Return to Innocence: Not Applicable.

Return to Innocence: Not Applicable.  

While listening to the song, Return to Innocence by Enigma, I found myself pondering the title. What does it mean to “return to innocence”? When I think of the word innocence, I find it synonymous with “virginal.” Virginal, leads to sexuality. Sexuality has me going over past experiences, both good and bad. Being untouched, “untainted” as some would say. It lead me to reflect on my own sexuality and how I am living, dealing, growing, and coping with the experiences that have formed me. How perhaps we all are.

I thought of my intimate relationships. All of my lovers have said in one way or another, that I seemingly have issues around connecting in sex, on an intimate level. I disconnect and become distant, or sometimes sway the opposite direction and become very needing of attention, expressed love and validation post. Sex with a lover sometimes can be hit or miss. Maybe I subconsciously feel there is more pressure to satisfy on a selfless level, rather than the more glorified selfish (see “DOM TOP” and “SUB BOTTOM” in the gay dictionary) level in our community as gay men.

I have found that my feelings of being sexually empowered have been more formed around my encounters categorized by more anonymous settings. Which, I would say isn’t uncommon with gay people. I feel its a result of how a lot of our first introductions to exploring our sexualities in their physical manifests came to be. 

One of my first sexual encounters was when I was 15 with a boy in college I met online. He was a college freshman who wasn’t out to his family. We formed a bond online, and after a few weeks of talking, he drove 4 hours to meet me. We rented a cheap dirty hotel room. The night didn’t end well. I was ridden with anxiety after performing oral sex that I ran to the bathroom and threw up. Burdened with Catholic guilt, I told my father. My father, being both the loving and avid watcher of crime television kind of father, immediately jumped to the worst possible scenario. I was warned, coddled, and scolded with the fears of being kidnapped, drugged, given AIDS, and further forced to question whether or not I was taken advantage of. Is it wrong to assume this had an imprint on my sexuality as an adult? 

Is it wrong to assume that this would ultimately lead me to associate sex with fear, so much that I would unknowingly only feel secure when it’s done in the shadows of society? In dark rooms at gay parties, or in intoxicated scenarios of a typical Fire Island Friday night underwear party? Away from judgement and away from light? I think so. I think a lot of gays have similar, or worse experiences that leave them having to develop multiple faces of their sexualities- much unlike the majority of our straight counterparts who were happily encouraged and left alone in a room together, whether at parties or summer camps, in hopes of creating a bond that would ultimately lead to a marriage union. 

While my friends growing up were encouraged to go to prom with their boyfriends and girlfriends and anxiously awaited sex in all its awkwardness, I had to plan how I was going to meet my boyfriend after prom, and pray to God afterwards that our exchange of bodily fluids would not result in an earthly punishment such as a much shown slow death by HIV.

I laugh now at the awkwardness of my sexuality, and hope that tomorrows future of queer youth won’t have to develop in theirs in the shadows (judging by the pseudo social utopia setting of the movie “Love, Simon” perhaps that future is not so far from us). However I have become increasingly aware of my own experiences marks on my own life. 

Why is sex so hard sometimes with someone when you're in love with them? Is it the vulnerability? Is it the difficulty turning off the switch in your head that alarms with questions of whether or not they still find you sexy? Is it the lighting? Is it that you feel guilty that you know you would feel more comfortable if it was someone you had no connection with? Someone who didn't know how much you were working out. Someone who didn't know both your physical and professional insecurities?  Or is it the aftermath of an illicit sexuality, that is ultimately still forming?

All of these questions and confusions I find so difficult to answer. I’m sure the answer is a little of everything, plus the weirdness of hoping a roommate doesn’t hear you. 

In my life, I have seen gay people who never learn to cope or challenge themselves to grow from these feelings. I don't  want to sound like a morally righteous reformed whore, but I have seen the endless parties with back rooms, the shallow muscle seekers, the parade of drug induced/self loathing clones who wonder how they have the lust of everyone around them (or via instagram) but not a partner to share their life with once the sun comes up. They seek a partner to join in on these habits with, not to take them away from. I have seen the inability to connect and love, that isn’t as visible under the beautiful, successful and wealthy outer surface. It is my ultimate fear to be one of them. For, its easier to join them and be praised, than to speak out against and be labeled a “goody two shoes” or a hypocrite. Especially in regards to  something as important as sexuality. The aspect of life that has had so many defining moments in our identities as gay men. 

I have met a man that I love so much, that all of my former masks of “sexual empowerment” have only now become transparent in their masking of a scared and selfish sexuality, praised by many similar surrounding bearers of these values. 

I don’t think having sex with a lot of people is wrong. I would just sway you to question the aftermath of your psychology it will have you. Wonder, will you become numb to its power to form a bond? Or will you not? 


I don’t think its right to want to return to a state of innocence. Partly because it’s impossible. Just as no matter how many green juices you drink, you won’t have the immunity of your once former self. It’s the same that no matter how much you believe or change your sexual lifestyle and practices, you cannot retrieve a state of virginity (I’m sure a lot of churches will disagree with me since this is one of their selling points to get you in). I know that although I may be taking steps to consciously deal with my sexuality as it has developed to this day by thought, reflection, and the highs and lows of actions; it is a process. It is a step by step ladder of learning through trial and error, building self strength, and taking the time to do so. Moral righteousness is not warranted but  I do believe sharing your wisdom with others who seek it, is a good thing. 

I can’t return to innocence, but I can always continue to grow and learn. Life, is ultimately an enigma. 


Nathan Ayon