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#MySexMyWay - Melony#MySexMyWay - Melony

My name is Mélanie Lehmann aka Melony Lemon and I am a Photographer, Visual Artist, Beauty Content Creator - in short, a creative. I am unapologetically authentic in my work which is based around intersectional feminism, diversity, and inclusivity. I think my skill is my versatility, always taking pride in commercial briefs and conceptual activism. My passion for connecting art with audiences has led my work to appear in global publications including Polyester Zine, Dazed, Notion and Crack Magazine, to name a few. I have also worked with various brands such as Schwarzkopf, GUCCI, Warner Music Group, Urban Outfitters and many more.

I grew up in Thailand, however, I did go to an international school, where I had moderate to okay sex education. There were many giggles, we did learn facts and things such as pregnancy prevention, however, I have not taken a single thing on and applied it to my life. Something I wish I was taught is consent; I wonder if I was taught about consent, that I would have understood my sexuality and my queer identity more.

As a teenager, I constantly felt the pressure to be sexually active. My school friends were always talking about boys and breasts. I definitely felt the pressure to conform to the norm and threw myself in the pit of heteronormativity. In a way, I almost gave it more attention than my friends to cover up for the fact that I deep down knew that I am in fact queer. It left me wondering if it would have been different if there was any queer representation in sex education in my class. Could it have opened doors for me to explore not only my sexuality but also my identity more? Could it have prevented my confusion as well as built up the courage to instil my boundaries?

Although I had okay-ish (super basic) sex education, this wasn’t the case for my Thai cousins who live in a tiny village in the countryside. I have about 15 cousins and pretty much all of them except for 3 (including myself) have gotten pregnant or have gotten their girlfriends pregnant under the age of 16. Weirdly, my 2 other cousins and I are all queer.

Sex is a taboo topic in our family. In our household bringing a partner home, means a hand in marriage. We are not really allowed to show affection towards our partners that we bring home either, and yes not even holding hands. Because sex was not something my parents and I discussed openly, I also didn’t learn nor cared much about STDs. When I turned 19 years old, I learned a big lesson. My boyfriend at that time hated wearing condoms and I never gave it much thought because I just wanted to please him. Months into our relationship, I found bloodstains on my underwear and I started to feel discomfort down there. I made an appointment with a gynaecologist and was informed that I had HPV (human papillomavirus). The gynaecologist, however, was not able to identify how bad it has gotten as in Thailand at the age of 19 I still needed consent from my parents and for one of my guardians to be present to check any further. My parents at that time were out of the country and I had a nervous breakdown at the hospital. I felt alone and embarrassed. It was very awkward for me to tell my parents about this.

I can’t solely blame my family and the lack of education but what I can say is that my life and my two queer cousins’ lives are quite different from the ones that became teen parents. All 3 of us went on to finish a university degree, whilst many of our other cousins were never given that chance because they couldn’t afford to leave their children behind. In a way my two queer cousins, my straight cousins and myself were all neglected in our path of finding our sexuality, however, the results of this neglect caused quite different results in where we are now. Coming out of my previous relationship (and this was with a straight cis-gendered guy), I was desperate to find my identity, to find where I belong and what makes me happy. I reflected a lot on why I never truly enjoyed sex. When I went back into the dating scene, I wanted it to be different, I wanted it to be exciting. Then I met my current partner and was introduced to the world of lesbianism. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. What if I don’t know how to “do it”, what if I am bad at it.

I have never had sex with a woman before. It took me a week to research and concluded that researching how to have sex with a woman wouldn’t take me far because everyone has different preferences. My first time with my current partner was when my door was opened. I felt like “yep, this is it” and I never looked back. I am now in a healthy long-term relationship, however, before this relationship, my dating life was pretty tragic and rocky. Before I met my current partner, I was dating pretty much only straight cis-gendered men. I made many mistakes in trusting my dates too quickly. Many men I have dated or met up with, tend to lead me on to believe that they just wanted to ‘hang out’. These dates always ended in mostly non-consensual sex for me. By that I mean, there were times where it became quite dark and I said no, but the guy still went against my will and then there were also times that were more in a grey area where I didn't want to but felt pressured to. I can’t count how many times this happened, leaving me scrubbing myself in the shower.

When I first moved to England, I felt like I had to meet people quickly to not be lonely and that led me to dating. It never crossed my mind until years later that some of the people I was dating only dated me for being Asian. When I look back at my dating life, I can’t lie. I am pretty disappointed in myself and how I let people walk all over me. I can’t believe I thought it was ok to have unprotected sex with people who I have literally just met. For many many years, actually, since I have been sexually active up until my current partner and I got together, sex for me was the satisfaction of my sexual partners; it was a journey of confusion and a path I never found fulfilling.

In the last few years, I have come to the realization, that I am indeed not straight nor bi-curious, I am in fact a lesbian and all the years I have spent trying to please a cis straight man reflected in how unsatisfying sex was for me. In the 8 years of being straight in my sexual life, I have reached the state of orgasm twice. This however has completely changed when my current partner and I met, and I came out as a lesbian. My whole perception of what sex is has changed. It has shifted from discomfort to being gentle, to being cared for and to care. Sex for me has in the past few years blossomed into more than just the physical but transcended into meaningful conversations. I have left the thought of sex as a chore behind and now it has become passionate intimacy.

In my opinion, there is too much weight put on how much sex and how many times a week/day or month you should have sex. For me, sex is something that isn’t planned. I have had many conversations about why there is this thing called the “lesbian bed death”, even the name of it has been consumed and spat out by heteronormativity. In many conversations, I’ve had with peers, the topic of how long sex lasts comes up and how many times a woman can orgasm. I think it is quite unfair to compare straight sex with lesbian sex. Speaking from experience, when I had sex with men, it would last a maximum of 5 minutes, I would have sex maybe 2 times a week, but I never orgasm. Whereas when I have sex with a woman it can last hours and hours and I could orgasm multiple times over and over again, but we would only have sex maybe once a month.