Once upon a time, two women wrote a Rookie article called “The Sex Crylebration” to address readers’ hairier questions about sex: “What if I smell bad?” “What if my mouth gets tired during oral?” “What if I fart/burp/bleed?”
The two friends talked and talked and talked about sex, and for a second, their answers held the tide. But, no sooner had they high-fived about a job well done, did readers begin to ask additional questions about non-hetero liaisons. One email had a subject line that read simply “Sex????” and requested “explanations, tips, and education [...] for the ladies playing the other field.”
The duo drew a sharp, shared breath: Were they ready to Crylebrate again? They were best friends, writers, and true opponents of society’s rampant prejudice against oversharing. And also: Huge. Fucking. Queers.
CUE THE MUSIC!!!! They were us, and they were as ready as they’d ever be!
*Lola descends from sky wearing a purple Adidas tracksuit, like a guardian hype-angel*
*Krista rips in on a seafoam-green Vespa in slo-mo, revving engine seductively in time to Ginuwine*
LET’S DO THIS THING.
Last year’s Crylebration was kind of a compendium of worst-case scenarios and embarrassing moments, designed to address your deep, lingering fears and rumors about all kinds of sex. This year’s will focus on queer sex, and is more of a beginner’s guide (don’t worry, we threw in lots of juicy, embarrassing real-life moments). Because if you thought hetero sex was mysterious, consider how much less often you see any other kind of sex in movies, on TV, in advertisements, etc. This time around, the questions were not so much nightmare-scenario paranoia; they were more basic, like “HOW???” So, here’s how.
“I’m a girl, and I kissed my friend who’s a girl. AM I GAY NOW?”
Lola: The short answer is “nope.” You can identify however you like, regardless of what physical action you’re getting—or not getting. The only determining factor is what you feel is true.
Krista: Nothing you do “makes you” gay. If you’re a girl and you kiss another girl, there is not some invisible gay-radiation-filled ink that suddenly sprays all over you and turns you into lesbians right then and there. You are not a different person after a non-hetero snuggling session, or a makeout, or even sex—you are still you, regardless of the gender of the other person, and only you get to decide whether or not you’re gay (or whatever other orientation feels right!), and only if/when you’re ready.
It just so happens that I also wrote an article on this exact subject! You are a growing, changing young person, and you are experimenting with lots of things, including your own sexuality. There is literally nothing you can do that will lock you into a label forever.
Lola: Which is not to say that there won’t be any rapids in the river. Claiming your identity can be a scary process because then it’s “real,” and what if you change your mind?
Krista: When I first suspected I might be bisexual, or even (gasp!) a lesbian, I was 18, and I was terrified. I had this vague idea that being a lesbian was “bad,” possibly a gift from my conservative religious upbringing. I’d lie in bed and and whisper “lesbian” like 10,000 times in the dark, or repeat it alone in my car. I was trying to get used to the word, and the idea that that word could be me. “I’m bi,” I practiced saying to no one. “I’m a lesbian.” What did it mean? Could I be me while belonging to a huge, scary-seeming label like that? (I could, and I do.)
Lola: Between the ages of 13 and 20, I only partnered up with cis dudes. (Cis refers to people whose gender identity matches the gender they were assigned at birth.) This did not make me straight! Just like none of these True Stories “made me queer”:
Age 13: Made out with a girl whose house I was sleeping over.
Fourteen: A classmate accused me of being a “lesbo slut with scary friends” on AIM.
Sixteen: Had sex with a girl.
Twenty-two: Felt my heterosexuality was a book I had grown bored of, but was too far into to stop reading.
Twenty-three: Developed the distinct and unceasing urge to go down on a girl until I glowed in the dark.
What did make me queer was the moment that I decided I was. You also have this cool power to self-identify however you like, and as many times as you like—your answer might change over time, and that’s fine! Like the poet Andrea Gibson says (and Angel Haze, quoting her, sings):
“No, I’m not gay. No, I’m not straight, and I’m sure as hell not bisexual, damn it! I am whatever I am when I am it, loving whoever you are when the stars shine and whoever you’ll be when the sun rises.”
Figuring out your sexual identity, if you do, can be a long process, which is how it was for my friend Heather, who was ultimately rewarded for her many years of trying:
LIVED TO BONE ANOTHER DAY: HEATHER
Growing up, I dumped boyfriend after boyfriend and felt absolutely nothing about it. While I occasionally entertained fantasies about my high school’s head cheerleader, I never connected my failure to be “in love” with sexual orientation. Since being gay never occurred to me, I assumed I was some kind of unfeeling sociopath! In college (and only after many years of therapy), I realized I might actually be a lesbian. My hypothesis went unconfirmed until I met a totally great lady…and froze. What if I made out with her and I didn’t feel anything? Then I’d know for sure I was a sociopath. I’m happy to say I went for it anyway, and it was good (sometimes even great). For the first time in my life, I felt present and engaged in a romantic scenario.