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Sex & Love From sexual assault to sexual healing

Feb. 10, 2020
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TW: Rape/sexual assault

It’s hard to know where to begin when discussing my sexuality and its evolution from heterosexuality to fluidity. My story isn’t a picture-perfect incline of change. If my sexual evolution were depicted in textbooks, it’d be a nebulous cloud of haphazardly connected events and circumstances that eventually spit out a sexually fluid version of me. 

So I suppose a better word than “evolution” to describe my sexual self-actualization would be
metamorphosis”—metamorphosis being defined as “a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism.” I love that definition, because it doesn’t indicate a concrete cause for why the change occurred. Being sexually assaulted doesn’t get credit for my current sexual state, after all—but it was the spark that made room for change to transpire.

It happened when I was 21 and went to Coachella—not for the festival itself but for the multiple parties that took place around the area. This was in the height of my cocaine addiction, so I’d already done a few lines before getting to a party. Once I arrived, my friend and I decided we wanted to take acid too. Me being the addict that I was, I also took some Molly. By the time we got to the second soiree (read: rager) we were both tripping pretty hard; that’s when we met the guy who’d rented the house. We knew him from the club scene in LA but had never formally met. Once we did meet though he didn’t leave me alone—he flirted aggressively and used any excuse to touch me.

The next few hours have a cotton candy-like fog over them as the drugs really started to permeate my bloodstream. But there came a point when my friend was having a bad trip, and this guy made me feel like he was going to kick us out unless I slept with him. I was on acid, Molly, coke, and alcohol, barely able to stand. I felt so afraid that he’d kick us out when we had nowhere to go that I didn’t fight when he started kissing me and reaching his hand between my legs. I don’t remember much, except a lot of swirling shapes and colors and motion. I threw up immediately after he left.

Now, the tendrils of rape culture are so insidious that I, an avid activist and feminist, didn’t consider this rape until just this past year. Even now, typing those words elicits a tiny twinge of self-doubt and internalized victim-blaming in my mind. I mean, I went to the middle of the desert to go to parties with skeevy people and do a shit-ton of drugs. I didn’t have a plan for where we’d stay that night. I let him flirt with me and even flirted back. I didn’t stop him; I didn’t push him off. Was I not complicit? Was I not asking for it? These were all reasons for me to second-guess what had happened that night, but what really fucked up my logic for a long time was the fact that I hooked up with him multiple times once we were back home in LA.

Like what (and I cannot emphasize this enough) the fuck was wrong with me? What’s worse is that I became infatuated with him. I know now that this was my brain trying to protect me, but I still can’t help but be sickened. Sickened with him, yes, but more than anything sickened with myself. I became infatuated with my rapist. Try typing those words and not wanting to puke a little...or a lot. To this day I have to continually remind myself that it was a trauma response. You see, the brain can do any number of strange things when it has undergone physical or psychological trauma. Me? I fixated on my trauma and tried to mold it into something else. I turned my monster into the object of my desires. Monsters aren’t as scary that way. 

This lasted for awhile, but not surprisingly our “fling” ended catastrophically. Once it did, I started fucking anything with two legs. I was banging like a bunny on Viagra. Sometimes I’d sleep with multiple people in one day. These sexual exploits went on for several years. Once I finally extracted myself from the LA club scene and stopped consuming copious amounts of drugs, though, I actually started to get my life together. I got clean and began actively pursuing my career. With this newfound clarity I became more comfortable with my sexuality and my love of sex. Although I wasn’t hooking up as consistently as I had been in my hard partying days, I was still hoeing more than the average individual. It was right around this time that I began to think critically about the shift in my sexual nature and decipher when and why it was that I became so promiscuous. 

I explored my timeline of titillation, going backwards in my mind. I hadn’t consciously thought about that night at Coachella for a long time. But as I explored those remnant memories with a sober and more knowledgeable mind, it hit me like a train car: I was raped. Not only was I barely conscious, but I was also threatened and coerced into having sex with him. That’s rape, plain and simple. The shock of that realization aside, I found myself more lost than ever as to why I had turned into such a self-identified (and actual) slut. How did my being raped result in an increase in sexual behavior? What sort of person responds to sexual trauma 

I didn’t have any friends or loved ones who had ever responded in this manner, nor had I seen this type of response to sexual trauma represented in the media before. Of course on-screen representations of sexual assault are almost always shot through the male gaze and problematic to say the least, but they’re also limited in scope. 

It took me a long time to realize that I wasn’t healing from my trauma through the act that caused me trauma—a thought which was deeply troubling to me; I was healing from being a victim of violence through consensual, pleasurable sex. I was coping. I was seeking solace in sex. I can’t tell you how relieving that epiphany was for me. 

This discovery brought with it a new perspective on sex and sexuality. My ideas, beliefs, values, and actions toward sex had been consistently fluctuating for the past several years since that night. I was having a lot of sex and shaming myself for it; I was having a lot of sex and loving myself for it. I went through periods of intense experimentation in the bedroom (toys, roleplay, positions, locations, etc.), and periods of only wanting to fuck in one position. Within one boning session I’d be interested in trying something, only to suddenly not want to do it at all. I’d be attracted to everyone—and I mean literally everyone that passed by me—and then I’d only want to fuck one person. As I was working through my trauma and seeking healing, my sexuality was constantly evolving, transforming, and shifting to make room for whatever brought me solace in that moment.

To be clear, this epiphany didn’t halt my sexuality from changing. My continuous and flowing sexuality has remained continuous and flowing to this day. The only difference is that now, I know I’m sexually fluid. My sexual attraction to all genders is not what defines me as sexually fluid—that was more of an afterthought. To me, I’m sexually fluid because sex and what I find pleasurable is constantly changing, whether that be over a span of years or a few moments. Maybe I didn’t go through a metamorphosis to find my identity—maybe I’m constantly in metamorphosis.