In 2012, I was a 16 year-old college student living in the dorms, making me the least sexually-available person in a five-mile radius.
I had always been a deeply sexual person with an intense curiosity. Upon turning 18, I transferred to a new school and moved to a new city, excited to let go of my label as “the sixteen year-old” and become fair game to my peers. I was ready to jump in with both feet. However, when something is held just out of reach, its sudden availability can be overwhelming. It’s a new world–one where the rules aren’t totally clear, and you’ve never tested your actual comfort level with others.
Sexual self-acceptance, or “sexual freedom,” is a process complicated by our identity, fetishes, past sexual and platonic relationships, traumas, and the culture we exist in. However, it is one of the most exciting, if vulnerable, challenging, and emotional, experiences possible.
As a young, homo-flexible trans man, that was a long process. I began transitioning, but waiting for the changes in my body to be manifested to the outside world was like watching grass grow. I struggled through my pre-transition femininity while desiring a gay community that didn’t reciprocate and the discomfort with straight men who were interested. I had to unlearn a level of sexual fear mongering that I was taught as a child, and I had to accept my own fear of vulnerability.
My first few sexual experiences weren’t mind-blowing. They were simple and amateur, but I realized that I wasn’t getting anywhere near orgasm. Nevermind that orgasming with partners is often something that has to be worked on. Experience changes everything and teaching others to please you is nothing outside the norm. But I didn’t realize that yet, and it dismayed me. My lack of immediate gratification that all men seemed to have led me to believe that I was flawed in my sexual community.
When my second or third sexual partner asked me how they could make me come, the idea of focusing on it was too much. My response: “I won’t, so don’t worry about it.” Evasion became my sexual safety blanket. My craving for sexual exploration was in conflict with my fear of the vulnerability associated with allowing someone else to spend the time and effort to pleasure me.
Once I had a double mastectomy and had hormonally transitioned for a couple years, I experienced a wonderful, if whiplashing, change. Gay men saw my masculine chest and often didn’t care nearly as much about what was below. I felt a freedom to explore and tease. At first, hooking up as casually as gay men expected, though I craved to, seemed a far-off idea. They wanted me. Right now. This may sound boastful to some, but the sexual availability of gay men overall is simply higher than the straight, queer, and lesbian population. I was still getting used to the privilege of being safe in sexual situations. It took months of adjusting before welcoming the first no-strings hook-up into my home.
Even once “fully-transitioned,” including the ability to embrace and feel comfortable experimenting, hooking up with new people and trying new things, I was still growing into my sexuality. I was thriving in the gay community, but I was still performing more than I was enjoying myself. Being a porn performer both helped and hurt me. Working a job where you arrive, talk to someone for five minutes, and proceed to film your sexual encounter in the company of several other people increased my sexual comfort tenfold. I became proud to be in my skin and explore my sexuality, often in full view of others, but I was still performing.
I would still leave a sexual interaction without really advocating for my pleasure. I suppressed the healthy sexual selfishness that most gay men benefit from, preferring to hide behind a shield of giving pleasure than receiving it.
Five years later, I want to shake that naive and self-sabotaging 18 year-old. I want to scream at him, “Your pleasure matters! You don’t have to orgasm, but you don’t have to give up!” I still fight this battle, and it’s all because I taught myself to be a passive participant in my own sexuality. I taught myself to put my own pleasure in the backseat.
While boldly expressing my sexuality as a wildly-free individual in public, a self-described “equal opportunity slut,” my personal sex life has been filled with calculated decisions to advocate for my own pleasure. During every hook-up, I’ve slowly taken back command of the experience for myself. I request things of my partners, give instructions, and actively engage with the Dominant side of my kink. I calculate my requests, push past my fear of being inconvenient and own my sexuality as an even better sexual partner.
Endeavoring to embrace my own sexuality and pleasure wasn’t an option; sex is just too important to be put aside. My pursuit of satisfaction has forced me to address the shame, guilt, and fear around my own sexuality, and I’m still continuing.
My current presence in the adult industry is the most honest it’s ever been, and I’m open in conversations about my explorations and eagerness to meet and fuck new people in new ways. I had to realize that the more I embrace my own pleasure and needs, the more fun I am to fuck, to watch. The more I enjoy the flavor, scent, and feel of my partners, the more I open myself up to craving someone, demanding that I have them how I want them, and sometimes saying, “That’s not doing it for me.”
And it’s just in time. As my sexual career continues to grow, my pleasure does to. My work gets dirtier, more primal, more real. What you see has become more and more of my real sexuality. I can safely tell people that I love what I do, not just out of aspiration to embrace my sexuality more wholly, because it’s my playground.
Ari Koyote is a passionate Atlanta-based sex worker, sexual health & education enthusiast, and ever-evolving kinkster working to understand how sex, identity, and relationships intersect. He can be found on Twitter at @arikoyoteFTM.