Sex Ed in Bed
The sexual double life (first half of two)
By Jallen Rix, Ed.D. (c).

A friend of mine “came out” in a small town. When his church found out, the pastor publicly threw him out, preaching about the sins of homosexuality. Wouldn’t you know that sometime later my friend caught that very same pastor coming out of a gay sex club? Oh, yes! Americans just love to place their sex behind a rationalized wall of privacy that can be so impenetrable that it seems easier to live a double life instead of a single one.

Many of us have developed a dichotomous lifestyle growing up when we realized our gay sexual feelings were different from the majority. We outwardly conformed to what was acceptable and carefully hid our true attractions safely out of site. It would be nice to think that as each of us grew up we all found supportive friends and families that so completely accepted us that we gathered the courage to be truly ourselves. Obviously, many people do not have that kind of support. For some, that kind of openness can lose them their job, their loved ones and even get them killed. Living a double life can be quite literally the only way to survive.

At one time or another we all have the experience of living a segmented life, especially when it comes to hiding aspects of our sexuality. I’ve already mentioned the extreme self-hating preacher who develops an elaborate secret life to meet his sexual needs. There’s the gay man who occasionally hooks up with an internet sex-capade without his monogamous partner knowing. There’s the butch lesbian who, in the bedroom really enjoys the occasional rape fantasy. Why there’s even the successful young lobbyist who likes making extra money as a sex worker. In fact, Dr. Robert Francoeur collected profiles from hundreds of different cultures and compiled them into a four volume compendium like no other: The International Encyclopedia of Sexuality. One of the few features he found common to most societies was that what individuals believed privately about sex, what their society espoused about sex, and how those individuals behaved sexually — these three features were contradictory to one degree or another. All of us have discrepancies between what we think, what we say, and what we do.

So in this light, I’ve tried to have a certain amount of flexibility to those inevitable cultural paradoxes. Further, human beings have an incredible capacity for diversity. Yeah, it might feel like Schizophrenia, but it’s not. In this day and age, one person can live thousands of widely different experiences in a lifetime. However, when it comes to the possibility of nurturing an elaborate double life, for myself I enjoy being as whole as possible — congruent inside and out. The word integration comes from the same root word as integrity. So doing my best to integrate my sexuality into the rest of my life is important to me. And there are some very simple reasons why.

First off, there’s the simple logic of numbers. It’s challenging enough to maintain one good and abundant life, much less two. It’s kind of like that saying, “It takes a lot more energy to repress our emotions than to simply feel them.” I can’t imagine the energy it takes to keep two lives separate.

Secondly, when we are fostering a double life, it’s almost impossible to avoid placing shame on the parts that are deemed less acceptable. Shame erodes our self-worth and breeds self-destructive behavior. It’s as if we leave our sense of wisdom and responsibility in our public life which then leaves our “private” sexuality exposed to irresponsible behavior and sometimes, just plain stupidity. I can’t tell you how many people I know who have contracted HIV under these very circumstances.

Finally, and probably the best reason is that wholeness just feels so much better than a life divided. When someone has significant secrets to hide, there is stress involved, the ever-present fear of slipping up, and the horror of when the two worlds inevitably come crashing together, just to mention a few difficulties. Now compare that to the experience of trusting someone enough to really be yourself in front of them, to feel the freedom of letting it all out, and the sheer strength of having no secrets. I’m of the opinion that no important secret lasts forever; it’s just a matter of time before it’s beyond your control to hide. Despite all my baggage and the fear of rejection I strive to be wholey myself as much as possible.

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