Everything I Wish I’d Learned About Gay Sex In High School

photographed by Kate Anglestein.
When I was fourteen I had gay sex for the first time. There, on his Star Wars sheets, we had an hour between the school bell and his parents getting home from work. We had no lube. We used no condom. We had, literally, no idea.
Afterwards we blocked each other on MSN. Afterwards I spent weeks thinking about how horrible sex was. Afterwards, I spent days bleeding intermittently.
Sex, for some five years thereafter, would continue to be a huge series of learning curves: featuring things I didn’t understand, aches and pains I had no way to explain, breeches of boundaries I wasn’t even aware existed, shames I had imbibed from never seeing my sex represented anywhere, and silence because I learned at my Catholic state school that you do not talk about sex. Especially gay sex.
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This week marks the anniversary of the introduction of Section 28: the archaic Thatcherite law which banned the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools. While the legislation was overturned in my early years of high school, its effects still irrevocably gripped our classrooms — the only homo I ever experienced at school being the homophobia I incurred at the hands of many of my peers.
In my seven years at a faith high school we had one sex education lesson. The boys and girls were split up, each class warned about the dangers of sex: teen pregnancy and gruesome sexually transmitted infections. For my heterosexual peers, who were all having sex, many getting pregnant, that was an appalling oversight. For myself, the only out gay person in my year group, my sex wasn’t even up for discussion. I won’t venture into the cultural and moral ideologies a Catholic state school in the North pushed relentlessly, but we can all guess (#repealthe8th).
While the harmful holds of Section 28 has loosened its grip over recent years, a 2017 Stonewall report discovered that an appalling one in five LGBT pupils, and only one in ten who attend faith schools, have even learned the basics of contraception in relation to same sex relationships.
So, with this irresponsible lack of action in mind, I present to you Everything I Wish I’d Learned About Gay Sex In High School. This list is not exhaustive, there are things you can only learn yourself, and it must be stressed that there are genuinely millions of different ways of having sex. But, if you’re looking for the basics, look no further.
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Anal
The seemingly scary bit first. To be truthful, it’s gonna hurt… for about three seconds until you breathe into it, relax, and use a tonne of a lube. Start with finger play, or tongue play. Remember you can still have sex and not have anal. I found sitting on it was the best introduction of the penis to the hole in those early years, but once you’re relaxed, most positions will feel great. Remember that sometimes there might be poo, and that’s okay — it happens to us all. Remember it never looks like porn — and it shouldn’t. If there’s blood, that’s okay too — just keep it clean, be kind to it. Your butthole will provide you much pleasure in the years to come.
Oral
Like most things: some people love it, some people hate it. You absolutely do not have to swallow. Remember that you’re doing it for someone, so that means it should be on your terms. If you don’t like your head being pushed down on it, then speak up — any good sexual partner will listen. Plenty of saliva helps. Use the tongue, the whole mouth, and (occasionally!) the teeth. Breath is hot too. Work on the whole thing. All of this is great, as long as you’re consenting.
Touch
Sex can literally be touching. Humping. Grinding. Rubbing. Clothes on, smushing together in a bush in a park, as long as both parties are consenting. Touch sex can be some of the sexiest. Touching helps you learn about your partner’s body, and find unexpected pleasure points you both might not know were there.
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photographed by Kate Anglestein.
Kiss
Some of the best sex I’ve ever had is when you kiss all night with your clothes on. Don’t worry about your technique, it will come. Don’t be afraid to go full tongue, don’t be afraid to just use the lips. All body kissing is good too.
What is Sex?
Sex is anything you want it to be. There doesn’t need to be penetration, genitals don’t always need to be present. Sex is about pleasure for all parties. However you reach that pleasure is up to you: whether through pain, dominance and submission, or beautiful tender missionary sex. The key to the most amazing sex is, in my experience, consent and communication.
Masturbation
Sex with yourself is some of the best. Nobody knows you like you do.
Bodies
In my years having sex I have encountered different bodies I didn’t know I was attracted to. Remember that all bodies are beautiful, that being naked with someone is an act of trust but also an act of wonder. I spent years worrying about my big belly, but remember that whoever it is you’re having sex with they’re lucky to get the gift of you. There’s beauty in all bodies. There’s sex in all bodies.
Attraction
Attraction is so confusing. It’s so febrile, and pleasurable and changes all the time. Don’t rush sex — often the idea, the flirt, the build up can be just as pleasurable as the sex. Don’t be afraid of what you’re attracted to: if it’s something nobody else likes you’re not weird, you’re wonderful. Step into it. Work with it. Seek it out.
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Consent
This is the biggest omission from sex education. When I first started having sex I thought consent was either yes or no, and once you’d said one you were in a binding contract — something I learned wasn’t true through various bad experiences. Consent is constant, and fluid, and absolutely up to you. Consent is a development process which should be utilised for both your safety and your pleasure. If you say yes, then decide no, speak on it. If you wanted to try something then realise you don’t like it, speak on it. If you were into hair-pulling yesterday but aren’t today, speak on it — that’s consent. If something feels great, too, ask for more of it — saying yes is consent too. Consent is also about body language, so be receptive to signs and signals both in yourself and your partner.
Power
Contrary to the popular myth pedalled by our favourite show Sex and The City, sex isn’t about a trade of power (unless you’re into that). Sex is an equilibrium of pleasure for all parties involved.
Pleasure
This. You deserve this. You are capable of giving and receiving and achieving this. Ignore all those idiots who think sex is about procreation, it’s about pleasure. For queers, so much of the world’s pleasures are taken from us — sex is a wonderful site in which you can take it back.
Orgasm
Great sex doesn’t always end in orgasm. Don’t pressure yourself, it will come eventually. The endless potential of sex to provide pleasure isn’t always about ending it with the orgasm. While it’s great, it takes us all a different amount of time to find it. Focus on all the other pleasurable bits and this will... come.
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photographed by Kate Anglestein.
Dicks
Dicks are like people, no two are the same. No size is good, no size is bad. No bend, or curve or shape or colour is good or bad. They all smell different too.
Buttholes
Buttholes come in all different shapes and sizes, and they’re all wonderful. Some like to have sex with them dirty, some like to have sex with them super clean and douched. Don’t feel ashamed if you like something which seems out of the ordinary, there’s a bunch of others who like that too.
Protection
Condoms are great. They can take some getting used to, but they’re worth it. Don’t be afraid of them — they’re your friend. There are other ways to keep yourself protected too, such as PrEP, a little blue pill which is nearly 100% effective in preventing the transmission of HIV. The contraceptive pill can be great, but it’s not for everyone. Make sure you’re well researched and keep a track of its potential effects on your mental and physical health. If he’s not willing to wear a condom upon asking, he doesn’t deserve what you’re giving. Sometimes, unprotected sex happens — don’t be afraid, but make sure you keep yourself protected in the ways you need. Which brings us to…
STIs
Get tested. Know your status. Take the right measures to treat them. Get to know what’s out there. If you do get one, don’t stress too much — there’s plenty of ways to either get rid of them or live with ones that are incurable. Just remember that they happen to us all, you didn’t fail or do anything wrong. You’re not unclean if you have an STI. You’re human, and you’re bloody beautiful.
The truth is, I learned all of this while on the job. I had years of confusion, shame, a mix of great and terrible sex. Some years later, at an LGBT conference in Huddersfield, I ran into the guy I’d lost my virginity to, to whom I’d never spoken after that painful 3pm in and out way back when. We ended up going back to his to, quote, “do it right, for our teenage selves.” It ended up being some of the best sex of my life — this time, with plenty of lube and lots of pleasure. Amazing sex is your right. Consensual sex is your right. Go forth little queers and have glorious, consensual sex.
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