I’ve known for as long as I can remember that I experience romantic and sexual attraction to people in all kinds of bodies. I never questioned whether or not I was savvy enough to have an encounter with a cis man. But when I started dating a self-proclaimed gold star lesbian, I wondered if I knew enough about sex to razzle-dazzle her as I had with previous partners. After lots of soul searching, frantic Googling, and an open conversation with her, I was reminded that communication and consent were the only ground rules for sex.

Even though my fears were unfounded, this insecurity came from a real place. The only sex ed I received in the public school system was strictly cis-het. In the dark days of the 90s and early aughts, heterosexual encounters were presented as the only type of “real sex.” I was surrounded by exclusively cis-gender and straight representations of romance and relationship dynamics throughout my formative years. Even as I proudly and openly identify myself as a queer person in these much more inclusive times, deeply ingrained beliefs about sex that don’t serve me continue to linger.

Queer sexuality is an invitation to release shame and approach our identities with curiosity. When we make love outside the confines of the heterosexual binary box we are consciously and intentionally opening ourselves up to the possibility of healing and liberation from the ideas that have been imposed on us throughout our lives. It is an embodied prayer for the liberation of our true selves.

Here are some tips on how to escape the binary sex box if you find yourself continuing to define your queer sex life through a heteronormative lens.

Release dusty old binary sex rules

Do you find yourself still doubting the legitimacy of sex outside of penetrative sex? That’s a limited heterocentric understanding of sex. A broader definition of sex that allows more room for diverse sexual expression includes outercourse. This includes kissing, massage, masturbating, using toys on each other, dry humping, sharing fantasies, and being intimate without touch. Breaking free of binary rules opens up a whole new world of exploration and pleasure for both partners.

Talk about what you want

One of the most important things in any relationship is communication. Open up with your partner about what you’d like to explore in bed. Let them know what makes you feel good. Erogenous zones are all over the body. Give your partner, and even more importantly yourself, permission to include the full body and mind in your lovemaking. This will free you both to create a tailored sexual experience that makes you feel seen and deeply connected.

Respect your unique boundaries

Don’t worry about how someone else might perceive your boundaries. If you do not feel comfortable being touched in places that you believe other people feel comfortable being touched, respect your boundaries. Good sex is what is comfortable to you. A good partner will honor your boundaries.

If you experience gender dysphoria and don’t want all parts of your body to be included in sexual encounters, that is valid. Remember that no is a complete sentence. If the thought of trying to explain your experience as a trans or non-binary person to a cis partner makes your skin crawl, feel free to set the boundary without explanation. Simple statements, like “I don’t want to be touched there” or “That doesn’t make me feel good,” are sufficient.

Stay curious and open to experimenting

You might be surprised at how much pleasure you can derive from experimenting with a trusted partner. Letting go of inhibitions will be easiest with a non-judgmental partner. Many people hold back because they’re afraid they won’t measure up or they won’t look good in bed. Sex is meant to be enjoyable, not a chore or a performance piece.

If you don’t feel safe enough with your partner to talk about your performance concerns or are worried about looking cool, ask yourself what adjustments you can make to increase your comfort level. Would an open talk about your fears with your partner help? Do you feel more comfortable when the lights are dimmed? Would you like to stay partially clothed? Could limiting experimenting to one new activity per encounter make you feel at ease?

Your comfort and safety are paramount. If you know in your gut that experimenting is not for you or not for you at this time, celebrate and honor that self-awareness.

Queer sex challenges long-standing interpretations of what is considered “normal” or “correct” sexual expression. This can lead to increased enjoyment and satisfaction in any intimate relationship, regardless of orientation. Exploring new and different forms of sexual activity in partnership pays big dividends. This leads to increased intimacy, better communication, and a stronger relationship overall. Let your imagination be your guide and allow sex to be a joyful form of self-exploration and acceptance.

Dalia Kinsey

Dalia Kinsey

Dalia Kinsey is a queer Black Registered Dietitian, keynote speaker, the creator of the Body Liberation for All podcast, and author of Decolonizing Wellness: A QTBIPOC-Centered Guide to Escape the Diet Trap, Heal Your Self-Image, and Achieve Body Liberation. On a mission to spread joy, reduce suffering, and eliminate health disparities in the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC community, Dalia rejects diet culture and teaches people to use nutrition as a self-care and personal empowerment tool to counter the damage of systemic oppression. Dalia works at the intersection of holistic wellness and social justice, continually creating wellness tools and resources that center the most vulnerable, individuals that hold multiple marginalized identities. Dalia’s work can be found at https://www.daliakinsey.com/