I had my first kiss at eighteen and my first sexual experience at nineteen but lost my virginity at twenty-one. Sex has definitely had a presence in my life but never much of a consistent one. In fact, because of its infrequency I’d say I probably appreciate and value it more. I have generally always had a lot of self-control when it’s come to sex and that can easily be misconstrued at times that I’m a bit of a prude. The irony? I don’t have that much self-control in general as a human being. I am an easily distracted person and can be somewhat scattered. However, when it comes to sex, for some reason I seldom make reckless choices. I don’t get off on meaningless encounters and don’t have sex for the sake of just doing it. I prefer to hold out. My mind, body, and spirit all have to agree with what’s about to go down. This has no moral bearing whatsoever. It isn’t rooted in righteousness. I’m just not turned on by the idea of random sex with random people for primal reasons.
I grew up in a Muslim household. No one talked about sex. Everything I ever learned about sex I learned from TV, friends, books, or by trial and error. Culturally, sex wasn’t something that was ever discussed in passing or made an issue. My mother always made sex seem like a scheme—something boys want and will take from you. As a teen, my mom would always say, “Don’t give yourself to these boys.” That was her way of warning me not to get tricked. Sex was never treated as an experience that was shared or enjoyed. She made it seem like it was something boys might potentially snatch away from you if you weren’t careful . . . like your wallet. I liked a lot of boys during my teens, but they didn’t necessarily like me back. My mom didn’t have much to worry about in terms of boys stealing sex and running off with it. My lukewarm desirability pretty much kept me safe.
My first real relationship and sexual experience occurred when I was nineteen years old. He was this dude I worked with named George. He was tall, very attractive by all accounts and “exotic”—he was an interesting mix of South American and African American. I was instantly drawn to his sense of style and the way he carried himself; that boy had swag. He was from the hood and lived in The Bronx. George had a lot of interesting things going on, including a professional modeling career. I wasn’t comfortable giving him my virginity so we pretty much did everything except for penetration. To me, his body was perfect and our chemistry was always on point. He was effervescent and had a great sense of humor. Our sexual encounters always ended with interesting anecdotes and us sharing life stories. My preference has always been to have sexual relationships with men I both knew and trusted on a human level. A lot of that had to do with growing up being ingrained with the notion that all men ever wanted was sex. I made sure I provided more. George was interesting. He was really into porn, particularly “chicks with dicks”. The first and only time I watched a “chicks with dicks’ porno was with him. He wasn’t ashamed or embarrassed, and I didn’t judge him or care much one way or the other. I discovered I had a pretty high tolerance for peoples’ deviant sexual natures, fetishes, and desires. I also later grew to accept that I had a couple of my own. The real issue I had with George was that he was married with a family . . . a proper one. The man had one son and his wife was pregnant again! He assured me he’d developed deep feelings for me and went out of his way to see me. Needless to say, that was a messy situation. Of course, George and I didn’t last. Towards the end, I remember him warning me about the dangers of rushing into marriage—something that definitely stuck with me.
The next significant relationship was with the man who took my virginity. I recall the first time I actually had sex. It was a stormy Saturday afternoon in Harlem. In fact, it was during a thunderstorm. I was drunk off of Colt 45 and there was a Robin Thicke album playing in the background. It was actually sort of perfect. I was at my then boyfriend’s place. His name was Olamide and we had been dating for a couple of months. He was truly classically handsome. So much so that it was sometimes hard to believe he was flesh and blood. He was leaving a very successful career in fashion and was throwing himself completely into his art. Olamide had travelled the world, been on billboards, and established himself. He was African but grew up here in America, like me. What attracted me to him most was that he was an artist. He painted, wrote poems, and performed spoken word. However, the passion he demonstrated in his art didn’t translate into the bedroom. The sex was kind of dry and his stamina wasn’t great. As a matter of fact, I figured that’s what it might be like with an old man. I found those things annoying, but I had feelings for him so I powered through the deprivation and accepted the measly sexual scraps that came my way.
When it came to sex, he was very traditional. Our sex was standard and routine. The one thing that I appreciated about him most was that he always used a condom. Always! It didn’t matter how hot and heavy it got or how familiar we were with each other, or that I had only ever had sex with him. If there wasn’t a condom, we weren’t having sex. He once got an ex pregnant and the trauma of the abortion ordeal affected him greatly. Looking back, I’m grateful because the importance of wearing a condom stayed with me. He started getting shady when the career in art he’d dreamed of was not becoming a reality. Things weren’t great but I figured it was a part of life; a relationship has ups and downs. Nope, he was stepping out on me. He met an older woman who offered to take care of him. So he moved in with her and ended it—dropped me like nothing! I resented him for a while, but I eventually got over it. I remember him as having a good heart and I’m glad I lost my virginity to him. We have a great laugh about the past whenever we run into each other. The vibes are always right and I think of him like a big brother now.
Up until my early twenties, I was somewhat sexually conservative. My friends often complained that I was “uptight”. I had several close platonic male friends and naturally knew how to talk and relate to men. I preferred that my sexual partners have a respectful energy. I went out a lot with my friends to clubs and parties but I didn’t leave them to go have sex with guys. I had one or two one-night stands out of curiosity but I wasn’t a fan. The idea of being touched by someone who didn’t give a damn about me, who was only trying to use me for the night, repulsed me. I set very clear standards with guys that I was going to see. He didn’t show me any respect, he didn’t get sex—period.
I started to learn a little more and my rose colored glasses were finally yanked off. Most of the guys I dated I had met through friends or at work. I slowly realized I live in a world where guys make a sport out of girls. My next sexual experience came from another African guy, named Jean. He didn’t have standout looks like the previous guys but his life was a lot more stable and his manner was very unassuming. Jean was finishing his masters at an Ivy League university and seemed to come from a family with money. He drove a luxury vehicle, lived alone, and never seemed to worry about much. He looked and seemed like a “good boy” but he wasn’t. He seemed sneaky and he was a little corny. The first time we hung out, I wasn’t all that interested. He asked me to be his girlfriend and I rejected him, but we continued to see each other. Jean had a game. He kept a condom underneath his pillow at all times. He also always had a big bottle of Grey Goose that he would mix with ginger ale into a potent cocktail for me when I would come over. The odd thing about him was that he wasn’t particularly good at sex but the sex was good. His penis curved a little to the right, so maybe it was all mechanics. I had the best birthday sex of my life with him. He knew how to cooperate and that made all the difference. I remember floating home after that. I became infatuated with him, even though this was a guy that I initially rejected. He, on the other hand, had moved on. I began acting crazy, sending him long psycho bitch text messages and showing up at his apartment making scenes. All that turned him off! I found out from a friend that he was chasing a mutual friend of ours and taking her out to expensive dinners. He was a player! He later revealed to me that he would refill the Grey Goose bottle with Devil Springs—a very high proof vodka—to get girls drunk faster, and that it was something that he had been doing for years! Looking back now, I realize his was predatory behavior, and I had just had my first official lesson in how that kind of dude operates.
Tyler was the first white guy I had a sexual relationship with. Dude was athletic and hot, the type of hot that’s universal. Whether you’re black or white, yellow or green, young or old . . . you’re gonna notice. He knew the affect he had on people. Yet he wasn’t arrogant or manipulative. He was just cool. He was also very well endowed! He changed my initial perception of white guys. I believed a lot of the stereotypes about white guys and was a little afraid of them, but he erradicated them. Until Tyler, I had completely avoided getting serious with white guys. I had attracted and hung out with some pretty exceptional ones too, guys who went out of their way for me and had the world at their feet. It never mattered because I wouldn’t let it get past a certain level. Looking back, I now regret not taking any of them seriously and am astounded at how closed minded I was. We were so compatible, I sometimes forgot he was white.
The first time we spent the night together we didn’t have sex and I liked the fact that he was cool with that. Our relationship was interesting and dynamic because fifty percent of it was very primal and the other fifty was friendship. The primal part was intense; we were constantly touching or in physical contact. We often stopped to make out in public and we sometimes had sexual encounters in the streets. We were in a zone, a very exhilarating one. In many ways, the relationship tested my limits. Half the time we just kicked back and laughed a lot! And let me tell you, the sex was off the chain. He was kinky and open-minded . . . very open-minded. He turned me on to things I never tried or imagined before. I discovered another side of me. He freed me in a sense and I learned that sex didn’t really need to have any rules. I was down to try whatever and so was he, so long as we both were satisfied. He was very different from my first. We had a great run but eventually we drifted apart. Our fantasy bubble burst, but our sexual escapades taught me to see and understand myself differently as a woman.
While discovering a deeper sense of who I was, I became more and more disillusioned with men. I felt that either I was encountering and dealing with a lot of immature men or that I wasn’t making the best choices. Things made no sense and I was often let down, sometimes even heartbroken. This sent me into a downward spiral. My sense of self-worth declined, affecting my sexual patterns and how I engaged in them. Until Tyler, I had been with only three or four guys. I took pride in that, but the unsteadiness of my dating life and the men who used me took its toll. I threw my moral compass into the ocean and turned my back on everything that I had been taught or even believed was right. The good girl was dead, murdered by a gang of undeserving little boys posing as men. My rigid and repressive beliefs, things I’d been carved from, also died. The biggest loss? My self-respect and the high standards I’d held onto for dear life. But ultimately, I ama work in progress and learning to let down walls while striving to keep my high standards in place.
To Be Continued