via HuffPost Gay Voices, by Stephen T. Russell, Ph.D
I disguised my horror when he provided the translation (he said "boobies," which my partner and I immediately corrected with anatomically correct English).
We were just becoming a family, and we needed time to simply be together, so I committed to watching Sin senos with him each night. (I never, ever watch television.)
We sat on the sofa and watched; in a few days or weeks we had a habit of sitting with my arm around him, and during the commercials he would update me with translations of the plot.
For my part I would tease, question, and even scold him about the glamorized portrayals of sex and violence. And over time, Sin senos opened up the possibility of talking about not only sexism and violence but gender, relationships, and, of course, sex.
Much like driving in the car, watching television is an ideal time for parents and teens to talk about complicated topics.
In both settings there is often great prompting material (lyrics from popular songs, or news and world events).
The key is that such discussions can happen without eye contact: focused on the highway or some television commercial, one can muster the nerve to confront the edges of embarrassment or shame.
One night, leaning into me, with my arm around his shoulder, he turned his head into my chest in apparent embarrassment and held out a fist. He blurted, "Why does it always go like this?" and from his fist poked out his index finger.
I asked him what he meant. He repeated his question and gesture: "Why does it always go like this?"
I asked if he was talking about his penis (he nodded), and I explained what an erection is. I sighed, even chuckled a little, and told him that it was absolutely completely, totally normal, that at age 13 nearly every boy in the world experiences what he was experiencing.
"Really?" he asked? Unequivocally yes, I answered. He said, "But it happens a lot," to which I replied, "And that's totally normal." And he said, "I mean a lot." And I said, "Really? It's normal."
And he said, "I mean... a lot." And I said, "I promise you, at your age, 20 times a day is still completely normal."
I laughed a bit, but he kept his head in my chest, not looking at me. He was clearly worried and embarrassed. I asked whether he was OK, and what he thought about it.
My memory of his gesture with his finger, and of that initial dialogue, is so crystal clear -- and yet I can't remember the words he used when he told me that his uncle had told him that he was sick, that it was a sign that he was gay, that it meant that he was a sinner.
I could hardly bear to hear him say it. Whatever he told me, with his face in my chest, conveyed desperate, questioning shame.
Over the following commercial breaks and later that evening, we talked about what it means to be a boy at 13.
I told him that he wasn't the only boy at school to have unwelcome erections at inopportune times; that it was not only totally normal but healthy; that it was the same for heterosexual boys and gay boys and therefore had nothing to do with being gay; that he was not sick; and that his uncle had not told the truth.
What I do remember is how his body felt like it melted in tired relief.
I'm supposed to be an expert on adolescent sexuality -- but I never fully understood that every single day, boys and girls everywhere are taught unthinkable shame and guilt.
But there are other visions for youth and sexuality; for example, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) affirms that sexuality is a fundamental part of being human, and its new strategic plan puts sexual health and well-being as the leading vision for creating a sexually healthy America. Shouldn't that be our vision for young people?
Read the rest
select key words
2007 National HIV Prevention Conference 2009 National LGBTI Health Summit 2011 LGBTI Health Summit 2012 Gay Men's Health Summit 2012 International AIDS Conference abstinence only ACT Up activism advocacy Africa african-american aging issues AIDS AIDS Foundation of Chicago anal cancer anal carcinoma anal health anal sex andrew's anus athlete ball scene bareback porn barebacking bathhouses bears big bold and beautiful Bisexual Bisexual Health Summit bisexuality black gay men black msm blood ban blood donor body image bottom Brian Mustanski BUTT Center on Halsted Charles Stephens Chicago Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus Chicago Task Force on LGBT Substance Use and Abuse Chris Bartlett chubby chaser circumcision civil rights civil union Coaching with Jake communication community organizing condoms Congress crystal meth dating dating and mating with alan irgang David Halperin David Munar depression disclosure discrimination domestic violence don't ask don't tell douche downlow Dr. James Holsinger Dr. Jesus Ramirez-Valles Dr. Rafael Diaz Dr. Ron Stall drag queen Ed Negron emotional health ENDA Eric Rofes exercise Feast of Fun Feel the love... female condom fitness Friday is for Faeries FTM gay culture gay identity gay latino gay male sex gay marriage gay men gay men of color gay men's health Gay Men's Health Summit 2010 gay pride gay rights gay rugby gay sex gay youth gender harm reduction hate crime HCV health care health care reform health insurance hepatitis C HIV HIV care HIV drugs HIV negative HIV positive HIV prevention HIV stigma HIV strategic plan HIV testing hiv vaccine HIV/AIDS homophobia homosexuality hottie hotties how are you healthy? Howard Brown Health Center HPV human rights humor hunk Illinois IML immigration International AIDS Conference international mr. leather internet intimacy IRMA Jim Pickett leather community leathersex Leon Liberman LGBT LGBT adoption LGBT culture LGBT health LGBT rights LGBT seniors LGBT youth LGBTI community LGBTI culture LGBTI health LGBTI rights LGBTI spirituality LGV LifeLube LifeLube forum LifeLube poll LifeLube subscription lifelube survey Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano love lube lubricant Lymphogranuloma Venereum masturbation mental health microbicides middle Monday Morning Perk-Up MRSA MSM music National AIDS Strategy National Gay Men's Health Summit negotiated safety nutrition One Fey's Tale oral sex Peter Pointers physical health Pistol Pete pleasure PnP podcast policy politics poppers porn post-exposure prophylaxis PrEP President Barack Obama Presidential Campaign prevention Project CRYSP prostate prostate cancer public health public sex venues queer identity racism Radical Faerie recovery rectal microbicides relationships religion research safe sex semen Senator Barack Obama sero-adaptation sero-sorting seroguessing sex sexual abuse sexual addiction sexual health sexual orientation Sister Glo Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence smoking social marketing spirituality STD stigma stonewall riots substance abuse treatment substance use suicide super-bug superinfection Susan Kingston Swiss declaration syphilis Ted Kerr Test Positive Aware Network testicle self-examination testicular cancer testing The "Work-In" The 2009 Gay Men's Health Agenda Tony Valenzuela top Trans and Intersex Association trans group blog Trans Gynecology Access Program transgender transgender day of remembrance transgendered transmen transphobia transsexual Trevor Hoppe universal health care unsafe sex vaccines video violence viral load Who's That Queer Woof Wednesday writers yoga You Tube youtube