Thursday, June 5, 2008

Pillow Talk: a quasi-open letter

Dear Gee (and Playground readers),

Thank you for this post. I feel like it's important that your story and mine are back-to-back on the Playground because the relations and contrasts between them raised a lot for me--both emotions and questions.

First, let me say that I sat with this for a full day and a half, thinking about the best way to further the discussion. I have a feeling that the comments I make here may partly come off as hurtful. Please know that this is not my intent. I know that it may hurt anyway, and I own that. But I want you and the readers to know that my aim truly is to draw out deeper discussion among us all. The relationship you described between you and your ex is truly beautiful, and I feel a deep and personal connection to your story.

That said, something I'm sitting with after reading your post is the question of what constitutes "virgin." It's certainly subjective and the answer is not cut and dry, but reading your story brought up strong feelings of invalidation for me around my relationships. Let me be clear that this is not a reaction to YOU or YOUR story/experience in particular, but to the hetero-focus of how we discuss sex in general.

I'm wondering what the difference is between your non-penetrative sexual experiences and mine. Do the types of interactions that I named as the "best [sex] I've ever had" still leave you a virgin? (I may be wrongly assuming that you went further than kissing on the lips, and if so, I apologize, but I think the question could be asked of any other straight person as well).

Through the Blog-a-thon, I've come to wonder whether I will always be considered a virgin--a guy who does not need to penetrate; a person born female who does not want to be penetrated. It seems like virginity and sex are so often defined by vaginal penetration; sex is defined as one penis and one vagina (hm. I wonder if future homophobes will take marriage discrimination laws in this country one step further...).

As a person who identifies somewhere under the rainbow-colored umbrellas of queer and trans, my sexual interactions have no such reproductive ends. But the sex I have is hella productive; it has produced intimacy, growth, self-discovery, and (multiple) orgasms. But does it not count as sex if there's no risk of pregnancy?

I wonder what readers' thoughts are on this. Specifically, I'd love to hear from straight-identified folks who consider themselves allies--How do you define "sex" and "virgin" for yourself? What are the implications of these definitions for how you view and support your queer friends and relatives?

People of all genders and orientations are welcome to share their thoughts.

With love and respect,


1 comment:

rootfire said...

This conversation is so important to have, particularly when we are in this era where people believe they are so entirely liberal and “accepting” or “tolerant” of queer and trans folks, but sometimes don’t realize the basic language and definitions that we use are exclusive. I say we because I am not distanced from the hetero-normative culture and without realizing it, often find myself saying sex to mean penetrative sex only, when in fact for 3 ½ years I had sex with a woman every day and no penetration was involved.

I don’t think sex should be defined in any one way. There are so many sex practices and idiosyncrasies of sexually active people that turn people on that are not talked about, leading us to think that there is only one way to have sex and that successful sex ends in orgasm.

This conversation about binaries and rigid definitions also leads me to something else that has been on my mind. I self-identify as a queer woman. I just got out of a 3 ½ year relationship with my first girlfriend. The relationship was doomed for eternal complications, mistrust and impenetrable defense mechanisms because I don’t think either of us had come to terms with our sexuality. For me, I am affirmed by the people around me. When I am around my family I think of course I could marry the nice Ismaili boy from Harvard (who has undercover radical politics of course) and just make my parents happy. When I am around my friends, who are mostly queer, I am overjoyed by the fact that I can be myself and love who I want and their lens makes my love for women even more beautiful to me.

Recently I’ve been having crazy dreams, particularly about my ex-boyfriend from 7 years ago. In the dream, him and I are constantly searching for a place to have sex, penetrative sex, and my yearning to be penetrated is insurmountable. I wake up feeling unsatisfied and hating myself for needing or wanting or desiring male attention. It cuts me to my core.

2 days ago, I had penetrative sex, with a biological male, for the first time in 5 years. It was scary and interesting and emotional and passionate. In the middle of our 3 hour romp, I went to the bathroom and squeezed tears from my eyes and let them rest cupped by my lower eyelids for a total of 2 seconds before I rubbed them into oblivion, melting with the sweat on my face.

While I very much enjoyed myself, and fully intend to continue this enticing summer fling, I found myself very hesitant to share the information with my queer friends. There is always a fear of feeling not as legitimately queer.

I think the reason this story was triggered for me by the open letter is because I wish for my sexuality to remain fluid. I don’t wish to be judged for who I decide to have sex with by the queer or straight community, and I don’t wish for the way in which I have sex to be judged either. And whether or not people realize it, the judgments come out through the inherently hetero-normative, rigid structure of language around sex, safe-sex practices and love.