Every day, porn star and University of Southern California journalism grad student Tasha Reign wakes up to a curious string of emails from her fans, a devoted group of men and women she lovingly refers to as “Reigndeer.” Said Reigndeer ask her questions — so many questions — about her perspectives on sex, love, relationships and life itself, and as someone who’s had more firsthand experience in these areas than four average adult women combined, she’s become uniquely up to the task of answering them. Every Friday then, Tasha will select a few of these questions and grace us with her insight, advice and expert wisdom in the hopes that she can help you fuck long and prosper.
I’m a closeted bi dude who runs with a very heteronormative, bro-y circle. They’re old friends of mine and I want to come out to them, but I feel like they’re going to have a hard time understanding that I’m not gay or straight. I’m really not looking forward to the whole “Dude, just pick one!” thing. What would you do?
Coming out is always challenging, but it can be particularly hard for bisexual people because of the pressure to “pick a team.” I remember knowing that I was bisexual at a very young age and getting that a lot as I slowly came out to the people around me, which felt awful. People thought I was greedy, or just too scared to admit I was a lesbian. It didn’t help that I lived in Orange County, the “Bible Belt of California.” It’s a place that was, and still is, as unwoke to bisexuality as your community seems to be. So I totally understand you when you say you’re not sure how they’re going to react.
Guess what, though? You don’t have to tell everyone in your life, especially not at the same time! When you’re ready, I’d come out just to the people who you know will love and appreciate you no matter what. These could be your parents, other queer people in your life or even a close female friend — anyone who you feel safe sharing your sexuality with who aren’t your bros. Because you mentioned this might be difficult for them, I think it’s a good idea to work up a small support group of other people who will have your back first, just in case things go south with them (which I’m sure they won’t).
Once you’ve done that, I’d recommend you loosely plan your bro reveal. Think about what context and setting would be best to approach them in. Are they better one-on-one, or would they be more responsive to a group thing? What needs to be in place for them to actually hear you when you come out to them? Usually, the more sober people are for this, the better.
When the time comes to tell them, start by letting them know how difficult it is for you to tell them this, but that it’s important for you to be seen by them. Then, dive right in. Explain what bisexuality is and what it means to you, making it clear that it’s not just a stepping stone on the way to coming out as gay. Giving them an anecdote might help — maybe the moment you realized that you were bi and how it’s impacted your life so far. Next, explain why you wanted to share it with them now and that you’re grateful for their friendship and understanding.
And then? You wait. Situations like this tend to make your true friends come out of the woodwork, and I’m more than willing to bet a couple of your bros will react with respect and understanding when you break the news. Some of them might even be closeted themselves, and hearing you talk about your sexuality so openly might give them the courage to do the same.
If they react with anything less than love and support, that’s also okay — sometimes, you pay a price for being who you are, and unfortunately, that price is often having to weed out relationships that no longer serve you. It’s hard when that happens, but it’s actually a good thing — my honest opinion is that you don’t need friends in your life that don’t accept you for who you are. Plus, even if you lose a couple of bros, you can replace them with new friends who either share or accept your identity. That’s actually the best part about being out — it forces you to remodel your social life around people who get you. Doing that can be lonely at first, but it really pays off in the end.
However, I wouldn’t give up on Bromance Nation just yet. From what I’ve seen, even the people that react the most negatively at first tend to come around eventually, even if they don’t have it in their hearts initially. Some people just need some time. Other people just need some education — not everyone understands what bisexuality is or how it’s done, so you might find yourself having to educate your friends around your sexuality in order to help them see it’s nothing to get weird over. Keep the lines of communication open, and let them know you’re there if they have questions, comments, concerns or know of any hot singles you could date.
I know firsthand what it’s like to carry that secret from all your friends and family, but I’ll tell you this much — living your honest truth is really the only way to live. Once you get this off your chest, your whole world opens up. I hope your friends are part of your life when that happens, but if they’re not, fuck ‘em — there are always more bros in the sea (and they’re always wearing flip-flops for some reason — ew!).
I’ve been in a long-term relationship with my partner for over a decade. Every now and then we talk about marriage, but neither of us is super gung-ho about it. I feel like it’s become obsolete. Does getting married even mean anything anymore? Aside from the tax cuts, what’s the point?
Dude, I know what you mean! I have mixed emotions about marriage as well. When I think of my goals for the future I often think of having children, building a business and creating a beautiful life with my significant other. But rarely does a wedding pop into my mind. It’s tricky to form a clear opinion on the whole thing — on one hand, marriage feels antiquated, but on the other, it’s still something it seems like everyone under the sun is trying to do. If you’re anything like me, that turns me off to it — I’m not interested in doing something just because other people are or because it’s the “normal” thing to do.
I do want to get married, though. It’s just that I want to do it in my own, customized, Tasha-esque way. I want the rituals, the photos and the rock, but I don’t want an actual wedding. Why am I telling you this? Because I think that relationships — be they marriages, long-term commitments or something else — are entirely customizable entities that can take place on your terms, under your rules. Provided marriage is something you want, that’s how you give it meaning — you make it personal to you and your specific relationship, whatever that means for you and your partner. The point is that it’s yours; something just the two of you share that you work on and nourish together (and yeah, the tax cuts don’t hurt).
That said, you don’t have to get married to have a customized relationship with meaning, and I disagree with the idea that marriage necessarily makes your relationship “better” or more “official” (at least not in this culture). While I’ve heard some people say it takes their love to the next level, I also know plenty of couples who have been together for years without getting married, and they’re just as happy, committed and full of meaning as the ones that signed some paperwork down at the courthouse. Does that dilute the power of marriage or mean it’s become obsolete? Not at all — it’s just the way some people choose to have a relationship. One option isn’t better than the other — it all just boils down to what you want out of a long-term partnership.
I’d say that if your goals include things like birthing a pack of screaming children and a romantic mortgage co-signing, then yeah, marriage does make those things easier. It also helps with tax cuts, smooth inheritance rights and the option to receive your partner’s social security when they die (in fact, there are 1,138 unique legal benefits married couples have that the rest of us do not). There’s also something unique about being committed to someone in such a serious and difficult-to-reverse way. If you and your partner are people who think these things are cool and useful, then there’s all the meaning you need right there.
However, you don’t have to be married to receive legal and social benefits from your long-term relationship. You can also register as domestic partners, which is the legal way of saying, “I’ve been with this nut for years, and he lives in my house so give us health insurance benefits.” You get some benefits like hospital visitation rights and health insurance as a domestic partner, which makes it a handy way of adding that marriage-like bureaucratic touch to your relationship, but it saves you from having to enter into a full-blown marital contract.
And if even that sounds too official, then you know what? Fuck it. There’s no right or wrong way to be a couple who loves each other, and if marriage or domestic partnership doesn’t feel like “you,” then there is no point. If you’re still on fence about it though, I’d recommend that each of you make a list of what you think the pros and cons of marriage are. Fill them out separately, before showing each other what you wrote down. See where you differ, and see where you’re on the same page. You might find out some interesting things about what each of you wants out of a committed, long-term relationship that can help inform your decision.
I’d also suggest taking a look at your finances and analyzing whether combining your resources in a legal way would benefit both of you. If you think you’d add to each other’s value in that area and that’s something that’s important to you, then hey, marriage might not be a bad idea. But if just thinking about combining your lives and money legally makes you feel more burdened than enlightened, it’s probably not going to be a meaningful move. When all else fails, stick to my motto: Only do what feels like the right thing to do.
Plus, remember: Whatever decision you make about marriage now doesn’t have to be binding forever. It’s okay for you to feel “meh” about marriage today, but change your mind tomorrow. No one’s stopping you from breaking into a Little White Wedding Chapel when you’re 80. (Kyle, if you’re reading this, I definitely don’t want to wait until I’m 80.)
Do sex workers make better lovers?
I get asked this question a lot, and as a sex worker myself, I’m going to give you a wholehearted, enthusiastic and semi-screaming “yes” — sex workers do tend to make make pretty great lovers. However, I’m wary of saying we’re objectively “better” than anyone else. I don’t think sexual preferences are that generalizable, but you know what? There are some great reasons that sex with us can be pretty f-ing good.
For one, pleasing you is literally our job. I don’t want to speak for all sex workers here, but for myself and many of the ones I know, figuring out what turns you on and makes you tick is half the fun. Most of us take pleasure in being able to fulfill a need or fantasy you have, and are pretty open to experimenting and trying new things (so long as we’ve negotiated it and given our consent first). For that reason, people are usually more comfortable around us, too — they know we’re not judging them. So long as they’re respectful, they can be themselves around us. That always makes sex better, doesn’t it?
We also know how to please your mind. Since not all sex workers have sex every session — or at all — we have to be very good at creating stimulating intellectual and emotional connections with our partners and clients that play into the fantasy. We know how to make you feel special. We’re always listening and paying attention to your body language and what you say, picking up on small details and nuances we think we could use to turn you on. In general, I’d say we pay a unique amount of attention to you. We want your repeat business, so it’s in our best interest to engage your brain as well as your balls (or wherever).
However, it’s not just you we’re focused on. We also care about our own pleasure, and tend to be a bit more comfortable communicating our needs and boundaries during sexual interactions than the general public. For example, if someone’s going down on me, I have no problem telling them how I like it and how they can make it better for me. Not only does this facilitate consent and encourage communication, but it gives our partners a road map for how to please us, which also makes sex more enjoyable for all. (Again, generalizing here — all sex workers are different.)
All that said, being more experienced — and racking up more partners — does not, in any way, automatically make you better in bed. Any “player” can have a bunch of sex with no intention of pleasing their partners, and while they might be “getting it in” more often, it doesn’t mean they’re improving as lovers. In other words, it’s not the amount of sex you have that makes you good.
Rather, I think what really makes someone good in bed is an eagerness to learn and be trained. Some of the best sex I’ve ever had was with people who were relatively inexperienced, but they wanted to learn, listen and be open-minded about what I wanted to try (fantasy is extremely important, and if it’s something you can responsibly and empathetically explore with someone, that makes a great lover, no matter what you do to put food on the table). Those who are communicative, patient and can connect on more than just a physical level always make my toes curl, and that’s true whether you’re a sex worker, a virgin or just a random, middle-of-the-road plumber guy named Dan.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s column! Feel free to send me your sex, love and relationship questions at firstname.lastname@example.org!