless we were together. I knew it was going to mess me up because I was in love with them. When I’m in love, I can’t go there unless I know it’s reciprocated at the same intensity or level.

Since I couldn’t be with the people I wanted to be with, I thought that casual sex would be the next best thing. I substituted sex for love and being a romantic, typical-Piscean, it did more harm to me than good. I’m just not built that way. Every casual encounter made me feel worse and I realised, looking back at those years, that what I was after wasn’t the sex but the intimacy — the foreplay and the afterglow. I liked the heavy kissing, hands running over skin, bringing the passionate feelings to a rise, and the build up of sexual tension. I liked the aftermath, as well; lying in bed together, covered in sweat, and wrapped in each other’s arms, talking about the strangest intimate details that come only after such a vulnerable moment had passed and feeling safe.

These are what I was after and since casual encounters don’t usually come with these things — most of the time they are in a hurry to leave or in a hurry to get into the sex part and not the foreplay — I always felt empty and unsatisfied. That’s why I consider my promiscuous period as a total waste of my years and that they were wrong. It’s scary to think that there will be people who will tell me that I’m not being sex-positive but these are my standards and rules for myself. I’m a romantic. I think I would have been better off chaste and just waiting for someone who actually cared.

So, reading this article was quite illuminating because it was such an honest portrayal of one’s need for intimacy and sex and it was so confident and self-assured about its absence of shame and I feel… jealous, actually. I could have been Andrew Gurza at this point in my life. I probably still wouldn’t have found anyone and I’d have reached a point where I needed physical intimacy and demanded for it.

I won’t lie. I have paid for sex before; also searching for the intimacy I craved for. I just didn’t have the luxury of choosing right. Like every other casual encounter I had, it was hurried and by the numbers. It was the opposite of intimacy. It was so transactional that it didn’t soothe the longing or the need.

And now I find myself resolute that I’m probably going to be single for the rest of my life. And now that I’m older and wiser and I know myself, I can’t imagine myself entering into another transactional sexual encounter. The whole prospect of negotiating my HIV positive status with potential partners is exhausting and I’m not up to it anymore. And I’ve become so comfortable with myself and with who I am that I don’t feel like I would need to be with anyone. I have friends and family who get me and who I lean on for emotional and intellectual support. And my physical needs? I think I’ve had enough of that already.

Do I miss it? The physical intimacy? The contact and warm feeling of someone else’s body so near you that you feel safe and secure? Yeah, I do. Do I need it? Probably not. I’m fine. I’m fine on my own. And that’s how the cards were dealt and that’s how I played the game and this is what I ended up with and I don’t mind.

I didn’t think I would end up writing all of these thoughts out here. I wanted to write a reaction piece to Andrew Gurza’s article and I just seemed to have blurted these intimate details of my own sexual history and my thoughts about it.

I don’t have a problem with emotional intimacy, as you can see. I know that scares a lot of people. But that’s who I am. And I’m not going to hold myself back just to be less scary.

I’m sick. I’m opinionated. I’m not fit. I’m funny. I’m loud and articulate and I talk a lot. I’m emotionally open and vulnerable at all times and I have a strange way of making people around me the same. And if that means I’m going to have a lot of friends but single for the rest of my life, then so be it.

There’s worse things in the world than being single. Really.  And when you are comfortable with yourself the way I have found myself to be, then you’ll find out it’s not so bad at all.

Read Andrew Gurza’s full article here: Price of Intimacy: The Time I Hired a Sex Worker (link / Out Magazine)

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