To all the boys I’ve slept with in Oxford: A very open letter

Pink

Whilst my escapades with you have not always been riveting, and often not positive, the bizarre social dynamics of this bubble we live in has broadened my perspective on casual sex. In coming to this university, I felt that I was equipped with enough experience to sleep around and ‘sow my wild oats’ as my Mother might awkwardly and euphemistically say. However, it is now Trinity term and I have been compelled to redefine what ‘experience’ means.

How do I now understand ‘experience’? It is not the number of people you have slept with, nor the number of times you have visited a gay bar. After two terms, I now view experience in terms of diversity and realism. Diversity being acknowledgement that one’s own perspective is not normative, but that people come from backgrounds with varying degrees of adversity and sexual freedom. I use realism in opposition to my naivety: as much as the LGBTQ+ community can be a safe space where people support each other and voice solidarity, it is equally a space defined by problematic sexual politics and predation.

I thank each of my sexual partners for broadening my experience; some I cannot thank for much else. Whilst all of my encounters have taught me something, I have found some to be more enlightening than others.

Although I can’t deny that I wish I had never met some of you, you cannot turn back time.

Bearded, narcissistic postgraduate. Never before have I been happier to say that I dodged a bullet. Firstly, I being a skinny white boy does not give you permission to objectify me and dismiss my personhood so that I can become your ‘twink’. Secondly, I would recommend that you re-evaluate your understanding of consent. Although I escaped unscathed, I fear that others who are not as lucky and headstrong will submit to your coercion. It scares me that a helpful platform, such as those provided by the LGBTQ+ Society, have become the hunting ground for men like you searching for their next fuck.

Tall, eastern-European boy with glasses. I was probably the first guy you ever brought back home. While the situation was comical for me and embarrassing for you, I learnt that not all gay men have had the opportunity to sleep around before. I hope you did not feel humiliated. Although the most visible dimension of the LGBTQ+ community is self-confident men enjoying their sexual liberty, this is by no means the norm and should not permeate expectations of our sexual partners. Although it would have helped if you had read even a wikiHow guide to anal sex, all of us were once virgins and we all had clumsy first times.

Controversial rugby boy. I wish I could recall having sex with you but I remember nothing more than waking up in a room that was not mine and feeling sore. I went to my lecture straight afterwards. That day was my first encounter with the blurred lines of consent from doing drugs and drinking too much. Although I may have been confused for weeks after, I have made peace with that night and emerged with an awareness that I can’t expect other people to be responsible for me. I don’t resent you, although I would suggest that you start using lube and protection. HIV scares aren’t fun.

Self-confessed ‘European young intellectual’. Your place in my letter concerning casual sex may be precarious, but I felt it was necessary to provide this story with an optimistic climax. It is difficult to predict our longevity or where we will end up, but I am grateful that I am ending this first year knowing you. Whereas my other experiences are marked by often-disarming lessons and epiphanies and have revealed uncomfortable truths, spending time with you has been anything but uncomfortable. Admittedly, the sex is great. But sex is far down the list of many reasons why I trek the whole seven minutes to your college. In the run up to exams seeing each other will perhaps become less frequent, but I very much look forward to those evenings together that have become a form of escapism from the grind of Oxford.

I hope this letter acknowledges the diversity and individuality of sexual experiences. I also hope it demonstrates the complexity of characters in the LGBTQ+ community. Although I can’t deny that I wish I had never met some of you, you cannot turn back time. The best one can do is understand that unpleasant people are often unavoidable, but their presence makes the good ones feel so much more special.

Kind regards, Anon.

Image: Prinz-Peter