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#MySexMyWay - Tanya

When I really think about it, I never spoke about sex growing up, outside of my hypersexualising myself or regurgitating something I heard in a dirty song lyric or on piczo. I didn’t have the language or the confidence to speak about sex, because I’d never been given the language to.

Going to secondary school in the early 2000’s meant our sex education within school was ‘don’t get pregnant’ and our sex education outside of school was ‘don’t have sex, don’t have too much sex and god forbid you enjoy sex, or you know, you’re a slut’. This is all to say, all I thought I knew about sex and my opinions surrounding it were very much learnt through piczo and through conversations with my friends who all equally had no idea what they were doing, pure vibes, which looking back was really just an echo chamber of terrible advice. At school, Sex ed taught the practicalities of sex, centred around the penis, on what girls should do to avoid getting pregnant and the lessons was always served on a steaming hot plate of heteronormativity, misogyny and shame. It’s safe to say we were not provided with the recipe of success for engaging in healthy sexual or emotional relationships.

I saw myself as heterosexual until I was 23 years old, I wasn’t ‘pretending’ to be straight or hiding in a hypothetical closet as many people assume, but I literally never considered that there was an option be anything BUT straight. Which was only further affirmed by virtue of both nobody ever talking about LGBTQ+ sex or relationships and equally the very few times LGBTQ+ sex and relationships was spoken about, it was always in a manner that was othered and riddled with homophobia, transphobia or some form of hyper sexualisation. So, I did what I thought I was meant to and have sex with men. It’s safe to say I have more than enough heterosexual sexual experiences to look back on, but none are worth shouting about let alone writing about. When I first started having sex (with men) in college, I felt like in order to be seen as a ‘real woman’ and to have fun stories to tell my friends about, I had to sleep with men. Which is almost comical now because when I look back to what I thought were ‘fun stories’ I just think “ahh Tanya babe you were really stuck in the hetero ghetto’ And so, begun years of, if I’m honest and looking back, very mediocre sex.

To understand the extent of the mediocre nature of sex, all I have to tell you is that I slept with Men who didn’t believe in giving oral sex. What made it worse was that the internalised misogyny I subjected myself to meant that even the one time an ex did try to give me head, I looked at him disgusted like “ewww why would you do that, men don’t do that” and pushed his head away. I mean Tanya, ARE YOU OKAY HUN? Like I know how this sounds and all I can say is, my sex life was a product of a piss poor sex education. Sex with men was not hard to find and I always had a backup guy kept on simmer at all times. I told myself that this meant I was being a girl boss and proudly called myself an ice queen but really, I just needed a man there to affirm my womanhood, couldn’t communicate my sexual or emotional needs and put kept a man there, even if it meant having mediocre sex and no orgasms. I’m 29 now, I’m evidently no longer straight and I’m an absolute big ole massive gay.

You’d think me being gay would be the biggest change in my life when it comes to sex, which yes, of course that’s shifted things but the biggest change is that fact that I no longer carry shame. Shame felt like an unshakable weight for so long and I’m so happy to have freed myself from it. Shame held me back from my own pleasure. Shame stopped me from communicating what I wanted in bed. Shame stopped me from saying no. Shame held me back from exploring sex toys and shame still showed up in my relationships with women until I started unpacking it, because the many years of dating men and navigating as a CIS-Het woman really impacted the way I saw sex and pleasure. Unlearning shame didn’t happen overnight by no means and sometimes it still creeps up. I remember, one instance of when I was taken to a sex shop in central London by my first girlfriend to buy a strap. It was a surprise ‘date’ and she saw it as something sexy and foreplay, my internalised shame around sex meant that I didn’t enjoy the date at all let alone find it sexy, the moment I realised where we were going I thought she hated me LOL. Like how dare she bring me to a sex shop, now everyone will know I have sex and use toys, and nobody can know because sex is meant to be private. And it’s funny now because I quite literally have a box full of sex toys and bondage stuff and I legit love nothing more than talking about sex, going to sex shops and exploring sex with my partner. Like I love sex, period and the past few years have truly given me some wonderful stories to tell to say the least. This is all to say, LGBTQ+ sex deserves to be explored, researched and amplified. Outside of LGBTQ+ sex we see in porn, we deserve to have our experiences treated and taught as the standard. Not as a tick box exercise. Not as an afterthought. But as the main event.

Everyone can benefit from learning about sex from a non-heteronormative lens and teaching about our sex lives wont ‘make people gay’ as many often like to say, but will allow people, young people in particular, to no longer believe sex is something that they have to do to validate their manhood, womanhood, queerness or personhood. But something that they do because they want to, they feel ready and because they know what they want. Most of all, to do so without shame.