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Focusing on the role sexual trauma plays in many same gender loving (SGL) Black men’s sexual decision-making, TGC welcomed therapist, Lionel Shockness to help facilitate a dialogue in which the men considered the notion of Homosex, the Blessing.

The dialogue began with a discussion of the film, Moonlight in which participants argued about the extent to which the film-makers had succeeded in depicting an SGL love story, or indeed, an SGL story at all.

“The film showed how the bullying and belittling of [the principal characters] didn’t allow what was really going on [within them] to blossom, to exist…”

Co-facilitator says, [I work with] adult survivors of sexual abuse and neglect…[In therapy,] most people don’t present with trauma…they present with depression, with anger…It’s usually not until nine or ten months into the process that they present with those issues…I grew up being bullied…I was hit…I internalized that…[I] thought something was wrong with me…There was a sense of self-hatred…I hated the way I looked…the way I spoke…”

Facilitator says, “In fact, the statement about how the bullying and belittling didn’t allow the characters in the film to become who they were is the perfect segue for our discussion…Do you, or have you experienced sex as a blessing?

“What does this ‘blessing’ mean?”

Facilitator says, “Well, for example, I remember actually believing my sexuality was a curse…that it made me wrong in the world…And, I hated myself [for it]…And, it was only after years of therapy that I came to understand that I had internalized myths and lies about my sexuality, and I began to develop a different relationship to my sexuality, and with it, to sex…So, the question is, do you, or have you gloried in sex?...Do you experience unbridled ecstasy?...Do you feel free in it?...And, when it’s over, do you feel good about it?”

“Yes…It’s exhilarating…it eases tension…”

“When I was growing up, the reason I got married was I wanted to express my masculinity…There were 11 of us…in Queens…After we were married, we went to [a resort] where my wife caught me in a compromising position with a male cousin…I was so ashamed and humiliated, I walked from upstate New York to the George Washington Bridge…I decided I couldn’t jump…And, I had to learn that they were wrong about my sex…That it’s natural…They tell us it’s wrong, but it’s natural…Yes, definitely, it’s a blessing…”

“Yes…[it’s] good…great even…the older I get, the more I experience sex as a gift…As a younger man, I remember feeling cursed…I remember having bad experiences…It was too much to have to prove you belong in the world…all the shenanigans you have to go through…I remember being sleepy on a flight, and talking to this woman about a guy I was in love with, and having to change the pronoun…’he,’ to ‘she’…and, as I got sleepier, the ‘she’ turning to ‘he’, and feeling mortified…And, having to go through all these shenanigans [to feel safe in the world]…”

Co-facilitator says, “There is a school of thought that says we all have a trauma, or a trauma story surrounding sex…”

“Not at all [do I see sex as a blessing]…Hate is not an emotion that I recognize feeling often…I caution myself, ‘don’t hate’…[But,] Sex has robbed me of what I am…Sex has been so incredibly developed [in my life], I wish I was impotent …Sexually, I find myself to be a great performer…I want to please people, and I watch myself…[My attitude is] I’m going to treat you as an animal, physical function…it’s not something I find uplifting…It stops me from dealing with something [real]…”

Where, if at all, is intimacy a player in your sex?

‘There are SGL men, or even hetero men and women who are on the planet valuing intimate relationships…who want to spend time talking, and sharing, and being with each other…”

“There are still SGL men who are being attacked by AIDS…Sex for the sake of sex kills intimacy…It can put an end to intimacy…”

Facilitator says, “While not all of us have necessarily, many of us may have experienced sexual traumas, that is, traumas during the course of sexual intercourse…But, all of us have experienced trauma around our sexualities…Felt persecuted or abused for being other than heterosexual…And, as we broached last time, that kind of trauma, if it goes unattended, can make sex sickly, instead of celebratory…Was sex ever enjoyable to you?”

“In a mechanical way…But, that’s not where I live…If I was able to not have it, I wouldn’t…I think it’s a function, like being hungry, like being thirsty…When I was a kid, I didn’t like the way I looked, how I felt, how I spoke…When I went to school, I trained myself sit in my seat and not move all day, not even to go to the bathroom [so that no one would look at me]…[I always wondered,] why do I have the responsibility to defend the way I look… feel… speak?...I didn’t choose this nose, these lips…For me, I find [sex] to be a distraction…”

Co-facilitator says, “If you sat with yourself and started to unpack that through a lens of compassion, it would be interesting what you found…”

“I don’t feel comfortable talking about sex…There were times when it was good…A few times when I experienced it when I was younger…[Now] it feels dirty and it’s not something I enjoy…There is some trauma in there that I associate with sex… There were times when I was wondering if something was wrong with me…There are quite a few traumas…”

Co-facilitator says, “I think trauma gets placed on all of us Black and Brown men…[The new documentary film] The 13th [Amendment]…[looks at how] to be Black and Brown in America…the system is designed to make you go crazy…”

“I felt, in a way, that [my sexuality] made me different from everyone else, and it made me feel like a weirdo…”

“When I was in my twenties, I wanted sex as bad as the next person…It was like a sport…As I get older, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be…It can be painful…What my mind wanted wasn’t always he way it played out…The person I was with wanted more than I wanted [and, I accommodated him] and they were happy, and I wasn’t happy…”

“What is sex for?”

Facilitator says, “That’s a great question…For some…particularly those of the Evangelical stripe, let’s say…they would say it’s for procreation… And that is certainly why Mother Nature hot-wired sex into humankind as a drive…propagation of the species…But, for those of us who are homosexually-wired, what is sex for?...As a way celebrating our connection to each other…as a means of communication…as a means of deriving intimacy?...I would say, it’s the ultimate experience in human intimacy…”

“[I think sex is for] the blessings we’ve been talking about…for stress relief…it can be therapeutic…”

Co-facilitator says, “It takes a lot of work to sustain that…”

“For me, intimacy does not equal sex…for me, intimacy has nothing to do with it…”

“[For] Ninety percent of the people on Jacked, A4A, [and all the sex apps]…intimacy kills the sex…”

Facilitator says, “Our sex has been demonized as abomination, as degenerate, perverted, and some other wrong stuff…And, it has quite literally been criminalized through sodomy laws, and more recently, through HIV criminalization…There are several states in which, starting back in the ‘90s, if someone knowingly infected another person, they could be imprisoned…And, that may be right, but, the point is… our sex is being criminalized all over again…and, our sex having been criminalized for our whole lives can be traumatic…That criminalization and that trauma is what can make sex for so many homosexually-wired men a furtive, clandestine activity…an activity that is sought out anonymously…and devoid of intimacy…And, it is by that criminalization, that many of us  have been robbed our capacity for sexual  intimacy…and, possibly, intimacy more generally…Sexual intimacy is one of the most essential gifts of being human…It’s a gift we give to each other… It’s like [my man] said about the characters in the movie, Moonlight…they weren’t allowed to be…to blossom into who they really were…to love as they loved…And, it is incumbent on us to reclaim what has been stolen from us…”

“If intimacy is so important as part of our experience, and sex is so important, what if we get them in different places?”

“In a mature. loving relationship, people get that no one person can bring everything to the party…”

“But, the truth is, this has very little to do with your environment…It has to do with who you are…There is a story about an old columbine…These birds who have spots on their wings, and who wouldn’t spread their wings and fly because they didn’t want their spots to be seen…It’s unfortunate that the dots have made me feel insecure and unable to fly…Part of being here is to remind me that I am supposed to fly…You don’t want to cheat yourself out of a life…I still have the dots and I recoil from life…You are preventing me from being…”

Facilitator says, “They can only prevent you from being if you give them your permission....It’s time we take back that permission…”
“Until you understand the information you got, you will be a victim to it…”

Co-facilitator says, “Not being in jail, or crazy, or sleeping on the trains, you’re a step ahead of the game…Having this conversation is a blessing.”


The Gatekeepers Collective
With Therapist, Lionel Shockness


Friday, November 4


8 PM

As we look at


A sex-positive celebration of same gender loving male intimacy

The Gatekeeper

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8:00 PM

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