23 Gay Sex Lessons I Wish I Had Learned In High School.

Let’s all agree on something: High school is awful.

Gay men almost unanimously remember high school as a time of closets, insecurity, and bad fashion choices. Many of us started having sex in high school (or earlier), but some guys don’t get started until their mid to late 20s. For the early bloomers like me (my first gay sex was at 13) — guys who stumble, unaided and unprepared, into sex at a young age — here are 23 gay sex ed lessons I wish I had been taught. 

Attention class! Gay sex ed is in session.

1. You may be headed into a LOT of sex.

You might not realize it now, but you’re growing into a culture that celebrates sex. The amount of sex some gay men have (and the ease with which it can be acquired) is preposterous to most straight folks — including your friends and family. They have no idea how to prepare you for the eros embraced by many members of our community or the risks that come with it. 

Your straight peers may start early — in high school or earlier. As soon as puberty hits, bam! They’re fucking. Every message they’ve been taught through childhood — when the cartoon boy dog meets the cartoon girl dog and the girl dog bats a pair of absurd eyelashes — cues them to have sex. 

When we see those same cartoons, we understand a jarring truth: We are out of sync with the world. We’re different. Where are cartoons with two little boy dogs sharing a spaghetti noodle, falling in love? Not on children’s TV. 

This invisibility and isolation make stumbling into a gay bar (or discovering a hookup app) akin to opening a treasure trove and finding that it’s yours, all yours. Welcome to the party — but don't be unprepared.

2. Your first gay sex experience might not be pleasant.

Most first-time sexual experiences aren’t. You will not know what you’re doing or have any instructions. Some schools dispense “What’s Happening to My Body?” booklets to kids at a certain age, but they don’t include any info on how to fuck a man, douche before sex, or suck cock. Our first forays into sex are usually messy, uncomfortable, and embarrassing.  

Don’t be discouraged. Practice. It gets better. 

3. Straight people will only teach you about straight sex.

Men who have sex with men — as well as trans women — have different risk factors that you won’t be taught in high school sex ed. You don’t have to fear pregnancy as much, but you’ll need to learn the ins and outs of HIV and its litany of terms. Terms like “PrEP” and “undetectable” will have significance to you. 

They should have significance to everyone, regardless of orientation and gender, but it’s no secret that gay men, particularly gay men of colour, along with trans women and trans women of colour, are disproportionately affected by HIV. Learn as much as you can about it. 

4. Being a bottom doesn’t make you “the girl.”

Guys in my class believed this, so I believed it too. To them, gay men were men who bent over to take cock (what would they think of power tops?). 

When I came out, I told them I was a top. I had no idea what I wanted sexually (no one does in high school), but my reasons for telling them were based on shame. I didn’t want them to see me as feminine, weak, submissive, or lesser. 

It doesn’t matter what you do in bed; if they want to see you as lesser, they’re going to see you as lesser and hate you regardless if you give dick or receive it. 

Today I’m a skilled bottom. I’m good at sex. I fuck for sport. I will never change the heterosexual myth of gay bottoms being “the girl,” whatever that means, and gay tops being “men” or in any way “less gay” than me. If taking cock makes me the girl, fine, I’m the girl. I don’t fear femininity and have no concern for heterosexual interpretations of my sex. 

5. Being gay doesn't mean you’re going to die of AIDS.

In high school, I listened to musicals like Rent and believed wholeheartedly that if I chose to live life as an out gay man, I was sentencing myself to a slow death from AIDS. 

I even wrote a 10+ page poem called “Heavy Is Venus” (H - I - V) in high school when I was 14 or 15, still deeply in the closet, in which I went through my feelings on this. The poetry is bad and cringingly written in all caps, but it’s one relic of my early writing I treasure. 

At the end of the poem, I come to the conclusion that coming out is worth it, even in the face of death — that it’s better to live a short, authentic life than to live in fear. When I read it now, I cheer for that younger, scared me. I want to reach back through the years, hug him, and say, “Baby, you’re not going to die.” 

You’re not going to die. If you get HIV, you’re going to take your meds and live a long, happy life. If you’re HIV-negative, you’ll need to get on PrEP and take necessary steps to protect yourself. Your identity is not a death sentence. It never will be. 

We’re the ones who organized against a plague. We’re incredible survivors. Do not be afraid. There is a better world outside the closet, and you should be part of it. 

6. Being a top doesn’t make you less gay.

Some tops are “alphas,” some are “sirs,” but the preference for plowing hole doesn’t make you less gay than the rest of us. 

7. Gay sex isn’t what you have seen in porn.

In high school, I lived in a house a mile into the woods with dial-up internet. Even if I had an hour to sit and wait for a 30-second video to load, my parents had installed a blocker on our family computer. Watching porn was hopeless. 

Now I’m an adult and have worked on porn sets, and I can see how the industry creates unrealistic expectations for young gay men. My caution: Don’t try this at home — these guys are pros. Sex at the porn level takes years of practice. Also, you don’t see the preparation, messes, or mistakes that happen — they get edited out. 

Be gentle with yourself. You’ll get there, but for now, you need to start easy. Bottoming may feel strange and uncomfortable for the first year (or years, depending on how much practice you get). Go slow. Be smart. 

And you don’t need to slather yourself in baby oil. That just makes you look good on camera. 

8. Locate your nearest LGBT centre.

If you’re in high school, you’re probably under the age of 18 and on your parents’ insurance. The HIPAA patient privacy law applies only after you turn 18. Before that day comes, your parents have limitless access to all your health information, including any full-range STD tests you (smartly, maturely) sneak off to the health department one day after class to get done. 

I’m not a health care expert, so I don’t know the ins and outs of HIPAA and what options are available to queer youth under 18. That’s why you need to find the nearest LGBT centre — or a queer adult you can trust. 

9. You’re going to get an STD.

It’s going to happen. If you’re a sexually active young gay man, you’re going to get chlamydia.

Accept this reality and have an action plan. Have a way to get tested. When you get tested, be forthcoming with your doctor. Do a rectal and throat swab. Have friends you can trust in case your parents find out (they probably will) and the shit hits the fan. Be ready.

10. Sexually transmitted infections are not a value judgment. They are an inevitable part of being sexually active.

Straight people who date monogamously, have sex only in the confines of relationships, or “wait till marriage” — ugh! — maybe able to realistically avoid herpes for 20 or 30 years. The rest of us won’t be as lucky. STIs like chlamydia, HPV, gonorrhoea, and syphilis are so widespread among all populations (gay and straight) of sexually active people that you can safely assume you’ll get one. If you’re gay, it’s no question. 

You probably know we have soaring HIV rates, but you might not know that men who have sex with men also have soaring syphilis rates (a disease that is deadly if left untreated) and soaring gonorrhoea rates. If you’re a sexually active adult, these will happen. When it does, don’t interpret it as a moral judgment from God or “the universe” telling you you’re doing something wrong. Sex isn’t wrong or right — it’s just sex, and it comes with risks. Accept them, get tested regularly, and have fun. 

11. Develop an honest rapport with a physician you trust.

This is tricky. Physicians are not required by law to keep your information private from your parents when you’re under 18. And unless you have a car or access to public transportation, you may be limited as to how well you are able to physically get to a physician without a parent or guardian’s help. 

Clearly, it’s best to include your parent or guardian in your health care and include them in your sexual decisions, but we know that homophobia and religion often shred this critical channel of support. So, if you can find a doctor adult you trust, tell them your situation, and ask for help. This is why LGBT youth hotlines like the Trevor Project (1-866-488-7386) and others are so helpful. 

12. Locate your nearest health department or community health clinic.

Many health departments and community health clinics are designed for uninsured people. You’ll probably have to wait, and you may have to pay some money, but know that community clinics are out there. 

13. You don’t have to know what you want out of sex.

Nobody knows what they want sex when they’re in high school. Your body is going through changes, and your identity is going to evolve. You don’t have to know who you are or what you like. 

I know these seem like pivotal questions, but focus less on answering them and more on finding safe spaces and safe people where you can talk about your questions. That is a more vital and better use of your time and energy. Find high school gay-straight alliances, other queer youth in the community, and any LGBT info you can find on the internet. 

14. Gay sex isn’t how straight people describe it.

Many straight people describe gay sex as “gross.” I’ve always thought this revulsion was absurd since I don’t go green at the thought of heterosexual sex. Many people who aren’t up to speed on the ins and outs of sodomy think our sex a messy, shitty affair. 

Not true. Gay sex requires some preparation, some planning, and some playful acceptance of the body, but it’s among the most beautiful things in my life. You’ll have fun.

15. Getting fucked feels really good.

Yes, it might hurt in the beginning, but work at it. Train your ass. Don’t spend money on one of those cheap ultra-realistic dildos at your nearest sex shop (which are probably made of TRP or some awful material) and hide it in your bedroom. Find smooth, round, small butt plugs and practice getting them in and out, in and out. Purchase only high-quality materials like smooth silicone, and only use water-based lube. Don’t use your mom’s hand lotion. 

In the beginning, when we’re still in the closet or barely out of it, we generally don’t put potential sex partners through tryouts or grill them with questions beforehand. When I was on the DL, I took what I could get. But if you can, find someone who knows you’re a beginner, who will be gentle with your body and go slow.

16. Gay sex takes physical preparation.

Not every bottom chooses to douche beforehand, but many guys do. There are various tricks to the mechanics of better bottoming I cover in my slideshow “17 Tips for Happier, Healthier Bottoming.” 

17. Gay sex takes mental preparation.

You will have to work through feelings of shame and embarrassment on your first fuck attempts. It’s a headspin. You may not like it. Even after you develop some skill, many guys hold on to feelings of wrongness and self-judgment that keep them from enjoying sex. 

Talk sincerely about your feelings with other gay men you meet — which truthfully may only happen after high school. We are your brothers in arms, your lifeline. Find us.

18. PrEP.

The drug Truvada is currently the only medication approved for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) — a once-daily regimen for HIV-negative people that prevents the transmission of HIV, regardless of condom use. If you don’t use a condom every time — or you think condoms suck — you need to try getting on PrEP. 

19. STDs are not worth paralyzing fear or abstaining from sex.

Again, they’re going to happen. You can live in morbid fear of them or you can live prepared for them, get regular full-range tests, and live your life. The only way to adequately prevent all STDs is to abstain from sex. Fucking — even with safety measures like PrEP and condoms — puts you at risk for some infections like herpes. 

Accept the reality that sex isn’t risk-free, but it’s also important. Love your sex. Devote time and energy to it. Don’t be afraid of it. 

20. You'll encounter drugs and alcohol. Know the risks.

A lot of people consider drugs as inextricably tied with gay sex. This isn't true — and it doesn't have to be that way.

All drugs — including alcohol — are not healthy and do not do good things to the body. Many gay men who struggle with feelings of shame or insecurity use drugs to make sex happen, and may reach a point where they only know how to play when they’re drunk/high. This dulls the experience of sex more than enriches it since you want to know all sides of sex — the real and unreal, the good and bad, the quick and hard, the slow and gentle, the fast and furious, the sweet and caring. 

Other guys simply get addicted — a risk with any drug, one you can’t predict. Know that mixing substances — especially illegal ones — can be fatal. In the end, you don’t know what compounds you’re really using or how they’ll interact, so there is always some risk and unpredictability when using unregulated substances. 

It may appear that there are many people who drink alcohol and use drugs without problems. However, there are also many gay men with serious, life-threatening issues that develop from using them. There are many gay men who simply get a bad compound or take too much and overdose. There’s no way to predict which one you’ll be.

Learn how to have sex sober. You'll love it much better if you remember it.

21. HIV isn’t what you think it is.

There’s a lot of AIDS theatre, literature, and film out there. If you’re a theatre kid, you can sit through many hours of Rent, The Normal Heart, and Angels in America. These are devastating and powerful, and we need these works to understand what AIDS is and was, but none of them includes a disclaimer at the end for youngsters today: “By the way, we’ve made incredible advancements in HIV care. AIDS isn’t over yet, and there are still people dying of AIDS-related complications all over the world, but there are now lifesaving treatments that allow you to live a healthy, normal life. Don’t freak out.” 

AIDS isn't over, but we’ve made more progress than you might think if you only watch Philadelphia and don’t do some research after. If you get a positive HIV test, it’s going to be hard, and your entire life is going to change. But it’s also not the end of the world. Get on medication, take it diligently, and you’ll be fine. You’ll date again. You’ll have sex again — lots of it. You’ll keep getting loved, fucked, hurt, and mystified by sexy men. 

22. Being kinky doesn’t make you bad, dangerous, or abnormal.

With the internet, I imagine high school-age gay men are getting kinky now. Maybe not. When I was in high school, I didn’t even know the first thing about anal sex, let alone what chains, paddles, floggers, and nitrile gloves might be used for. 

If all this seems too much and too frightening, wait. You don’t have to know what kinks, if any, you’re into right now. You don’t have to know anything about sex right now. I’d suggest to self-identifying kinksters (kinky people) in high school to wait, build your confidence in the basic sexual tool kit, and wait until you’re at least 18 (or, even better, your early 20s) before dabbling in anything more extreme. Kink and BDSM can be traumatic for those who don’t know what they’re doing or aren’t ready for it. 

23. Gay sex is beautiful.

Don’t believe what any hater says. Your desires are valid, justified, and welcome in the world. You have to find your people. You have to get a few years older. Everything may seem strange and confusing right now but stick with it. Stay with us. If you’re in a bad place, seek help. If your family is suggesting you talk to pastors or go to a “camp” or if they hit you, tell an adult you trust and seek help. 

When you’re a little older, you’ll discover an amazing world out there filled with beautiful men who want to date you, hold your hand, have sex with you, dance with you, and make you feel loved. You’re not alone. You got this.

By Alexander Cheves.