Taking Control

Save an Uber, Ride a Cowboy is a column exploring queer millennial sex culture. The stories presented here are based on true events. Identities have been changed to protect the privacy and reputation of those involved. 

 

Travis was a 17-year-old person living in Towson, Maryland doing what 17-year-old people in Maryland do best (well, at least the gay ones): scrolling through Grindr.

Of course, Travis had completely fell into the stigma of signing up for the app prematurely, but in a small town, all you really want to do is see who else around you is like you. That’s how it started, anyway, but then it spiraled into them feeling wanted by older men in the way people their age wouldn’t and seemingly couldn’t reciprocate.  

Soon Travis realized they were being fetishized and shamed for almost everything. Being the younger one in the relationships, it made their partners feel as though they could say whatever they wanted. Treating Travis like a child, these men would tell them how to live their life, wanting them to change for their dick or ass. Adorning them with nicknames such as “tigger” because of their stretch marks, “overgrown twink” because of their weight, and even “my Darkie” as if it wasn’t downright racist because they used it as a term of endearment. Travis hated these men; although, they didn’t know it at the time. They would laugh at their bigoted jokes and took their degrading comments without objection.

There were men like Tom, the smug type. Tom was 32 when Travis met him, but that only made him all the more enticing. He’s not that much older than me, Travis thought, maybe it won’t just be sex, maybe he can be my forever. No matter how MTV circa 2003 that sounded, that’s was what Travis truly wanted.

Tom had an athletic build that excited Travis, with biceps that bulged as thick as his head, but it was still obvious he enjoyed a few beers a day.

He’d pick Travis up in his truck, and the pair would drive with the windows down on summer nights, often past midnight (the only time Tom was willing to see them). The sex was average, to say the least. An average guy with an average dick and an average personality — only abnormal thing was the size of Tom’s ego. However, Travis put Tom on a pedestal and worshipped him because they didn’t want this average man, his car rides, and mediocre love to vanish with the night’s warm breeze.

Travis had been through the ringer with men like this before, both older and younger. However, Tom was the cherry on top of all the vain and inconsiderate cunts.

Everything Travis would do was questioned, their insecurities always on the table, and their skin pigment always a kink. “Oh, fuck yeah, you like my big white cock in your chocolate ass baby?” Tom would say. “I love seeing my red throbbing cock disappear into your black darkness,” or the reoccurring, “Do I have the biggest dick of any white guy you’ve been with?” Constantly telling Travis they were too fat, how their folds belonged to him, that nobody else would ever want them. So of course Travis stayed… because at least Tom wanted them, right?

That was before Jo came along. Jo was a beautiful, confident, intelligent, sexy person. Jo was the first person Travis had ever met that used they/them pronouns, and they just blew everything they thought they knew away.

It started off as just another hookup, however it was imminent how different this was going to be despite the age gap of only three years. After their first time being with each other, Travis just laid there looking at them with all the admiration in world: their rich toffee skin tone, the makeup they donned on their eyes, the slight stubble at their chin. Jo was beautiful and so sure of themselves. Jo introduced Travis to new things like their sense of style. Travis had always worn clothes that didn’t conform to gender roles, but now they wore them with pride. Jo was an unapologetic colored person, and they helped Travis feel beautiful about their own dark complexion, reaffirming who they were to not only to themselves, but the people around them. 


Something that Travis never forgot was the sex. Jo opened their mind to a world of sexuality that they had never experienced before. 

“Ever fucked someone?” Jo asked.

“No, I’m a total bottom.”

Jo looked at them with a screwed brow and softly chuckled, “You know, your dick is important too, beautiful.” That was the first time Travis topped and when they realized they deserved to feel liberated in the bedroom just as much as anywhere else.


With the discovery of all these new found traits in themself, Travis cut off all ties with the toxic men they were seeing. Travis would never let anyone make them feel wrong, impure, or like a stranger in their body as long as they lived. It gave them the confidence to move to New York and be the person they always wanted to be. It inspired them to advocate for anyone who is oppressed within the tight chains of society.

Along this journey, Travis realized the LGBTQIA+ community had a million problems. Cisgender white men still rule and still step on any and everybody else. Other than their gayness, these individuals benefit from all the societal standards and systematic privileges given to cisgender white men everywhere. That shit didn’t fly with Travis, because the queer community is so much more than a bunch of white cisgender twinks (who seem to be the spokesman for queers in every form of media). It’s trans people, bisexual people, people of color, trans people of color; it’s the colors of a rainbow for a reason. 

Just because gays have been granted the right to marry, people believe that everything is fine within the queer community — it’s not. As a community that claims to accept people for who they are, they need to start actually doing that. Travis has come to terms that queer people can be whatever they want, but until they start taking control of their community, the community isn’t going to start advocating for all its members’ rights.

And as for Jo, Travis could never thank them enough for what they did for them, their body, their mind, their spirit. They have learned that they can be a voice and force to be reckoned with in a world of unjust principles — now that Travis has gained control of their own body.

Chronicles Of Receiving An Unsolicited Nude

8:42pm : I sink into my usual seat in the library. For some reason the idea of forcing myself to work tonight is especially exhausting.

8:50pm :  M playfully kicks my chair and reminds me to focus. When she turns around I visit my ex’s Instagram instead.

8:55pm : I finally crack open my Chinese book.

9:15pm : Some girls enter the room gossiping about the weekend’s events. Apparently everyone knows something that I don’t.

9:17pm : I see my phone light up. C sent me a Snapchat.

9:28pm : My unwillingness to translate modern Chinese prose provokes an unnecessary study break.

9:28:30pm : My left thumb instinctively unlocks my phone.

9:29pm : Remembering how aggressively C texted me two years ago when was packing at the end of the year makes me roll my eyes. I must have said no at least 5 times.

9:30pm : Fuck it. I open the Snapchat. Believing that this will be innocent feels like community service.

9:30:30pm : It’s a dick pic. No caption. No warning. No respect.

9:33pm : I’m immobile. I’m in shock. Consumed by anger I shake my head and think “You should have expected less from him”.

9:35pm : “Should I really have expected less from him? Shouldn’t I hold all people to a basic level of respect, consideration, and awareness?”

9:36pm :  M emphasizes how important it is to finish my Chinese homework. The girls nearby sound like ducks arguing over stale bread.

9:38pm : “There’s nothing sexy or attractive about this at all; C is trying to exert power over me”.

9:40pm : “The worst part about this is that there was no consent involved. The second worst part is how uncomfortable I feel”.

9:42pm : I know if I told him all of this he’d respond: “So if I can’t ask for them and I can’t send them when I want, what the fuck am I supposed to do?”

9:44pm : C sends another Snapchat. I delete the conversation and try to forget about it.

9:46pm : M tells me that I should have screenshotted them but I disagree. It’s not about revenge or putting someone else in a compromising position. I should not disrespect someone else as a request for my own respect.

9:50pm : I plan to demand an apology from him the next time I see him. This will not happen again. I did not ask for this.

9:51pm : Chinese homework clearly isn’t getting done tonight.

9:53pm : I continue to reflect on the situation. Sending explicit photos of oneself feels empowering because one is permitting themselves to be viewed in a vulnerable way. But if it’s not consensual then the act is a digital form of sexual violence.

9:54pm : “There is a reason that flashing people in public is a crime. Just because C’s acts are electronic does not make them any less serious, offensive, or dangerous.”

9:57pm : I take a snack break. A bottle of water and a funfetti cupcake costs $4 in the library café.

10:00pm : “Experiencing constant unwarranted, vulgar sexual advances from men in my vicinity and the media is exhausting. Especially as a black woman.”

10:04pm : Third attempt at finishing my Chinese homework.

10:23pm : “Where did he get the idea that this was okay? Porn? My body is not estranged from my character.”

10:25pm : The girls leave. The dramatic decrease in noise still does not ease my anxiety.

10:26pm : “My support for people’s exception of their bodies is strong, but this is sexual violence. I am not validating C’s behavior”.

10:28pm : I resolve to finish my Chinese homework by the end of the night. I will not let him affect my academic experience or mental health.

11:13pm : Chinese homework is done.

Am I Asexual?

Sexuality is something most people think about and question at one point in their life. For some, sexuality is simple and they know immediately who and what they are attracted to. But for others, like myself, it can be extremely confusing and the answer isn’t always black or white, but rather a spectrum, leaving some feeling very unclear. For me, my sexuality is something I am still very unsure of.

For as long as I can remember I’ve always hated the idea of intimacy, but it wasn’t until about 3 years ago that I discovered the term “asexual” and I really identified with it. Despite the fact that this word made sense for me, I had never met anyone who shared a similar experience and feeling. I honestly still haven’t. Asexuality is a sexual orientation- like being gay, straight or bisexual. The asexual visibility and education network states that, “an asexual is someone who does not experience sexual attraction.” About 1% of the population identifies as asexual, but there is considerable diversity among the asexual community. Each asexual person experiences things like relationships, attraction, and arousal somewhat differently. I remember my first kiss wasn’t until I was 16 and afterwards I went home and cried because I forced myself to do it in order to avoid comments about being a prude. Pretty much every single sexual encounter I have had since that point, whether I was kissing someone or fucking them was either non-consensual on my behalf or I was just doing it because I felt like I had to. Maybe my feelings that I’m asexual come from the fact that that the greater majority of my sexual experiences have been traumatic, or maybe I experienced them as traumatic because I’m asexual. I don’t know if I will ever figure that out, but for now all I know is I hate sex. I hate people touching me. I hate the idea of intimacy. And I am unsure if that will change or not. I can identify strongly as asexual today but that’s not a be all end all. That doesn’t mean I won’t change or figure out that maybe I just haven’t had a strong enough connection with someone to feel good about sex, but for right now that’s what I identify as.

        I often feel unsure about labeling myself as asexual because of the stigma associated with that sexuality. Here are some things that I urge you all not ask or say to someone who comes out to you as asexual because it is damaging and confusing to hear your sexuality constantly be de-legitimized and questioned.

  • “Maybe you just haven’t had good sex. You or your previous partner was probably doing something wrong.”

This is the thing I hear the most and it’s extremely frustrating and annoying to be confronted with. Firstly, please don’t assume you know anything about my sexual encounters. That is extremely invasive. Secondly, yeah. I haven’t had good sex. Being asexual for me means I am not interested in sex and I do not like sex, so therefore; any sex I have would not be “good” for me.

  • “Maybe you haven’t met the right person yet.”

This is something that people say and it suggests that we can be ‘fixed’ by meeting a certain someone. This isn’t how it works.

  • “So you’re gay then?”

No. Gay and asexual are two different sexual orientations.

  • “So you’re not attracted to ANYONE?”

Attraction and desire to have sex are two separate things. I can look at someone and think, “wow that person is really attractive,” but I don’t automatically fantasize about having sex with them. I think that’s the same for most people, no matter what sexual orientation you have. You can be attracted to someone but not feel the need or desire to fuck them.

  •  “Is it like a chemical imbalance?”

        No. Just no.

  • “Why are you so scared of sex? You must be a prude.”

Asexuality is not a fear of sex or relationships. Some asexuals surely do have a fear of sex, but that fear of sex is not correlated to their sexual orientation.

  • “How can you be asexual when you dress provocatively or and when you flaunt your body?”

How one dresses and presents oneself has no correlation to his or her sex life. Someone wearing a mini skirt is not asking for sex.

  •  Are you choosing not to have sex? Are you saving yourself until marriage? Are you still a virgin?

Asexuality is not an abstinence pledge and asexuality is not a synonym for celibacy. A lot of people who identify as asexual have had sex. This does not make them any less asexual. So don’t say, “but wait… you’ve had sex? How can you be asexual?” either.

Asexuality is extremely underrepresented in society and not fully understood as a sexual orientation. Most sexual research is on heterosexual orientations and when there has been research on non-heterosexual orientations they have almost solely focused on homosexuality and bisexuality, leaving out other identities such as asexual and pansexual to name a few. Little is known about the factors associated with asexuality, given that sexual attraction and sexual behavior are imperfectly correlated. In Anthony F. Bogaert’s “Asexuality: Prevalence and Associated Factors in a National Probability Sample” he states that, “Little is known about gender differences in the asexual population as well. However, it has been suggested that more women than men are asexual. Gender differences within some asexual studies were found regarding the importance of masturbating for describing asexuality: More women than men stated that ‘not masturbating’ was important when describing asexuality.” Additionally, some asexual individuals do experience sexual attraction toward others, but lack the drive to act on this attraction. This suggests that, to fully acknowledge the diversity within the asexual population, it is important that researchers distinguish between romantic and sexual orientation when asking about self-identification. Within the asexual community there are a complete variety of people who have different experiences and all of the things I have stated have been based on personal experience. Even if you can’t fully understand it’s important to have an open mind and to not worry so much about labels.