I am standing naked next to a friend who is also naked laying face down on a massage table. Standing on the other side of the table is another naked friend and the two of us have all four of our hands lightly resting on the back of the one who is on the table. I glance across this warm and dimly lit room (soft sounds play in the background) and there are two other massage tables with the same configuration. One person lying on each table with two others standing over them — a total of nine people all together. All of us happen to be gay men, comfortable enough with our bodies, and trusting enough of each other to spend an evening giving and receiving the touch we so often lack in our greater society.

Anymore, scheduling an event such as this has become matter-of-fact. Within our pool of guys, the coordinator, Richard, texts a date and time to get together. Sometimes there are not enough who can make room in their schedule. Sometimes there are more guys than we have room for. Usually there’s a mix of various kinds of professional body workers. Usually there are a few “touch virgins” who are respectfully observant and fast learners. All of us are there because we know the power of touch and its healing properties. We know that the overwhelming majority of the population would agree that nearly everyone is touch deprived. Our tribe of men is just a tiny sliver of the society that is willing to do something about it in a safe and nurturing environment. When given the option, we we choose it for our sanity.

Back at the tables, a bell chimes and those standing are given fifteen minutes to massage the outstretched person’s backside from head to toe. There can be quiet conversation about what the receiver wants done — sore spots to avoid, how much pressure to apply, what not to avoid. The receiver calls the shots whether therapeutic or erotic. The person on the table gets it the way he wants it. All boundaries are respected.

When the time is up, another bell chimes and the receiver gradually turns over for another fifteen minutes of touch on his frontside. The mood and air in the room feels sacred. Deep breathing, moans, and groans are all signs that the magic is working. There might be a giggle of satisfaction, and the laughter is contagious. When one set of receivers is done, we take a break, wash our hands, and have a brief bite or drink. Then we do a jostling of people around different tables so that by the end of the evening just about everyone has touched every other person in one way or another.

When it is my turn on the table, I find myself particularly emotional and I shed some tears. I can’t put my finger on the specific reason why I’m crying. I just know I’m safe here — like in the womb — and if the tears want to flow, so be it. The great thing is that it doesn’t make a big scene. Everyone feels the intensity and acceptance in the room. So although I might have a cry, the compassion in their touch just keeps right on going — exactly the way I need it.

Tonight is a little different, though. We have secretly arranged that Richard be one of the last persons to receive. Today is his 60th birthday (though you couldn’t tell by looking at him), so when he lays down on the table, everyone else quietly gets up. All eight of us surround him and suddenly he has sixteen hands on his body giving him nurturing, sexy touch. We enjoy giving him pleasure as much as he enjoys receiving it, though I’m sure he would debate that point. I take up the head of the table and slowly let my fingertips indulge his scalp, neck, and his facial features. Looking down his body it is awash with loving hands swirling over his muscles, body parts, and genitals.

Richard’s moans become more pronounced as his forehead breaks out in a sweat. His sounds and body crescendo into an amazing orgasm and we sing along with him in primal “Oooos” and “Aaahs.” He is a choreographer and I’m always impressed how much his body can express every convulsion of his life-giving eruption. He nearly vibrates off the table. If this was a séance, he would have floated to the ceiling.

As he comes down, I whisper loving words in his ear, “You are an amazing, beautiful man, my brother….” We seem to be all breathing together now. Another body worker suggests we focus every bit of our love on Richard by placing our right hand on him and our left hand on the person next to us. Oh yes, we are instantly in sync and the love is as tangible as a tenth person in the room. Richard bursts into tears as well as a number of us. The bond is so powerful. The strength of connected touch is so healing. After a while, we are guided to gradually let our right hand find its way to Richards heart and a tower of hands give one last pulse of love deeply into the chest of our brother, and the spontaneous ritual is complete.

It sure is one heck of a way to start a 60th year! We gradually wander back out into the dining area and Richard’s housemate pulls out a birthday cake for us to celebrate further.

Who knows where the world would be today if we simply created more access for our loved ones to receive the touch we so desperately crave. It doesn’t take much to create the nurturing touch you need. No one argues about how touch deprived we are as a society and the isolation continues to grow the more we find ourselves stuck behind our devices. But knowing that, and doing something about it are two different things. The above configuration might be too elaborate and too erotic to start out with, but the basics are there. Reach out to just a few people you trust and find a way to touch, hug, and feel safe within your skin, while at the same time sharing the experience.


  1. Intimacy at it’s most intense, the touch. What a beautiful account of how healing touch can be. I used to get massages for my chronic neck pain and every time, with just the touch of this man’s hands at the back of my neck and his gentleness, the tears would just flow. I never understood that and was actually embarrassed, when the therapist said that it happens and it’s OK and that muscles have a memory and they are releasing years of internalized pain. I now understand that after a lifetime of not being touched and not touching another man, I have deprived myself of the most powerful way to connect with one another. Touch allows us to go beyond the limitations of our own individual bodies, to go beyond ourselves and to join with other souls in the most profound and beautiful way. I wish to experience this to it’s fullest and I hope to attend the Northwest Summit. Cel

  2. Beautiful Cel! Yes. I hope you can find ways to receive the nurturing touch you need, brother. We’ll be doing quite a lot of it at the Summit in September!


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