Sex Lives chronicles the evolution of one person’s sex life. This week: Roman, 33, Nashville, TN.
My first experience with sex was definitely Cinemax because my dad bought every movie channel there was. The living room had every other part of the house connected to it, like the bathroom, the kitchen, the master bedroom, the hallway to the other bedrooms. So why my dad chose to watch the stuff in our living room, I’m not quite sure. He would stay up late and watch TV, but then he would fall asleep and I would come in afterwards. Especially during summertime, I would stay up late, this was probably in second or third grade, and he would fall asleep and I would walk in and the channel would still be on just because he left it on. I don’t know if he was watching a regular movie or not, but of course after 11pm or midnight they start showing all this softcore stuff, so I would come in and I would crouch and hide behind the couch and peek around it so I could watch that. I never got the sex talk, though. My dad’s side is Italian and we have a huge Italian family and my aunts and uncles would tease him about the fact that he was too embarrassed to talk with me about sex. Growing up apparently he had a loud mouth about the fact that when he had a kid he’d raise them to know what everything was, what sex was, and he never did. Even after my aunts and uncles teased him about it. He would blush and get all red and he still couldn’t bring himself to talk to me about it.
I was the last one of my friends to masturbate. Sex was everywhere as far as the culture at my school, there was a good amount of pressure. It was a race to see who could do things first, like, who can smoke pot first, who would masturbate first, and of course, the ultimate was who would get laid first? That was like the big one. Whenever one of my friends would jack off for the first time, they’d let everyone know. But I was the last one. It got to the point where like, everybody else had done it and it would keep keep coming up and I was like, fine, fine. So I had Cinemax on a TV in my room at that point — you can trace a line through my sex life with Cinemax, apparently— and I got hard, which I understood, but then I didn’t know what to do. I guess… take it into the bathroom? So I went into the bathroom, and I was like, I guess I’m just gonna like, do this in the toilet. I knew that sperm had to come out but I didn’t know what was gonna happen. I just stood in front of the toilet and I closed my eyes and I had no idea what was going to happen. But after I came, I almost passed out. I guess I had a blood rush to the head. I got really dizzy and I felt sick to my stomach. I immediately ran back to my room and was like, “Never doing that again.” I thought it was like a prank for my friends. I was like, no wonder they kept asking me why I haven’t masturbated yet because it feels like shit.
I identify as queer and nonbinary, although I only came to that realization a couple years ago. Part of the reason is because the older I got the more questions I asked myself and the more I dove into this stuff, the more I just didn’t see that labels — whether gender-wise or sexuality-wise — were helpful. I had no idea growing up, honestly. During the pandemic I downloaded a book; I wish I remembered the name of it, but it’s a book about nonbinary people in the music industry. I was reading it and like talking about some of the fascinating things out of it with my wife and she just looked at me and she’s like, “Are you non binary? Or do you think you’re non binary?” And I never asked myself that. I just remember being gobsmacked. I’d always thought about these questions being for other people, but I never bothered to ask myself these questions. I sat for probably two weeks thinking and reading; I got some books and did some studying on queerness and gender and finally just came to the conclusion that I don’t see a reason why I would call myself male at this point. It just doesn’t line up with how I view gender and how I view sexuality and how I view myself.
About six months later, after talking with my wife about sex and sexuality so much, we decided to open up our relationship. So now we are in a polyamorous relationship. She has a girlfriend. She’s no longer open. So she just likes me and her girlfriend and they don’t want anybody else. I am still open personally. For the longest time I was like, “I basically just want friends with benefits, like people that I could get to know and hang out with and have fun with but then maybe have sex with.” But then I had a girlfriend for a little while—we didn‘t break up for any reason other than her personal mental health. As of right now am I looking for a serious girlfriend/boyfriend situation? No. But, you know, I said that shit last time.