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A Farewell to a great man

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Dear sex fans,

I realize this is a bit off topic for this blog, but I want to acknowledge the death of famed British neurologist and author, Oliver Sacks.

1993: Portrait of British-born neurologist and author Dr Oliver Sacks standing in the admittance driveway of Beth Abraham Hospital with his arms crossed over his chest, New York City. (Photo by Nancy R. Schiff/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

1993: Portrait of British-born neurologist and author Dr Oliver Sacks standing in the admittance driveway of Beth Abraham Hospital with his arms crossed over his chest, New York City.

In February, he wrote an op-ed in The New York Times revealing that he was in the late stages of terminal cancer, after earlier melanoma in his eye spread to his liver.

“It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me,” he wrote. “I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.”

Earlier this summer I read Dr Sacks’s memoir, On the Move.  I love it.  It’s an interesting memoir by a fascinating personality.  And while reading I discovered that we had a dear friend in common, Thom Gunn.  What a small world!  So I decided to send him a note.

Dear Dr Sacks,

I just finished reading your memoir, On The Move.  What an amazing life you’ve lived.on-the-move-by-oliver-sacks

Of all the marvelous things you’ve done and all the fascinating people you mentioned in your book nothing surprised me more than your close friendship with Thom Gunn.  I was a friend of Thom too and I lived directly across Cole Street from him.  I moved to the flat at 1207 Cole Street in 1979.  At the time I was working on my doctorate in clinical sexology at the Institute For The Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco.

I didn’t know Thom well at first.  However, I would regularly see him walking both in our neighborhood and elsewhere in town.  He was always in his leathers, rain or shine, and used to think to myself, “What a mensch!”

It finally dawned on me that he lived across the street from me.

Once he saw me in my roman collar.  (I was ordained a catholic priest in 1975 at the age of 25 in Oakland, CA.  I had come out to my local superiors; I was a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, before I was ordained.  Like I said, I was working on my doctorate to become a sex therapist and prepare for an upfront gay ministry.)  Thom smiled at me when he saw me; I blushed and told him what I just told you.  He was fascinated, but I also believe he thought I was a twit.  He probably was right.

I knew nothing about Thom other than he was my neighbor.  Then one day I was in a bookstore on Haight Street and there was a photo of Thom in the window advertising a reading.  That’s when I started asking around about him.  Despite his cult status within the gay community, he was the most unassuming person.  I was honored to have a personal connection with him.small_front

I finished my doctorate in 1981.  My dissertation, Gay Catholic Priests; A Study of Cognitive and Affective Dissonance was directed by Wardell Pomeroy.  A firestorm of media attention followed.  The media branded me as THE gay priest, as if.  I think Thom read about me in the New York Times because next time he saw me he clapped me on the back and said, “Well done.”

No sooner did I complete my doctorate, and because of the media attention my public coming out caused, the leadership of my religious community in Rome began a process of dismissal against me.  I was devastated and lost.  I was even getting death threats.  Thom was always so supportive and encouraging.

I fought the church for the next thirteen years in an effort to save my priesthood and ministry.  Alas, the writing was on the wall back in 1981 and it was only a matter of time till they had their way with me.  I wrote about the travail in a book that was published in 2011, Secrecy, Sophistry and Gay Sex In The Catholic Church: The Systematic Destruction of an Oblate Priest.

Thom was always so solicitous about my wellbeing.  He knew how difficult life had become for me.  And both of us found ourselves on the forefront of caring for friends who were dying of AIDS.  One of my landlords died in 1986.

Thom introduced my housemate and I to Augie Kleinzahler and his girlfriend, Caroline Lander, who lived only a few blocks from us in Cole Valley.  We all became great friends and copious amounts of strong drink were consumed.  I wonder, do you know Augie?

When Thom turned sixty I surprised him with a homemade German chocolate cake.  I told him he was the oldest person I knew.  This made him laugh and he called me a whippersnapper.

In 1992 the surviving landlord sold the Cole Street duplex and I and my housemate moved to Oak and Ashbury.  Sadly, I didn’t get to see Thom as much as before.  I move up here to Seattle in 1999 because I could no longer afford to live in SF.  I was deeply saddened to learn of Thom’s death in 2004.  He was such a great guy, what a marvelous soul.

Again, thank you for your memoir; it was grand getting to know you on a personal level.  I read The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat when it came out in the mid-eighties and loved it.  But I never guessed you and Thom knew each other or that you actually visited him when I lived across the street from him.  What a small world.  I wish I had known you back then.

Anyhow, thank you for the bringing me this unexpected flood of memories of Thom.  I wonder what he would have made of yesterday’s Supreme Court decision (Obergefell v. Hodges).  I contend that we got marriage equality only because we walked through AIDS first.  I think Thom would have agreed with me.

All the best,
richard

Richard Wagner, M.Div., Ph.D., ACS

To my astonishment, Oliver wrote back; I mean that literally, a handwritten note.  Apparently, he never used a computer.

Dear Dr. Wagner (can I say Richard?),                                                          6/60/15

I am greatly interested and greatly moved, by your letter — your courage in being honest and forthright, at a time and on a subject bound, sooner or later, to cause your ejection from the priesthood. In another few years perhaps, with Pope Francis at the helm, these last bastions of Catholic bigotry may have fallen.

I like to think of you as living across the street when I visited Thom, and glad to know that he appreciated you and your works. I still miss him deeply — there were not too many people with whim I could be entirely open — and I like to think that his ghost is pleased that my title came from his poem. (I find it a huge relief being open now to all and sundry {Oliver came out earlier this year} — I am so glad I completed my book before I became ill).

And what a liberation, an affirmation for us all that the Supreme Court voted as it did. I suspect that Ruth Bader Ginsberg, quite ill now, stayed on to ensure the 5/4 decision.

Thanks for your letter and my very best wishes,

Oliver

Oliver Sacks01     Oliver Sacks02

Click on this link to see a copy of Oliver Sacks’s note.

Thank you Dr Sacks and farewell!

The Prostate Toy Interview

Hey sex fans,

This being Friday and all, you’re probably expecting a product review. Well sorry to disappoint, but the entire Dr Dick Review Crew is still working their naughty bits to the bone, so to speak, so we’ll have to wait on posting new reviews till another day.

But not to worry, because I have something else that’s charming and delightful for you. Keeping with the sex toy theme I offer you this interview I did with a leading toy company. I figure if the toy company was interested in my thoughts, perhaps you, my dear readers, would be too.

1. Hey Dr Dick, you look like a rather wholesome gentleman, what prompted you to become a Sexologist?

Wholesome? Looks are so deceiving, aren’t they?

I came to this work in a most unorthodox fashion. It is certainly not something I ever aspired to do.

I was a Catholic priest at the time. I was ordained in 1975. (I am the only Catholic priest in the world with a doctorate in Clinical Sexology.) In 1981 I completed my post-graduate work with the publication of my doctoral thesis concerning the sexual attitudes and behaviors of gay Catholic priests in the active ministry. This was unprecedented research back then (and even now, for that matter). There was a firestorm of international publicity. I was soon to be known as “The Gay Priest”. (Yeah, like if I was the only one.) Needless to say, this notoriety (some say infamy) effectively ended my public priesthood. I fought the Vatican for the next 15 years, from 1981-1996, in an attempt to salvage my ministry, but in the end it was a lost cause. No surprise there, I suppose.

My career as a therapist in San Francisco coincided with the advent of HIV/AIDS (1981). My practice evolved into working primarily with sick, elder and dying people. In the mid-90’s I founded a nonprofit organization, PARADIGM, Enhancing Life Near Death. It was an outreach for terminally ill, chronically ill, elder and dying people. This was brilliant cutting-edge work. Alas, I couldn’t find the proper funding to continue. This precipitated a rather sudden move to Seattle in 1999.

I continued to work with sick and dying people here, in Seattle. I started to develop programming for women newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer and men with prostate cancer. I wanted to create videos for people experiencing life threatening and/or disfiguring illnesses to help them deal with reintegrating sex and intimacy into their lives post diagnosis. I soon realized that I would need to fund these projects on my own. No mainline foundation would touch the issue of sex. Faced with how I might do that, some friends prevailed on me to shoot porn. The rational was; I would make loads of money and I could then subsidize my heart’s desire. Thus Daddy Oohhh! Productions was born.

Unfortunately, the “load of money” part never materialized. But at the time, I figured that, since I was actually shooting porn, I would create projects that were different in style and tone from what currently ruled the marketplace. The Daddy Oohhh line features a whole lot more romance, allure and seduction rather than just bumping parts.

2. What are the most common issues you come across during your workshops and counseling?

I continue to be surprised by how few people actually believe there is an essential goodness to sexuality, both as a personal need and as an interpersonal bond.

I see so much unhappiness and anxiety when a person’s sex-negative attitudes alienate them from their own body and the bodies of others. These uninformed attitudes affect not only a person’s sex life, but also his/her ability to relate well with others.

I believe that sexual wellbeing is more than simply being able to perform. It also means taking responsibility for one’s eroticism as an integral part of one’s personality and involvement with others. Between the extremes of total sexual repression and relentless sexual pursuit, a person can find that unique place, where he/she is free to live a life of self-respect, enjoyment and love.

My workshops and counseling practice aim is to provide information and guidance to help people approach their unique sexuality in a realistic and responsible manner, as well as further their independent growth, personal integrity, and have a more joyful experience of living.

3. Everyone seems to be aware of the female G-spot. However, the male equivalent, the P-spot, is shrouded in mystery and taboo. Would you mind explaining what that’s all about?

You’ll excuse me for being contrary, but it is my personal crusade to dissuade people from using the term “male G-Spot”.

Frankly, I don’t see a rationale for talking about the prostate as if it were something akin to the female G-spot. Because that’s like saying a clit is a female penis. And to tell you the truth; I even have difficulty with the overly cutesy term, “P-Spot”.

The G-spot got its moniker because folks couldn’t remember its proper name, the Grafenberg Spot. (It was named after the physician who first wrote about it.) But we don’t need that kind of shorthand for the word prostate, do we? I certainly hope not.

If the prostate is indeed shrouded in mystery and taboo, as you suggest, it’s likely because it’s buried inside a guy’s ass. And our culture is pretty ass-phobic.

Luckily, I see all of this changing. More and more men are discovering a pleasure zone they’ve not known before. And thanks to the growing number prostate-related sex toys in the marketplace this self-discovery can be fun as well as informative.

4. What can men do to enjoy this little gland?

• First, cut and file smooth your fingernails. And before you start playing with your hole, relax.
• Take a relaxing shower, a warm bath, and/or try some deep breathing exercises to help you do that.
• Have a ready supply of a water-based or silicone-based lube handy.
• Start with a nice hand job. Stroke your dick with your lubed hand to get yourself into your happy place.
• Gradually slather some of that lube on to your balls and taint (perineum). While your legs are open find your hole and play with your rosebud. Gently massage the area around your asshole, but don’t side your finger in just yet. Simply let this time be for getting used to the feelings of playing at the opening of your ass.
• Next, let your play include the tip of your middle finger entering your ass.
• If you do this while you’re stroking your cock, you will find that your hole will actually open and invite your finger. That’s the great thing about pleasuring one part of your body while learning to pleasure another.
• Once you’re comfortable with your fingertip inside, try pushing it in further and move it around a little. Then try pushing it and pulling it out of your ass. Ya know, like finger-fucking yourself.
• Once your finger is about an inch or so inside your ass, move your finger in an upward motion along the upper wall of your rectum. You’ll discover a firm, round and flat surface the size of a walnut. This is your prostate. You can only feel this small part of the whole gland, but you will know it when you touch it. It is full of delicious nerve endings and it will give you jolt of pleasure.
• Remember, your prostate shouldn’t be hard to find, particularly if you’re all horned up from pullin’ your pud. It will feel smooth and hard, like a flat stone.
• Give that puppy a nice gentle massage with your fingertip. If you’re still stroking your cock, don’t be surprised if this prostate massage gets you off. In fact, you will find that your prostate actually enlarges a bit and becomes firmer just as you are about to shoot your load.
• As you cum you will also notice that your ass-sphincter muscle will tighten around your finger and pulsate with each squirt. How fun is that?

5. If you enjoy prostate stimulation, does that make you gay?

It certainly would if only gay men had prostates.

6. Is there a difference between a prostate orgasm and a penile orgasm?

Technically, I suppose there is.

Clearly some men do get off on prostate stimulation alone. However, an orgasm (not the same thing as an ejaculation, mind you) is a complex physiological — muscular and neurological — response. Just like our genitals are a composite of parts that work together to bring us joy; so too are our orgasms.

Finding and massaging your prostate is a wonderful thing. But there’s one thing for certain; your prostate has been involved in your orgasmic response from the very beginning, long before you discovered it.

7. Are there any health benefits to prostate stimulation?

Yeah, you betcha! It’s fun, it’s healthful and it’s sexually enriching.

Massaging your prostate stimulates blood flow and that brings more oxygen to your prostate. Unwanted bacteria that grow in your prostate can be removed more efficiently through massage. Fat and proteins can also accumulate over time, which can cause infection or even lead to tumor growth if not flushed from time to time. Massaging your prostate can assist with this.

Studies show that a prostate massage is an effective means of keeping your prostate healthy without the use of pharmaceuticals or resorting to surgery. And of course it also helps a guy become less cock-centric and less ass-phobic. So it’s a win/win situation.

8. Are there any dangers?

Not really. Just remember to use lots of lube, because your asshole doesn’t create its own lubrication. Always start off slowly. And don’t put anything in your bum that isn’t designed for that purpose. All anal toys — massagers, vibrators, butt plugs, anal beads, dildos and the like — must have a handle on them and/or an oversized base that will prevent the toy from accidentally slipping up into your ass.

9. Finally, do you have any wise words for our prostate loving readers?

Once you’ve discovered the joys of prostate stimulation on your own, why not invite your partner(s) to join in the fun. And always use quality toys. Choose nonporous, phthalates-free, hypoallergenic and latex-free materials. Waterproof toys are also highly recommended. Because keeping your toys clean and sanitized is a real big part of enjoying your or someone else’s prostate.

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