The best response I got to my first column by far was a text from a guy I met through Instagram, who I have not actually met yet, but who I occasionally flirt with. “Wahhhh you lived in London ?????” he texted. I had to laugh, because of all the details to pick out of my piece, this felt like an irrelevant one. Compared to the “hey read your sex article, when am I gonna be in it” text I got from my trusty fwb hookup (shoutout to you boiiiiiiii) this seemed like a very delicate way to let me know the article had been read.
I take that back. Those responses made me laugh the most but the best responses were from friends and acquaintances who wanted to reach out and let me know how it made them feel. Many people said they were shocked, but proud. Some people told me that I managed to sound intelligent while writing an entire article about sex as if they thought it was going to devolve into either erotica or a Cosmopolitan article by the end. But best of all, several young women told me they appreciated it because they feel that though we are all expected to be having sex, we still aren't allowed to openly talk about it. And that's my goal really; to help break this social taboo on one of humanity's most natural acts. An act that most everyone is engaging in anyway.
Those were the truly beautiful responses, and they reassured me that what I was doing, what I am exposing about myself, is worth it. Because I have to admit it isn't the easiest thing in the world to publish an article about the head you've given. It's nerve wracking. You've never felt so naked. Are people going to think I'm a slut? A whore? That I'm not worth respecting? Is the guy I've been talking to going to want nothing to do with me anymore? Are my ex boyfriend's little brothers reading this????? Are you there God, it's me, Gwen?????? Wait. What?
I'll be honest I don't give two shits what most of the world thinks of me, but there are a few people who I have chosen to keep close to me and those people I do care about. My aunts and uncles, my little cousins, my parents, those are people I care about. It's hard because not everyone is going to understand where I'm coming from, and that's what's kept me holding my proverbial tongue until now.
It feels like a balancing act of taking one step forward, making one artistic expression, and then having to follow up with several steps of justification and explanation. And it's incredibly exasperating- it kind of helps me understand those aggressive in your face Disney star to sexy pop singer transformations ala Miley Cyrus. Why not just do one big over the top overhaul? Deal with all the questions and the concerns and the judgements at one time and get it over with so that you can just be you. The big difference here is that pop stars are projecting this image to sell records as well as themselves. So there's a degree of separation between how they act on stage and who they are at home. I assume it eases both their own families and the public mind because they know it's exaggerated for public consumption. For me, for my family, for most of my readers- there's no separation. You know me. You grew up with me. Maybe you're the guy who I just wrote about or maybe you saw me as a little girl who you understood and now I'm becoming a woman that you don't quite know how to wrap your mind around. For celebrities it's a shocking transformation but it's ok because so much of it seems to be just for show, and even if it's not just show I mean we don’t really know them. So it's easy to forget. My parents don't have the luxury of casting it aside and forgetting about it. And so they have to deal with these combating feelings of pride for my talent and worry for my future and let's be honest a degree of discomfort and shame at knowing private details of my sex life. And that, my friends, that is the hardest part about opening up.
Words by Gwen Campion
Photo courtesy of Gwen Campion