3 min

Shameless! Proudly so

We should not back back off from talking about sex

From polyamourists to occasional sex workers, from singles to non-cohabitating couples, lesbians and gays run the whole gamut.

Our sexual diversity is my favourite way of looking at the rainbow flag. These days the rainbow can seem pretty neutered; “diversity” is an awfully bland concept when the sparkle of the individual example is sanded off. For my part, I look at our flag as hanky codes all sewn together. As a slut in a loving non-monogamous relationship, maybe I get a share of the blue stripe. Maybe the lesbian thruple down the street gets a piece of the red.

At Capital Xtra, we spend a lot of time talking about sex. In this issue, we’ve got porn, sex workers, strap-ons, party girls and fat chicks. Stay tuned for more frank talk about sex in every upcoming issue.

That’s earned us a lot of epithets — primarily from longtime foes of our community. Dirty. Sick. On the web: NSFW, or “not safe for work.” Not appropriate for kids. A parent’s complaint citing the last of these became the reason a restaurant in Kanata — The Broadway Bar & Grill — wanted to get our newspaper box off the premises. We complied and the box has been removed.

In response to The Broadway’s actions, it’s tempting to want to defend Capital Xtra as good clean fun. It’s tempting to say that gays are just as wholesome as everyone else. Others have correctly pointed out that the Ottawa Sun runs content that at first glance looks a lot like ours — but for horny straight men.

At the risk of being déclassé, can I turn that on its head a bit? Because we’re not all that wholesome. If we took a test, not just Capital Xtra but queers generally would fail the wholesomeness test. With flying colours, so to speak.

Straight culture fails the wholesomeness test too, as we know. Premarital sex is the norm. Multiple partners in a person’s lifetime are the norm. Masturbation is the norm. Lots of straight people cheat on their spouses, get divorced, visit hookers, watch porn and/or use sex toys.

It is my sincere hope that gays are bigger and better sinners than straight people, but it might be a bit of a pissing match. Rather than gays claiming that we are wholesome too, we should say that neither gays nor straights are wholesome.

And thank God!

In the last issue, we dedicated this space to explaining why frank messaging is the most effective way to convey life-saving safer sex information. I argued that explicit images and frank discussion should be publicly available, stroller moms be damned.

It’s not a stretch to say that talking about our sex lives — descriptively, not prescriptively — helps us to be less ashamed, that it improves our self-esteem, in fact. And we know that people who have higher self-esteem are less likely to engage in risky activities like sharing needles and having unprotected sex. So talking about sex is healthy.

But we don’t need to hide behind health to say why talking about sex is a good thing. It’s also a fun thing (although not always a sexy thing, exactly). It’s also something we have the right to do, and not just behind closed doors. And, importantly, a dialogue that includes sex as one of its constituent elements is a closer reflection of the real world than one where sex is invisible.

Speaking of making our sex lives invisible: that phenomenon leads to a tremendous sense of shame. Party boys and their bar hook ups, power dykes and their whips, cybergays ordering in tricks: we love to be dirty. But some of us hate to admit that we love to be dirty.

As a community, we’ve got a long way to go before we stop being ashamed of our sexual lives. And that requires a lot of talking. We’re going to have to see a lot of our sex depicted our way before things get better. We see a lot of their sex depicted their way (or the way they think they should have it), but not our own.

So we’re not going to back off when people accuse us of talking about sex. We do. And we’re doing so very consciously: trying to use it as a tool to reduce shame and stigma. And it’s healthy.