I had my first orgasm when I was 11 years old. I was a curious, prepubescent little psycho, watching porn on the family computer while my mom wasn’t home, filming it on my camcorder to play in bed later on. I’m sure that this was illegal (for a multitude of reasons). I became familiar with my body and pleasure points at a young age, and I’m not sure if my high libido stemmed from my early exposure to porn, or if my curiosity stemmed from a high libido. A sexual “chicken or the egg” scenario, if you will.
I lost my virginity when I was 16. It was the most lackluster event of the century; I spent all 10 minutes staring at the wall behind him, eliciting sounds that I had memorized from porn. I think I offered him a cookie as he was leaving, not in the way of a reward, but just to be a good host. My mother raised me well. I didn’t have an orgasm, but I wasn’t shocked by that. I’d done my fair share of reading about women who struggled to have orgasms solely from penetration, requiring stimulus of the clitoris instead or in combination with. But I didn’t give up. Instead, I continued to date, pursue, and sleep with men. I suppose I was hoping one of them would finally flip a switch and make me cum, or at least make me enjoy straight sex enough to remain so deep in the closet that I didn’t realize I was there.
I grew up in suburban Westchester, surrounded by divorce and unhappy heterosexual marriages. In effect, misery by way of the mundane status quo was the norm. I thought it was perfectly normal that I didn’t enjoy having sex with men — dreaded it, mostly — and that I couldn’t orgasm. I also thought it was perfectly normal that I engaged in sex with men. I blocked myself from considering my attraction to women as anything further than an act of rebellion. Even when I slept with a few women in high school, I didn’t give it the validity it required, couldn’t ask for what I needed, couldn’t let myself loosen up enough to release. Sex became performative, a thing I did to satisfy other people and my constantly-tapping-on-my-shoulder high libido. I was faking orgasms so intensely that I’m still waiting for a call from PornHub. (Seriously, though, I’d love to do copy work for them. If any of you are reading this, drop me an email.)
But when I went away to college, I had a real “Come to Gay Jesus” moment. College — or for many people, growing the hell up — serves as a time when you meet new people, branch out, and get out of the place that has suffocated you without you even knowing. In college, I met gay people. I saw my girl friends thoroughly enjoy having sex with men — dating men. And I thought to myself, “People really do enjoy this. Why don’t I? I did enjoy having sex with women. Should I be exploring that more?” Or in other words, “Holy shit, am I a lesbian?”
So, at 21 years old, I started dating women and came out as gay. I was still incredibly femme, an old affect I hung onto from my closeted days. I was shellshocked from having missed such a large component of myself, so in life and in bed, I was still hanging onto old parts of myself as a security blanket. I was dating a woman who was completely wrong for me. She f*cked me the way men had, and I let her. I had no idea how to speak the words to free myself. Interestingly, I still felt liberated. Even in denying myself orgasms (because that is what you do when you fake them — you ensure that your partner has no idea how to properly give you an orgasm because you’ve affirmed a falsity), I was able to see the truth in sex, the raw honesty that comes from the act, however you choose to partake, when you’re being true to yourself.
I knew who I was, I just had no idea how to be her.
Eventually, I broke up with the wrong woman, only to date several more. I took inventory of myself. I cut my hair, got rid of the heels and dresses, and stopped being a strict bottom (really, in this economy?). I love me a high femme, but I wasn’t one. So I fully freed myself. Never underestimate the power of a queer person who has finally figured out how to present themselves once they shed the shackles of the patriarchy– I think the kids are calling it “leveling up.” I was comfortable and happy pursing, dating, and sleeping with women.
At 22, in my first apartment in Astoria, I finally had an orgasm with another woman — my first orgasm with another person, period. It effectively became the Year of the Orgasm, which, thankfully, has been something that rolled over into the following year. I realized that I had been unable to orgasm, or to properly enjoy sex in general, because I wasn’t allowing myself to live authentically.
Sex can be the most liberating act we partake in — two or more people using their bodies to create something is an art form in and of itself. But if we do not feel liberated as people, we are missing the point, not tapping into the true potential of ourselves or the act. So sure, maybe I look like every lesbian in Brooklyn now, but I have no qualms asking my partner for what I like — or looking them in the eyes as I do.