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May 26, 2015 Comments Off on Love and Lust in Queer Seattle: The Case for One Night Stands Views: 2666 Gay 101, Living, Love & Lust in Queer Seattle, Relationships

Love and Lust in Queer Seattle: The Case for One Night Stands

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My first one night stand was in college. Or more accurately, my first one night stand occurred on-campus in a parked car, where I was obliged to slap and streak the steamy window à la Titanic.

We’d met at Neighbours nightclub where minors were allowed to dance after the liquor bar closed, and that evening I decided, “I’m going to be the kind of guy who can hit it and quit it.” Perhaps a rickety Honda Civic wasn’t the most romantic place to carry out this decision, but Allan was a great kisser and a satisfactory driver. Hit it and quit it I did.

There are many pros to one-time sexual experiences with strangers, but American culture frequently associates promiscuity with immaturity, shameful behavior, or a symptom of low self-esteem. For women especially, fooling around with someone upon meeting them is often considered lewd. So let’s examine hook-ups with an open mind in an effort to challenge slut-shaming mentalities.

Leroy McClain and Charlie Barnett in "The Happy Sad," 2013

Leroy McClain and Charlie Barnett in “The Happy Sad,” 2013

Sexual relationships with new acquaintances are not new to the gay community, and for the sake of our social health, I hope they remain a hallmark. To trust a new person with your body is an act of vulnerability. When this exposure is returned with admiration and pleasure, it can help build an unconscious understanding that our bodies (and our desires) are valuable, worthy, and good. Gay men are also notorious for forming friendships after sleeping with each other first, and while this isn’t every gay man’s experience, it has its positive aspects.

First, the obvious: no-strings-attached sex is an easy way to get your physical needs met without having to commit to something more. It’s normal to go through periods of life when you are not ready for a romantic relationship for whatever reason, and just because you’re off dating for a while doesn’t mean you have to be off sex, too. Even gay guys may be nervous about developing a reputation as “easy” and avoid sex until they’re actually in a relationship, but avoiding sexual connections out of fear alone only reinforces the shame and stigma of natural attraction and sexual behavior. More power to you if you’re holding off on sex for some reason that’s important to you, but check in with yourself about if your reasons are truly in line with your values.

Secondly, one night stands can be fun and exciting. With that extra dose of adrenaline from meeting and immediately engaging someone you find attractive, your body’s senses are heightened and can make the natural high from sex even more profound. Bonus points if he makes you go numb and tingly (just shy of hospitalization).

Moreover, spontaneity is important. Many personality types thrive off of it, and denying all spur-of-the-moment attractions may actually feel debilitating and depressing to someone who is more extemporaneous than those who prudently “court” their mates before fucking. The freedom to live completely in the moment can be exceptionally satisfying to those who feel trapped by expectations of propriety.

Gay Lovers in Lianzhou, China. Photo credit Lin Zhipeng

Gay Lovers in Lianzhou, China. Photo credit Lin Zhipeng

One night stands are also efficient practices to hone your instincts and become a better lover. It sounds weird to consider hook-ups as a skill building exercise, but practice really does make perfect. Experimenting with different lovers can broaden your experience base and expose you to new techniques, developing your sense of what you enjoy, what you don’t, what you can do for a sexual partner, and how to communicate more effectively.

Of course, engaging in many one night stands can increase your risk for infections or uncomfortable situations with strangers. It’s important to make lucid decisions about safe sex, especially if it’s a run in with a stranger at the bathhouse or a new trick from Tinder.

  • Practice safe sex. If you can, give yourself at least 2 hours after brushing your teeth or douching before you start fooling around. Share your HIV status with him and ask his in return. Use a condom for anal sex, even if you’re both on PrEP and/or have recently been tested. And duh, tell him if you have a communicable STI and stick to lower-risk sex activities. Arrange your protections and establish safety well in advance so you can get out of your head and enjoy the romp in-the-moment.
  • Avoid bondage with strangers. Hats off to you if you’re a filthy BDSM queen! But play carefully; don’t let a stranger handcuff you or blindfold you unless you are 100% comfortable with it.
  • If you don’t want him to sleep over, tell him before you start fooling around. The post-coitus “I have to get up early” excuse is passive aggressive and cliché. Let him know if you’re only interested in hosting for sex, not sleep.
  • Don’t mix drugs with anonymous sex. If you’re inclined to roll and know you get horny as hell, try thinking ahead and surrounding yourself with people you trust. Then you’ll at least bone someone you’re fairly certain won’t take advantage of your inebriation.
  • Don’t cheat. If you’re in a closed, monogamous relationship and you find yourself craving a one night stand, talk to your boyfriend before you act on it with a stranger. Either you two can reevaluate your arrangements and comfortably open the relationship on mutually accepted terms, or you’ll need to strategize how you can accept and manage the urge to hook up without indulging it.
Tom Cullen and Chris New in "Weekend," 2011

Tom Cullen and Chris New in “Weekend,” 2011

If you’ve never had a one night stand and you’re interested in giving it a go, start out with a process that puts you at ease. Maybe you’d prefer the anonymity of an app, or you’d feel more in control picking someone up at a bar. Perhaps you’re curious about a retro-style personal ad from the newspaper, or you just might want to dive in and check out Steamworks. Mix up your methodology and experiment to see what works for you and what doesn’t. You may find that hook-ups aren’t for you, but you might also surprise yourself and enjoy the freedom!
Think one night stands are for sinful sluts? Any fun hook-up stories? Kiss and tell: hit us up on social media, comment below, or email me at ryan@seattlegayscene.com.

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