Recently, a man told me he wanted to sleep with me.
In my line of work, this isn't particularly unusual. I'm a sex worker, deriving the bulk of my income from a combination of pornographic performance and professional domination. When your job is to give the convincing appearance of being sexually confident, desirable, and perpetually sexually available, men -- the preeminent consumers of my content and services -- often feel entitled to that access.
It's a wonder I came out as a queer woman before I realized how terrible this sort of onslaught can be -- whether it's innocent conversation turned invasive with lewd propositions, running commentary on my body parts, erotic predilections, and the tenor of my voice when I climax, or even threatening letters should I not immediately respond to an email. For whatever reason, many men seem to throw acceptable social boundaries out the window when it comes to sex workers.
Not only do straight folks and LGBT people have different ways of hitting on their favorite porn stars, but the two communities possess and promote contradicting perspectives on safe sex. And that makes having safe sex with men so much more difficult.
Safe sex is cool in the LGBT community
In the LGBT community, being safer-sex savvy makes you one of the cool kids. It makes you more desirable as a friend, fuck buddy, or partner, and helps legitimize you as an ethical, intelligent individual. In mainstream society, however, straight folks are still told that safe sex is tragically uncool. That it is somehow less connective than fluid-bonded sex, that it dulls sensation, and is inherently non-erotic. Combine these sentiments with the societal disease I see as fragile masculinity, and you have a population of men (though of course not all) who feel entitled to unprotected sex... and a population of women being pressured into having sex that isn't as safe as they would have originally liked it to be for fear of hurting men’s feelings.
These misconceptions are so pervasive that when faced with a potential sexual scenario with a man, even my logical, experienced, queer-as-fuck sex educator brain reverts back to its vulnerable adolescence and believes them.
Over time, my desire for people operating within a rigged system faded
My waning desire for men over the years is not unlike what happened to my love of stand-up comedy. When I was a kid, I used to wait until my parents had gone to sleep to sneak downstairs and turn on Comedy Central specials. But as I matured, so did my understanding of patriarchy and oppression. When you finally realize you're surrounded by a system designed to keep marginalized communities poor, quiet, and complacent, the tools employed by many stand-up comedians -- sexual objectification of women, profiling people of color, stereotyping LGBT individuals -- stop being so hysterical.
So too is it no coincidence that the farther I drew myself into the loving, supportive, protective arms of sex workers, feminists, and queers, the farther I felt myself growing from my desire for men.
And yet, I couldn't shake men entirely
The problem is, I didn't want my desire for men to wane. I had consistent sexual and romantic relationships with men throughout my teens and early 20s, and even as I came into my queer identity I still sought their companionship. But as I became more culturally and politically conscious, well, good men became harder and harder to find.
While I've been fortunate enough to work with a few genuinely ethical men on a handful of porn sets (men I'd personally hand-picked to perform with me) it's been more than four years since I've had any consistent intimate contact with them outside "the office." Considering how heterosexually slutty I was in my formative years, even acknowledging this feels alien.
Which brings me to the man of the hour. Let's call him Aaron. Technically, I pursued him. I'd been in what I affectionately refer to as a "dick drought" for some time. I have several incredible female and transgender partners, but my life is one best enjoyed balanced, and I'd been craving the masculine energy so enjoyed in my youth for far too long. So, with blessings from my partners, I approached a friendly acquaintance who I knew to be "safe."