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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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My Sex Drive’s Back But My BF’s Isn’t

Writer’s note: This column mentions depression and suicidality.

Dear Yana,

When me and my BF first got together about a year and a half ago, we were having the best sex of our lives! Then I decided with the help of my therapist that I needed to be medicated due to suicidal thoughts and anxiety/depression.

The medication helped a lot with my mental illness, but unfortunately it made my sex drive plummet. I was still able and happy to get my man off on a regular basis, but didn’t have much interest in sex for myself (including masturbation) for a long time (6-8 months I think). Once in awhile I would get in the mood, but then I was never able to achieve orgasm.

I’ve since come off of the medication and am healthy and my sex drive has gone back to “normal.” The problem is that my BF got in of the habit of not even attempting to pleasure me. I’ve tried to talk to him about it and when we talk he seems enthusiastic about it, but never follows through with trying when we get in the sack! How can I help him understand the importance of this to me?

— Trying to Get Off More Than Just My Meds

Dear Trying,

It sounds like you’ve taken a quick and victorious journey with and through your mental illness, which is amazing and wonderful. However, it sounds like your boyfriend may have been left in the dust a little bit on your speedy trek to the top of recovery mountain.

A year and a half is not a very long time in the grand scheme of relationships and I wonder if he’s got a little bit of whiplash from where your realities once collided at the intersection of mental health and sex drive.

It’s intense to be someone suffering from depression and suicidality, that is for certain, and there co-exists another reality which is that it’s also tough to be the romantic and sexual partner of someone going through those experiences. You are feeling like your old self — and that’s so great, but it’s possible that he’s still feeling wary that the other shoe might drop…click to continue reading…



Clinical Support Options offers local 24/7 mental health crisis support for Hampshire County at (413) 586-5555 and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached 24/7 at (800) 273-8255.

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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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My Boyfriend Might Be Gay. Should I Care?

Hi Yana,

I recently began “dating” my best guy friend over this winter break. He’s told me that he was raised by a super religious mom and that when he was younger he “rebelled,” and experimented with other men, which he blamed on his homophobic upbringing. He told me he’s had sex with another man, but has since concluded that he was straight. I didn’t ask many questions other than, “So, do you think you’re gay?” to which he responded, “No, I’m not gay.”

The night after this conversation, I invited him to dinner with my friends and he brought a male friend. During dinner, they both mysteriously disappeared to the bathroom for over 10 minutes and returned within seconds of each other. When we all went back to my house to hang out, they spent most of their time close together, making flirtatious eye contact, and practically cuddling on the couch. All of my friends noticed these intimate exchanges, too.

The thing is, my boyfriend isn’t really my boyfriend officially, though we have had conversations about being “exclusive.” We’re best friends first, so if he’s gay or bisexual, I’ll deal with it, but I don’t understand why he’s hiding it from me.

Am I being paranoid? Should I talk to him about this? Is he flirting with this guy in front of me because he wants to get caught? I’ve already asked him if he’s gay, and he said no, so why am I obsessing over his sexuality, and how do I deal with the potential fact that the guy I love may be identifying as straight, but secretly hooking up with his male friend?

— Boys Will Be Boys?

Dear Boys,

There’s a lot happening here, made more complex by cultural norms that sort of approve of straight women hooking up with each other, but condemn any and all sexual experimentation between men. Other things that make this situation complex are his experiences in his earlier years, which don’t seem to have given him the permission to explore the differences between his sexual experiences and sexual identity.

It’s totally possible to identify as straight and still hook up with men. That’s something people do and are entitled to do as everyone’s sexuality is theirs to define. Similarly, people are entitled to identify as bisexual even if they’ve never experienced sexual acts with someone of the same or different gender. Your identity isn’t a passport, you don’t need a stamp to prove you’ve been there. But knowing this for yourself requires permission to explore, which maybe hasn’t been granted to your boyfriend.

I want to propose a different, possibly unpopular, way of looking at this situation: Rather than playing sexuality investigator and making it your mission to figure out “who he really is,” view this issue as a communication and boundaries problem. Though figuring out your boyfriend’s sexuality certainly feels important right now, it also isn’t entirely necessary to resolve your particular situation…continue reading…

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My 2-Minute Orgasm

So, I was masturbating last night and set a timer. It took me under two minutes to orgasm. However, when someone else in involved, it takes forever or doesn’t happen at all. I can count the times it’s happened on two hands.

Every time I masturbate it’s like clockwork, and I wish I could experience that with a partner! I’ve heard from various ladies and witnessed firsthand that orgasming seems easier for them with partners than it is for me. Is this why some women fake orgasms? Is this something I need to see a psychiatrist about or just live with? Or is it some Kinsey situation where my vaginal measurements aren’t conducive to orgasming? Help!

— Clit Out of Luck

 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, probably for the rest of my sex educator career: your vagina is not broken! It’s the metaphorical vaginal “user manual” we’re handed via school sex ed, social stigma, and our peers!

That manual is seriously flawed – it’s stained, ripped, even missing whole chapters. Our current sex education system pretends that our clitoral and/or vaginal orgasm is unimportant or non-existent. Our social system convinces our sexual partners that asking us outright how best to pleasure our clits and vaginas is not the sexy or slick or cool thing to do. Simultaneously, this same system shames us into not speaking up about our own desires or how exactly to do our bodies right.

Yes, these flawed systems are why some women fake orgasms. Yes, these systems have convinced you that you have to see a psychiatrist to “fix” yourself and/or smoosh yourself into an outdated concept of “ideal vaginal measurements,” a la Kinsey.

But you, COOL, are perfect! Your experience of sexual pleasure is perfect. Your two-minute self-curated climax is perfect.

So, if our formal and social sex educational systems are screwing it up so hard, who’s supposed to do the real educating about your orgasms to your partners, COOL?…continue reading…

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The V-Spot: Help! My Boyfriend Hates My Vagina

Hi Yana,

I’m a straight 20-something lady and have been with my boyfriend for two years. We have a great sex life and we’re totally in love! He doesn’t seem to have much of an interest in my vagina — and my vagina, in my mind, is kinda the main thing that makes me a female sexual being. He likes my breasts and loves my butt, but he (literally) never goes down on me and I get the feeling that he only fingers me because he knows I like it, not because he does. He also prefers anal sex to vaginal sex.

Personally, I’m super into my guy’s penis and I love going down on him; it’s one of our main bedroom activities. The fact that he has zero interest in going down on me makes me feel like he thinks my vagina is gross. I’ve mentioned it to him a few times, sometimes teasing but often serious. Just the other night I said to him, “I wish you liked going down on me. I love going down on you, and it makes me feel hurt and left out that you don’t.”

He actually didn’t say anything … no response, as if I hadn’t said it at all. It hung in the air and now it’s just making me feel terrible. I guess I thought he’d at least deny it. Sometimes I feel like he thinks I’m sexy because of the sexy things we do together, not because I (myself, my body) are sexy to him. It’s not the best feeling. What’s a girl to do?

— Trying to Get Ahead

Dear Trying,

I’ve been teaching strangers about sex for 10 years now and just celebrated my sixth year as a sex columnist. I’d like to consider myself quick-witted, resourceful — a dame that can get any dick out of a sticky pickle and any vagina more blissed-out than a babe at Burning Man. But damn, this is tough!

You’ve done great work already — telling him how hot you find him, clearly stating your desire (“Cunnilingus, please!”), and then sharing your feelings (“Hurt and left out”).

You’ve also got valuable tools to use: you’ve got high self-cuntfidence (so if he confirms “Yes! I hate your vagina!” it seems like you can process this hurtful reveal and bounce back), you’re not afraid to talk about sex, and you’ve got great insight.

Use these tools to get some answers. While he’s entitled to his own body and desires, you do deserve information that impacts your shared sexual and loving relationship. Invite your boyfriend to tell you the truth: tell him why it’s so important for you to know how he feels about your vagina and reassure him that whatever he has to say will likely hurt you less than continuing to receive radio silence.

Don’t set him up to fail by asking “You do like my vagina, right?!” in a way that communicates in tone and delivery that if he doesn’t say “OMG, babe, of course, I love it” that he’s in deep trouble. Instead, ask him blunt, unavoidable yes/no questions in baby-steps: “Do you dislike vaginal sex?” “Do you dislike vaginal sex with me in particular?”…continue reading…

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The Intern Investigates: Asexuality & Allosexuality

The Intern Investigates: Asexuality & Allosexuality

by: Emmett DuPont

ACE_PIC2

Sexuality, the great human equalizer, that draws towards wild, loving, delicious sex is something we all share… or something we all want to share, right? This might not be as true as most people think.

What does it mean to be asexual, and what does it mean to be allosexual? Sexuality, a person’s capacity or desire for sexual activity or feelings, is a spectrum just like all human experience. Some of us feel sexual desire for complete strangers, I mean, did you see that tinder profile? Some of us don’t feel sexual desire until we know someone intimately well. Yet others have no sexual desire whatsoever. All three of these examples of (a)sexuality have labels to describe them. So let’s break it down, I’ll bust out my funky dance moves while you read.

On one end of the spectrum are people who are allosexual. Allosexuals experience sexual attraction and desire at a level that is considered normative in our society, which is pretty subjective. The majority of people are allosexual. Allosexuals may experience sexual desire for intimate partners as well as dat hottie on the street. For people who are allosexual, sexual intimacy is usually a part of intimate partner relationships, and is often a necessary part of the connection shared with boo.

Somewhere in the middle is gray asexuality. Gray-ace  (ace = asexual), is a term that people might
use if they fall on the spectrum of asexuality, somewhere between completely asexual, and completely allosexual. For example, experiencing sexual attraction only after intimate friendships, or only occasionally. The experience of gray asexuality can be widely varied, so if a friend or partner comes out to you as asexual or gray-ace, inquire about their experiences and feelings.

Some asexual folks experience absolutely no sexual desire or attraction. Yeah, like, completely zero. Goose egg, as my grandma would say. Some allosexual people might find it hard to imagine being completely asexual, but some asexual people might find it as difficult to imagine allosexual life! Although plenty of aces don’t masturbate, some might find it to be a physical necessity, or a good way to relax, relieve tension, and get some good alone time, many of the same reasons anyone might masturbate. Some asexual folks are sex repulsed, wanting nothing to do with any sexual experience, while other aces might find that they are perfectly happy to do certain sexual acts to meet the needs of a partner. Consent is important in any relationship, and asexuals who are disinterested in sex are capable of giving consent, too!

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Asexuality Myth Busting!

We’ve already busted myths like asexual people don’t masturbate, have sex, or ever experience sexual attraction. But let’s do our ace friends a favor and burst four of the most common stereotypes we didn’t cover earlier!

Asexuality is a phase

Just like any aspect of life, sexuality can, and often will change over a person’s lifetime. Evolution doesn’t mean falseness. I don’t identify as asexual today, but that doesn’t mean my sexuality won’t change in the next decade. Many asexual people will identify as asexual all their lives, whereas others might experience fluctuations.

Asexuality is a symptom of abuse

This is simply not true. Although sexual abuse can change a person’s sex drive, diminished sexual activity or desire because of trauma is completely different than asexuality. Asexuality is not something that necessarily can or should be treated with therapy, and although sexual abuse and asexuality can overlap within a person’s life, never assume that someone’s asexuality is a symptom of a problem.

Asexual people don’t have healthy intimate relationships

Many asexual people date and have intimate relationships, sometimes with other asexual people, but also with allosexual people, too!

Asexual people don’t need community around sexuality

Not so, my hypothetical friend! Asexual people need community to talk about the unique experiences, joys, and struggles of being asexual in a sexual world. Asexual people often must come out to friends and partners and navigate difficult conversations, so it is important to make room for asexual folks to celebrate asexuality!

Want more information and support around asexuality?

AVEN, The Asexual Visibility and Education Network.

Find community with Pioneer Valley Aces on Facebook and Meetup!


Emmett DuPont, Sex Educator InternEmmett DuPont (they/them), Sex Educator Intern, is a first-generation college student at Hampshire College and a lifelong unschooler. Emmett lives at intersections of queerness, transness and disability, and is an enthusiastic educator around these and other topics. Read more about Emmett & their internship here.

Ask Emmett!

To ask Emmett a sex, relationship or other relevant advice question for them to answer here on the blog, send us an email with the subject ASK THE INTERN.

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Help! I Think My Orgasms Are Broken!

I’ve had a sexual concern for the longest time: I have trouble feeling orgasm during sex and masturbation. At first I thought it might be my partner not knowing my spots too well, but I realized I’ve never had any ejaculations by myself either. I’m worried that my body isn’t sensitive enough to feel orgasm and that’s why I can’t be sexually satisfied.

My summer beach book has been Come as You Are, the brilliant New York Times best seller about female sexuality and sexual response by Smith College wellness education director, PhD, and smart sex educator Emily Nagoski. As someone who writes and reads and teaches about sex for a living, I’m all “Oh, another sex book? Whatevs,” but Nagoski’s book has re-inspired me about the hows and whats of female orgasm.

Nagoski highlights the crushing pressure of the female-pleasure-phobic world we live in and how it comes to hinder our coming. I don’t want to give away too much because you (and everyone who either owns or touches a clitoris) should read it, but I want to draw attention to the book’s exploration of the context in which women come.

Thinking about sexy, orgasmic context might bring to mind mood music, candles, a hot partner, maybe a favorite vibrator. This might make a dent, but more importantly, women need to consider their mental context (stressed about work? parenting children?), physical context (PMSing? managing chronic pain?), environmental context (worried about waking the neighbors? the baby?), relational context (is this partner trustworthy? is consent actively practiced?) and then, THEN there’s the social context, which pushes down on women in big in small ways, labeling some women as “sluts” if they enjoy sex, “frigid” if they don’t, and, in your case, BBB, “broken” if their sexual response doesn’t match that of their partners.

The sexual response of male bodies and brains has been more widely studied mostly because their orgasms make the babies and their sexuality is socially sanctioned. Because of this, female sexual response is compared to male sexual response; if our orgasms don’t follow the same path as their orgasms, we must be broken…continue reading…

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Bi-curious at Bedtime

While I don’t think labeling one’s sexuality is always necessary, I’ve always considered myself a heterosexual woman. I’ve been attracted to members of the opposite sex for as long as I can remember. During puberty, I plastered my bedroom walls with magazine cutouts depicting boy band members and only developed crushes on my male classmates. However, nearly all of my recent erotic dreams are of me performing a variety of sexual acts on females. I always wake feeling aroused.

I’ve heard that dreams are manifestations of things we see throughout the day. Could this be a result of living in a society where the female body is hyper-sexualized? Is this bi-curiosity? I’ve considered the possibility of being bisexual with an open mind. However, I don’t feel capable of having feelings of romantic love for another woman.

I’m currently in a loving and committed relationship with a man and I don’t feel as though anything is missing, sexually or otherwise. Because of these dreams however, I sometimes can’t help but wonder: is there a part of my sexuality that I’m not exploring?

Traditional stage theories of identity development dictate a linear story of same-sex sexuality identity: girl meets boy and falls in love; girl goes to liberal arts college; girl starts watching the L-word; girl makes out with her “lesbian friend”; girl breaks up with her boyfriend; girl gets short haircut; girl is now a lesbian; the end. This implies that once someone achieves a full awareness of her sexual desire, stability occurs.

In convincing contrast to this, psychologist Lisa M. Diamond found in her 10-year study of female same-sex sexuality development that young women’s sexuality is particularly fluid. Specifically, her research revealed female same-sex desire to be more malleable than male same-sex desire, featuring drastic, often late-blooming, and seemingly abrupt changes in female sexual desire and attraction…continue reading…

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Related Reading: Don’t Wanna Be Straight Forever: My Bisexual Marriage Equality Freakout