by Kevin Rigby, Jr.
My body is a process unfolding.
In sex, that process is versatile and wanting. It’s vulnerable and unfinished – unraveling and explorative.
I have a lot of sex. I need to put that out there before going forward. It’s something to do; it’s something satisfying; it’s something fun, necessary, and by itself, unattached to particular deeper traumas.
For me, it’s often transactional; log on to Jackd, strike up a brief conversation, wait impatiently, open the door, nut, close the door – often repeat.
Generally, this routine works well for me. It’s not intensive. It’s usually brief, and easy. As a body unfolding however, I’m learning that it leaves a crippling amount to be desired.
I don’t mean to start on an uninspired rant about how my community’s geo-social hookup app culture ruins intimacy or dating. I’m a staunch opponent of that argument and believe that hookup apps and that culture serve a purpose not absolutely related to our desire for love and intimacy, however often the things are tied up together.
What I’m learning about hookup culture however, is that it leaves little room to explore and know my body. My sex is relegated to a quickest-route-to-nut process that is often unimaginative and routine, not leaving room to communicate, to explore, to like and dislike, to heal, to be present, to want, or to learn.
This is problematic because what I know to be true is that I cannot enter a space wholly, cannot give myself to someone, a movement, or chance, without being able to know and articulate my process. This is particularly troubling for me as a queer Black man, and as a survivor of multiple sexual assaults. What it means for me to be able to talk about my body, where I like being touched, how I like to feel – and what it means for me to be able to explore these things, freely and safely, is invaluable.
This open and vulnerable space is where I want to re-center my sex. This is my first step.
I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t center this conversation in my sex process’s most intimate and vulnerable space. As a survivor of sexual assault, my greatest anxiety is the control of my body during sex.
This manifests itself in different ways. From being able to say where and how I want to be touched, and that being heard and respected, to being given the space and time and patience to find what makes me feel good relative to another person’s body, having control over my body is singularly the most important part of sex for me.
I’m finding that hook up culture strips me of this particular kind of control. While I get to say yes, the impersonal and transactional nature of hooking up has a silencing effect on me as a survivor. It doesn’t provide the amount of space and time I need to move beyond yes to ‘this is where’ and ‘this is how’. Hooking up often feels like a one size fits all hat inspired by unimaginative professional porn.
What’s left for me, is an icky feeling; an uncomfortable and nagging voice in my head that is left unsatisfied and blames me for being unable to dictate the terms of my sex openly and freely.
This makes sex stressful for me. This makes sex taxing, laborious, mechanical, unmemorable, and to an extent, antagonistic. This makes sex unimaginable in that I cannot see and place myself in the situation in a way that is whole, fulfilling, and healing for me. This makes sex, regardless of my consent, a space of trauma.
There is no instance in which this trauma is more realized than when I bottom. To me, being a receptive partner during anal sex is one of the most personal, delicate, and careful acts one can do. I don’t mean to paint a picture of sex as always needing to be gentle and flowery to not be traumatic – a boy can fantasize about getting dug out with the best of them – but for me, regardless of the rigor of the experience, getting fucked is still the most selfless, and vulnerable part of sex. So sex being a place of trauma in which I feel muffled, unheard, and without the space to find what makes me feel good, being asked to be my most vulnerable seems especially stressful at best, impossible at worst.
What I’m learning is that I might need to take a step back from hooking up. Not from having sex, or Jackd or Grindr necessarily, but from the hook up mentality. I recently had amazing sex that was communicative, fun, and patient. I got to talk about my kinks, he got to talk about his and we met somewhere in the messy, mutually satisfied middle. I left feeling tired, admittedly, but healed and whole. I’m learning that I need to center myself in a way that prioritizes walking away from sex with that feeling every time – at least until I’m comfortable enough with myself, my body, speaking, and my consent to re-enter the impersonal world of hooking up, but definitely for now.
My body is a process unfolding. A process that needs room to scream, explore, moan, make messes, laugh, and speak boldly on what makes me feel good. It’s a process that demands a sex that prioritizes myself, my healing, my voice, and my consent. It’s a process that takes time and requires patience. It’s a process that demands a sex that is explorative and uninhibited, open and honest on both (or however many) ends. It’s a process that needs to be able to say ‘Fuck yes, that feels good, do it again.’ and ‘No, touch me here, like this.’
I’m working on imagining a sex in which I feel whole and possible. I’m working on imagining a sex in which I don’t need to rush to my nut, rather a sex in which I can stop and linger and lick and fuck and suck my way into a far more fulfilling climax. And I’m learning the first part of that is insisting on being able to talk.
So I mean … what’s up?
Kevin is a 20 year old, gay, Black boy, stumbling his way through university, sex, race and the movement. He can be reached on facebook and Instagram @r.gby