What Excites Us

Episode 15: Chronic Pain & Sex with Angel Rowe

Episode 15: Chronic Pain & Sex with Angel Rowe post thumbnail image Episode 15: Chronic Pain & Sex with Angel Rowe

Angel Rowe is a professional sex coach, this is his personal story of living with chronic pain from CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) as well as some professional insights as well. We talk about his strategies for coping when first diagnosed and struggling, ow using his non-dominant hand has helped him reframe touch, breathwork, sensate focus, how practice helps, his dogs and being a dog trainer and so much more. One of the things I’m taking away from this conversation is that even if you don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, that engaging in the reframing that Angel has done helps tremendously.

Sensate Focus in Sex Therapy: The Illustrated Manual by Linda Weiner & Constance Avery-Clark.
The app Angel was talking about is called Breathwork.
You can find Angel at albertasexcoach.com or if you are on tiktok, follow him and his dogs as wolfyrain.


Gwyn 0:00
Was it your dominant arm that got injured? Unfortunately, yes.

Angel Rowe 0:04
However, I refuse to be right handed. But I have worked up the skills and I still do try to write and type and everything like that with my left hand and I find it’s good physio for myself to work through it

Gwyn 0:25
Hello, and welcome to What Excites Us the show that discusses sex and sexuality throughout time and place, including the here and now. My name is Gwyn Isaacs, I am a certified sex coach and educator, and today I am talking with Angel Rowe. He is also a sex coach who trained at Sex Coach U, he serves on the diversity board with them now, he trains dogs and he lives with CRPS known as Crips, which is the complex regional pain syndrome. This is a personal and professional conversation. We discuss some of his strategies for coping when he was first diagnosed and struggling, how using his non dominant hand has helped him reframe touch, breathwork, sensate focus, how practice helps and so much more.

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So let’s do this officially. Welcome to What Excites Us! Thanks so much for coming on the show. I super appreciate it. Tell us a little bit about who you are and how you got here.

Angel Rowe 1:55
Thanks for having me. My name is Angel. I am a certified sex coach and certified sexologist and I am a complex regional pain syndrome warrior. I have Crips in my left arm from a workplace injury that I got in 2017.

Gwyn 2:16
What is CRPS?

Angel Rowe 2:17
What it is, is I am continually in pain. The original injury we’re not exactly sure what happened when I was lifting a piece of tubing something in my arm I felt a pop. And after that, like my hand swelled up and it was in pain 24/7 after that, we went through various different like diagnostic tests. I think I’ve seen about five specialists now different kinds of physio and just life skills in that sense. And yeah, the pain doesn’t really go away. It started originally just like my hand and my arm and it’s up into my upper arm, my neck and my shoulder now and into like the actual chest and shoulder area. And so like when you actually research what Crips is, is there’s a whole bunch of different definitions, you’re in pain 24/7 And most of the time the pain is exaggerated compared to what the actual symptom was. So like a flick on a normal person’s arm might only be like a one or a two and a little sting. A flick on something with somebody with Crips might be a nine or 10 and put them out for a week.

Gwyn 3:19
That’s intense. So you’ve had to change everything about your life.

Angel Rowe 3:24
Yeah. Pre injury, it was a very active person. I did CrossFit. I loved hiking, I was into rock climbing, like caving, I did dog sports, biking, anything, I would try it. I worked on the rigs at the time of getting injured. I was just starting my studies with SCU I was also a professional dog trainer and just getting into the world of sports.

Gwyn 3:48
Real quick SCU is Sex Coach U, which is where I trained and how I know Angel.

Angel Rowe 3:54
And yeah, nobody ever prepares you for like the loss of use of a limb. That’s what happened like where I’m at now and being able to like grip stuff and hold things in my hand and like hold on to this like that’s four years of progress and doing fine dexterity movements and physiotherapy to get there because when it first happened, I couldn’t even move my fingers for a while. Like, between the pain and the swelling, it was excruciating. And it didn’t really make sense. So knowing what I know now it kind of makes sense why like it hurts so much to move and that’s one of those things that like the pain, I guess all the therapy and the pain management skills come to help because it’s always gonna hurt when I move it but it’s one of those double edged swords it hurts worse if I do not think it hurts worse if I do too much. So you got to find like that fine line in the middle.

Gwyn 4:41
Wow, that’s an extreme sense of balance. You’re starting to be a sex coach or you were in training when you had the injury.

Angel Rowe 4:50
Yeah, so I just started my studies at SCU, I think I was five or six modules and when I got injured, and yeah, so that put a damper on my studies for a long time there. [I’m] very thankful for all the staff at SCU and Dr. Patty, because she gave me numerous extensions. I mean, I started in 2017. And I graduated in 2020. So I’m very thankful for all the extensions they gave me because it was, it was a battle relearning how to live in that sense, the consistent fatigue, the brain fog, the not being able to get enough sleep, the having to try to learn how to focus through having all that pain, like some of the modules that I started taking took me like three or four attempts just to get through it and reading. And I still have days like that, but it’s getting a lot better. It’s been, like I said, it’s been an uphill battle, but it’s getting a lot better now. Like, I can retain information. I don’t have as many memory problems I do. But I don’t, you can tell what I’m having worse days, because you’ll not only hear it in my speech, but you’ll notice that I’m not retaining things, or I’m repeating things a lot, because to me, I’m exhausted. And that’s all I can muster out of me at that point.

Gwyn 6:03
Does the pain flare equal the other symptoms flare? So like, if you’re in more pain, are you having more brain trouble? Or does it is it just catches catch can?

Angel Rowe 6:12
It varies, so I got a flare up a couple of weeks ago, because I had a occupational therapist come out, and he went to go take a measurement on my arm, and he squeezed it just enough that it caused it to flare up. And I was out for about three days. And I don’t even remember those three days, I was just out in pain, my arm swelled everything like I’m still coming down from it, you can see how it’s all cracked and like dry. And that’s what it does. And I don’t really remember those three days, I’ve been like going through my daily routine cycles, it just kind of goes into like, auto mode. But he asked me to do something cognitive, it wouldn’t have happened. And so yeah, definitely, when I’m in a flare up, or the pain is worse, it makes things a lot harder. That’s not saying it’s not impossible, it just means that I have to work like five, 6 million times harder to get myself to that point to be able to do it.

Gwyn 7:04
Or does it go the other way? Do you have brain fog or other cognitive issues when you’re not having a lot of pain

Angel Rowe 7:11
To a degree. So like today, I’ve already had a life coaching session. And I’m a little worn out from that. So I’m not as sharp as I wasn’t my life coaching session, I can tell I’m getting to the end of my day, and it’s only one. So I can kind of tell when it starts to come on. And that’s that’s a good indication that I’m starting to get fatigued. Although sometimes it does happen in the middle of I could be in the middle of a conversation and all of a sudden, something will just trigger it and I’m gone for a few, or I won’t be able to recover from it. I have to stop what I’m doing. And I’ve had to do that a few times. And it just is what it is. Like I’m learning not to feel guilty about that, because it’s something that I have to do.

Gwyn 7:53

Angel Rowe 7:54
And yeah, to be honest, I didn’t even know what Crips was until I ended up with it. And we thought maybe it was a muscle sprain or a strain or something like that, and then maybe a tear. And then it took a few specialists later and a whole bunch of really painful tests. And they finally came back with you know, this is what we think you have. And it can be that sudden onset. Some of the doctors and specialists I’ve talked to, you know, people who have like bang their hand on a wall and that bang was enough to trigger their brain. And it caused CRPS. The big thing they say is early intervention can actually put you into what’s called the regression stage where like, you could actually be at a low pain level to no pain level and actually function. So they got me into like a eight week program and we did physio like crazy, but then the mistake was made that we didn’t continue with it. And when we stopped continuing with it, everything went back and went back faster. And then that plus all the other stress in my life trying to help spread it a little bit faster than that because I’m more prone to stress injuries now. I get stressed very easy, and I feel it a lot more emotional. So when people say feel your feelings. Yeah, I can do that. [laughs] Like I feel stress. I feel things a lot differently than I ever have before because I can feel it in my arm a lot sooner than I could ever feel it in my body.

Gwyn 9:16
Oh, man, I don’t think that’s what they mean. [giggles]

Angel Rowe 9:19
Yeah, I got I got that one wrong. I got the definition a little bit later on how I was supposed to do that. But I figured well like superstar this. [laughs]

Gwyn 9:29
Before the injury and when you first started going to SCU, what were you thinking you were gonna do with that? Did you have like a purpose? Like, I’m going to do this so that I can do this? Or was it just sort of a vague this seems like the right thing to do.

Angel Rowe 9:42
I fell in love with Dr. Ruth when I was a kid and I really liked what she did. And that’s what I kind of foresaw with this, being able to be on my phone and like just chat with people about sex and come from an actual educated standpoint versus just somebody being like, look, I can talk to you about sex.

Gwyn 9:59
I’ve worried If something really catastrophic, like what has happened to you happens to me that I would just fall to the negative side of life. I mean, I’d like to think that I wouldn’t, but I know that I probably would, at least for a little while. [laughs]

Angel Rowe 10:12
I did. I mean, I think it’s, I think it’s normal. I mean, I had a couple of really rough years. I mean, between feeling like a failure cuz I wasn’t doing my courses, I was so overwhelmed all the time, fighting the WCB systems, that way I could get help. And just trying to like navigate life again, like it was a lot. And I turned into a lot of somebody that I never wanted to be for a while there and then getting the right mental health help and getting the right medical attention that I needed. Like we’re four years into this. And I’m finally have that team in place now. You do go through a really rough phase. I think that’s where my dogs came in handy to keep me out of it, because I use them a lot as physio and having to be busy with them all the time. And doing that kept me focused on something other than myself, and gave me all those little wins that I felt good about, because it was like, cool, we did this thing.

Gwyn 11:09
Tell me about your dogs.

Angel Rowe 11:13
So I have two now I have Dratini, who has been dubbed the diversity dog by SCU. And then I have Evie, both of them are American Staffordshire Terriers, they both show we do sports real heavily, they are a huge part of a program that I’m working on.

Gwyn 11:33
I love that, that sounds really, really fantastic. So you mentioned that having them helps you do physio, like it’s almost therapy for your body.

Angel Rowe 11:44
I mean, no matter how bad my day is, I always have to get out of bed because they have to go out. And I always have to do their food, which gives me something that I have to do. They’re very good about just laying around and doing nothing when I have bad days, which I’m very thankful for. But on good days and stuff, they get me up and active. We do training sessions, we go for walks, it gets my hand moving, because I have to work on dexterity when I do things like put their sweater on, put their vest on, get their booties on and when it’s cold, even just handling their leash, it gets me actually using my hand a bit more. So it’s nice because no matter how bad the day is, I have something that gets me up and moving. Because if I don’t move, it gets way worse. So they work really nicely that way. And they’re just really comforting, like both of them are really good about if I have a bad day, all they want to do is snuggle with me, and it makes the day so much better.

Gwyn 12:45
Okay, steering back to the sex stuff a bit. How do you manage? I mean, especially with it being your dominant arm that’s injured, just I mean, just for personal pleasure not even thinking about with a partner, how, how do you manage?

Angel Rowe 13:04
It has taken some creativity to figure that out. [laughs] Toys have been a good friend. I’ve had to find toys that work, especially because like, again, I don’t really use my left hand for self pleasure. And I don’t use it much when I’m in the bedroom anyways, because it can’t put a lot of weight on it, and vibration and stuff like that causes pain. So I have to be careful what I do put in that hand, right? Double edged sword in that sense. It took a little bit of creativity to figure out A how to use my non dominant hand, which also led to like a lot of self exploring, and I guess reframing touch. Because I’ve never really used my right hand to explore myself. So it’s been like an interesting relearning of myself almost from a different perspective. I’ve had many times where I’ve sat there and laughed at myself going, That was ridiculous. What are you trying to do? Like, you’re not a teenager anymore. That’s not how that works. You should know this by now. [laughs] Give yourself those pep talks. But it’s taken just some creativity, like when I have had sex. And the worst part was after, it’s like you almost go euphoric in the middle of it, and you don’t really notice the pain as much. But after coming down off that high, it hits almost 10 times harder. So I haven’t really figured that one out yet.

Like I haven’t really found that same drop after self pleasure. And it can because it’s less vigorous and less active and less movement. You know that way or like I said, like, it’s like you’re tickling yourself. It doesn’t really work, but it does at the same time. I know like the orgasms are very different partnered, to not and that could be too, just the intensity of that. But what I do know is like the high is kind of take the pain away, I can see why people like BDSM in that sense, you can control the atmosphere and I could see what the highs are all about that sense, but you can get lost in them very quickly and when you come down, it hurts. Because yeah, it is it’s it’s a nice euphoric feeling, not to have that pain be there as intensely. But oh man, when it comes back, you feel like you get so used to a certain level of stuff that when it disappears, yeah, it feels good. But when it like, comes back it punches ya. [laughs]

Gwyn 15:13
Wow, I almost want to go assign people to do that, you know, use your non dominant hand to feel good and see what happens.

Angel Rowe 15:20
It’s weird. It is so weird. Like the first few times it was like, okay, like, I can’t figure this out. Why is this not working? Oh, what the hell’s going on. So it was one of those kind of step back, take a few breaths kind of thing and be like, you know, let’s go back to our sensate type focus, you know, let’s start this without it actually being sexual. To make it sexual, let’s have a little bit of fun like, and see it because even now, like touching myself with my left hand, not sexually, but even like touching myself with my left hand, it’s a different sensation than it used to be. Because through my arm, I feel it more like static. And through my body, I feel it, like the actual touch sensation. So I get two different sensations at once. So it’s, it’s really weird. Whereas like, with just my right hand, it’s just that static sensation of touch and touch. The closest I could probably say is make your hand go numb by sleeping on it, and then try to touch yourself and see how that feels. Because that’s probably about the closest that I can come to describing what it actually feels like.

Gwyn 16:26
Sure. And I’m sure that’s not anything close to what it actually feels like. But I get that. Yeah, that’s. So are there things that you can do to help ameliorate any of this, when you’re having sexual pleasure, either with yourself or with a partner? Are there like tips and tricks that you’ve stumbled upon?

Angel Rowe 16:46
Lots of communication! You can’t be scared to communicate. I mean, that was something that I got blocked on when I was with a partner. And there were other reasons to that, too. But I’ve had to learn to like talk myself through things. Because every now and then I’ll do something that’ll trigger my arm to think that I’m a threat to it. Then all of a sudden, I can feel it start getting tight. It’s like, Whoa, we’re cool. Like, we were just doing this, it’s fine my friend. Like I talked to her like it’s its own person. So lots of communication, especially if you have a partner, like talk to em, let em know what you’re feeling. Especially if you do suffer any kind of chronic pain because it switches so quickly from being feeling good to hurting. And it could be something as simple as you just twitched wrong. So you have to communicate. I use a lot of breathing exercises that took a long time to learn, I couldn’t really get the grasp on it at first I’m like I’m breathing like I don’t understand. [laughs] So it took a little bit of figuring out how to actually breathe, which is something that a lot of people miss that learning part. I really liked that Breathwork app that you could get, because it taught me a lot about breathing. Like everybody was like, get into mindfulness, I’m like this, this doesn’t work. Like you need to explain to me the signs of this because this is not working. I don’t get it. Like I can visualize all this stuff. And it’s just not doing anything. So I found like that Breathwork app and walking me through that. And then I like sensate focus, just that, stepping back and really, really more so focusing on feeling and touch versus the goal of actually orgasming and that that’s your bonus. But all that touch on the in between is so important. And I find that that’s really helpful versus the sitting there and being like, I’m in pain and we’re trying to have sex and I just need to get off instead. It’s that sitting there and being like, yeah, you know, I’m touching my shoulder and it doesn’t hurt it actually feels good. That feels good there too. And actually focusing on it. It gets my mind out of my own. Head on its own from focusing on this side of my body going Hey, like I don’t like this.

Gwyn 18:50
What breathwork app, do you know the name of it?

Angel Rowe 18:53
Yeah, it’s called Breathwork.

Gwyn 18:55
Oh, okay, easy enough.

Angel Rowe 18:56
And I like it because it walks you through how to actually breathe and then they have something for everything. So they have stuff for like excitement and calming down and anger and things like that. So they have different breath routines that are supposed to trip your nervous system to do exactly that. Calm down and breathe and reset, refocus. I didn’t, I didn’t understand the power of breathing either until like everybody kept telling me practice breathing exercises. I’m like, Hey, I’m breathing in there, my nose out through my mouth. Hold it a few seconds like what’s going on? I’m still getting oxygen. I don’t feel any better. Like I probably feel a little lightheaded now. [laughs and Gwyn giggles] And I tried a few of those like, you know, follow this follow that. It’s like it’s not clicking. So I really liked this app because it does it walks you through the different breathing things and it gives you something to focus on and work with. So you actually kind of learn the how and then it’s got like a little bit of here’s the why.

Gwyn 19:50

Angel Rowe 19:51
But yeah, the breathing is so important. And yeah, the communication both of those go really hand in hand because if you start going into like a pain episode and need to stop for whatever reason, you need to be clear about that. And you could come back from it just again, changing your focus and starting to breathe and work through it. And that’s I’ve been there a few times by myself where I’ve had to like stop and like, calm myself down work through it. I’m like, I’m not quitting now. Like, we’re halfway here. Let’s go like what restart [laughs]

Gwyn 20:25
Because sometimes you really do just need to get off. Like that is, that is indeed a thing. Your body sometimes just needs to have an orgasm. In small one big one, whatever. They just sometimes you just need that. And that’s, that’s okay, too. It’s important, I think to recognize that we have sex for lots of different reasons. Orgasm is the one that gets all the the big play. Yaknow. It’s what we think is the important part when we’re kids, basically young people going into it. But as we get older, we start to think about all these different other reasons like oh, I don’t know, intimacy? [laughs]

Angel Rowe 21:07
Just just enjoyment.

Gwyn 21:09
Just pleasure, because it feels good. Yeah. So tell us a bit about sensate focus. I don’t think that’s something that most people know about.

Angel Rowe 21:19
So I don’t know a lot about it. I’m just learning about it myself. It refocuses more so on the touch, so you’re focused on the feeling of the touch and the actual pleasure coming from that not so much anything else. So it’s almost like that cross of mindfulness of a sexual way, right? Like you’re feeling where they’re touching you and how that makes your body feel. And you’re noticing that sensation. So like when somebody touches your shoulder, and it gives you that like shivers down your spine, like you’re noticing that. And you’re recognizing it, you’re recognizing like your body’s next steps going on, like, you know, I want to pull them closer, or you know, I want them to move their hand down. And you’re recognizing that that’s what your body’s actually saying. But there is like a whole process to it like is that I’m pretty new to learning about it myself. And I like to refer to the book lots to go through. But there’s like a whole actual process of steps if you want to get into it. And there’s people that are actual train practitioners and teaching such. I just like going through the book and being like, yeah, this makes perfect sense. So let’s try it out and see how it goes. And yeah, even just that so much as noticing like, how the feelings of touch or making your body feel and where else you want to be touched and where it’s moving through your body. And, you know, those warm, fuzzy feelings are that oh, that gave me that weird like butterfly anxiety type feeling like, that’ll just brings that intimacy and connection closer when you start having sex or even when you start touching yourself, because you’ll know hey, you know what I don’t like my elbow being touched, it makes me feel weird. So we’re gonna go touch my hip, right? [laughs] But it gives you that sensation to where you have a better understanding of yourself and know, hey, you know what, I like this versus that, which makes it easier to go to your partner and be like, Yeah, you know, this is what I want to do.

Gwyn 23:13
What I’m hearing about ways to navigate sexual pleasure while experiencing consistent chronic pain. I’m hearing communication is key. I’m hearing, shifting your focus to whatever’s happening in your head to actually feeling the feelings that your body is experiencing the pleasurable feelings, can you manually shift away from the pain?

Angel Rowe 23:38
it takes a lot of work, like me just sitting here trying to like take the fact that my arm is sore away. I’m distracting myself by talking.

Gwyn 23:47

Angel Rowe 23:47
It’s always kind of like in the back of your head going, Yeah, Ow, that hurts. Stop doing that. But you kinda like distract yourself a bit. And that’s kind of where that brain fog and fatigue comes in. It gets a lot harder to distract yourself when you’re a lot more tired and exhausted. And you definitely can while you’re in the middle of pleasure, be it yourself or somebody else. It just takes practice and that honesty within yourself too. It’s not going to come overnight. It’s not going to be that instant. Yeah, you know what, I followed their hand tracing down my spine, and I still felt my arm. So I gave up right? Like it takes you got to try it a few times and be like, you know, I was able to get there for like three seconds this time. Let’s go five next time, right? It’s a build up, it takes some time to get there especially with chronic pain because it’s always there. It does become just a normal sensation in that part of your life. So you kind of get used to it so trying to block it out becomes a little bit more difficult. Because that pain almost becomes your friend and that sense. I can recognize when I’ve done too much, I can recognize when flares are coming for the most part, that doesn’t mean that they don’t sneak up every now and then but I can tell because my arm pain will change, which also tells me that I need to go rest or that I need to stop what I’m doing and reset or see what’s going on, or go take my meds or stuff like that. So you can’t 100% turn it off. But you can kind of shift the framework from ow to yeah, you know what, I’d rather pay attention to that because that feels better. And really start like focusing on that, versus the pain.

Gwyn 25:20
Sure, that makes a lot of sense. How long did it take you to be able to notice when things were about to go bad, that’s fair enough.

Angel Rowe 25:30
Um, it’s kind of ongoing. As I’m in a no longer like hyper stress state, and I’m coming down from that I’m learning it a lot easier now. I can see a lot different when things happen. Like as soon as that OT touched my arm, I knew I was about to hit a flare up because I felt the tension build in my shoulder all the way down to my fingertips. And I knew that was it I was done. But the first time I had an OT out, and he touched my arm, I completely ignored the fact of that. And I just went, oh, my arm sore. So it’s, it’s one of those, you kind of start learning that that’s your body giving you signals. Instead of just going it’s acting up and being stupid, and it just hurts. [laughs] So it takes time. And again, everybody’s is different in that sense for me, like I feel a lot of almost like a swelling type tension, it gets really tight. And that pins and needle feeling almost turns into more like a static electricity and sharper when it starts to go into a flare up. And that took a long time that understand that that’s what it was actually saying is I’m like, we’ve overdone it. And I’m gonna actually go into a flare up at this point before I was just like, yeah, no, that’s just pain. We’ll just work through it. It’s fine. We’ll get get on with our day. And then I couldn’t figure out why I’d be down for weeks. [laughs]

Gwyn 26:50
You’re coming from a very active lifestyle where I imagine you’re probably pushing yourself through the pain. Frequently, I mean, CrossFit, hiking, like all of these things to reach the the goal to have to retrain yourself to not do that sounds tough.

Angel Rowe 27:10
I’ve had to learn I have limits like I used to, I don’t believe I was a superhero. I don’t know I was the Energizer Bunny, you could not wear me out, I would go go go go go until I fall sorta thing. And now it’s like I have that Energizer Bunny, but without the body and the stamina to do it. So to learn, you know, the art of pacing. They don’t really teach you that. And I’ve always been like I said, I’ll work four jobs, I don’t care. And you’ll still see me doing something else. Like I’ve always been one of those. I’m a hustler, the more I have on the go, the better. So having to slow down completely. It’s been like a drastic lifestyle change. It’s a good one. [laughs] But it’s been a really weird one to have to get used to. Maybe if I was less active, it would have been different. But it’s, it’s been a flip of a switch in that sense.

Gwyn 27:57
Yeah, I was never the Energizer Bunny, I’ve always been on the slower end of the speed of humans, you know, whereas, whereas you had an energizer, I had like a generic storebought battery in my tortoise shell. [laughs] And even still, as I am aging, I’m 50 now and able to do less stuff, just because my body is aging and can’t do as much stuff it’s still frustrating to me. So I can only imagine the intense shift that you have been on basically for the past several years, trying to be okay with that, because our society puts all its value in production. You’re a productive human, therefore, you’re a good human. Which is a bullshit premise to begin with, but it is where we are and whether or not you actively believe that, all of us have internalized that.

Angel Rowe 28:57
It that’s been a fun mental health battle. Like I’m very glad that I have a team of therapists I see to very regularly and a coach and I love them to bits like I don’t know where I’d be without them at this point. And they’ve really reframed my mind. And even though I still have some days and battling go, I didn’t do enough. I got up today and I’m walked the dogs. Today I’ve already had a life coaching session, and we did a training session and we’re here. Like, that might not seem like much, but I did it and compared to my old life. That’s not much, but I gotta live now. So I have to deal with the now factor, which is I did all that. It’s only two o’clock. That’s more than I’ve been able to do on some days. And yeah, that’s definitely less than I could do on others. But that’s what I did today. So that’s what we’re celebrating.

Gwyn 29:22

Angel Rowe 29:25
And it’s hard because I’m like, No, I got like all these plans and things that I want to do but I’m like, you know what, today this is enough and I have to listen to that. So it’s it’s hard to reframe your mind like that. And it’s one of those things, you just have to like positive affirmations continually tell yourself, you know what, we hit this point we did it, we’re here, we’re good, we rocked it, I’m probably going to go for a nap after this, which means, whatever when I get back up if I do something sweet, and I’ll celebrate that, too. And I’m more fortunate than most people have been. And I’ve made it this far. And there’s some people who are just starting their journey. And I feel for them, like it’s hard, but it’s one of those, it does get better. You just have to keep fighting. And it’s so tiring, but it does get better.

Gwyn 30:36
Yeah, it sounds like practice, practice, practice, that you just you’ve got to accept where you’re at, and practice. And eventually, you’ll get to the next place, you want to be. And practice, and you’ll get to the next place you want to be. And even if it doesn’t happen at the speed that you want, if you keep trucking along, it will get there.

Angel Rowe 30:58
That comes with the pleasure round two. I mean, the first few times that I had sex after I was injured, it was terrible. The sex itself wasn’t quite enjoyed that the pain that followed horrible. And you don’t really know how to deal with it, you’re just kind of in this like pain state. So that’s where like learning the breathing exercises and learning how to especially your nervous system. Like CRPS, your nervous system is one of the biggest things you have to learn how to regulate, and learning how to do that you can start slowly changing those things. And then again, it’s practice. Practicing touching places where it doesn’t hurt and slowly moving your way that way. It’ll help reframe your brain a little bit to go, Okay, this is safe. It’s it’s fine. It doesn’t hurt it. It’s okay. Like we can calm down.

Gwyn 31:47
Yeah, that’s a really good tip. I think we should we? I. You. I think you should be sure to include that when, you know, when you’re talking to folks about this. Speaking of which, I heard you have a great team, you have a couple of therapists and life coach and you know, medical thing. Are you in the place yet where you’re taking clients and helping other people?

Angel Rowe 32:12
Yeah, so I did open up on my website to take one on one clients, if they want to come chat with me. Like I said, I’m working on a program, I’m not going to give too many details. I’m hoping that it launches in 2022 early on. it’s a three month program. In my style and fashion, it’s going to incorporate dog training in it. [laughs]

Gwyn 32:36
But in the meantime, you are taking clients?

Angel Rowe 32:39
Yeah, I am taking one on one clients, if they want to chat, I’m more than open to talk about really anything. I mean, I don’t care if it’s even about your dog. [both laugh]

Gwyn 32:52
So so people who have chronic pain and dogs, definitely go talk to Angel who want to, you know, have better sex lives.

Angel Rowe 33:04
Or just gorgeous relationship with yourself to, it really does take your self confidence away a lot at first. It’s taken me a long point to be okay to talk and to actually get back out there with myself and be like, I can do things again. Because for a long time my only identity was pain. And that’s not who I am. I mean, it’s part of me, it’s not who I am.

Gwyn 33:26
Yeah, that’s intense. I hadn’t really considered that at all. But sure, that makes a lot of sense. It’s something that you do or something that you have, or something that is a part of you. But it’s not the whole of you, none of us are ever the whole of a single word, whatever that word is. And for that word to be pain just sound so awful.

Angel Rowe 33:47
That was my life for a long time. Like I like I said, I have a good team now. And I love it. Like my life coach has been amazing. The therapists have been really helpful. And that’s something if you do suffer from chronic pain with you do need to good therapist on your team because the mental games that you play with yourself are horrible. But pain was an identity for me because that’s, that’s what my life was. And I had to really reframe and refocus on No, it’s not. Me being a sex coach or me being a dog trainer, or the fact that like I’ve flown drones, I’ve been a wedding planner, things like that. Those aren’t me, those are parts of me. Just like yeah, this sucks. The pain is a part of me, it’s not me. And that reframes that a little bit too. Because I did I became a bit of a cranky asshole for a long time. A lot of overwhelm just life changes, not knowing how to exist my whole life crumbling, always being in pain and not understanding that with pain came the anger and the grief and the resentment.

Getting out of that headspace to learn that you know why it gets so much better? It does. Everything happens for a reason. So this has happened for a reason for some sort of lesson and I’m here to learn from it, teach from it and grow from it. And that’s just it. I mean, it’s been an adventure learning from it for sure. And it’s brought things to light that I never even would have thought of. I’ve learned so much about like how something as simple as just being in pain can bring so much difference. Like I’ve never experienced anxiety or depression until I got injured and lived in a state of constant pain. I didn’t know what that was, like, I was the guy on the top of the tower with a rig with a harness on and 100 foot rope going, let’s jump, it’s fun. To go, I don’t want to go to Walmart, because if somebody bumps into me, my arm will flare up and not knowing how to deal with that. So it changes you. And it makes you learn a lot about yourself and learn a lot about things that you might not have actually thought about learning about.

Gwyn 35:51
Yeah, well, while I’m certainly not happy that this happened to you, I also a firm believer in things happening for a reason, although I do recognize that sometimes the reason sucks. But I think that the world is going to be grateful that you’re out here helping other people in similar situations or completely different. I mean, I think that you have a lot of wisdom to impart. So thank you for that. Thank you. How do people find you?

Angel Rowe 36:19
You can find me at my website, Albertasexcoach.com. I do have a Facebook page. It’s not really active, pain to pleasure coaching. I do have TikTok. It’s mostly my dogs. That’s just @Wolfyrain. I have one for sex coaching, but I don’t use it. [laughs] We’ll get there. We’ll get there.

Gwyn 36:41
Yeah, absolutely. And the last question that I like to ask everyone is, what excites you?

Angel Rowe 36:47
You know, the joy and finding everything that I can do. I’ve never been somebody that quits or gives up. And if you tell me I can’t do it, I’m going to prove to you that I can and prove to myself that I could do it twice. This is me proving myself I could do a lot because after I got injured, my life crumbled a lot. I thought I wasn’t gonna amount anything or do anything. And in that time, I achieved some of the highest and hardest dog training certifications to get which I’m really proud of and I achieved my sex coaching certification. And now I’m going to do stuff with em!

Gwyn 37:18
Beautiful. That’s really beautiful Angel thank you so much for carving out this time and chatting with me. I really appreciate it.

Angel Rowe 37:25
Thank you for having me. It was awesome.

Gwyn 37:30
You can learn more about Angel Rowe at his website, Albertasexcoach.com
And if you want to see great videos of him and his dogs follow Wolfyrain on TikTok and Wolfie is spelled with a y. So it’s W O L F Y R A I N.

If you enjoy the show, please be sure to subscribe, and tell a friend if you think they would enjoy it too. And if you can afford it, and please only if you can afford it, buy me a coffee, or support me on Patreon, which you can find links to on the website whatexcitesus.com.

Or if you want to learn more about me or becoming a client, you can do that at earthlydesire.com.

What Excites Us is produced, edited and hosted by me, Gwyn Isaacs, all music is used under the Creative Commons Attribution license this week that includes “The Vendetta” by Steven Kartenberg. And this is “I Think I Started a Trend” by Artemis Strong. Tickle dot life hosts this show and many others, and they have lots of great information in non podcast form too. Thanks for listening. I so appreciate you. Have a great day.

Gwyn 0:00
This show is for adults. And this episode in particular, is not for delicate ears.

Shahn 0:06
There’s very little spectacular about a different tongue. I mean, occasionally there is but mostly that’s like dedication and respect. And if you aren’t listening to my no, you probably don’t have enough respect.

Gwyn 0:21
Hi there, and welcome to What Excites Us, the show that discusses sex and sexuality throughout time and place, including the here and now. This episode is a chat with my dear friend Shahn, about his journey, going from a stone butch lesbian, to where he is now some 30 years later. We discuss what the term stone butch means, growing up a queer kid in Vermont, where his identity has landed these days, some basic Grindr etiquette, and so much more. Shahn truly is one of my very best friends. And so the original conversation is much longer, with lots of fun tangents and giggles. If you would like to listen to the whole hour and a half in its unedited glory, and it’s really fun, I invite you to subscribe to my Patreon, which you can find only by typing the full page in your browser bar. And that URL is patreon.com/whatexcitesus. And I would like to remind you to please subscribe to the show if you haven’t already, so you don’t miss a single episode. They are released every other Friday.

Gwyn Isaacs [AD]
This episode of What Excites Us is brought to you by me I’m Gwyn Isaacs. And besides being your podcast host, I’m a certified sex coach and educator. And right now, I have some openings for text based clients. I love coaching over email and text. It allows you to be open and vulnerable in ways that may feel too difficult in person, which lets us tackle the concerns you have at your own pace. Very few of us were taught how to have sex. Most of us are feeling our way through the dark, hoping we get it right. I can help you build skills in the bedroom and navigate your intimate relationships. I have two ways you can sign up to start texting with me right away. When you go to earthlydesire.com/coaching You will find a weekly subscription for daily correspondence. And a way to schedule a live one hour text chat. Visit earthlydesire.com to start on your path of more pleasure today. You deserve it!

Hi, Shahn, welcome to What Excites Us! Thank you so much for being here and for being my first civilian interview.

Shahn 3:06
Wow I’m a civilian. That’s cool.

Gwyn 3:09
I wouldn’t put you in the normies category. That’s for true.

Shahn 3:12
Oh, right. Yeah, that’s true. Yeah, I’m not.

Gwyn 3:16
You’re not like a sex educator out there working the beat.

Shahn 3:19
I am not though I did just change my Grindr profile to No means No.

Gwyn 3:26
I love that!

Shahn 3:27
So I might become a Grindr consent educator. Or I’ll uninstall it for a while. Thanks for having me.

Gwyn 3:39
Yeah, so who are you?

Shahn 3:41
So anyway, oh, hey, I’m Shahn

Gwyn 3:44
Tell us about yourself.

Shahn 3:45
Uh I’m uh I’m Shahn, and I like to do those Shahn things. Nope, I got this. Uh, I can do my Kik intro. I’m 50. I’m an FTM. I live in New York City, Brooklyn to be specific. I’m disabled. I have different disabilities not, you know, clearly I don’t have three of the same disability. [both giggling] I mean, [sigh] I hadn’t thought about this part.

Gwyn 4:24
How do you identify?

Shahn 4:25
How do I identify? I identify as a non binary trans, masc? person? I don’t I hate that masculine thing. I don’t feel like I’m terribly masculine. But I also don’t feel like I’m terribly feminine. And if I had to pick one, I would pick masculine because I’d rather try for that. Because I spent my childhood trying to be feminine. And wow did that not work out. Clearly.

Gwyn 4:53
What pronouns do you use?

Shahn 4:55
Oh uh, he him.

Gwyn 4:58
And what the hell is a stone butch?

Shahn 5:01
Oh, a stone butch is, uh, well, So way back in, you know, like around the 50s. So it could include the 40s of 30s, a little earlier and 60s 70s. And even now people still use the term butch and femme. But in what was then called lesbian community, or perhaps gay or homosexual women’s community, if they ever put those words together, a lot of people use this sort of, I’d say like flirting and coupling, a dynamic or a ritual called butch femme. Which on the surface, looks a bit like copying heterosexuality. But it’s truly not, I don’t think it is, at least.

A butch, especially a butch woman is someone more masculine than a woman of the time is, like, quote, unquote, allowed to be. And I guess, like, in that sense, as a masculine woman identifying person, I felt pretty comfortable calling myself masculine. But like now that I get seen as a man, I don’t feel as comfortable calling myself masculine. That’s a whole that’s another podcast though. So a stone butch is a butch queer woman, I think in today’s parlance would be a little better. Who does not choose to receive sexual or physical attention, more sexual than just physical, like they tend to, you know, could be cuddly.

But first and foremost, did not receive penetrative sex ever, like, never got fucked, and probably it shook out, I didn’t take my clothes off. For most of my time as a stone butch, I didn’t take my jeans off. I didn’t take my boots off for a lot of the sex that I had, actually. And occasionally, I would even leave my baseball cap on, which now there’s a whole like fraternity porn industry that centered around dudes with a lot of privilege and backwards baseball caps, having gay sex, which I think is hilarious. So a stone butch isn’t on the receiving end. So back when I was kind of really into my, my butch identity was the late 80s, early 90s. The way that I saw it, it seemed very common that butches dated femmes and pretty much only we’re just seeing the beginnings of like butch on butch, and of course, femme on femme, lest I forget, and I think now it’s just kind of called you know, sex. [both laughing]

I think it’s a real, I think it’s real good progress, actually, like, you know, rather than like, butch on butch, it’s, it’s just sex, which is cool. So, femmes were often the people who received the sexual attention. God, it’s so hard to talk about, like that far back in the days because there was so little talk about consent, and limits. And, like, we all often we would start out our, like, sexual negotiation on a dance floor somewhere, while like, completely trashed, and oh boy.

Gwyn 8:27
Wait, you had sexual negotiations back then? Because I sure didn’t.

Shahn 8:31
Sorta, I mean, I mean, I at least had the you know, you want to come home with me? And that was about it.

Gwyn 8:38
Yeah. Okay.

Shahn 8:39
Oh, I can’t imagine saying to someone, you know, like, oh, man, I had this great hookup. We were totally trashed. And then somehow we got from the club to my place.[laughing] And then, you know, like, four hours later, like, we’re both bruised and smoking a cigarette. Dang. Yeah.

Gwyn 9:02
Yeah. It still happens. There are, there are plenty of folks who still engage that way.

Shahn 9:09
I’m sure

Gwyn 9:10
I think it’s shifting.

Shahn 9:11
Ya, I am too. Yeah. I mean, even if we could just have like, like some drunken words of like, you know, What won’t you do? Or, you know, is there anything that you won’t do? Or is there anything that you really want? Or? Yeah,

Gwyn 9:27
Yeah, some words. Words are definitely helpful. And that is also a topic for another podcast.

Shahn 9:33
Another podcast. I digress all the time.

Gwyn 9:37
Oh, me too. [both laughing]

Shahn 9:41
Yeah, so I know

Gwyn 9:43
back in the day,

Shahn 9:44
so back in the day

Gwyn 9:46
80s and 90s three you identifying as lesbian yet?

Shahn 9:51
Yeah. In like 1989 ish.

Gwyn 9:55

Shahn 9:55
I came out somewhere and I went to outright Vermont.Yay Outright Vermont

Gwyn 10:00
Woohoo Outright!

Shahn 10:02
Yeah, they started right around then like, right around 1989. I remember I was that initial like group of young queers.

Gwyn 10:13
So when when he came out, were you already identifying as stone? Certainly you were butch.

Shahn 10:19
I don’t think so. I was. Yeah, once. I don’t remember exactly when I learned about butch as a term.

Gwyn 10:20

Shahn 10:20
But as soon as I did, yeah, that was me.

Do you remember how you I like identified yourself. Like, for instance, I was a part of the dyke squad. And people use that to be really rude. And I was like, Yeah, fuck that. That’s awesome. Totally the dyke squad. [laughing]

Yeah, I remember, nobody really had a lot of reclamation vibe going on. I think Vermont gets like social and political trends a little bit later. We certainly did before the internet, right? Probably still do, even with the internet, like just a little bit later. But yeah, but this was yeah, like so I think it was, like an interesting kind of coincidence that I like a very butch kid came out at a time when, like the rest of the country. The rest of the United States, at least was kind of done with butch/femme. Like, there were still some people who lived the life but there weren’t a lot of like young kids identifying that way except a whole bunch of us from Vermont did. And so, yeah, so I got, I got a weirdly like, 1950s oriented kind of view of, of what being gay and female was. I think I like, I also feel like a lot of my early social life, as well as like sexual and dating and romantic was really about learning, like what normal people did, and just doing my best to do what everybody else did, in some way. And so since a lot of other people were doing butch/femme, so it was a little bit easier for me to do butch/femme. And, and, like, you know, normal people had sex, so I had to want to eventually have sex. And I put it off for a while, saying that I wanted to wait until like, I knew it was a really significant thing. And I just there wasn’t anybody in high school that I thought about that way.[laughs] kind of a thing. But really, I was terrified of sex. Gosh, probably into my 30s. Honestly. I mean, that’s assuming that I’m not terrified of sex now. I don’t know. It’s all kind of terrifying.

Gwyn 12:58
When you first heard the term stone where you like, oh, that’s me.

Shahn 13:03
So, you know, it might have been that the first time I heard of stone, especially stone butch was with the book “Stone Butch Blues.” But I can’t have been, I have to admit, but then again, “Stone Butch Blues” came out kind of early in my life. March 1993.

Gwyn 13:24
Who wrote “Stone Butch Blues?”

Shahn 13:27
Oh, Leslie Feinberg, an amazing, a stone butch socialist activist, wonderful human who’s passed away. “Stone Butch Blues” is a little bit sad because it’s very much about feeling like an outsider. And kind of being an outsider. One of the things I think that was probably one of the bigger tragedies about stone butches in like the, I’d say, probably pre 80s is that, um, they didn’t really open up to a lot of people. Like they were like, kind of like yours stereotypical, like, macho, stoic dude. That makes me a little sad to think about, like, how many people just held so much like grief inside because you don’t walk around pre 1980s You know, looking like a dude with breasts and not incur some hostility, or a whole lot of hostility. I mean, I lived through some of the hostility being in Vermont in the 80s even though it was starting to go away, but I feel like it happens less.

Gwyn 14:42
So when you found the term and you decided that you identified as that what did that give you?

Shahn 14:48
Gosh, I feel like it gave me armor. No, I mean, I I had armor already. But it was like refinement. Like I had a I had something that I could hold on to, you know, and just be like, This is me. And somebody else knows who I am on a level that they don’t even know need to know that I exist, to know that this is who I am. And I don’t think I’d ever really felt like that before.

Gwyn 15:18
It makes a lot of sense

Shahn 15:19 I probably spent a great deal of my life just, you know, like walking up to people. I mean, this is much more of a metaphor, but walking up to people and saying, like, Do you get me?

Gwyn 15:32
Did you feel like you had? Did it give you a voice? Like?

Shahn 15:37
I did. So yeah. Yeah. I mean, it gave me a community of people who did not perform gender the way we were told to. In 1993. I was in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I hung out at a bar called the 19 bar, I think it might still be there. But the only place to go in the early 90s. If you were queer really was a bar. I met other stone butches there at the 19 bar. Through them I learned about this thing called Vulva Riot, which was amazing. It was an open mic night, basically. Not open mic, it was a curated community, like kind of talent show. Though there were no winners or losers. We were all winners. I’d already met my on again, off again romantic person. I don’t know what to call them anymore. Because we both have transitioned in our own directions. Though we started out as lesbians. I don’t, I think we’re both not anymore. [laughs]

Gwyn 16:45

Shahn 16:48
But even like, early in my transition, so I started my like, personal gender journey. I mean, really, my personal gender journey started way before I even knew what a gender journey might be. Because I didn’t have any of those words. I’d watched Maude, which I think is kind of hilarious that I’m going to bring up Maude is like a shining example of trans awareness. Because I’m pretty sure it was a gay man who played a transvestite. Like, that’s the word they used for him

Gwyn 17:25
Yeah. Yeah.

Shahn 17:27
And I think I don’t even I don’t think his role could be created today. Or even really recreated. I think he’d have to either be like, a really clear drag queen, who was like, I’m a man, and this is performance, and it’s my job. Or a trans woman who’s like, I’m a woman.

Gwyn 17:49

Shahn 17:50
Yeah, I don’t I don’t know if there’d be a whole lot of room to to blur lines with that kind of a character ever again. Because also they just they didn’t have the right lines blurred. I think back back then. Like they just, we didn’t have enough definition to even blur lines.

Gwyn 18:09
No, not at all

Shahn 18:11
back then we were.

Gwyn 18:13
There were barely lines and there was a smudge.

Shahn 18:16
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And we’re all just kind of stumbling around in the dark trying to figure all this out. Yeah,

Gwyn 18:23
So can I ask a nosy question?

Shahn 18:25

Gwyn 18:26
When you were having sex did you enjoy it?

Shahn 18:30
In a way it depends on how you define enjoy it. I had a good time. I got good at what I did. Which is fuck, I got good at that. I got good at fisting.

Gwyn 18:45
It sounds like you gained pleasure from gaining skills.

Shahn 18:50
Mmm hmm

Gwyn 18:51
Did you also have enjoyment in the act?

Shahn 18:54
I think so. I didn’t feel like sexual pleasure. Like I didn’t. I didn’t. I wasn’t very connected to my body at the time. This was right about the time that I’d started realizing that I was disabled and started looking up like what could it be? And it was also right around the beginnings of naming and acknowledging fibromyalgia. And though today I wonder if what I have is not fibromyalgia but some other stuff that can easily get misdiagnosed. That’s a whole other podcast too

Gwyn 19:33

Shahn 19:34
At least one or two more.

Gwyn 19:37
At least. When did you stop identifying a stone butch? What led to the shift? And when did that happen? Do you think?

Shahn 19:46
I fell in love with a person who self identified as a girl. So I will say I fell in love with a girl who ended up being toxic and abusive. But one of her rules for being in a relationship with her was that I had to stop being stone butch, and be open to receiving sexual attention. And also, she talked about being stone butchs is like, just in general closing myself off to people and being emotionally unavailable. And so it was the rule to be emotionally available. It was a big part of the relationship that if we had sex, I was supposed to be fully naked the whole time, which was quite a shift for me. And I’ve gone back to not being fully naked anymore. Now, it’s like, I’ll disrobe if I you know, someone needs to access something. Otherwise, I don’t know. It depends on the person. Just to be really clear, in case anybody else just thinking like, hey, my romantic friend person asked me for that, but I don’t feel comfortable with it. But this dude seems to be like, just fine. I don’t think it was a great way for me to stop being stone.

Gwyn 21:08
No, it seems really, really awful.

Shahn 21:11

Gwyn 21:12
You were forcibly I mean, you were you. We can’t do this unless you do that.

Shahn 21:16
Yeah. It felt it. Yeah.

Gwyn 21:19
Definition of fucked up itness. Yes.

Shahn 21:22
Manipulative, I think is one of the words that works. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And the whole, the whole relationship wasn’t great. But I’d say that’s another podcast, but I don’t think I’ll ever really talk about that like in public, so to speak, because, um, no, that’s the trouble that, that disclosing abuse tends to bring, unfortunately. In my life, when I have said so and so hurt me. It’s almost always blown back on me twice as hard. So

Gwyn 22:03
I’m so sorry you’ve had to suffer through that. That is some bullshit.

Shahn 22:08
Luckily, I have a therapist.

Gwyn 22:10
Yay, therapy! [both laughing] So when when you guys broke up, you didn’t go back to using that terminology? What, what was different for you?

Shahn 22:24
Well, when I entered the I don’t, we’re just gonna call the like, shitty relationship, that I realized that there is like a type of privilege and a level of privilege where it’s easy to get fooled. And to think like, well, I’m getting this like nicer treatment, because I deserve it clearly. But it’s really just that you look like a white man. That’s all it is. And please, nobody tried to tell me that white men in general have earned a higher level of privilege, because nah

Gwyn 23:01
that will not be tolerated onn my podcast, I’m sorry.

Shahn 23:05
Yeah, I mean, individuals can earn, like, you know, acclaim and whatnot, but whole groups of people tend not to, like, you know, earn oppressor level privilege. Yeah, so I felt really uncomfortable with that one of the agreements that we made, one of the demands that she made that I agreed to, was also that I detransition, and I go back to being a woman, which was much harder than I thought it was going to be. Like, I really thought I was just going to walk around and say to people, no, no, I’m female. It’s all good. And people would respond like, oh, okay, miss, you know, no problem. And no, like, people fought me on it now, like, you’re obviously a dude, shut up, and all this stuff. And so it kind of felt like I was transitioning all over again.

Gwyn 23:05
Oh, how awful.

Shahn 23:19
Yeah, it was, it was bad. But then I left. So I went back to calling myself butch, but not stone butch because part of the agreement was that I not be stone. When I left that relationship, it took me at least a few years to come back to FTM identity and talking about it, I think, easily since I had top surgery, but probably earlier than that, that was 1998 I just thought of my gender as trans. And FTM being an acronym for female to male, there was an organization the 90s that defined FTM as people who are assigned female at birth, but may not feel like that’s a complete or accurate description of who they are. And usually the pronouns were more like we because we were defining ourselves so we’re like, you know, we were labeled this at birth, but don’t feel like that’s accurate or a complete description of who we are. And by that definition, FTM could include every one from a butch lesbian, a soft butch lesbian even, all the way to your FTM who doesn’t who just identifies as man, because, you know, he was a man, he was just born with some, some wrong parts, just gotta get those parts exchanged. I like that. I really liked that definition of FTM and never stuck. I think a lot of people who identify as FTM are assumed to identify as man or male. And I don’t super identify as that, but I don’t not either. But I often say that I look like a man because I do. But I don’t usually say like, you know, as a man, I feel kind of stuff because I just don’t think I’m not that good at being a man, which is fine. I’m not trying to be good at being a man. I think if I tried, I’d probably be fine at it. [laughs]

Gwyn 26:04
Yeah, absolutley

Shahn 26:05
I mean, I got the baldness down. [Gwyn giggles] That was a that was a skill I honed over the past decade or so.

Gwyn 26:16
So did you decide that you liked having sex where you were the receiver?

Shahn 26:24
I decided that I wanted to work on my own emotional and physical availability for myself.

Gwyn 26:33
That’s brilliant.

Shahn 26:35
So yeah,

Gwyn 26:37
I wish more people felt that way. What whatever, wherever, whoever you are in your world if you decide to work on your own. physical and emotional reality for yourself. I think that’s the right thing.

Shahn 26:53
Yeah. And I mean,

Gwyn 26:54
Where are you now?

Shahn 26:57
Oh, I don’t know. It’s I mean, so I left that relationship, like 13, 13 years ago now. 2008 And umm I’m like a year or so, no, I’m two years into a like a post regular anonymous Grindr hookup life. I did that for probably three years.

Gwyn 27:22
And in those hookups would you give and receive?

Shahn 27:26
Uh sorta

Gwyn 27:29

Shahn 27:30
The well the the best way to like advertise yourself for sex on Grindr is to either identify as like top bottom or versatile and back then I said that I I, I think I I said that I wanted to bottom. I’d never actually said that I identify as a bottom but that’s a, that’s a, that’s a nitpick for another podcast. That’s the like, OCD episode [both laughing]

Gwyn 28:07
I should totally have one of those. I should

Shahn 28:10
Oh, heck yeah.

Gwyn 28:11
I should absolutely do an OCD episode. Yeah.

Shahn 28:14
I’m just now thinking like, do I know anyone with a tidying kink? And what could I just scatter all over the floor if they get in trouble? Like, oh, that’s bad. [Gwyn giggles] Like, just empty my silverware tray, like, onto the floor? Because then they probably have to clean them too. Cuz Yeah, just touch the floor.

Gwyn 28:42
Yeah. And a Brooklyn apartment for sure.

Shahn 28:46
Yeah, that’s awful. That’s terrible. I’m a bad bad person.

Gwyn 28:50
No, you’re not. You’re a sadist though. [Shahn laughs]

Shahn 28:53
Yes. Yeah, well, I like to come up with punishments that, you know, actually punish. You know, not like I’m gonna punish you by doing this thing that you really enjoy.

Gwyn 29:04
Right? Right. Again, this is another podcast

Shahn 29:10
Again, another podcast. [Gwyn laughing] I mean, another episode a whole nother show.

Gwyn 29:16
I wonder if people want to hear all those episodes that you and Shahn were taunting. [laughing] I hope you feel that you were any of these episodes and have Shahn and I babble again, please let me know. Because my if you haven’t noticed by now, one of my very good friends, and I’m happy to get on the mic and babble with them. All day long

Shahn 29:40
Yeah. We babble a bit. And

Gwyn 29:43
we do

Shahn 29:43
hardly ever done it in front of microphones though.

Gwyn 29:46
No, it’s, well,

Shahn 29:48
it’s mostly just been in a room.

Gwyn 29:50
Ya no, because at GDR were both music DJs Yeah. Yeah.

Shahn 29:55
Yeah. I mean, we were hardly ever in the booth together even really RIGHT. RIGHT or if we were going to start blushing because now I remember

Gwyn 30:05
being a music director. Yeah, yeah. Anyway.

Gwyn Isaacs 30:14 [AD]
Hey, folks, do you know that what excites us has a Patreon account? Well, we do! Are you familiar with Patreon yet? it’s a great way to directly support the people who enhance your life. There are artists, writers, podcasters, as well as many other types of creators and conversation makers, who could use your help to continue to do great work, including me. You see, I love making this show. And yet I still need to earn a living. When you contribute to creators, they can keep producing the work you enjoy. And when you do become a patron of a creator, your membership almost always involves perks. For instance, for only $6 a month, you get to hear the episodes of what excites us without any ads like this one, you will be invited into our private Facebook group, and you can message me from inside the Patreon app. If you love the show, and can afford to support us for $99 a month you get ALL the perks, many of which I haven’t mentioned, including live, regular video chats with me. No matter what level you come in on, you will have my undying appreciation and gratitude. And if you are among the first 15 people to join, you will get a never expiring coupon code for an extra 20% off your first merch purchase. Even if you come in on the level that already has 20% off. Merch is coming soon, I promise. So come join me on Patreon. And tell me what excites you.

Gwyn 31:55
So today, you don’t identify as stone?

Shahn 32:01
No, no, I, I don’t know. I’m sort of not stressing about you know what my position is. I have a boyfriend who is super nice and respectful and does like sex things to me that I really enjoy. And having experienced sexual attention that I actually enjoy. And that I crave, I find that I just don’t want the other stuff anymore. I’m really kind of over it. So I spent those three years bottoming to mostly cisgender men, and most of it was bare backing. And it’s actually a little astonishing that I’m still HIV negative. It’s not that astonishing because I was on PrEP for like two years of it two and a half years. But if you get to a certain point of like being on these hookup apps, and everybody’s like, let me see your hole, or can I stick it in your hole? Like uhhhh it’s really easy to feel objectified, when the only word they’re using is hole.

Yeah, so I let a lot of dicks into my vagina. And I’m also allergic to latex. So for me bear backing was a an economics and just the logistics kind of decision being on PrEP, protecting me from HIV, which I felt like was the one thing that was most important to protect my body against. Although I also got gonorrhea like three times, and gonorrhea sucks. Even asymptomatic it really sucks, mostly because I’m also allergic to penicillin, which is the best by far treatment for gonorrhea. And even for gonorrhea, you still need two injections of penicillin. You need two doses of penicillin and the first day dose of a Z Pack, azithromycin, which is like two pills from The Z pack then if you’re allergic to penicillin, then you get antibiotic that you get three injections of. One right and right after the other but they all have to go in different sites. So I got both shoulders and like one hip and then you take like four azithromycin tablets, maybe three, more than what you do if you got penicillin. And then I felt I had a fever and felt ridiculously gross for five days.

Gwyn 34:34
Are you happy where you are now?

Shahn 34:37
I think that I could be, so sexually like sex speaking, I think I could be more happy. But I think where I’m not as like happy or satisfied as I could be has, like it’s like 100% me right now. Maybe 95% me 5% some childhood stuff, but in terms of like, healthy adult expression, I think that even childhood stuff, I just lump it into, like, that’s me. In three years of accepting almost any random dick that didn’t call me a woman, because that was an immediate uhn uh, into my body, I’ve learned that I do have some standards, I have more standards than I’ve previously implemented. And I have for at least for cisgender men, I have some really high standards when it comes to respect. I think a lot of dudes assume that because they have a cock in general, like, even if it’s not very nice, but especially if it’s a nice looking one. They don’t seem to think that they need or, you know, I could just stop at think. But they also don’t seem to think that they need to be respectful of people, you know, like, they’re the top, they can just stick it in your hole. Whatever! I mean, there’s a lot of people who enjoy that. And there was a while where I kind of I enjoyed it. I never had an orgasm that way, like in the three years that I did that, not one person who came over gave me an orgasm. Yeah, I can do that for myself. And I did that for myself. And then it was like, a little bit more athletic. So I got a bit euphoric, just from that, like from getting my my blood pumping more. Yeah. And I find something really grounding about having something in my vagina. I much prefer, like the grounding sensation, I think is better when the thing inside me is a dildo. Mostly because people attached to something that can go inside tend to not just want to sit there. Right. Yeah.

Gwyn 36:59
So you you’ve had quite a journey. Your your sexual journey has been interesting And, I mean, hearing about it anyway, it’s certainly interesting. I, I would imagine that you feel the same way. Do you feel like you’re still on a journey? Or do you feel like you’ve like, You’re good now?

Shahn 37:18
No, I think I’m still on a journey, because I’m still, my boyfriend asked me why I’m only talking about hooking up with men. And like, aren’t you open to women as lovers too? Well, theoretically, but I still have some trauma around women in my life. And yeah, that’s oof, yeah. So clearly, I think I have some more journey to go on that. And I don’t think it’ll end with me being like, you know, I’m never gonna get with a woman again, or anything like that. I’m not very good at like, I don’t get attracted to this kind of person. Because as soon as I say I don’t, I’m already like, finding reasons why that doesn’t apply. So it’s better for me to just not say that I’m closed off, especially like this group of people. I’m just I’m working on closing myself off to people who are disrespectful. Hence, the Grindr name of No means no. I think some(where) in my description, I write that if somebody says not interested, it’s not an invitation to negotiate. Like, it really means we’re not interested. And the most argumentative are the ones who have in their profile, if you’re not interested, just say, so stop wasting my time, their time. And I’m like, well, then, you know, don’t waste it back. Right? Yeah. With this whole, you know, like, Oh, baby, you’ll love my whatever. I’m like, No, I probably won’t. [Gwyn laughs] If only because I just said no. Therefore, everything you say, to try to get me to change that to a yes. is just going to reinforce that. No, I made that that initial decision of No, was the correct one. Because anybody who says, you know, like, No, I don’t want to hook up tonight. And then the person’s responses. Oh, come on. It’ll be quick. Or, you know, like, you’ve never had a tongue like mine. I’ve probably had 12 tongues like yours. There’s very little spectacular about a different tongue. I mean, occasionally there is but mostly, that’s like dedication and respect. And if you aren’t listening to my no, you probably don’t have enough respect. So

Gwyn 39:40
yeah. Yeah, all of that 12 times over. I want to zip that out and make it its own little light cone. Yeah.

Shahn 39:49
I want to start consent cast or something like that, because you asked about consent, except I don’t really want consent education to be my crusade. I’m too I’m too old and burnt out for a crusade.

Gwyn 40:05
Not your thing?

yeah, it was once upon a time.

Fair enough. But as you’ve demonstrated so nicely throughout this entire podcast, people change,

Shahn 40:17
Mmm hmm

Gwyn 40:18
Shift and grow and take on different things and put down other things. And that is Yeah, yeah, absolutely normal.

Shahn 40:26
And, and it’s entirely possible in the next, I don’t know, I’ll say optimistically, like 30 plus years of my life, I could not be burnt out.

Gwyn 40:37
One can only hope.

Shahn 40:39

Gwyn 40:40
So the last question that I asked everyone.

Shahn 40:43

Gwyn 40:44
You ready? What excites you?

Shahn 40:47
Ooh, obedience. Yeah,

Gwyn 40:52
Well, that’s why we didn’t work out. [both laugh]

Shahn 40:53
Yeah. I was just thinking that actually, just in case, you ever wondered, like, could Shawn and I ever, like, maybe, maybe not? Yeah, but I really like obedience. You know, I don’t like to fight to have a nice time. [laughs] I do not like to fight.

Gwyn 41:18
Thank you so much.

Shahn 41:20
Thank you.

Gwyn 41:21
This has been really nice.

Shahn 41:23
[laughing] This was fun

Gwyn 41:26
Alright, when you were listening, did it prompt any thoughts about your sexual journey? Are you into the same things you were when you were younger? Most people shift and change over time? Has your identity transformed at all? If any of these questions or others came to mind, please let me know. I would really love to have more conversations about what’s happening on the podcast. Speaking of which, if you’re interested in having a recorded chat to share with folks about your sex life, now or then, please reach out. I’m happy to do so anonymously or not, it’s entirely up to you. What’s important to me is that we all feel accepted. By sharing your story, even if you think it’s boring, which I can guarantee it’s not, we can do that. We can help other people feel good about who they are by being who we are.

You can find me at whatexcitesus.com earthlydesire.com or on Facebook and Instagram as Sex Fairy Gwyn. That’s Gwyn spelled G W Y N. If you like the show, please tell a friend. And let’s spread the good word about how a satisfying sex life can lead to a satisfying life overall, What Excites Us! is produced, edited and hosted by me, Gwyn Isaacs. All the music is used under a Creative Commons Attribution license. This week it includes The Vendetta by Steven Kartenberg, Let Me Talk, Carol by Josh Woodward. Harmony by Polyplus. And this track is Electric Type Writer by Shahn also known as 1nterrupt on SoundCloud. Tickle.life hosts this show and has lots of other great content about sex and sexuality in articles and other podcasts. Thanks for listening. Don’t forget that you are loved. And I really really appreciate you. Bye

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