Thursday, 28 February 2013

Is the Catholic Church finally imploding?

Well! Well! Well! So Cardinal O’Brien, the most senior Roman Catholic in the UK, and one of our most outspoken and vituperative opponents, has resigned over allegations of “inappropriate” behaviour towards young priests under his tutelage. The allegations have yet to be corroborated, and are under investigation by the Vatican, though I have little confidence that we will ever get to the bottom of them. The Vatican, as we all know, is very good at cover ups. However the fact that Cardinal O’Brien has resigned and will no longer have a vote in the selection of the next Pope speaks volumes.

Coming so soon after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the first Pope to resign in over 600 years remember, what does all this mean for the Catholic Church? Well it certainly exposes the hypocrisy that exists within.

Responding to the news of O’Brien’s resignation, Stonewall’s Ben Summerskill said, “We trust there will now be a full investigation into the serious allegations made against Cardinal O’Brien. We hope his successor will show a little more Christian charity towards openly gay people than the Cardinal will himself.”  If the rest of the Catholic hierarchy is anything to go by, I’m not holding out much hope.

Cardinal O’Brien is not an isolated incident of course. For a while now, there have been allegations of a secret gay mafia within the Vatican, including Cardinals, participating in gay bars, saunas, chat rooms and using the services of male prostitutes. According to Peter Tatchell, “The Vatican is shamelessly championing homophobia and the denial of legal equality to gay people, while hosting a hotbed of secret, guilt-ridden clerical homosexuality.” Tatchell hopes that Cardinal O’Brien’s resignation will result in “the Catholic church turning over a new leaf by selecting a more caring, compassionate replacement who respects LGBT equality and human rights." I would like to think so too, but, call me cynical, somehow I doubt it. With an African Cardinal being touted as a possible new Pope, there’s more chance that the Vatican will close ranks, and, if anything, go back on the attack. The Church certainly doesn’t seem to be able to learn from its mistakes.

Bit by bit over the last few years, scandals have been emerging in various countries. There have been countless allegations of child abuse by priests, some covered up by Ratzinger himself, the victims silenced, whilst the real criminals, those paedophile priests were just moved on so they could carry on their crimes elsewhere.  In 2011, it was discovered that up to 300,000 Spanish babies were stolen from their parents and sold for adoption over a period of five decades. The children were trafficked by a secret network of doctors, nurses, priests and nuns in a widespread practice that began during General Franco’s dictatorship and continued until the early Nineties. The present Pope cannot personally be blamed for that of course, but it is just another example of the rotten core that exists within the heart of the Catholic Church. I rather hope that it means that the Church is gradually imploding and sinking into a cesspit of its own making. No doubt I am wrong and it will rise phoenix like from the ashes, but at the moment it’s a very nice thought.

Monday, 25 February 2013

They Fit

People come in all shapes and sizes, which is why we have different sizes of clothes. So do their extremities, their hands and feet for instance, which is why shoes and gloves also come in different sizes. Unsurprisingly, cocks also come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes (I should know, I’ve seen plenty in my time), so it is rather perplexing to find that condoms come in one basic size. Even those labelled large, king size or magnum are hardly any different from standard ones. Bras, so I’m told, come in a very wide range of sizes, so why not condoms? This is a question Joe Nelson had been asking himself for some time, and so passionate was he about the subject that he left his nine year banking job with Goldman Sachs to found his custom made condom business, called They Fit. As Joe says, “The more I thought about it, the more crazy it was that fit wasn't a consideration when it came to condoms. We wouldn't suffer badly fitting shoes, or clothes, because fitting well and comfort go hand in hand.” TheyFit condoms come in 95 different sizes!

You’ll probably be thinking that latex stretches, so why do we need to be so specific about size? Well, let me tell you it doesn’t stretch nearly enough, and the fact that condoms tend to come in one standard size can be just as much a problem for guys with small dicks as guys with big ones. In fact a clinical study made in 2010 came to the conclusion that standard condoms don’t fit 45% of men; and apparently many of the marketing terms used on packaging are somewhat misleading. Large, extra-large, magnums or whatever aren’t significantly larger, extra safe or thin aren’t significantly thicker or thinner.

Joe’s a pragmatic kind of a guy. He accepts that bareback sex feels much better, and he is fortunate enough to have a wife with whom he can enjoy that, but, given the risks of bareback sex for most of us not in a relationship, then surely  the best way to encourage people to use condoms is to make the experience as pleasurable as possible, and if you have a condom that actually fits your cock, then a) you’ll find it a lot easier to get on (and not slip off), and b) you’ll enjoy the sex much more. Doubly important when a recent report estimates that one in twelve gay men in London is now HIV positive. I would assume that, for those active on the gay scene, the figure will be much higher.

So it is that I was given the enviable task of test driving Joe’s custom made condoms. First of all I had to measure my erect member (length and circumference) and enter the details on their website (they give you a simple guide to do this). This delivers a code for the size that fits you. When you get the condoms, no sizes are marked on them, just the code for the size you ordered. All very discrete and simple.

The condoms arrived and at first, I only had an opportunity to wank into one. I must admit it fit very nicely, but the real test would be getting down to business with a willing partner.

At the weekend, I was fortunate enough to meet a sexy young guy out clubbing and we came back to my place for a night of fun. We made a very long session of it, and, not only did I get to try my new TheyFit condoms, but I also got to compare them with various regular condoms I had in my drawers.  Well, I have to say they performed most impressively. Not only did they roll on more easily, they actually felt much more comfortable than the normal condoms I used, and, miracle of miracles, fucking did feel better. One small point, the packs were somehow easier to get into. I don’t know about you, but once my hands get covered in lube, I have a devil of a job opening condom packets. Is there any wonder people just give up in frustration?

I would definitely give them a try. 

Just go to their website Try them. Honestly, you won’t be disappointed. In fact TheyFit  give you a money back guarantee. How’s that for confidence in your product?

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Tantric Massage for Lovers

It’s Valentine ’s Day, the festival of amour, and, for once, I’m going to exchange my mood of belligerence for one of lurve, whilst I expound the benefits of tantric massage and how it can be incorporated into your love making.

It seems to me that these days we do everything in a rush, and that includes sex. It’s on tap. Just open up that little app on your phone, and you can be fucking in minutes. Quick and easy. You can even organise a quickie for your lunch hour, and be back in your office with nobody any the wiser about what kind of sausage sandwich you had for your lunch.

Well tantra is something different.  Even if you are in a relationship, when was the last time you and your partner actually took time to make love, made an evening of it, an evening of exploring each other’s bodies? So, for Valentine ’s Day, why not try something different? Instead of going for a romantic, and usually rather expensive, dinner out somewhere, followed by a tipsy quickie when you get home before going to sleep, why not have a quick light meal, and spend the rest of the evening exploring and enjoying each other’s bodies?
Here are a few tips on tantric massage to help get you started. You can make an evening of it, take turns to massage each other. You can make it a prelude to sex or you can spend an entire evening massaging each other. Either way, you will achieve greater intimacy than you normally do. Admittedly it requires a little preparation, but I guarantee you it will be worth it. Now most of us don’t have a massage table, but I would suggest taking things off the bed, and even out of the bedroom if you can. Why not spread some cushions on the floor and cover them with a duvet, a large sheet and some towels. As you’re going to be doing some massage, then the floor will also offer a firmer surface. If you have a futon, then that would be even better. 

Atmosphere is very important, so candlelight is an absolute must, scented candles are even better, as are incense sticks (I particularly like Nitraj Original natural Masala incense available from Buddha on a Bicycle in Covent Garden). Music is also very important.  There are plenty of massage, new age and tantra albums out there, but I’ve put together my own playlist, which is a mixture of all sorts; selections from chill out albums like Buddha Bar and CafĂ© del Mar, classical pieces, and bits and pieces I’ve downloaded from various tantra albums. I put it on shuffle, so I never know quite what is coming next, but the music often dictates the speed of my massage strokes, and even the pressure. My playlist is on spotify and if you are a member, you too can subscribe to my list.

So we have now set up the room, we have created a warm, welcoming atmosphere, and it’s time to create the intimacy and the bond that will carry us through the next few hours. It’s best if you start in loose, easy to remove clothing. Stand facing your partner, take each other’s hands and close your eyes. Let the music wash over you and slow your breathing down, taking deep breaths deep down into your diaphragm. Then, eyes still closed start to explore each other’s bodies through your clothes. You will be amazed how sensuous this can feel. Don’t be afraid to touch each other’s intimate parts, but don’t concentrate on them either. Really feel all over each other’s bodies, and finish this section by holding each other closely for a few minutes, enjoying the intimacy and feeling of just being held. Then you can start to undress each other. Again, take your time. This can be unbelievably erotic. Caress each other’s bodies as you take off each item of clothing. Make love to each other’s bodies. Once naked, hold each other again, before lying down and starting on the massage proper.

One thing tantric massage emphatically is not is a rub down followed by a hand job. In fact Joseph Kramer, tantric massage guru, once stated, “The difference between Tao Erotic Massage and a hand job is the difference between banging on a piano and playing Mozart.” Now you are ready to start playing Mozart.
Choice of massage oils is personal. Good ones are almond oil and coconut oil, but you could equally use baby oil. It can bea good idea to warm it on a radiator before using it, and then pour it into your hands first before rubbing it into your partner’s body. I usually start with my client face down and start on the back, sweeping my hands down to the buttocks. Play with your partner’s body. Remember what feels good for you will no doubt feel good for him too. Try it now. Gently caress one of your arms with your free hand. Doesn’t it feel good? You have magic in your hands. Use it.

Don’t be in too much of a hurry to get to the naughty bits. Take your time to get to know each other’s bodies. This is where you get to find those erogenous zones you didn’t know you had before. Also remember that, once you do get to massage the more intimate areas, whether it be the prostate or the genitals, your aim is to make your partner feel good and prolong orgasm, not just to bring him off. Use lots of lube if massaging the prostate, and plenty of oil on the genitals. Don’t just jerk him off. Play with his cock, caress it, massage it. You’ll be surprised at his reactions. Ejaculation may or may not happen. It is not the be all and end all of a massage. In fact, it is possible to achieve a full body orgasm without actually ejaculating.

This is just a tiny snapshot of how you can incorporate something more sensual into your lovemaking, but if any of this has excited your curiosity, then take a look at

Most of all, have fun and Happy Valentine’s Day.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Gay Homophobia

The recent weeks have made me aware, not only of homophobia in the media, but also, amongst gay people themselves.

A few days ago I was having a conversation with an acquaintance in the sauna at the gym. Gay and a UKIP supporter, which to me, like gay Republican, is something of an oxymoron, I asked him if he had changed his views since the recent sacking of Olly Neville over his pro-gay marriage stance. Not only had he not changed his opinion of UKIP, but he actually agreed with the party on the issue. After a heated debate, in which I asked him why he didn’t believe in same sex marriage, all I really got from his incoherent arguments was a deep seated and internalised hatred of gay men (I didn’t manage to ask him about his views on lesbians, or trans people), and therefore, presumably, of himself.

For me the marriage debate is very simple. It is about equality. Either we are equal to straight people or we are not, and at the moment we are not, for until I feel I can walk down any street in any city in the world without fear, then we will not be equal, and, though we are luckier here in the UK than in many countries, there are still many parts of even London, where it would be considered foolhardy to be too obviously gay. There are those who will say  we are our own worst enemies, that if we go round in tight disco pants or dress up in drag, or even just act flamboyantly then it’s hardly surprising that straight people don’t like us. Their message to us is to play down our sexuality, try and blend in, and, most importantly, not to confess to having sex. For some reason gay men who have happy, successful sexual relationships are deemed scarier than those camp, unthreatening gay men, who have graced our TV screens since the days of Larry Grayson. My God, what has happened to us since Russell T Davies’s seminal Channel 4 series Queer As Folk burst onto the screens back in 1999? This was unapologetic, showing it just how it is, and the straight world lapped it up. Today the only positive depictions of gay people on TV are Graham Norton and Alan Carr. Is this because we have yet again become too scared of upsetting the straight world? But I’m digressing.

Now I may not want to dress up in drag myself, and my days of tight disco pants may be over, but I will wholeheartedly defend the right of every person, of whatever sexuality, to dress as they will and be who they are, without fear of recrimination. I do not think that to achieve equality we should be forced to adopt the mores and manners of middle Englanders, just as I wouldn’t expect them to step out of their safe little world if they don’t want to. But equality should be available to all, regardless of sexuality or gender, not just to those narrow minded souls who choose to live a safe little life in Surbiton.

A couple of years ago, Patrick Strudwick of GT wrote about prominent gay homophobes in the media; gay men who ally themselves with those who seek to discriminate against us; David Starkey, who defended the right of the Christian B&B owners to turn away a gay couple, Iain Dale, who disagrees with gay parenting, Andrew Pierce who agreed with the Pope when he stated Harriet Harman’s Equality Bill “violates the natural law” and Alan Duncan, who opposes equal marriage. The problem with these people, and so many more like them, is that, having been treated as second class citizens for most of their lives, they have come to believe that they are indeed second class citizens. Hardly surprising really, when you consider that, from the day we realise we are different, we start to have to deal with the tirade of negativity spewing out from the mouths of the enemies of equality, those poor benighted people, who believe that life is a husband, a wife, a small house in suburbia and 2.4 children, not that there is anything wrong with that of course. But it is not the only way.

Alan Downs, in his book The Velvet Rage, argues that “the inevitable by-product of growing up gay in a straight world continues to be the internalisation of shame”. This is a shame we live with from the day we are told that our feelings are wrong. I would like to believe that more enlightened parents now might consider the possibility that their child might turn out to be gay, but however enlightened they are, the expectation is still that that child will be straight.

We deal with it in different ways of course. Some will ally themselves with the straight world, distancing themselves from the more outrageous manifestations of gay life, and frowning upon it, as their straight friends do. Others embrace more readily the gay scene, which can initially seem a haven, where they can be accepted and loved for what they are, but where they often end up turning to drugs and alcohol, and meaningless sex. Whichever way we go, we are seeking validation, a validation that the straight world does not bestow on us.

Downs details three distinct stages of emotional well-being for gay men. First we are overwhelmed by shame, then we compensate for it and finally, if we are lucky, we cultivate authenticity. I myself tried to distance myself from other gay men when in Downs’s first stage. I lived a life as straight as I could. Most of my friends were straight. I had a couple of relationships, but still mixed mostly with my straight friends. I rarely went to gay venues. Although I was out to my friends, I was at pains to point out that I was not like the majority of gay men. In my own way I was seeking validation from my straight friends. If that wasn’t internalised homophobia, what was it? The likes of David Starkey still seem to me to be stuck at stage one. They may have come out, but they take no joy in it. It is still a burden for them to bear, the shame of being gay.

The next stage of my development saw me embracing the gay scene with enthusiasm, and it was very seductive. I had a pretty good body and I was new on the scene so I was getting more validation than I’d have ever thought possible. I started taking drugs, having more and more casual sex, often unsafe, and, I have to admit, for quite a few years I had a lot of fun. I don’t regret it, but eventually I realised it wasn’t real. I realised that seeking validation from outside sources eventually counts for nothing. The only true validation comes from within. My anti-gay marriage acquaintance at the gym pointed his finger at the scene, the gay ghetto as he called it, giving that as an example of why we are not deserving of equality. It’s the only scene he knows, and a scene he himself enjoyed once. I tried to point out that the only reason these “gay ghettos”, as he calls them, exist, is because society rejects us, but he was having none of it. As far as he was concerned, we are not worthy of equality.

As for myself, now older and wiser, I find myself entering Downs’s stage three, cultivating authenticity. I am no longer ashamed about who I am or what I am. Nor am I ashamed of my past. And I am becoming less and less tolerant of a world that seeks to discriminate against people merely for being different. In a civilised society we should embrace difference.

I am prepared to admit and indeed hope that growing up gay is becoming easier, and, talking to some of my younger friends, this does seem to be the case. But we still have to deal with negative media attention almost on a day to day basis, whether it be Jan Moir attributing Steven Gates’s death to his gay lifestyle or the Pope banging on about people manipulating their sexual orientation to manipulate God-given sexuality; and negativity has a habit of seeping into our sub-conscious. Is it any wonder we find homophobia within our own ranks? Equal marriage will not change that overnight, but it is another step in the right direction. I would love to see a world where we didn’t have to suffer the shame of who we are. Get rid of the shame and you will also get rid of the gay homophobes.