From: (Arnold Zwicky)
Newsgroups: soc.motss
Subject: Re: No Shows
Date: 10 May 1996 15:33:28 -0400

in article <4mvssj$>,
jake coughlin  wrote:

 >In <4mr8lj$>,
 > (Timothy M Burlingame) writes:

  >>[to arnold:]
  >>	Wise choice. Nice to hear that I won't be left wondering, perhaps 
  >>even awash in details! You're doing a great service to those of us whose 
  >>only contact to the dating scene is vicarious. Not that I'm in an iron 
  >>closet; just committed (commitment--fear it! You'll never appreciate your 
  >>freedom until it's gone).

 >but... arnold IS in a committed relationship.

indeed.  and has written about it even in the context of his
negotiations with chris.

"commitment--fear it! You'll never appreciate your freedom until it's gone."
isn't this the line we expect from straight guys after they get married?
the old ball and chain, no more hangin' out with the guys, etc.  it's
always seemed to me that one of the truly positive things about being
gay is that you don't just take over these rigid role definitions from
straight life but have a chance to think through and negotiate relationships.
a great many lgb-folk have found that commitment (meaning that you expect
to be together for the rest of your lives, supporting and encouraging
one another) is compatible, for them, with a variety of other relationships,
including sexual ones.  commitment does not entail monogamy (though many
people require the two together, many do not), and it's quite common
in the gay world for people to have loving friendships, or no-strings
lovers, in addition to their primary commitment - probably even more
common for people to have brief, largely sexual, encounters outside
their primary commitment.

right now roger-from-wednesday and i are talking a lot about relationships.
a bit about ours, which is turning into a loving friendship.  but mostly
about his long-time expectations.  he'd thought he was a monogamous
sort of guy, waiting for mr. right to come along, and now that's clearly
the wrong picture, because i'm in it and we're scheduling time for
one another already into july.  he's still looking for mr. right -
and i'm happy to help, in any way i can - but he's thinking that the
two of them might have space in their lives for some sort of sexual
relationships with other men.  he needs to play with the ideas, talk
to people with some experience (that's something i certainly have in
this area).

meanwhile, i have a committed relationship with jacques.  insofar as
j is able to wrap his mind around these questions now, he and i have been
talking too.  we have always had one kind of open relationship, in
which other partners were perfectly acceptable when we were apart
(and we did not hide these) and brief encounters were ok even when
we were together.  now our own love-making is extremely constrained
by his physical decline, and he is well aware that i am seeking other
partners (and that, being the sort of person i am, new loving friends
are likely to appear).  in a bittersweet way, he is trying to be
encouraging to me, trying to let me know he wants what's good for me.
(last night we had visitors from out of town - two gay men of our
generation, one from soc.motss, who came by just to chat.  j was
exhausted and dangerously stupefied by the heat - he had a minor
aphasic episode around 11 p.m. - and so missed the guests.  this
morning he asked, in a perfectly ordinary way, if they'd come to
play with me, meaning sexual play.  he was surprised to hear that
it was a simple social visit!)  meanwhile, i'm trying to shield him
from too much knowledge of my other relationships, since i don't
want to be throwing reminders of his inadequacies in his face.  there's
no easy solution for either of us.  we try to behave lovingly to
one another, while at the same time avoiding sacrificing ourselves
for one another.

frank browning, in The Culture of Desire, talks about the "many
gay men who are able to blend sex with friendship, who occasionally
use sex as a form of bonding not unlike an intense game of
racquetball" and so "break the boundaries that usually separate
the categories of male relationship."  he goes on:

    "On balance I wonder whether by making sex ordinary, even
  recreational, we have learned to re-form it into a tool for
  building diverse forms of comradeship.  By stealing sex away
  from the restrictive laws of marriage, by acknowledging its
  myriad meanings, gay men may have shown how lust contributes
  to the bonds of friendship.  By devaluing the taboo of sex
  among friends, they may have begun to shine more light on
  the complex and various ways intimacy can be arranged in emerging
  gay families.  This is not to deny that lust without constraint
  can be abusive, callous, selfish, and ignoble; the point is
  that through the persistent exploration of love and lust
  and nurturing, gay people have helped open up the territory
  of family meanings."  (pp. 156-7)

arnold, who probably wouldn't have hedged quite as much
  as browning did

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