“What do I even do in bed if I’m not straight?!”

Krista: This question is not so much “How do queer people have sex?” Na-uh. It’s more “How don’t we have sex? We use our fingers, tongues, mouths, legs, genitals, butts, chests, and—most important—BRAINS. Fingers, tongues, and toys can explore the various openings, crevices, and sensitive areas on most people, and queer people, like all people, have sex by stimulating some (or all) of those places.

The word sex is not defined exclusively by a penis entering a vagina—helllllll no. Sex can mean a lot of things, but best believe: Queer sex, however you’re having it, is “real” sex. Nobody can tell me that hours of sweaty, hot, orgasm-after-orgasm-inducing mattress sessions with another person “don’t count” as “real sex” because my partner and I are not having P-in-V sex.

Lola: Queer sex can include P-in-V, too—it just doesn’t have to. When a similar question was posed on the reality show The Real L Word, roughly two dozen lesbians gave roughly two dozen answers. This controversy culminated in Autostraddle developing this excellent “Is It Sex?” flowchart:

via Autostraddle.

Flowchart by Marie Lyn Bernard via Autostraddle.

But before we go any further, promise us you’re not going to do any of these things without getting consent from your partner! Everybody involved needs to be 100 percent on board with what everyone’s doing, 100 percent of the time. You’re not waiting to hear a “no” from your partner before you stop what you’re doing; you want to hear a “FUCK YES.”

Krista:But how do you know if you have enthusiastic consent from your partner? Amy Rose just wrote an incredible essay on this very thing, and Lola and I will model it for you right now!

Lola: Krista, I’m so excited to be DOIN’ IT with you for educational purposes. I can’t believe that we chose matching sheer pink nightgowns! And yet…I can.
Krista: Lola! SO THRILLED to be goin’ at it with you in demo form as well! You look stunning in pink, my dear. Here are some sensual finger foods, such as grapes and Gushers-brand fruit snacks, for us to snack on.
Lola: I consume these delicacies with gusto. Now, perhaps we may consume each other. Would you like to get started?
Krista: Yes, darling.
[…Time passes…]
Krista: OK: We have now been making out for hours on your cheetah-print couch, and I have rubbed my face raw on your ruby lips. I have a feeling you’d like to take things to the next level. I am aching to have sexytimes with you, but I have never done this before.
Lola: Luckily, we’ve talked beforehand about how you’ve never really hooked up with a girl before, because we both know that the best time to deal with any sort of negotiation is before a decision is required. I got a good sense of what your boundaries are, as well a ton of hot ideas, from that conversation (which I prepared for by checking out this sex-based checklist/worksheet).
Krista: [Pops Gusher into mouth and chews in a sensuous manner] I love how well we communicate. But, honestly, I’m still a little nervous.
Lola: So am I, because I approach each new person—actually, every new sexual encounter—the same way: with as few assumptions as possible about what the other person might like or want. Beyond a possible slight advantage in technical fluency/muscle memory, my sexual experience doesn’t really matter. Krista, you matter. What do you like? Talk to me about what you want me to do for you right now.
Krista: …I’m not sure? I dunno…um…OK I FEEL STUPID HELP ACKKKK [Starts freaking out and shutting down]
Lola: Yo, Krista, I can tell you’re into me and want to consummate our demonstration, but even though you’re not saying no, you’re not saying yes, and just “letting” me do something isn’t giving consent. Are you OK? Do you want to keep kissing for a while?
Krista: Oh, Lola. I’m so glad you checked in with me. It’s not that I don’t want to move on to the possible glorious fingerbanging/passionate oral sex portion of our demo session, but I’m hesitant to say what I want out loud—I might need some time. Kissing you would be just perfect for now!

“What if my partner is secretly like, Ew, she’s doing it wrong?

Lola, but her hair’s all messed up: Whew! So, in summation, don’t do a sex thing because you heard it works, or because you made an assumption about someone’s body, or you saw it in porn. In what other domain would people do things exactly as they saw them happen in a movie once? “Oh, I took you whitewater rafting because I saw it in a movie.” “But I hate whitewater rafting!” “Well, the girl in the movie kind of looked like you, so I figured you would like it, too.” I can’t swim this date sucks and I want to break up with this person. I recently covered a very similar concern in a Just Wondering answer:

Doing stuff with a real live person isn’t going to be a face-off between your “weird” sex map vs. their “normal” one. Even in the most casual encounters, people shouldn’t just be “having sex.” They should be having sex with EACH OTHER, specifically! You’ve got a certain way of getting off, and so will your partner. Every single person in this world gets off in a different way! When you get there, how will you figure out what your partner like, or help them figure out what you like?

Krista: There is just no “right” way to have queer sex, except however feels really good. I mean, funny stuff and mistakes can happen during sex (and, trust me, we’ll discuss those!), but putting a big ol’ rubber stamp reading WRONG on a whole encounter? Nope! Not unless your idea of queer sex is, like, going to feed ducks at the pond. Thaaaaat might be construed as “wrong,” from a sexual standpoint.

Lola: As an honest and intentional practitioner of celibacy right now, I’d like to respectfully interject my support for the feeding of ducks as an expression of queer sexuality.

Krista: Interjection accepted—since everyone has a unique body and brain, every person has a different set of things they like to do. The only way to truly “screw things up” is to not listen to your partner, and/or not let them know what what you want. Sex is not like this magical wordless movie scene of passion where no one is talking, they’re just gazing deeply into each other’s eyes, and, without saying a word, they’re just suddenly going at it and having orgasms. Sex also does not occur in a library (usually, anyway)—you’re allowed to talk during it! You can say things like “Could you put your hand here?” and “I don’t like that” and “Can you put another finger in?” and “OK, what if you tried that a little…slower?” This can be “dirty talk” or not—don’t be afraid that vocalizing what you want is going to “kill the mood.”