From Closeted to Comfortable

At twenty years old, I have by no means conquered all of my personal anxieties or insecurities about sex and sexuality. But after spending years trying to deny it, I can say that I have finally come to terms with the fact that I am a sexual being.

For most of my life, I have conceptualized my sexuality as separate from the rest of my body, intellect, and soul. This schism between my sexuality and the idea I had of my ‘Self’ cut me deeply during some of what could have been the best years of my life.

Too many years have passed me by in which I have struggled to hide my sexuality not only form those around me but from myself.

I can still remember the first time I masturbated. I was in sixth grade and I think I got the idea from an episode of Friends.

It took weeks of me masturbating against pillows and objects for me realize that I could use my own bare finger.

“But it’s so gross,” I would think. “I can’t touch there!”

Even as I pleasured myself, I hated my body. And each time I climaxed, I promised myself not to do it ever again before falling asleep with guilt weighing heavy on my heart.

My first sexual relationships with partners were just as fraught with shame and reluctance. I went to a small, private school in North Texas where sex was rarely discussed, even in health class. What I did learn about sex was that boys wanted it all the time and that girls should never give in because then we would grow up to be bad wives and mothers.

So last night as I cleaned my vibrator at my sink while chatting with a friend through the open bathroom door, I realized how far I’ve come as an individual with regards to accepting my own sexuality.

But the comfort I have finally achieved did not come without the help of others. I am indebted to resources like Scarleteen for reminding me that my sex life is not my defining characteristic and that being kinky doesn’t equate to being degenerate.

The open arms of the sex-positive movement welcomed me when I felt at my lowest and most closeted. Most importantly, the comforting embrace of the sex-positive movement has taught me that none of the my sexual desires have any bearing on my ability to be an intellectual and a decent human being. No matter how kinky I may be, I know that I can be a wonderful wife and mother, if I so choose.

I remember visiting when I was still in high school and I blushed at words like “masturbation”. But curiosity coupled with my desire to find out if I was indeed a “pervert” (a possibility that sincerely scared me) kept me coming back to Scarleteen.

When I finally got to college, I made it a point to try to help other young people who felt like I had in high school: that they had to keep tabs on their sexuality in order to be "good people".

Now I talk about sexuality constantly. Whether it be with my friends or through my positions as a sex columnist, peer educator, and activist for gender equality, sex has become a hot topic in my life and I can't see my passion for it dwindling any time soon. I could never have come so far in my journey as a sexual being if I hadn’t found the unbelievable friends, advocates, and resources that have encouraged me along the way.

Today I am delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to, the very place where I began my journey to understand sexuality. I hope some of my words can help you and provide you with perspective and comfort at a time when you may be struggling with some of the questions that I had to come to terms with.