This article was written by Nick Fager, Psychotherapist & Cofounder of Lighthouse.lgbt

You know that animalistic part inside of you that just wants to get off, seek pleasure, be used, use others, let loose, dominate, submit, indulge, etc…How do you feel about that part? What is your relationship like with it?

Do you accept it, embrace it, incorporate it into yourself, bring it into the light, celebrate it?

Or do you hide it, shame it, cut off from it, keep it in the dark, compartmentalize it, reject it?

For the most part, we all have two distinct parts of ourselves: a civilized, proper self that we present to the world, and an animalistic inner slut. The proper self abides by the rules of right and wrong, as determined by society. The inner slut simply wants what it wants regardless of what society deems “right” or “wrong.”

But often, we apply those rules of right and wrong to our inner slut, because society has deemed our slut “wrong” consistently over the course of our lives. This applies to everyone, but is especially true for the queer community. Our basic sexual desires have been labeled wrong, less than, bad, disgusting, even criminal. To what degree did those messages get internalized for you?

Its impossible to avoid internalizing them altogether. Most of us end up labeling our most basic desires as wrong or bad to some degree. As a result, we start to fight against them instead of exploring them. This leads to repression, denial, splitting, anxiety, depression, and of course, not-so-fun sex. At the core of a huge number of mental health issues is this very basic war within the self. Energy rises up within us when we get turned on, and instead of expressing that energy, we deny or repress it, leading to a build up of energy inside that eventually overwhelms or drains us.  

It doesn’t stop there; it affects our relationships as well. What is unacceptable or repellant in us becomes unacceptable or repellant when we see it in others. We tend to project our own shame onto the people around us. So for example, if you are ashamed of the part of you that wants to have sex with a lot of different people, you might reject or judge someone else for expressing that same desire to you.

You might be having a great date with someone, and then learn that they have had sex with more than ten people in the last year (or month, or week) and have a reaction of disgust or shut down. This is likely your own internalized shame projected, the internal rule book of society flaring up saying that people should only have sex with a certain amount of people, even if they are being safe. A great date and a potential relationship can crash and burn in a flash of internalized shame.

You might find yourself judging or turning away from your long term partner when they finally feel safe enough to tell you about that kink of theirs. There might be some underlying belief that those kind of desires should be kept to oneself. Again, projecting your internalized shame can put a solid relationship at risk. In reality, those moments when your partner shares a new side of themselves should be celebrated and seen as opportunities for deepening the relationship.  

In order to ease the internal and relational suffering caused by internalized shame, we have to dive within and do the work on ourselves. Ask yourself: what is the relationship like between your proper, civilized self and your inner slut? Do they get along, or are they at war with each other?  Do they accept each other as parts of our human experience, or does one consider the other wrong or bad?

Improving the relationship between your proper self and your inner slut starts with becoming aware of the messages that you have internalized. Which of your sexual desires do you consider wrong or bad? Maybe it’s okay for you to be a sexual being but not with certain categories of people, like certain age groups or body types. Maybe it’s okay in your mind to feel attracted to a certain gender, but that one fetish, not so much.

Once you become aware of your shame, you can start to question it. You can begin to recognize that you have no control over what turns you on, that you did not choose to have them, and that there is nothing wrong with them. You can accept that the only real choice you have is whether to align with them or fight against them. You can begin to bring love and acceptance to your desires instead of judgment and hatred. And finally, you can begin to explore your desires in safe and secure environments with people who will not shame you for them but actually encourage them and draw them out into the light. You can give yourself permission to have fun with them, again and again and again.

This process is very gradual, but undoing our shame and putting these two parts of ourselves on the path towards integration and harmony is one of the most important task that we have in our adult lives. It is right at the core of the self love that everyone seems to preach these days but few actually understand.

And yes, the inner slut needs to be contained to some degree, but shame should not be the mechanism through which that containment happens. Rather, you should wander through life assessing which situations are appropriate for the civilized self to take the lead, which are appropriate for the slut to take the lead, and which are appropriate for the many other sides of you to take the lead. The goal is to reach a point where all of the different and beautiful parts of yourself are working together in harmony to ensure that youre not only surviving in the world but enjoying your life to the fullest, and the freakiest.     

Want to learn more about how to best embrace your sex life? Lighthouse is proud to offer a range of LGBTQ affirming resources who can help you do so. Click here if you’re interested in connecting to a therapist or other healthcare professional.

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