I lost my virginity a couple of weeks before my 19th birthday.
The day before, I went against my typical behavior and messaged a blank profile on Grindr. Normally, I avoid people on dating apps if they don’t have any pictures for safety reasons, but in this particular moment, I wanted to lose my virginity based on unhealthy parameters I had set for myself. Because of this desire, I messaged this mystery man, who I correctly assumed to be another student, asking for a hookup and a picture of himself.
We agreed to meet at 11 a.m. the following day, and I woke up early to prepare my room and my body. I had never done anything sexual or romantic before, so I was extremely nervous. However, I was still aware of the expectations of many people, and I had done a little research on giving oral and bottoming the night before to make sure not to embarrass myself. So, the morning of my appointment, I shaved my ass while I took a shower and trimmed my pubic hairs to make myself presentable.
When the time finally came to have sex, I learned that my partner was also a virgin, which provided me some relief and calmed my nerves. To my surprise, I became the dominant one in that I led the course of our sexual activities. But, I was also left with a sense of disappointment. In a way, while I enjoyed the exploration of myself and another person, I was also somewhat unsatisfied with the lack of experience, or perhaps lack of leadership in the bedroom. I became a power bottom, which was not the role I had originally envisioned for myself.
However, this is not to say that I blamed my hookup for my dissatisfaction; rather, I understood that we were both inexperienced and bound to not fully understand how to pleasure each other. But I do recognize that I put in a large amount of effort in pleasuring my sex partner, particularly with oral sex and the various positions I attempted. Also, I had to ask my hookup if he wanted to give me oral sex in return, and while he agreed, I was left wondering why he didn’t offer before. I figured, and I still figure, perhaps naively, that it was due to his inexperience.
Only after hooking up with another person did I realize that my attempts to pleasure my sexual partners were not going to be reciprocated. While I don’t necessarily expect to orgasm each time I have sex, none of my partners, while limited in number, have ever made me reach a climax or offered oral sex, despite me doing both for them. I came to the conclusion that men don’t prioritize the sexual pleasure of their partners, but rather, their focus is largely centered on their own sexual gratification.
I resisted my initial cynicism until my friend had her own hookup with a straight man within the following weeks. Unfortunately, to no surprise, her hookup had not offered any form of oral sex but still expected her to pleasure him orally. Instead of treating sex as a mutual trade of pleasure, he placed his own needs before my friend’s and cared very little for her enjoyment. After talking with her and comparing our experiences, her hookup only served to confirm the suspicions about men I had previously avoided to shield myself from the orgasm-less reality.
Of course, men centering their own sexual pleasure did not come as a complete shock to me. After all, I have heard plenty of stories from women about straight men using them for sex and not giving any oral, but I was somewhat surprised that this issue carried into the queer community. I suppose I expected that people who fall outside of heteronormative expectations would be more critical of dominant society and more introspective on the ways in which it has influenced them. Perhaps more than I was disappointed sexually, I was disappointed socially, ashamed of other queer men for mimicking their straight male counterparts.
From a very young age, boys are socialized to prioritize themselves and their own feelings at the expense of other people, and as they become men, this aspect of their personality does not disappear unless it is actively challenged. Unfortunately, both because they were socialized in similar ways and because many of them don’t fit into the traditional expectations of manhood, many queer men cling to heteronormativity, which plays a role in their sexual experiences.
In a way, the sexual relationships of straight men and women — which are riddled with issues — are emulated by queer people, and given the experiences with my hookups, many queer men, at least that I have observed, are unaware of the influences of heterosexual society on their lives. Those that are aware choose to embrace heteronormativity beyond the sexual as an attempt to be accepted by a society that will forever condemn them.
While I don’t expect that I can solve the issues of queer men prioritizing their own sexual gratification similar to their straight counterparts, I recognize that I can choose to analyze the ways in which heteronormativity has influenced my own life, both sexually and nonsexually. That way, I can at least challenge the society which has imposed itself onto me.
Joaquin Najera writes the Tuesday column on sex. Contact him at [email protected].