ANONYMOUS Straight couples could learn a thing or two about love from the LGBTIQ+ community.

50 Shades of Grey didn’t help. The book and film were so locked into the old heterosexual script of “dominant, cruel male overwhelms and controls submissive female” it should have been called One Shade of Grey. The fact that this badly written, boring book sold so well, suggests a lot of straight women bought it to get inspiration for their sex lives. Sadly, fifty variations of straight sex based on traditional gender roles is not variation, it’s not even fifty flavours. It’s like eating the same vanilla ice cream fifty times. Or looking at white paint swatches at Bunnings and pretending to see the difference between two types of white.

A different approach could be to let go of gender roles and heteronormative* sexual roles limiting straight couples and look to LGBTIQ+ or queer culture for inspiration. Why not get your queer on and try all colours of the rainbow?

We already know LGBTIQ+ couples are better at relationships than straight couples. By ‘better’, I am referring to several rigorous academic studies finding queer couples divide work and handle conflict more equally and fairly. Queer couples demonstrate more humour, honesty, positive emotion and sexual openness in their relationships. They are measurably happier and more sexually satisfied. Here’s a few of those studies.

www.washington.edu/news/2003/10/20/gay-lesbian-couples-can-teach-heterosexuals-how-to-improve-relationships/

www.nytimes.com/2020/06/01/parenting/relationship-advice-gay-straight

www.uq.edu.au/news/article/2017/12/gay-relationships-can-be-happier-hetero-study-finds

These studies’ authors argue the increased happiness levels are partly because queer couples are not as confined to gender roles around the house. Studies of large cohorts over the past twenty years found queer couples tend to discuss and divide household tasks based on individual preferences, aptitudes and fairness more than straight couples.

As well as being better at divvying up housework, the queer community could teach the straight community a thing or two about how to have sex. Why has this not happened already? If straight men can take fashion, dating and decorating advice in “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”, why can’t straight men and women take sex advice from LGBTIQ+ people? I’d say the answer is homophobia. Straight people have told me they believe certain practices are only for gay people.

Thirty years ago (when I was a teenager) I patted my boyfriend’s cute butt (over his jeans) and he grimaced and squirmed and said “Don’t do that, I’m not a poofter”. A gay friend told me he knows some men don’t do prostate stimulation because they think it’s gay. Young straight women who’ve asked me how lesbians have sex were horrified, speechless and freaked out when I told them.

These limiting beliefs are like opening a menu and only ever ordering the burger and chips because ordering anything else says something about your identity. How crazy is that?

This limited sexual repertoire might go some way to explaining why a lot of straight women don’t orgasm during sex. Part of the reason I wrote this article is the consistent data on the “orgasm gap” showing around one quarter of straight women don’t climax during sex with a male partner.

Recent studies confirmed there is a big gap between the proportion of straight women (65 per cent) and men (95 per cent) climaxing during sex.

Of lesbian participants in the same study, 86 percent reported orgasming during sexual activity. So over 20 per cent more women climax in lesbian relationships than in straight couples.

Perhaps some frank conversations between queer and straight women might go some way to rectifying this situation?

I am not a member of and don’t speak for the LGBTIQ+ community (though I’m familiar with it cos half my friends are queer and they tell me stuff. They are more open about sex than my straight friends). I’m an ally of the queer community and have observed way less confict within queer relationships than the straight couples in my friendship circles. And I’m aware of a few myths about gay sex that need to be put to bed. Yeah, yeah, pardon the pun.

It’s no great secret that the LGBTIQ+ community enjoy a wider range of sexual practices than straight people. For example, it’s a myth that sex for gay men always involves anal penetration with a top and a bottom. Some gay men do that and some do not. Ever. Tinder recently acknowledged this with a new option for people to ID themselves as a ‘side’ instead of a top or bottom. Sides might prefer to kiss, hug and engage in oral sex and mutual masturbation. I realise a lot of straight people would regard these practices as not really having sex, because they don’t involve penetration and that’s part of the problem right there. The definition of sex need not revolve around penetration.

And while we’re putting myths to bed, lesbian sex is not confined to butch or femme roles or oral sex. Do some research if you’re curious?

Maybe think about it using an IT metaphor. We can’t easily change our hardware but we can upgrade our software so we can reconceptualise how we experience our hardware for pleasure and intimacy.

If we step back from the heteronormative definitions of sex and embrace a wider range of sexual practices everyone wins. I’m not saying we take straight man-woman missionary off the menu. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being masculine or feminine or endless variations of each. I’m saying let’s have a wider menu and not just because it means better sex.

It’s bad enough to impose heteronormative sex on straight couples but studies show this is often internalised by queer people with negative impacts on their self-esteem, self-identity and mental health.  This is the bigger picture. We need to let go of the heteronormative models of sex altogether because they serve no-one. Many queer activists didn’t support Equal Marriage legislation because they don’t believe in making LGBTIQ+ community fit in a straight box of marriage or relationships. Some queer activists are rejecting straight definitions of sex and relationships as restrictive, limiting and excluding of those who simply can’t conform. “Let a thousand flowers bloom”, one gay activist friend said to me.

But wait, there’s more.  Expecting everyone to conform to conventional roles in relationships goes against the evidence that queer relationships are happier and more sexually satisfying because they are less influenced by those old fashioned gender roles. As Jacqui Gabb says in her paper The relationship work of sexual intimacy in long-term heterosexual and LGBTQ partnerships:

“The absence of normative sexual scripts enables queer couples to more readily manage sexual discrepancies. Gendered differences and inequalities persist within many heterosexual relationships while reflexivity and increased openness characterize queer coupledom.”

“Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” was a ratings success and not just with queer audiences. It had a significant cultural impact and showed straight people can benefit from being open to learning a thing or two from their gay friends. Watching the show, I noticed the straight guys getting makeovers seemed to feel new again and have their eyes opened to different ways of living. As the theme song went “All things just keep getting better”. Could straight sex benefit from a queer makeover?

I propose we stop playing it straight and let go of the binary definitions of gender roles and of gay and straight sex. Everyone stands to benefit if we widen the scope of the erotic in all relationships.

And take a little walk on the wild side.

 

* Heteronormativity is the concept that heterosexuality is the preferred or normal mode of sexual orientation. It assumes the gender binary (i.e., that there are only two distinct, opposite genders) and that sexual and marital relations are most fitting between people of opposite sex. A heteronormative view therefore involves alignment of biological sexsexualitygender identity and gender roles. Heteronormativity is often linked to heterosexism and homophobia. The effects of societal heteronormativity on lesbiangay and bisexual individuals can be examined as heterosexual or “straight” privilegeWikipedia

 

Useful links

https://kinseyinstitute.org/research/publications/kinsey-scale.php

https://start.omgyes.com/join

Joyful snippet from How to have a better female orgasm. SBS Viceland   https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=306507504044011

Netflix ‘Explained’ documentary on female orgasm https://www.netflix.com/au/title/80216752?trackId=155573560

 

 

 

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