The Queerness is pleased to run a guest piece on the issue of LGBTQ+ sexual health to mark World Sexual Health Day on 4th september.
Gender identity and sexual orientation can be difficult concepts to comprehend when they don’t align with the cis or heteronormative education you were probably once taught in your health class. Whether you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer/questioning, your sexual health matters. Unfortunately, though, it can oftentimes be challenging to find accessible information and resources when it comes to understanding your body. Luckily, we’re here to help — since September 4th is World Sexual Health Day, what better way to celebrate than by gathering a better understanding of yourself and your LGBTQ+ community?
As an LGBTQ+ person, your health needs are likely unique compared to someone who is cisgender/heterosexual — and that’s perfectly okay! The differences between you and another person should not, and do not, take away from your right to learn about your body and the best ways to be healthy and stay safe. If you’ve already spent hours searching the internet to try and find the answers to your health-related questions, look no further.
Safe Sex Tips for LGBTQ+ People
Before you engage in any type of sexual activity, here are a few things about sex and your sexual health to consider:
1. Be Aware of Your Sexual-Health Status
If you’re aware that you have an STD (a sexually-transmitted disease) or an STI (a sexually-transmitted infection), you should always, always be upfront and forthcoming with your partner. It doesn’t matter what sexual act is being performed; fingering, anal sex, vaginal sex, or oral sex are all types of behaviour that can put the other person at risk. Not only that but depending on your medical condition, you might also hinder you and your partner’s sexual experience. For example, if you have chlamydia, you may be suffering from other sex-related health complications like erectile dysfunction. No matter the type of STD or STI, when revealing your sexual health status to a partner, it’s important that you gather all the information on the condition so you can answer any question they may have ahead of time. As the saying goes, “honesty is the best policy.”
2. Stay Protected
One of the most valuable ways to protect you and your partner’s sexual health is by talking about the best ways to prevent STDs and the types of protection available. For instance, latex condoms, if used correctly and consistently, are one of the most effective defenses that help to reduce the risk of STI or STD transmission. If you’re looking for contraceptives, condoms and birth control are the most popular forms, but there are many other types to think about. Whatever you choose, just make sure it’s reliable for the sexual experiences you enjoy and work best for you.
3. Set Boundaries
All healthy, satisfying relationships have boundaries. If you’re new to the LGBTQ+ community, setting boundaries during intercourse and other sexual acts can be especially beneficial for you and your partner because it will help alleviate the tension that can come from immersing yourself in unfamiliar territory. To set your own, specific boundaries, the best thing to do is be upfront about your dos and don’ts. “Do pull my hair.” “Don’t choke me.” The more specific, the better. It’s imperative to keep your communication open and genuine. It is the only way you can guarantee you’ll both be satisfied at the end of the day. Another idea to establish your personal sexual boundaries is by setting a “safe word.”
4. Communication & Consent
Communication and consent are two crucial factors that are necessary for a positive sexual experience. It’s vital that both you and your partner are comfortable and ready to be intimate with each other before anything actually unfolds. While it is true that communication and consent do typically go hand-in-hand, there are a couple of notable differences.
● Communication – Beyond communicating personal boundaries, contraceptive options, and sexual-health status, there are subject matters you’ll probably want to discuss before you go ahead and jump into bed with someone. Although these conversations usually differ from person to person, a couple of topics that you might want to talk over are sexual orientation, preferred sexual behavior, and genetic history.
● Consent – Consent can be conveyed in different forms. From expressed consent to implied consent, it’s necessary that you receive your partner’s voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity with you. For best practice, always double-check with the other person to make sure they’re okay with what you’re doing.
No matter who you are or how you identify, your understanding of sexual health is essential to keeping you safe and protected. For more information on all things health and wellness in the LGBTQ+ community, check out the resources below!
● Project Trans – https://thecentersd.org/programs/transgender-services/
● The LGBT National Health Center – http://www.lgbthotline.org
● OutCare – https://www.outcarehealth.org/
● HOPES – https://www.nnhopes.org/
● Family Equality – https://www.familyequality.org/
● The Trevor Project – https://www.thetrevorproject.org/