what i really want

I know what I really want.

It’s taken me some time, but I have known for a while now but have been unsure of how to articulate it and doubtful that others would understand, empathize, agree, etc. In the past, I have done a great job of writing in circles; hopefully, this is clear and straight to the point.

I want to have close relationship with men who do three things: 1.) care about me as much as I do; 2.) have meaningful, intimate conversation with me; and 3.) (the kicker!) allow physical touch and affection without the fear of it being sexual and without the shame of it being improper.

I remember reading the Gospel of John (in the Bible), and at some point, John sets up this scene where he and the other disciples are with Jesus. Not only does John describe himself as the guy “whom Jesus loved,” but he adds that he is lying on his chest. Additionally, the other (male) disciples seem to be okay with this; Peter doesn’t scold John for getting so close to Jesus or throw in a “no homo” joke about it. Rather, he tells John to ask Jesus about who will betray him.

I am neither Bible scholar nor ordained reverend, so I accept that I may have missed some details in the exchange. As objectively as I can be though, this seems to be an example of what I really want. I see all of it: the mutual caring, the close conversation, and most notably, the physical touch without fear, shame, or condemnation from others.

Yes. Yes. And Yes.

Don’t get me wrong. I have lovely family and friends, probably more than many, who care for me deeply and have all kinds of wonderful dialogue with me. I cannot understate my gratitude for them. They are gifts that keep giving and giving.

The point about physical touch is where I wrestle. For a while now, I have really wanted this and suppose I have been deprived of it in countless ways. Consequently, it’s been easy to indulge on any medium that affirms this desire: Google images, YouTube videos, TV shows, movies, poems, songs, books, etc. The list goes on.

They’ve been exceptional drops of water in a normalized vast expanse of desert. Sadly, drops of water don’t really quench thirst. If anything, they’ve only made me more aware of how thirsty I am.

These temporary affirmations have often (or quite possibly always) missed the mark, lacking sincerity and/or diving into the deep end of the erotic. This goes for actual relationships too; even the closest brothers have set boundaries around the physical either immediately or eventually. And out of respect for them, I’ve done my best to honor these limits and my desires.

I have learned a lot over the years searching for the words to speak this truth about touch. I know what I really want is entirely complex for men of the USA, seemingly impossible for some to comprehend, and easy to mistake for just wanting a romantic lover of some kind. Those are all fair points that I can understand.

It is almost effortless nowadays to sexualize physical touch of any type. I get that completely, especially when it comes to snuggling, back rubs, hand-holding, kissing, and so on. I have spoken before about how folks can easily make things about sex, and this is one reason why that really sucks.

If things were different, perhaps I could imagine what it would be like to be me and feel as comfortable and close as John probably did with Jesus and the other disciples. It’s hard for me to picture realistically in any of my social contexts relaxing with a group of men, with heads on shoulders, chests, and laps, with it all being normal and fine. And yet it remains easy to wish that I could envision this.

I have felt strange and different for holding these thoughts and feelings so persistently. I took cues that what I really wanted was wrong from so many people for so long that I used to think something was wrong with me. It took me years to work through the internalized confusion and invalidated desires for connection, and I am finally on the other side. I feel liberated to say this clearly and be exact in my desires and identity.

That’s a beautiful thing to me, to know who I am and what I want precisely and authentically.

I’m not sure where this leaves me in the short or long run. I am left wondering if I’ll ever find someone who wants what I really want with me, but such is life– this is where I am now. This is what I really want, and this is the surest I’ve felt about it.

Love Love Love,

Jesse

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3 thoughts on “what i really want

  1. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU.

    And I agree; I wish we lived in a time where it was normal for people to express intimate feelings and express care through touch without it being viewed as weird or sexual.

    And another thing, I’m no biblical scholar either, but the fact that Jesus didn’t feel a need to say “no homo” (or homo ever because there wasn’t a label like that back then) means we don’t need to either.

  2. This was beautifully written. There is so much freedom in knowing yourself and knowing what you want, and then fearlessly letting it be known. I feel like there are several other men, and by several I mean thousands, that want the same intimacy with others that you want. I say this because I’ve observed men touch and celebrate grand emotions with fellow men during sports events, and they do this in excess. Why? Because it’s the only socially acceptable arena for the behavior, and they take advantage of that. Jumping into your male teammate’s arms during a game is perfectly ok, but off the field is detestable. It’s really puzzling isn’t it?

    I said all of that to reiterate what Hannah said: you are not alone and you are not weird. You’re just brave enough to be honest. And using that lovely scene between John the disciple and Jesus to illustrate intimacy and the ridiculousness of this “no homo” phrase was brilliant. Love to you.

    • Thanks Au’Brie for your words of encouragement and affirmation! It really is kind of puzzling– I’ve observed those moments too and wondered if I would feel differently if I played more sports. I don’t know.. but that’s the joy of the journey– figuring this stuff out little by little. Love right back to you! :)

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