A Safe Sex Guide for LGBTQ Folks
Sexual relationships and intimacy are complicated. And when identity and sexual politics gets thrown into the mix, this can create an even more involved situation. Being communicative about a range of issues including sexual limits, identity politics, your STI and HIV status, and more can help create a safer and better sexual experience for all parties involved. Here are five tips to help you have a sexy and safe time.
Although oral sex is considered a low-risk activity when it comes to contracting STIs, there’s still a chance you can catch something. Don’t take the risk and use protection! You can contract STIs orally, vaginally, and anally when you choose to have unprotected sex. While you might think you’re not at risk to contract something, there’s no sure way to avoid it unless you use protection and avoid the transfer of sexual fluids – though still other STIs are spread from skin to skin contact.
While you might find a dental dam, or another barrier to possibly be a drag, it could be the difference between you getting an STI or staying clean. If you forgot, here’s a refresher on how to use dental dams or condoms (remember there are also female condoms too). If you’re in a jam and can’t find a dental dam, a condom can be used in its place but it may prove to be a bit trickier to use.
Remember when sharing toys it’s also important to cover them with condoms, and to clean them after each time. Also remember to change to condom each time with a new partner. Practicing safer sex habits can greatly reduce your exposure to STIs and HIV, and in the long and help you have a healthier and happier sex life.
Know Your Status
Knowing your STI and HIV status is an incredibly important part of being sexually active and responsible. It is always a good idea to get tested yearly, and possibly more if the situation warrants it. Take the necessary steps to find out for sure so you can act accordingly. There are resources for free and low-cost tests across the US more information can be found here.
Be Open About Who You Are
It’s good to be open about who you are, but sometimes that can be a scary topic to broach when it comes to discussing where you may fall on the gender and sexuality spectrum. It’s up to you how little or how much you want to reveal in this context. However the benefit to having these conversations earlier on can also give you a better idea of who your potential partner is as well.
Being communicative with your partner is one major thing that can help make yourself feel comfortable and safe in a situation. By expressing what you’re okay with, and speaking up when something doesn’t feel right is very important. Having the ability to be open with your partner creates a space where both of you can share your sexual wants and desires. Communication is a two-way street and it is vital to be able to speak up for yourself inside and outside of the bedroom.
Know Your Boundaries
Only you can set your limits, and knowing how far you’re willing to take a situation is very important. You have to decide what’s right for you, and it’s always okay to change your mind no matter what. Remember you’re your own boss.
As a queer woman who occasionally dates and hooks up with CIS* heterosexual men, the larger issue of my own sexual identity comes up. Often my queerness is mislabeled, or even worse overlooked, and requires a larger conversation. These chats let me define what queer means to me, while also explaining the larger nuances of my sexual and identity politics, and even my limits.
By being open about my where I am coming from and what my expectations are have helped alleviate some potentially very awkward situations and in the process has helped me learn about myself. Sex is supposed to be fun, and everyone involved should feel comfortable and safe. Remember if something feels off, and you don’t feel like you are on the same page as your partner there is no shame in changing your mind and getting out of the situation.
*CIS is a descriptor that means you identify with the same gender you were assigned at birth.