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As queer people, sexual liberation and exploration is a hallmark of many of our stories as we evolve and grow into our identities. It’s a way that many of us, myself included, find solace and connection in a world that often shuns us. A world that doesn’t allow us to fit in. Sex and relationships are at our disposal to finally explore and can allow us to embody our identity, and there’s a special power in that. It’s almost like finding a secret tunnel in your mind, where you can run down its length as fast or as slow as you want, getting to the end where your mind is at peace and your identity confident it’s found the right home.
For me, my relationship to sex has been something that definitely allowed me to explore who I was. It allowed me to connect with people in a way that I’d never done before. Growing up in a small town in rural Dorset, surrounded by failing high street chains and garden centres, it was never somewhere where I was able to understand just what queer sex was. I knew the intricacies don’t get me wrong, but the reality of sex was completely different for me. It wasn’t happening, and wasn’t going to happen until I discovered the big ol’ city.
The one thing that I do enjoy about the queer community is our openness around sex. Once I had arrived in London, I obviously ran to Soho to explore it’s queer metropolis, only to find out that I felt like I didn’t fit in here either. But although I didn't fit in, it was at least a space where LGBTQIA+ people were TALKING about sex. It was intimidating, scary and everyone felt like they were confident with their sex lives and I still didn’t. But what I can realise now, is that no one is confident about their romantic or sexual lives. They're vulnerable, and afraid to share that, yet that vulnerability is what often makes sex perfect. That's what makes it secretly brilliant. Physical intimacy is great, but what adds that extra layer of flavour and brilliance is emotional intimacy. Vulnerability, honesty, openness and willingness to just exist with someone else sexually that has all of the layers of a meaningful connection.
This doesn’t mean that you have to just have sex with people you feel able to have this connection with. Trust and believe I know that to not be the case, but having casual sex as a queer person, and having no emotional or vulnerable connection with said person is not a mutually exclusive scenario. It can, and does happen, and for me this dichotomy was a turning point in my relationship with sex. I realised that I wasn’t having sex because I shared this connection with other people, I was having it because I felt like I needed to, or because I was stressed, or because I felt lonely and isolated. It became something that soothed pain, rather than brought enjoyment and emotional intimacy.
The past year has been a demolition, and a subsequent delicate rebuilding of what I perceive sex to be for me. It’s something that isn’t perfect, but I have compassionately acknowledged the challenges and pain that it has caused me in my life, and how equally i’ve used it to escape pain. It became a self soothing activity, rather than one that was mutually beneficial for everyone involved.
Stopping having sex doesn’t make you inferior, and the queer community, in my opinion, definitely has an idealistic and turbulent dialogue around sex. If you’re not having sex there’s something awfully wrong with you, and if you’re having too much sex there’s also something awfully wrong with you, but also something heroic about you. It doesn't make sense.
There’s a constant level of perfectionism that one tries to attain when it comes to being queer and having sex that it can be difficult to realise when sex becomes a problem for you. In my case, it was convincing myself that my sexual activity was still healthy because it was in relation to my exploration of self. But i’d already found out who I was in that moment. I was using sexual liberation as a tool to convince myself I was in the right place to be having casual sex.
Celibacy has been a time to relearn what sex means to me, journeying to find a sane and sound ideal of what sex is in my life, and how I can get to a place day by day where it's an experience I deserve.
If you're worried about your sex life, or convinced everyone has it better than you, then know that the only thing you can control in this situation is what you are doing. What other people are doing with their lives is none of our business when it comes to sex, and all we can and should focus on is how we can have enjoyable, healthy and consensual sex in our futures. No matter how long it takes, and no matter how much rebuilding that requires you to do, it's always possible one day at a time.