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SHAG week – LGBTQ+ Sex: Myths and Truths

SHAG week – LGBTQ+ Sex

Sadly, sexual health awareness weeks often leave out queer people. Of course, some of the information we will be providing generally will apply too, yet I think it’s also important to give some more specific LGBTQ+ advice. Firstly, breaking some myths…

Gay men only get HIV.

Truth: HIV is the most common STI amongst gay males. This does not mean it is the only one, or that only men who sleep with men are at risk for contracting HIV. Gay men are susceptible to almost all STIs. In fact, in 2015 70% of new cases of gonorrhoea occurred in gay men.

Myth: Queer women don’t get STDs and so don’t need to use protection.

Truth: Yes, they can. Some infections may even be more likely to transmit from person to person if the individuals are engaging in non-heterosexual sex. STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea that are usually passed through penetrative penis-vagina sex, can also be passed through toys, fingers, hands and oral sex. Think about using dental dams, which are provided by the College welfare team and by LGBT+a welfare (Molly Smith), and if you could be using condoms to practice safe sex even when they are not required as a birth control method. More info on dental dams to follow.


You can share toys without risk.

If you must share toys, put a condom over them. Remove and replace whenever someone new is using the toy. Do the same for a strap-on, or a packer if you are trans.


Spit/ Vaseline/ butter etc. work as lube.

No matter what you see in porn, this is not true (Hey, since when could we ever trust porn!) Spit dries too quickly and increases the chance of the condom tearing.

‘Homemade lubes’ like Vaseline or butter are oil-based and so can break latex condoms and cause irritation.


In male-male sex, I only need to apply lube once.

Actually, if the sex lasts a long time you should really apply more lube. ‘Too much’ lube is always better than not enough lube, to avoid pain and increase pleasure.

You will always know if you have an STD.

Definitely false. STIs/ STDs are often asymptomatic. However, they can cause problems in the future and can still be passed on to sexual partners even if you experience no symptoms. HIV is an infection that may not originally present symptoms, or may just appear like a flu. Regular checkups are therefore important, and don’t feel bad for wasting doctor’s time – they are there to prevent as well as treat!

Bisexuals/ pansexuals are sexually promiscuous.

Like straight people don’t want to sleep with everyone of the opposite gender, and gay people don’t pursue sex with everyone the same gender, those who are polysexual don’t want to bonk everyone. Sexual identity and sexual behaviour are completely unrelated. So guess what: just because someone likes two/ all genders does not mean that they necessarily want a threesome with you and your girlfriend!

Asexuals are always completely uninterested in sex.

It’s a spectrum. Some have sex, some don’t. Some masturbate, some don’t. Grey- asexuals feel that they identify with asexuality with some exceptions. Demisexuals can only experience sexual attraction after forming a strong emotional attachment to someone. Remember not to make assumptions about asexuality: it’s individual!




More Useful Information

Sexually Transmitted Infections

If you’ve had unprotected sex with a person of any gender, then you could be at risk of an STI. They can be transferred through close bodily contact or through the transfer of blood or semen. They can lead to serious health problems if left untreated, such as infertility and physical illness, as well as impairing your sex life (note, however, that they don’t have to stop it completely!) You can find out more information in a variety of ways:

-Through the LGBT+a society (leaflets in the office, welfare drop-ins: see their website for more details)

-The College Welfare team

-Reliable online sources such as the NHS website



Many STIs don’t show symptoms: which is why, if sexually active, you should get tested regularly at a GUM clinic.

If you find out you have an STI, being educated on how to cure it or manage its symptoms is key. It should not make you feel dirty or unconfident.


How to avoid STIs



As part of the LGBT+a welfare programme, protection can be provided. If you need something specific that is not provided (i.e. different sized/ latex- free condoms), then Molly (Welfare Officer) will try her best to order some. Protection can also be offered by our College welfare team:


Male condoms offer the best protection against sexually transmitted diseases for both partners – but only if they’re used properly. Every condom packet has an instruction leaflet inside – take the time to read it and make sure you know how to put the condom on properly, as well as checking for the use-by date. Check for the CE mark to ensure the condoms are of a safety standard. Use a new condom every time you have sex.



Make sure you get the right size: this is measured by girth not length

Store condoms away from sunlight and heat

Make sure you use lube that is safe with a condom, e.g. no oil-based lube with latex condoms.

Make sure the penis is erect before applying the condom. Squeeze the tip to remove the air before applying the condom. After sex hold the base of the condom down when removing. Dispose of the used condom in a bin not a toilet.


Dental dams

Despite their misleading name, dental dams are actually a form of protection (not anything to do with dentistry, although there is a story of misunderstanding involving that… Just ask Brogan!)

They are used to prevent the transmission of STIs when giving oral or anal sex to someone. It is a rectangular square of latex to provide a barrier preventing direct contact with the genitals.

You can ‘make’ your own dental dams by cutting the ends off a condom and slicing it down the middle to make your own flat square. However, they are also provided by College welfare and LGBT+a welfare.

To help them stay in place, put a small amount of lubricant between the dental dam and the genitals. This will keep it in place and increase sensitivity.

Finally, never re-use a dental dam.



There are two types of lube and it is important you check which one you are going to use:

Water based: Easy to wash up and safe with condoms and dental dams

Silicone based: Safe with condoms and dental dams. Waterproof. Harder to clean off but less is needed. Do NOT use with silicone- based packers or sex toys as they can break down over time.


Where to go if you are worried about STDs/ STIs

GUM clinics provide free testing, treatment, advice and supplies. County Durham and Darlington GUM clinics aim to be inclusive of all gender identities and sexual identities. Their services will ask questions about your sexual history in order to treat and advise you best but this information will be kept confidential.

Follow this link to find out more about local GUM clinics and how to book an appointment




As with all heterosexual relationships, consent must be affirmative. That is, it’s not “no means no” but “only yes means yes.” A healthy relationship is a healthy relationship no matter the sexual orientation- and consent is still very necessary.


See also:




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