General sex education in Ireland is abysmal. I’ve already ranted about that here.
And even from the tiny bit of information given in schools LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education is nearly always forgotten about, despite it being just a vital as “straight” Sex Ed.
I’ve alway been a self educator when it comes to sex ,so I had to look things up myself. If you’re reading this too, I’m guessing you’re also curious and looking to educate yourself.
Because I identify as being a straight cis-gendered woman I understood that condoms were key for me to engage in safe sex. Grand. But I remember wondering about how other people who didn’t identify the same as me could possibly have safe sex because LGBTQ sex education was never mentioned even in the teen magazines that I relied in growing up for facts and information about sex.
The fact is, Ireland has a shockingly high rate of HIV infections today and that’s down to a lack of education around sex. HIV can be transmitted no matter what your sexual preference is. The same goes for STI’s.
It’s everyones right to be informed about safe sex regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
So, let’s have that LGBTQ Sex Education now and talk about LGBTQ safe sex…
Ok, the first thing that you need to know when it comes to having safe sex, regardless of your gender or sexual orientation, is that it’s important to take control of your body and your sex life.
Not shying away from sex and the responsibilities that you have to your body are paramount. Be informed about contraception and STIs. We had a big chat about STIs and what they are here.
Don’t expect someone else to take care of the protection when it comes to sex. It’s your responsibility just as much as theres.
And also, tell your partner what you want. There’s no point being too embarrassed to ask them to use protection when it could impact your health.
Genitals Don’t Equal Gender
I think one of the things I’ve really learned over the past few years of self-education about gender identity and sexuality is to throw all my previous learnings out the door.
I think sex has been very generalised when it comes to talking about sex education and protection. Sex is not just the P going into the V. Sex is everything from giving and receiving oral sex, touching, anal and you can get an STI from any of them.
I think it’s really import not to assume anything about people when it comes to their sex lives, gender identity and sexuality.
Sex Isn’t Just Penetration
Oftentimes, sex and “losing your virginity” (which in and of itself is a very outdated and non-inclusive term) is framed as having penetrative sex between a cisgender man with a penis and a cisgender woman with a vagina. But having sex for the first time can be in a variety of different ways for people. And sex for the first time certainly doesn’t have to involve penetration.
STIs can impact all kinds of sex, not just penetrative sex. That’s why it is important to use protection with people, even if you are not having penetrative sex. Oral sex can transmit herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, HIV, hepatitis, and genital warts.
Dental dams, male and female condoms can be used as a barrier to make oral sex or anal rimming more safe. There’s more information about all this below.
Condoms don’t just prevent pregnancy
It’s also very important to point out that condoms don’t just prevent pregnancy. So even if pregnancy isn’t a worry during sex, you should still use a condom to protect yourself and your partner from STIs and HIV.
Recently, there was a great scene in the utterly fantastic It’s A Sin where Richie is given a box of condoms by his father when heading to London on the boat so he doesn’t get anyone pregnant. As a gay man Richie finds this funny and throws the box of condoms into the water because he doesn’t think he needs them. The thing is, and it becomes very evident in the show, Richie did need the condoms to protect himself against HIV and Aids. Back in the 80’s there was no talk about LGBTQ+ sex ed. Pregnancy was seen as the only consequence to sex. The scene is quite ominous because we now know that pregnancy is not the only risk when it comes to sex; STIs, HIV and Aids are also a risk. But why isn’t that talked about more in schools today?
It only takes one time to become infected with an STI or HIV. Yes, that’s scary but you can minimise those risks but taking control of your body and always practising safe se
Have The Chats With Your Partner
It’s really important to have open and honest conversations with your sexual partners.
Look, I know sex happens in lots of different ways. Sometimes you might be in a relationship with someone for a while before having sex, so you have a good chance to properly talk about it before and discuss both of your sexual histories. Sometimes it just happens after a particularly fun night out, so you’re less likely to have a DMC beforehand. The key is to put your health and safety first and also think of the person you’re engaging in sexuality activity with.
It’s so important to be safe and proactive about your own safety. Everyone should be change of having protection to hand incase sex happens. It’s not just the responsibility of one party to be in charge of protection.
Respect and communication is so important when it comes to sex. If someone doesn’t respect you enough to use protection it really should give you a second thought about engaging in sex with them.
So, what are the options for having LGBTQ+ safe sex and when should these methods be used?
There are two types of condoms; male condoms and female condoms.
Male condoms are latex worn on the penis. So, if you or your partner (or both of you) have a penis, condoms are important during sex. Condoms are available in pharmacies and supermarkets and there are numerous brands, flavours and textures.
Female condoms are similar to male condoms but they are inserted into the vagina before sex. The female condom can reduce the risk from the same kinds of sexual activity as the condom. It can be a bit trickier to use to begin with, but you will get the hang of it. Female condoms offer the same amount of protection from STIs that “normal” condoms do. For women who have sex with women and also use sex toys it reduces the risk of chaffing due to dryness and breakage is less likely to occur than with a condom. There’s more information about female condoms here.
It’s also important to know that you can get an STI from giving oral sex to someone, which is why you should also use a condom when having oral sex if they have a penis. See the dental dam section below for information about protection during oral sex if they have a vagina.
I can’t say this enough; it’s really important to use condoms every time you have sex where possible. Condoms protect you and your sexual partner from pregnancy and STIs. Condoms bizarrely have a bad rep for not being sexy or ruining the mood, but I do wonder if that’s because porn is pushed upon us where no one seems to have a second thought for protection and condoms? Condoms are a normal part of sex.
Dental Dams or Glyde Dams
For a long time I honestly didn’t know that dental dams existed! I had only heard them mentioned in American movies. Is America hiding dental dams from the rest of the world?
A dental dam is a latex or polyurethane sheet created to block off teeth for dental surgery and repurposed to prevent STIs during oral sex. For the latter use, you put it between your mouth and a partner’s vulva and lick just as you would without one.
And there’s more information about dental dams here.
There are also ways that you can make a dental dam just for oral sex at home from a new condom. Here’s how.
Use barriers on your sex toys as well.
Barriers, such as condoms and dental dams, are important even if you’re using a sex toy on a partner.
If you use sex toys on multiple people (like yourself and your partner), putting a condom on them can help keep everyone involved safe.
A Bit About Birth Control
I wanted to focus this article more on protecting yourself from STIs but I do also just want to mention birth control as well.
Pregnancy isn’t just a straight girl thing, it’s a concern for all those who possess a vagina. Research has shown that young women in the LGBTQ community are more likely than their heterosexual peers to become pregnant.
We’ve already done an article that goes through birth control options such as the contraceptive pill (there’s a whole article on that here) as well as explaining implants and IUDs.
If you have a vagina and even think that you might be having sex with someone who has a penis, it might be an idea to consider one of those options to prevent pregnancy. BUT it would still be advisable to use a barrier method as well to protect you from STIs.