Apr 6 • 7M

#16: Authenticity Arena – No. 03

‘D’, 27, queer, Tamil, non-binary femme, partnered, London

Almaz Ohene
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[Image description: Text ‘Authenticity Arena No. 01’ on a navy blue background with a lilac paintbrush stroke highlighted segment]

Almaz note: Please do listen to the audio extract, while simultaneously following the text transcription, as it makes for a richer experience.

The audio recording (above) and transcript (below) represent seven-ish minutes from the middle of an hour-long chat I had with ‘D’, who’s a queer, Tamil, non-binary femme, who, at the time of interview in August 2021 was 27, partnered, and living in London.

‘D’ shared with me their early memories of sexual desire, which included descriptions of how they discovered sensual sensations at the age of six or seven by rubbing against a life-sized Mickey Mouse teddy bear. We discussed the oftentimes competitive nature of adolescent hook-ups, the pandemic’s effect on desire, and also the ebb and flow of horniness in general. The segment I’m sharing is a fairly explicit extract where ‘D’ and I chat about how wondrous it can be to have your burgeoning adolescent sexuality validated by your peers and the hilarity of UK High Street nightclub culture.

Almaz – 20:52mins
How, then, did that childhood exploration develop into more adult sexuality; what we would recognise as adult sexuality?

‘D’ – 21:19mins
[Deep inhale, coughs]
Maybe at about thirteen… (Whispers: “Year 8, Year 9”) Yeah, 12 or 13, I found… so I kept masturbating but I didn’t know what it was called, or what it was. I thought I was like the only person that had found this, like, magical place. Or maybe I was the only person that had it in the whole world. Didn’t tell anybody.

At 12 or 13, I found a Judy Blume book at my aunt’s house. It must have belonged to my cousins or something, and just flicking through it someone talked about touching themselves in their, like, magic place down there. Judy Blume was like, “That’s called masturbation.” And I was like, “Oh my god!”. And that was like a mind-blowing moment. I was like, “Who is this random white woman”…

Almaz – 22:06mins
[Chuckles gently]

‘D’ – 22:06mins
…and, like, “Oh, it turns out I’m not the only person who does this.” So that was a real, like, revelatory moment.

Then, in Year 9, in geography lessons, I sat next to this girl called [REDACTED]. Are you like… you’re changing names.

Almaz – 22:30mins
Yeah, yes, yeah.

‘D’ – 22:31mins
Yeah.

Almaz – 22:31mins
Yeah.

‘D’ – 22:38mins
Interestingly, she was the only other Tamil girl in my whole year and I was quite suspicious of her [scoffs], because I was like, “Oh I don’t trust these Tamil people who are gonna, like, blab, all my shit.”

But we were sat next to each other in, like, the seating arrangement. And I remember we didn’t really talk, or bond, or anything for, like, a good, like, month. I just wasn’t very interested in, like, making new friends.

And then, I don’t know how we got onto, like, touching ourselves. Maybe, like, you know, as Year 9s do you were sort of, like, pushing boundaries with each other, like, telling some secrets. Or maybe it was like, you know, “Do you fancy anyone?”

Almaz – 23:19mins
Mmm.

 ‘D’ – 23:20mins
 ‘Cause I went to a girls school, so it was like, “Oh, do you know any boys?”

Almaz – 23:23mins
[Laughs]

‘D’ – 23:25mins
Literally. Tragic.

Almaz – 23:29mins
[Finishes laughing]

‘D’ – 23:30mins
And it was like, “Oh have you kissed anyone?” and I hadn’t at that point. You know, like, in nursery, you know you do, but that doesn’t count. For us in Year 9, that didn’t count. And we must have gone on to do…  “Oh, but I kind of touch…”, you know, “Has anyone fingered you, or touched you, or whatever?” And then it must have been like, “Oh I touch…

Almaz – 23:52mins
Mmm-hmm.

‘D’ – 23:52mins
“I do this thing where I touch myself”, and [REDACTED] was like, “Oh my God, me too”, and she was the first person ever in my whole life to, like, also say, like, a real-life person to also say that she did that.

And I was like “Wow!”

And we, like, really bonded. But it was, like, a type of bond where, like, we would speak, like, so in-depth, in, like, every geography lesson, for, like, a whole year. But outside of geography, we never, like, acknowledged each other. You know?

So, I dunno, that’s quite a pivotal moment, I think, because that’s the first time that I was, like… I externally expressed something that I do that was sexual, and it wasn’t met with, like, you know, telling off…

Almaz – 24:34mins
Mmm.

‘D’ – 24:34mins
or disgust, or… It was, like validation and, like, “Oh, me too”.

Then, the first time as an adult, where I, like, kissed someone and got fingered [scoffs] was when I first went clubbing. I think it was, like, in the first 10 minutes [scoffs]. I was hammered at Watford Area.

Almaz – 25:00mins
[Coos with laughter]

‘D’ – 25:01mins
Someone… a guy… He was, like, Mauritian, and literally, in the first 10 minutes. I was like, “Oh, great, this is what, you know, you do. This is what people do.”

Almaz – 25:18mins
[Laughs]

‘D’ – 25:19mins
I’m part of, like, ‘The Crowd’. And then, continued to do that for, like, three years. Just go to clubs and get hammered and get fingered in the club. Yeah.

But I felt that that was the goal. That was, like, something I aspired to, right? Like, I… And maybe that Judy Blume book, and [REDACTED], and like people in the club who also did that, allowed me to not have any shame about it. And, I don’t know… it was like a badge of honor to be like, “Oh, I was, like, warned by a bouncer in Area, like, to stop, like, touching people’s penises.” Do you know what I mean?

Almaz – 26:01mins
[Chuckles]

‘D’ – 26:05mins
And, yeah, I never felt shame about it, so…

Almaz – 26:09mins
That is really interesting, because lots of the people that I’ve been speaking to, who are adults, ranging from 25 to 50. Various people are saying that they hold a lot of shame surrounding sex. But in the survey haven’t necessarily gone into why that might be, because it’s quite difficult to process, and look inward with such depth to work out why that might be. But I really think that there is so much in what you said, in having a positive validation, when you do explore things, or tell people what you’ve been doing, and you are met with understanding, and jocularity, and, like “yay”. Because, urm… I mean, I need to analyse the data a bit more. But on the survey, it does look like the people who have said “Oh, they feel shame” and then we’ve gone on and had these interviews, it looks as if they are the people that haven’t experienced external positive validation in these things. But, like, I… in my own personal experience… let me think…

In school, the school that I went to – or the groups of people that I engaged with in school – there was no shame around sexual behaviour.

[CONVERSATION CONTINUES FOR ANOTHER 30 MINUTES]

[Image description: White speech box with black border shadows. Black text ‘As part of my research for my book, I’m running an anonymous online sexuality survey’. Dark orange text ‘bit.ly/ao_sexsurvey’. Black text ‘Anyone over 18 can fill it in, wherever you are in the world.’ Picture of coloured rectangles placed at angles with black border shadows. White text ‘Do you have guilt or shame around desire, sex or pleasure? Why/why not? Do you support compulsory sex and relationships education?’ on top rectangle]

The sexuality survey is still open, so in the meantime please do fill in/share it as all of the responses are helping me make connections between the ways in which we’ve been socialised and our relationship to sexuality.

Take Survey


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The ‘POSTSCRIPT’ segment for paid subscribers will drop on Wednesday 13 April. To receive this extra mailout, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid subscription.


[Image description: Text ‘PRODUCED BY’ on navy blue background with a lilac paintbrush stroke]

I’m Almaz Ohene, a Creative CopywriterFreelance Journalist and Accidental Sexpert.
Follow me on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook

Recent work:
For dating app Baddo’s digital magazine ‘The Truth’, I wrote about why we shouldn’t have to play it ‘cool’ on dates: ‘cool’ dating mostly consists of undefined relationships where people aren’t communicating what they really want out of the situation.

For dating app Feeld’s blog, I wrote about how colonialism affects sexuality (again!): the effect of colonialism on politics is well-documented – but what about on sex and relationships?

Available for commissions. Info via almazohene.com/contact-faqs.

Upcoming live event:

[Image description: Text ‘What we can all learn from polyamory? Challenging the cultural script around sex and relationships Sex Talks 05 Apri 13th, 6:30pm The London Edition’ on blurry image of a person’s face, with an orange border]

Hosted at The London EDITION, 10 Berners Street, London W1T 3NP, this month’s Sex Talks session, hosted by presenter writer and founder of Her Hustle Emma-Louise Boynton, will unpick some of damaging cultural scripts around sex and relationships.

Emma-Louise will be joined on stage by myself and Bronwyn Griffiths, aka ‘Fanny Minka’ of Sink the Pink, a queer polyamorous writer and performer and Nadine Noor Ahmad, aka ‘Nadine Artois’, DJ and co-founder of Pxssy Palace.

🥂 Tickets include a complimentary drink on arrival.

She Dares To Say readers can get 20% off their ticket price by using the following discount code: ALMAZ20

Ticket link: eventbrite.co.uk/e/sex-talks-do-we-all-having-something-to-learn-from-polyamory-tickets


If you enjoy this content and would like to support please consider becoming a paid subscriber of ‘She Dares to Say’.

If you would prefer to make a one-off donation, feel free to also send a contribution via PayPal.

Support