Friday, April 3, 2009

Masturbation Matters (part 1)

I think that it is part of human sexuality, and perhaps it should be taught.
- Joycelyn Elders

by middle
[read his "one fey's tale" posts]

During the brief time Dr. Elders served as the United State Surgeon General, most of cheered her on. Today as advocates we talk a lot about combination prevention and tool kits, but why don’t our polished power point slides include masturbation as a prevention technique?

Several among my all-time most enjoyable sexual encounters were exclusively masturbation-focused. Beyond being a fun pastime, a source of energy, an instrument of growth, and a balm for healing, masturbation can also be a handy tool for prevention.

One of the first AIDS-related articles I encountered in gay media was a version of the New York Jacks’ “How to Have a Jack-Off Party.” Right there in my favorite digest-sized mag I found a practical guide which covered every detail from how to set up your clothes check (paper grocery bags and magic markers were recommended) to what kind of lube to use (never use KY jelly which the article claimed “turns to glue and causes dick damage,” but always include a theatrical make-up remover known as Albolene.) During these parties, the article said, sex play was limited to masturbation – “lips above the hips” and “no penetration” were the watchwords. At the time I was much too inhibited to find or create a real j/o party for myself, but I loved the idea.

From the time I became old enough to discuss such things, I’d heard about circle jerks but never participated in one. Certain neighbor kids and I and played games of titillation, mutual masturbation, and eventually more, but I didn’t ever encounter what I first imagined and later saw depicted in porn.

In the late 90’s and over a decade after I’d gotten my HIV diagnosis, I finally attended a New York Jacks party and had a blast. It wasn’t the first time I found limits to be exciting. I enjoyed the level playing field a nearly clothing-free environment provided, and the intensity of focusing on a singular aspect of sexuality was way hot. Moreover, I finally got to experience that fabulous but elusive Albolene.

A couple of years later and nearly two decades after I first read about it, the lube finally came to Tennessee. I was so infatuated I bought three jars, enough to last for years.

Still, I was frustrated. One of my pet peeves was the misuse of the term jack-off party. It bugged the hell out of me that local hosts applied it to lots of their organized sex parties. My reaction was related to my impatience with internet profiles seeking “j/o only, must be HIV negative.” Sex parties can be fun, but in addition to the previously enumerated thrill factors, a true jack-off party would have obvious stress reducing advantages for my HIV-positive self. In a supposedly liberated, out, post millennium world, why can’t horny men own their desires? Internalized homophobia? Maybe. Good old Baptist shame (this is the South)? Probably.

Eventually, I lucked into unique opportunities to explore the potential of a different kind of group masturbation. It began one faerie gathering with the announcement of a big jack-off extravaganza. Knowing what I knew, and given the impromptu timing and anarchic setting, I decided it best not to attend.

As it happened, there were a few surprised and slightly traumatized faeries at breakfast the next morning. They had entered the space thinking that the party would be about masturbation and masturbation only. They’d wanted to dip their respective big toes in the waters of group sex, and everyone else just canon-balled off the high-dive. As the party evolved into an all-out suck-and-fuck-fest, they left, disappointed and a little freaked.

Fortunately, word gets around at gatherings. Immediately, in that magical faerie way, a response manifested itself. We’d hold a different kind of event – a masturbation circle where folks would only pleasure themselves.

“That’s what I’m talking about!” I thought…

( be continued next Friday)

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