The Pride Guide: An Exploration of LGBTQIA+ Sex Ed
on Jul 7, 2022
We asked some of our friends in the LGBTQIA+ community to share their thoughts on coming out, exploring gender identity and what sex education was like for them growing up. Here's what they taught us.
June was Pride Month and all around the world individuals, groups and communities celebrated what it means to be an LGBTQIA+ person and ally. This year at Lovehoney, we decided to focus on the lived experiences of those in the queer community.
We know sex education in this country has a long way to go in terms of inclusivity, diversity, consent and pleasure. Effective sex education queer folk experience is particularly lacking (and sometimes non-existent) for them. We decided to take our own approach and create a resource which we hope will give some support and advice for those who need it.
The Pride Guide is a collection of stories, experiences and advice on exploring gender identity, coming out, sex ed and finding yourself. Many voices are louder than one so we roped in a few mates of ours to share their own words on the matter.
Chantelle Otten, a sexologist, Lovehoney ambassador and ally gave us the foreword; discussing gender identity, sexuality and normalising diversity. We then heard from the likes of singer Jack Vidgen, comedian Christian Hull, artist Naavikaran and our very own student blogger, Holly. We also included stats from a recent sex education survey we did.
We certainly learnt a thing or two from these incredible talents. Here are a few of our key takeaways.
It Takes Time to Learn About Yourself
For London-based LGBT+ lifestyle Youtuber, Calum McSwiggan, learning how to come out was one thing but realising everyone is on their own journey was something else entirely.
“Understanding and accepting myself was just the first step. It was a challenge, of course, but what I really struggled to get to grips with was how I felt I was being left behind,” he says.
“My school friends were all having their first kiss in the playground, fumbling their way through the awkward school dance, asking that special someone to prom. The movies I watched and the books I read all told me this was normal – the high school experience – and yet I wasn’t getting to enjoy any of it.”
“I’m at the age now where all my friends are getting married and having kids, and while I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t experienced moments of jealousy, I’ve also really begun to realise how being queer can be so incredibly freeing. It goes without saying that LGBT+ people experience discrimination and difficulties in life which others perhaps don’t, but when life tells you the rules weren’t meant for you, then you have no choice but to throw away the entire rule book and make up the rules yourselves.”
“Life will try to tell you to rush through some of the most meaningful things you’ll ever experience, but there are no milestones, and no specified age-limit on reaching them, so just focus on your own journey and forget about everyone else.”
When transgender man, activist and model, Oscar (A.K.A. @hotboiyo) came out at as a lesbian at age 15 and no weight came off his shoulders, he knew his journey was far from over.
“As high school came to a close, I realised I was Oscar. I felt like I was finally me, ready to face the world but left to figure it out all on my own. When my peers got guided through life because cis heteronormative people were the blueprint; the rest of us just had to fend for ourselves. It felt like the world was created for them and not people like me.
I remember sitting in my sexual education class being out as a lesbian but knowing in my mind I was a boy. I felt left out of the entire conversation in more ways than one. I was ready to learn but left knowing only how to safely have heteronormative sex and how to conceive a child.”
“After transitioning I was left feeling like I wasn’t enough because I was missing some parts downstairs. If I had learnt it’s okay for some men not to have a penis, I wouldn’t have felt so ashamed – like sex with me was enough and penetration isn’t the only way to do it.”
“My sexual journey has been a wild ride and I regret not doing it all sooner, but I know there are still plenty of years ahead to unlock and achieve so much more, for me and my community.
I’m so proud of the man I am today and the work I do. The boundaries and self-love I have for my beautiful trans body. Everyone’s sexual journey is different but being trans adds multiple hurdles. I know I still have a few more to jump over, and I don’t really have an end goal with the work I do. But I know I’m on the right path.”
Trust Your Gut
Naavikaran's journey with exploring gender identity was rooted in the early knowledge they were not on the inside what society perceived them to be on the outside. This gut feeling took time to follow and find the strength to lead a life closer to her truth.
“The greatest tragedy of my life is not that I was assigned male at birth, but that I was expected to live in a certain box.
A place which did not offer any form of kindness or guidance to the various levels of confusion and punishment I was experiencing, when really, as a child and young trans person, I deserved play, joy, and fulfilment. For over 20 years I did not expect to find any form of pleasure or happiness with being present in my body.
Growing up I found myself stuck between who I am and what I am expected to be. It was deeply clear from the very beginning of my memory that I would never fit in as a man and was forcing myself into a world where my body and being does not fit with the ways of the world.”
“I did learn soon enough that trans can be synonymous with liberation; a sense of freedom offered by gender diversity. I also think everyone truly does have access to this form of freedom. Gender diversity, I’ve recognised, is often less about one’s gender and more about the deep relationship they can create with themselves for an entirely fulfilling wellbeing.”
Growing up in the spotlight, Aussie singer Jack Vidgen is still unlearning the self-taught queer sex education he received from porn, secretive sexual encounters and an abusive relationship when he was young.
“There’s a quote I read once, that basically describes gay men as often creating a version of ourselves, growing up, to feel safe and accepted. Then once we come out, we spend the rest of our lives unlearning this identity we created in order to embark on a journey of truly discovering our authentic selves.
I remember relating to that so much but feeling like there was a phase left out. I’ve seen this phase first-hand in myself
where after coming out, I’ve expressed my sexuality in a very overt and over sexualised way. I’m only now seeing that this has been part of my journey of self-acceptance and probably also related to the abuse I suffered when I was young. I denied myself of my sexuality for so many years so finally when I could, it kind of came bursting out the sides.”
“I’m in a space in life where I’m truly seeking to live authentically. Whether that’s in my work, personal, spiritual, or sex life, I feel like as each year goes on, I’m peeling back the layers of a false identity I created to make myself feel safe, and now I’m getting to know myself as a gay man.”
Lean on Your Loved Ones
Whether you’ve been born into a family of acceptance or found friends to call your family, a good support network is key for navigating our sexuality, questions about gender identity and feeling acceptance in a safe space.
In Christian Hull’s household while he was growing up, his parents created an open and free upbringing for their kids to discover themselves on their own terms which he says was so important to him when it came to figuring out how to come out as gay.
“Our home was very supportive. My parents have always been our biggest fans. Something I noticed growing up was the language they used around topics like homosexuality. When it appeared on the TV they never said anything derogatory, they always used inclusive language in my teen years when I should’ve been getting a girlfriend. I remember it was never “when you have a girlfriend,” it was “if you choose to have a partner,” and while I
was still coming to terms with my sexuality, I knew as a 13-14 year old, from those small gestures it didn’t matter what my sexuality was.
They never sat me down and confronted me. They never made things super awkward. They really let me discover who I was and supported me. That for me was so important. They let me come to terms with it and then when I was ready they let me tell them.”
Holly, on the other hand, found a safe space with her friends-turned-family at work where they back each other no matter what.
“The Locker Room Girls and I talked about our previous experiences in “straight” sex before we ‘caught the gay’. We shared how it felt like sometimes we never had a voice in sex, we never asked for things, we never set boundaries or even asked what our partner’s boundaries might be. Instead, we would just lay back and think to ourselves,
this is pretty enjoyable, right? This is what we’ve seen in the movies so it should be pretty good? Shouldn’t it?
It wasn’t until I started engaging in queer sex (and talking about it openly) that I realised a whole other dimension existed.”
“The queer community will always welcome you with open arms. There is enough room within this space for everyone to be loved and to love. It is here you can find a place that you can call home and bring yourself back from the underworlds you could be drowning in. Let your own version of The Locker Room Girls help you take up the space you deserve. Fight for each other and fight for yourself. Use your voice to lift up others in the community who can’t use theirs. Let yourself ask for more. Never stop living for your right to love and be loved by whoever it is that makes you feel on fire.”