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The tapestry of male relations is to be celebrated — not shunned

As a Melburnian man who has sex with other men it still concerns me how much internalised ‘slut-shaming’ there is both among my cohorts in the rainbow community and the wider rabble.

Can’t we all just wake up, smell the scented lube, and realise in 2018 we’re free to fornicate without fear of reprimand or judgement?

We collectively smashed a reinforced glass ceiling late last year with the thumping victory marriage equality plebiscite victory, HIV rates are declining around the country (and the developed world) due in large part to PrEP, and we’re living in a golden age of GLBTI role-models on-screen and in public life. We should be so happy and united, but we’re still stuck in a proverbial rut when it comes to sexual liberation and shame.

A few short years ago the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (the brainchild of La Trobe University, bless them) tabled a report into the development of relationships between gay and bisexual men — it was so refreshing to have hard data on how we as a subculture navigate deeply diverse yet rich relationships.

Titled ‘Monopoly’ the aforementioned collation of our way of life shone a light on the popularity of polyamorous trysts. It was fantastic to see firm peer-reviewed research underpin some truths about the MSM community, 81.7% of those involved in the study didn’t adhere to archetypal monogamy and that statistic alone galvanized my long-held belief that we can revel in our conquests and pursuits with our heads held high and our hearts bigger with pride.

We create our own standards to adhere to, one less constrained and far less heteronormative than generations past, it’s our birthright to venture into the wilds of love, sex and relationships with an open-mind. We’ve earnt the right to leave the burden of guilt and shame marooned in the past.

We’re free to fly.

As an occasional user of the infamous app known as ‘Grindr’ (more than occasional on weekends) open relationships are a dime a dozen and does that not open up the possibilities to connect to even more men? A deeper wading pool of prospective partners is beneficial for all of us, yet I believe the fear of the unknown prevents some men from wrapping their heads around the idea that couples don’t have to be marred in monogamy to be in love — and that holds us all back from becoming the best community we can possibly be.

Love is love, love is blind, love is perplexing and confounding and compelling and sometimes exhausting but always worth it. Its mystery is alluring and I think all of us seek it at some conscious or unconscious level.

Each one of us plays a part in paving the way for the empowering future we all yearn for. I’ll be at the coalface so to speak, continuing to indulge in the experiential sequence of man meets man/s, bonding and sharing oneself with the men I adore, hoping to embolden our community via the language of love and lust — one bedfellow at a time.

Robert Edward Smith is a Melbourne-based freelance writer and Healthcare worker.