Recently an out-of-town buddy of mine came to Seattle for a conference. While here he booked a two-hour session with me and afterwards we grabbed dinner while we debriefed about the session and caught up on our individual lives. On the way to dinner he asked me to describe to him how I was in high-school. I immediately erupted in laughter, a) because I found the question timely yet completely out of left field, and b) because the mere thought of the boy I was 15 years prior is starkly different than the man I am now.
15 years ago I was a staunchly Bible-toting, scripture quoting Evangelical/Conservative Christian. I carried my bible to school everyday, passed out tracts, and was "red-hot" leading people to Christ (as I fervently believed was necessary prior to the Rapture of souls). The process of becoming the sex-positive, openly gay, Sex and Erotic Coach I am today stems from those earlier roots.
I learned a great deal from those early days, sitting in church Sunday after Sunday, Bible Studies, and retreats. What I didn't learn was how to be a sexual being free of the judgment of sin, and the burden of guilt, shame, and fear. Even masturbation was frowned upon. I discovered the joy of self-love (masturbation) at the age of 11 and not to long afterward my father caught me and reprimanded me for it. My mother also followed suit and labeled such acts as sinful.
So around the time I was discovering my eroticism, sexual orientation, and the pleasures of orgasm and my physical body, I was told they were all wrong, sinful acts only regulated to specific situations and contexts, and I lived with shame, guilt, and fear throughout my entire adolescent and teenage years.
I'm done with those years. I'm done with those painfully repressed, confusing, shame and guilt-ridden years. I'm reclaiming my body again! I'm reclaiming my breath, my lungs. I'm reclaiming my hands and my feet again. I'm reclaiming my arms and my legs again. I'm reclaiming my attractions and my desires. I'm reclaiming my ass, my penis, and my testicles and the pleasures they give me. I'm reclaiming my belly, my chest, and my nipples. I'm also reclaiming my erotic voice - those moans, groans, and expressions that were stifled out of fear of parental discovery! I'm learning to celebrate my body and my temple through self love. Yes, I'm reclaiming my masturbation. Yes, I enjoy the energetic and bodily intimacy of those that also give of themselves as a gift to me as I do them. And yes, I now realize that erotic energy is not something to fear, but to use, to celebrate, and to help enhance my life!
My evolving faith is still a very important aspect of my life, but it no longer demands that I relinquish the whole point of being in a body. I discovered that without the exploration of what it meant to be in a body, my faith was only partially fruitful. Denial, for me, is not the path to enlightenment. Acceptance is! Exploration is! Love is! And how can one truly love their neighbor unless they learn first how to truly love themselves?
I have learned a lot from my clients in the year since we embarked on this journey and their growth has also challenged my own history. And I must confess that I am still learning. I don't know everything nor claim to. My own walls are coming down and I'm finding it true that "you teach best what you need to learn." I've learned a lot in the past 15 years and will learn even more in the next 15. But as I continue to watch my clients reconnect with their bodies, their eroticism, their physical pleasures, learn what they like and grow the courage to ask for it, I have been totally amazed at the level of transformation that's occurred just by giving them the PERMISSION to want, desire, feel, and go for what they really, really want: SEXUAL FREEDOM!
And I give you, reader, the same permission! Go for what you really, really want. Celebrate and say "YES" to your body!