Unswung

Friday, February 16, 2007

Question

I belong to a small group of couples who meet to swap partners. We are a friendly, close-knit crowd and also go out to movies together, baby-sit each other's kids, play golf, take yoga classes together, etc. One of our members has a large home with a hot tub. He and his wife have no children at home. We usually meet there.

Last week, one couple asked to bring a friend with them. This is permitted as long as they know the person well enough to vouch for them, and they stick around to make sure they know the etiquette and get introduced to others. We've got a combination of members who like to pair up and go off to a private bedroom together, or those who like to stay in the basement room and get sexy in front of each other. When I heard a new person was coming to the party, I assumed it was because that couple wanted to do a three-way. We've had two guys with one woman, two women with one man, before, and I was looking forward to seeing what would develop because this is a big fantasy of mine.

But what happened shook everybody up and kind of ruined the party. The couple arrived with a male friend who was very attractive. The two men stripped down and started doing the wife. She was sucking on her husband's cock while he watched his friend fuck her. But then the two of them started becoming affectionate with each other, kissing each other while they also had sex with her. The threesome continued but it featured a lot of boy-on-boy action, which the wife seemed happy to see.

Well, this has thrown our group into a tizzy. An unwritten rule in our club is no gay sex. There's a lot of girl-on-girl experimentation but none of the men are bisexual. Some of the couples want to throw the husband and wife who did this out of our group. Their feelings are hurt and they say that no one ever told them there was a rule. They feel that it was sex between consenting adults, so why does it matter? But we apparently have some husbands and boyfriends who lost their erections and don't want to come back if there will be more all-male sex. They also say they no longer trust the husband to have sex with their partners because he may have AIDS. No women have complained. I personally found the threesome to be very arousing and even beautiful to watch.

My husband and I started this group, and we are its unofficial leaders. Everyone seems to expect us to pronounce a verdict. Do you have any guidance for us?

Answer

Nothing is more entertaining than a group of pervs who are righteously indignant in condemning somebody else's pervery. I don't mean to single swingers out. I've seen it in every conceivable sexually-based community or group. Some lesbians hate gay men for being promiscuous, gay men can dislike women for having cunts and getting all the cute straight boys, vanilla het men may think S/M is awful, some S/M people disapprove of monogamy.

If there's one basic idea I've tried to promote my whole life, it's that all of us have to stop educating ourselves about sexual politics only as much as we need to liberate our own desires. We need to reach beyond that and become comfortable with the entire spectrum of human sexuality. Until there are a significant number of activists who achieve this, we won't see significant change in our society's repression of pleasure-seeking behavior between consenting adults.

Your group has hit a watershed. It will never be the same after this, even if the couple who brought a bisexual male guest is banished. This controversy will create hard feelings that will be difficult to erase no matter what decision is made. Don't feel too bad about this. Few associations last forever. Like individuals, groups are offered challenges and chances to learn or grow. Maybe your club will emerge from this snafu in better shape than ever.

Since you asked me for guidance, I'll tell you what I believe the ideal response would be. But I can't guarantee that will be palatable for your more homophobic male members, so I'll offer some alternatives or compromises as well.

If woman-to-woman sex is okay at your parties, man-to-man sex should be okay as well. If the straight men at your party can accept "lesbian" sex, in part because it is arousing for them to watch or think about, then the straight women members should be allowed to voyeurize "gay male" sex. (I've used quotes because these same-sex activities are being performed by people who may not be lesbian or gay.) Mentioning AIDS is a red herring. The issue of sexually transmitted diseases has to be handled by all sexually active people. If your group doesn't have a policy about testing for STDs, it should. This might be a good time to talk about whether people expect erotic experimentation to be confined to this group only, or whether there's sex with other partners unknown to the group. Do ask people to use condoms or other barriers when playing together? Is there some illusion that straight people don't get AIDS?

The safest policy is to require everyone, even people married to each other, to use barriers at the party. That way, nobody has to go home and feel anxious the next day about HIV or any of the other miserable things that can leap from one person's genitalia to another's. Everybody should get a complete set of tests for STDs done every six months to a year—more often if they are having sex with several partners in addition to the group. I know everyone will say barriers aren't needed because they are healthy, and many of them will be right. The problem is those one or two stinkers who are lying. Let's face it, people will lie, even to their closest loved ones, about sexual behavior if they know they are going to be in trouble for doing it. Sometimes they'll lie about it just because they are ashamed of what they did, even if nobody else will condemn them.

A surprisingly large number of men who publicly identify as straight nevertheless have sex with other men. This is a population of stressed-out individuals who often do not protect their health. Virtually every straight woman who has AIDS got it from a male partner who was having sex with other men. Sharing needles is another potential source of exposure to HIV. Let's not have anyone in your lovely, close, friendly group tell one of those tragic stories.

If the group wants to decide not to allow man-to-man sex, that decision should probably be made after a group discussion and a vote. If you and your husband reserve the power to make the final decision, you can consider the vote a referendum that you'll take into consideration. I'm not sure how the power structure works in your association. But the triad that's already taken place shouldn't be punished. The ban on man-to-man sex, if any, was only tacit, and was only assumed to exist by some members.

As a compromise, would it be okay to permit boy-on-boy action in private? In other words, two people or more who wanted to do this could adjourn to a bedroom rather than staying in the exhibitionist/voyeur –friendly basement. If any of the straight guys are worried about another man coming on to them, you could even have a policy that certain people declare themselves off limits for gay sex. I'm sure this already happens during negotiation. Your group knows who likes oral sex, who doesn't like to do it or receive it, who is open to a three-way, who would rather just watch, women who do or don't like to have sex when they are menstruating, etc.

I sincerely hope that this won't rip your group apart. You've got such a nice thing going. How many friends are lucky enough to share so many positive activities with each other? This is more like a family than a sex club. I think the golf, yoga, and other things you all share must help to make the sex even better because you get to know and trust one another. I just wish the new guy was given the same chance as anybody else to become one of the family. He might be an asset.