Happy hump day, avid readers! Spring has sprung, and on a college campus such as ours, sexual health awareness is in the air. April marks the kick-off of National STD Awareness Month, Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the University of Wisconsin’s Sexual Health Fest. For frequent study breaks over the next few weeks, make sure to follow the Get Yourself Tested campaign’s appearances on campus, PAVE’s calendar of sexuality-related events and Sex Out Loud’s many exciting happenings.
April is also Out & About Month, hosted by the LGBT Campus Center. So this week I want to cover some questions on a topic near and dear to my own heart: queer sexuality.
For those unfamiliar, “queer” is a catch-all term referring to any arrangement of sexuality, sexual orientation or self-proclaimed identities that aren’t covered under a traditional “pee-in-the-vajay” kind of sex life. The word “queer” most likely conjures up images and ideas of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, questioning and intersex folks, but some queer theorists and scholars assert that straight people can and do enjoy the wonders of queer sex with each other.
Queering straight sex might look like a reversal of conventional gender roles in the bedroom – like pegging or some forms of BDSM play – or the trend of queer people educating straight people about sexual pleasure and technique. While there are not any stats to confirm it, it is commonly recognized that a good chunk of sexuality experts, educators and especially boutique owners, are themselves queer-identifying. There’s just something deliciously queer and wonderful about a gay male relaying the best blowjob tips to a straight woman for the enjoyment of her straight boyfriend.
But the defining feature of queer sex, and my favorite part about it, is that there is absolutely no sexual script to follow. Instead of progressing through a structured series of kissing, to fondling, to fingering/handjob, to oral sex, to penetrative sex and ending when a penis ejaculates, movements and activities are guided by pure genital, sensual and emotional pleasure. There’s no dominant model or commonly recognized “right” way to have queer sex, which allows players the freedom to explore and tap into raw sexual energy.
Now before you get all excited about the joys of queer sex and go out to tell all your friends about it, just know that “queer” is considered a reclaimed word that has an entire history of hateful connotations. So be careful where, how and with whom you use it, OK, kids?
Why are sex dams and latex gloves known as safer sex supplies for queer people?
This is very curious, indeed. I once had two clients checking out the wall of safer sex supplies in the Sex Out Loud office and exclaim, “Oooh look, they have dams and gloves! How LGBT-inclusive!” And while I enjoyed the appreciation, I had to wonder how it was that dams and gloves got the rap of being exclusively for same-sex sex.
I have a few theories about this. The HIV/AIDS epidemic among men who have sex with men has contributed to an acute awareness of safer sex practices in the LGBT community and an innovative drive to discuss and display barrier methods for all different kinds of sexual activities.
Some people consider insertive condoms – particularly the way they are advertised and labeled – to be heteronormative and “penis-centered.” So for people who don’t have sex that involves any penises, seeking an alternative barrier that is not designed for penises seems like a logical step.
Lastly, I like to think that young people today are pretty aware of what “safer sex” practice is. Even if they’re not exactly familiar with what it is or how to do it, we are generally informed that the responsible thing is to be safe. So for women who have sex with women who are intimately familiar with the cultural and social messages about safer sex, dams and gloves are their go-to alternatives.
But of course, sex dams (for oral contact) and medical gloves (which act as a barrier between hands and mucous membranes) can be used by anyone, regardless of sexual orientation.
I keep hearing about the “seven dimensions of sexual orientation.” What is that?
Alfred Kinsey is famous for measuring sexual orientation on a scale of gay to straight, with bisexual in the middle. And while the recognition of bisexuality was revolutionary for its time, some found this scale to be limiting since it lumped sexual experience and desire together. So Dr. Fritz Klein came up with the Klein Sexual Orientation Grid, which includes attraction, behavior, fantasies, emotional preference, social preference, lifestyle preference and self-identification – all for the past, present and ideal situations. It is basically a more comprehensive and all-encompassing expansion of Kinsey’s scale.
Where can I find accessible, queer-positive porn?
Well, there are LOTS of gay porn sites and “lesbian” porn (which is typically intended for the viewing of straight guys). But some of my favorite online queer-positive porn outlets are: vegporn.com, nofauxxx.com, gooddykeporn.com, queerporntube.com and queerporntv.com. Not all of these are free, but all are pretty thoughtful, tasteful and of high-quality. The Crash Pad Series is also a well-known edgy/alternative collection of videos. You can also check out the material by the companies Reel Queer Productions and Dolores Park Studios, which came out of Queerly SF. Please send along any contributions you may have to this list!
Sam Johnson is a junior majoring in sociology and gender & women’s studies. Please send questions, comments and column ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.