As a queer person, it’s frustrating to have heterosexual sex shoved in my face in every aspect of life. Memes, articles, movies, songs, and television shows are dripping with unrealistic and biased expectations of sex. I can’t find “queer” sex anywhere, yet the homophobes claim they are being choked by it. The language around sex is gendered and stereotypical and excludes millions of people. It’s a whole lot of “girls love dick,” “wives, do this to please your husband,” and “best ways for him to eat her pussy” clickbait that perpetuates the idea that the only kind of sex happening — and worth talking about — is between participants who are straight and cisgender.
It also makes me sad for the number of people who are so locked in with what they think sex and sexuality should be that they are depriving themselves of pleasure even as they judge the sexual practices that make others happy. Expanding one’s views on sexuality can help validate people, but it can also allow for more freedom on one’s own journey to healthy relationships and sexual satisfaction.
Though it may not be obvious in media portrayals of it, sex happens between a mix of sexualities, genders, body parts, toys and within many types of relationships. Transgender people get it on with each other and with (gasp!) cisgender folks. Same-sex couples do it. And same gender folks with different sexual body parts enjoy plenty of romps in the sack. The only thing that can be said about all sex is that it should be consensual and is best enjoyed when communication and trust are involved.
I wish the media would be more mindful about using non-gendered language like partner or spouse when referring to relationships so that more than cis-het people can see themselves in the narrative. This applies to discussions of sexual acts too. When a vagina is involved, call it as such instead of something like “lady bits” or assuming the vagina is attached to someone who identifies as a woman. And remember that vaginas don’t always want or need a penis to get off. This leaves room for transgender and queer people to be seen as sexual beings too.
Your sexuality or sexual orientation is based on your sexual or romantic attractions to other people. The partners people have sex with are often based on that sexual orientation, but the ways people like to have sex is based on their sexual desires, kinks, or fantasies. No one act defines someone’s sexual orientation, and this is why it’s so important for anyone, but especially media, to use inclusive language when speaking generally about sex. Yes, individuals will talk about their experiences in terms that fit their specific situation, but when making sweeping generalizations about sex, don’t paint everyone’s stories as your own. Something or someone may not be for you, and that’s totally fine, but yucking someone’s consensual yum is not cool. Nor does it reduce stigma, shame, and self-hatred around sexuality that isn’t considered “normal.”
Sex is everywhere, yet it’s still taboo to talk about it in a way that’s meaningful and beyond the scope of dirty jokes and a clever double entendre. While mainstream media maintains its stance on “heterosexual” relationships, porn — which is very much consumed by the mainstream — has several categories that show the fluidity of sexuality and all of its logistical options. I’ll acknowledge that porn has dangers and also portrays unrealistic sex, but that’s for another conversation; my point is that it offers a more realistic buffet of actual sexual relationships. Sexuality can’t simply be defined as gay or straight; sexuality for a person can change over a lifetime based on different situations, their attraction (or not) for someone else, and the number of people involved in the relationship.
Society seems to accept and even expect people to have multiple sexual partners over the course of a lifetime, but it’s still taboo to have multiple partners during a sexual encounter. But, for some people, swinging with other couples, threesomes, or paid encounters with sex workers are what suit them. Polyamorous relationships — having intimate relationships with more than one person — are more common than people think and aren’t any less valid and fulfilling than monogamous relationships. Those relationships can include sex, but it all goes back to consent and honesty. For any relationship to work, communication, boundaries, and respect are key.
We also need to address the fact that some people don’t have any desire for sex. I’m not talking about exhausted parents or people who are sexually repressed. Folks who are asexual don’t have sexual attraction for other people. Just like any label, identifying as asexual (also known as “ace”), has different meanings for each person. Any gender can be asexual and asexual folks can still experience romantic, physical, and emotional attraction. Asexual folks can have platonic and intimate relationships, but the attraction is not based on sex.
In some cases, an asexual person may have sexual feelings and a sex drive and may enjoy masturbating or even having sex; sexual desire is not the same as attraction, however. Having sex may be to satisfy their libido, make their partner happy, or to enjoy touch and cuddling. Before you discount an asexual person’s experience, ask yourself if you have ever had sex just to get laid even when you weren’t attracted to the person — that doesn’t mean the sex wasn’t enjoyable. Some people under the asexual umbrella may identify as being a demisexual and can only experience sexual attraction when they have a rooted connection with another person.
Sex is not a monolith, but our heteronormative culture makes it seem that way. It’s time to open up the conversation to all sexual identities and relationships because there are so many types to discuss. If we can embrace the fluidity of desire and be honest about what we really want and need, then we can communicate that to our partners. There is nothing wrong with you if your desires don’t always conform to the heteronormative assumptions that currently dictate the conversation about sex. Nor is it wrong if you never want to have sex at all.
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