I Unleashed My Freak!
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Have you always felt like religion and sex are in conflict?
Oh yes. One time when I was living in L.A. and I was having sex with this guy and I’m lying there looking at the ceiling and over to the right filling up practically the entire ceiling, just like Woody Allen in “New York Stories” with his mother filling up the New York skyline, I’m seeing my mother’s face and she’s so upset and saying, “This is wrong! How can you be doing this?” Then I look over to the left and in a teeny tiny corner of the ceiling there is God going, “It’s OK. I don’t like this, but I understand. It’s OK.” I’m still confused about premarital sex, whether it’s right or wrong, but I know God understands and it’s OK.
You identified loneliness as a common theme among your subjects. How would you describe that loneliness? How did it manifest itself?
Well, to me, it kind of goes back to the Christianity thing and my own family. People have these secret desires that some of them really need to fulfill — for example, the cross-dresser in the book. He talked about how he really needed to cross-dress as a stress reliever — but he is terrified to tell his wife about this. It builds a wall between them, because he has this secret life that he’s hiding. Plus, I think he has some anger and resentment at her that he can’t tell her this. So that’s where the loneliness comes in, because to me the people desperately want the person they most love to know all of them and accept all of them.
You’re so judgmental of yourself when it comes to your own sexual feelings, but you’re pretty accepting of these people who are very much on the sexual fringe. Why are you able to afford that sort of sympathy for them and not for yourself?
I need more years of therapy to find that out [laughs]. I guess maybe I’m trying to do what I want people to do with me. Also, I want people to understand that not all of our Christians are like the ones you see shouting and screaming on TV.
You found that the male BDSMers that you spoke with had been abused by their fathers. But is that representative of the community at large?
I can’t answer that. I know it’s representative of the people I talked with. That’s why I went to psychiatrists and asked them, and like I say in the book, some of them said, “Yes, it’s true” and others said, “It’s definitely not.”
What were you most surprised by in terms of what you found in your interviews?
I wish I could think of something that’s really happy, but the thing that did just blow me away was the loneliness. I just did not expect that. And the other thing that shocked me so was the amount of happily married, madly in love, basically heterosexual men who fantasized about being with men. We’re all taught women have these bisexual fantasies and I did not find that among the women I interviewed, but I found it among the men — all the Texas, good ol’ boy, military men who wanted that.
How did they frame those fantasies?
Most of them wanted a woman directing it, to tell them, “You have to do this.” I loved [one subject's] explanation that the first time he got a blow job from a man it was so great because, one, the guy didn’t have any teeth [laughs], but two, men understand what a man wants. I found that fascinating.