As any of my regular readers are aware, I am a slut. As a full-time sex worker and part-time sex club reviewer, the fact I get a lot of action comes as no surprise. But it’s still important to say it. The vast majority of our society (straight and gay) frown on the idea of someone having multiple casual and anonymous sex partners. Outing myself as someone who fucks around is part of reclaiming the word and separating it from its pejorative connotations. Being a slut isn’t just a way of life. It’s part of my politics.

Accepting this aspect of my sexual identity didn’t come easily. Growing up in the suburbs in the 1990s meant my access to queer culture was initially limited to Madonna and Jeanne Beker. I eventually found a posse of riot grrrlz who introduced me to alternative music and kept me safe from the jocks. Their “fuck what the world thinks” attitude gave me the space and the courage to come out. But I was 16 before I met Jay; my first gay male friend.

Jay had dated an older guy who lived downtown so he knew his way around the Village. I’d borrow my parents’ car (complete with some lie about going to the movies or something) and we’d drive down to hit the bars, flashing confident smiles along with our fake IDs. In the pre-internet world, an access point for these spaces was essential. It wasn’t until years later (long after the friendship had ended) I realized he hadn’t just introduced me to gay life. He’d also imparted his sexual politic on me.

Jay was never shy about sex. But he had very specific ideas about how and when it should happen. He’d flirt with guys at the bar; maybe drag someone into a corner to make out occasionally. But stepping into a darkroom or hitting a bathhouse after last call was anathema to him. Sex, in his mind, was not meant to be experienced casually. Slut jokes were frequent; jibes about loose sphincters and disease-ridden urinary tracts abounded. As the first and only gay friend I had at that point, his attitudes rubbed off on me. Being a slut made you the wrong kind of fag. And as an impressionable teenager entering this world, I desperately wanted to be the right kind of fag.   

In my early 20s, I made my first trip to the bathhouse. It was, to put it lightly, a formative experience. A space with countless naked men, unburdened by judgement and looking to get their rocks off wasn’t something I thought could exist. I started going regularly, sometimes a few days a week. But I never admitted it to Jay. Not only did I know his judgements would be harsh, I knew they would further deepen my own shame. Despite the fact I was going to the bathhouse all the time, I couldn’t step in the door without being really drunk. I’d cautiously look up and down the street to make sure no one saw me and was terrified to run into someone I knew inside. While I’d found an outlet for my sexuality, I still couldn’t accept it. I knew I was a slut. I just didn’t want to be.

Around the time my friendship with Jay fizzled, I met my first serious boyfriend, in a bathhouse of all places. An older guy who’d lived through the AIDS crisis, his take on sexuality was the polar opposite. Fucking around wasn’t a mortal sin. Disease wasn’t a punishment for sexual satisfaction. Not only was being a slut nothing to be ashamed of, it was something to celebrate. It’s a unique privilege we gays have, something other members of the spectrum don’t always have access to. Just as understanding my attraction to men was something I had to gradually come to accept, understanding that my sexuality doesn’t follow a heteronormative pattern was a challenge. It turned out to be an even bigger hurdle in fact, but one that was hugely satisfying to jump.

These days, I’m less of a slut than I’ve been at various points in my life. A steady roster of clients combined with the hectic life of a freelance writer mean it’s occasionally hard to find time to squeeze in extra-curricular sex. But I try to make a point of it. As a sex worker, I’ve realized that when I’m constantly sharing my sexuality with other people, I have to find moments to claim it for myself. It could be a trip to the bathhouse, a walk through a cruising area, or just texting one of my fuck buds to say I’m swinging by with poppers and take-out pizza. But finding ways to maintain my sluttiness makes me who I am. I am a slut and I’m not afraid to admit it. You shouldn’t be either.

(devondelacroix@gmail.com

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