My intimacy matters too


“When was your first time?”

Oh, you know, I had sex with a girl my freshman year of high school.

“Wait, but like who did you actually lose your virginity to?”

Hold up --

Can we just talk about the amount of times this has played out in my life? The amount of people that invalidate sex that isn’t a penis into a vagina is a little ridiculous. This heteronormative idea of sex as this specific form of penetration has prevailed over society’s perception of sex, and it is no surprise that even today I get told that I was “half a virgin” until I had sex with a guy.

Let’s clear up one thing: I have had sex with people who identify as men, women, and nonbinary. I identify as a pansexual woman, which means that I can be attracted to someone regardless of sex or gender expression. Now, before you ask me questions like, how does sex even work like that? Or, my personal favorite, you have obviously had a threesome or an orgy, right? Maybe you should have been asking those questions in health class during high school like many of us queer youth did (or maybe thought, but didn’t), as we tried to figure out how to practice safe sex, what sex looks like, what our sexuality is, what sexuality means, etc, etc.

Sex education in America is not superb by any means.

There are countless holes in sex education. In recent years, The Guttmacher Institute and other research organizations have taken a look at sex education throughout the United States to pinpoint some of the flaws. For example, not every state mandates sex education. For those that do, it is a predominantly abstinence-based education. The craziest part is many programs allow parents to have input in the program or their child’s involvement within it, and less than 25 programs are required to provide accurate medical information by law. This doesn’t even begin to discuss the lack of coverage on sex education for people who aren’t straight. As of 2015, fewer than six percent of LGBTQ+ students aged 13–21 reported that their health classes had included positive representations of LGBT-related topics.

For those of you who don’t get why this matters, let me help you. There are women I know with STDs because in high school they didn’t think that having sex with a woman would give them one. I know men and women alike, including myself, that struggled to understand how to reconfigure the idea of “the first time” or “virginity” and validate our own sexual experiences. I myself didn’t even know what a dental dam was (a latex barrier for use during oral sex) until late into my junior year/early into my senior year of high school (thanks Buzzfeed). The internet and my older queer peers were my best resources for understanding how to practice safe sex, for understanding my sexuality and for validating my experiences. The amount of LGBTQ+ people I know who have experienced some form of sexual violence in high school and/or college is staggering.

Something here needs to change. At a fundamental level, the United States needs to take a look at what kind of sex education students are receiving in a classroom and get educators and lawmakers on the same, inclusive page. There ought to be a move away from abstinence-based education. Instead, we should put in place requirements for accurate medical information and more positive coverage of sexuality and what sex looks like for queer identities. For those of you who don’t identify as part of the queer community, take time to educate yourself. The internet is a glorious place. It isn’t marginalized peoples’ responsibility to explain every little detail of their struggle to you. Also, we as a queer community need to take a look at our intersectionality in order to understand how we can be the best allies and supportive of one another.

It is time education and society started to reflect the fact that LGBTQ+ sexualities and intimacies matter.

My intimacy matters.