Shy Sex - Pride Series Vol 1
...so far I’ve been trying to write an introduction to this blog post for an hour. Writing, then deleting every five minutes or so. Maybe I’m struggling to start this because it’s not necessarily a natural thing for me to do. As outgoing, and honest as I am, I’m not someone who likes to share too many personal feelings. I’ve never spoken brutally and openly about my sexuality or sex before - not online, not in real life. I aim to be brutally honest here, so if you are squeamish, easily cringed out or just a little bit square, don’t read on. Detailed sexual endeavours feature.
I’m writing this because I went through so many confusing points with my sexuality and feelings on the subject of sex, and in all honesty if I had this to read when I was younger and going through those big life changes, I would have found comfort knowing someone else once felt the same. It feels right to approach this subject now and to create this series of Blog Posts for Pride month. As I’ve gotten older, as much as I enjoy and partake in the commercialised version of pride celebrations, I understand now, more than ever, how important it is to continue the conversations and to start the conversations. I didn’t have any sex education growing up, maybe two classes in my teenage life that were stripped down to the very basic biology, nothing I could emotionally relate to or connect with. So here’s my story, I hope you find it...educating.
WHO I WAS
Up until the age of twenty-one, I presumed I was straight(ish). I had a few girlfriends growing up, and a couple of lucky girls got to experience my attempts at sex. I use the word ‘attempts’ with intention because it was all a fumbling mess (pun not intended). Looking back there was never a specific moment where I felt I was trying to hide my sexuality. I didn’t feel like I was gay, or I was locking myself in a closet. At no point was it a huge anchor holding me down. Perhaps buried deep in my subconscious it was there - but it was never obvious. I remember seeing some gay porn early on and feeling enticed by any same-sex relationships on the TV at the time, but also I felt the same when I’d see a naked woman in a movie and I’d watch heterosexual porn too. I guess I never really acknowledged it as an issue, even though I would never talk about it openly.
I was at a point in my life where I’d finished college, and wasn’t sure what else was waiting for me, or what I wanted to do exactly. Actually, looking back I always knew what I wanted to do but at the time I didn’t have the confidence to do it. I was much more of an introvert in those days; my sexuality wasn’t to blame for that but it definitely played its part.
I’d often dreamt about travelling a little, and wanted to leave the family home. An audition came up for a holiday camp position, which I planned to use as a stepping stone to work abroad, so I went for it. No audition for anything I’ve had since compares to the nerves I experienced for this one little holiday camp job. Not because it was everything I dreamt about and desperately wanted but because of my insecurities at the time. I was shy and I had to walk in that room and act like I wasn’t. It took so much of me to walk through that door - and looking back my life changed because I did. (Giant metaphor for the ‘closet door’ anyone?).
I ended up getting the job and was thrust into a world I’d never known. The first two weeks were hell - I’d never felt so uncomfortable. I’ve been so lucky growing up in nice comfortable surroundings and then suddenly I found myself living with someone I didn’t know, in a place that literally looked like a drug-den. It was a tiny room with a tiny kitchen and a revoltingly dirty bathroom with no shower but a magnificently repulsive decayed bath. The job was great, the living conditions were bordering on inhumane. In the first week or so there were lots of tears and phone calls home but I knew I needed to stay, I wanted to prove to myself that I could. All the entertainment staff in the holiday camp lived in a row of chalets together. As mentioned, the first few weeks were really tough and I was feeling particularly vulnerable. There were a team of around ten or so people, we were all similar ages and everyone was super friendly. However, because I’d joined partway through the season, it was natural that there would be a few ‘clicks’ and stronger friendships had already formed in the group. When I first arrived there was a guy who appeared to be the friendliest towards me, so when feeling a little uncomfortable I naturally gravitated towards him. I was only there for a few days, but was finding my feet with how everything worked. After the final shift of the evening was done, most of the staff would usually head back to someone’s chalet for a few drinks. I remember there being a lot of us in the room all enjoying our drinks and I was definitely quite drunk. It felt really unexpected that it was suddenly just me and this guy alone.
It wasn’t a great experience and I believe even though I was twenty-one years of age, I still wasn’t ready for it in those circumstances. I didn’t have the confidence or feel secure enough to ask for it to stop. I remember thinking and shouting it so loud in my mind but it wouldn’t come out. I didn’t say no, but I didn’t say yes either. I don’t regret it happening, but for anyone reading this, you should be comfortable, you should know what you want and if you are unsure don’t doubt yourself - say something. Equally, if you are the other guy and your motives are fuelled by your sheer horniness, take a moment to actually ask “are you okay?” and just be aware of how the other person is feeling.
I think this experience did hinder my attitude towards sex and almost sent me the long way round to the comfortable destination I find I’m in now. After the deed had been done, I headed back to my own chalet, I remember sitting outside that night. I stayed up until the sunrise - I wasn’t sad, or happy, probably just perplexed about the whole thing. I remember it not being a big concern for me if people found out, the guy assured me he wouldn’t tell anyone, and I believed him. The day after, the guy’s attitude towards me turned slightly colder, which I was quite happy with to be honest. I didn’t want to talk about it and I didn’t want anyone to know about it, especially because I was still making sense of it. In this type of enclosed environment, time moves quickly, one thing can be the most important thing in the world one day, and forgotten about the next. The best way to describe living here is like living in the Big Brother house. Time did move quickly, and in the moment I felt this experience was done and buried, but now I can see in hindsight it affected me more than I thought. I would like to say though I had an amazing time here, made friends for life and created some amazing relationships, speaking of which...
A few months after, at the same holiday camp, another slightly grey area situation occurred, although not as dark grey, more light grey. I remember not really knowing if I wanted to, but I didn’t not want to either. Turns out I must of wanted to because the guy in question ended up being my first boyfriend, first love and more or less first a lot of things partner for two years. He was very confident with his sexual identity, and at the beginning of our relationship, me being not so confident added a dynamic where I felt I wasn’t actively choosing, which was nothing to do him. It was a confusing time for me and the impact of my first experience added to my indecisiveness. I didn’t want to make a decision, maybe to avoid admitting my sexuality in some way, so I accepted someone else making that decision for me.
It was a great relationship, we had our ups and downs of course but for the majority of time we were very happy. During our time together I got much more comfortable with my sexuality. He had been out and proud for a long time and his confidence with his sexual identity definitely helped me with mine. It was a long process for me and him sex wise. I was always quite nervous at the beginning so it was a gradual build up to new experiences. Credit to him for the patience.
It wasn’t until that relationship finished and the pain of the breakup ceased, where I actually started thinking about my own sexual identity again. I found myself a little lost in that respect. I’d only properly been with one guy and I felt like I didn’t know how to be with anyone else. In so many ways I came out of this relationship more confident than I’d ever been but sexually there was still a big grey cloud hanging over me. It’s hard to look back and remember now, but I used to hate talking about sex. Friends would have conversations about things and I would squirm inside.
It wasn’t until two years after the breakup that I had sex again. I was gradually becoming more and more confident with sex but still felt like there was this undertone of anxiety, as if I wasn’t actively choosing to do it and just going along with things. There were many years of this feeling. I’m not saying it was all doom and gloom, I still enjoyed sex for the most part but I never felt confident or in control in anyway.
There are more details to what happened next and how things really shifted for me; however I’ve decided I’m not going to share them.
This particular story is a piece of my own personal journey and a part of me worries by sharing this story, which I feel really helped me, could encourage someone else to make a choice that might not be right for them. Although it helped me, it might be detrimental for someone else reading this.
Basically, it came down to a black and white choice where I had to decide if I wanted to have sex. Yes or No option only. Up until this point, I’d never really felt like I’d made a clear-cut decision about sex and in regards to this particular instance there was potential for me to come away feeling vulnerable. This was my biggest worry. For a little while I battled with the pro’s and con’s, but deep down it felt right. I was ready to make a clear and direct decision so I went with it. After it happened, it was the first time I’d ever felt liberated after sex. It was one of those light-bulb moments. I felt like a gained power in myself, and broke down a wall that had been there ever since I could remember. At the age of twenty-five, it was a long time coming but for the first time I felt I made a clear choice, and because of that I grew sexually confident. It didn’t just happen, I chose for it to happen.
It's been a few years since my "lightbulb" moment and I've never felt more confident and secure in my own skin, which looking back on this journey, I am extremely grateful for. It sounds like a very simple solution now that I’ve wrote it down but sexual identity, sexual attraction and all sexual journeys are never simple. Everyone has their own stories; this is a little bit of mine. Thanks for reading x