I had always wanted my first kiss, my first anything and everything to be special and at the right time. But none of my firsts have been special – some at my fault, but mostly not.
My first sexual experience, with my first boyfriend in high school, was brought upon me with coercion. This sexual experience did not happen on my own terms. This doesn’t mean I didn’t eventually enjoy it or that I didn’t still fall head-over-heels for him, but this wasn’t how or when I had wanted it to happen.
My first time having sex was on my own terms in college, but that does not automatically equate to an amazing experience. It was pretty much a one-night-stand, a fling, with a woman I wasn’t particularly into. For some reason I thought I didn’t want my first time to be special. I can’t justify it and I’m not one for regrets, but it isn’t something I look back on fondly. At least I learned quickly that I couldn’t do hook-ups.
Eventually, I met someone that I felt was good and nice. By this time I had realized that I needed to wait longer and be careful to make sure any sexual interaction with a person was special and at the right time. Well, to start off, this guy brought up sex way too early – I wasn’t impressed. But we were still in that awkward, shy beginning phase of the relationship so I felt I couldn’t express myself fully. However I do remember telling him that I wasn’t ready yet.
The next thing I remember is after a tiring night spent with him and his friends, he took me back to his apartment and started setting up his room as if there was some script I hadn’t been given. Whenever I think about it I can’t help but wonder why I didn’t say anything. I had felt too confused to speak up, and now I feel guilty for questioning myself because he is the one who should have listened to me when I had said I wasn’t ready. Needless to say, that night was bad. I wasn’t comfortable, I wasn’t ready, and I wasn’t willing… and he didn’t even notice. I know that regrets are bad but, with the bad memories of that night, I can’t help but wish I had said “no I’m not ready” a second time, and louder.
And even though I’m a feminist and had developed a more feminist relationship with him after that, I somehow regressed into a long relationship of old-school obligatory sex that I didn’t necessarily want or enjoy. At the beginning of our relationship, after we had first started communicating properly about sex, my partner and I invested a lot of time and effort into making sure the sex was “special”. We both invested a lot of time into working with my PTSD symptoms that came up during sex. It all seemed so sweet and so feminist, but it was all under the assumption that I wanted to have sex. And after a while I realized that I didn’t really.
I still can’t tell if it was just him I didn’t want to have sex with because I wasn’t that attracted to him, or if I will be just as sexually apathetic with anyone else. I feel like I was socialized to believe that I wanted this fairytale-type sex life, but maybe I don’t, or at least not yet. And maybe it’s because of the experiences I’ve had with sex, or maybe it’s just my personality – I’m admitting I’m not a romantic person!
This realization has caused me to majorly rethink my sex life and whether I actually want one right now. It seems like a lot (or some?) of queer people, at least at my age, assume that sex will come after dating, but I want to challenge myself to go a different route and abstain for a while.
I know that it isn’t right or true to say that queer people are hypersexual or that our existence is centered around our sex lives, but I think it is harder to justify celibacy to queer people than it is to straight people. Why is that? My emotional, intellectual and spiritual attractions to queer women… my emotional, intellectual, spiritual, political and social investment in queerness… it can still be there without having sex. Being sexual is not the sole aspect of the queer identity, but sometimes we forget the other aspects.
Aside from retaining or enforcing my identity as queer, I would hope that abstaining from sex would help me gain confidence in saying “no” – to myself or other people. I feel that I will be more compelled to say “no” given my pact with myself to abstain. And in terms of interacting with another person, I feel that they may take me more seriously (yeah I know they should take me seriously anyway!), and I may feel less guilty (sigh, I know I shouldn’t feel guilty anyway…), if I say I am abstaining rather than that I just don’t feel like it. Ugh.
Mainly, I just don’t want sex to be expected of me in a relationship and I think this could be empowering in that aspect. It is interesting because we often associate celibacy with sexual repression, but I now feel that it could be quite empowering.
On a side-note, I wonder if abstaining from sex will lead me to abstain from dating completely, or middle-school-style dating. Heehee.
Thoughts? Is this whole idea entirely unrealistic? … idealistic? … ridiculous?