Posted on Leave a comment

Polyamorous Foundations

“I realized what I thought were just crushes on my friends… resonated with the polyamory community too.”

. . .

Sex ed growing up? “oh ho ho shit. So inadequate” says Wren. Promptly after asking for their sex education background Wren recounted sitting through a fifth-grade sex ed day in which the teachers separated kids by gender. This wasn’t Wren’s first experience though; in high school, it was the same “typical heteronormative cis sex education”. Awful and completely focused on abstinence.” Wren, a researcher, surfer, and chill ass Virgo, sat down with me to discuss a little bit about their experiences with sex and life in general. Wren describes themself as a problem solver. Wren is passionate about helping people be their full and amazing selves. As a full time, scientist, Wren notes that they apply their problem-solving skills not only to work but relationships, identity struggles, and self-love practices too. Not only does Wren want to do the work to bridge the gap between neuroscience and mental health work, but they emphasize that nurturing of identities is a big part of this holistic bridging. This week we ride the wave into non monogamy and polyamory, while learning how this wholesome individual creates space for their individuality on a day to day. 

. . .

1. How do you define your sexuality?

I identify as queer. If I were to break that down because I use that as an umbrella term, I would say romantically I am demisexual, not super hardcore. That label just helps me talk to partners about it or people I’m interested in or even friends on how I approach relationships. Romantic and emotional connection first and then I’ll have that physical attraction later. In terms of attraction, I’m attracted to more feminine energy, but it doesn’t matter the gender of the person at all. I am currently in a monogamous relationship, but I have been exploring non-monogamy and polyamory for the last year. 

2.               How did you come to define your sexuality?

Through, you know, how things are for queer people sometimes. You realize, ‘I’m feeling a little bit of rub against how society has told me this is what love looks like, or how attraction should feel like’. I felt a rub that would cause me discomfort and as a problem solver at heart, I would go online and research to try to understand my sexuality. That was kind of the first hurdle I had to come to terms within high school. Then in college, I realized my identity was not cis which was difficult too. Now that I had a lot of freedom to explore myself within my relationship, I realized what I thought were just crushes on my friends, or certain feelings about it resonated with the non-monogamy and polyamory community too. Now I’ve been able to have difficult but healthy conversations with partner(s) and friends. 

3.               How do you define your gender? How did you come to define your gender?

Just within the last year, I started to identify as nonbinary.  My gender expression has always leaned to sporty but once I got the freedom of not living with my parents, and I had a supportive partner, I started to resonate with more masc expressions. In terms of my identity, I started to question certain words or descriptions that felt uncomfortable to me. Quotes like “Hey, ladies’ ‘ and “Let’s go, girls” made me feel othered. I never grew up and pictured myself as a woman or in dresses, not that those things are what make you women, but I have always been confused about that. When one of my friends came out as nonbinary, I was taken aback and I had internalized transphobia, and working through that allowed me to come to terms with and explore my own identity. Now, I am micro dosing testosterone and battling insurance to get top surgery. 

4.               What did your virginity mean to you, if anything?

I was born and raised catholic. I was not attracted physically to my first two boyfriends. They were both catholic, so I thought, “this is great. We don’t really have to do stuff. I don’t want to do that stuff anyways.” It was something of a safety net to not have to lose my virginity. Although, I never thought that if I had sex, I would feel guilty or anything. I have always been of the mind that if you love someone, it’s okay. 

Specifically, virginity to me, used to mean having contact with genitals but I’ve expanded that for myself. Now, virginity to me means having any form of sex, not just penetrative sex. I think sex can be a feeling or whatever the folks involved want to identify it as.

I would say though, that I do have trouble with sex even now, and it totally plays into why I identify as demisexual. I feel like I can’t be vulnerable in sex and that really reduces my ability to receive, be pleased, or find pleasure during sex. I have to be very comfortable and vulnerable with my partner(s) and I think that has to do with Catholicism or maybe the feelings of shame that have gone unaddressed. 

5.               Were you influenced by family, religion, or other things that limited your sexuality/gender/ or expression of sex?

I was influenced by everything. I would like to say I haven’t been and I always like to say that I’m my own person, but it’s so apparent to me that how I go about sex right now has been such a journey. It’s still going to be a journey. That journey has mostly been stripping off what society has told me sex is or should be.

6.               What is one thing you wish you’d known sooner?

I wish I knew that being attracted to more than one person at one time or being attracted to people of any gender is okay. 

7.               What is one nonsexual thing you find sexual?

I think that tattoos are really sexy. Depending on the tattoos if they’re aesthetically pleasing, I really like them. 

8.               What is an interesting sexual experience you’ve had (whether alone or not), that you’d like to talk about?

I want to talk about what I mentioned earlier. Sex is so much more than just your genitals. One time with my partner, I had been pleasing her for a bit. She had cum, and as I was holding her I felt an electricity pass between us. So, I started rubbing her back and she climaxed and came again with me just rubbing her back. 

9.               What do you wish you knew more about sex?

I wish. Well, there’s lots of things. I wish I knew more about having sex with folks that are trans or use hormones or are intersex. You know people that don’t necessarily have the genitals we’ve learned. I also want to learn more about having sex without using genitals.

10.            Is there anything you do that you feel is different from the norm?

If the norm is cis sex, I’m already trans and I am with a lesbian, so there’s that. Beyond that I guess what’s different than the norm  is constant communication and checking in. Whether it comes to romance, sex, to relationships always checking and understanding how your partner is feeling. I put my partner first when I’m pleasing her and keeping in mind it’s for her. Obviously, I keep myself in mind too, but it’s about not being at all selfish. I feel like the norm is like ‘what I’m getting out of it?’ 

11.            Do you think your sex falls within the heteronormative, why, or why not?

Nope. Definitely, not. 

12.            How do you care for yourself whether before, during, or after sex? 

This ties into a lot of the communication thing. Communication with your partner and the self. Whether checking in if I’m in the mood for this or not. What I usually ask myself is “am I open to sex or do I desire sex.” Lately with all the stress in the outside world I am more in the “open to sex category” and we check in with each other throughout. 

Afterwards just being with my partner and also reflecting for myself. 

I also want to say that people should know it’s okay if you’re well-seasoned. You don’t have to take a shower before sex. In a society, in general, you’re taught that you have to be clean and you can’t taste like anything or whatever before you have sex, but it’s okay. 

13.            Is there any advice you’d give to others?

I would say sex is supposed to be an enjoyable experience. You should empower yourself with as much information and communication as possible between you and your partner. Info about safe sex and what pleases you. Empower yourself to communicate those things with whoever you choose to have sex with. 

14.            Have you ever had sex for items, money, etc? 

No, I have not. 

. . .

So, what is polyamory? The short answer is a non-monogamous style relationship, but that short answer is just never quite enough. We can investigate what polyamory means by dissecting the root words and defining the Greek word “poly” as many and the Latin word “Amory” for love. Or we can take a deeper dive and do the actual work to understand what polyamory really means. 

Guess which one I am going to do here today?  

You guessed it. Polyamory is often defined differently by each person but always surrounds the same foundational values: expansive love, ethics, consent, and sometimes includes more than two partners. The reason for the distinction on “sometimes” versus always including more than two is because lots of folks who identify as polyamory may be in a relationship structure that is seen as monogamous or have the potential to be non-monogamous but they may not fully engage with those partners. This can look like person A from the AB couple dating multiple people and person B being open to interactions with the people person A is dating but never engaging. This “sometimes” also includes folks who are solo polyamorous. 

Now, to discuss the foundational values of polyamory. In many polyamory spaces the term of “expansive love” is used to describe how polyamorous folks feel. The distinction between expansive and exhaustive is important to the foundation because it integrates the idea that love for one cannot take away love from another. Society sees this form of normalized expansive love when discussing a parent with multiple children. Their love for one of their kids does not take away their ability to love another kid so why is it that this logic is only seen as applicable in polyamorous spaces?

One word, jealousy. Rooted into our society, by white supremacy, is the idea that we must always be in competition in order to succeed. Whether discussing race relations, class hierarchies, job access, or even relationships, we have been ingrained with the idea that jealousy is a proactive incentive. Well I’m here to tell you why that’s wrong.

Have you ever heard some amazing news from a friend or family member in which they told you they finally got that job, item, or skill they always wanted to achieve? Think back & really visualize when the moment they told you. How did you react? 

Chances are you were happy. With how much that person means to you, the thought of them succeeding at something they love really put a smile on your face. 

That feeling is often termed “compersion.” Compersion is used as a way to describe this joyous feeling, this feeling of selfless happiness for another person. And that is what polyamorous individuals say they feel when their partners love other folks too. Although not an official word in English, polyamorous spaces and researchers have been using this word as a translation for such feelings identified in French and Spanish. Researchers have been fighting to integrate this word into dictionaries because as scientific researcher, Marie Thouin, puts it “once the word gets integrated into the collective psyche, it facilitates the experiences itself of the emotion” (Multiamory).

Of course, polyamorous folks are not explicitly and perfectly non-jealous, but I will argue that compersion has been integrated into the polyamorous psyches, allowing polyamorous folk to really work towards achieving more compersion. Though, this achievement is not one that comes easy. 

To go back to the foundations– as I stated above, polyamory depends on consent and ethics as well as this expansive love. One may be able to achieve the feeling of loving many at once but creating a safe, consensual, and ethical space to practice this all is where the harder work comes in. One thing’s for sure, polyamory is never going to be easy to achieve. You must be prepared for the fun and the tough conversations. For all the pleasure and the awkward miscommunication (they are inevitable). For the weekly nights of self-check ins, relationship evaluations, and mononormative challenges imposed by society. Most importantly, you must understand consent whether it looks like your partner(s) being accepting or not. Not everyone can handle the work and stress it takes to be polyamorous, but you can ground yourself in consensual and strong ethics so that you are at your best for those conversations. 

Although it is a common misconception that polyamorous folks are cheaters or can’t settle, this is not true. All polyamorous folk share different experiences, relationship set ups, and some even chose to settle down with their partner(s) too!

So, if you need some, here are some of my favorite resources:

One resource I’ve found quite helpful is that of PolyLand. This website provides several articles, but my favorite so far is the extensive list of polyamory discussion questions (HERE). This list has 25 chapters of discussion questions that you can go over with your partner(s) to identify your value, strengths, and things to work on. The list of questions dives deeper into how you view polyamorous relationships and how much room you are making for growth. 

I LOVE IT!

If you like podcasts, Multiamory is right up your ally. They have over 280 podcast episodes, all about polyamory and its intricacies. They can be found on Spotify, iTunes, and several other players. They also have a website where you can learn more (HERE).

Also recommended is Polyamory Weekly. This podcast is also available on several platforms, with over 500 episodes, and is sex positive! Learn more here.

If you are in the process of finding a couples or individual therapist you can use this site. Polyamorous friendly therapists and counselors are listed in several locations and chances are you can find an amazing one within your budget. There are also several other polyamorous friendly health professionals such as chiropractors, body workers, and family and childbirth specialists listed too. 

Below is a list I’ve recommended and compiled but have not engaged with much. As always, be safe & think intersectionally when engaging with them. 

. . .

Readings: 

The Ethical Slut – https://amzn.to/2SQ7NSa

More Than Two – https://amzn.to/2Yz4Zht

Sex at Dawn – https://amzn.to/313Uosu

Christianity & Polyamory – https://join.queertheology.com/polyam…

The Game Changer: A Memoir of Disruptive Love by Franklin Veaux http://amzn.to/1TvzABq  

Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships  by Tristan Taormino http://amzn.to/1SNYVtp 

The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families by Elisabeth Sheff http://amzn.to/21eIc2l 

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein http://amzn.to/1SNZ67Z 

Videos/Podcasts:

http://www.youtube.com/thepolyamoryvlogshow

Online Dating Sites:

www.okcupid.com (has nonmonogamy option)

www.polyamorydate.com

www.beyondtwo.com 

Websites:

http://www.morethantwo.com

http://www.polyamorytoday.com

http://www.polyinfo.org

Posted on Leave a comment

No Wanking Way: Masturbation and Shame

By: Flora Oliveira

I always viewed sex as a two-person thing, and now when I try to do it on my own it’s not as enjoyable.”

. . .

Debby shines through her most honest self. Our conversations on sex were never few or far in between, but rather a topic we shared much comfortability. During this interview, Debby shared her experiences with an effortlessness, noting that she has grown in her comfort of discussing sex not only with others but also while around others. Although she mentions she struggled throughout her adolescence, Debby is striving to be the best medical professional she can be while breaking many of the traditional rules she is expected to follow. After being asked, she also noted that in her youth she received formal sex education in 7th grade and biology class but like others noted, it was fear-based (STD focused) and not sex-positive or LGBTQIA+ inclusive. Undeniably true to herself, in all her intelligence and brilliance, Debby demonstrates that although one can be comfortable with these conversations, it may not translate to one’s comfort with their own bodies. In her interview, she dives deeper on her perspective and experiences with masturbation.

. . .

How do you define your sexuality?

I would say I’m like 95% straight and 5% whatever the fuck because I feel like no one’s really 100% anymore, right? Sometimes I see girls and I’m like “oooo” but they’re usually masculine. I always wonder is my attraction just because of their masculinity? I don’t know, really.

How did you come to define your sexuality?

Trial and error. Like in high school I went through a phase. I know a “phase” has a negative connotation, but I think it was necessary. I say that as it’s not something that I ended up settling on, but it’s something I had to try for myself.

How do you define your gender? How did you come to define your gender?

I am a woman (she/her). That’s one thing I never really questioned so it’s just always been that way for me.

What did your virginity mean to you if anything?

It had different meanings and meant different things to me [throughout] my life. At first, I didn’t take it seriously. I knew the first person wasn’t going to be last but now I wish I had taken it more seriously. Now, I understand why people say to save it. You really don’t get it back, but I don’t think it’s as important or as serious as people make it out to be because that makes people scared. I do think you should take it seriously, and not give it away willy nilly though.

Were you influenced by family, religion, or other things that limited your sexuality/gender/ or expression of sex?

No. Nobody told me I had to be straight. My family is not religious, and also not that educated about LBTQIA+ like that, so there was no discussion in general. I was just free to think what I wanted with who I surrounded myself with outside of family. I wouldn’t say it was limited. If anything, what did limit me was my social awkwardness; otherwise, no limits.

What is one thing you wish you’d known sooner?

Damn… I don’t know man… I wish I just knew everything sooner. I think that would’ve made it easier for me to make a smarter decision on who I did it with. I think it would’ve been different if I just knew more about the sex in general. I would have made a more educated decision which mine was not.

What is one nonsexual thing you find sexual?

I’ve always had a thing about arms. Like nice toned arms, but not like muscly.

What is an interesting sexual experience you’ve had (whether alone or not) that you’d like to talk about?

I had sex on a hiking trail. We saw this treehouse zipline thing and decided it was a great spot to do it at. I also had sex in a public bathroom in baseball field but because it was gross, I didn’t touch anything. It was on our bucket list, and we did it just to say that we did. It was over in 10 minutes.

I feel like it was a fun thing to do. That’s the thing, sex doesn’t always have to be intimate. Especially if you’re in a relationship with someone and it’s someone that you trust, it really, truly, can just be for fun– another bonding experience to add to the list.

What do you wish you knew more about (sex-specific)?

I wish I knew more about masturbation. I always viewed sex as a two-person thing, and now when I try to do it on my own it’s not as enjoyable. It’ll never match up to having it with another person. It’s not sad but I feel like I’m missing out. I feel like that’s just how it is for me. I think it would have been nice to know things in general as a girl because I still don’t prioritize getting checked out. There was no dialogue about it whatsoever, and now I feel naturally uncomfortable to go to the gyno or doctor, even though I am an adult. I know sex-ed’s a thing in school, but I think lack of sex conversations and lack of [adequate] sex-ed creates more stigmas. Even having gone through sex-ed, I don’t feel comfortable going to the doctor. I didn’t find out about UTIs and yeast infections until recently. I thought yeast infections were explicitly caused by sex, but it isn’t; we don’t get taught that. That just makes things more complicated and you become so uncomfortable you can’t talk about sex. Growing up I always thought about going to go get checked out, but I never was comfortable asking my mom since I thought yeast infections were tied to sex. I couldn’t tell my parents because I thought there would be questions. I think it should be more of the normal thing to do, and even now, I know people who are sexually active but think home remedies work. They were also never taught correctly and couldn’t ever talk to people about it.

Is there anything you do that you feel is different from the norm?

I feel like I’m as normie as it gets. I used to and still think it’s more intimate to have oral sex than penetrative sex. I don’t know if that’s weird or not…

When I first had sex I just wanted to have [penetrative] sex. I didn’t want to do any of the pregame stuff before sex because I didn’t know him that well. I don’t know, I always thought that was kind of weird.

Do you think your sex falls within the heteronormative, why, or why not?

Yeah, because it is. I’ve only had sex with a guy, and I identify as a girl.

How do you care for yourself whether before, during, or after sex?

I don’t. Some people always shave before, and I don’t give a fuck. I just shower and brush my teeth before, and after.

Is there any advice you’d give to others?

I would say make sure it’s with someone you know a little bit. It’s not just a trust thing but you don’t want to be vulnerable to someone you don’t know. I feel like it’s more enjoyable with someone you know to some degree. I feel like casual is fine but if you really don’t know someone, it may not be as enjoyable if you really don’t know the person. Just be safe.

Have you ever had sex for items, money, etc.?

This is going to get a little serious, but it wasn’t explicitly said that we would do this for this. It was more suggested in there like you’ll do this for something (maybe). I don’t think it should be that way, especially if it’s like the situation I was in. I don’t think you should have sex unless you really don’t mind and want to. You should be having sex for your own enjoyment, and then later if you don’t mind and you really want money, lunch, whatever then that’s fine. I feel like if that’s how you start, you’ll always view it as an exchange.

. . .

To all my readers and interviewees this is an open letter to y’all:

Masturbation is completely, unequivocally NORMAL. Masturbation is a version of safe sex. Whether you choose to dip your toes (or fingers) into the water, it is all completely your decision.

I want to emphasize that we often stigmatize everything we think must be private, but masturbation doesn’t have to be a single person thing.

Until recently, I also stigmatized masturbation. *Shocking, right? *

NOT!

From a very young age, and I mean YOUNG like a toddler young, most of us are taught that touching our genitals is evil, forbidden, and even shameful. But what we did not know is that masturbation is healthy and actually a part of every child and teen’s development.

From an early age, children learn to pair good sensations with their genitals. Believe it or not, children learn to explore their bodies like they explore most things — by rubbing, touching, or pulling on it. There are actual ultrasounds and research to show that even fetuses do it in utero (learn more here  or here). If the thought of everyone masturbating in their parent’s tummy doesn’t prove masturbation to be normal, I don’t know what else to tell you.

Just kidding, here’s a few more reasons it’s perfectly normal and awesome:

Masturbation can be a great way to learn what’s best for your body. Masturbation can help you find out what you like or do not like so that you can tell your partner, get specific toys, and/or find a good lube for yourself. It also has health benefits. It relieves stress, period cramps, pains, and for some it brings on orgasms (study on this here)!

According to a study published on Insider, daily masturbation can benefit your heart. In folks over the age of 65, masturbation has been shown to lower hypertension and rapid heart rate (link to Insider HERE). It has also been noted that after orgasming, folks stated their skin cleared, their sense of smell improved, and research also shows that their stress, anxiety, and depression levels lowered (research for this HERE).

Now, even though both you and I know that masturbation is normal and good for our bodies, we still must acknowledge the social stigmas and implications that exist around masturbation. It is essential that within an adequate discussion of sex education, stigmas and discomforts are addressed. Masturbation and discussions about  masturbation have always been treated as a shameful act within our society. Masturbation is often not discussed, labeled as “dirty” or “gross,” and it is definitely not included in our current sex education. Often conversations regarding masturbation surround ideas that masturbation causes mental health issues, leads to sexual inadequacies, or simply is sinful.

These myths are ingrained in our society in part because of how society polices bodies, but also because of the medical attitudes and origins of masturbation. Western culture adopted the idea that sex was impure unless done for the purpose of procreation or a man’s enjoyment. That positioned male pleasure at the center of sex, while it positioned family and purity at the center of women’s relation to sex. This ideology coupled with medicine was seen as having adverse effects as early as the 20th century when doctors attributed a women-only disorder named “hysteria” to symptoms such as outbursts, frustration, nervousness, and any form of sexual desire. Essentially, women who did not center their whole lives around calmly cleaning the house, praising the husband, and raising the children, were defined as dealing with “hysterical paroxysm.” And the so-called cure-all? Doctors forcefully stimulated these women until they orgasmed and stopped acting in such ways.

Early discussions on masturbation were common for men– they were acceptable. But when it came to women, it was seen as a sin, a symptom, and/or a disease. Ingrained in our society was the idea that masturbation is only acceptable at the hands of men. Even now, we see these ideas around masturbation being reinforced with stigmas and myths.

For a bit more fun, I asked my audience on Instagram to share with me what myths they had been told about masturbation, and here were the results:

Masturbation gives you Herpes.

It would cause your full body to blister.

“Me time” would cause your genitals to fall off.

Playing with your genitals would give you STDs.

Masturbation would stunt your growth and hormones.

Masturbation would make hair grow in between your fingers.

The elbow bump on your arm would grow significantly every time you masturbated

It would cause you to go blind 

And my favorite of all time…

Orgasms are finite. If you use them you lose me.

Just for those of you considering using these funny myths with your children: DON’T.

This is not how you teach people about masturbation! As we have seen, such myths and stigmatization around masturbation causes folks to create a bad relationship with it, even though it is completely normal. Shaming is not a form of protection.

As we have seen per my last article, shaming only causes youth to take more risk, increases STD probability, and can lead to self-harm. We should all know how to safely and privately masturbate without shame, fear, or misinformation.

There is nothing wrong with masturbation, there is nothing wrong with being familiar with your genitals, and there is certainly nothing wrong with getting regular genital checkups. In light of finishing this article, I challenge you, my reader, to combat the shame we feel around masturbation. Go tell everyone you know how healthy it is, how it relieves stress, and how there are no adverse side effects to masturbating.

Or you know, you can just go spend some time masturbating too.

Whatever floats your boat. Thanks for reading!

. . .

New York Times “Why Is Children’s Masturbation Such a Secret?”: HERE 

Research on child development and masturbation: HERE

Sexual Behaviors in children: HERE 

Planned Parenthood on masturbation: HERE

Posted on Leave a comment

Norwegian Sexcapade

“It ended up just being me, the Grindr guy, and his very attractive friend.

. . .

This week’s interview centers my friend, “Whorechata, ” who kept it short and entertaining. Just as fun as his pseudo-name and introduction picture, Whorechata is a vibrant nature enthusiast, who strives to open his own social plant shop. Whorechata shares a little of his personality by exposing his “homophobic republican ass teacher” who would not let him run for prom queen. According to his teacher, only girls can dream of receiving a tiara on prom night. Nonetheless, Whorechata, as salty as he still is about his high school experience, goes on to share his personal growth. Amongst discussing his queer self-acceptance, he acknowledged key challenges of the relentless system that excluded proper LGBTQIA+ sex ed. Thankfully, Whorechata was able to self-educate with the help of something most of us queer folk use when seeking inclusive sex ed– the internet.  Furthermore, he advises that self-comfort be a priority while also giving us a little insight on how far he’s cum in his process of living his best gay life. 

. . .

How do you define your sexuality and gender? How did you come to define your sexuality? How did you come to define your gender? 

I’m just a gay, cis-male. In middle school, I realized I found other guys attractive. I don’t know how to answer besides I just know.

What did your virginity mean to you, if anything?

It didn’t really mean much to me. I just had a hookup as my first sexual experience.

Is there anything you do that you feel is different from the norm?

 I don’t really prefer anal sex. Which I guess isn’t really weird, but it’s different in the norm in the gay community. Especially with being expected to be either a top or a bottom.

How do you care for yourself whether before, during, or after sex?

 Before sex, I shower and do some prep work so I can smell nice and be appealing to my partner. In turn, it increases my self-confidence.

During, I make sure the other person is enjoying it, and make sure I voice what I like too.

Were you influenced by family, religion, or other things that limited your sexuality, gender, or expression of sex?

I wasn’t really influenced by my family or religion in regard to repressing my sexuality and expression of it. I chastised myself because I was afraid of getting judged by my peers. Throughout high school, there weren’t any other gay kids. I remember, in PE class, my freshman year of high school, one of the football players and his friend came up to me asking if I was gay. They put me on the spot. That experience just reaffirmed my fear of the judgment I would face if openly gay. As for my family situation, it was basically a “don’t ask don’t tell” agreement. My parents never ask about my romantic life.  

What is an interesting sexual experience you’ve had whether alone or not, that you’d like to talk about?

The wildest thing I did happened when I was studying abroad in Norway. When I got to the Airbnb I decided to lay down and charge my phone before heading out. I hopped on Grindr and this guy hit me up almost immediately. He was at a pub nearby and asked if I wanted to get drinks with him and his friends. I was like hell yeah; I get to meet the locals! 

I went over and met up with them but when I went to order a drink, they asked to see my ID and proceeded to explain that they stopped serving alcohol to people under 20 at 6 pm. I told the guys that we went to a different bar. The Grindr guy ended up getting us shots that were like 60% proof. His 2 friends were asking me about America and what I was doing in Europe, and then a little bit later another very attractive friend showed up catching my attention. We all talked and then the 2 original friends excused themselves. It ended up just being me, the Grindr guy, and his very attractive friend.

At this point, I had like 2 of those strong ass shots and like 4 pints of beer. I was FEELING IT. So, the Grindr guy invites us over to his place to hang out. Were in his kitchen and he asked if I wanted a cookie. I had hella drunchies and so I had one. We talked for a bit and I noticed I felt something change. I felt weird and ended up realizing the cookie was an edible. He offered to have us sit in his room and when we got there, he introduced me to his “no clothing rules.” 

And that’s how I was in a three-way with two Norwegian guys.

There’s also a part 2 to this story. A few years later I went back to Norway to visit a different friend I made there. It was Independence Day, so I walked around town and ended up running into the guys again and relived the experience. 

Have you ever had sex for items, money, etc? 

Yes. I did it for fun though. I thought it’d be a cool story to tell later. 

Is there any advice you’d give to others?

I’d say do what’s comfortable, don’t feel like you need to do something you aren’t comfortable with just because you want to please your partner. Sex is about pleasure for both parties

What do you wish you knew more about sex?

That for anal sex it’s not like in porn where the top just sticks it in, and everything is good to go. In reality, you have to stretch otherwise it really hurts.

What is one thing you wish you’d known sooner?

 In high school, I shouldn’t have given a fuck and lived my best gay life.

. . .

A common theme discussed in the last two interviews has been a lack of LGBTQIA+ inclusive sex education and non-abstinence sex-education. At fault for this insufficient education are the systems in place which prioritize hetero-normality. This normality, or prioritizing of straight, white, cis, and abled body, sex drastically affects those who are excluded from these categories. The need for LGBTQIA+ sex-ed has always been silenced, but struggles told by the very voices affected, demonstrates the necessity for this topic. 

So why do we need a more inclusive version of sex education? Let’s break it down:

Abstinence focused sex-ed leads to avoidance, fear, and internalized struggles. By focusing on avoidance of sex, teens often get discouraged to ask questions in an educational setting. With half of national STD’s cases occurring in young people ages 15-24, we can see that this avoidance around the topic of sex does more harm than good (CDC). Abstinence only education has failed in delaying teens from having sex or reducing teen pregnancy, but one thing it has done is increase the risk of misinformation (Advocates). This misinformation produced by abstinence-only programs, is usually seen in how the programs “distort information about the effectiveness of contraceptives, misrepresent the risks of abortion, blur religion and science, treat gender stereotypes as scientific fact, and contain basic scientific errors”(2004 Government Reform Committee). With 37 states requiring some form of abstinence teaching, it is clear that the danger of misinformation will continue to affect not only straight youth, but especially LGBTQIA+ youth( Journal of Adolescent Health).

A big part of abstinence-based teaching is the idea that virginity and purity should be preserved. What this teaching fails to highlight is that virginity is a social construct made in part to control women and allow families to capitalize on marrying their “pure” daughters off. Although capitalizing on the purity of one’s daughter has been discarded in most cultures, I still found it relevant to ask what virginity meant to each interviewee. With interviewing a diverse group of individuals, it can be seen they all hold differentiating opinions on virginity. Each valid and respectable for themselves. The main point of this virginity question is one I feel the need to address. The point being, that although virginity may mean something to one person and nothing to another, each self-definition should be respected. Never should we judge, or impose our own views on others, and we shouldn’t require everyone to see virginity in the same light. The reason for addressing this is mainly to emphasize that sex is versatile, ever changing, and definitely not heteronormative. Even as a construct, virginity, and the greater topic of sex hold weight in our society.  

Trying to navigate non-inclusive sex ed as a kid while being LGBTQIA+ can lead to self-shame and alienation. Shame is not a motivating factor to be safe– it has been proven to do otherwise. Kids will experiment unsafely, and this can put them in non-consensual or dangerous positions. Everyone goes through puberty, masturbates, and feels some level of shame around such topics, but excluding necessary information shouldn’t be reinforced systematically.  

LGBTQIA+ exclusionary sex education, “others” students who may already be struggling with their identity. Not only will this form of exclusion lead to mental health issues like anxiety and depression, it also excludes several forms of sex experienced by all identities (i.e. oral, anal, fingering, self-pleasure, use of sex toys, etc.). The singular definition of sex being limited to penetrative vagina -penis sex, teaches sex as heteronormative and restricts individuals opportunities to redefine or re identify their sexuality. This is especially troubling for trans kids, given that not all women have vaginas and not all men have penises. The biological institutions of sex and gender in heteronormative sex education, leads to confusion about sex and gender being societal constructs too.  

With so much confusion LGBTQIA+ kids or teens will feel the need to refrain from asking questions, or even attempt to go to sources that are not safe or educational. Sex ed. is supposed to provide information on how to be safe and stay healthy yet with no teaching on dental dams, douching, proper use of condoms, or pleasure vs reproduction, health and safety are disregarded. With inclusive sex education everyone can define what sex means, looks like, and feels like to them, creating less problems and more openness in conversations on sex.  

Let’s be honest, reaching out to the internet for sex advice as a minor is not always the safest route. Everyone should be allowed to express their sexuality freely while knowing the ins and outs of being safe. Excluding whole groups of people or excluding necessary information is dangerous and can often erase the necessary information (i.e. consent). Along with not having adequate safe sex info, LGBTQIA+ youth can experience higher levels of STDs, UTIs, and other diseases. With 48% of trans youth having attempted suicide under the age of 26, and 59% of youth regularly self-harming, it is given that we need to provide better and safer information (Trevor Project and The Guardian). There should be an emphasis on doing what feels right for each individual, and that needs to include the LGBTQIA+ community.

Without the betterment of sex-ed, youth will most likely continue to face high levels of STD’s and UTI’s, self-harm, and suicide. Such inclusive information would eliminate confusion for all individuals seeking relevant information and they would have access to it without needing to fear stigmatization, bullying, or “othering” from peers or demeaning authority figures. We want to protect our youth; To do that we must teach them to be shame free, fear free, and educated on how to keep themselves, and their bodies healthy and safe.

. . .

To learn more about inclusive sex education please see links below:

Prints, Webinars, and Other Resources Linked: HERE 

Learn more about general sex ed: HERE

Here why we need LGBTQ+ education TEDx talk by youth, Grace James: HERE 

Gay and Lesbian Sex- Ed Video: HERE 

Why is Abstinence A Problem video: HERE