After my recent article discussing OnlyFans economics a couple of people picked up on the apparent contradiction between my declared sex positivity and the note I struck in the article. I think their critique is valid, and it made me think about how even a seemingly neutral tone can be the wrong approach when discussing sex work and sex positivity in general. Being sex positive and an academic should not mean that my writing must be overly neutral, and as such I think it is worth exploring what it means to be queer sex positive for me.
Growing up a British evangelical Christian gave me a very particular view of sex, with absolutely no conversation about queerness or queer sex other than to say that being queer was a lifestyle choice. It was this attitude that I took to university at 18, and one that quickly lost me more than one friend as I bumbled around trying to figure everything out. I was naive and really did not understand anything about queerness, queer sex, or what it meant to be queer sex positive.
What changed? The first step was renouncing my Christianity, though obviously no-one should have to do this to become queer sex positive. Letting go of my faith opened my eyes to just how much of a tit I had been about queer issues, and over the last 14 years I have tried to learn as much I can about queerness, and what it means to be a queer sexual being. The fact is that queer sex and queer sexuality is as personal as the person living it, no matter what I learn there is always fresh perspectives to account for.
This means that I will never have a perfect understanding of queerness or queer sexuality. Indeed, for anyone to claim to know the truth is dangerous because when it comes to sex and sexuality it is so subjective. There are always new voices waiting to be heard, new ideas and understandings to come to. For me, therefore it is essential to be queer sex positive, to approach queer sexuality, and sexuality in general, from a place of faith and trust, knowing that a person’s perspective is as valid and honest as your own.
Of course, you have the right to disagree, the right to join in a conversation, but this is not an invitation to be dismissive. Disagreement, or even simply having an enquiring mind, is a sign of the plurality of ideas that exist within the queer community and society at large. Being queer does not mean your sexuality is the definitive was of experiencing queer sex. To think that you have a monopoly on truth is dangerous, as it leads to being dismissive or worse.
For me this means that I need to treat my understanding as a journey rather than an end point. To be queer is so deeply personal, indeed to be a sexual being is to understand yourself from your own map of the world. No-one should ever seek to impose their personal perspective on others, but equally it is essential that you account for other people when developing your sense of self. Being queer is as much about the intersections we inhabit: gender, class, skin colour, biology, ethnic origin, physical ability and so much more. Those intersections collide, conflict, and make things complex, and the intensely personal collides with the other person’s intensely personal.
Being queer sex positive then becomes about accepting and understanding the other, seeing the beauty and complexity of sex and other people’s sexuality as part of the tapestry. Just because you do not understand does not mean that the other person’s approach to sex is invalid. This seems to be the key lesson I have learnt along the way, that to listen and have an enquiring mind is always the best approach. There is no absolute truth, just the subject sexual realities that we all have. That is why I am queer sex positive.