To borrow a line from rap duo Salt-n-Pepa, let’s talk about sex.
Gay, lesbian, bi, transgender, straight — all kinds of sex and relationships between consenting adults. And who better to have the discussion with than certified sex therapist Dr. Winston Wilde and marriage and family therapist intern Nina Ruedas?
In addition to working at the practice Wilde founded, the Desert Center for Sexuality Awareness in Rancho Mirage (desertsexcenter.com), they’re both curious, open-minded, sexual people informed by various experiences and interests.
Wilde is a licensed psychotherapist, marriage and family therapist, and the author of “Legacies of Love: A Heritage of Queer Bonding.” He’s had two long-term life partnerships, one of which was with National Book Award winning-author Paul Monette. Fans of gay literature may know Monette’s autobiographical books: “Becoming A Man” and “Borrowed Time,” among them. Monette died in 1995 of complications from AIDS.
Single and dating, Wilde self-identifies as kinky. And yes, I had to ask. Kink refers to “people who are into conscious power play during their sex,” Wilde says. “They really like the roles of dominance and submission.”
Ruedas, who has a master of science degree in counseling, is working under Wilde’s supervision to earn 3,000 hours to become a licensed marriage and family therapist in California. Also single, she describes her sexual orientation as “fluid” and “currently exploring the leather lifestyle.”
Starting with the September issue of Desert Outlook (out Thursday, Sept. 5), Wilde and Ruedas are writing a monthly column exploring relationship and sexual issues. Expect it to be relevant, responsible, fun and informative. And both are eager to answer questions from readers.
“There’s not enough education about sex,” Ruedas says. “ I’m hoping to provide some new perspective on sex and relationships, to provide education, and to be able to start some new conversations.”
So let’s get started. Here are a few thoughts Wilde and Ruedas recently shared with me when I delved into the current state of human sexuality and relationships:
What’s the biggest misconception about sex in American culture?
Winston Wilde: The one I’m seeing a lot these days is straight women thinking that men are supposed to be like women: not interested in porn, flirting with someone else equals cheating, a need to always have intimacy in sex.
Nina Ruedas: Another common misconception is that good sex equals having an orgasm.
Wilde: A common misconception that lots of gay men think is that they’re supposed to be monogamous. They can be whatever they want to be. Marriage has nothing to do with sex. It’s a business contract between two people. Marriage is about constructing a relationship of durability and a soulful bond. Americans have a really limited perception of what marriage is.
There is a lot of visual sexual stimulation in our culture. What role does it play in our collective sexual health?
Ruedas: Our culture has taken standards of beauty to a certain extreme, which unfortunately creates eating disorders and body dysmorphia.
Wilde: I think there’s not enough sex education. You can have a lot of stimuli, but if you don’t have the language to process it, then a scenario of misunderstanding is created.
There seem to be a lot of gay men seeking but not finding a mate. What’s the most important thing they can do to find one?
Ruedas: Put aside expectations, negative expectations like “It’s not going to be available, so I should give up now.”
Wilde: I just think it’s hard whether you’re gay or straight. Some people are really lucky and love just falls into their lap, while others struggle and struggle. Half of the people in the world don’t even look for love because they’re in arranged marriages. It’s important to not have too much magical thinking about a boyfriend, and to allow the messy complexities of reality to exist.
Ruedas: Relationships take work. Sometimes people don’t have the energy for the work.
What do you wish LGBT people would pay more attention to in their relationships?
Wilde: To be able to tolerate the difficult parts. Every human goes through episodes of being out of balance. So do all relationships. You have to be able to navigate those scary nights in the forest.
What’s the first thing we should ask ourselves or do after a relationship ends, in order to learn and grow from it?
Ruedas: What don’t I want to repeat again?
Wilde: Becoming more conscious of your boundaries — what you will put up with, what you won’t put up with. When couples split up, I say “Congratulations.” It’s difficult to end a long relationship, especially if there’s a lot of good in them. It takes a lot of courage.
GOT A QUESTION?
If you have a question about improving your relationship or sex life, send it to Dr. Wilde and Nina Ruedas at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll continue the discussion on both topics on this blog and each month in Desert Outlook magazine.