Sexual Etiquette

Contraception and STIs

Performance problems

Serious Sex-related issues


Sex myths

Gay and Lesbian sex

Everyday couples, exceptional sex

Dear Diary, I had great sex today


Appendix: A Sex Dictionary

Hot And Cold In Sex


Gay and Lesbian Sex

Am I? Is he? What now?

The hostess ushers me into the living room. "This is Carrie and John," she says. Smiles all round. "And this is Peter and Mandy." Ditto. "..and Katie and Emma."
              It's pretty obvious from the body language that Emma and Katie aren't linked together because they're roommates. Images whirl in my head: tongues plunging, mouths sucking , breasts colliding. I blink rapidly and wonder why the minute I realize a couple is gay or lesbian, I immediately imagine the two of them in bed. After all, the other couples also have sex- why don't I automatically think of them doing 69s? "You focus on it because that's the point of difference," a lesbian friend later explains patiently. "But isn't that wrong?" I ask, nervous I'm guilty of some sort of subconscious homophobia. "No," she says, "It's normal." Fiona's incredibly tolerant of my many questions about her sexuality, as are all of my gay and lesbian friends. Pity some members of society aren't as tolerant of them.
              It always strikes me as odd that anyone should take exception to what people do behind closed doors. In classical Rome, ancient China, and pre-colonial America, homosexual sex was a part of everyday life. In Greece, it was common. Unfortunately, the liberal attitude was not always the popular opinion. Homosexuals have suffered under legal and social discrimination even in this century. But in 1969, in New York City's Greenwich Village, amid the rising tides of civil rights and antiwar movements, gay men had finally had enough of the persecution. As the police attempted to raid a small bar called stonewall, the men took to the streets in protest. And discovered that men throughout the neighborhood were just as tired of having to keep their lives in the shadows. This one night of protest was the spark of a new era of activism, which has led to a greater acceptance of gay, lesbian, and bisexual lifestyles throughout North America.
              But even with the major strides achieved since stonewall, whispering, ostracism, and petty slights are dealt out to gay and lesbian people daily throughout the world. It's not easy being gay or lesbian. It's not easy being different from the majority in any sense. This chapter is not just for people who are confused about their sexuality or having difficulties coming to grips with being gay or lesbian, it's for "straights" as well, most particularly those who find the topic slightly distasteful. Do yourself a favor if this is you: read it. You just might learn something.

Am I Gay?

As the advice columnist for Australian Cosmopolitan magazine, I often receive letters from readers asking if they're gay. A simply enough question, they figure, but actually, it's not that easy to answer. As the psychologists, activists, counselors, and gay, lesbian, and bisexual people I spoke to verified, all of us have a male and a female side. Which part of you is going to be dominant for life is anyone's guess.

What do "gay" and "lesbian" mean?
              If someone says they're gay or lesbian it usually means they have sexual relationships with the same sex and have adapted their lifestyle to suit. Terms like "gay" (men who have sexual relationship with men), 'lesbian" (women who have sexual relationships with women), "straight" or "heterosexual" (people have sexual relationships with opposite sex), or "bi" (people who have same sex and opposite sex relationships) are society's way of simplifying sexuality. But while it's nice and easy to plunk people into simple categories, real life is a little different.
              The fact is, our sexuality is fluid throughout our life. You may be "gay" for a period of months or years, then straight for the rest of your life, or vice versa. In prison, with no access to the opposite sex, some inmates becomes attracted to, fall in love with, or have sex with the same sex. Then, the minute they're out of jail, turn straight again. They're not the only ones who experiment. Lots of straight people have one or two sexual encounters with the same sex before deciding which sex suits them best. So a more apt definition might be, "I'm straight at the moment" or "I'm gay right now."

              . Gay students are give times more likely to skip school over fears of personal safety and four times more likely to have been threatened with a weapon while there. Not surprisingly, they have a 28 percent high school dropout rate.

Some people identify with one group very early, are sure of their choice, and that's the end of the story. Toward the end of adolescence or in our early adult years, most of us have figured out which group we "belong" to, especially if we've decided we're straight. It's not quite so easy if we think we're gay. It may take a few more years before you accept that, and you may struggle with all the sex related issues it throws up. Bisexual people are those who are quite comfortable with and equally attracted to both males and females. Some people consider them the most confused of all the groups. Others think, "How fabulous. They have the whole world to choose from!"

What makes someone gay or lesbian?
              Hundreds of thousands of studies have attempted to answer this question but, to date, there aren't any clear answers. Some tentative research points to a gay gene- that different structures of the brain may dictate our sexuality- but even that's not conclusive, and there's no concrete proof. The only thing scientists are reasonably certain of is this: if there is a biological factor at play, it will only be one factor of the complex events that shape our sexuality.

How can I tell if I'm sexually curious or seriously gay or lesbian
              One in four American men have had a sexual experience with another male during their teen or adult years. that statistic includes everything from having a major crush on a same-sex teacher to actually having sex with the same sex. Of those who do experiment, the majority decide it's not for them after all. Others need to explore further before they decide. Some people stop having homosexual sex because they enjoy it with both sexes and it's less stressful and easier to be straight because that's what society accepts as normal. Others opt for casual sex with the same sex and relationships with the opposite for the same reason.

              . I felt so isolated and didn't know any other lesbians. Eventually, I had to more to the city where I thought I'd be more accepted. I joined a support group immediately and was all set to attend my first meeting except I didn't go- I just couldn't walk in that front door. I called the people who ran the group the next day and told them, and they invited me to come into the office and have coffee. I did, got over my fears and my world changed from one of frustration and depression to feeling alive and good about myself." Fiona, 30, personal assistant.

It's probably best if you don't try to fit yourself neatly into one box. Some people have always known they're either exclusively homosexual or heterosexual and never, ever waver. Lots of others aren't sure where they fit in. how can you tell? The closet I can get to a definite answer seems to be this: you'll know you're gay if it feels right for you and if you're consistently and repeatedly drawn to the same sex and rarely or never to the opposite. Try to be honest with yourself. Are you fighting being gay because you're scared of rejection if people find out? Some people feel gay but when they look out at the visible, public face of the gay community, either feel they don't fit in the there either or don't want to. Ask yourself, what sort of relationship would satisfy me most at the moment? You don't have to make a decision for life.
              As for finding our "for sure," start by working through your feelings and emotions. Seek counseling if you don't seem to be getting anywhere (most states have gay and lesbian counseling services). Two or three sessions might make things crystal clear. The counselor will focus on areas which may be holding you back from "admitting" you're gay (like how your family will react, concerns about not having children, etc). Once these concerns are addressed, you'll be less anxious about the consequences and more likely to unearth your real inclination.

              . Gay women have the best time in bed- at least that's the conclusion of a recent sex survey. Thirty-nine percent of lesbians surveyed said their last sex session lasted more than one hour, with only 15 percent of heterosexual women claiming the same. Only a fifth of the straight women had multiple orgasms compared to over a third of the lesbians. Gay men also clock up more orgasms per week than straight ones.

You may decide you need to sleep with the same sex, the opposite sex, or both before you can truly be sure. If you feel comfortable with that, go for it- just make sure you practice safe sex and don't get into dangerous situations. Know beforehand what you're prepared to do sexually and negotiate with your partner until you're sure they understand what you're hoping to get out of sex with them. Don't do it if it's going to get ugly with someone forcing you to continue if you don't want to. It's probably safer to meet someone through a support group and get to know them a little than it is to turn up at a gay or lesbian bar and take potluck. One word of warning for guys who are thinking of sleeping with another man: it's not a sex myth that gay males are a high-risk group for HIV. You must wear a condom during anal penetration. Oral sex is low risk but if you've got cuts or ulcers in your mouth, or he does on his penis, use a condom.

              . Fifty percent of gay and lesbian youth are rejected by their families, 80 percent report isolation problems, and 93 percent of all students- gay and straight -hear antigay or lesbian comments in school.