Addicted: The Dark Side of Gay Sex

The American Psychiatric Association doesn’t consider sex addiction a legitimate mental disorder, but for some young, gay Philadelphians, it’s a very real problem.

We all put up with a certain amount of naughtiness from our boyfriends. We look the other way when he flirts with the twink in the grocery store checkout line, quietly log out when we notice he’s been Facebook-stalking his ex, and fold his clean socks neatly on top of his “secret” porn stash. But imagine Derek’s surprise when he stumbled onto a sex kit belonging to his longtime partner of 28 years, John, in their bedroom.

It was a kit that John devotedly tucked into his luggage whenever he went away on business each week.

“It wasn’t your typical just-in-case couple of condoms,” admits John, a resident of New Hope. “There were large bottles of lube, lots of condoms—even though I didn’t use them all the time—and sex toys, like dildos, ropes and ball gags.”

He and Derek had agreed to an open relationship some years earlier, but over time, John’s once-in-a-while pursuits turned into risky five-night-a-week affairs and a database carefully and painstakingly categorizing his exploits with some 500 entries. “It’s like cigarettes,” he says. “When I first started smoking I got a hit from it. Sex is the same. It got to the place where a standard hookup wasn’t enough, so I started adding various levels of intrigue to make it less vanilla,” like barebacking and having sex in “dangerous places where I’d get caught.”

At the height of it, he says, he spent more time scouring chat rooms and hookup sites like Manhunt and Craigslist than sleeping or working: “It clearly was escalating to a higher and higher place, and I couldn’t continue the increased urgency and frequency of what I was doing.”

But when Derek found out after going through his partner’s emails, John agreed to see a therapist who helped him understand that the urges were more than those of a run-of-the-mill horny boyfriend. Turns out he was suffering from a bona fide addiction.

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