Sex toys can be a great enhancement to any sexual relationship, but the problem for queer consumers is that many popular sex toys are designed to satisfy straights.
“Our market seems to be more hetero-oriented,” says Pamela Cameron, a purchasing manager with Lovecraft in Toronto.
The good news: many straight sex toys can be adapted to pleasure queer people. “For instance, a man who identified himself as gay was interested in the Fleshlight [a male masturbator with a simulated vagina],” Cameron says. “He wanted an opening that was more suited to his taste . . . so on our next order we tried an anal style as per the customer’s request.”
And yes, the customer was satisfied -- repeatedly.
Another “example of repurposing toys would be duo-vibes,” says Pam Goldsworthy, manager of Toronto’s Condom Shack. “These are toys with a penetration piece, as well as a clitoral vibrator; such as the infamous Jack Rabbit. Although designed for vaginal use, they can be used by men anally with the clitoral vibrator used for perineum or testicle stimulation.”
“For gay women, vibrating cockrings can easily be slipped onto strap-on dongs,” Goldsworthy notes. “And there are plenty of phallic penetration toys that are made specifically without a realistic look.”
The key to finding queer sex toys may lie in redefining how you view them. For instance, staff members at Venus Envy (with stores in Calgary, Halifax and Ottawa) don’t classify sex toys by orientation. Instead, “sex toys are primarily designed for people with penises or vaginas and in this way they are inherently inclusive,” says Lara Purvis, Venus Envy’s education coordinator. “At Venus Envy we don't assume that someone with a vagina identifies as a woman or that someone with a penis identifies as a man.”
What about sex shops that cater directly to the queer communities? Well, if you’re gay, then you are truly in luck: Priape operates gay-focused adult stores in Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Online, gay sex toy sites such as adammale.com, male.stockroom.com and meatcannon.com abound.
“If you look at the brands that are successful in the gay community while combining amazing craftsmanship, Oxballs is one of our favourites, combining wit and fetish,” says Priape’s Benoit Gorez, who notes other popular gay toys include Fleshlight, Rascal Toys, Tantus and Priape Toys.
If you’re lesbian, stores such as Toronto’s Good for Her and Vancouver’s Womyn’s Ware are must-sees, and there are sex shops that serve the entire queer community, such as Vancouver’s Little Sister’s. However, mainstream adult stores can also be of use: “In general, gay women will have lots of toy options, because the majority of toys are made for women,” Goldsworthy says. “Even toys that seem pretty hetero – like the We-Vibe -- can be used by anyone with a vagina!”
The same may not be true for bisexual men, such as those wanting to explore anal sex with a partner wearing a strap-on dildo. “Unfortunately, a strap-on does not attach itself as well as a real penis,” says Shyla Wild, a t-girl escort based in Montreal. “Therefore, the woman lacks the control that a man or a transsexual has in the same situation. It is not well supported on the female body at all, and due to the cost of a base-level strap-on – $60 to $120 – people often give up.”
The trans community faces a similar problem. In fact, a search for “transsexual sex toys” on Google leads to sex shops selling blow-up t-girl dolls for men rather than the other way around. Overall, there is a lack of sex toys made for either t-girls or t-boys beyond moulded breast and genital forms to make crossdressing more convincing. Generally, trans people have to work with whatever is available on the general sex-toy market.
This said, “If sex can be any combination of that lovely, messy intimacy of hands, fingers, tongues, cocks and cunts, then any toys would be suitable for queer sex,” Purvis says. “So really, the limits around what toys are suitable for someone is not about sexual orientation so much as which sexy spot they're looking to play with, and how well the toy fits and works.”