Tag Archives: LGBTI

WHY YOU SHOULD LEARN TO EMBRACE REJECTION

I recently had a revelation about rejection while I was on the dance-floor in a random gay club in Boston. It was a Thursday evening in July and I was in the club alone. My friends were coming in from New York later that night and I had just enjoyed a dinner for one in a nearby restaurant frequented by Boston’s local gay community. After a couple of beers, a nice buzz settled over me and I was not in the mood to return to my hotel, so I did what I sometimes do when I’m feeling super confident (read tipsy) – I went out alone. Going to a gay club (or anywhere for that matter) by one’s self can be both daunting and empowering. It’s a lot easier when on holiday in a new city as you are unlikely to return anytime soon and thus need not worry about developing a reputation for being that guy who goes clubbing by himself (although there is nothing wrong with that either!).

I casually strolled past the door of the club a couple of times, conducting a ‘drive-by’ to try get a sense of what the place was like before committing to entering. ‘Just walk in and you can always walk out if you’re uncomfortable’, I said to myself, building up the confidence to actually go through with the act. Finally, I entered the unknown and was greeted by a sea of gay Bostonian boys. Another beer later and I was feeling even more confident and very pleased with myself at having the balls to go out alone. I tried to make eyes with the locals (eye contact – a dying approach to picking up in the world of gay dating apps) but received very little feedback. I began to feel a little despondent and conscious of the fact that I was dancing on my own (Robyn reference).

That’s when I realised that rejection is actually a wonderful thing.

To be honest, I hadn’t actually put myself too far out there to be rejected but I had been overlooked which at the time felt like the same thing. Nonetheless, I came to understand that rejection is actually a blessing in disguise. The way I see it is that with each rejection you’re one step closer to meeting the right person, whether that be the right person for the evening or the right person for life. It’s like a game of odds. The more chances you take, the more likely you are to win.  You’re also bettering your game-playing skills with each chance taken.  Let’s get mathematical for a minute to demonstrate my point further. Imagine that your Mr. Right is one guy in a group of 100. The chance of finding him on the first try is 1%. Those odds are pretty low but as you approach more guys and eliminate those that rejected you from the group, your chances get higher. Ultimately, you’ll find your man even if it means having to deal with 99 rejections along the way.

Now, I know that life is not a neat mathematical equation and I’ve probably over-simplified the problem but, in my experience, you do have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince (I’m still looking for mine and my lips are chapped but I’m hopeful!). The way I justify disappointment in love or picking-up in a gay club is through reframing the experience and seeing each rejection as a step closer to success. This is the same approach I try take in all areas of my life. Whether it be a career disappointment or missing out on renting what I thought was my dream apartment or waking up too late and forgetting to book tickets to see Britney Spears, I’ve noticed that something better is always just around the corner.

So instead of seeing rejection as negative or allowing your ego to sabotage the experience to reaffirm your feelings of unworthiness, change your thinking and learn to springboard off rejection, using it as a tool of empowerment. You must also never forget that in the end you want to be with someone who wants to be with you just as much as you want to be with them. If someone isn’t interested in you, there’s nothing you can do to change that so you shouldn’t exert emotion or effort trying to make them feel otherwise.

Image by Vladimir Snezhin

Now read this – 57 THINGS I’VE LEARNT ABOUT BEING GAY IN MY 20s

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WHAT I LEARNT FROM BECOMING ALMOST FAMOUS

When I was a young gay boy and I felt disconnected from my peers, bullied by older guys because of my sexuality and generally despondent with the world, I would imagine a time in the future when I would be rich and famous. I’d see myself as an Oscar-winning actor, or a billionaire entrepreneur, living in a world where people longed to be my friend. This was my coping mechanism, my way to justify the hard times.

“One day, they’ll all wish they had been nicer to me. One day, they’ll see how amazing I am and they’ll regret the way they treated me”.

I thought that I had overcome these feelings but when an incredible opportunity came my way that almost made my childhood dreams and wishes come true, I realised that inside I was still a bruised young gay boy. It made me question the motivation behind my desire to be successful in all areas of my life and led me to ask, “Are gay men so obsessed with fabulousness and perfection because of the trauma we suffered growing up?”.

Watch this video to see the full story.

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WHY I’M SCARED OF SEX

I don’t know about you, but my sexual education was a little blurry (much like the video below). It was very matter-of-fact, clinical and to be honest, terrifying. The key message was around safe sex and all the horrible things that could happen to boys and girls who didn’t follow the safe sex (or abstinence) route. This has had a lasting impact on the way that I view and enjoy sex. Watch the video below and comment to share your experiences around sexual education.

 

 

 

 

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STOP MAKING BEING GAY ONLY ABOUT SEX

It has taken me a long time to reconcile my feelings towards sex within a culture that overemphasises its importance. Let me preface this article by saying that I love sex and I encourage everyone to have a healthy and enjoyable sex life; my argument is that we need to redefine the importance of sex in modern gay culture. On one hand, I’ve learnt from my environment that being a gay man allows you the freedom to have as much sex as you want but on the other hand, I’ve experienced first-hand how over-sexualisation within gay culture creates anxiety, self-esteem issues and complications with holding down a steady relationship.

Our gay culture is a result of our tumultuous past, a past in which gay sex was overwhelmingly associated with shame, hate and fear. Being gay was seen as a sexual perversion, not as a personal identity. The majority of closeted men had no means by which to express their identity other than through seeking sexual relations with other closeted men. As such the act of sex become intrinsically linked to one’s sexual identity. Until recent history it was unacceptable and more often, illegal, to have a relationship with someone of the same sex so the only outlet for gay men to express themselves was in the bedroom (or any other discrete place). Sex was the means by which one could act on their sexual identity and hence it became one and the same.

As laws changed and society’s acceptance of homosexuality spread, sex was brought outside of the bedroom and into the mainstream. It was used as a rebellious articulation of gay life, a big F U to all those who were already disgusted with the gay ‘lifestyle’. Gay sex even became political. The issue that we now face is that the importance of sex hasn’t evolved. Our modern gay society is at a crossroads, a tension point where we need to take a look at how sex plays into our identities and the importance we place on it within our gay culture. This is so timely as at this very moment people are waking up to the fact that the gender of the person you sleep with need not define your identity. Why then is sex still such a focal point of gay culture?

We’re fed messages of sex through gay media, social media, on posters for parties, in nightclubs and on television. We feel pressured to be having regular, hot sex with many men because as a gay man it’s apparently our privilege. Yet so many of us still feel lonely, disconnected and unable to maintain relationships. I believe that this Grindr culture, built on sexual ‘freedom’ is nothing but an outdated expression of our identity.

The purest form of our confusion around sex can be seen on social media. The most popular InstaGays are the ones who show the most skin or post pictures of themselves with their legs open, asses out, in provocative positions. We support this behaviour by showering them with likes and follows and mimic what they do in the hope that it will be reciprocated. Sex sells, and my God us gays are buying it! It becomes an endless cycle which we cannot escape and social media is making it worse. It upsets me when gay guys on Instagram who I admire for using their social influence for good post shirtless pictures with the hashtag ‘thirstythursdays’. Why does everything have to be reduced to sex? Then again, I’m a hypocrite because I do the exact same thing. The most liked picture that I’ve ever posted on Instagram is one of me shirtless in skimpy shorts. I know that these pictures are going to provoke a response and when I’m feeling in need of attention, I post them. My desire to be wanted sexually, mixed with my need for validation contributes to the cycle.

My personal behaviour and our culture’s obsession with sex has a ripple effect that runs deep – it impacts our self-esteem. In order to be having all the sex we should be having we need to look like people who other people want to have sex with. We strive to look like porn stars, muscled, young and hot and if we don’t, we feel unworthy. Personally, this is something that I’ve struggled with since my teenage years. I’ve spent years trying to unpick the stories I used to tell myself that linked my self-worth to my outward appearance and my attractiveness to other gay men. When I was younger I’d put off dating guys until I felt that my body was ‘good enough’ or I’d get drunk before having sex to mask my insecurities around being naked. I would go to big gay parties and nightclubs and feel anxious because I knew everyone there would be shirtless and that I wouldn’t feel confident enough to take my shirt off. Everywhere I looked, all I saw was sex.

I want to reiterate the point that I do love sex and one of the most fun things about being a gay man is being able to sleep with other men (you should try it…). What I do worry about though is that our approach to sex needs redefining because its importance in our culture is causing loneliness, anxiety and inner personal struggle. I for one have experienced all of these things. Emotionally, I feel that I want to settle down and be happily married yet I find myself behaving in quite the opposite way. I say that I want a boyfriend but I’ll just as readily have casual sex. I see this tension on Grindr when a young gay guy writes in his profile that he’s looking for something serious yet three minutes into the conversation he’s already sent or requested dick pics.

While I’m not advocating that we all stop having sex, I question whether or not we’ve unconsciously inherited a culture that places too much emphasis on the act of sex itself. I’m also concerned that earlier definitions of homosexuality as a mental illness and our own personal shame have caused an unnecessary and unhealthy emphasis to be placed on sex.

It’s not just the way we show ourselves that continues over-sexualisation of everything in gay culture; the way we profile gay celebrities and the way that straight people show their support for equality is rooted in sex. They’ll be topless on the cover of a gay magazine or raising money to fight homophobia in a naked calendar or dancing semi-nude with their sports team in the name of pride. We take someone who is a positive role model, strip them down and sexualise them, which only demeans their message and perpetuates the notion that in the end, it’s only about sex.

Gay Pride Parades are another example of how we overplay sex as a core tenant of our identities. Pride is no longer about protesting for equal rights with banners and chants but rather it’s about working out in the gym for 3-months prior to parade day to look sexy wearing nothing but a g-string. I’m all for homovisibility but when it comes to Pride Parades or Mardi Gras, I find it hard to identity with the majority of people who participate; my expression of my homosexuality isn’t linked to my body or to sex alone yet this is the overwhelming image portrayed during these festivities.

Ultimately the outdated belief that to be gay is just to have sex with men is the unsteady platform on which many opponents of marriage equality stand. They use the argument that gay marriage will lead to the legalisation of incest or bestiality. What they’ve not recognised is that both those things are only related to the act of sex and not to personal identity. A man who has sex with a dog is still likely to be a straight man. His sexual perversion is not a reflection of his personal identify, unless of course he identifies as a dog.

So what is the solution? I propose that we stop making being gay about sex alone and try to skew our focus towards other parts of our identities. Most of us reading this post are lucky enough to live in countries where we can express our personal identity in ways beyond sex. We must continue to celebrate our diversity, our richness of character and our multi-layered identities without reducing everything to sex.

Image by Erick Monterrosa for Homotography

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FRIDAY MUSIC FIX: ROBYN

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Three seconds into Robyn’s ‘Hang With Me’ and I’m hooked. The electronic beat grabs me by the ears and forces me into alt-pop heaven. 10 seconds later and the distinctive Swedish vocals kick in. I’m melting into a kaleidoscope of juicy sounds that permeate throughout my body, causing the hairs on my arm to stand up. It’s like sucking on the teet of the universe and all I want to do is drink more. I want, nay, I need to dance to this song forever; carelessly throw my arms into the air, close my eyes and let Robyn envelop me. Not many songs have such a visceral effect on my insides but this song is different. It’s a perfectly formed pop-song that takes me on a journey. I’m in a field in Sweden, I’m on a dancefloor in San Francisco, I’m 16 years-old and in my bedroom, I’m having sex with a gorgeous stranger. 3 minutes in and I’m having a full blown ear-ection. Finish me off Robyn. And she does. And the song ends and 3 minutes and 34 seconds later, I’m spent.

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Painting by Kris Knight 

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10 IRISH MEN YOU CAN NOW LEGALLY MARRY

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As the votes are being counted in Ireland’s referendum on gay marriage, it appears that the country has chosen ‘yes’ to marriage equality. To celebrate the occasion here is a list of 10 hot Irish men that you can now legally marry:

10. Colin Farrell 

9. Chris O’Dowd

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8. Daniel Day-Lewis

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7. Jack Reynor

6. Niall Horan 

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5. Cillian Murphy

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4. Michael Fassbender

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3. Jonathan Rhys Meyers 

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2. Pierce Brosnan

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1. Jamie Dornan

Jamie Dornan Gay     

 

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THE TWINK IS DEAD

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What happened to all the twinks? I’m not referring to the beautiful, jacked-up 20 year-old boys who make their livings dancing half naked on podiums and posing in their underwear. I’m referring to the skinny boys in midriffs, covered in glitter who weren’t afraid to express their femininity. Ever since bigger became better and masculinity in the gay community became the norm for what is considered attractive, the image of the effeminate young gay guy who likes show tunes and tight fitting clothing has disappeared from public view. In his place are perfectly sculptured bodies of bros who dress like dudes who try to pass as jocks. With the onslaught of regularly updated images of ‘masc’ gay guys that fill our feeds and our minds and our fantasies, we have subconsciously been persuaded to value masculinity as desirable in a mate. As such, the colourful assortment of gay men that used to make up the spectrum of homosexuality has dwindled down to just a few archetypes that now form the basis of our aspirations.

The twink of yesteryear has suffered the most in the age of masculinity. Unable to grow a beard or chest hair to keep up with changing tastes, his only option is to join a gym and exercise his femininity away. Turning his back on his nature and often mocking the person he once was, the 2015 twink strives to look like the cover model of a gay magazine or a YouTube star from a homoerotic underwear advertisement. He is forced to turn to athletic enhancers to increase his size because his naturally skinny frame won’t develop as quickly as he would like. Striving for impossible perfection and acceptance, he looks to social media to parade his gains and show the world how far he has come from a girly boy to a man brimming with alluring bravado.

The twink is dead, reborn and remodelled to fit into a gay world where effeminateness makes us writher in discomfort because it highlights our own insecurities. Don’t tell me that you’ve never in your life felt slightly uncomfortable while in the presence of an overly expressive gay guy. It may have been only once, in high school, many years ago but for that one moment that flamboyant person held up a mirror to something inside of you that you didn’t like. Then again maybe you can’t relate to this experience and for that you are a better person than most because within the greater gay subconscious, flamboyance is something that makes us uneasy.

Although, maybe it’s something more than our own insecurities that make us resent feminine qualities? Something else all together? Something greater and at the same time, far worse? Maybe it is the move forward towards gay/straight equality that has altered our perception of male femininity.

Progress in social acceptance has made us strive harder to be like our straight counterparts but the victim of this social change has been the twink. There’s no place for yesterday’s twink in a gay world which wants to model itself on the straight world. Once upon a time the outrageous twink served as a big ‘up yours’ to the world of bigots, homophobes and fear mongers. ‘You don’t like gays’, he would say, ‘well look at how gay I can be’. Nowadays our mantra is ‘we are just like you’ and while our lives are in many ways better for it, diversity of expression within our own community has suffered. We have even turned in on ourselves and ostracised those who are not as quick to change. One only needs to logon to a gay dating app to see discriminatory profiles with bios such as ‘masc 4 masc’ or ‘no fems’ or ‘looking for REAL men’. This pressure from within, caused by changes from without, has forced many young gay men to conform to a narrow representation of homosexuality, one that espouses the idea that straight-acting, masculine ‘men’ are the pinnacle of desirability.

We have buried the twink of years past and in doing so we have lost a part of our own identities. We must learn again to embrace the differences within our own community by first respecting and nurturing ourselves. While it’s hard to be yourself in a straight world where they want you to be just like them, it’s even harder to be yourself in a gay world where the pressure to conform is often greater. The bravest thing you can do is to be yourself, as feminine, gay, flamboyant or naturally masculine as that may be. In doing so you will be commemorating all those twinks who have died looking for love, acceptance and bigger biceps.

Image Credit: Pantelis 

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MODERN GAY STYLE: YVES AND KARL

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A few years ago I was recommended a book entitled The Beautiful Fall, a true story about the fabulous Parisian fashion world of the 1970’s and two of its most influential characters, Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld. The book is a captivating look into the interwoven lives of Yves and Karl during that time and recounts tales of parties, drugs, sex, exotic travels, infedelities and feuds between the two designers. Yves and Karl shared similar friends and even gay lovers, albeit not willingly, and were surrounded by the most beautiful and famous people in the world. Each designer created his own mesmerizing universe, so vivid and seductive that people were drawn to the power, charisma and fame, but in the end it was to make them bitter rivals. Their stories created a yearning within me for a time gone by when the fashion world was simultaneously bohemian and excessive, where celebrities and fashionistas weren’t overexposed through continuously updated media channels and where careless youthfulness was embraced and exploited. The author of the book, Alicia Drake eloquently takes the reader from Paris to Marrakech, from the beds of Yves and Karl to the restaurants of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, while respectably and affectionately sharing with us the lives of two of the world’s most famous fashion designers.

Click the link to see more details about The Beautiful Fall: Fashion, Genius and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris

Now a new biopic called Saint Laurent has been made about Yves’s life during the period of 1967 to 1976 when the designer was at the height of his career. Nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival and directed by Bertrand Bernello, the film is scheduled for release on May 8th.

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THE MOST TERRIFYING THING ABOUT BEING SINGLE

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I’m terrified of being single but it’s not for the reasons that you may think. I’m not afraid of becoming the gay caricature of the old lady, surrounded by her cats, mainly because I’m allergic to cats but also because I’m not one to think too far into the future.  It’s not that I’m afraid that my soulmate is not out there (although it’s taking him a bloody long time to materialise if he is) but rather that I may be enjoying my own company too much in the meantime. You see, my biggest fear is not that I won’t find a partner or my soulmate but that I’ll be just as happy if I don’t.

I’ve noticed how some of my friends always seem to jump from relationship to relationship, easily finding a new partner with whom they become instantly infatuated. I on the other hand find it particularly difficult to forge such relationships. While some people need the security that a relationships brings to their life, I’m content being alone.  I refer to myself as a ‘social loner’ – a person who enjoys socialising, spending time with friends and making news friends but who is just as happy, perhaps even happier, being alone. As I become older and engrained in my routines and habits, which have rarely had to accommodate someone else, I worry that it may become difficult for me to adapt if and when a serious someone comes into my life. Will my morning, perfectly-timed schedule be interrupted by someone else’s schedule? What if I don’t feel like talking after a long day at work? Or going out with his friends? Or being in someone else’s company? What if I want to be alone?

Although it may sound arrogant, most of the time I can provide for myself everything that I need to be happy. As such, there hasn’t been a real drive to find a partner and therefore I don’t think I have made a particular effort to look. From friends, to work, to spirituality and community, I have created for myself the things that I need to keep me satisfied. What about sex you ask? Well I can find that too, although I’ve learnt from experience that sometimes it’s easier and less complicated to satisfy one’s self in this department. It all stems from my belief that we are whole as we are and that there is no need to wait to find our ‘other half’ before we can feel wholeness. This is one of the most dangerous myths of our time, that we need someone else to save us or we will never be saved. As homosexuality has become more accepted we have adopted the dangerous heterosexual ideology that to be truly happy we need to find a monogamous partner that will be with us happily ever after. What if we never find that partner though? Does that mean we cannot live happy and fulfilling lives? While I think it’s beautiful to be in a loving relationship and I certainly wouldn’t mind it for myself, I don’t think we need to be miserable in the meantime.

My Facebook newsfeed is often full of gay guys lamenting themselves for being single or congratulating each other when their relationship status changes. I’ve always been confused by the latter as if being in a relationship is some sort of achievement that needs to be acknowledged. I think that this comes out of the fear of loneliness which is particularly strong amongst gay men as we have often felt ostracised because of our sexuality. Perhaps this explains why so many of us are desperate to be in a relationship? It could also explain why there is a constant need for many gay men to broadcast their relationships to the world? The over-the-top uploads and updates might just be a desperate way for us to show the world and each other that we are loved and wanted. Or perhaps it may be because we do indeed love that person so much that we want to shout it from the rooftops. The cynic in me says that it’s the former.

Why listen to me though? All of this is just the rambling of someone who has never been in a serious relationship. Sure I have had flings and dated lots of men and even been in what some might consider the early stages of a relationships but still none of these have been worth the Facebook update. Now that I am older and more aware of the passage of time, I’m worried not about being alone forever but rather that I’ll be just as happy if I were.

Maybe I should buy a cat just in case…

Image by Malc Stone

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THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LOVE AND LUST IS A BROKEN HEART

Matthew Terry Gay Male Model Gay Blog

The article was written by The Modern Gay for Match.com

When I was twenty-three years old I moved to Milan to study at university. Within a month I met a guy. He was the most striking human being I had ever seen. He was slightly taller than me, long brown hair, voluptuous lips, golden tanned skin, a strong Roman nose, beautifully lean body and the most impeccable style for which Italians are famous. He was the epitome of an ‘Italian Stallion’ and an example of the way that I had imagined all Italian men to look before I had moved to Italy. The first time I locked eyes with him, I felt his gaze reverberate through my entire body and I remember thinking to myself that this was what love at first sight felt like.

Milan being a small city meant that we frequented the same parties and places and on the weekends I would regularly spot him walking the streets of my neighborhood. On one fateful evening in my favorite club, Plastic, I finally gathered the courage to approach him. We spoke and danced and drank and immediately the sexual chemistry was palpable. That evening began a year long ‘relationship’ (and I use that term loosely) that taught me lessons to which I still refer today. He triggered a range of emotions inside of me that I had never felt before and as a result I behaved in a way that was completely out of character for me. Instead of being the confident, stable minded person I had always been, I turned into a lovesick puppy that craved his attention and affection. I thought of him as a drug. When I ‘had’ him I was on a blissful high but when he left me, the euphoria faded and I would crave him until I could have him again. It would often take days or weeks before I could have my next fix of him. Occasionally we would unexpectedly cross paths in a club or restaurant and I would spend the rest of the night pining over him and watching him from across the room. If we left together then I would be content but when we didn’t my heart would shatter and I would punish myself by listening to depressing love songs and crying myself to sleep. I’m not sure if he knew the power he had over me or the way that I felt about him but I imagine that the song lyrics I emailed him or the way that I looked at him were clear enough indicators. In retrospect, the manner in which I acted makes me cringe with embarrassment but at the time I was convinced that I was in love. But it wasn’t love. It was lust. I was in lust with him and it took a broken heart to come to that realization.

It is so easy to confuse love and lust, especially when we are younger, as they are both powerful feelings that can be easily mistaken for one another. Love and lust make our hearts beat faster, they are similar feelings that can overwhelm us so much so that we do things that we would never do and much like love at first sight, so too can we fall in lust at first sight. The difference between the two is that lust grows stronger the less of it you receive back from the person with whom you are in lust while love grows stronger the more of it you receive back from the person with whom you are in love.

Lust is sexually driven while love comes from a deeper place within one’s soul. Lust speaks to our egos, our bodies, our animal side and our insecurities. Love speaks beyond the physical, transcending… Continue reading here.

Image by ChuanDo and Frey

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