While many people have heard the phrase “sex-positive” on progressive television shows or perhaps they even have a loose understanding of what it means to be sex-positive, there is still a great deal of confusion around the topic.
The sex-positive movement ultimately exists to promote and inform attitudes about sexual practices between consenting adults, despite how mainstream the practices are or are not. This is important because there is a great deal of judgment within the gay community about other people’s sexual practices and habits, which often cause personal shame as well as the idea that you can’t be open about what you enjoy when it comes to sex.
The movement focuses on safe sex, education, as well as the idea of coming to terms with your limitations and level of openness to new ideas.
This article will highlight ten examples of portraying a sex-positive attitude. The following list is not intended to serve as a ranking of the level of importance of these attitudes.
1. Know Your Status
When most people hear the phrase “know your status”, they assume that the person saying that is only talking about knowing if you are HIV positive or negative.
While this is understandable given the amount of education provided for HIV prevention and treatment, this is not the only STI out there and it is important to know your status when it comes to the full panel of possible infections.
This is necessary because, without this knowledge, you could be unknowingly spreading something that you are unaware that you’re even carrying. Not only does getting tested every 2-3 months if you are sexually active protect you, but it also provides peace of mind because you know where you stand without the fear of possibly having an STI without knowing it.
2. Educate Yourself
Luckily, we now live in a world where there is valuable and trusted information all over the place for knowing the facts about the spread of HIV/AIDS and other STIs.
This is important because there is still a great deal of ignorance in the world about how people become infected with HIV as well as who can be impacted by the disease. For example, there are many people out there who still think that only gay people contract HIV, these people are in the minority, but they still exist. Also, within the gay community, many are ignorant about symptoms and the fact that some infected people can be asymptomatic.
This is dangerous because there are people who don’t get tested because they don’t feel sick, which is not a safe way to gauge your status.
Knowing the facts about the spread of STIs not only protects you and your potential partners, but it also prevents you from spreading ignorance.
3. Don’t Jude
The sad reality of sex is that many people are judgmental of the practices that others enjoy simply because they can’t see themselves liking those same sexual acts.
While the sex-positive movement does not state that everyone needs to engage in every sexual act, it is still important to be aware of how their negative opinions can impact others. Many people are ashamed of perfectly safe sexual activities because of what others have said to them or because of what they could say.
For example, when it comes to fetishes there are a large number of gay men who have foot fetishes, however, most of them don’t even admit it to their partners due to potential judgment.
In order to embody sex-positivity, we must create a space where people don’t feel like they need to hide who they are, especially to their partners.
4. Speak Up
One of the great things about being a part of a friend group or even a local community is the fact that you can help set the tone.
If you support people who decide to be open about their sex lives by discussing details that are traditionally frowned upon, you begin to break down those barriers that stand in the way of a much-needed dialogue.
This does not mean you need to share intimate details about your sex life, but it does mean you can stop others from being judged for doing so.
5. Be Willing to Ask for Proof
Being sex-positive does not mean that you have to take people at their word when it comes to their status with STIs.
This is important because you have a right to protect yourself, which means it is perfectly okay to ask a potential sexual partner to share their most recent results with you. In a perfect world, you would not have to do this, but there are people who lie about their status.
For example, many dating apps such as Grindr have a section for status and most recent test date, but just because they fill that part of their profile out does not mean they are being truthful.
Of course, this information should never be used to shame anyone.
6. Realize That People Are Different
A major aspect of being sex-positive is embracing the idea that people find enjoyment in many different things and have different ways of living their lives.
For example, most gay men are taught that they should look for traditional two-person relationships, however, many people find that they are happier in a polyamorous relationship because it can provide more options.
This is the core of being sex-positive because it relates to people’s right to enjoys their sex, or not to, as long as what they are doing is consensual.
7. Establish Personal Guidelines
Being sex-positive means that you should be open to the idea of how people express themselves sexually without expressing judgment, but it does not mean that you have to partake in everything.
This is important because everyone has limitations and if you encounter something that exceeds yours you need to know that you do not need to be a part of it. This does not mean that you can’t support people who are into these acts that you are not, but it does mean that you always have a right to say no.
Consent is a major cornerstone of sex positivity and the movement’s goal is not to force people to do things that make them uncomfortable.
8. Attend a Sex Positivity Rally
There are many rallies, also called celebrations, that are designed to get rid of judgment and derogatory labeling based on how people dress or how they decide to conduct themselves in the bedroom.
One of the most famous ones is the SlutWalks, which happen in major cities across America and have huge turnouts.
This is important because it exposes you to some of the aspects of sex-positivity that you may not be aware of, which helps you embody the movement even more.
9. Outside Opinions Don’t Matter
Another important attitude for sex positivity is remembering that what other people think of you is none of your business.
What this saying from RuPaul means is that there are always going to be people who judge and you should try to combat that when you can, but not everyone is going to jump on board with progress. Some people prefer to remain in the dark ages and as long as they are not committing hate crimes, that’s okay.
Sometimes we do more harm to ourselves by stressing over opinions that will never impact our lives. In other words, you can’t save everyone.
10. Be Yourself
To embody sex positivity, you must be yourself.
This is because being sex-positive is about being comfortable within yourself as well as being able to express your true self during times that make sense for you, If you are not someone who wants to go to a march such as the SlutWalk, then don’t. This does not make you any less sex-positive, it just means that you know your limitations and that you have other ways to continue to educate yourself.
Sometimes people get the idea that you have to go everywhere and do everything if you are going to be sex-positive, but if you did that you wouldn’t be who you are. It’s okay to say no to things, it’s okay to not enjoy some things that many others do when it comes to your personal sex life, and it is perfectly fine to support people in your own personal ways.
Feeling forced to be something or do something you do not want to do is the opposite of the sex-positive movement.
There are many ways to be sex-positive just like there are many ways for people to be allies to communities that they are not a part of. It is important to remember that at its core, being sex-positive means that you value your and other people’s ability to exist and to express themselves in whatever way they see fit.
What being sex-positive does not mean is that you have to exceed your limitations by doing everything that everyone else does.