Write me: rjn@richardjnewman.com
I’ve Been Thinking About Sex

I am try­ing to remem­ber the first time I under­stood, real­ly under­stood, that sex was noth­ing but touch, that I want­ed the sex I had to be about find­ing ways to touch peo­ple that would leave them feel­ing ful­ly and deeply and irrev­o­ca­bly known inside and out, rec­og­nized, val­i­dat­ed, appre­ci­at­ed as a human body, a being in a body, a per­son with a phys­i­cal pres­ence, with a stake in mate­r­i­al exis­tence that could not be denied; which meant that hav­ing sex was also about learn­ing what I need­ed to feel touched in that way, about find­ing a vocab­u­lary for it, a gram­mar and a syn­tax, a seman­tics, a lan­guage, in oth­er words, that bespoke who I was and what I wanted/needed and why I wanted/needed it in a way that did not alien­ate me from myself and/or my partner(s); because once I under­stood this, even though I can­not remem­ber when I under­stood this, I under­stood that sex was an ongo­ing explo­ration, a way of knowing–both a path and a methodology–something that did not have a dis­crete begin­ning and end­ing, that inhered in every aspect of my life, not because every­thing is about sex per se, but because sex is, ulti­mate­ly, about every­thing. We bring all of who we are, every­thing we have lived, good and bad, to the bod­ies of the peo­ple we make love with, as they bring all of who they are to us; and I use the phrase “make love with” here because even though the moment when I under­stood that sex was all about touch was also the moment that I ful­ly under­stood that sex was not love, that love was not sex, I do believe that when peo­ple have sex open­ly and hon­est­ly, with respect and care and atten­tion, in what­ev­er com­bi­na­tion, in what­ev­er roles, with what­ev­er ancil­lary equip­ment, they are, quite lit­er­al­ly, mak­ing love, cre­at­ing in this world a space in which one per­son accepts and hon­ors and cel­e­brates the entire­ly inde­pen­dent, phys­i­cal­ly embod­ied exis­tence of anoth­er per­son; and it does not mat­ter if they are in love with each oth­er or not; it does not mat­ter if they know each other’s names or not; or if they will see each oth­er again. What mat­ters is that when they touch each oth­er, they under­stand that they are touch­ing a liv­ing, breath­ing, feel­ing, ful­ly human per­son, and that even if they don’t know a damned thing about that per­son except that he or she is com­pelling enough to want sex­u­al­ly, and will­ing to be sex­u­al with them, what mat­ters is that when they touch, they each know that they are also touch­ing the entire­ty of that person’s life and that they are giv­ing the entire­ty of their own lives over to that per­son to be touched.

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