Thank you so much for sharing your experience here. I apologize if this is about a hundred times more response than you wanted… but here goes!

I live in an unusually progressive (read, “non-conservative”) city. Being gay here is about as close to a non-issue as anywhere I’ve ever lived, and I love it, but it’s important to remember that the rest of the country is not like this. Gay people have a hard, hard time just being honest with themselves, much less anyone else, about who they really are. Life becomes very heavy with the effort of hiding details large and small in virtually every situation. We who live on the islands of tolerance in the blue archipelago are the minority. We should not forget that our courage to live honestly affects others in harder places.

I encourage you to honor the truth in your life, just as you honor that you are gay, regardless of what you have done or not done. You accept and honor your own truth, which is more than most gay men in your situation.

But also honor your past and your conditioning, not its repressive nature, but the fact that you grew up in it. It is part of you, and you can’t ever shake it, only draw upon it as we all draw upon our experiences to make the best now we can create.

In other words, you get to have a hard time finding sexual relationships, and you get to figure out that part of life anyway. Let’s face it: A gay kid who grows up with parents who are truly happy with him being gay, and are mostly concerned about him just being healthy, safe, well-educated and connected with supportive communities, is going to have a much easier time finding his way through the world of interpersonal relationships than another gay kid whose parents would threaten him with death and damnation, ostracism and isolation if he merely admits he ever so much as thinks about “those things” much less claim to be gay.

We all have a puzzle to work out in life. That is life: We navigate our own challenges on the way to what we hope will be a satisfying, reasonably happy life. Your puzzle includes religious and cultural abuse regarding your one of your most fundamental impulses.

Meeting people, learning about dating, negotiating relationships and learning how to have sex (first bad sex and then better sex and hopefully really great sex) is tricky for everyone, and sex with the self is an important part of getting there. For a lot of men, a JO club is an excellent way of first experiencing sex with other men. It is direct, simple, controlled and friendly.

But make no mistake: jacking off with other guys is, literally, having sex with other men. If you have never touched another man’s hard penis for the purpose of pleasure, and visa versa, you’re practicing a purely solosexual existence. When you take the step to attending a JO club, and if you can muster the will to allow others to touch you, and allow yourself to touch others, you will have taken an important step. You will have broken through that first barrier.

And it will almost certainly not be easy getting to that point. You should just accept that. Your first sexual encounter with another man will be a big moment for you, so it’s 100% normal to be very nervous and very excited.

However it turns out—and you may feel really awkward and shy and you may not get off at all the first time—You should know that every man in the room has been there at that moment, or is even there at the same moment as you. First times are some of the best memories we have. I want you to know that I want you to be happy, to experience the same wonder I and countless others have experienced, and that we support you in being happy, because we recognize ourselves in you, even with all of our differences.

So please do get yourself to that moment. That is your job now: To bring yourself to the opportunity to experience for yourself what you have desired and denied for so long. It can be great or it can be tough but it makes possible every next experience in your life. That may not be in a JO club, but this is certainly one of your options.

Please let me know if there is any support you may need. Just click the “Contact” link on the top left column on this page and let me know if there’s anything I can tell you, other than the time, date and location of the next events.

And thanks again for sharing. I look forward to meeting you.

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