Celibacy, both in despair and by intention, has been very important to my sexual healing and creative emergence. There is so much to explore and unlearn. It takes time to study our sexual impulses, fantasies, ideas, and potential. How do we know what we really want? In my experience it's emotionally, physically and psychically reward to take time not pursuing sex and love with others. I have relied on lengthy periods of celibacy - one or two years - to recover from intense relationships and prepare for the next. I've also experimented with shorter periods of what I might call classical celibacy, no sex including with myself, sometimes to build energy for a lover, other times just to clear myself from an obsessive phase of fantasizing. From the age of 25 to 28 I was relationship-celibate: that is how I refer to a period of self-discovery in which I didn't have sex with anyone. I did however learn to truly enjoy having sex with myself and the world. I became a sexual pagan, in love with the earth, enamored by trees, lustful of the sun, and seduced by the ocean. My animal and spiritual natures were revealed in lengthy solosex rituals. I discovered the intense pleasure hiding at the root of my dick, buried a few inches up my bum. I read copiously, something I never have time to do when I'm with a lover. I studied sexual liberation, queer histories, feminist spirituality, the anatomy of pleasure (a Carol Queen term), and the relationship between sexual fantasy, archetypal psychology and myth. I read lots of porn, noticing patterns of what turned me on, what scared me, and what made me upset. I came to my own conclusions about sexist, racist, ageist, and other forms of hurtful images. I read some Taoist guides and I practiced not-cumming. I experimented with the alchemy of sexual energy, the power of a yin or non-ejaculation orgasm, and I learned that sex could be a prayer. In the alleged prime of youth I lived as a private celibate in one of the world's most erotic cities and there I discovered myself as a polysexual animal in love with the world.
As for the culture in relation to celibacy. The culture is mean. We are shamed for being alone and teased by all kinds of bullies, including advertising and Hollywood, if we don't have that special someone. But these industries profit greatly from making us feel ugly, stinky, and generally not sexy. Not to mention that most Euro-and-American based cultures are addicted to speed and productivity, which is worst environment for contemplation, revelation, and intimacy. So let's not worry too much that there's no respect from mainstream cultures for a diversity of sexual expression which includes celibacy.
-- Keith Hennessy