Who will cuddle me?
Of all my questions in attempting to live a chaste life as a gay Mormon, there is one that has pained me the most physically, emotionally and spiritually. A pain that I best describe as a dull suffocation of love and connection. From my God to my trusted friends I ask, who will cuddle me?
I spent several years in therapy learning to love myself. It excavated the cavities for self-acceptance, vulnerability, and mastering shame. Above all, it enhanced my god-given ability to both receive and give love. And as I flourished in my self-care, I soon discovered hunger pains for physical affection.
Death Rate at Orphanages
These hunger pains for physical affection are born into every single infant. In the first decades of the 20th century, the "germ theory" came about and people learned sterile conditions would help lower the 25% mortality rate of children under 5 from diseases.
Orphanages had a death rate of nearly 100% of children under 2, so measures of complete sterility were implemented with minimal human contact to prevent the spread of disease. Children were isolated from one another and were touched only when absolutely necessary. Despite these antiseptic changes, many children were still getting sick and dying. It wasn't until years later they learned that the lack of loving human physical connection directly affected the babies' ability to fight off infectious diseases. Meaning, these babies were dying from a lack of love. (The Power of Meaning, Emily Mozhan Marno)
Lack of Love On Adults
I'm no therapist or physician. My college degrees are in agriculture and construction management. Yet I pose the question: if the lack of loving physical contact could actually kill off babies at such a high rate, why would that lack of love not adversely affect a grown man or woman?
I used to believe the the answer to living a single life was a laundry list of developing my talents, building strong friendships, staying close to God, serving others, etc. While these "sterile" conditions indeed help, I can't help but think the lack of physical love and how detrimental it is to my well-being.
When I speak of physical love, I'm not referring to hot sex or a heavy make-out session. No, it's something more simple and whole. As awkward as it sounds, I call it "cuddle love". But this territory is only talked from polar sides. 'Have great sex' is said by one group or 'avoid all physical contact to keep yourself "worthy"' is said by the other. Both parties claim theirs is the only answer.
I've tried both sides and personally believe there's more to learn from God about love and it's physical manifestations. I feel there's too cultural smoke that needs to be cleared so we can see what "heaven's" love looks and feels like.
There's been many articles written about societies lack of physical love. I know people who participate in organized "holding" nights to help maintain boundaries for chaste physical holding. I read of the growing number of professional therapeutic "cuddlers" who are hired to cuddle other adults in a non-sexual way.
It's Not A Therapy Problem
For a long time, I used to see my desire to be held by another man as an unresolved "issue". Something that needed to be fixed through therapy, repentance and prayer. While I'm still learning God's boundaries and what that looks like in my personal life, I'm giving myself space for personal revelation.
It sad to think that the combination of best intentions of the orphanage workers and their misguided knowledge would actually be lethal for these infants. Further light and knowledge is a great blessing.
What's the conclusion? I don't know. I'm learning that what worked in my 20's doesn't really work in my 30's. I used to think the answer was quality male relationships and quality time. I thought I just needed good hugs from my guy friends and arms around the shoulders. But the matter of the fact is, I have many close guy friends I do have that with and while they fill that "sterile" part of a healthy life, I've yet to learn how God wants me to fill that other side as a gay man.