Sex Ed in Bed

The touch of an older man
By Jallen Rix, Ed.D. (c).

Back in 1999 a friend raved about a masseur that could only work on medium to smaller sized men because he was up in years and his lack of stamina did not allow him to do a decent job on bigger guys. Since he enjoyed and received so much from giving touch, he charged next to nothing. Curious, I had to check him out.

At our first meeting, he reviewed his credentials and listed the many styles he had been trained in, including tantric and prostate massage. He also made it clear that he would, of course, respect wherever I set my boundaries. The massage was outstanding! Ever since then, I have been meeting with David once or twice a month for touch.

We have created a dynamic that relaxes, and rejuvenates both of us — yes, both of us. With my years as a masseur, I understand how much work is involved, especially when a client does not know how to relax or he (the vast majority of my clients were men) expects me to do the relaxing for him. Don’t get me wrong, relaxing is what massage is all about. However, if a client is unaware of his body and harbors stress that he is unwilling to let go of, I could figuratively take a sledgehammer to his back and he still would not relax.

For me, massage facilitates relaxation. A masseur assists the client in releasing tension. When a masseur is identifying stress by applying pressure, and the client is releasing the tension that is being focused on, it’s like having an engaging conversation or singing a duet. So as David gives his attention and energy into working over my muscles, simultaneously I am releasing tension and to a certain degree, giving energy back to him. It is a very palpable, cyclical exchange that we often joke about afterwards, “No, no, I received more than you did!”

You can imagine that this reciprocal connection creates an opportunity to release more than just tension, but stored up emotions as well. It was through the safety of David’s hands that I experienced an unanticipated sobbing release. It felt like I had years of tears to drain and it certainly ranked up there with the top ten cry fests of my life. It was enormously healing.

This column cannot contain the impact our massage relationship has had on my life, and an integral part of it has to do with our age difference. I learn so much from the wisdom in his hands; and he gains so much joy from touching my semi-young body. Furthermore, the reciprocity has infused a deep and lasting friendship. It’s truly unfortunate that others my age and younger don’t generally have this kind of valuable connection with more mature members of our community. In fact, most gay men are revolted by the idea of being touched by (much less having a pleasant conversation with) someone older than them. So let’s follow this line of thinking through. When you’re young, touch is sexy, but when you’re older, you — yes, you are deemed a gross perverted troll unworthy of any kind of contact. After all, you aren’t as young as you were yesterday, baby! What kind of internalized homophobic, body-negative, bull-shit stereotype are we believing hook, line and sinker?

On the one hand, I think we all could have a better sense of humor about growing old. On the other hand, we can also show a little respect. It’s just as simple as including older men in your bar room chitchat, instead of pretending they don’t exist. No matter how you slice it, they’ve been around longer than you have (and always will be) and that’s got to count for something. At the very least, how about giving them the most basic of human rights? If you want to be treated with dignity regardless of your sexuality, then practice what you preach and treat others with dignity regardless of your stereotype of them.

But if you really are into enriching the quality of your life, bond more with those older “sacred homosexuals,” as Quentin Crisp called himself. Yeah, sure some may be eccentric, but who’s gay that isn’t a little eccentric? Of course, don’t just trust anyone because they’re older, but keep your eyes open and you’ll find those wise mentors that can really help to balance you out. And there will be ways that only you can help them.

Recently, David was diagnosed with throat cancer. Wow! I guess part of true friendship is having to watch a loved one go through hell. Yet, I know I’ll have the strength to be there for him, just as he has given me strength time and time again.

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