Some of you may not be comfortable such activities, though. I certainly felt a little out of my comfort zone the first time around – luckily that concern faded away quickly. But it made me wonder about why this even happened. It’s not like I have not had similar interactions with lovers before that first workshop, nor was having other men around while doing this completely new territory either. Why did I feel uncomfortable, then?
Was it shame? I never considered being ashamed of my involvement in any sexual activities: those had been part of my life for many years and never really bothered me. Of course, having sex with someone is one thing, going through a workshop that involves more than just reaching a point of no return and then saying goodbye is something very different. Also, there are other men doing the same thing, looking around for inspiration when they run out of ideas.
If you are the recipient in an exercise, it’s easier to forget about what is going on around you – unless someone is extremely vocal about their experience – but being the giver usually requires a certain level of creativity within the structure that has been set out by the teacher. Oftentimes, you may have trouble following the path without running out of ideas. And then you start looking around for inspiration. As a giver, you are usually aware that others look around, believe me!
This said, I don’t believe that I really felt shame as such during such workshops, most certainly not with regards to what I was doing. However, I would agree that there are different levels of shame with names like “feeling shy”, “low self-esteem”, “body-awareness” and similar. I believe that for gay men, those might play a bigger role here than original “shame”. Speaking for myself, I don’t believe for a moment that my physical body is anything particularly special. I may have put on a little weight, and I never really felt very proud of my body. If anything, there may be a level of “guilt” for not looking after it better than I do. But shame? Not so much.
Also, I strongly feel that there is a clear distinction between being ashamed and being shy. Shyness usually shows up when you consider taking the first step to engage with another person, while shame might make an appearance at crucial times during the sexual encounter, maybe because you are not bendy enough, or your body feels out of shape. Even after many years of thinking about this, I find it very difficult to distinguish between shame and shyness, though.
My thoughts often go round in circles when it comes to this particular subject and I usually end up thinking to myself: just get over it and get with the program. For me, that is a way forward, and maybe that could be yours as well. I believe that much of what we perceive as shame at first, is really something totally different, and it’s up to you to find out what it is for you.
Is it lack of self-esteem? Or are you too shy to ask for what you want? It helps to find out what exactly holds you back and deal with it specifically, rather than staying in a sense of vague shame that inhibits you when you should be opening yourself up to new opportunities.
These are my own thoughts on aspects of my work I feel strongly about.