Do gay men have too much sex? Does anyone?

I recently came across an excellent article in the Huffington Post (Gay Voices section), “I’m a gay man who loves sex (and here’s why that’s suddenly a problem”, by their editorial director Noah Michelson (@noahmichelson).

It’s a good exposition of the voices that continue to be heard about the lifestyle of certain gay men, and how they are pushed to conform (more completely) to standard societal ideals. It rightly objects to that. In the words of one of its best passages,

I believe sex is a gift that allows us to connect with others (and ourselves) for a night, for a lifetime or just for 25 minutes during our lunch break. I believe sex and pleasure are nothing short of magical and transformative. > And I refuse to believe that just because queer people are increasingly being folded into the mainstream, we should give up fighting for all of the things we’ve been fighting for all these years.

I think these are wise words, and wish they were taken to heart widely. I think they can be reflected on just as usefully for others than gay men only. There is the persistent spectre raised since the early 1990s of “sex addiction”. However often this has been debunked, it continues to be proposed - for reasons best known to the people pushing it.

Sex addiction is not feared for gay men only, but for everyone, gay, straight, bi, queer, cis, male, female, or other. A different article, with a more academic background, is the book chapter ‘The Challenging Landscape of Problematic Sexual Behaviors, Including “Sexual Addiction” and “Hypersexuality”’, by sex educator and psychoanalyst Paul Joannides, republished in Psychology Today.

That article deals with essentially the same subject, but puts it in a sexuality- and gender-neutral context. Joannides covers a great deal of ground. Some topics he discusses are:

  • querying the pathology narrative
  • 12-step programs
  • the idea of “excessive” or “compulsive” masturbation
  • “nymphomania”
  • the demonisation of sex work
  • the fear and condemnation of (Internet) pornography
  • the Christian- or religion-inspired trope of sex as “dirty”
  • the focus on orgasm
  • sexual desire discrepancies generally

It is an article written by a clinician, in rather clinical language, and mainly addressed to sex therapists, counsellors and other clinical or non-clinical practitioners. With that slight reservation, I believe there is a great deal of value in it, and it is useful for who is prepared to read at a greater level of complexity and nuance than a newspaper article can afford.

The full reference to Joannides’ article:

Joannides, P. (2012). The Challenging Landscape of Problematic Sexual Behaviors, Including “Sexual Addiction” and “Hypersexuality”. In P.J. Kleinplatz (Ed.), > New Directions in Sex Therapy: Innovations and Alternatives. 2nd Ed> New York: Routledge.

New sex therapy is in the air

Anyone interested in modern sexuality and relationship issues could do worse than reading this article in Salon about new developments in sex therapy in the USA. We at London Sex and Relationships Therapy, like these “new sex therapists”, are not united by a textbook, a guru or a clearly-delineated “school”. We are probably just as diverse as that group of American new therapists.

The New York Times recently wrote about broadly the same group of people. They called the new therapists “Renegades of couples therapy”, and somewhat strangely designated Esther Perel (see her TED talk and her earlier book) as their “den mother”.

It is good to see other therapists working in innovative ways, believing like us that consensual sex need not and should not be pathologised, and that flexibility and agreed creativity in relationships, just as in psychotherapy, can only benefit people and their relationships…

Henry Strick joins LSRT

Henry Strick

Henry works mainly in North-West London. I asked him about joining LSRT, and he said: “I’m really excited about the opportunity to contribute to this group. I feel very committed to all people who have to deal with inappropriate and negative responses to their identities, lifestyles and choices in the areas of Gender, Sexual and Relationship Diversities. Especially the experience of finding that, whatever kinds of relationship(s) you are involved in, you can find a psychotherapist who takes your situation as given, and is available to talk about your priorities, is a thing that should not be radical, but in practice so often still is.”

As a general psychotherapist Henry specialises in anxiety, trauma, somatic symptoms, and cultural issues. He is completely open to working with people with a so-called “criminal” background, and with sex workers.

Go here to find out more about Henry’s work, or to his own website .

A very warm welcome to Henry!

Louise Futcher joins LSRT

LSRT welcomes a new member

Louise Futcher

In her own words, Louise's work as a therapist '...is actively supporting and understanding of queer, non-heteronormative ways of living and being – she is passionate about challenging society's tendency of accepting difference only when it fits into a heteronormative model - and instead works towards acceptance of all forms of being and relationship.' 

Find out more about how she works here.

A very warm welcome to Lou! 

 

Counselling: The importance of recognising Gender and Sexual Diversity in the therapy room

Gender and Sexuality Diversity (GSD) in the Psychotherapist Summer Issue

Gender and Sexuality Diversity (GSD) in the Psychotherapist Summer Issue

LSRT therapist Meg John Barker and Dominic Davies, founder of Pink Therapy, have contributed to the current issue of The Psychotherapist, (the UKCP's membership journal) which focuses on Sex and Relationship Therapy. 

'...there is much of value that can be learned from GSD people for sex and relationship therapy with all clients. For example, people involved in consensual BDSM communities have had to develop extremely good communication skills and a high degree of self-reflexivity to be able to articulate their desires and communicate these to their partner(s), and they have often had to step outside shame-filled narratives around normative sexual behaviour.'

You can read the article at pages 16 and 17 here:

http://issuu.com/ukcp-publications/docs/the_psychotherapist_summer_2015_low