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The V-Spot: I Keep Falling for Straight Girls

Hi Yana,

I’m a 20-year-old student at one of the local women’s colleges. I’m gay and have been out for five years, though I’ve never dated anyone.

I figured that it wouldn’t be too tricky to find someone here, since there’s a pretty large population of people who identify as LGBTQ+. However, despite the fact that I’m pretty social, and part of multiple student groups, I’ve only managed to fall for straight girls.

To most people, I appear “stereotypically straight” — my hair is pretty long and I wear mostly dresses. I also don’t drink or attend parties. For these reasons, everyone recommends that I try Tinder, etc., but I’m demiromantic so I don’t find people attractive unless I have some level of friendship with them first.

I also can’t really engage with anyone if I go in thinking “This is a date!” So, this cuts off the prospect of being introduced or set up with people. Furthermore, I currently identify as asexual. I’m really worried that if I do find someone, my asexuality will turn them off, and eventually make the situation even harder.

Do you have any advice or words of wisdom?

Having Doubts About Asking Out

 

Dear Having Doubts,

The extensive topic of queer identity and visibility is one that many writers dive in to daily in regards to queer visibility as working positively to affirm identities, build community, and score dates alongside visibility working negatively as targeting folks for harassment and violence. We can’t get into all of that important stuff here but let’s talk about visibility re: finding you a good date.

When I first moved to San Francisco in 2007, I was decidedly less visible in my LGBTQ+ community. I had a wicked crush on my local (female) barista who (spoiler alert!) eventually became my partner of five years. Like you, I also had long hair and chose dresses as my go-to apparel. I felt like I didn’t know the first thing about flirting with other women beside writing in Sharpie on my forehead NOT AS STRAIGHT AS I LOOK PLZ DATE ME.

My strategy then as a “straight-looking” lady trying to pick up another lady was to send clear signs about my sexual fluidity. And what could be a clearer than bringing an entire stack of books I was reading for my undergraduate thesis with titles featuring words like “lesbian community,” “bisexual identity,” and “sexual fluidity” into the cafe and then strategically positioning them towards the counter in plain reading-view of my soon-to-be-girlfriend?

I’m not saying but I’m just saying that we were dating the next week. But, before you book it to the library, there are certainly a few more, less passive-aggressive, ideas to consider…continue reading…

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Am I Gay/Queer Because of Sexual Trauma?

Editor’s Note: This column addresses rape, childhood sexual abuse, PTSD, and sexual orientation as a symptom of trauma.

I’m in my late teens and have identified as gay/queer for the last few years. I have dated/hooked up with a few non-binary folks and trans guys, but they’ve all had vaginas.

Recently I’ve been questioning my orientation. It’s more complicated than simply saying, “Oh hey, I like this (cis) guy, cool.” I was sexually abused as a child. Because of that I have PTSD and an anxiety disorder that makes the idea of being intimate with someone with a penis terrifying — even if I have romantic feelings for them.

I hate the idea that I’m gay because I was raped, but I don’t know if my identifying as gay instead of bisexual or pansexual is because of that. I also sometimes wonder if it’s just my own internalized homophobia (from growing up in a pretty conservative family) and secretly wishing that I was straight.

Do you think it’s worth trying to explore my sexuality further and trying to overcome this fear of intimacy with someone who has a penis? Do you think that’s even possible?

— Hoping to Heal

Dear Hoping,

I’m so sorry that you were forced to endure those experiences and that you’ve been left to foot the bill for someone else’s inexcusable behavior. I strongly suggest you work with a good therapist who can help you navigate the symptoms of your PTSD and anxiety disorder and create a safe environment for you to continue to untangle these questions about your sexuality.

It’s natural to have your connection to penises be a negative one given that, that was a part of your abuser’s anatomy. The things that trigger traumatic reactions are often environmental and can be as simple as a sound, a smell, or a time of year. A significant body part used to inflict harm on you certainly can trigger a negative response in you, and understandably so.

On the other hand, the notion that your sexual identity is a symptom of your abuse is stickier to me…continue reading…

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Am I Queer? Or a Fraud?

Hi Yana,

Over the past year, I’ve thought a lot about my sexuality. Recently, I came across the term “heteroflexible” and immediately, I felt like I identified with it more than any other sexual orientation I previously knew about.


However, I continue to feel invalidated by my lack of sexual experience with people who are the same gender. I know sexuality isn’t defined by our experiences but by what we think and how we feel. But I can’t help but continue to feel like a fraud (to myself) because I’ve only ever been with men. I also feel like because I’m in a serious, long-term heterosexual relationship, people just assume my sexuality and wouldn’t take me seriously going by any other label. In a way, I feel like I don’t belong. When I’m with my straight friends, I feel like the “most gay,” but when I’m with people who identify as gay/lesbian/queer, I feel like the “most straight” person in the room.


I pretty much let my friends believe that I identify as 100-percent straight to avoid confusion, judgment, and having to explain myself. I feel very happy in my monogamous heterosexual relationship. It’s not that something is “missing” regarding my relationship. I think this is more of an identity dilemma.


How do I become more comfortable and confident in my sexuality? How do I talk to my friends about being sure of my sexuality without the experience to back it up?


— Feeling Flexible

 

Dear Flexible, 


When I first learned the term “bisexual” in high school, bisexuality was trending in whatever way that was possible well before hashtags and tweeting. While the term made me think, “Yes! That’s it!” I saw other young women performing bisexuality — typically at parties for the enjoyment of high school boys — and it made me unsure that this label was for me, after all.


I continued dating boys until college when I finally had my first ever girlfriend and I too felt like a huge phony. In a ridiculous twist of living in the liberal valley, when I came out as publicly dating this woman and formally affixing the label “bisexual” to myself, men I had dated on campus spread the rumor that I was “actually NOT bisexual.” I questioned my already questioning self, felt ashamed at my lack of “real experience to back it up,” and ultimately ended up in relationships with women for the next decade (so joke’s on those dudes).


All of which is to say, Flexible, that there are two types of validation we receive: validation from others and validation from ourselves. Both are important in identifying who we are and how we feel supported in that process. Identity is an ever-evolving process and our labels can change as we do.


Find people who validate you. Public figures who are out as heteroflexible or bisexual, media that represents you, friends who understand the difference between the straight man you’re dating and your sexuality, and even new community spaces like queer events or organizations that are unlikely to make assumptions about you at all.


Most importantly, validate yourself. Sexuality is often developed within someone long before she is sexually active with anyone. It’s only once we become horribly category-obsessed adults that we start to fret about the proof and experience of who we are.


You say you’re heteroflexible, and so you are. There’s no application or passport stamps necessary to certify you.

 

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Genderqueer & Breaking the Binary in Bed

Hello Yana!

I’ve had a lot of difficulty telling partners that I’m genderqueer and that I use they/them pronouns. It definitely comes into play as soon as sex gets involved. Maybe part of what I’m asking is how can I and my partners break traditional gender norms in the bedroom? But I also want to know how I can discuss gender with partners who might be new to the concept that gender is a spectrum not a binary?

— GQ Cutie

Dear GQ Cutie,

As genderqueer identities and the singular, gender-neutral pronoun “they” become more commonplace (this year the singular “they” was named 2015’s Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society), this conversation will crop up in more people’s sexual and romantic lives.

Sam Dylan Finch wrote an article for EverydayFeminism.com called “8 Tips for Coming Out as Non-Binary,” which includes a helpful four-sentence formula Finch says will help. 1.) State what you are not. 2.) Say what word(s) you use to describe what you are. 3.) Clarify what the word means to you. 4.) Tell your partner why this is important.

In my genderqueer coming out, I explained it like this: 1.) Even though you may see me as a woman, on the inside, I’m not a woman and I’m not a man. 2.) I’ve been using the word “genderqueer” to describe my gender, 3.) which means that I don’t identify with either. 4.) Identifying as genderqueer has made me feel so much better because being seen as a woman made me feel so distressed and unhappy.”

Of course, gender identity is much more complex than four steps, but Finch urges that the initial goal isn’t to flawlessly educate your partners, but rather to invite them into a conversation.

Cool, so we have a gender. And then we have these bodies. Bodies that come heavily into play when it comes to sex — in both pleasurable and complicated ways. What to do?

By design, binaries only give us two restrictive options. They assign us roles to play in sex; stereotypically feminine roles are indirect and submissive while masculine roles are directive and wordlessly all-knowing…continue reading…

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Intro to Vaginas: 9 lessons for bi-curious beginners

Art by Vicky Leta

Art by Vicky Leta

The first time I slept with another girl, it was awkward as hell.

Sure, I had dabbled in the giggling French kisses of curious high school sleepovers, but never did I go to a girl’s room with the intention of having Lesbian Sex Official with her. But this is what I did one tipsy night my first year in college (#classic). As a girl, making out with a girl is easy — their lips are softer, the absence of stubble is refreshing, and mixing lip glosses all over your face is a tasty mess. It’s the rest that stumped me.

The vagina, by sheer design, is just trickier than the penis. And the clitoris? It’s hidden in all these folds and it’s wearing a tiny hood? WTF?! Penises, on the other hand, are just…out there, seemingly more easy-to-please by design. So, mid-roll-around in this girl’s tiny college bed, it suddenly dawned on me: Though I had gotten the penis down, I had no idea what to do with this vagina-having human.

And how could I have? It’s no secret that it’s a penis-penetrates-vagina world out there when it comes to popular representations of “what sex looks like.” Even in regards to this “acceptable” version of heterosexual sex, government-funded sex education programs aren’t doing much for us, no matter how we identify. In fact, the Public Religion Research Institute found in a 2015 survey that four in 10 millennials reported that American high school sex ed classes weren’t helpful to them in making decisions about sex and relationships at all. In a sexist world of sexual shaming, the details of sexually pleasing vaginas are back-burnered in educational efforts, as they have little to do with reproduction and rarely result in anything but pleasure for pleasure’s sake. Because of this, heterosexual men and even women themselves struggle to learn about vaginal pleasure. Throw homophobia and stereotypes into the mix and us LGBTQ folks are screwed when it comes to learning how to screw.

While sex ed is a required part of the health curriculum in the public schools of 22 states and the District of Columbia, information specifically for LGBTQ youth is not mandated as part of the lesson plans. According to a statement from the HRC titled “A Call to Action: LGBTQ Youth Need Inclusive Sex Education“: “Fewer than 5 percent of LGBT students have health classes that included positive representations of LGBT-related topics.”

Though LGBTQ-inclusive sex education is absolutely needed in our high school sex education efforts, what of those of us exploring the spectrum of our sexualities later in life as adults, fumbling around in our dorm rooms, boardrooms and hot tubs, a la Gaby Hoffman’s vaginally curious character in Transparent? Where do we go to learn how to sexually pleasure another vagina?

If formalized sex education in schools is failing us, we’re left to media, porn, word-of-mouth and Google to educate us about how to have good, safe(r) sex. These self-education avenues rarely if ever teach us how to communicate with our partners about sexual pleasure, and they barely skim over consent, two key components of healthy and pleasurable sex. Mass media manages to offer us a limiting, predetermined course of action for penis-and-vagina sex: foreplay, intercourse, male ejaculation, fin. But there is no classical road map when it comes to vagina-on-vagina action (not even a half-baked one!), and the robotic, unrealistic girl-on-girl scenes in mainstream, male-gaze-satisfying porn certainly aren’t helping.

It should be no surprise that back in my college dorm room of yesteryear, things weren’t headed in any particular direction. It seemed to take hours before our shirts came off. Awkwardly stalling with my hands frozen unnaturally at my sides, my gracious hostess finally put me out of my bi-curious misery: “You know, we don’t have to do this at all,” she said. “We can just snuggle.” I wonder how audible my sigh of relief really was.

We were more successful the next time, and over the course of our year-long relationship, I really got the sex-with-a-girl-thing down. These days my lady-laden romance resume speaks for itself: I can do (and even teach workshops about) The Vagina² Sex. And all you straight, bi-curious, bisexual and/or newly queer women can, too….continue reading…

 

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Bisexual Invisibility: I’m bisexual & I refuse to leave the LGBT community

The day the Supreme Court ruled to legalize same-sex marriage I sobbed into my boyfriend’s shoulder in bed for half an hour. My shoulders heaved and my dog looked worried as he frantically tried to lick my tears away.

When I managed to stifle my drool-crying, I lifted my head and a wobbly tightrope of snot connected his clavicle to my septum ring. “I don’tttt — (hiccup) — want to be straight — (hiccup) — FOREVER!” I sobbed dramatically, before jamming my face back into the snot-pool running down his arm.

But I’m not straight. I identify as both bisexual and queer (choosing my words wisely depending on who I’m talking to, their terminology knowledge or my mood). So, why did I feel straight, so snot-sobbing straight, the day same-sex couples were granted equal access to legal marriage in the United States?

Patrick and I had just gotten engaged . In fact, our engagement party was set to happen that very night. Though I had dated cis-men until I was 21, for the nine years prior to meeting Patrick I had primarily dated queer women . I had even married one in Massachusetts. And once you have a “lesbian wedding,” your “bisexual” label magically becomes a “lesbian” label in the public eye.

This never bothered me much. I had always felt special with my membership to this group of gender-fucking, pierced, shave-headed hotties in the LGBTQ community. I barely kissed the straight community goodbye when I left in 2006.

But when I fell in love with a straight man, I became instantly paranoid. Would my LGBTQ community membership card be revoked? I was devastated, a devastation that had been quietly seeping its way into my heart since I had enthusiastically said “Yes!” to Patrick’s question. It’s why I exploded in a tearful mess that historic day last June. I was overjoyed to read those headlines — and also so, so sad. I felt like the marriage equality victory and its celebration were no longer mine.

A few weeks ago, months after the marriage equality ruling, Alex Anders of the YouTube channel Bisexual Real Talk uploaded a video asking his fellow bisexuals to leave the LGBT community. He cited a 2015 study that implies the LGBT community might be doing more harm than good to the “B” part of the equation. The study reports that bisexual people internalize just as much biphobic discrimination from the “L” and “G” parts of the LGBT community as from the straight community. Bisexual rates of suicide are three times the rate of lesbian- and gay-identified people.

Anders wants the “B” to GTFO of LGBT before our fellow queer folk hurt us even more. “Every time we tell young people who are bisexual to go and search the LGBT community, we are creating certain expectations in their mind.” He believes it’s harmful “when a person is told that they will be able to find solace in a group, and they lower their guard and then they’re discriminated against.”

But I don’t want to leave. And neither should other bisexual people.

I’ve written extensively about my own queer and bisexual identities — and my related identity crises about them — more so now that I’m engaged to be married to a cis-man. My queer sexuality feels more invisible than ever. The thing about bisexuality is that it’s often socially determined by the body parts and gender identity of your partner. No matter how many times you repeat, “I’m bisexual. I’m bisexual. I’m bisexual.” to yourself, when you walk through life holding your cis-male partner’s hand, your attempts at making meaningful eye contact with the other queer couple at the party fail. Your boyfriend’s friends scratch their heads, “I dunno man, I think Patrick’s girlfriend might be gay.”

Socially, bisexual folks are done disservices by both the LGBT community and the straight community via terms such as “gold-star lesbian” (which, lauds the supposed purity of having never touched a penis before, while invalidating those who have). As queer/bisexual writer Ashley C. Ford explains in her piece “I’m Queer No Matter Who I’m With,” the sheer “un-catergorizability” of a bisexual/queer person makes others in our communities nervous and, as a result, we are forced into one lane or the other. Ford writes:

Identifying as queer means being mistrusted, misunderstood and, often, mislabeled for the rest of your life. Every time you date a new person, you have to come out again. Every time someone says, ‘But I thought you were…’ and drifts off at the end, you feel guilty of a deception you didn’t intend, based on a projection of the other person’s assumption…I end up bearing all the blame for someone else’s assumptions that have little do with me.

Yes, this is all true and happens all the time. But I’m still not leaving the LGBT community.

Prompted by Anders’ video, Trav Mamone wrote a piece called “Bisexual Invisibility: The LGBT Community’s Dirty Little Secret” in which they detail the statistics showing just how erased bisexual identities are in the LGBT community and the overwhelmingly negative impacts this has on bisexual mental health.

One solution feels much more productive to me than leaving the LGBT community entirely: “We must debunk the myths surrounding bisexuality that fuel its erasure.” Rather than following Anders’ lead in taking the “B” out of LGBT all together, I propose that we do quite the opposite, and BOLD that beautiful “B,” making it bigger and more visible than ever. Ghosts are being made out of bi people in both the LGBT and the straight communities, partially because we’re dangerously misunderstood by these common bi-erasing myths…continue reading on Mashable.com…

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Hide My Hickies!

Tis I, LL [from previous column “‘Lost in Labialand”]. I’m back with another problem. The advice you gave me last time worked out great. Opening the lines of communication between my partner and I really helped. However, my girlfriend and I have run into an issue: either she bruises really easily, or I need to settle down.

There have been multiple instances of hickies in our endeavors together, and most of the time we have difficulty getting rid of them/hiding them without arousing suspicion. She enjoys receiving them and I enjoy giving them, but once the heat of the moment is over …

Do you have any advice pertaining to more effective hickey-hiding, leaving less of a mark, or anything like that? A couple of close friends suggested forgoing neck kissing altogether, but why would anyone want to do that?!

So glad to hear that my advice to talk openly with your babe about being new to Labialand as a high school butchie was helpful! It sounds like y’all are having a great time — with the marks to prove it. But between parents, teachers, and nosey peers, I’m sure not everyone is as excited for you and your necking as I am. As you’ve said above, you’re both enjoying yourselves and love doing the hot ’n’ heavy that leads to the hickies so you’d like to diminish the damage done without stopping the fun. Here are my suggestions on how to do this:

Stop sucking! A hickey is left behind from biting and sucking the skin (usually around the neck) enough that small blood vessels called capillaries break, letting a tiny bit of blood seep out and become visible from under the skin. The harder you bite/suck, the more capillaries will break and the more visible and long-lasting your hickey will be.

Some people get hickies easier than others and it sounds like maybe your GF is one of them. In my high school necking days, I found that nibbling without sucking can offer the same type of sensation to the person getting snacked on without leaving kissing crumbs behind. Try out a softer smooching/nibbling routine without the suction…continue reading…

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A Dildo Built for Two

My fiancée and I just realized that we have sex, sure, but we’ve never talked about what we really wanted in sex. Toys came up and we tried my Mini Rabbit vibrator and we love it. We’ve both tried strap-ons before and neither she nor I really like them, but we do like the thought of penetrating each other. I’ve Googled and Googled dual penetrating vibes, but I’m coming up with vaginal-and-anal instead of vaginal penetration for two ladies. We like the idea of the We-Vibe, but want it to be more — just bigger, maybe? What do you suggest?

It’s definitely a penis-penetrates-vagina world out there when it comes to commercialized concepts of what sex should look like, so I’m not surprised that you and your fiancée are coming up short-and-stumpy when seeking out a doubly-vaginally-penetrating sex toy.

When Googling “couples sex toys,” you’re probably saturated with those geared towards penis-in-vagina such as the We-Vibe. This nifty little C-shaped sucker is specially designed to be “worn” during vaginal penetration; one side is inserted in the vagina, resting against the G-spot, and the other side sits outside the body, vibrating against the clitoris. The idea is that the internal side is so svelte, it can accommodate vaginal penetration by allowing whatever object is doing the penetrating to slip underneath it. It’s a great idea that doesn’t work for everyone’s individual body types, as not all C-shaped vibes fit every person’s C-spots and G-spots.

But you’re looking for a little more bone and a little less buzz. If you want to have two steamy, sleek steel trains pull into your love tunnels at Penetration Station, then what you want is a double-ended dildo.

Double-ended dildos are essentially two dildos fused together to make one dually-penetrating toy and are intended to be used hands-free and without strap-on harnesses. They’re great for your particular vagina set-up and are also perfectly suited for “pegging” (when someone with a vagina penetrates someone anally with a strap-on dildo). But you don’t want just any ol’ double-ender…continue reading…

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The Cunnilingus Countdown: 7 Suggestions for a Good Lickin’

Chowing down on fish tacos, munching carpet, dining beneath the bridge, yodeling in the love canyon, lapping the labia – whatever you want to call it, cunnilingus is one of the staples of lesbian sex (and hello – any sex involving a vagina!).curveicecream-ea19b5e0

As the sheer plethora of slang goes to show, being able to tackle the tongue-wash is an essential tool for the queer girl to have in her…box. Yet this quintessential lesbian sex act is rarely talked about thanks to the trickle-down effect of overly heteronormative ideas of what “counts as sex” (a.k.a penis-in-vagina) which dictates what kind of sex education we get (a.k.a. diddly squat).

Here to supplement your lick-luster sex ed are 7 things to count down to killer cunnilingus that’ll make sure you’re lickin’ good before you go (down).

7. Look before you lap: Pleasuring another’s pussy is a lot like putting together a puzzle – something you wouldn’t opt to do in the dark. So why hit the lights when licking your lover? Watch where you’re going, bask in her box’s beauty, and score extra points by letting her know how cute her kitty really is.

6. Speak up before you go down: In the wise words of Diana Cage in her book Lesbian Sex Bible, “You cannot have a conversation and eat pussy at the same time. Of course, many lesbians have tried, but all of them have failed”.
It’s awfully hard to communicate with a mouth full of muff and yet communication is key when it comes to consent and pleasure. So, ask your sweetie questions about her sweet-spots before you start tasting her sugar and verbally check in well before she starts heading to the peak of her climactic candy mountain…continue reading on CurveMag.com…

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Lost in Labialand

I recently started reading your sex column, and it’s really great! There are sooooo many questions I had floating around in my mind about sex, because they don’t really talk about lesbians that much (ahem, at all) in sex ed.

My problem is this: I recently started dating a girl who is sexually active and when the time comes to do The Do I have no idea how to make things enjoyable for her. I have my own vagina as a reference point, but everyone’s bodies are different so I don’t know if she’ll respond to similar things as I do.

I would just let her to take the lead, but I think she expects me to know what I’m doing because I tend to align more with the butch category. Do you have any tips on just getting it on with a girl in general? Like, what are some things partners in the past have responded well to? I dunno. Pretty much any advice on the subject would be appreciated.

Welcome to the fold(s)! Yep, traditional sex education does diddly squat in providing LGBTQ-inclusive information. But let’s be honest — most government-funded sex education programs aren’t doing a great job with the penis-in-vagina sex ed either. In fact, the Public Religion Research Institute found in a 2015 survey that four in 10 millennials reported that high school sex ed classes weren’t helpful to them in making decisions about sex and relationships at all. Throw in homophobia and limited views as to what kinds of sex “count,” and us LGBTQ folks are screwed when it comes to learning how to screw.

Luckily, you’ve got me, the Internet, and a thriving LGBTQ community to learn from. You’re right, while your own vagina is a great basic anatomical reference, all vaginas respond differently to stimulation; so you can’t make many assumptions. This is intimidating, but the good news is that this is true for everyone with all kinds of anatomy and sexual identities — everyone responds differently to sexual stimulation so in reality, nobody has any idea what they’re doing when they sleep with a new person…continue reading…