Opinion: Sex magic and collective shame
Editor’s note: This column is about sex and sex magick, which I hope was already clear in the title.
Recently I received a negative review for one of my books. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and I’m not here to drum up sympathy. I’m fully aware that not everyone will resonate with what I have to say or how I say it, and I’m okay with that. But this time, some of the language in this particular review seemed to me to come from a deeper place, not just a complaint about my work in particular (although that’s certainly there too), but more about the underlying topic. underlying. I was writing about sex, and it’s one of those issues that tends to bring out negative feelings in some people. And, perhaps surprisingly, this is even the case in our supposedly sex-positive and “enlightened” Gentile community.
Specifically, I was writing about sex Magic. For gay men. Since it was all in the subtitle of the book, I naturally assumed that those who would read it would at least be open to the idea of such practices. But in the age of the internet, I realize now that I should have known better.
I had been careful to express that my work was not a statement of what all queer witchcraft should be, but what is it box be, if one wishes to incorporate sex magick into their practice. I even featured two versions of many rituals, one with sex magick elements and one without, giving people more options to suit their level of interest or comfort. I thought I had clarified my position. Imagine my surprise when I came across a review that said, in part:
“The fact that a gay man is the author is honestly a surprise given that he portrays gay men in the unsavory light of a sex-crazed individual who is looking for a hookup at all times with nothing else in mind. head.”
– “Disappointment”, Amazon 1 star review
As a gay man who has had a rich and varied sex life, I can tell you that this was definitely not the first time someone tried to shame me, but it has been the first to do so in a book review. (So give them points for creativity, I guess.) I was ashamed of being gay. I was ashamed of having had casual sex. I was ashamed of being polyamorous and practicing responsible non-monogamy. I’ve been insulted online, to my face and behind my back. But regardless of medium or location, the insults and moral judgments are the same: at the idea that people can actually enjoy sex – let alone more than one person! – the bead squeezing and angry finger pointing inevitably begins.
Why? Because it goes against the societal statement that sex is only acceptable between two (and only two) consenting adults (cis gender, heterosexual).
Why should this be? As pagans, we have surely evolved beyond such ill-informed views and recognize that these beliefs have their origins in the Christian domination machine that has weaponized its version of morality against the populace. But even we are products of our society, and many beliefs go unexamined, just waiting to rear their ugly heads and remind us all that we are not as enlightened as we think. Although we may recognize that the baggage is of Christian origin, it is nevertheless the baggage that has been given to us and that we continue to carry.
Growing up as a closeted queer kid in the 1970s and 80s, I received loud and clear the affirmation from straight society that gay men were simply inferior to “normal people”, promiscuous sexual behavior often observed in our community cited as “evidence” of our inability to form genuine emotional bonds, thereby rendering us unworthy of legal rights or basic human dignity.
The AIDS crises that erupted in the 1980s only further stoked the fires of condemnation and judgment; the disease seen by many as further proof of our bad ways or at the very least the sad but logical conclusion of an irresponsible and selfish lifestyle.
It might be tempting to see these attitudes as relics of the past, unrelated to current affairs or struggles. But they are prevalent here and now. And it’s not just heterosexuals who have these attitudes. They are also fully present in the queer community. As products of an oppressive society, we carry within us these oppressive attitudes and tools. And we will use them against each other without a second thought.
These are the voices raised around Pride every year that decry the celebrations as “too sexual” or “too kink-focused”, or drag, or any aspect of queer culture that makes straight society uncomfortable. They are queer people who prefer to assimilate into the larger culture, blend in and not draw attention to themselves. And part of their protective stance is to demonize and attack those who they believe attract the “wrong” type of attention from superculture, the very definition of internalized homophobia. It all boils down to a distrust of the sexual and a denial of it as a healthy, positive force in our lives. There is no reason why a spiritual person cannot be sexually liberated.
To my critic, I just want to say: you were wrong. Enjoying sex and incorporating it into our spiritual and magical practice does not make someone “sex crazy” or simply an excuse for a one-spirited affair. Sex can be hot and witty. One does not invalidate the other. And I hope you will experience it one day.