Please note that this conversation includes explicit talk about various aspects of sexual behavior.
I experienced this conversation about SEX as extraordinary! My guests, Mike Iamele, Jon Carl Lewis, and Tony Scott each shared such wonderful and diverse perspectives. This was truly a collaborative exploration.
If you are weary of "locker room talk", but find genuine and open conversations around sex to be very challenging, I invite you to listen.
A few areas we unpacked...
Coach Maddox 0:03
Hello and welcome to the August edition or episode of Fireside Chat with Maddox. My guest today are Mike Iamele, Jon Carl Lewis, and Tony Scott. So I'm gonna let them introduce themselves to you. Mike, why don't you go first?
Mike Iamele 0:21
Sure! Well, thank you, Maddox. I'm happy to be here. I'm Mike Iamele. And I'm really excited about this conversation because I'm continually fascinated by exploring, you know, kind of the sensitivities what, what makes us alive? What makes us sexual beings, especially, you know, as queer men. Why are we turned on by certain things, what makes us feel pleasured? What drives us to certain things so that we can have the best and most meaningful sex possible?
Coach Maddox 0:48
Beautiful Tony, you're up.
Tony Scott 0:51
Hello, everyone. I'm Tony Scott, and I'm the founder of Grace for Gays. So I've created a movement that's taking a new approach and expanding the conversation between the church and the gay and lesbian community. I'm here because I know there's a lot of trauma that some people have, particularly those who have religious backgrounds or faith backgrounds, when it comes to sex. And I'm just curious about talking about you know, how to overcome some of the shame and even kind of get beyond like some of the condemnations that many people have been subjected to and, and that's pretty much what grace for gays is about. It's about creating, you know, liberation.
Coach Maddox 1:30
Beautiful. Thank you, Tony, Jon Carl, you're up.
Jon Carl Lewis 1:34
Hello, I'm Jon Carl. I am a spiritual director, and I'm working on a book which is going to try to open a conversation around helping men who are queer. Develop a personal sexual ethic that will guide them in making the choices that will lead to a more fulfilling and joyful life and enhance their spirituality. Instead of conflicting with our spirituality. That's all I've got
Coach Maddox 2:11
a beautiful, thank you, Jon, Carl. So the reason I pulled you guys together and wanted to do this episode is centered around sex is I just think, you know, in our society, we're, we're kind of we got all kinds of hangups when it comes to sex. You know, we're all doing it behind the scenes, but we are scared, we'll do it. But we're scared shitless to talk about it, which seems a little weird to me. And I know, in my own life, I have noticed that anytime I've ever been in a social setting around other GBT Q men, the only references to sex generally are always locker room talk, you know, it's the, it's the guy with the big dick that, you know, I picked up last Saturday night. And we don't, we don't venture beyond that very, very rarely. I can't even really remember a time when a conversation got down to something that was real. It was more about the locker room talk and I'm all about you know, having the, the taboo conversations, I want to go where where we don't tend to go. And so we're going to touch on all of it during this episode. And I think that for me, I think a lot about in my experience, you know, of course, we don't talk about it much in social settings, but even when I'm engaged in a sexual act, whether it be with a partner, or you know, a one night stand back in the we call them hookups now, I know I'm old school, the one nightstand in my younger days. It was really, really hard to get anybody to engage in even telling you what they were into what they liked what they wanted. It was almost impossible. And so anytime I was having sex, I felt like I was flying blind. You know, it was, it was like being in a in a stealth jet with no radar. And it was not a comfortable place to be. And so I'm wondering why it is that that is why don't we openly talk about sex. What's the holdup? And why don't we share more? I mean, I know we negotiate his top and his bottom because that's kind of that's a given you got to do that. But beyond that we don't negotiate very much, or certainly in my experience. So that's something that I'm interested in knowing and then I'm also really interested in what each of you have brought to the table. So who would like to cash in on what what I've just thrown out on the tabled. Mic.
Mike Iamele 5:04
Yeah, I'm happy to jump in here. So, you know, I, in addition to my own personal experiences, have the privilege of getting to work with lots and lots of queer men and see having some of these conversations. And it's always interesting to me because you wouldn't you'd be shocked how often this comes up or maybe not shocked. People always say to me, Well, I don't have any weird fetishes just to let you know. Oh, okay. Okay, that's great. You don't have any weird fetishes. So he's that phrasing to other weird fetishes. And we start talking. And of course, they have desires, every single human has desires, we have all types of desires. But I think there's so much shame around these things of like, oh, that's a weird fetish. I can't talk about that. And so what I find a lot of Is There a lot of memes, though, jokes, they're very hyperbolic, we can make these hyperbolic jokes of the biggest or whatever. But when it comes to actual conversation, we get really shy, because there's a lot of shame about it, we might feel that most of the time, when we are talking about a sexually explicit topic, we might be afraid that we're going to be sexualized, there are very few places where queer men can talk about the things that they enjoy what they like, outside of a sexual setting or a hookup. And so there aren't those spaces to be like, is this normal? Is this okay? And when you're in the hookup, it might feel like a lot of pressure, like, oh, my gosh, I have to talk about this. Like, I'm supposed to be able to take it, I can't say that I have pain here. I can't say, you know, I enjoy this. And that comes up quite a bit where I realize the only people who understand what you're going through are the very people you're most afraid to have the conversation with. And so I'm always interested in how do we break down those barriers and create places? Where are they're not sexualizing, but where we can have sexually explicit conversations.
Coach Maddox 6:50
I love it. I'm with you. 100%. Who's next? Who wants to speak?
Tony Scott 6:57
Well, I think you raised some valid points, because you're right, there doesn't, we have a safe space for everything, but there doesn't seem to be a safe space. You know, when it comes to talking about sex, even particularly with a sexual partner. And, you know, maybe there were ways that we could find to make it comfortable to have those those conversations. That's why I really love the work that you're doing, Mike, that you're kind of, you're empowering, you know, man to, you know, not be ashamed and have those conversations, but, but yeah, it's just comes down to empowerment, I think, and finding ways to help men feel empowered, but at the same time, you know, you know, take on some of the shame that comes with it, because I don't know what it is just the stigma, you know, especially for somebody like me, from a faith perspective, it's like, it's like a, it's just one of those things that you don't talk about, you know, and, you know, some of us were raised, you could talk about anything, but don't talk about sex.
Coach Maddox 7:55
So you're exactly right. You're exactly right. John, Carl, what about you?
Jon Carl Lewis 8:02
Well, um, I find the whole conversation about talking about sex very interesting, because I've, I've spent the past few years with my head, in books all about sex. And when I pull my head out and try to talk with people about sex, there seems to be this pale look that comes over their face, and they get very quiet. And I wish I knew how to invite people deeper into that conversation. However, I will say that I have been in circles. Since we've been shut up and COVID The internet has provided lots of opportunities to gather with men from all over the country who have this hunger to talk about sex. Not every gay man is going to be interested in being conscious about their sexuality as as their spirituality, but there are groups out there that are led by coaches, spiritual directors, therapists, where people are willing to have those conversations. And you know, when I'm in Atlanta, I'm in New Jersey and someone else is in California and someone else is in Toronto. It's not like we're trying to hook up with each other afterwards. It's a really safe space. So I think the internet provides a space where we can explore these topics.
Coach Maddox 9:37
I think so too. There's this safety of distance. You know, when you're on zoom that kind of takes the over sexualized aspect of it out perhaps. Mike
Mike Iamele 9:51
you know, you said something, John, Carl, they want non potable, you said two things. One, you talked about the internet and two you talked about conscious sexuality and conscious spiritual All righty. And one way I love to just start the conversation is meet people where they're at, you know, many people are watching porn, or they're scrolling Instagram, looking at their straps. Awesome. That is great. First of all, I want to remove shame around that, because that's cool. Any desire you have is amazing. And my question I always have people ask is just why why does that turn me on? Like, oh, I always go back to this type of porn, or I really like this particular photo, why? And it's okay, if our vocabulary is limited to start, we can say it looks dominant, it looks submissive, it looks vulnerable. It looks powerful. That's okay to start with. But then we can get a little bit more curious about hmm, when I had the best sex of my life, it also felt kind of like this, what language am I going to give that? And that for me starts to give us a vocabulary of our own subjectivity, our own, you know, I use the word sensitivity, but our own relationship to the world. And so I always say, start where we're at, if we're all already on porn, or on apps, or where, you know, looking at Instagram and seeing thirst traps. That's amazing. Think of the best sex you just had on Grindr? What was it? What felt good about it? Because that can translate into what you like in the bedroom?
Coach Maddox 11:08
Mm hmm. Do you find in your conversations, Mike, that men will be very drawn to something in porn that they would never do in real life?
Mike Iamele 11:24
Yeah, so yes, and I want to talk about the difference between a strategy and what I call a sensitivity. Because a lot of times, let's say this is sensitivity to feel, I don't know, vulnerable. And maybe in porn, this like a gang bang, where you are getting it from all sides, the person looks super vulnerable. You may not actually want that in real life, but you like what it represents. So that's why I always say the people go to the why, because it's okay, if that strategy is just fun and fantasy, and not at all what you want. In reality, that's okay. Although it may be. But when I get down to that deeper, why what happens is like, let's pretend one of my sensitivities was held. And one way I conceptualize that as being tied up. And so I say to my husband, Garrett, and his name is Garrett, I would love to be tied up. And he says to me, I'm not comfortable with that, that happens, right? And we're all afraid of that none of us want to be rejected. But what I find makes it easier is if I can say, Garrett, I want to be tied up because I really liked being held. And I want to explore being held in new way. Because now he has the opportunity to say I'm not comfortable tying you up. But here's some ways to make you feel held I am comfortable with. And it's that same thing with, you know, maybe the fantasy is you want to be gang banged. But in reality, it's a little bit scary. You don't want that. But what was the gang thing getting you to feel? See what that is. And that gives you a real opportunity to negotiate with your partner. We never negotiate on the level of sensitivity or what we want to feel, but we always negotiate on the level of strategy they get there.
Coach Maddox 13:02
Wow, that's fascinating. That's golden. Yeah, it's like the part that he does, you kind of in some ways, read my mind. It's kind of eerie.
Jon Carl Lewis 13:16
One of the things I like about Mike's work is the intimate one on one aspects of it. Talking in a group of men, about sexuality is is difficult to keep from descending into locker room talk. But it's almost like when we have religious trauma, when we've got sensitivities, we're not expressing, you may need a guide that need not be a therapist, it need not be a coach, but you need someone who you can feel safe with. preferably someone professional who can guide you through this. I had a couple of great conversations with a sex therapist. And he took me places I didn't know I wanted to go. But that's his job. And there are professionals out there who can help us as individuals with these conversations. When we can't just sort of pop up at a dinner party and start talking about you know, where are we gonna be wrong like to be vulnerable tonight.
Coach Maddox 14:37
I tend to pop up sometimes and make everybody at the table uncomfortable. I was at a dinner table with two men recently. One of them gay, one of them straight, but the straight man is very, very secure in his sexuality. And yet, I started talking about sex. Next, and it may not locker room talk, but just sex. And it made both of them quite uncomfortable. In fact, they both kind of pushed back a little bit. And I said, you know, this is, this is where I want to go, this is where I want to go. This is what the podcasts that I pushed back, they push back, and then I pushed back. And they finally softened a little bit. And we did go there to some degree, but I could tell that it was challenging both of them. You know, I grew up in a household where we were never taught that sex was bad or wrong, or nasty or naughty, we weren't given those messages. I watched my mom and dad openly have affection for each other. And then there was a point, you know, when I got older, I mean, I was probably around the time I reached, you know, adulthood, where there was some open conversation about it or playfulness about it. And so the messages were never now the outside of the home messages were a different story. But the messages in the home were sexes a healthy, normal, natural thing that everybody does. It's something that you're, you need to respect. But there was no, I really didn't get the shame thing. Now I, you know, I experienced some shame about being gay and going through all that, but wasn't about sex. Like,
Mike Iamele 16:42
I love that. We're bringing in this conversation about shame. So thank you, Maddox. Because I think, you know, one of the key pieces we're talking about here is shame that's holding us back from these deep meaningful conversations, and deep exploration. And, you know, one of my favorite things, is to actually eroticized shame, and let Chang be part of the conversation around sexuality. You know, I often will have clients or people when they're not yet ready to vocalize with a partner about sexuality to write erotic vignettes about things they want, and actually read them aloud while masturbating. And it can be so powerful to put these little interjections in, of reaction. So as you're reading, like, holy shit, I can't believe I said, I like that, or I can't believe I want that, like, oh my god, what if this person knew or like, I must be sick, like, it's okay to throw those things in, and then be turned on by that, and let that be part of your conversation. Because what we're doing is if we do that, through the point of orgasm, we are allowing our bodies to have a new relationship with this material, and we're allowing ourselves to say it's okay, and it's even okay to be turned on by the shame. And when and if we get a vocabulary where we feel comfortable, it's okay to bring that in with a partner, where let's say we're having sex with a partner. And they say, imagine if this person walked in and saw you right now, how would you feel, and you get to play with it, as long as you feel safe with that person, the comfort of that, but I think, for me, it's changing our relationship with shame around sexuality, and recognizing that it may be there, you know, we live in this homophobic you know, transphobic, sexist, racist, whatever society, there's so much shame dripping everywhere. And we've internalized it, whether we realize it or not. And so, to exist in that world, I say, invite shame into the conversation and finding really healthy productive ways to actually work with eroticised, that shame has been, at least personally empowering for me. And for many clients.
Coach Maddox 18:36
I think there's a point where you have to embrace it almost I can, I can look back and see there was an issue that I finally just embraced and things, things shifted.
Tony Scott 18:50
And I can totally relate to that whole piece about having to embrace you know, you know, having been, you know, having a ministerial background and sets that I can still feel that all those elements in me like Mike said, masturbation, there's something that's out and went. And, you know, you've mentioned, you know, blow job earlier, and I still have that thing, that's, but my face doesn't show it anymore. And that's just progress. So even the shame of talking about sex, but it also goes with the shame that some of us who may not be as sexually active or sexually experienced kind of go through because that's kind of like a whole different type of shame surrounding sets, because there's just some things that we don't know we don't do. And not even coming from a judgmental perspectives. i Hey, that's your thing. Go for it, you know, and, you know, some of us enjoy porn, and but I think that's another piece of it. So it's just it's so funny that it's just so many different layers that we can talk about when it comes to sex, you know, and even between the conversations, or the shame or even the How to and so I think that's what's so probably intimidating because it's such a nuanced topic. Mike,
Mike Iamele 20:10
I want to jump back in Tony, because you know, I think sometimes when people hear me having these conversations, they make all these assumptions about me. And I actually love that because I can tell you, I've had sex with one man. I mean, I've been with him for over 10 years now, I've had sexual five women, but one man. And so, you know, I think a lot of times, and this is another area of topic where that can bring up shame is like, I might not be as experienced as you, I haven't done this much this or I haven't. And you know what? Sexuality I love that we have such a spiritual focus on this podcast here. Because sexuality to me is one of the most, if not the most spiritual thing. It's I've had my most spiritual moments and to call out something you just mentioned about blow jobs. I said, in our kind of pre interview, when we were just chatting that the most spiritual moment of my life was giving a blow job. And it's more specifically, I'll tell you about it, because it was a moment where I knew my own divinity, or I really connected with God in a way. And so it was a moment I was using my sensitivity, some of them are vulnerable and aligned. And I was my husband, who killed me hearing this, that's okay, I'm gonna share it anyway, it was on the toilet seat, and I was on my knees, and I was giving a blow job. And I at that moment, felt on some level, like I was becoming more and more submissive and more and more vulnerable. And I felt like I was giving every ounce of my power away, like I had nothing left. And the guy was just making him a god and somehow making him a god. And he felt like a god with every grunt and moan. And then this is where things got interesting. I realized for a moment, that if he is a God, than I am a God Maker. And there was this moment where I was just so clear that I can give every ounce of my energy away every ounce of my power, I can be completely powerless. And I am connected to such an infinite source that I can never be gone. It's just filled up and filled up and filled up. And it was this really interesting moment where I felt like I was worshipped him as a person as an essence. But more than that, I was worshipping the human form. And it was just this, really, it was spiritual, I was on my knees, it felt like praying, I hope that's not sacrilegious to everybody here. But it felt like I was really in this deep, deep communion of life and spirituality and power. And that is my hope and desire for every human that we can feel that sensitivity, what makes us sense life or what makes us come alive so fully, that these moments we lose ourselves and really meet the deepest divinity within ourselves.
Tony Scott 22:45
And that's real, because I've seen situations where sometimes you can be, I guess, when you really have true connection, you know, with the Divine and what to the source, I've noticed there is some correlation to those feelings, the closest thing you can get to those feelings, in my opinion, outside of you know, vegan prayer or, or, you know, whatever your religious practices that I have seen that sometimes in a sexual expression, and I think that's the most beautiful, but ironic thing at the same time, so I'm glad to hear that you had to receive my son.
Coach Maddox 23:25
Yeah. I love that. You know, I've heard the the saying, oh, man, I just had a brain fart. It just went away. Hmm. It's gone.
Jon Carl Lewis 23:41
Up and down, Carla. Yeah, I I'm glad you were talking about that sense of what what I'm hearing is talk about the ecstatic, where you are actually lifted out of yourself. And you see things from a completely different perspective. And I'm just thinking of my religious experiences and how buttoned down and far away from the aesthetic. We sometimes tend to be in the Episcopal tradition, as opposed to the full body full throated ecstasy of the black church. And I don't know where where I'm going with this, but that, that being able to be unselfconscious at the same time you are fully yourself, is what I feel for me a god experience.
Mike Iamele 24:52
Jump in here because I love what you just had. And for me, it's one of those moments that make us lose ourselves in what specific Typically there's a word that often is a pathologized word, which is compulsion. What is that compulsion? What like draws that deeper sense of self, where it kind of supersedes our conscious mind? And that's why I use the term sensitivity because I'm so interested in to why why are you clicking that point video? Why are you stopping scrolling? They're like, what is that compulsion? What's driving you forward, that your conscious mind can't even process? What is making you you know, say, you know, like teasing and playing them and suddenly surrender, what's that moment of switch, you know, what's really going on there. And for me, that's really our connection to make, quite frankly, my word is divinity, our connection to something so greater than ourselves that we are lost in the moment that we experienced it, and we lose ourselves. And when I talk about turn ons, I don't just mean sexual ones. You know, when I right now, we're having a vulnerable conversation, I am lit up, you can see I come alive, like I'm literally turned on life gets turned on within me. I'm going to tell you all my terrible secret hair, which is, if I'm ever having a conversation with you, and you start getting vulnerable, like I just won't be able to get off the call. It's like a compulsion. I am just excited. I want to hear more I want to, because that gives me life literally like the phrase no people say, like, it literally is a compulsion. And it makes me bigger than myself. It connects me to something bigger. And I think that's what I'm interested in sex is about something bigger than ourselves, whether it's with ourselves, I mean, it could be connection to body, God with everyone call it with another person with multiple people, which is great. Whatever it is, you know, sex can be the space where we completely lose ourselves, and surrender for those deepest, hidden parts of ourselves that we don't always encounter in everyday life.
Coach Maddox 26:44
Well, you know, you've always heard, I think we've all heard Gee, he made me see God, or are maybe I'm gonna make you see God. And it's tongue in cheek, and we've all seen the movie scenes where you know, you know, most of the movies, they're heterosexual relationships, but you know, she's ride them. And she's screaming, oh, God, oh, God, Oh, God. I think that we make fun of that. And we make it light and kind of joking. But I think the closest I've ever felt to that sense of divinity or God or higher power, however you want to word it has been in the throes of sex in the moments just before I had my orgasm or doing the orange during the orgasm. There is something where you do feel very connected to the infinite. Or I do it yes, I would agree completely. It's a very spiritual experience.
Jon Carl Lewis 27:45
Carl, um, if you will allow me, let's talk about false gods and Satan. I believe they're that that we are surrounded by demonic forces. Hiding in plain sight. One of those forces is the man box, which says that men can't be vulnerable. We can't exercise our God given vulnerability, which is our power to connect. And another of those demonic forces is, is, you'll understand why I say this, perhaps capitalism, consumerism is the better word. The fact that if you're not having hundreds of sexual partners, and the best orgasms with the best looking bodies, then you're somehow missing out on something. That is a distraction from the wonderful gifts that you encounter in your own life. And I think we sometimes have to say no to those images of what sex is supposed to look like, or and who we're supposed to be, in order to be truly ourselves and truly connected to the divine.
Coach Maddox 29:19
I've never heard it quite put in language like that. But it actually makes sense. I mean, I'm very aware of the man box and consumerism and have that conversation frequently. And I never thought that it has as a demonic or dark force, but it definitely has a darkness to it. No, no hands down, you know? Yes, Mike.
Mike Iamele 29:40
Yeah, I love this part of the conversation. You know, John, Carl, I don't use the term personally, you know, demonic forces, but a lot of times, you know, the way I'll phrase that, and the way I think about it is you know, conditioning and we have endless conditioning that tells us the container or how things have to look. And one thing you know, I think a lot thought about that I was really hearing from your commentary is this idea of extraction, you know, with consumerism, capitalism, I'll use a very monetary example. But I want to talk about sex hair, which is, if I'm on Amazon, and I'm shopping, and it's a big, faceless corporation, yeah, I'm looking for my coupon code, I want to pay the very least to get the very most right. But if I'm on Etsy, and I know this artist has prided themselves, I'm not looking for a coupon code, because I want to give this person as much money as possible for the handcrafted work that I do. You know, the extent to which I can subject to find or see someone as human is the extent to which I can't extract from them. Who is the more human they are to me, I don't want to take from them. And this, you know, idea of objectification is something that, you know, 300 years ago, I would get my, your self measured, I would have two outfits, that's all I could afford. And I would wear them every single day, they'd be handcrafted. Today, I can jump online and very cheaply by infinite outfits, right? Things are very cheaply made. But the question is, is there any essence inside, right? Is it just the container, and many of us today are consuming empty containers, right? We're just taking intake, and we're not feeling filled up. So we want more, and we're not feeling filled up. What I always tell people is I'm never going to judge your strategies, because I'm not living your life. But if you're not feeling filled up by your containers, we want to check and make sure the essence that's really giving you what you're looking for. For me. It's that vulnerability, that alignment that zaniness that whatever, including conversations, right? We've all had empty conversations, right? And I'm terrible at them, believe me, my husband's from rural Pennsylvania. So they every person was so friendly, they say hello, and talk about the weather to every person they pass. I'm really just not good at it. I'm actually very awkward at it. Because that's not me. I want to like talk about your trauma. And that's all I want to talk about. So you know, but the this idea that if we are having empty conversations or empty sacks, or empty, if it's not filling us up, if it's not giving us that deeper thing, that's that question of is it hitting those sensitivities? Is there essence there? What do I really want to feel from this experience? What's that deeper thing. And it might look radically different than we expected. Whether we're calling it conditioning, or demonic forces, or whatever we want to call it, it might look nothing like we've been told. But if it feels right, if it feels like us, if it feels good to us, that's getting us to trust ourselves again. And especially as queer people, you know, there's so much conditioning out there telling you don't trust yourself, who you are is wrong, your way of doing things is wrong. And that can really erode self trust for many, many people. And I think what we're talking about today, is getting back to that place of trusting yourself. If it fills you up, if it feels good chase that go off, don't go after the things that you're told you're supposed to, like, if it feels empty, that's probably not the thing for you, and you can trust yourself.
Coach Maddox 33:03
It's so Tony.
Tony Scott 33:06
Oh, well, so let's say you know, yeah, I totally agree with that, Mike. And, and even to your your point, John Carlton, John, Carl, I just believe, I guess my personal belief is that, that sex is a spiritual gift, it really is a gift. But sometimes some gifts need to have you have to be a good steward of that gift in some regards to. And I personally believe that when two people make that exchange, because like I said, we've all said it's like a spiritual experience or exchange. But there's an exchange that happens, you know, that the two acts as biblically, we would say, the two become one flesh, and there is a spiritual exchange between the two. But sometimes that can be a negative thing, because sometimes we can receive some negative things too. And positive things. And I found that when people that may have been weird, who could be going through different things, or maybe they have like dark things, or, you know, dark elements, it's like, sometimes you get to experience that after afterwards, you know, and, and you find things that you have to deal with. I'm not trying to sound spooky here, but, but I really do believe like I said, there's a spiritual exchange that takes place and I really appreciate you know, that you brought that up.
Coach Maddox 34:23
I completely agree with that. I know. From my days of hookups which are history now. You know, now I look back and realize that every time I did that, I gave a piece of myself away to a stranger. And it really put a different spin on it. I mean, it just really made it really, really feel very, very different. And it's just been in the last few months that I have, I believe, really identify I that I'm a demisexual. And for those of you that don't know what that means, that means and correct me if I'm wrong, guys that that means that you are demisexual It must feel some sense of connection, some emotional feelings for somebody, in order to have a physical relationship with them in order to have sex, we have to feel some sense of connection. So the the hookups just don't don't work for us. Did I leave anything out, and I just want to put a more complete spin on that feel free to?
Jon Carl Lewis 35:42
Well, one of the things I find interesting is I dabble in the science of sexuality also, and I think there are way more dummy sexuals than then, then we know. Because you know, when the biology tells us that when you you know, neurons that fire together, wire together, when two people fire together, they wire together, and there is an attachment. But there are also some people who are better at having multiple sexual partners and who desire novelty than others. And I've often said that my goal in life is to find all of the monogamous people and get them together. And let all the non monogamous people have a good time. Because it's literally a different brain chemistry. Ah, there's no, I'm not putting a value judgment on it. It's just that you know, when you when you look at the statistics, 50% of gay men insist on monogamous relationships, 50% of them insist on open relationships. You know, and the trick is getting the right people together. But I think the key to that is being absolutely honest about what you want. brutally honest about what you want.
Tony Scott 37:24
Oh, my God, John, Carla, I thought that was so rich. And and it brings me to, I guess, even my own personal mindset surrounding sex, because because we've talked about the shame that some people feel but there are also some of us out here who have our own values surrounding sex. And it's not meant to be judgmental of other people or to you know, say that, you know, one way is right is one way is wrong. But you know, it's, I call myself, you know, a gay man who has, you know, sexual values surrounding sex. And I've had to fight some of the shame around that, you know, where people, you know, say, well, something's wrong with you, you know, that, you know, you can't do a hookup or, and it's not that I think it's wrong, and if that's what you want to do, but, and I love how you phrase that, you know, some of us are wired, you know, differently, because I personally prefer some kind of connection, you know, but then again, there's sometimes there's that one time a month where, you know, it's, you know, you just want to get some but no strings attached is but but I'm a connection person. Mike,
Mike Iamele 38:33
I love this conversation, you know, and something you just had Tony, this idea, you know, something's wrong with you, I think, you know, across the board, no matter what your experiences as people have, we've all been told that on some level. And, you know, I think that this idea of John Carr, like you said, of being brutally honest with yourself, and really clear and finding, you know, a person that you can have these open, honest conversations with, which is hard. You know, there is shame, there is conditioning, there is all these things have conversations, I've seen it go multiple ways where some couples were monogamous, where some person didn't want to be because there was respectability politics, and they felt like that's how you should be. And on the other end, there was somebody who opened up that they didn't want to do but their partner did. And, you know, one thing to your point, Tony, I love what you said, you know, this, sometimes that one time a month, because I had a client recently, who was you know, feeling to study that he shouldn't be hooking up with all these random people. And he was not in a monogamous relationship, but wanted to be he really wanted to be. And I said, Listen, let me tell you to this way. I want to have sex at least twice a week, okay? But I'm in a monogamous relationship. So I do have sex with my husband twice a week. You want to have sex twice a week and you're not in a monogamous relationship. So you get to decide what you want to do with it. That could be a transsexual people that could be not having sex, but you don't have to feel bad about yourself for that. And I think so much of my interest in life is removing the shame if it feels good for you. I don't care what it is. All I had any thought was, it's your sensitivities and this container works for you. And for some clients of mine, that's gonna feel really good to hook up with a bunch of people. And it's amazing. I'm so happy for them. Sexuality is sacred, and it does not have to be monogamous or longterm to be sacred. Like you said, Max one night, Stan hookups can be absolutely sacred, right, they can have a lot of consciousness to them. And on the other hand, I have some clients who just really know that they feel really bad when they have, you know, a number of partners, and it doesn't feel good about themselves. And they don't want that. And I think, you know, part of this conversation is D stigmatizing all of it, and saying, like, you're right, your sexuality is right, whatever it is, it's amazing. And I think, you know, as we're breaking this down, recognizing that diversity of experiences is a really good thing. We don't have to feel competitive with one another. I understand that there is respectability, politics and society awards, certain points for certain acts. And that's one thing I really would love to continue to break down. But in these conversations, recognizing that at the end of the day, I don't live your life, you don't live mine. So if you're happy and you're not harming someone, that's amazing. And I want every single queer person well every person out there, but let's start with queer people to be happy and have amazing sex lives.
Coach Maddox 41:13
I love that you reminded me that you can have a connection with somebody and it doesn't have to be love or long term. I can look back and see that yes, some of my one nightstands were very connected. And and maybe we didn't even ever see each other ever again. But that one night was magical. And more than just sexually magical. There was an exchange of lifeforce, such an exchange of energy.
Jon Carl Lewis 41:53
You know, you talked
Coach Maddox 41:55
about John Karl, you talked about the 50%, of, of monogamous, I'm part of the 50%. I've always believed in monogamy, and I don't have any judgment. In fact, my best friend in the whole world had an open relationship. And I was fine with that. For me, I just know that I can't imagine loving somebody with all my heart. And knowing that they're on the other side of town, screwing somebody else, I just that that just doesn't nothing about that feels okay to me, and I likewise wouldn't be okay. In that same loving situation, me being on the other side of town, screwing somebody else, I have been faithful in all of my relationships. And unless there was an agreement where we, you know, I had one relationship where we did a string of three ways for about 18 months, we never acted like it was it was all agreed upon, it was all above the line, there was no cheating, it was something we did together. And that is probably going to shock some of my listeners if their family members, or close friends. It is what it is. It's out there now. Mike?
Mike Iamele 43:13
Well, I'll let you off the hook on that and change the topic slightly, you said, you know, you have these exchanges with people. And I don't remember the exact word you use. But when I heard, the word I would use is medicine, that you got to experience their medicine. And that's truly how I come to understand sexuality and really feel it is that you know, we have these sensitivities that make us feel great. And certain, you know, other people have their own sensitivities. And they light us up in specific ways. You know, I'll tell you, I kind of call it sensitivities in synastry, which is an astrological term. But you know, my husband, one of the sensitivities is safe is very easy to be vulnerable when somebody has safe. One of his is understood, it's very easy to feel unmistakable when you have understood one of his alive and believe me, he feels a lot more alive when I feel zany. So we have this way that we work together and lighten each other up and literally have medicine for one another. And I don't think that's just exclusive to sexual situations. I think we as humans, all based on what we're sensitive to, based on our lived experience. And our unique gifts have medicine for one another everywhere. And we're exchanging it all the time. Right now. I'm giving you my weird crazy zaniness and vulnerability and talking about blow jobs in the bathroom. Because that's who I am. That's my medicine, and that might light you up and light up something in you and then you share your medicine. And that's life. And sexuality is the physical expression of that and it's amazing and it's so beautiful. But I think what we're for me, you know, life is inherently spiritual, because we're constantly co creating and triggering and lighting up and sharing with one another. And there's something really beautiful about recognizing what is the medicine that you have and what are you seeking? And like I said, you can find that any Whether you're watching porn, whether you're scrolling Instagram, when you're thinking about the great sex you had, what is that medicine that really lights you up?
Coach Maddox 45:08
Hmm, I never thought of it in those terms, but I certainly can see where I hand pick movies that I sense that medicine from. I was watching a movie the other day that touched me so deeply and dropped me into a place that I don't visit very often that I pause the movie, and just sobbed and sobbed and sobbed and my bed, just held myself and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. And then when I finally got to the end of the sobbing in the tears, I felt amazing. I felt absolutely amazing. Like, like born again, amazing. It was just incredible. And yet, we're so I'm not, but so many of us are reluctant to go, they're reluctant to let ourselves feel that deeply or express that. And I'm usually pretty verbal about it. I've told several people over the last week that I bawled my eyes out, you know, in my bed, pause the movie and bawled my eyes out and went into this really place of deep sadness that I needed to go to and it was completely okay to do that.
Tony Scott 46:22
I think that's beautiful. And you inspired me just a few minutes ago, Maddox when you were talking about the monogamy and because maybe, you know, we're both in and Texas. And, you know, when I was enhancing my career, I moved to Los Angeles for about eight years. And that was culture shock for me because my my surroundings here in Texas, it's like I was around a lot of couples, a lot of monogamy are so and when I got to Los Angeles, it was like a totally different culture. And then I had to learn and not be judgmental about, but if but I thought it was just amazing to see because I will have friends who were in a relationship, and they may have been in a relationship 1015 years, but but they've still had some openness, or, you know, you'd have some who would say, you know, I have my husband and my boyfriends and, and I would joke with one of my friends is like, you got a husband and five boyfriends and I'm just trying to get a man, you know, and you got six. So you're gonna have to give me one. But no, but But I love that the freedom that people can choose, you know, how they choose want to express their sexuality. And, and I think, from my experience, because I'm 55 years old, I've never been in a relationship. And I've spent so many years feeling there was something wrong with me or that, you know, there was you know, something not likable, but like me or, you know, other people's opinions. Why aren't you with somebody, this is not right. But I'm finally feel empowered about it, because I know what I want. And I'm holding steadfast out for that. Not compromising, and I feel better about that. Really, there is
Coach Maddox 48:07
something about maturing where we, many of us stop compromising, stop settling for less than what we want. I've really realized I would much rather be alone for the whole rest of my fucking life, then settle again, and be lonely with somebody I would much rather be lonely alone. They'd be lonely with somebody. Mike,
Mike Iamele 48:35
Oh, I love this. I love what both Maddox you and Tony just said, because, you know, one thing a lot of people don't know about me that's personal is I told my husband now that I loved him six months before he said it back to me, which I know seems like six months, right? So very long period. And you know, I think what we're talking about here, is having that high level of self worth are really feeling the powerful like you just said, Tony, you know what you want, you know who you are, you are powerful. And you're not giving that power away. And I think that for many of us that vulnerability can feel so scary because it feels like we're going to lose power or even having sexual conversations. We're revealing something about ourselves that are making us less powerful. And I just had a client session yesterday that I'm thinking of where I told this client I said, you know, you can just ask for what you want straight out. You're not forcing them. You're imposing it. You can ask what you want and and it's a game you set your rules. If they say yes, or they negotiate awesome if they say no, that's okay, too. I love you to Garrett because I loved him. And whether he ever said back to me or not, didn't really matter. I couldn't be less powerful because how could you ever be less powerful, being honest about what you feel and giving love? That's not even that's more powerful in my mind. And so I think some of that is allowing ourselves to just declare it like I want and I actually challenge those clients who Given the most outlandish requests possible, that he's going to have someone come over and give him a blow job, and then go home and masturbate and send him a video, so you can ask that you guys for whatever you want. And if this person, some people would die for that they would be so turned on by that other people will absolutely not be, you can declare what you want, you can say this is what I want. And this and you get to the side, that person decides if they are willing to negotiate or that's for them or not. I have heard across the board, every feathers, you can imagine, I promise you, for everyone on this side, there is an equal match on this side. It's great. And it's beautiful diversity of sexuality. And so I love this idea of not settling and just saying this is what I want, I'm just going to put it out there, I'm going to be very clear, but what I want, if you want to be part of it, that's awesome. If you don't want to be that's awesome, but I'm not going to dilute myself or lose power, because this is who I am, this is what I want. And that's worthy.
Coach Maddox 50:56
I love that. You know, I don't know who said it a few minutes ago, but something about self expression. And I have just recently really realized how almost enamored I am with getting to watch other people's self expression. Like I've gone from this place of probably maybe at a younger time in my life when I would have had some judgments about it. I was at Whole Foods grocery store a couple of weeks ago, and there's this guy check in groceries. And he's got the full face and makeup on. He's dressed otherwise, he's got a pair of cadent cut off shorts on and some sneakers and a T shirt. And he's got a beard. And he's got like, it looks like a peacock on his eyelids. You know, it was like makeup lashes and, and I stood there and I looked at this and I thought, wow, he totally pulls that off. And it was all I could do to not go over and interrupt him checking groceries to say I love it. I friggin love it. I think it's so cool that you're just totally self expressing. Yeah, yeah, I, the more different I see the the more the more I like don't know where that's coming from, to be real honest. But it's very, very much centered around self expression. I just love to see people just really, really being who they are.
Jon Carl Lewis 52:41
I think Oh, go Mike. Oh, yeah, and I think that goes back to sexuality being a part of life. At some core level, sexuality is just another way we express our deepest selves, which is why it's so vulnerable and so scary and and I will just throw props at Mike. There are a lot of people on the on the Instagrams. But I always slow down and look at Mike's entire whatever it is he's doing, because there's so much life in it. And it's and and I think I want to use the word erotic, but not in the sense of sexual. It's just someone fully expressed is attractive. It draws me to them. And, you know, and I, I want to say you just go I don't want anything from you, but to tell you just keep doing what you're doing.
Coach Maddox 53:56
I agree your videos absolutely are tip to use your words, zany. You know they do have an erotic quality to them. They're really, really out there. You're very, very vulnerable, and they're very zany.
Tony Scott 54:13
And he helped me realize a fetish that I have, but we'll save that for the next episode.
Mike Iamele 54:18
I love it. I love him numerous roll. Thank you. I love that this just turned into the Mike loves show. No, honestly. Thank you. You know, one thing? You know, I think about a lot with that. Well, I have two thoughts here that I want to share. One is that, you know, I'm definitely zany. So I'm out there and someone's fullest expression may be more reserved. And that's okay, too. You know, I think sometimes that conditioning tells us we've got to be the loudest and the biggest and the brightest. And that may not be us. You know, I Garrett. My husband is one example of this. He is so reserved and quiet and he works with complex cases, especially chronic disease. A lot of patients who, you know, may be halfway insecurity or housing insecurity are a lot of things. And he is just the kindest, softest most patient person in the world. And he's wonderful at working with that population. And I think every day that is my dream job that I could never do in a million years because I don't have the skills that he has. And I just think about that with our fullest expression. You know, I have one client, who, oh my gosh, he's so funny. One of his sensitivities is iconic. And as you can imagine, he is just at the club and suddenly his pants are off. He's in a jockstrap and full makeup and walking the catwalk and it's amazing and it's so great. And it's not me. It's definitely not Garen. It's not a lot of people. And that's okay, our fullest expression, the sign of a full expression isn't how big and loud it is. It's how right it feels. You just see someone, it's like, oh, they're in that place. They fit into the fabric of life, you can see life is spilling out of them. And the other thing I'll share, just because John Carl, you said, you know, you don't want anything from me when you see on Instagram. I love that you said that because I have a friend who she's a sis female. She was a stripper in Philadelphia. And she said, you know she did for fun. She was not the, in her words, the prettiest girl with fitness girl in the room. She said that every night, she made the most money. And she never ever did a lap dance once. And she said, I can tell you exactly how I did it. She said, I got on that stage. And I closed my eyes and I danced for me. She said, I just wanted to enjoy my body and have so much fun. And I was laughing and I was dancing, I was smiling. And I was giving life people just wanted to be around me. And they didn't. She said because what the truth is when we are in our greatest joy, whether it's sexual or otherwise, that's the most selfless we will ever be. We're not asking anyone for validation. We're not asking anyone for anything, we're just giving its pure giving of life. Because to go back to my blow job example, we're connected to the infinite source. And as much as we give, it's just going to keep coming and keep coming. And people can feel that. And so nobody's trying to take from us, because people just want to be a part of that. And I think that's what I want for everybody in this world is just to be so connected to their own flow, whatever that looks like monogamous, or multiple partners. Tons of kinky fetishes, or you know, quote, unquote, vanilla sex, which, in my mind, there is no vanilla sex, but you know, like, Whatever it looks like, that is great. If it's for you, if it feels right. If it fills your cup and makes you feel fall. That's what you deserve. And I want to start having the conversations that help get you there.
Coach Maddox 57:34
I love it. So, John, Carl, you said early on in the discussion that you wanted to our met one of you may or may be new, Tony, normalize the conversation around sex. You wanted to create an example for people in how they can engage in these open conversations about sex. So let's each kind of take a turn. I think maybe you just took your turn, Mike and so eloquently, let's take a turn in what you would, in this moment, say, you know, what, what's the wisdom? He just dropped a wisdom balm, what's your wisdom balm?
Jon Carl Lewis 58:21
Coach Maddox 58:22
you know, encouraging other LGBTQ man to engage in these conversations? Perhaps it's maybe a benefit or, or anything you want to say, Tony, why don't you go first? Sure.
Tony Scott 58:38
I think freedom is just the word that's resonating with me. And I think that's kind of been the theme across you know, all of us here is that there is a freedom is kind of what drives that that whole divine experience. Because as I said, I believe that sex and sexuality is a gift. But at the same token, you know, it's a gift that we get to be good stewards of. And there are times where I sort of grieves my heart that, that sometimes people turn to sex as the solution. And I think Mike touched on this, of something bigger that they're really seeking and looking for, but hey, doing your thing, being happy. I'm happy for you. And it's okay to have your own expression around sex. And that's been my biggest walk. My biggest takeaway is that your expression is your expression and you get to be happy with that. And you live it to the fullest of the way that that makes you happy and that makes you fulfilled and makes you spilt you know, spiritually alive.
Coach Maddox 59:43
Beautiful. Thank you, Tony, John, Carl.
Jon Carl Lewis 59:48
Well, I don't know how to follow those. What I would like to emphasize though, is something around here Feeling we have all been battered by society, we've been shoved into a man box, we've been told to cut off our sexuality and pretend it doesn't exist. We've all been through the wringer, especially as queer people. And at some point, you need to take some time for yourself and heal. And I'm gonna sound like a broken record. But you know, I think that getting into a situation with a trained professional is one of the best investments you can make. Because the idea is not to necessarily go a sex coach so you can have the best sex in your life but but to begin being vulnerable, in a space that safe, because when you start taking those steps towards vulnerability, it will start spilling out into the rest of your life. And you will either attract people who are vulnerable with you, or you will repel them. And you can say bless you goodbye. Because you only want the ones who are going to feed you. And you need to do that by being vulnerable with yourself. And there is help available and it's worth it.
Coach Maddox 1:01:39
Beautiful. I love it. Yes, vulnerability is a polarizer Most definitely. Have you any of you guys seen the Netflix documentary? Or it's no it's a reality show I guess with Gwyneth Paltrow called sex, love and goop. I'm not seeing all of it. But what I've seen of it is absolutely excellent. And I'm gonna give it a plug right here. Listeners if you have not seen this, and sex is a topic that that interests you. Check it out. It's it's truly amazing. Like I said, I haven't seen all the episodes, but what I have seen have just rocked my world. sex, love and goop. Gwyneth Paltrow. I guess the thing I want to leave the listeners with is, for those of you that have come out at some point in your life as gay, chances are you probably experienced a lot of different feelings in that time, but some of it most likely had this feeling of relief. You know, finally, my people. And I just want to suggest that talking about sex is another form of coming out. And when you can open up and talk about sex and come out of the closet, because we all know we're doing it if we're not doing it in real life, we're doing it in our head, or we're doing it in their bed watching porn. We're all doing it. And if we can come out of the closet with it. Like Tony said about drawing your people to you and repelling the people that aren't your people, that polarizing thing, the sex conversation is going to do the same thing. It's going to set you free, there's going to be freedom, like Tony said, it's going to draw the right people to you if there's going to be this exhale once you come out of the closet with it. And you're gonna feel a sense of freedom. And suddenly like, Oh, here's my people.
Guys, this has been amazing. Do you think we've left anything out? Probably we've talked about this for hours. But Mike once got.
Mike Iamele 1:04:00
I know I can't you got me going. I can't stop. So yes, we probably haven't left much out. But I could talk for hours. But Tony, you said something that I really want to expound upon. Because I think it's so important. You talked about being good stewards of sexuality. And one of my greatest advice pieces I think can really help us make sure we're actually filling our cup, is just ask what we're looking for or ask why if we're scrolling Grindr if we're, you know, looking at porn, if we're, you know, about to go meet someone at a bar, so why what am I looking for here? Is it connection? Is it freedom? Is it liberation, is it whatever? And is this the best path or the way I want to get there? I had a client just this morning telling me that he did this he was scrolling Grindr, because he does every night. He said, Why am I doing this and went through his sensitivities because he's a client, and he realized connection. He said, I'm not about to get connection. This isn't the best avenue for me. And he went and he texted some friends. He got on the phone call, and he felt really, really filled up. So that's not to say that grinder can't be the best solution because it absolutely can be. But I want you to feel empowered to have that cup filled. So anytime we're doing anything and by the way, I do this with money. If I want to go spend a lot of money, I say, wait a minute, Mike, why do I want to feel successful, and I give myself three days to find a cheaper, better way to do it. And if I can't, well, then I will absolutely buy that thing. But if I can feel equally successful some other way I won't buy it. And so I share that, because I think that really helps us be quote, unquote, good stewards, or find things that will actually fill us up, which is my language by just asking why, what are we looking for here? And I think that also helps us to have some more vulnerable conversations.
Coach Maddox 1:05:40
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, you know, you guys, I feel like the four of us had really, it's been a very collaborative thing. In this episode. In our conversation, it's been glorious. We've talked top hit on so many different aspects of this. And I'm sure there could be a, you know, a part two and part three and part four, and maybe maybe there will I don't know, you know, but I just want to say once again, thank you so much for being a part of this. Your contribution has been absolutely amazing. And I know the listeners are gonna get a lot out of this because I've gotten a lot out of this. So thank you so much.
Unknown Speaker 1:06:22
Thank you for having us. Thank you. Thanks.
Author + GBTQ+ Men's Coach
Mike Iamele thought he was straight his entire life. But a life-changing illness forced him to challenge that notion head-on when he fell in love with his male caretaker. And the two of them went on a years-long journey to explore sexuality and fluidity to figure out if the relationship could work.
When he chose to blog about his relationship in 2014, he had no idea that 100,000 people would share the post overnight, and he’d wake up to millions of people talking about his sex life.
For most of the past decade, Mike has helped hundreds of GBTQ+ men to understand their desires, drop shame, and feel more confident by exploring their subconscious patterns -- a process he calls 'mapping sensitivities.' You can explore your own sensitivities in a free training at mikeiamele.com/map.
Jon Carl Lewis is the host of Sex & the Gay Christian, a growing, sex positive community dedicated to helping LGBTQ+ folk make sexual decisions and construct a personal sexual ethic in line with their values as part of the Body of Christ. A trained and certified spiritual director, Jon Carl seeks to help Queer Christians and their allies come to peace with their sexual and relational decisions while being a blessing and a witness to the world of Christ’s radically promiscuous love. Jon Carl lives with his husband of over twenty-six years in Central Jersey where he serves as a cantor and occasional preacher at a beautifully diverse, radically affirming United Methodist congregation.
Tony Scott is an ®EMMY Award winning marketing entrepreneur and faith-based communications expert. A licensed and ordained minister, He was previously marketing chief for one of the nation’s largest evangelical ministries. The plot twist is that prior to his career in the evangelical world, Tony served in leadership at the world’s largest gay & lesbian church. The lessons learned between these two extremes motivated Tony to launch Grace For Gays, a new ministry committed to forging a new path forward for inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community in the Church at large.