ON LOVE: Perspectives from The Haven

story and photos courtesy of The Haven

In today’s world where I am working with Prevention and Wellness, the LGBT community (and those who are perceived as heterosexual) are really changing the game of sex and love.

Individuals 25 years of age and younger are not using labels such as gay, straight, bi, queer, etc. Sex is not just two (or more) individuals being physical and having anal, oral, and vaginal intercourse. It’s way beyond just that in 2022.

The new generation coming up in the world is not labeling themselves at all and no longer accepts what society has deemed hetero or gay or normal. One of my younger relatives said to their parents, “I am going to love who loves me back… Period!” Meaning, upcoming youth and young adults of all races, creeds, cultures, and genders are not going to live by or conform to past doctrine and persuasion of sex, love, dating, or physical intimacy.

After COVID-19, people are saying and showing behaviors that they want MORE than just hook-ups, one-time social dating flings, and let’s get high and have sex. I witness, as a gatekeeper and a community outreach worker, people saying they would like to experience someone special and to feel like they are important and really wanted by the other individual. Regardless of gender! Oftentimes I now even hear the mature over 60 generation speaking in the same language.

“Connect to my mind, dreams, goals, my good and bad side, and my soul.” This is what I am hearing more and more in my social settings, online and in apps.

Lastly, male-identified individuals are really wanting more intimate moments than just sex but are made to feel bad for even asking or thinking about feeling special by someone. At least 15 self-identified males I have spoken to stated that they were taught to NOT ASK FOR intimacy or LOVE from anyone of any gender because society deems it as weak and effeminate. This discussion is a two day session of talking and destroying myths that have been passed on through generations of probably some really hurt men.

Can you imagine holding onto a simple human request of Wanting Unconditional Love from another human being for years, even decades? Much work to be done and love to be shared.

Anthony Hardaway

“Connect to my mind, dreams, goals, my good and bad side, and my soul.” As I read this statement from Anthony, I resonate with this deep desire for intimacy that extends beyond physical touch. Physical touch is one of my love languages, and I don’t just mean in a sexual way. Gently rubbing my back. Holding my hand. A warm embrace. These physical forms of love connect me to an individual (in this case, my partner) and fill a space within me in ways that words cannot occupy.

My desire for physical touch, however, is paired with my desire for an emotional and intellectual connection. My brain must be stimulated. Period. For me to have a long-term relationship, my physical attraction to someone has to be sustained through conversations, vulnerability, dreams, and drive.

Anthony touches on the stigma surrounding men who ask for intimacy. In my prior relationships before I met my partner, I exclusively wanted sex… at least I thought I did. What started as me exploring my “fresh- out-the-closet” self later turned into a toxic mindset in which I used my body to fulfill my initial desires, but then the emotional pull I wanted in men would only be pushed away. I was left to think that I was not desirable, and I beat myself up for putting my desires in the half-opened hands of men.

Many people can have casual hook ups and still be fine after, but I soon realized I was not one of those people. Both experiences are valid. Even though I enjoyed my sexscapades while they lasted, I learned to realize that emotional and intellectual involvement are what stimulate me in all aspects. Intimacy is defined by the individual, and for me, it is all-encompassing. If you are going to love me, you must love me wholly: mind, body, AND soul.

Tevin Mathew