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What I Mean by Queer

Dear Friend and Reader:

IN HONOR OF Pride Week, we brought up the topic of queer in the daily edition. This is actually not a new topic for Planet Waves; we just don't usually call it that. Queer means different, and it's not that difficult to be different when it comes to sex. In fact, it's the easiest thing in the world -- we're all different. However, many factors, such as social condition to act a certain way, or to seem a certain way, so that people think you're not a certain something else, influence how people act. The truth is, we're all different and we feel different on the inside. As my friend Beth once said, we're all baskets inside of boxes.

Planet Waves
Photo by Eric Francis.
Since this is about sex, it might help to take a moment and define that term; we all have a different concept. I mean a psychic, emotional, physical and spiritual conducting medium that helps us celebrate and perpetuate existence. When I say sex, I speak of an exploration of self-awareness and other-awareness. I believe it's one of the highest forms of communication; but when it's really working, we create as we communicate.

We all want and indeed need to do this differently, even if the differences are subtle. We all have different things to learn, even if we are lucky enough to find common ground with a partner or partners. More often, the feeling of being different is usually palpable and sometimes it's overwhelming. And we don't know how to handle it, usually.

I don't know anyone who, when you get them in a space where they are willing to open up, does not state that they feel different: than their friends; different than their spouse; different than their family -- and, notably, quite often not able to discuss it. And I don't mean a conversation on the hobbled, agonizing level of Sex and the City. If the real discussion could go to a depth of 10, that kind of discussion to me counts for about .02.

Many, many spouses have exceedingly little in common sexually, and their lives are at the brink of bursting with sexual tension. Yes, there are monogamous marriages that work -- but the quality control test doesn't come back like kids are told it will. We are promised a flawless product, despite the experiences of our parents; we get something else.

Who is the more sexually open party in a relationship often shakes out along gender lines in the way exactly opposite of what you would expect -- women being the ones craving exploration, and guys wanting the usual thing (or wicked jealous that his girl is gonna get laid). So in that case she usually gets her extracurricular excitement through masturbation, which includes a lot of fantasy. However, women tend to live with the fact, more or less willingly, that guys tend to fuck other women. (This basically means that a small few women are getting most of the sex.)

There are also plenty of marriages and partnerships where the female partner shuts down and the guy is left wanting, waiting and masturbating. So neither gender has a monopoly on being sexually withdrawn. Or on depending on themselves for sex. I have not done an official study, but I'm sure that masturbation is the hottest sex that most people have. It's just not counted as sex! Or, it's too embarrassing to claim and talk about.

Here is another example of feeling different and being closeted that I think makes someone queer.

And here is one last: a lot, a lot, a lot of people are secretly bisexual or gay inside of heterosexual marriages.

I would suggest that if you feel like this (any of the above), you consider your situation. Why exactly can't you come out of the closet? There are all the usual reasons. Most of them involve money -- that is, there are so many mutual assets held in the context of a relationship, and often children, that you may fear the apple cart may be upset. Someone can't (for example) have the sex they want, even if it's available, because of the house they live in or the car they drive. We can see from this how marriage is one of those building blocks that keeps society going exactly as it was going (and why I now feel that monogamy reform, not polyamory, is the first step in our freedom).

Planet Waves
Page from Book of Blue. Photo: Eric Francis.
Personally, I am involved with both. I have had nonmonogamous feelings since around the 2nd or 3rd grade (sometime around 8 years old). It was simple -- I was in love with two girls. That was normal for me. I'm also bisexual, which came a bit later in life (late teens/early 20s). I've had some very, very good sex with men. My primary erotic, emotional and affectual orientation is women. Like a lot of people, I find most women easier to relate to emotionally, more empathic and receptive, and more open to my feelings than nearly all men. There is no substitute for sex with a man, so I have to live with this dichotomy, at least for now.

I am an unabashed cunt worshipper. I often wonder what they smell and taste like, along with the psychic impression that comes with the pleasure of giving her that. This response is usually inspired by eye contact or the sight of someone's face. Fucking women, especially the right woman, is gorgeous and necessary for me. But it is the experience of women from the perspective of being a man that makes me most grateful for being male.

With women, a great part of my erotic orientation involves the practice of compersion. That is, I am closely attuned to the full spectrum of the sexual life of the women who are close to me. It's not enough for me to "have" a woman in a limited way; rather, I need to connect with all of who she is, including (when appropriate) her fantasy life, her relationships with past and current lovers, and her relationship to me. I live with the truth that the women in my life, including my primary partner, will have other lovers in the future. Speaking of: my life is not that wild at the moment. My sexuality is complex; my erotic life is focused primarily on one lover, which often takes hours a day because we strive to live consciously and talk about everything. Part of being poly at this stage in my life means being open to new possibilities, and supporting her as she develops her ability to choose and to be free. This is a deep privilege to witness and participate in.

Lately, I've been on a new project of focusing my thoughts on polyamory and compersion, in some recent articles and article series, and in my correspondence with friends. Here is an email I sent to Dani Katz, who as you may remember wrote the essay "The Magician" two weeks ago as the lead of Planet Waves Astrology News.
One of the distinctions of monogamy versus polyamory in terms of mindset is that monogamy is heavily focused on the goal of happily ever after; of finding the 'right person' and calling it a wrap. This obsession with The One, Forever defines the whole mating dance and many other aspects of life, and it denies the changes that are inherent in life and in death.

The thinking is that you are then relieved of the burden of any mystery in a relationship and in most cases this works out to be true. Often we are relieved of growth as well -- many relationships function as pacts not to grow or change. You are expected to be the person you were, the day you got together or got married.

Polyamory, in whatever form it may take (there are dozens of them), is focused on process: of discovery, of communication, of the processes of change and growth and the adventure of the unknown with many more variables involved, and many fewer presumptions. It is necessary to consider different ideas about relationships, which often means considering any ideas at all. When you don't set an end goal and define that as happiness (such as the search for, and marriage to, The One, Forever), what happens along the way hopefully counts for more.

Think of how ridiculous it would be if a polyamorous person said, "My goal is to have two husbands." But somehow if makes sense if you say, "My goal is to get married."
Finally, I am discovering and exploring what I call the third sexual orientation -- self-sexuality. Really, it should be the first orientation; if we taught and practiced emotionally grounded masturbation, life would be simpler and there would be less pressure to date and/or marry. Self-sexuality is when someone's primary sexual orientation is on oneself. It might be expressed through masturbation, or it could be expressed through having sex with a partner that is only minimally relational. In other words, one's experience of sex is not inherently about the other but about oneself. I think this is the less honest form of self-sexuality, and I think that a great many people (conveniently) use sex as a substitute for masturbation.

In its more honest form, self-sexuality experiences masturbation and fantasy as a conscious journey. From there, both fantasy play and masturbation can be shared by two or more people; the individual sexual journey of each person, their feelings and the content of their emotions, can be embraced by themselves and certain key people around them, and expressed whether solo or together.

Our closest primate cousins, the bonobos, masturbate together for pleasure and communal expression of feelings, and many people have discovered this. It just has not been given a name. When you spend a lot of time exploring in this space, partnersex changes. It's easier to recognize your partner for who he or she is; easier to feel compersion; easier to make the choices that are right for you, rather than what you think you're supposed to do.

Planet Waves
Christine in Flight from Book of Blue by Eric Francis.
We live in a time when it's considered dangerous to experiment. A faux conservatism has taken over, but I feel people getting sick of it: sick of not having options, tired of not being able to be themselves, angry about not feeling safe feeling what you feel, sick of living your life in cloaked fantasy or locked into virtual reality.

For years, I have been calling for a discussion, but I am more lately calling for action: conscious community, open discussion, and a movement to get our exploration going on Earth, not just in virtuality. Action includes coming out of the closet, considering and working through the barriers that keep us from doing so, and on the inner level, addressing our rampant self-esteem issues that prevent us from thinking we have a right to exist. Among the major elements of healing self-esteem, I think that satisfying, shockingly honest masturbation is a potent one. I consider it a yoga of self-acceptance.

And all this is what I mean by queer -- and what I mean by coming out of the basement. I would say if I have a personal goal, it is to be out to every person in my life; to be acknowledged with at least eye contact and a nod for my erotic identity; and to recognize the erotic identity of everyone in my life. This is about witnessing humanity.

With compersion, I get to feel the overflow of the pleasure everyone has, even if I'm not directly involved.

And I want as much good, loving sex as I can get, give or exchange.

I know I'm not alone in this general perspective; this bird's eye view of Self.

If you're interested in taking a step in your life and would like to dialog, contact me at info@planetwaves.net with a little about yourself (such as what you feel you have to offer to a shared community).

To you, and you, and you, and me -- come out, come out, wherever you are.

Eric Francis

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