Working in sexual health and wellness, I find that folks often seek safer sex resources that speak their language and honor their experiences. Most information available is written from a sanitary, clinical perspective, often without the cultural competency needed to be truly effective.
In my mission to help others with information that speaks to their experience in sexual identity and expression, I’ve found some resources that truly are engaging, informative, and effective. They make an effort to embrace their target audiences and deliver valuable information, often by going above and beyond basic information available in most other resources.
Here are a few of my favorites.
For trans individuals: About the body
For trans individuals and their allies, Safer Sex for Trans Bodies is a great resource about sex, sexuality, intimacy, and connection. Written in accessible language with highly-relevant graphics and images, this booklet can help community members as well as their allies and supporters expand their knowledge of, and appreciation for, the trans sex experience.
Developed in a cooperative effort between Whitman-Walker Health and the Human Rights Campaign, this resource is available in downloadable form in both English and Spanish. The booklet covers such diverse topics as a glossary of terms, discussing sex with partners, and surgical options.
In addition to providing basic information helpful to trans allies to support their loved ones, much of the information is highly useful and relevant to any person seeking information about sexual health.
One particularly valuable concept introduced that I found valuable is the idea of “safer emotional sex.” Safer emotional sex speaks to the need to engage in sexual interactions that emphasize negotiation, consent, and intimacy — key concepts that can help those who struggle with associating sex with trauma brought on through emotional or physical violence.
You can access copies of this valuable resource on the Human Rights Campaign web site at https://www.hrc.org/resources/safer-sex-for-trans-bodies
For BDSM enthusiasts: Safer kinky sex
As a self-identified kinkster, I often find sexual and erotic explorations in the realm of BDSM refreshing and engaging. This type of erotic and sexual exploration often allows me to engage in greater amounts of creativity and role play—aspects of play that I truly love about myself.
Until finding this resource, however, I had to rely on almost irrelevant traditional sexual health resources and highly specialized experts in the kink community when it came to issues of safer sex practices. Although some BDSM practices are inherently “safer” from a sexual health perspective, the lack of kink-specific information available can leave those new to this play space without honest, clear, and contextually accurate information about taking care of themselves and their playmates.
Thankfully the AIDS Committee of Toronto, working in collaboration with a broad spectrum of organizations and allies, found it valuable to publish information on safer sex specifically targeted to the kink community. Presented in a manner that celebrates the unique erotic nature of BDSM, this guide is quite exhaustive, comprehensive, and…well, real. And it’s this reality that makes the guide so powerful and valuable.
The guide comes with a helpful notice of caution for those who are not BDSM enthusiasts or explorers – which I can appreciate. This “warning” of sorts prepares the reader to expect the information beyond the cover to be authentic, clear, and detailed – aspects of the experience that may not be appreciated by others outside the community.
Interspersed with imagery that I know not everyone can appreciate, this guide covers practices that even I – a fairly experienced explorer – had little or no knowledge of. The guide also makes an effort to be trans inclusive. It is written in a way that provides context to the information that is familiar to anyone who explores kink. It describes practices common in the spaces and scenes where play takes place – something that few guides bother to do. The only disappointment I had is that this guide is only available in English.
Ready to dive into safe and kinky? Download your guide from the AIDS Committee of Toronto’s web site at https://www.actoronto.org/health-information/gay-men/bdsmguide.pdf
For gay men: The sex you want
As a gay-identified man, I often find no lack of resources available for gay men on sexual health. However, often these guides fail to consider sub-populations in the gay community, including men of color or the myriad of self-selective populations in which gay men identify – populations that include twinks, bears, pandas, and otters.
For the rest of us, the web site The Sex You Want engages gay men from these various communities through the content as well as the imagery about safer sex practices. Available in French as well as in English, this interactive web site uses drawings reminiscent of those cartoon-like videos available on porn sites. I find these kinds of animated porn videos equally arousing and troubling because…well, they are animations!
Key features of this site that help visitors to engage with content include the playful style of writing as well as the fun and equally arousing illustrations that most gay men can appreciate. My favorite sections in this guide include “Topping and Bottoming,” “Combining Strategies,” “Looking Out for Yourself,” and “Looking Out for Each Other.”
This guide, in an approach not unlike Safer Sex for Trans Bodies, invites the user to consider bringing awareness to choices. The guide invites gay men to recognize that it’s ok to say “no,” and it offers guidance on disclosing HIV status to partners—one of the most challenging aspects for some gay men to tackle. I would consider this guide to be a great “boot camp” resource for gaybies just starting in their journey of explore sex and intimacy with other men. If you know of a blossoming gay boy that needs the info, send them here.
To explore this great resource, point your browser to The Sex You Want at https://thesexyouwant.ca/
I’ve shown you mine; Now show me yours
What are your favorite resources? I’d love to know! Please send me your favorites, so I can share them with others.
Photo by Marcelo Chagas from Pexels