Category Archives: Sexuality

What has shame told you?- excerpt from my 2019 Folsom Sunday sermon

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Shame has told me many things to keep me from my desires and love….

Shame told me I was too fat, and I listened…

Shame told me I was too nelly, and I listened…

Shame told me I wasn’t smart enough, and I listened…

What has shame told you?

Too butch or not butch enough…

Too old or too young…

Not pretty enough, not handsome enough…

Or just not sexy enough to be desired or loved.

We have heard many of these messages of shame from our families…

From our peers, our colleagues, bullies, the media, and society…

And especially from religion…

This programming of shame as social control helps to spread the continuation of patriarchy and gender conformity.

Culture affects how we view sex and the ‘normalization’ of heterosexuality promotes a socially preferred performance of sexuality.

‘Heteronormativity’ is the cultural bias in favor of opposite-sex relationships as the sexual norm, and against same-sex relationships.

A commonly held belief by many is that each person they meet i is heterosexual – until proven otherwise.

The sexual phobias of the few affect the sexual freedom of the many.

This enforcement of heteronormative values upon sexual minorities has caused extensive damage to the emotional and spiritual health of the LGBTQ community.

Those who present something other than “normal” can become the recipients of ridicule and bullying for not being “normal.”

But what is normal?

In Justin Lehmiller’s book “Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Improve Your Sex Life”,

He outlines the results of his anonymous survey about the sexual fantasies of adults living in the United States… (published 2018)

4175 adults to be exact – ages eighteen and up –

I believe the oldest were in their 80s…

72% identified as heterosexual…The gender split was about fifty-fifty…

This was the largest survey on sexual desires & fantasies ever done in the United States.

From this survey, Lehmiller was able to extract seven broader themes to account for the vast majority of the fantasies & desires submitted…

And they are, listed in rank…

1. multipartner sex

2. power, control, and rough sex – AKA BDSM

3. novelty, adventure, and variety

4. taboo and forbidden sex

5. partner sharing and non-monogamous relationships

6. passion and romance

7. erotic flexibility – specifically, homoeroticism and gender-bending

Dr. Lehmiller defines all of these as “normal” desires and fantasies…

He defines ‘normal’ this way:

“As a scientist, saying that something is normal is basically the same as saying something is statistically common.”

In other words, a normal desire is one that a lot of other people have.

He’s calling fantasies and desires “normal” in a sense because they are “common”…

So, what really is normal?

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– Folsom Sunday Sermon at MCCSF, Sept. 28, 2019

Touching ourselves isn’t shameful

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We are told from an early age that touching our genitals is wrong or ‘dirty’. Then as puberty hits, the sex education we might be taught are either fear-based or nonexistent.

We are taught that being sexual is a shame-filled activity from a very early age. This needs to change. Being sexual is not shameful. Judging or ridiculing someone for being sexual IS shameful.

Because we live in a patriarchal society, it’s all about looking at the sexual prowess of men and the sexual submission of women.

‘The paradox is the judgment of expressing our sexuality, and the double standard linked with it. As a man, if I have so much sex I’m a stud, and as a woman, if you do the same, you’re a slut.’ (From the article link below)

We must all work towards ending slut shaming and embracing a life free of sexual shame. #LeaveShameBehind

Yoni Disconnect: Sexual Healing article

Religious notions of abstinence is shaming and sinful

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One of the continuing purveyors of sexual shame are conservative religious notions of abstinence and the sinfulness of sexual desire. Enforcing abstinence is sinful

“An 18 year-old college student [was] deeply afraid that he was addicted to masturbation. He was only masturbating ONCE a week, but because he’d grown up in a family where any sex outside monogamous marriage was sinful and condemned, his quite normal sexual behavior was experienced with deep shame and fear.”

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/women-who-stray/201708/overcoming-religious-sexual-shame

’Swishy’ Daddy

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I want to share a story with you about a coffee date I had 8 or 9 years ago. It was while I was in grad school (also known as seminary) and in the early days of developing my shame workshop.

A person and I met up on a gay male hookup site called “Daddy Hunt” and our first meeting was at a coffee shop in Oakland. For more context, the person I was meeting identified as a queer transman (Female-to-Male).

We met, chatted over coffee for a while and seemed to be getting on okay. I then excused myself to the restroom – coffee tends to do that to me. When I returned to the table and sat down, my coffee date made an unexpected comment: “you’re much ‘swishier’ than I expected.”

I chuckled and said “You’re right, I am!” I went on to comment that my online pictures at that time could have given the impression I was more ‘butch’ than actually am in my everyday persona.

If this has happened five or so years earlier, my reaction would have been very different. I would have probably been offended because I would have felt a huge bout of shame regarding my ‘lack of butchness’ and the coffee date would have ended a disaster.

When I shared this story at a “Sex and Shame” workshop I attended in Las Vegas this past February, there was an audible gasp by some of the fellow attendees, as well as the presenter when I regaled the aforementioned comment about my ‘swishiness’. I reassured them I was not offended and it was actually a testament to the work I’ve done one myself regarding my shame surrounding my gender presentation.

Being comfortable with my mannerisms, accepting the way I talk and move through the world each day is freeing. I don’t feel self-conscious about my ‘swishiness’ and this allows me to be more authentic with myself and others.

Celebrating Beyond Pride Weekend

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As I think about it, I have no regrets for deciding not to participate in San Francisco’s pride weekend this year. This decision is providing me with numerous opportunities for self-care, visiting with a few friends in a quiet atmosphere and providing me with opportunity to sleep in Saturday morning.

As I continue to embrace my queerness, I find that celebrations like pride weekend are important on many levels for those who are curious, coming out, feeling their exuberance, and in some cases for drunken revelry.

Many of us enjoy daily opportunities to celebrate who we are and do not limit it to one weekend a year. I believe that being a member of the LGBTQ community is more than just being in a parade, buying a rainbow necklace from a vendor, or dancing the night away with a 1000 other people.

Liberation must also be about internalized freedom for many of us who live in cities like San Francisco or New York City or San Diego or Miami. Internalize homophobia and transphobia is alive and well within the LGBTQ community. It is this liberation that we need to continue to work towards, especially for those of us who are in the generations that remember a world without AIDS and marriage equality.

Sermon @ MCC-SF – April 27, 2014

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1 John 4:7-12

(Inclusive Language Lectionary)

God Is Love

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and whoever loves is born of God and knows God.

Whoever does not love does not know God; for God is love.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent God’s only Child into the world, so that we might live through that Child.

10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that God loved us and sent God’s own Child to be the expiation for our sins.

11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and God’s love is perfected in us

Sex Prayer

Illuminata: A Return to Prayer” Marianne Williamson, (pg 174)

Dear God,

May sex, like everything else, be in my life, or not in my life, according to your will.

May it be an instrument of healing, of love and sacred power.

For me and anyone with whom I am joined.

May it’s spiritual secrets be revealed to me.

May all ugliness, cheapness, or loveless sexual thoughts and experience be cast out of my mind and body.

May God’s Spirit enter here.

May I do as You would have me do.

And I know what You would have me know.

And have no experience of anything else.

May I never underestimate its power.

Or the sacred responsibility that is placed in my hands when I so join with another.

May sex be only a sacred practice for me and any other with whom I am joined.

May I know it’s holiness and only that.

Thank you very much.

Amen

Sermon

Good morning (evening) MCC!

First of all, I’m very grateful to Pastor Robert for inviting me to preach here today.

Since the closing of New Spirit, I’ve been slowly getting to know you MCC and am beginning to feel right at home here.

I really enjoyed participating in the All Church retreat a few weeks ago.

I graduated from Pacific School of Religion last May with a Masters in Divinity and a Certificate in Sexuality and Religion.

I’m also a Reiki practitioner and have trained in Shamanic Energy Work.

I am truly blessed by the chaplain residency program I’m current doing at St. Mary’s

Being present with people in the hospital continues to be transformational for me…

I am learning to be vulnerable and to share my compassion and heart with others….to know that I am enough…

Let us pray…

Goddess, Divine Spirit, carry my words on your winds to spark our imaginations, to encourage our roots to grow, and to begin to quench our thirst for your unending love. Amen.

Video

What is Normal? Let’s have a look at this short video…

What is normal?

A man and woman kissing?    A man kissing another man?

A woman kissing another woman?                 Or a transgender person kissing another person?

What is normal in your life may not be ‘normal’ in another’s life?

What was normal for me growing up was boys wore blue and girls wore pink.

Boys played with trucks and girls played with dolls.

It’s okay to toughen up a boy by skinning his knees or elbows but girls are delicate flowers and they must be protected.

When boys wanted to play house they were called sissies (or worse)

And when girls wanted to play with trucks they were called tomboys (or worse).

From an early age we are given these messages that boys behave a certain way and girls behave a different way.

And what about the lyrics of the song?

They seemed to be painting a pretty rosy picture of Love…

Just like falling in love…fits your heart like a glove…

It’s great…it’s got to be…got to be fate…

And really, it looks so easy…yeah, well it might be…yeah, it might be…

It isn’t always so easy for some…

One of the reflections at the Good Friday service was about how difficult finding love can be…

Is that ‘normal’ for most people? For some of us?

There are other words that society uses when they are talking about “NORMAL”

Like…. “Traditional”?    or “Natural”?

People have used these words to diminish the love that some have for others…

TRADITIONAL marriage is between one man and one woman…

It is UN-NATURAL for a man to lie with another man… Or a woman to lie with another woman…

It’s just unnatural, some people say.

What is Normal?

Who defines what is normal?

Society wants to define it…

Governments pass laws to define it…

Many churches try to define it…

Some of our parents tried to…

Even our friends tried to…Perhaps some of them are still trying…

But when it comes right down to it, who is most qualified to define what is normal for us?

We are!

I remember growing up in New York state –in high school back in the late 1970s,

I ‘came out’ to myself and a couple friends that I was “Bisexual”

It was sorta coming out…it was kinda safe…

While I was in the Navy, I was (air quotes) “straight”…

After I got out of the Navy, I came out as ‘Gay’….

A few years later, I dated a few women so I was  back to being ‘Bi’ again…

Then, after a bad breakup with a woman and eventually getting sober, I became a ‘Militant Homosexual’

I was IN YOUR FACE WITH MY GAYNESS!

After a while, my militancy mellowed and I became more of a big ole gay man…

Prior to coming to PSR in 2009, I started noticing that I was finding myself attracted to certain types of women…

How could this be??? I’m a gay man! A big ole queen!!!

Gay men are attracted to men, not women!

That’s what I heard from the gay male culture…

I had feelings of shame for being attracted to bodies other than male bodies…

I began to explore what it was in regards to who I was attracted to and why…

I realized that my feelings of shame were because of the fluidity of my attraction…

I began to realize that this was my ‘normal’…

I recognized that I’m a queer man who is attracted to masculine energy, regardless of gender…

What’s “normal” for me does not have to be “normal” for others…

Let me say that again…

What’s “normal” for me does not have to be “normal” for others…

Jesus was teaching a new normal with his suggestions of loving one’s neighbors and the stranger…

Love your family and friends yes, but not your neighbors and especially not the stranger…

Scripture

Today’s bible reading is proclaiming that new ‘normal’….

In the queer bible commentary, William Countryman examines how this passage connects the love commandment of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew (22:37-39) with the very nature of God…

The very nature of God is LOVE…

And by loving another, we will know God…

There are several forms of love defined in the Christian Bible…

There is familial love…That love we have for family and friends…It is known as Philia in Greek…

There is the unconditional love, known as Agape…

This is the love described in the first reading…

God’s unconditional love is to be shared with others

And in doing so, the very nature of God, LOVE, will be within us…

Another kind of love is the physical and sensuous love…

That desire we have for one another… which is called Eros…

Professor Jay Johnson would tell his classes about the writings of Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury that focused on “God’s desire for us”…

Sex Prayer

The second reading provides an interesting definition for us regarding sex or Eros…

About it having the potential for healing….

That it’s spiritual…

And that it is a SACRED POWER!!!

Perhaps our overvaluing the physical aspect of sex has caused the spiritual aspect of it to be under appreciated?

In western culture, Eros has been repeatedly used as a weapon of shame…

We are inundated with notions of body image and performance everyday…

Old Spice TV ads tell men to smell like a man, man and not use lady-scented body wash…

Or women who don’t look like super models or Barbie aren’t attractive to men…

Many commercials today still have some of the gender stereotyping of the 1960s and 70s…

Shaming like this can be paralyzing for some…

And many of us have been taught that our bodies and sex are dirty and wrong…

We need to relearn that our bodies are sacred…

Irene quoted Pastor Robert a few weeks ago about doing the internal work of self-examination…

We need to do the internal work of self-examination that can help us reclaim the sacredness of our bodies and pleasure…

Tell your neighbor…”Your body is sacred”…

Now tell your other neighbor…”MY body is sacred

May God’s Spirit enter here…

The Sex Prayer is asking God to enter into the Eros we share with others…

            The ‘HERE’ is SEX…

I believe that sex can be a sacred practice… 

I invite you to believe that too?

Let us invite God in when we join with others…

And allow God’s DESIRE FOR US to be manifested in our sacred practices of Eros with others…

Amen

What is normal?

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A man and woman kissing?
A man kissing another man?
A woman and another woman kissing?
A transgender person kissing another transgender person? Or kissing a non-transgender person?

What is normal in your life may not be ‘normal’ in another’s life?

What was normal for me growing up was boys wore blue and girls wore pink. Boys played with trucks and girls played with dolls. It’s okay to toughen up a boy by skinning his knees or elbows but girls are delicate flowers and they must be protected.

When boys wanted to play house they were called sissies (or worse) and when girls wanted to play with trucks they were called tomboys (or worse). From an early age we are given these messages that boys behave a certain way and girls behave a different way.

But what is normal?

It was not ‘normal’ for Jesus to be teaching about loving your neighbor and the stranger. Love your family and friends yes, but not your neighbors or especially the stranger!

What is normal in your life may not be ‘normal’ in another’s life?

Perhaps embracing our own kind of ‘normal’ is the ‘new black’?

Let’s try it on and wear it around town as often as we can.

Sex Prayer

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Sex Prayer (pg 174)
“Illuminata: A Return to Prayer” Marianne Williamson (Amazon)

Dear God,
May sex, like everything else, be in my life, or not in my life, according to your will.
May it be an instrument of healing, of love and sacred power
For me and anyone with whom I am joined.
May it’s spiritual secrets be revealed to me.
Pray all ugliness, cheapness, or Loveless sexual thoughts and experience becomes out of my mind and body.
Thank God’s Spirit and to hear.
May I do as you would have me do
And I know what you would have me know
And have no experience of anything else.
May I never underestimate its power
Or the sacred responsibility that is placed in my hands when I so join with another.
May sex be only a sacred practice for me and any other with whom I am joined.
May I know it’s holiness and only that.
Thank you very much.
Amen

Our attraction to others has internal and external influences

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Our attraction to others has internal and external influences. Internally, there are certain sexual, as well as relational desires that we have for other people. External influences of heteronormativity can have a detrimental impact when our desires are outside of that heteronormative mindset. This detriment can be seen as shame for not conforming to societal norms. Even within the LGBT community there can be influences from a binary mindset that can cause shame for those who fall outside of a binary mindset when it comes to sexual and relational attraction.

Internalize shame regarding the fluidity of one’s sexual attraction is based on the societal perceptions that people are required to fit into specific boxes of who they are and who they are attracted to. Using the identity of ‘queer’ allows a person to present a fluid sexuality that does not fit within the binary of straight, bisexual, or gay.

My personal journey has taken me from identifying as bisexual in high school to being in the closet about my same-sex attraction while I was in the Navy. Moving back into civilian life, I ‘came out of the closet’ and embraced my ‘gayness’. I later found myself moving back into the world as a closeted bisexual man. Upon entering a 12-step program, I came out of the closet for that last time and identified as a gay man, at times when I was a ‘militant homosexual’. About 10 years ago, I began to truly realize I did not need to feel shame for bring attracted to many different types and genders of people.

Sexually, my attraction to others is very fluid. It ranges from male identified bodies to female identified bodies. Visual stimulation is a key element of my sexual attraction towards others.

Relationally, I’m attracted to masculine energy. This tends to manifest within male identified bodies. However, this can also be found in female identified bodies as well.

Spending most of my adult life as a gay man, the fluidity of my sexual attraction has been problematic for me when navigating in gay male space. When I started dating transmen (FTM), several of my gay male friends asked me if I was now bisexual. I had to educate these friends let them know that I was not dating a woman, that I was dating someone who identified as male. It is essential to reject the notion that a person’s genitalia alone determines their gender identity. Being born with a vagina or penis does not automatically mean that a person will present as female or male respectively, as they move out of infancy.