Dying for Affection


I just finished holding someone from the Middle East who is here in the US for graduate school. Like all the people I hold, he is a beautiful guy, open-hearted, with deep, soulful eyes, thoughtful, curious. It was really a beautiful session, longer than most, almost two hours (which in my experience is the absolute upper limit for sessions where we are really engaged and paying attention to what is happening.)

It was a diverse practice, a mixture of yin and yang postures. The opening connect took a very long time, relatively speaking; I could feel a great deal of fear, uncertainty, and hesitation mixed with curiosity and desire. The practice was largely non-erotic but with a sudden, powerful burst of erotic energy in the middle that carried us for about twenty minutes before subsiding. (Those bursts often happen at about the same place they do in symphonies: about two thirds of the way through.) As is the case in Touch Practice, the erotic was something we eventually passed through, like a doorway; without becoming sexual, it produced a deeper connection which eventually led away from the erotic, or past the erotic, to a deeper non-erotic connection.

Our practice was fully clothed, then partially clothed, then naked, pretty much exactly in thirds as we went through the time. He fell asleep in my arms, deeply asleep, which I allowed to continue longer than I might normally–somewhere around 15 minutes, I’d guess. (I use a variety of music in Touch Practice, but all of it is music that I have used hundreds of times, and I know exactly where I am in the timing of a session by where I am in the music.)

He sighed, a lot, almost a faint crying without tears. He purred when he slept, a very light, faint snore. He got up out of horizontal positions the way most people do, like a cat who has fallen asleep in a mound of catnip: dopey and clumsy. We had the most amazing closing, solidly in the “puppy body” state, soft, non-defended, connected. We separated with the most amazing sense of gratitude and awe at what we had just co-created together.

As we were getting dressed, he said, “in my country, two men who did what we just did would be beheaded.”Man-with-Iron-Fists-Images-Beheading

Now there’s a buzz kill.

As we continued to speak, eventually sitting side by side on the bed, he told me of the reality of his life. In the past five years, he has come to the realization that he is oriented towards men. When he finishes grad school, he will be expected to return to his home country. He will get married, to a woman. He said, “I don’t know how I’ll do with that. I guess I’ll have to do my best.” I suppose the other alternative for him is: well, let’s not beat around the bush. The other alternative for him is death.

7480e45179702d40a605936ff995bb4cI spoke with him a bit more before he left. I asked him how his time in America as a guy from the Middle East has been, and it sounds like he’s had a good stay here. I told him Americans can be very loving, and we can also be pigs, and I hope that he would find himself treated well here.

I realized that this may be the only chance in his life that he might be able to get loved for the person he is, without having to hide, and I suddenly had a desperate desire to somehow charge his batteries, as though if I just accepted him enough and gave him everything I had, it could somehow get him through the rest of his life back home.

I have done everything in my human capacity to carry my practice in such a way that I harm no one. That’s the minimum standard.

The maximum standard is that we bless each other, that we channel the arms of God and love the way God would love, hold the way God would hold, accept the way God would accept, empower the way God would empower.

In the perfect practice we lose any sense of the smallness of the partners and are overwhelmed with a sense of the largeness and goodness of what is around us, and beyond us, and underneath us, supporting us. Touch Practice has attracted and grabbed hold of me so forcefully because it is the way I experience God in my body. It is the way I experience being loved and accepted and held just as I am, for just who I am, without defense, without fear.

dying for affectionMy heart is broken in both ways today. Broken open with joy and connection and the beauty and vulnerability of another human being, someone through whom I experienced the touch of the Infinite One, and broken/crushed with the understanding of the reality this beautiful being will return to when he leaves here.

And all I can do is pray–pray that the world will change before he graduates; pray that he will find his way out to a safer place, a place where he can manifest who he is, rather than who other people expect, a place where he can live life in his puppy body rather than being laminated under multiple layers of armor, just trying to keep his head.

Help us, Spirit.


Have thoughts you’d like to share?

Touch Practice is a sacred practice for me, and part of that is keeping confidences sacred. While a name and e-mail address are required to post a comment, feel free to use just your first name, or a pseudonym if you wish. Your e-mail address will never be seen by or shared with anyone. It is used to prevent spam and inappropriate comments from appearing in the blog. I’d really like to hear from you!



  1. Gary

    Just finished the draft of my sermon for tomorrow morning (the festival of Pentecost–the outpouring of the Holy Spirit), clicked the SEND button to print it, and then read your incredibly powerful blog. Recently saw a young guy wearing a tee-shirt that said “Live for the moments that can NOT be put into words.” St.Paul wrote, “If we don’t know how to pray or what to pray for, it doesn’t matter. God’s Spirit does our praying in us and through us and for us, with sighs too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26-7). Love to you, dear soul brother!

    • Kevin Smith
      Kevin Smith06-08-2014

      Gary: what an interesting coincidence–or, as is often the case, no coincidence at all.

      When I was in high school, I was rather intensely into the spiritual practice of Christian pentacostals. While I no longer have such a narrowly defined spiritual practice, my spiritual roots are definitely in pentacostal Christianity. It was on pentacost of 1976 that I received the ability to speak in tongues, to pray in a language I did not understand but which flowed through me whenever I chose to use it.

      I still pray in my spirit language, asking that God will pray for what God wills when I don’t know the mind of God, which is more and more often as I get older. It is perhaps the only piece of my pentacostal roots that remains with me, other than the expectation that God will move in ways that appear to us to be supernatural, surpassing the limits we experience as human beings.

      As I move in groups of men’s work and spiritual development, very often a leader will make the mistake of thinking he knows what this man needs or what that man needs, where one person is stuck, where another one is cowardly, etc. It just isn’t so. We do not know each other on that level, cannot know each other on that level.

      I have learned in Touch Practice that I cannot have any agenda for a man I sit with; if I do, I am off target. The practice is to hold the other with a completely open mind, free of judgments, free of agendas, to trust that his relationship with God is just as good as my relationship with God, and that if God were good enough to tell me what this man needs, God will be good enough to tell the guy Himself.

      Happy Pentacost, Gary.

  2. Weldon

    That was just beautiful. I know that is not his picture.. but I am sure he was a lovely man and it just breaks my heart to think that he has to go home to a probably arranged marriage with a woman who he will not love but be expected to impregnate. And he will never be able to be himself or express himself as a man for fear of death. In a small way, many of us are trapped in that same situation. Death is not on the horizon, but a death of sorts… with family, friends, and perhaps a wife. Is it enough to just find someone to spend that time with and just hold him? I’m talking about me, of course, not having ever acted on my feelings for men… and trying to stay married to my wife. Spending two hours in a man’s embrace and touch sounds absolutely wonderful. I am sure this man is so grateful.

  3. B. Kerr
    B. Kerr06-07-2014

    Different cultures have different practices. Many European men will greet each other with a kiss on the cheek and an embrace while western cultures have the impersonal handshake with limited touch. I would so have yearned to have been European rather than western, but I now am being more open and honest with myself. I WILL initiate more embraces with other men, some of whom are willing to accept it and then also willing to initiate it. Others may take longer to break through the barrier, but with persistence, it CAN be brought down.

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