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[Image description: Text ‘Authenticity Arena No. 02’ 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 makes for a richer experience.
The audio recording (above) and transcript (below) represent nine minutes of a chat I had with ‘C’, who’s Mexican, gay and non-binary, who, at the time of interview in July 2021 was 31, single, and living in London.
We discussed the role of Catholicism in sexual repression and the music video as a vehicle for sexual desire (my all-time favourite topic!). The interview was the first time ‘C’ and I had interacted with one another, but we really connected and by the time our scheduled time came to end it felt like we had become friends and ‘C’ suggested that we meet up IRL.
Almaz – 19:03mins
Yeah. Okay, so I haven’t actually watched this ‘Butterfly’ video, Crazy Town, but would you be able to describe it to me.
‘C’ – 19:16mins
[Chuckles] Well, yes. This video… it was one of the first videos I saw on MTV…
Almaz – 19:23mins
‘C’ – 19:24mins
In México we are surrounded by the American culture. So on this channel, it’s all about videos.
Almaz – 19:32
Sorry, let me just pause you. I’ve just googled it now and yeah, I remember this, I do know this song. I know this song! [chuckles]
‘C’ – 19:42
Yeah, it’s a boy band like the early beginnings of boy bands and it’s a white man, wearing… like, going through a forest without a T-shirt and sometimes he started doing exercise and it’s just, like… “Hmm, this male body all sweaty in nature, like, just expressing himself and all these pretty colours around him”. For me was really attractive.
Almaz – 20:07
‘C’ – 20:07
Yeah. That was the first time that I was, like, doubting what my sexuality [is]. Like this is bringing something to my body. Like, this is causing some reactions.
Almaz – 20:19
‘C’ – 20:19
I like these reactions. So, like, yes. And I think next it was Robbie Williams with, uh…
Almaz and ‘C’ – 20:19
‘C’ – 20:19
Almaz – 20:29
Yes, yes I know it well [chuckles].
Almaz – 20:29
Where he pulls all his skin off!
‘C’ – 20:35
You know, exactly, exactly like doing a striptease…
Almaz – 20:39
‘C’ – 20:39
… and taking the flesh off and everything…
‘C’ – 20:44
…it was like, “Okay!” Then, yes, just like female videos, Jennifer Lopez, ‘My Love Don’t Cost A Thing’, didn’t provoke anything in me. Yeah, that’s how I recognised where my tendencies were more.
Almaz – 20:59
‘C’ – 21:01
So, yeah, it was funny.
Almaz – 21:01
Yeah. Erm, in one of the chapters, I’m doing a deep dive into music videos, MTV and music videos, and I came of age… I’m 32, so I’m about the same age as you. And for me, I saw all those music videos, and they really had a massive impact on me. And actually, there’s just something within me that I absolutely love the medium of a music video. And even today, I will spend lots of time watching music videos. So my new obsession is K-Pop music videos.
‘C’ – 21:41
Okay, yeah, that’s… I haven’t been too much into K-Pop, but yeah, I know some songs. Like at the moment, who I think is breaking a lot of taboos is Lil Nas X.
Almaz – 21:51
‘C’ – 21:53
Like, his latest video, like, showing black bodies naked with other boys is, like, just fascinating. I love it! [chuckles]
Almaz – 22:02
Yeah, I’ve not actually seen the one that just came out last week, but the other one.
‘C’ – 22:07
Almaz – 22:07
Er, what’s it called, ‘Montero’?
‘C’ – 22:10
Almaz – 22:11
Yeah, yeah I love that one.
‘C’ – 22:14
Yeah, yeah. It’s really good. [chuckles]
Almaz – 22:18
Yeah. And I think what fascinates me about music videos is that, urm, that how they generate such discourse, so like, ‘Montero’ so many publications were talking about it for weeks, and weeks, and weeks…
‘C’ – 22:36
Almaz – 22:36
… and I found that really interesting.
‘C’ – 22:39
Yes, yes, like I think it’s something similar with what happened to Madonna in the early 80s. When she was like, “Yeah, I’m this female (that’s not necessarily why, but) “I’m a female that’s bringing her sexuality to the masses.”…
Almaz – 22:55
‘C’ – 22:55
…And now, is this Black man, bringing his sexuality, his gay sexuality, to the masses. So it’s like just point you go do it.
Almaz – 22:55
‘C’ – 22:55
Yeah. So I think it’s, admirable that representation of this group there. So, yeah. And so into it. [chuckles]
Almaz – 23:18
Okay. Ah, yeah, so you briefly touched on how you felt when you had sex with someone else for the first time. Would you be able to explain what the dynamic was with that person? Like, was it a positive dynamic? Or was it something that just happened because you felt it was the next logical step? Or?…
‘C’ – 23:47
The first time that I had sex. Well, the first time that I had sex, it was with someone who I met online. Like it was a stranger, really. Erm, the first… we have more than…was the first time we met, we see each other was just really kisses and getting to know each other like “let’s see how these goes.” Maybe there was a blowjob. But it was really. Okay, step by step.
Almaz – 24:16
‘C’ – 24:16
So, [the] next week I met him it was all about creating this bonding, and about, yeah, creating trust within the two of us. Yes, like I met him through [the] internet because in the school, no one was talking about being gay.
Almaz – 24:34
‘C’ – 24:34
I didn’t know anyone that was gay. So for me, it was easy to go to a gay chat and just find someone that lived near me.
Almaz – 24:42
‘C’ – 24:43
And well, yes, this dating started happening and by the third date, I remember he asked me to fuck him. Like, I probably was 15/16 years old. And he was older. And he was like, “Well, do you want to practice?” And I was like “Yes, let’s do it”. And it felt like… as I was saying, like, the first time it felt good. But I felt dirty.
Almaz – 25:09
‘C’ – 25:10
Like, I remember I was coming to my house and taking showers because I… I like it. I like what I’m doing. But in my head [were] all these thoughts about religion.
Almaz – 25:19
‘C’ – 25:19
…about your family, about you being a man, and…
Almaz – 25:23
‘C’ – 25:23
…both enjoying your time. So it’s like, “why not?” “Why am I feeling good? But…
Almaz – 25:29
‘C’ – 25:29
At the same time like, “Oh it’s wrong.”
Almaz – 25:32
‘C’ – 25:32
So I blocked out my sexuality for maybe three years, four years. I told myself this is something that I’m not going to kind of think about it. Like… Yeah, and it wasn’t until later… Like, I started going with older boys and discovering… I somehow I found it easy for me to get along with older boys, like, I was maybe 18/19, and I was getting along with 30-year-old boys…
Almaz – 25:57
‘C’ – 25:57
… around that age. While I want[ed] them to show me how [this] was a world for them.
Almaz – 26:03
‘C’ – 26:03
…Like, I have been always really careful because one of my uncles, he has HIV.
Almaz – 26:16
‘C’ – 26:16
So I grew up with someone with HIV in my experience. And when I was young I remember that my mom was going through a difficult time because he got diagnosed, and she was crying, and “Oh, probably, he’s gonna die.”
Almaz – 26:29
‘C’ – 26:29
At the time, maybe, the drugs were not at the point that they are today…
Almaz – 26:35
‘C’ – 26:35
…so it was a difficult conversation, but he’s still alive. But I grew up with that. So that stayed in my head and it was, “I do need to be careful”, “I do need to wear always condoms.” You need to be always like… “You don’t want to have this”.
Almaz – 26:54
‘C’ – 26:54
And so yes, like I had sex maybe when I was 15/16, then nothing for three years, until I was 19/20. Yeah, it was just [the] same blow[-job], not really fuck, it was until I found my first boyfriend at the age of 21. We’ve been boyfriends for five years and we tried everything. Like, we explored our bodies and it was amazing.
Almaz – 27:22
‘C’ – 27:22
I just met someone that I have the confidence and the trust and love…
Almaz – 27:26
‘C’ – 27:26
…to know what I like and what he likes. Yes. So I must say, it wasn’t until 20/21 when I fully explored my sexuality as a gay man.
Almaz – 27:40
‘C’ – 27:40
Like, before that it was just curiosity and trying but not really going for it. Yes, I think that boy, my age of 16/15 was a good experience. Since I have these issues going on in my head, I decided to stop for a minute. Getting to know more about who I am, and then approach sexuality. So yeah, for me it actually came, I will say late, because I know people that come younger, but I think 21 is not that bad [scoffs].
Almaz – 28:17
‘C’ – 28:19
Also, what is bad and what is good, like?
Almaz – 28:22
Yeah, urm. Yeah, so…
‘C’ – 28:29
Almaz – 28:29
… I’m really glad that you had that time with that person who you were able to explore, because through these interviews, I’m finding that some… erm, and it happens more often with women, really struggle with trying to express themselves to people that they’re with about how they would like to explore, and how they like to be touched and things like that. And it’s just interesting to me that, erm, it hasn’t been such an issue for the non-female participants in this survey. So it’s making me think that possibly it’s the way that women have been socialised that makes it harder to get across to people, in those intimate moments, what you like.
[CONVERSATION CONTINUES FOR ANOTHER SEVEN 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.
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The ‘POSTSCRIPT’ segment for paid subscribers will drop on Wednesday 9 March. To receive this extra mailout, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid subscription.
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I’m Almaz Ohene, a Creative Copywriter, Freelance Journalist and Accidental Sexpert.
Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
For the ‘Love app-tuallly’ series running on Mashable, I wrote about the current state of communication dynamics within dating app culture – ‘Dating apps have created a culture of entitlement’
[Image description: Screenshot of Almaz’s piece on mashable.com. Article text: ‘Dating apps have created a culture of entitlement "A guy sent me a message at 2:15 a.m., followed up at 7 a.m., and then at midday said 'this vibe isn't for me have fun on here though x"’ By Almaz Ohene on February 14, 2022. Accompanying cartoon-style illustration of a woman hunched over a desktop computer who’s disgruntled by the messages coming through her iPhone]
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