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    The Queer Art of Fucking Your Friends

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    The Queer Art of Fucking Your Friends

    I am attracted to my friends in so many ways – why would sexual attraction be out of the question?

    For as long as I can remember, I’ve desired romantic relationships with boys, and then as I got older, men. Also for as long as I can remember, I’ve had sexual fantasies exclusively about girls, and then as I got older, women. As a child, this felt to me like a misalignment, a glitch in the structure of my desire. I believed desire was supposed to be straightforward, a clear-cut gay or straight, and that anything with boundaries more diffuse implied I was at worst, in denial, or at best, confused – a state that would eventually have to resolve onto one side or the other. This has been the dissonance of my sexuality, causing psychological stress from age eleven onward, when one episode of Sex and the City taught me that women who want to date men masturbate to male celebrities exclusively, and another episode taught me that casual sex between female friends was not a real and natural possibility but a punchline, only funny because it was so outlandish. In the cold light of Carrie and Miranda’s mutual Russell Crowe fantasy and mutual denial of sexual tension, I came to think there was something wrong with me for crushing on boys but masturbating to girls. I was too expansive. I just wanted to be what I perceived as normal: someone who fantasized about the same people they wanted to date.

    My own fantasies became a dark secret, as my public sexual persona read as straight: I present femme, and all of my long-term relationships have been with cis men. Queerness was inside me, inevitably private because it centered more around thought than action. Coming into the vocabulary of queerness later in life helped me reclaim my lack of definition as something to relish in, to feel proud of, but growing up, I had neither the language nor confidence to admit this. 

    I was a late bloomer sexually. I had little experience in high school; when I got to college, I sporadically hooked up with boys possessing neither the capacity to connect emotionally nor the skills to make me come, until I met and fell in love with M. Sex with him was my first experience of mutual pleasure and fulfillment, of having a partner eager to get to know my body in all its particularities. Sophomore year, I spent the majority of my time with M, S, and L, the first being my boyfriend, the second two being my best friends. S, L, and I had already formed a little family, and my relationship with M, though eventually integrated into our threesome, at first disrupted it. I was used to getting all my love – emotional and physical – from the two of them. We had sleepovers, we snuggled, we held hands walking down the street, gave each other massages, squeezed and poked each other, and commented on each other’s naked and beautiful bodies. With them, I felt free for the first time to admire my girlfriends, even though we didn’t acknowledge it as a sexual act. We didn’t kiss on the mouth, or touch each other’s bodies in an explicitly sexual way. Dating each other was assumed to be off the table, though we were constantly mistaken as lovers because of all the PDA. 

    Midway through sophomore year, my relationship with M fell apart, and I entered a prolonged episode of acute anxiety. My anxious thoughts again centered around my sexuality, and the potentially closeted nature of it. I had asked him once, desperately, “But what if I’m secretly attracted to all my friends?” He looked at me, bewildered: “You definitely are attracted to all your friends, so I don’t understand exactly what you’re worried about.” Oh. He was right, of course, but for one thing, I was worried I’d ruin the friendships.



    I was too used to the mutual reassurances in female friendship that we weren’t attracted to each other. We played and touched, giggling about one of our nipples getting hard but in the same breath agreeing we couldn’t imagine what it would be like to go down on a girl, regurgitating what we’d been taught about the grotesque nature of our bodies. In fact, I fantasized about giving my friends head, and who knows if they did too, but I couldn’t say it. I thought it wasn’t allowed, and I was confused about what I actually wanted from my friends, anyway. The affection we gave to each other felt markedly different than the affection we sought from boys, and I didn’t want it to be the same. We never worried that there was not enough to go around; our love and lust felt abundant, whereas male affection felt scarce and unattainable, something you had to win and then continue to work to retain. I never worried my friends valued me solely for my body or the ways they could interact with it. From camp to locker rooms to dorm rooms, the assumption was that we could be so free and naked in front of each other because sexual attraction didn’t have to be taken into consideration, or at the very least, because it was not a threat. When my friends changed clothes in front of me, they didn’t turn around or cover their nipples or tell me not to look, because my gaze was supposedly neutral. I was worried that implicit in this assumption was a lack of sexual desire on my part, and that correcting this assumption would destroy the easy closeness and physicality I shared with the women I loved. 

    When I confessed, my friends were unfazed. I was relieved I didn’t scare them away, but forced to confront my own confusion: were my fantasies just fantasies? Did I want to date my friends after all? I didn’t think I did, but sexual desire without an explicitly romantic desire accompanying it still didn’t make sense to me. I needed to feel secure in my hypothesis that attraction to my friends didn’t necessarily mean I wanted the relationship to change. I spoke to S about this, and we decided to kiss on the mouth finally, to cross a symbolic boundary once and for all. It sounds so childish now, and it was, but that’s also what made it so sweet. We chose a summer night in her stiflingly hot room, drank a bottle of three-dollar Trader Joe’s wine, and sat on the floor kissing and squealing, marveling in the normalcy of it. I’d cuddled with S naked, but making out was somehow a weightier act. It changed nothing, exactly as I’d hoped it would. Though she found the edge of the platonic boundary as arbitrary as I did, its existence had never made her very anxious. She loved me, though, and her willingness to push a boundary we both found arbitrary because I needed proof it was arbitrary was extremely kind, and I was grateful.

    I continued to have little desire to date women in practice, though I felt more comfortable with my fantasy life, and with the ambiguity now present in some of my female friendships. I fell in love with another man, and we dated for another year, until that started to fall apart as well. I was getting more curious about who I wanted to sleep with and why, about the possibilities available to me outside of monogamous relationships, platonic friendships, and casual sex with men. I fucked one of my closest friends, C. We went to Hot Rabbit, dancing and sweating and getting wasted on margaritas as a means of handling the bumping club vibe neither of us particularly enjoyed. We intermittently kissed, having already spoken about how we were both curious about sleeping with each other. 

    We went home together. Giving in to the lust that had always been there was soft, easy, exciting. Sex at night was drunk and lost, too new and strange and tired to be much of anything, but fucking again in the morning felt like a tender seal to what had happened: we were friends, we loved each other, giving one another orgasms felt like a different but no less platonic expression of that love. We slept together a second time later that summer, wasted again in the dark glow of post-breakup tragic freedom. At first, we nearly had a threesome with the guy I’d just started seeing. It stopped right after it started, but in the morning we fucked just the two of us, then walked to meet our friend at a diner, holding hands and laughing in the sun, painfully hung-over. A few weeks later, I had a drunken threesome with L and our close male friend, awkwardly pawing at each others’ bodies with hands and mouths in what was even then acknowledged as a random, one-time experience, occurring only because of our respective relationship statuses and the relative geographical inconveniences of getting back home. But I felt free; I felt honest.

    That summer let me reveal something to myself, in full, that I had always known but been afraid of – the line between friend and lover is so thin so as to be barely there. I have always been someone who is made anxious and upset by arbitrary boundaries. I like to know why limits are drawn where they are; I need a reason. I see nothing wrong with keeping sex out of a friendship in order to sustain a less complicated dynamic. Sex does complicate things, there’s no denying that. But it felt intolerable to me to pretend that sex was intrinsically outside of the friendship dynamic. I am attracted to my friends in so many ways – why would sexual attraction be out of the question? 

    The platonic/romantic binary is just as false as all the others. Admitting that has made my friendships richer and more truthful. Giving my friends pleasure felt pure, a more singular kind of giving than I had previously experienced, less fraught. When I sleep with men, I tend to do so the first time I go out with them; sometimes it turns into an ongoing relationship and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m usually either doing it for the validation, or because I actually do want to date the person, and want them to want to keep fucking me. Both reasons make me anxious much of the time. Sleeping with my friends happened in the opposite order; the relationship was already long since established, and we weren’t moving toward anything. I wasn’t trying to get them to see me a certain way; I just wanted to get to know them in a new way, on top of all the others. 

    Queerness is located not just inside me but also interpersonally, in the dynamics I seek and feel seen by. I have stopped sleeping with my friends with as much frequency, but sexual desire is no longer feared or categorically denied in our relationships. I now live with my closest friends from childhood. We met at eleven, we were children together and then suddenly we became adults together, a transition that bound us with an unbelievable but forever quality like a blood oath taken in the woods. I am the one who is openly attracted to the other two, and both acknowledge it in different ways. One dismisses me sexually though she receives me in absolutely every other way, and the other flirts back, but rarely returns the desire. On a couple of occasions though (birthdays, breakups), we’ve kissed and touched, but have stopped short beyond that. We went on a date to the beach recently, talking about our parents, our bodies, open relationships, food, New York. Laying on a shared towel, I lamented us being just friends, because of how romantic the setting was. She replied, “We’re not just friends!” and offered me her butt to touch. “It’s our special day,” she explained. It was. 

    Originally published in the “Camp” issue on June 25, 2017

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