Preesented by Sex Out Loud’s Rhys Fritz, Volunteer Coordinator and Rosie Rodriguez, Program Facilitator
Hi y’all, I’m Rhys. At this point, I could write a book or maybe two dissecting my problematic and practically non existent sex education, but because we don’t have time for that I’m going to focus on the absence of queerness in my Catholic school sex education.I would like to note, that I am not here to bash Catholicism or rather, any religious practice that promotes the ideology of abstinence or waiting until marriage/partnership/etc. What we do with our bodies is our business, and I’m down with that. But what I do want to identify is the impact of taking away necessary components of safety and pleasure in sex ed and what it does for those in the queer community.
So, what is it about Catholic school that is just so sexy? Whenever I even mention that I spent 13 of my most formative years tucked inside a school that spewed the word of God and made sure our skirts hit the floor instead of our knees, it’s as if a tiny alarm goes off in the other person goes - wow that’s really hot. And while I wish that my experience was that of being God fearing while giggling in a plaid skirt, I’m afraid my experience was far from that.
Every day, we would tuck into a dim brick building, sweating from our polyester blend polo shirts and general teenage sweatiness and count our blessings to get the hell out of there. It is within those walls that while they were preparing me for a bigger world of academics, they prepared me less and less for what would inevitably come: me. Oh, and sex.
At least one time per year we would be administered religious studies books and here I would learn that sex was for marriage, that sex was between a man and a woman, and that our one job through the sacrament of marriage was that of a holy, baby making machine. Yes, one day I would find the man of my dreams who would bless me with screaming, pooping, sleeping life. Beautiful. In these classes, we learned basic anatomy of MEN and WOMEN and watched the Miracle of Birth that still has scared me to this day. Isn’t that worth waiting for? Or I guess maybe it would be if I weren’t this genderless ball of queerness that no one ever really explained to me. Personally, I can’t wait to return to my high school reunion, guns blazing (figuratively), bringing my kinky, queer energy into a place that sucked the joy from my left rib.
My name’s Rosie, and I went to public school here in Madison. In middle school we had health classes taught by our gym teacher that mostly focused on the food pyramid and not doing drugs, but always saved a week or two towards the end to make sure we also didn’t have sex. At my family’s church, we had a whole youth group curriculum on abstinence. It told me that if I had sex before marriage, I would be like a licked Jolly Rancher stuck back in its wrapper: undesirable and belonging to the trash. I’m not even kidding, we literally did that activity. In high school, I had the most extensive health class; we watched a baby be born, saw pictures of herpes, passed around a few contraceptives from the 90s, and called it a day in terms of sex. No queer people, no pleasure, no consent, and certainly no discussions about the way society constructs and reconstructs norms around sex and sexuality in a way that promotes assault and ill health.
I figured out I was bi somewhere in the middle of all this, and I figured it out thanks to the library. I would go there after school and browse through any book that looked like it could clue me in to whatever was going on in my body. Puberty guide from American Girl (yes, the doll company)? Read it cover to cover. The handful of lesbian erotica novels in the adult section? Mostly worn down because of me. The one thick book of queer theory hidden in the stacks by the cookbooks? I racked up $20 in late fees on that book that I haven’t paid back yet. Madison Public Library will always have a special place in my heart for teaching me about gay sex and private browsing, but it shouldn’t have had to.
That’s why I work for Sex Out Loud. Specifically, this is why I manage the SOL Library and work with Rhys on Queeries. Because I believe everyone should have access to the knowledge they need to have consensual, safe sexual experiences that are pleasurable and make their lives better. I also know that queer people have the hardest time with getting pleasure-centric and sex positive education about their bodies. We can do better, and doing better by queer people on our campus is what these articles are all about.
What is Queer Sex?
Queer sex can be whatever we want it to be! In porn and media we often see a very prescriptive view of sex, queer or otherwise, that can limit our sexual imaginations and make us feel like we’re “doing it wrong.” Part of queering sex ed is breaking down those notions because there is no right way or wrong way to have sex! Sex is any pleasurable and sexy activity between two (or more) consenting adults, and that can mean whatever we want it to.
It’s also important to acknowledge that this is easier said than done for many queer folks because we are far more likely to have past experiences with sexual assault. Many folks in our community also have issues with body dysphoria (disliking parts, or the whole, of our bodies). To help make our partners feel sexier and more comfortable, we need to communicate with them and be compassionate to their wants and desires. We recommend discussing language, supplies, and activities as foreplay- before we’re in the high pressure and naked environment of the bedroom. Here are some questions to get started:
When was the last time you were tested?
What type of protection do you like to use?
What language do you use about your body?
Do you like butt stuff? What about oral?
What’s your favorite kind of lube?
Do you want to use toys? What kind? Yours or mine?
Are there parts of your body you like touched? Don’t like touched?
Tell me what you like!
As queer people, we get the gift of self-defined sex. For many people whose partners have penises that can mean penetrative sex or blow jobs and for just as many that isn’t what they prefer. For many people whose partners have vulvas, clit stimulation or fingering may be part of the routine, but again that’s not what all people do. There is nothing in the world of sex that we can say “all people do!” What’s important is prioritizing communication, pleasure, and safety. For all people!