For LGBTQ+ people, the Philippines’ sex education program is inadequate. Most modules are hetero-centered discussions that completely ignore LGBTQ+ identities. Although the Department of Education passed a policy last 2018 on a comprehensive sexual education program that seemed to cover all the bases, implementation in schools was still rocky. The belief that talking about sex will encourage more promiscuous behavior makes the topic still taboo for people.
But times are changing and people are becoming more sex-positive and more well-versed in how exactly multi-dimensional sex is. As more and more countries and cultures open their doors to LGBTQ+ people, we also have to face the fact that the community needs proper sex education too, especially for the young kids who are just coming to terms with their sexuality.
Although there’s a lot of online references, queer sex is extremely fetishized by people who don’t know any better so there’s a risk that search results will lean towards the porn type, which isn’t always helpful. So, to guide and inform the people who are just starting out or for those “veterans” who may need a refresher here’s a basic, gender-inclusive guide for safe LGBTQ+ sex.
Consent, the act of mutually agreeing to participate in any kind of sexual activity, should be the foundation of any sexual encounter. Even simple gestures like hand-holding or hugging should only be done after an enthusiastic “yes” from the receiver. Consent is a crucial step in sex but it doesn’t have to be a buzzkill. It can be as simple as asking “are you okay with this?” before taking anything further.
You also have to remember that getting consent to do this one specific thing doesn’t mean securing consent for any and all sexual activities until the end of time. Make sure to regularly check in with your partner. Aside from making them feel safe and respected, checking in at different stages will allow you to gauge if they are enjoying themselves.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)
While sex is a pleasurable and magical thing, it does come with risks. Worldwide, STIs are a prevalent health problem, but in the Philippines, the most common ones are syphilis, human papillomavirus (HPV), herpes simplex virus (HSV) and HIV infections. According to the HIV/AIDS and ART Registry of the Philippines, youth aged 15-24 make up 32 percent of reported HIV cases.
Like sex talk, people approach conversations about STIs with shame, but most can be easily managed or treated with prescribed medication and antibiotics. It’s when symptoms are undiagnosed and untreated that STIs present a real problem. Some ways you can prevent an STI are frequent testing, vaccinations and correct use of condoms, gloves and dams, among others.
Now, to the task at hand. There is no single right way to have sex. The broad spectrum of gender identity means that individuals can decide what sex means for them and they can even choose not to have sex at all. But these safety precautions are recommended for any person having sex with another person, no matter the sexual and gender identity.
Penetrative intercourse is the act of inserting a body part or a toy inside someone’s vagina or anus. One of the best ways to ensure safer penetrative sex is to use a condom. Use a fresh condom for any sexual activity and with new sexual partners. Condoms also have expiry dates so check that too; it’s best not to use that one in your wallet. When you’re using toys like dildos, make sure that the condom is replaced before it’s used on anyone else. You can also use lube to reduce friction, lessening the risk of a condom breaking. Lastly, dispose of a condom properly by securing the base ring during removal, especially if there are bodily fluids, so it won’t come into contact with your partner.
For people who are into anal sex, It’s not always necessary to douche as the rectum is good at keeping poop from prematurely gushing out. But if flushing out the rectum with water can help you be more comfortable with poop-related concerns, go for it! It’s best to just use water as soaps may act as an irritant to sensitive skin and can even upset the rectum’s natural balance. For first-timers into anal play, invest in a good lubricant and bring your patience with you. Compared to the vagina, the anus doesn’t self-lubricate, so it takes a lot of relaxing and foreplay before you can begin without that much pain.
If you have penetrative sex using your hands, make sure that it has been washed with non-scented soap and water. Short fingernails are recommended in order to prevent cuts. Be careful of using fingers that have open wounds or scratches, especially if they’re not cleaned or sanitized. If you touch yourself, use another hand to touch your partner(s) or you can also go wash up before touching someone else.
One of the best ways to practice safe oral sex is to make sure that there’s a barrier between the mouth and the genitalia. For penises, condoms usually do the trick. For mouth-to-vulva or mouth-to-anus sex, dental dams, a thin and flexible sheet of latex, are recommended. They are big enough to cover the entire vaginal or anal area. Dental dams naturally stick to the body because of moisture so don’t press it too tightly against the skin to lessen friction. You also have to make sure to keep it in place to lessen the risk of contact.
Dental dams aren’t widely available in pharmacies and convenience stores but you can always try buying online or at an adult store. Another alternative for dental dams is latex underwear, most of which are available online. If you’re still having a hard time getting ahold of dental dams or latex underwear, cutting a condom into a sheet works too. As with penetrative sex, make sure to dispose of your dental dam, latex underwear and condom-turned-dam properly, making sure that no fluid gets into contact with the body.
Safe sex with toys
Toys are great for shaking things up and learning new things about yourself and your partner. Unlike vaginas, toys aren’t self-cleaning so one of your biggest concerns should be keeping a toy sanitized. Usually, toys come with their own set of cleaning instructions, which you simply have to follow. Aside from cleaning thoroughly (usually with antibacterial soap and warm water), one of the best rules to follow is to not share sex toys.
If you’re wondering about how to have safer sex, don’t be afraid to ask questions or to research. When you’re just starting out, there can be a lot of pressure or anxiety around it but remember this: Sex should be consensual, pleasurable and safe for everyone involved.
Art by Dana Calvo
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