09 Sep 2001
Learning from web diaries…and other matters
On my Diary Key page you will find links to three other web diaries. Each of them is there because it is well written, strikes me as honest, and gives me insight on a regular basis. To take two of them. "Lodestar" is a seventeen-year-old American who has just started college and is very articulate about his own journey of self-discovery, sex and intimacy. He is clearly intelligent and at times emotionally fragile; he has already had problems with depression, which I am sure he will ovecome. I read him with pleasure, not as a voyeur, but as a distant, empathetic witness. "Queer Scribbles" (or "Queerscribe") is an older gay man, though younger than I. He is far more sexually active than I have ever been, but his journal shows him as very self-aware and again strikes me as authentic. His insights are often valuable. If you check his archive you will see what could at first seem tacky, a page where he rates the people he has had sex/relationships with. (Not something I would do–anyway it would be a short page compared with his!) Nonetheless what he says is actually rather interesting and he does seem to me a person I would not mind knowing. I should add that I have told all three diarists that I have linked to them.
Queer Scribe raises the question then (or I imagine he could): OK, yesterday you had all that to say about degrees of intimacy. What about sex? What about just "getting your rocks off"? The short answer is that may or may not be part of a full intimate relationship/friendship. What is true is that sex is never the foundation of an intimate relationship. If a relationship is based on sex alone it will surely fail. Well–in my view that is. Recreational sex between two (or more?) people is necessary for some, it seems, and may happen with a degree of intimacy that never gets past Stage 1! There may be no harm in that if that is all either person wants…and so long as that basic considerations such as safety and mutual respect are in place. (Rape and any other form of exploitation are beyond the pale.)
Never confuse such recreational sex with intimacy, however. It would also appear that seeking relationship–true relationship–through sex could be a disappointing path to take.
You know something? I never knew real intimacy with another human being until I was past 40! A slow learner, me; but there are many paths, and mine has been mine: I know something now of happiness, and the friendship that in a way has inspired these ruminations is one that has brought and brings a large measure of that. I managed to survive all those years without real intimacy, just! It did leave its mark though, but also taught me a lot. Those younger people who have wasted less time than I did, don’t rush to find all your fulfilment in one place or with one person only. You need your experience to be enriched, not narrowed; and yet it is true that the higher levels of intimacy happen rarely and with only a few people. But it is not good for a young person to be tied down too much.
So much could be said: I rather like Stephanie Dowrick’s Intimacy and Solitude (1991; Random House pb 1997). And despite the fact that I am now utterly convinced (and this from a one-time Evangelical Christian) that all sacred texts are of human origin and one of the world’s most dangerous delusions is the belief in inerrant verbal revelations from the Divine, I still cherish First Corinthians 13 in the New Testament as a landmark statement about love.