How To Feel Good About Being Queer

Instagram, I’m not gonna shut up

Some days it feels like the world is hell-bent on maintaining a racist, cis-heteronormative, sex-negative, compmono, misogynist, fucked-up status quo. Not gonna lie, I have a ton of privilege, AND being a kinky polyam queer educator is still difficult. Chances are, if you’re reading this, then you know exactly what I’m taking about. I’m sure you’re also tired of these unjust systems. They impact all of us, they impact some to horrifying degrees. It’s not a competition of who has it better or worse. We are all in solidarity working against unequal systems that need to be obliterated. I want all of us to be free. I want change. You also want change (If you don’t, I think you might be in the wrong place, lol). Change takes energy and it takes courage. Here are some affirmations I like to hold on to, when it all feels like too much:

1. Your pleasure is powerful. Follow what is “life giving”

“When you feel good, you do good,” that’s the basic theme of Pleasure Activism by Adrienne Maree Brown. Recognizing the things and people that make us feel happy, supported, enthusiastic highlights our reasons for living. When I follow my pleasure it leads me to: art-making with friends, taking the time to put love into the food I’m cooking, making space to relate to my pals in intimate ways, spending time walking outdoors, and prioritizing learning new ideas that stimulate my mind. Often the world feels busy and chaotic. Bills pile up, work stress clouds our days, mental health issues pop up, physical health limits our abilities to do activities, personal tragedy, family conflict, loss, grief, anger, all of the daily stressors get to be too much. While all of those things do require our attention, they aren’t necessarily “life giving” (to borrow Chaune’s words). I’ve found that in order to have more energy to deal with the difficult parts of life, it’s crucial to prioritize pleasure. We often hear stuff like “make time for self-care” but I think that’s too superficial. I’m not gonna act like taking a bubble bath somehow solves discrimination. It doesn’t. However, finding the actual purpose of your life, the things that make you feel deeply pleasurable, can help recalibrate our energy, and work towards a concrete goals for change. When I look at my list of pleasurable activities, I find ways to make them priorities and it’s easier to see all the bullshit that I can give less energy to. We all deserve to have living conditions that allow us to prioritize pleasure. My work is about encouraging people to be unashamed about feeling good. We all deserve to find the things that are “life giving”. It’s not about running from problems, it’s about being aware of how time is consumed and being free for interactions with people and passions that make us feel good.

2. You’re not alone, and you’re needed.

Individual impact can feel tiny when you’re up against systems that are much larger than you. I often find myself asking, what is the point of working so hard and doing so much when I don’t have an impact in the grand scheme of things. But those are the wrong questions. It’s not about impacting the whole world, it’s about individuals. I’ll give you an example: when I was coming out, I felt fucking scared of losing all the stability in my life. I knew my family wouldn’t be supportive (though I drastically underestimated to what degree), I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep my job, I knew lots would change and it was scary. I cannot stress how important it is to be visible to others. The person who gave me the courage to fully come out has no concept of the impact she’s had on my life. Seeing the way she was able to be her authentic self, made me realize that it was ok. I’m not that different from a lot of other people. It’s not weird to be gay and kinky and polyam. I only felt normal when I could really see others like me. Not fictional representations, real people. Your visibility, your voice, your ability to be you IS important. I attended Andrea Gibson’s workshop. They taught us how to use creative expression to own our stories and process pain. I want to give tools to others, to express what they have lived through, and who they are becoming. It’s impactful to have a voice. Even if you think no one is listening, that’s not always true. The world is still not an equal place, we need to see more people who are thriving (not necessarily all the time, but sometimes!) even if the conditions are unfair and make life that much harder.

3. Your way of relating to others is healing.

Practicing CARS (consensually alternative relationship structures) takes deliberate effort. It forces us to become acutely aware of compulsory monogamy. Being in non-monogamous, polyamorous, or just different relationships can be isolating and painful at times. But the people who are committed to learning these new practices and ways of relating are also having an impact. I think above all, embracing relationship anarchy has forced me to scrutinize the unhealthy patterns of behaviors that existed in my previous relationships. I’ve learned to accept my pals for who they are, and create relationships that support our differences rather than trying to manipulate or change each other to be different. It’s so freeing to give each other space. Having a variety of relationships works better for us. We don’t need to prioritize one single romantic relationship above everyone and everything else forever. I love that. I’ve found healing with partners who recognize my limitations and respect them, rather than making me feel like I’m broken or not enough. I believe that learning CARS goes far beyond having sex with a bunch of people (though that certainly can be a perk!). CARS is about treating each other with dignity and respect. Learning how to interact this way in intimate relationships translates to how you behave with others in the world. I absolutely love how many people are setting out on this journey despite its many challenges. I learn from all the ENM people I talk to. Again, you are important.

4. Your desires lead to freedom.

Claiming your desires and learning the tools to practice them safely is much more powerful than suppressing your urges. We live in a sexually repressed culture that teaches us that sex is bad. It’s not. The message that intimacy has to look only a certain way allows it to be commodified and controlled. Sex-negativity is used as a rationale for oppressing certain folks. It’s not a real ethical argument. There is nothing wrong with being sexual. Shame and guilt are instilled in us to restrict how we connect with others, and I don’t support that. Fear of our own bodies and each other is not healthy. Realizing that you can claim your desires is freeing! I remember the rush of euphoria when I accepted I wasn’t sick or broken for wanting intimacy that transcends compulsory cishet vanilla p-in-v. Even if you prefer vanilla (nothing wrong with that!) you can learn safer-sex and communication. Giving people the tools to talk to each other, express desires, and negotiate the way they have sex is liberation. Ultimately, what we do with our bodies, how we express affection, who we love, and what we want should not be subject to state or corporate control. Embracing kink philosophies (whether you practice BDSM or not) makes sexuality about YOU and your pals. Not being ashamed makes you able to pursue your pleasure (see point 1) and ultimately that’s a great feat. I’m really proud of everyone who’s on a journey to reclaim their bodies and sexualities.

5. Your consent will change the world.

Bodily autonomy is the foundation of all my work. Consent is the word that encompasses your right to choose what you do and do not want to happen to you. Consent applies to all touch, physical intimacy, and emotional intimacy. Being able to say “yes, I want this” or “no, I don’t want this” is a fundamental right we should all possess. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Many of us have our consent ignored or violated on a daily basis. People interact with us in ways that make us uncomfortable, don’t respect us, or put us in danger. The more you insist on applying consent to all aspects of your daily life, the more you reclaim your liberty. Asking people if you can touch them, if they’re in a place to have a conversation, if they can support you, etc gives them the ability to show up in ways that are authentic. I believe the more we understand that consent isn’t about placing restrictions on others, but about being true to who we are and respecting others, the more we can have interactions that are healthy and positive.

End of the day, for me, it’s pretty clear: just because instagram, tiktok, Facebook, stripe, PayPal tells me to shut up, it doesn’t really matter. I’m inspired by the people I connect with, who reach out seeking support, wanting to have conversations that defy the status quo. I got into this line of work because I was unhappy with purity sex education. Y’all are too. I’ve found people who care, who have the same values and beliefs as I do, people who are fed up and looking for change. I’m not here for clout, I’m here to support, learn, and teach alongside all of you. I appreciate everyone who’s on this journey!

I hope we got your juices flowing. As always, we aim to provide as much free and accessible content as possible; thanks to the amazing support of our . If you want to help us keep the orgasms flowing, head over to our Patreon to support our work and get access to bonus content! And follow Queer Pleasure by Shrimp Teeth wherever you listen to podcasts so you don’t miss an episode.

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Shrimp Teeth is a queer, kinky, polyam digital platform that encourages folks to reclaim and explore their sexuality and relationships.

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