What’s Your Pleasure?: Making Sex Work for You
Black men are having all kinds of sex—in their own way and on their own terms. Some men are into monogamy, while others prefer variety. Some like their sex a little (or a lot!) kinky. Others don’t enjoy sex at all. The only “right” kind of sex is the kind that works for you—and it takes time and effort to learn what you like and what you don’t. That’s “homework” you can look forward to!
What Turns You On?
There are almost as many ways to enjoy sex as there are people. You’ve got oral and manual sex—including blowjobs, rimming, handjobs, and fisting—all of which can be highly pleasurable, intimate forms of sex. Some men also find frottage, or grinding, arousing enough to climax.
Want to go beyond what two (or more) bodies alone can do? The BDSM community is a vast and accepting one that offers lots of opportunities to explore sexuality. Activities like flogging, breath control, electro-play, impact play, wax play, bondage, and consensual power dynamics can be great ways to have adventurous sex.
And then there’s anal. Anal sex can be great! There are so many nerves in the anus, and penetration (whether you are the one doing it or experiencing it) can be highly pleasurable.
But anal is not for everyone, even though many people (including gay and bisexual men themselves) assume that all men who have sex with men are doing it. That’s not true—while most men (~75%) try anal sex at some point, less than 40% of men report having it regularly.1 But the assumption that “everyone is doing it” can get in the way of pleasurable sexual relationships, and put a lot of pressure on men who don’t choose to engage in anal sex.
That can be especially troublesome for Black men who don’t feel comfortable with anal. Our society often stigmatizes both Black men and sexuality between people of the same gender. In response, some Black gay men can develop an aversion to anal sex. The increased risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) can also make anal unappealing for some men, as can past trauma and abuse.
There are also a range of physical and medical issues that can make anal sex uncomfortable or not feasible for some men. And, while some transgender men enjoy vaginal or anal sex, penetrative sex can be unpleasant or a source of anxiety for others.
All that to say…. “No anal” ≠ “No sex”!
Whatever your sexual tastes may be, it’s important to remember that there is an endless variety of possibilities, and there are many ways men can be intimate with one another.
Finding Your Jam
Ultimately, good sex is like good music—you can match both to your mood! Sometimes you may choose sensual and tender, like slow jazz. Other times you may want something more like rap—hard and fast. No matter what type of sex you like to like to have, it’s important to communicate effectively in order to make it a great experience. Below are some additional tips on how to get the best out of sex, no matter how you do it:
- Defy convention. Lead an empowered life by making decisions for yourself, not allowing society to tell you who to do and how to do them. Social norms don’t have to dictate the people you find attractive or the sexual activities you enjoy.
- Consent is not optional. Respect yourself and your partners by knowing your own boundaries and theirs. Remember that drugs and alcohol blur the lines of consent, making both you and your partner(s) vulnerable to sexual assault or other forms of violence. Regardless of what you and your partners choose to do, be clear about what consent looks like for all parties in any particular situation before you get busy.
- Play hard, play safe. It’s your life, your body, and your responsibility. Get well versed on how HIV and other STIs are transmitted so that you can play hard and safe. Safety isn’t limited to condom use or PrEP. Safety also means being aware of partners (especially new hookups), your surroundings, and your mental state. In addition, listen to your body: sex shouldn’t be painful or cause physical injury (unless you’re into that sort of thing).
Making sex work for you means understanding and owning your sexuality in full. Know that whatever gets you off is okay. Turned on by the sight of feet or smell of leather? Love to have sex in the missionary position? Only interested in sex that involves multiple partners? It’s all good!