March 31, 2021

Season 2, Episode 9 (Ed Swaya)

Season 2, Episode 9 (Ed Swaya)

We were lucky enough to have marriage and relationship counselor and author Ed Swaya come by The Q Lounge to discuss his story, how the world can affect the LGBTQIA+ community and were honored to discuss his book Sex, Death and Tantra. 

For any inquiries
email is sexdeathandtantra@gmail.com

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Transcript

Hello, and welcome to The Q Lounge Podcast. I'm Eric and I'm Gil. Join us as we discuss news stories and life situations. As they relate to the LGBTQIAPK+ experience, please visit us at theQloungepodcast.com and hit that subscribe button or listen wherever you get your podcasts while you're there. Please leave us a five star review and don't forget to tell your friends.

Eric:

Hello and welcome to the Q lounge. I'm Eric and I'm Gil. And today we are honored to be joined by Ed Swaya, a marriage, counselor, family, counselor, and tantra teacher. Thank you ed for joining us. How are you?

Ed:

I am well, thank you for having me appreciate it. Oh yeah,

Eric:

definitely. Our pleasure. So how is life right now? How is life in a COVID kind of world?

Ed:

Oh my God. My late aunt Rose in her last year of her life said that whenever you'd ask her how she was doing, she'd say I'm bored and boring. And I have used that line so many times because. I'm a little bored and I'm a little boring. That is how life is going in the pandemic. I can get more specific if you'd like, but it's the same thing. It's not all that interesting.

Eric:

Yeah. I can relate to that. I've enjoyed parts of it, but I've also, I can totally relate to the bored and boring part

Gil:

all over again.

Eric:

It really, yeah. Yes. I still feel like we're in 2020. It's even though I have no issue writing 20, 21. As the date and I haven't at all this year, I still feel like I'm in 2020. So it's a carry

Gil:

over bad, carry over.

Ed:

There's something I am noticing, which is different. And it's been this month in February, I think there's something about it being at 11 months where people. Friends and clients are saying, Oh, on February 11th and March 11th. This happened on February 8th and March 8th. So if something about being one month away from the year anniversary that I am noticing, I'm remembering the weeks before we actually locked down, clients are remembering. The, a month out. Oh yeah, this was then in February. We were in New York and Oh my God, the virus was there. And so there's a lot more of that. And really until this month, I've had no sense of time. Everything feels like it could be March. It could be July. It could be last week. And I can't discern that, but something about March about this being February one month from March that has me being aware. Oh, That was then, and this is where we were. And so I'm a little bit more aware that we're a year coming up on a year. Yeah, that's true.

Gil:

Yeah. I would say this was my last month. What? A year ago, this month I was in Seattle actually visiting friends and I just cause Oh, wait a minute. I flew. That was a thing before travel.

Ed:

I guess you may have even hugged your host. Yeah.

Gil:

That's true. I had a couple of drinks within six feet. Oh yeah.

Eric:

Yeah. I was actually bored and boring. I told, I was telling Gil before we started that, like I went to the gym for the first time in a year today was my first day back. I was like, it felt so amazing. I've missed this place so much, but yeah, it's been like a year since anything. What was it like for you to come out and how was it difficult for you to accept yourself?

Ed:

There was something about by also came out a hundred years ago. I came out in the eighties, so it's a very different world today than it was then. And when I was first. Figuring out exploring my sexuality. I did not have the experience that many gay men have of feeling different from the time they were four, because for me, I was attracted to girls and I was attracted to boys. I just thought everybody was attracted to boys as well. Everybody being. The boys. So it, wasn't this experience of feeling like I was so different all along. I just assumed naively that everybody was like me. So I think that protected me from a lot of that feeling isolated and alone, growing up and Coming out to myself was not that difficult because again, it wasn't the content. I had a girlfriend at the time and I was, you know, consensually and not hiding, but was having sex with boys in college. And but again, it wasn't an experience of me feeling like I was, so alone for so many years So coming out to myself was not a big deal coming out to my peer group was not all that hard for me, although it was hard in the same way as it is now with my oldest friends, they were the people I was least comfortable telling. And I think that's true even today with people My family was a whole other story, which I'm happy into, but yeah.

Eric:

How was it coming out to your family? I know you're Middle Eastern, right? So was there any cultural disparities or anything like

Ed:

that? It was, yeah, that was really hard because that in, in Arab culture, homosexuality, while present is not talked about, is something that. It is not only bringing shame on to me, it brings shame onto my family. And so my parents were very displeased and angry with me for actually not wanting to hide. I didn't hide. I was not willing to pretend I was someone, I wasn't the family events. I brought partners back. I was just out and they didn't speak to me for the better part of a year, because they were really trying to get me to not come out. To not be out in the world. Oh, wow.

Gil:

And how was the experience during, especially the AIDS crisis? Especially in the, in the eighties, because even growing up here in the Bay area, we lost an entire, pretty much an entire generation. Let's just call it like what it was. There was no help and stuff like that. From a person who was grew up in it, instead of me reading about how was it during your

Ed:

time? I was miraculously spared the gruesomeness of that, because I had just moved to Seattle from New York. In 1984. And that's when I just first heard about it when I was here rather than living through that in New York city at the time. So I had none of my friends from college. What'd you get? I graduated college. I'm dating myself here in 1982. I was in somehow that in-between generation or somehow that I left New York. At the right time, quote unquote the right time. And didn't have that experience of losing friends and community. That was not my experience. Okay. Very

Eric:

interesting. Have you noticed now in general people struggling with coming out or with AIDS and stuff like that, as we've progressed in this country and in the world, as far as there's a lot more medications available to us, things are more accepted in a lot of ways. Have you seen any change from an attitude?

Ed:

Yes. A lot and no, and surprisingly, not a lot because that people still to this day struggle with coming out. I was at a friend of mine's kid's high school graduation, one of the most in one of the most progressive private schools in the city and one of the most progressive cities in the country. And I might even say in the world, Seattle's very progressive around orientation stuff. And what I noticed was that For the young women in the graduating class, this is a graduating class of about a hundred kids. And probably about eight or so women were identified as queer or in the queer straight Alliance. And zero of the boys in that graduating class had the same identity and occurred to me that even with, and again, Progressive parents, progressive school, progressive city boys did not feel safe to come out. And that is still true to this day. My my daughter, who's just in a freshman year in college now. Oh yeah. I realized. Yeah. She looked in the book she's younger. Even in her graduating class, a lot of the, and women in her cohort identify as BI or queer or lesbian, but none of the young men in that same class did the same thing, even though it was. Seemingly obvious to me and to her that there were certain young men in the class who were who seemed to be that they would identify as gay. So again, just, it is much easier and it is oddly the same. Okay. No, that makes sense. One other point about that. And I think I should credit Dan Savage with this. Cause it's not my original idea. I think it was him who said the downside of all of the gay liberation that we've done in marriage equality is that most progressive heterosexual people say that coming out is not a big deal. And think that it's easier now because Hey, we have marriage equality and we've got all these people are talking about it. There are shows out there with gay people. Yeah. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And that is what I noticed that a lot of well-meaning progressive heterosexual folks take coming out to a non-issue and I would argue today, it is not a non issue. It is still a very big issue.

Gil:

To the end. I was saying that the row you spent the rest of your life coming out. Every time you meet someone new, every time you go into work, every time you go, wherever, that's what you end up doing.

Ed:

And even older folks who are coming out are finding it. I might even argue as difficult as it was, 20, 30, 10 years ago.

Eric:

That's true. With all the difficulty of coming out and everything else like that how does that play into the houselessness in the gay population or the LGBTQ population, as well as like suicide, it tends to be higher in the community drug addiction.

Ed:

I can't speak intelligently about the houselessness population, just cause I, I will tell people whenever that conversation comes around, that even if I were King for a day and could direct the cities and to do something, I don't I'm feel at a loss at what to do around the houselessness people who are unhoused. And unsheltered, I don't know what to do to make that any better. There are people way smarter than I am, who who, who can speak about that. But again, LGBTQ kids are often a way more on the streets and unhoused than their heterosexual counterparts. So again, that speaks to it is still not an easy thing to come out. And the costs of coming out are very high.

Eric:

Yeah, absolutely. And that leads into suicide and addiction and a lot of mental health issues. Can you speak on any of that a little bit? Sure, sure.

Ed:

Ask a question of what do you, I could speak on that for hours, but what is it that you're

Eric:

Oh, I'm just how am I going to phrase it? I guess just in general. Cause like I said, suicide is much higher in the LGBTQ population as well as drug addiction. Where do you think that stems from? Do you think it's still just as rampant as it was before? How do we help to curb it?

Ed:

I think the way we help, but that's an easy one is let's work on accepting people of all genders, gender identities, sexual orientations, because that's at the root of what is What is causing people to feel like, Oh, I'm not okay. There's something deeply flawed about who I am. I'm different. I'm not different in a cool way. To most of the to many of the population. Maybe not the most, although I don't know that, but who I am is not okay. I think is at the root of a lot of addiction. Mental illness issues. And again, throwing on being excluded from families, being shamed, the threat of being killed or being killed all of that stuff as much higher in the LGBTQ population. And then add on any of any people of color who are LGBTQ and you get, double, triple, quadruple whammy in terms of stressors on. Coming out in a really challenging time to come out.

Eric:

Yeah. Yeah. We often talk about there's the societal pressure or the stigma from society, but then there's also the cultural aspect. Like you were just talking about being that I'm from the Latin X community and Gil's Latin X as well as Asian communities. There's a whole lot of. That cultural influence. And then we can also have religious influences and everything else, which can also go hand in hand with culture.

Ed:

Sure. Yeah. I think in some ways the Arab culture is similar in terms of, we grew up, I was an alter boy in my church and in the Orthodox church and the orthodox churches is just not at all welcoming of out gay people. And I think I'm. Fairly sure. This is accurate. We had my daughter baptized in the church and it was important to my parents and it was important to me, not because of a religion for me, cause I'm not a Christian. And I was definitely raised in that environment, but I'm not, I don't identify as Christian, but to me it was very cultural that in the Arab community, in New York, That is how babies adopted or birth. A biological are welcomed into the community through baptism, and that's why baptism was important to me. And when my daughter was. Five or six months old. My parents asked if they if they could baptize her. And I said, yes, and my late husband was kicking me under the table. Why are you saying yes to this? And again, to me, it was a very cultural thing. And what I was aware of that the priest Stumbled. I was going to say choke, but that's probably too strong, but stumbled over the words cause he kept what he'd normally say in a baptism ceremony is, the parents, her parents, and he always choked over choke this too strong. He hesitated or we were parents and he always said family because my parents were there. And but I think we were the first Parents of a child Zoe's baptism was the first in the Orthodox church for the, where the kid had gay parents and not heard of anyone else doing that before then. I have not heard of anyone else doing it after, but I'm sure people have done after.

Eric:

Oh, that's beautiful. And you're a trailblazer in that sense. So yeah, we need to get those stereotypes and those views. Out of the mindset and start to be more open. I think

Ed:

I had a fun experience. I had a friend who her mom was very interested in the fact that Zachary and I adopted a child and she kept asking her daughter, my friendship, Marianne, what do they do with their baby? And Marianne said, they, Feed her. And they put her for that and also want them to meet us. Or her mom came over and we to the house and we had lunch and we passed the baby around and we talked and had coffee and all that. And it just, she said, Oh, I understand now she had no frame of reference for it. And that's more, that's also gendered as well as orientation, but men don't. Take care of babies. So what are they, what are two men to, with a baby? So she really wanted to, she was in her early eighties at the time. She just wanted to understand what two men would do with a baby. And then she saw that we parents had this baby and she's Oh, okay. I get it. Now. It was very much, it just needed to see that two men could actually be parents. Yeah,

Eric:

that's great though. At least she was open to seeing that and everything else. That's really great. I agree.

Ed:

She does. She always asked Marianne how how we were doing and how's that what he was doing.

Eric:

I used to have a client who was that I used to work with on like fall prevention and stuff like that. And she was in her nineties and she was from England and she was super progressive. And her son and his wife was. Super Christian. And she was always like confiding in me how they were always fighting about gay rights and stuff like that because her son would have his issues with it. And then she was just telling I didn't raise you to be this close minded. And here she is in her nineties no, like you're going to be more open to it. So I always thought that was cool. Tell us a little bit about your late husband, Zachary and your daughter, Zoe, and how you guys came to adopt her and all that. And what it was like to be a gay. A couple married, couple raising a daughter. And was that difficult?

Ed:

No, it actually was not difficult at all. We met in 1994 and we were fuck buddies for maybe four or five months. And then all of a sudden we said, Oh, this has maybe a little bit more than that. And he was a first grade teacher, so he always loved children. And I was. I was not one of those people that said I have to be a parent. I was just, I was open to it and he wants to be a parent. And I remember I'm a psychotherapist, as you mentioned, I was working with a. A sibling group of a brother and a sister in their late twenties and early thirties. And they brought their father in to talk about some really hard stuff, abusive childhood by their mom by alcoholism addiction, just neglect. I Just a really hard. A hard childhood and what I was aware of, what I felt so honored to witness was that dad's love for his children. And even though what they were not talking about was not, rainbows and unicorns at all, but seeing his love for them. That's what clicked for me like, Oh, I want that experience. I want to parent knowing that it's not going to be easy and all again, rainbows and unicorns, but his seeing his love, feeling his love for his children and their love for him made me want to do that. So we got married in 1999, but it was again, not a legal marriage. And then in 2000, 2000, yeah, 2000, we started the adoption process and it took us a couple of years for Zoe to find us. Okay. Awesome. Great. Nice. And we were there at her birth not in the room, but at the hospital. And we were still in touch with her birth mom and birth grandma and birth siblings. And

Eric:

I was just going to ask that, cause I know in your book, which we're going to get to in just a minute you talked about how it was an open adoption. So are you guys still talk with them and they're still part of her life? Yeah. Yeah, that's wonderful. That's beautiful

Gil:

because you don't want to separate your kids did that again. You don't want to separate the kids, but you have to have an opportunity to see, the birth parents and yeah, that's great.

Ed:

Right from when I was figuring out how we wanted to adopt from, I of course, looked at it through a psychological developmental perspective. And it seemed to me that if a kid could ask their birth parents, Hey, why, how did this come to be that you placed us with somebody else? And that she could get the answer and it wouldn't be a mystery. It wouldn't be, Oh my God, you didn't love me. It was no, it was, this is an act of love. I, her mom felt like she was too young and not prepared to be a parent. So she found us, reached out to us on my birthday, which is always

Eric:

beautiful

Ed:

when she was 20 weeks pregnant. And we got to talking, met her. And

Eric:

That's wonderful. That's really beautiful. And I think the way you did it and everything else, it. It's good for Zoe your daughter, because you said she can just go and talk to her birth mother about like this and that she doesn't have all these things in her mind plaguing her. Was it, this was it that blah, blah, blah. So I think that's really healthy and that's really great. So let's talk a little bit about sex death in tantra that. That's your book, which is an awesome book. I read it. I spent last week reading your book. I know no one can see it, but no one listening can see a vinyl. Hold it up anyways.

Ed:

Totally on screen. He's not lying to me.

Eric:

I really enjoyed that your book. And so this one is to talk a little bit about that and how did you get interested in tantra?

Ed:

I will answer that, but I'm going to throw the question. I'll answer that first. Then I've got a question back for you. I don't quite know how I did for some reason. I remember as, as long as as long as I was an adult, I think in my early twenties, I'd heard about. The marriage of sex and spirituality. And for some reason that always spoke to me and I would look for books. And every time I read about tantra, which my crude understanding was that it was about the marriage of sex and spirituality. It always made sense to me. And yet as a gay man, it felt very Excluded from that, because everything I read about it was about that tantra was bringing together male, masculinity and femininity, which was embodied by male bodied people and female body people. And through the intercourse, sexual intercourse of penis in vagina, that marriage of. Those two essences is what opened up a greater path to God. And clearly as a gay man that did not speak to me. So it was always frustrating. So that's the first part of the story. And then through a series of coincidences, which I do outline in the book, I realized that my internships, my secretary internship supervisor was. Teaching and studying tantra for gay men. And that's how we, and that was a year before my then husband Zachary was killed and he and I he was killed in a car accident. Don't want to leave that completely out there. And he and I started working with Ken and. That's how we got into studying tantra through a queer lens, through a tantra for two men. tantra for men in general, to answer your question. Yeah.

Eric:

My

Ed:

question for you, what spoke to you in the book?

Eric:

I liked when I was reading it, how you're talking about how everything's an experiment and then just letting go, but still being in control of your pleasure and being able to simultaneously deal with pleasure and pain. I also liked a lot that you used yin and yanga lot. I'm a acupuncturist and a doctor of Asian medicine. So that completely spoke to me. And then also I'm a yoga instructor. So when he started talking about chakra is and everything fully in it.

Ed:

Got it. Got it. Yeah. The yin and yang question is something that I have fought with my teacher about and probably less so now, but we could still fight about her. But in the lineage I study they use they use the term masculine or feminine to describe energies and that. Does not sit well with me because when I it's two linked to gender for me. Yes. And so that's why yin and yang describe energies. And don't describe gender.

Eric:

Yeah. Plus they, they seed one another, they engender one another. So like, when we speak in Asian medicine terms, you can't have yang without yin and you can't have a human without yang. They lead into each other. That's part of the tai ji symbol. Of in those circles or the seedings of each one into the other. So

Ed:

did I hope I spoke about that and that may have been an earlier iteration of the book, but yes, that is to me that, yin yang symbol implies motion and yin take it to an extreme can become yang and I There is a circularity, absolutely not the other. So I embody both. I have. Parts of me that are quite yin partly they're quite yang and. I hopefully, as I keep practicing can access either of those I have more choice around one access those energies within me.

Eric:

Oh yeah. That's great. And it's great that you can actually decipher that between the two because a lot of people don't. So I think that's great. Another thing that really stood out to me when you were talking about The workshops that you went to and like how uncomfortable they were at first, because there was a room of naked men and all this other stuff, and then your body issues come up, how thousands of body issues and self issues and everything.

Ed:

And

Eric:

Reading that part of your book too, was just really fascinating. And it just really made me actually sit back and think with myself. And I noticed as I was reading your book, I would actually take a step back and reflect on my own thoughts and my own perceptions of myself just from reading what you were going through in your book. How has that been for you as far as do you still have those issues and do you

Ed:

completely healed of those? I love completely my body. Never. I, you want me to take off my clothes now? I can do that. I don't know. I'll then I'll

Eric:

Venmo you some money if you do

Ed:

I do charge extra for that. They're not the same. And I think just because we are. As a culture, so fucked up about bodies. I think that while I think where men are in the body shame categories, probably where women were 30 years ago, and I would argue that where we are now is pretty crappy and women it's gotten much, much worse with. So I think we all grow up. Yeah. With a complete lack of acceptance of our bodies. And, just looking at the three of us on screen here, we all have different body is in different body types and that, but we all do. And yet there is still such a narrow view of what an acceptable body type is. I will argue that gay men. Have maybe not, maybe have a lot more variance on types. We there is a huge Bias toward, lean and muscular, et cetera, like the rest of the culture has. But I think for men, we have different types where that people can find acceptance and embracing of different body types, but we are by no means leaps and bounds ahead of anybody else. We just have a little more wiggle room, a little more breathing room in that arena, I think then than straight people do. And I think women are brutalized in the time they're tiny around what a woman's body is. Okay.

Eric:

Absolutely. Like I'm a former dancer. So like I have body images from that and just as everything else, I was actually watching a documentary a few months back called the Adonis effect and it was talking about gay men and The lean body type and the muscular body type and all the extremes that gay men will go to achieve that. And then how they. Are what's the word there. They have the privilege that they can go to any parties they want. They can go to all the clubs they want. They're like pulled into all the scenes and VIP access. And then they was talking about how like the twink community, how a lot of them have extreme eating disorders. They're popping pills all the time just to try to stay thin. And then you have the bear community and they're talking about once you get to the bear community, there's still the issues within that too. But. It seems to be less judgmental it's at least if you're within that body type, because I've been with bears or talk to bears who like really don't like twinks or twunks or wolves or otters, what other animals are gonna throw at us. But I thought it was an interesting documentary. And to hear you say that just spot or spark that

Ed:

How was the work for me, the being an erotic space with a with with really no two men, when we were naked, we were often those workshops were, 12 to 20 people. We all have different bodies and to be able to just. Relax into that to be, to fight relaxing into that to just begin to accept that we all have our demons are on body types. And again, I really want to say this with a huge nod, to as hard as it is for us as men, as gay men. I would argue where we are. It is really minuscule compared to what women experience.

Eric:

Oh yeah, definitely. Yeah. Yeah. We often talk on this podcast about how this country and our societies like founded on misogyny and. Yeah, toxic masculinity and male fragility.

Gil:

Let's say don't add on age as well because in the gay community, once you hit that 30 God forbid, you're out of date,

Eric:

I'm expired.

Ed:

For a lot of that. Yes. And then also I'm 60. I did say that out loud and again, we have, 60 year old single women have a much harder time finding sex and relationships. And yet I, as a 60 year old man, have all sorts of opportunity for sex and relationships with younger men, older men, my age men. And again, in some ways I feel that is one of the blessings of being gay. Is that I'm just because I hit over 30. Yes. There is some of that. There isn't, I'm less visible than I was then, but that's really not been an impediment for me. So that's a good thing or an aging in the gay community.

Eric:

What was the process like for you to write this book and what levels of catharsis did you achieve with it? Or I'm assuming it was a cathartic work for you?

Ed:

I think we ought to probably give the context of the books. I don't know that we've talked about quite yet. Zachary. Zoe's other dad was killed. He was hit by a car when he was walking our dog when Zoe was six and a half years old. And at that point he and I had been studying tantra for a year, quite extensively. And. So in the book, I talk a lot about that year of when he and I were studying together with our teacher and the things we were learning and the many people think that tantra is just about having. Amazing orgasms. And while that can be part of what tantra is, that is so much not a focus of of tantra. So it was about using pleasure to deepen our understandings of ourselves, to heal from, wounds things around, coming out around how we are in the world, et cetera, et cetera. So that was a lot of what we were working on. Prior to Zachary's death. Okay. So at that time, he and I both had a pretty intimate relationship with our teacher, but it was not, it, yes, it was highly sexual, but it was also highly emotional and deeply psychologically connected. And so when I was at the hospital seeing Zachary's lifeless body. I didn't know. I had Zachary sister was there and a friend, but I said who else can help me through this? And my tantra teacher was someone that came to mind because I was most intimately connected with him in a. Caring supportive relationship way. So I called him at two o'clock in the morning and he came up to the hospital and helped and sat with a body and helped just be there for me. And then from that night forward, he and I forged this incredibly. Intimate, highly erotic, highly emotional bond over that next year, which helped me to heal from him. My grief from the loss of. My husband and my overwhelm and my terror of being a single parent. And so that's the, so that is the, this year of working with him post Zachary, his death was incredibly erotic, incredibly healing, incredibly. Life-changing I credit Ken my tantra teacher with saving my life. During that year and allowed me to really create a new and amazing life in the aftermath of that grief. So I just thought that I was using sex to heal. We were using and studying the tantric principles and using all of that. To heal from my grief. What I was aware of was that story has never been told it has still yet to be told except by me. So to me it was like I want this out there. I want to let people know there are. Ways in which sex can heal all sorts of things, body shame sexual dysfunction, as well as healing from the loss of a husband. And so that's that, that's the. And I just want them to get that story out there. No, I

Eric:

appreciate that. Yeah. Really quickly have you seen tantra use to help people like survivors of rape or sexual assault or anything like that?

Ed:

Yes, peripherally, but I, I've not done a lot of teaching. But really getting this book out there I've done a little bit of teaching has made me want to, and I'm, figuring out how once we're able to safely gather in erotic spaces together that how I want to teach. Okay. Yes. Yeah. I mean it really, these principles can help heal grief and loss from a death from abuse, from trauma. I've seen a lot. Yes. I've been part of people dealing with those things from the, from my first day in studying tantra.

Eric:

And do you still work with your teacher

Ed:

now? No, we don't. We don't do formal work. We're more friends now and we will, we have some shared clients and and we can talk about that, but we surprisingly don't see each other very often, but he and I have a deep and abiding love for one another that I assume is Unbreakable. Okay.

Eric:

What types of insights to the tantric principles and philosophy give you on dealing with your grief? Yeah.

Ed:

I'm gonna I'll answer the question, but really, I go, that is what the book isn't outright. That is, but it is so tantra on a very high level is about becoming exquisitely aware of your own body, which again, most of us have to work really hard to do you as a dancer, have some. Different awareness than I do about how you got to learn about your body. So for me, tantra is about learning about energy centers in my body and using sex to sex, sexual pleasure is energy. It is feeling it's feeling energy. And so learning how to Harness is that the right word channel? Is that the right word? MoveI don't know, the right words, that energy around in my body in other ways than just having an orgasm, a traditional orgasm. So being able to move that energy around in my body is a big part of what. That body awareness and tantra teach us how to do that's the backdrop to answer your question, what we did with Ken and I did the experiments we did. Were to generate that energy too, to be able to feel pleasure and move that pleasure in my body, to the parts of my body that were hurt or broken by the loss of Zachary. So for example, when I heard he died, it felt like I was kicked in the stomach. And kicked in the chest, kicked in the heart. So for that year predominant bodily sensations and emotional sensations were, I always had a stomach ache or my chest was always tight. And so that really was what I was, where the grief sat with me. And so we would. With Ken's coaching would bring some of that pleasure. We were experiencing through our sexual encounters. Bring, move that pleasure in my body, to my belly, to my heart and bringing pleasure to the parts of me that were broken, that were in pain. Actually made the pain more palpable, I would argue made it more painful, but in that, make it more painful, bringing pleasure to the pain is what was transformative to to the pain part. That I hope that is what I spent the book explaining. So it is how to bring pleasure to the parts of us that are broken, that are hurting, that need attention. And in that chemical reaction of bringing pleasure to pain is what was the the process I'm wanted to share with people. And also what I credit. I know I sound like I'm being dramatic here, but Is what brought what saved my life in the aftermath of Zachary's death.

Eric:

I loved reading like just a different perspective because so many people have their ideas of what grief should look like and how one should deal with grief. So it was nice to have this perspective and it's completely as you said, it's never really been out there for anybody to actually openly discuss it. So the fact that you put it out there and it was just really great to see that. Part of it or to read that part of it. I really enjoyed that.

Ed:

Oh, good. I'm glad it gives, if it gives you a sense that there are many ways of dealing with grief than I've done my job.

Eric:

Yeah, no, it was real. It was really great. It was really mind opening. Like I said, I was already taking steps back thinking about like, how can I get more in touch with myself to realize that I'm doing this to myself for doing that to myself? Like whether it was like. Negative speak to myself or whatever it might be. So it gave me a lot of insight into that.

Ed:

And I would argue if you using the tantric principles and practices, if you, as you get more in touch with your body, And where does that critical part of you live? What part of your body live in et cetera? And you can learn how to bring pleasure to those parts. That will be hopefully I assume not an easy journey, but a very rewarding journey.

Eric:

Yeah, I'm usually stuck in the root shock.

Ed:

There are plenty of tantric principles and practices for you to make that easier may have a little more ease around your root chakra. And I like to tell people where the root chakra is and what that

is.

Eric:

is the first chakra and it's at the base of the tailbone around the anus and stuff like that.

Ed:

And for men that is, and for gay men an easy way to access that energy center is through anal play. And so that's a way to access. first chakra energies. And

Eric:

you talk a lot about the chakras is especially one through three I've noticed. And then four a little bit where they're in some of these questions I know are like coming a little specific. Cause I was like, I just want to know the answer. Cause I read the book. I want to know what else happened. Did you guys have the same types of. Drills and stuff like that to work on like the throat and the third eye and the crown and stuff like that, or

Ed:

absolutely not. And that's the part about, that's why the word, I wish there was a different word than tantra for what we practiced because the lineage that I study. Anyone can say they do tantra and people can get an erotic massage with a happy ending and call it a tantric massage again, not disparaging that, but that's not the tantra that I study. And so people just use tantra just for any kind of more conscious sexuality or more sexuality appears to be conscious. You asked the question and it completely escaped my mind.

Eric:

I just talked to him. I was asking if you guys did other drills about our work on the upper chakras. So

Ed:

he is not at all prescriptive. There is not that they. Seven it's very much of, and I would come together and check in with ourselves and do some meditation and conversation and say where are we moved today? What are we move to explore today? And that is so we, one of the radical. Parts of my book and our story is we would talk about what we would follow our desire. And again, one of the most radical things that I kept trying to tell in the book is trust your desire, because I can't think of any place in my life where people say to any, but to say to each other, What do you want and trust what you want is sacred. Trust that even if it is just, I want to have a quick orgasm trust that it doesn't have to be, I want something profound. It can be, I want my Dick sucked. I want to be spanked. I want to be whatever it is, trust your desire and be open to what that brings you to next, because that's where the magic happens is if you do trust your desire. And that sounds really easy to do. And it is one of the hardest things that I've had to do. It's part of the hardest things. My clients will tell me it's the hardest thing to do.

Eric:

Oh, yeah. Yeah, I think a lot of people will think tantra and they think the four hour orgasm that Sting talks about, or it's an excuse to just have sex with everybody or have an open relationship or whatever it else it is. I know in your book, you said you still have not had a four hour orgasm. Have you had your four hour orgasm yet?

Ed:

I have not. I need to give Sting call, but my orgasms, I get better and more interesting. And are Less the standard ejaculation cuming that we all talked about. Although those are quite pleasurable, I'm not, but these are, this is where if you can actually think of an ejaculation, you can imagine that is some energy. SP skirting spree coming out of the body with some force. And what often what a whole body orgasm can be is not a jacketing in that way, but taking that energy and moving it up in the body instead of out. Through your cock and balls, this has taken that energy and moving it up, this chakra system. And that is where that's the beginnings of that whole body orgasm that some people will talk about with tantra and tantric sex. Okay,

Eric:

You talked about the first time you engaged in water sports, and just how intense that orgasm was. And I was just like, wow, like I've never been a fan of water sports. We've talked about that on this podcast as well. I've partaken in it to a degree, but I've never really been a huge thing of, it's never been huge for me, but yeah. Reading that was like, Oh my God, maybe I should give it another shot. Maybe once I learned some principles to take it there

Ed:

again, it was not something that I ever thought about. And it was, I was never, it was never caught my eye. It never seemed very sexy to me. And then in a tantric setting like, Whoa, wow. It blew my mind. Yeah. And not in an orgasm ejaculation kind of way, but in a very different way that I had not experienced up until that point.

Eric:

Nice. I know in the book you talk about going to certain places with Zachary when he was alive and then having been going back after he passed away, like you've mentioned like the bath house in Florida and stuff like that. Do you still have you gone back to that bath house? I know when your first time you went back, it was pretty intense. And you had, you broke down, you said you went into every one of the rooms and just broke down, but have you gone back or have you gone back to any other places that you guys used to routinely?

Ed:

He and I had a a good routine when we traveled to explore sexual places in cities and yes. I go, whenever it makes sense for you to go and And whenever I travel, I always enjoy seeing what the sex club and sex party scene is in whatever city I'm in.

Eric:

Awesome. And I know you talked about everything pretty much everything as an experiment. So can you enlighten us on what that means?

Ed:

Sure. I'll try to do it in the elevator speech mode. You two, doing this, inviting me to this podcast. Is an experiment. And so you're going to decide when you're done. If this, what the data is. Was it fun? Was it a drag? Was Ed boring? Was he interesting that I've learned anything? I don't even want to publish that podcast because it was so terrible or yes, I do want to publish this podcast. So you, everything we do. Is an experiment. What I decide to eat as an experiment, if I decide to have pizza today versus think, how does it make me feel? How do the taste in my body and using the data from the experiment to inform whatever the next experiment is, me dating this person, me having sex with this person, me living in whatever neighborhood I'm living in me being a therapist, that's all an experiment. And the profound part of that, which is what I use in my psychotherapy practice, which to be clear, my psychotherapy practice is not an erotic practice at all. Except my teacher would say it is because it's, I'm practicing being in my body while helping my clients practice, being in their bodies So as a psychotherapist, what I often. Push people with is that there is not a right and a wrong way to do something. There is not a healthy way to do something in an unhealthy way to do something because people will often come into therapy saying they want to do whatever is quote unquote healthy. Is this a healthy activity? Is this an unhealthy activity? So I really come down and people think it's gimmicky and it's not. It's there is no such thing as a healthy thing, you get to do an experiment. And see what the data is not experiment. If you keep having relationships with unavailable men, that's an experiment. You can decide to do that experiment again, to see how that is. You can have sex that doesn't feel good to you. That's an experiment. But the key piece is to. Get the data from it. When I have this kind of sex, when I eat this kind of food, when I do this kind of outing, when I take this kind of vacation, everything's an experiment there isn't a right quote-unquote right thing to do. And people struggle with that. But. Really, I'm not just saying that as a new agey thing to say. It's you get to do an experiment yesterday afternoon when I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and I was tired afterward, and I've done that experiment a hundred times to know that when I've peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I get tired after it. And my brain is more foggy, but it's not an unhealthy decision to have peanut butter and jelly. It's an experiment and I'm collected with data like, shit. I don't feel good after I do this. I'm not dissing peanut butter and jelly. I love peanut butter and jelly. It does not. It makes me tired. So I have to remember, whereas you might not be tired after a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. So everything is an experiment. Water sports is not right or wrong to do you get, you've done the experiment. And now after seeing a different interpretation or different experience of it, you may be interested or willing to do that experiment again, who knows it's not healthy or unhealthy right or wrong to do. And that is probably the foundation of my psychotherapy practice is everything's an experiment and there's not a right way to do things. Let's figure it out together. Wow.

Gil:

It's different. Cause I know everyone always looks for structure for routine, for the right answer for, to please someone else pretty much so that they could loosen their troubles. And I know it breaks everyone down when you're talking about everything's vague and gray, that it's like, Oh, Lord. I have to think now,

Ed:

God, what I envy and I don't really envy it, but what I what I think of is about if I were a fundamentalist in any fundamentalist, any religion, or if I joined the military is each of those structures tell you what to do and when to do them. And there's no experimentation except for the grand experiment of joining. The organization, but there is they tell you what's right and wrong when to do X, when not to do X, when to eat what, when to wake up, how to fix your bed, how to get married, who to get married, see what a marriage looks like. And in some ways the enviable part of that, but it's also the deadly part of it is that you don't get to do experiments. Except for the grand experiment of joining, but they tell you what's right and wrong. And my experience is life is not that way. We get to do experiments and see what's right and wrong.

Eric:

What advice would you give anyone who's interested in tantra or wanting to get into it?

Ed:

Aside from the plug, you're going to give my book. Quite frankly, they're the reason, another reason I wrote the book is that what this lineage of tantra I've never read anything that explains it, what we do. And if we talk about it, people I wonder what people get from this conversation about it, but it's, there's nothing people always want to Google it and see what tantra is. And if you Google it, you mostly get women who have back lit hairs. They look like angels and talking about having these wonderfully beautiful sexual experiences, but they don't actually explain. To, anyone what the non erotic part of it is and how you get to have these magical sexual experiences on a lot of it is just performative. We use scented candles and mood lit rooms. And and it's a lot of massage and it's there isn't that. Isn't what tantra is in my, in the lineage. I study. Okay. And so I wanted people to have some sense of what it is that we do and what is it I've learned. So it's actually really hard to find people who are studying this because it is underground. It is frowned upon by most of our culture. So it's hard. I think you've been reading my book, give you a sense of what, how I got into it and what this lineage has taught me. And I think if somebody else who studies in the same lineage, but, or write a book, they would write it a different. Okay.

Eric:

how has this book been received by my friends and family

Ed:

and. Friends have read. I really do wish people, I didn't know, would give reviews of it because I don't really know. I know some people that don't know me But people who have who heard me speak will read it. And then they'll send me an email. I've got an email address on there, on the book. I'm saying it was pretty, pretty wonderful and life changing and blah, blah, blah. But I don't know how people that have not heard me speak care review because people don't tend to reach out to authors. I've gotten a few. That's not true. I've gotten a few reach-outs from people who've been very moved by it, but I don't know if 10 people read it. Other than that thought it was garbage. I just don't know. And my family has decidedly decided not to read the book. They're not interested. I'm a little annoyed about that, but it's all in. Good fun. I always tell people, if you read it, you will know things about me that you may or may not want to know about me. Very personal, very It's a very personal and very intimate view of who I am and my journey to get here.

Eric:

Yeah, no, it very much was. And I really enjoyed that aspect of it. And I will leave you a review because I thought it was an awesome book, so good. And so people can reach you at sexdeathandtantra@gmail.com, right? Yes, we will. We will also put that on our show notes.

Ed:

Great. And people know how to easily buy it. Any book seller can get it for you. And you can get any of your online and have your favorite online booksellers. Have it?

Eric:

Yeah. And I'll put some links up on the show notes as well. Anything else you want to tell us about this book? That's a really great book. Everybody you guys should read it.

Ed:

I, of course would be more asking your audience if you read it, let me know what it was like for you. Cause it's, again, it is a book that I can confidently say has not been

Eric:

written before. Yeah, I don't. Yeah. I've never seen it or heard this subject matter. Talked about before. So I think everyone should check it out again. It's called Sex, Death and Tantra. And they can reach you at sexdeathandtantra@gmail.com. So all that will be put on there.

Ed:

Thank you for doing the podcast you're doing and getting LGBTQ folks to talk about things that maybe we don't talk about over dinner tables too often. So thank you for doing that. Oh, you're welcome.

Eric:

Thank you. Thank you everyone for joining us and we will see you guys around next time. Thank you.

Gil:

thank you for listening to us. We hope you enjoyed your time in The Q Lounge. If you have any questions, comments, suggestions on topics, or if you would like to be a guest or contributor, please email us info.TheQlounge@gmail.Com or through our contact page at theqloungepodcast.com. Don't forget to subscribe to continue listening wherever you get your podcasts. If you want to be our sugar, daddy hit that donation button.

Eric:

Until next time live in your authenticity.