Having safer sex and healthy relationships can be extremely difficult without comprehensive education and role models.
Thinking back to high school, most of us didn’t have any lessons that discussed it either.
When you think about it, you’re only 16 when you complete high school in the UK and that is an age where your life can change quickly and become overwhelming. All of a sudden, you feel the pressure to decide your next steps and without mind-body-soul education around what’s to come; how can we expect young people to fully support themselves and their decisions let alone other people?
When it comes to sexual health in 2023, across Greater Manchester you can access testing in-person and online where you can order a testing kit to do at home. For more information on testing with LGBT Foundation head to lgbt.foundation/testing. We always offer a well-being assessment with every type of test. It sounds very formal but it’s just what we call a few questions to help us understand your knowledge and how you’re doing. It’s a welcoming space for you to ask us anything about sexual health, relationships, substance use, kink, consent or chemsex and it gives you the opportunity to talk with someone in the team about things we think were probably missing from your sex and wellbeing education when growing up.
We’re confidential, we’re non-judgmental and we understand that sometimes you just need to talk with someone who gets it. When we’ve grown up in a world where we’ve been told that sex is dangerous, we need to look out for one another. Getting tested is taking control of your health overall and telling partner(s) about your sexual health first rather than asking about theirs’ is a great way to start a conversation about each other’s’ sexual health.
Let’s remember that we can learn all of the things that were missed out in education and that together, if we share our knowledge and look out for one another, we can end stigma and take control of our own sex lives.
Also check out our Sex Guides and our frequently asked questions on mpox and vaccinations via PaSH. Don’t forget if you if you live in Greater Manchester or Liverpool you can order condoms and lube to your door, or pick up our safer sex packs in Manchester gay village venues.
There are lots of benefits to doing some self-exploration around the narratives, expectations and assumptions we give ourselves around sex. It’s more holistic work, but can have a huge impact on how we access sex and pleasure in the long run.
The suggestions below of some of the Team’s favourite reads, all very queer, all very different. Have a look and see if any seem up your street! The books below are all around the £9 – £15 mark, we’ve included social media links where relevant.
‘Sex Ed, A Guide for Adults’ by Ruby RareA stunningly (and erotically!) illustrated little book that is easy to flick through and jump in and out of. Pleasure-focused sex ed. that every adult could benefit from!
Find the author on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rubyrare/?hl=en
‘Mind the Gap, the Truth About Desire and How to Futureproof your Sex Life’ by Dr Karen GurneyWritten by a certified psychosexologist, this book has an intersectional approach to sex and sexuality. More of a ‘book!’ book, but got some brilliant exercises in it, prompting the reader to reflect on their ‘sex biography’ and gives tools for how to get the most from our sex lives going forward.
Find the author on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thesexdoctor/?hl=en
‘Sexuality, a Graphic Guide’ by Meg-John Barker and Jules ScheeleA super cute graphic novel written with ‘compassion, humour and erudition’! It covers sex and sexuality in a really delightful way.
They also have some brilliant YouTube content it’s worth having a dig through: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_6xGCzcMom6AwhlT…
‘Bang!: Masturbation for People of All Genders and Abilities’ by Vic Liu
A small yet mighty book that gets readers to reconsider their relationship with solo-sex and self-pleasure.
This book has its own Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bangforall/?hl=en
‘Queer Sex, A Trans and Non-Binary Guide to Intimacy, Pleasure and Relationships’ by Juno RocheA collection of interviews by Juno with various trans and non-binary individuals and couples. This book does and incredible job of allowing gender diverse individuals to speak about pleasure and sex candidly without being gratuitous. Hearing other people share their experiences can be an inspiring tool for self-reflection.
‘Oh Joy Sex Toy’ – website for reviews and advice
This is a home for a collection of short comics all linked to sex, sexuality, gender, and pleasure. Some are toy reviews, some are biographical, pornographic, fantastical, and educational, you name it!
Here’s the link to their intro page, which should give a good overview – https://www.ohjoysextoy.com/
‘Paired’ – App on Apple or Android
The free version of this app has some fun conversation starters, giving you one question or prompt to reflect on per day with your partner. Disclaimer that this app was clearly primarily designed for cis het, monogamous couples, but can still be a helpful conversation tool.
There are a few Facebook groups that talk about sexuality and have active communities that support each other with interesting conversation. If you use Facebook these groups could be useful for you. One is Lahlita’s Room, another is Vermilion you can search on Facebook for these.