[oasis] [columns]

Beverly Greene

March 1997

Let's Talk About Sex

A common debate going on in many of the school districts today is over the sex education classes that some people want to see more of in schools while others think that they are immoral and only encourage children to have sex outside of wedlock. In fact, it is probably being debated on some level in your school district. What does this have to do with being a lesbian, bi, or gay teenager? Much more than you might think!!

Most parents never get around to a good, honest sex talk with their teens. They probably always plan to, but never can seem to find the right time or just never seem to think that their child is old enough to be thinking of sex, much less actually having it. And despite all of this, many people still say that we shouldn't talk about sex with teens. We shouldn't teach classes about sex in school, have books about sex that teens can get in the library, have clinics where they can get birth control for free, or have sites on line where teens can get answers to the questions they could never ask their parents.

But this article is not about the debate on whether or not we should have sex education classes in the school because as far as I'm concerned the teenage pregnancy and std rates have already given us that answer. This article is about the teens who are left out the majority of the time even when some sort of sex education is available.

Gay and lesbian teens pretty much get left out in the cold when it comes to sex education. Even when sex education is available in schools, it concentrates solely on heterosexual sex and the risks which correspond. Most school libraries don't carry books which openly discuss homosexual sex and the risks. In fact, basically all gay and lesbian teens are told is that AIDS will sent by God to kill off all of the homosexuals on earth.

There are several things that I think gay and lesbian teens should know about sex. The most important to me is the elimination of the stereotype that gays and lesbians do not have morals and will sleep with anyone. I think that this puts an unneeded pressure on gay and lesbian teens to feel like they have to have sex to fit in or to really consider themselves gay or lesbian. That is completely untrue. Being gay or lesbian is not immoral and it is not a sin, just as sex is not a sin. What is a sin is sleeping with anyone and everyone just because you want them to like you, or you want to find in. It's a sin because you are giving away something of yourself that should only be shared with those you really love.

Often times I hear even people within the rainbow community talking about how we are generally more sexually liberated than the heterosexual community is. I guess that is probably true since we are defined by which gender we sleep with and are therefor considered to be the on fringe of normal sex to begin with. However, I think that many times we seem to take this too far. I think that sometimes people are trying so hard to renounce the morals of the heterosexual society that they will do anything and everything that is considered to be taboo or wrong, which includes having many sexual partners. Now, of course I am not saying that gay and lesbian people are all sleeping around with anyone who comes along and I'm not saying that there aren't a lot of heterosexual people who's beds tend to be more active than the golden arches' drive-thru window. I am only saying that we seem to have made it much more acceptable in the gay and lesbian society to be much more sexually active than it is in the heterosexual culture.

The point of this little commentary on morals is not to debate what is right or wrong, as that is something that each person has to make for themselves. However, I think that sometimes the stereotype that all gays and lesbians have to sleep around a lot gets into the minds of our teens, making them feel that they have to take chances with their bodies and minds that they should not. No teenager should ever feel pressured to have sex to fit into any culture or group and I want to tell the teenagers who read my articles that you do not have to sleep with anyone to know that you are gay or lesbian. You don't have to sleep with anyone to prove it either. Being gay or lesbian is about which gender you connect to on an emotional level, which gender you feel romantically about and sex is just an off-shoot of that. If you are still unsure if you are gay or lesbian, you don't have to find someone to sleep with to find out. You just need to spend some time getting to know yourself, your feelings, your soul.

Another thing that people seem to neglect to tell gay and lesbian teens is that AIDS is not the only sexually transmitted disease that they need to be concerned with. In an age when people are so rightly terrified of contracting the HIV virus, it seems that the other common sexually transmitted diseases are overlooked as a major concern for the gay and lesbian community. While 1 in 5 people have some sort of sexually transmitted disease by the time they are in their early twenties, people seem to think that gay and lesbian people are not among those numbers. We are. AIDS is not the only sexually transmitted disease that will follow you for the rest of your life.

Another fact that seems to be omitted when sex is talked about is that lesbians are not immune to sexually transmitted diseases. When people talk about HIV and AIDS, they seem to forget the lesbians who are living with or who have died from it. People also seem to forget that while lesbians are much less likely to contract HIV but that it is not impossible. And, of course, people never mention the fact that lesbians can and do contract other sexually transmitted diseases every single day.

There are ways that you can protect yourself. The first thing you need to do is to learn about your own self and your desires. Then, you need to contact a local gay and lesbian center and ask for information about where you can learn about ways that you can protect yourself. They can also give you more information about the risks that you as a gay or lesbian teen specifically face and give you some free protection. Once you get the protection, you need to choose carefully who you are going to be generous enough to share it with. And, of course, make sure that you use protection every time because it only takes one time that you didn't to make you end up saying "If only I had know..."

Remember, if you're old enough to have sex with someone, you're old enough to take some responsibility for your health and your partner's health. If you're not ready to take responsibility for the possible negative consequences of having sex, you're not ready to enjoy the positive consequences of sex. Don't rush into something that you're not ready to do because it will only harm you in the future. Trust yourself, follow your heart, and most of all, be safe!


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