For Sexual Health Week 2017 we asked comunity members to share their experiences of exploring pleasureable sex and how sexual health provisions have supported them along the way. Rachel shares her journey from soap stars to sexual liberation with the touch of her hand.

Rachel Byrne is a queer human, Mancunian and artist.



Some of my earliest memories of sex include Adam Rickett who used to play Nick Tildesley on Corrie and the dark and mysterious heights of the top-shelf publications at the local corner shop.

I would say that I was a sexual human from perhaps, a younger age - not necessarily active with other people mind you, but always incredibly curious and intrigued by the mechanics of the human body and what it was all for and about what did what. I think somebody once suggested to me that Nick Tildesley off the telly was good looking and so I decided that I would try and fancy him. I remember telling a couple of people about this and before I knew it somebody had gotten me a signed photograph of good old Nick T for my birthday.

At this point I feel like it's important to note that I hadn't at this age found anybody I could or should fancy in the straight world that I grew up in. What I mean is that, now in retrospect I can see that I was absolutely obsessed with a number of women in my early life - but being from a catholic school where tampons / condoms were given out on the same day and where absolutely no forms of sex were communicated about aside from an incredibly basic overview of the reproductive version, my mind simply couldn't reach to understand that my body and brain could want another woman in a sexual way. So, Nick Tildesley became it. This is who I would fancy.

Around about the same time I found myself making regular trips to the corner shop after school. I remember that they always had specific magazines on the top shelf that were always turned around. I knew why they were turned around so I kept on looking up towards the shelf with hopeful curiosity. One day one of the magazines had come loose and slipped, and there in front of me in the corner shop was a lot of skin, two women wrapped awkwardly around each other with the words 'oral fantasy' emblazoned across the both of them. I'd only seen the word oral written on toothpaste, in the dentist or on things that were not for oral consumption. I understood that these women were very much up for oral consumption.

I had known for some time that sex was for pleasure and despite the catholic upbringing, had somehow managed to dodge the masturbation / devil association. I wasn't scared of getting myself but it just wasn't working for me. However, I wasn't to be defeated. I thought of the signed Nick T photo and off we went to bed together to make it happen. I failed, naturally.

Today, I wonder how many other socially repressed lesbians have tried to masturbate to photos of pretty men.


Between The Sheets is part of LGBT Foundation's #SexWithoutShame campaign, empowering LGBT people to talk openly about their sex lives and the experiences they've had along the way.

If you would like support or a chat about your sexual health, visit http://lgbt.foundation/SexualHealth call 0345 3 30 30 30 or email SexualHealth@lgbt.foundation