Photo courtesy of Vitamin Dee Photography.

With hook up apps becoming more commonplace in gay male culture, so has a problematic pretense of sex. I will admit that I have been on both the receiving and giving end of this. Just as in the face-to-face world of sex, there is no guarantee for an encounter unless consent is obtained from all parties involved. Despite having access to a plethora of people interested in sex, the number of people I’ve entertained off the app in my bed can be counted on a single hand.

I’m a bit apprehensive to participate as a trans male in the overly cis-saturated, gay male meat market. But, while there are the occasional ignorant folks whose brains remain embedded in their genitalia, overall the people I have spoken with are respectful in discussing sexual desires with me. These apps have become a somewhat safer space for me to explore my sexuality. The Internet provides a barrier in a controlled environment that I can access and disconnect from at any point, without having to physically engage with anyone.

I’d been chatting recently with a cis gay male who was in an open relationship over an app. He said was experienced with trans men and expressed a preference for using the front door. In hindsight, this was a huge. FUCKING. RED. FLAG. I understand we all have preferences, and in this case ours matched up, but anybody who has any awareness or understanding of transgender people should know that a sole focus on genitalia isn’t the best way to navigate sex with us.

I proceeded with caution. I chatted with him when I was horny and wanted someone to talk me through getting off. We tried to meet up, but it was never the right time. The way he kept at it, though, even when I was non-responsive, had me hesitating even more. It wasn’t until I broke my ankle, devoid of any kind of sex drive and feeling completely miserable about my state affairs, that I realized I was nothing more than a hole he wanted to fill.

Even after telling him the situation I found myself in, he continued to berate me for sex, saying we could work around it. I told him it wasn’t going to happen. He still sent me a few more messages that I ignored.

Back on my feet a month later, I encountered him (and his boyfriend) in a bar. If he was really interested in me, I figured, he would make an introduction. Then I could get a better feel for him, and we could go from there. If anything, we could at least be friends.

I was with my roommate, and I explained to her who he was. I knew he saw me and recognized me. I hung around to see if he would approach me in real life like he so vehemently did online. He and his boyfriend followed me around the bar, from the bathroom to the photobooth, sitting down and creepily watching me from afar.

His behavior proved my reservations right. Here I was, live in the flesh, but not sexually available like he had pined so hard for. He didn’t even know how to deal.

The next day I got a message from him saying he thought he saw me in the bar, but didn’t want to approach me in front of my friend because we only knew of each other through sex talk online. His feelings of shame surrounding sex and his sexual objectification of me had come full circle.

I responded bluntly and let him know how I was feeling: that I didn’t want to have sex with someone who didn’t respect me enough to address me in real life as an actual human being. He inadvertently blew his load by failing to recognize me as more than a sexual fantasy.

The next day, the message thread was gone. He had blocked me. Too real for him to deal.

The wicked games we play go both ways. I’ve also been the one that will pursue until my face is blue. I’ve felt frustrated for being teased and tormented with thoughts of having mind-blowing sex with someone I like but who is just never available.

As the seducer, this kind of scenario seems to work out better for my psyche, because, as the one leading the way, I know this person will be respectful of my ever-so-delicate trans body. And that is a HUGE turn on for me. It also allows me feel empowered and hold space in a realm that is dominated by toxic maleness and masculinity.

From now on, when I’m feeling especially sexually spicy and inclined to turn towards these apps for relief, I will close my eyes and just make that shit up. Instead of subjecting another person to my complicated sexuality, I can create my perfect sexual encounter and climax comfortably with myself. Any reservations I had about doing it on my own are vanquished when the sexual urge is gone and I don’t have to deal with potential post-sex awkwardness. I’ll still maintain a presence online, but only in the context of careful consideration with those I chose to engage with.

There should be no shame when it comes to sexual encounters of any kind. There should be no obligation to actually have sex no matter how many times you talk dirty to one another online.

What we seem to forget, especially in the so-called hook up culture, is that these encounters always involve another living, feeling, human being. I believe in three C’s when it comes to sex: consciousness, communication, and consent. Keeping these in mind, I think we can all be better sexual partners to each other. When in doubt, just rub one out.