Lesbians Touch a Penis For the First Time, But There’s More at Stake Than Shock Value


In a new YouTube video, several lesbians touch a penis for the first time ever.

The video is meant to show a social experiment, much like other videos in the same vein: gay men touching boobs for the first time, strangers kissing, and the central plot of every episode of ABC’s What Would You Do.  

As fun as the video is—and I get it, the lesbians in question have hilarious reactions, and the man used is also gay—there’s something about it that doesn’t sit right with me. As an openly bisexual woman who has only ever been in a relationship with women, I see erasure of queer women and their valid experiences every day.

My problem isn’t with the video itself. Bria and Chrissy are talented and funny out lesbian musicians, and it’s always fun to laugh at yourself. Queer people can make jokes about being queer (as the saying goes, “Nothing about us without us”). I’m happy that the viral quality of the video has brought attention and new fans for Bria and Chrissy.

The issue I see is the way that the video, and especially the enormous amount of coverage surrounding it, fails to discuss the nuances involved. One issue, of course, is that not all lesbians have never touched a penis before, and the media hype about this video perpetuates the idea that women who have touched a penis cannot truly be lesbians. A lesbian, by definition, is supposed to be horrified and revolted by the sight and feel of a penis. “I’m definitely a lesbian,” one participant says, at the end of the video when each woman shares how she feels about the experience.

What the media misses in its coverage of the viral video are the real and diverse experiences of queer women. Not all queer women are 100% lesbian, for one, although plenty are. I get it. It’s a nearly-three-minute-long video. It can’t capture the deeply personal experiences of every queer woman, and I shouldn’t expect that from a funny YouTube video. But I should expect that from publications’ coverage of the video, rather than just an “LOL, watch this for shock factor.”

As a bisexual woman, I don’t believe that touching a man’s penis for the first time (which I’ve never done—gasp! Does that make me not a real bisexual?) would make any distinct impression at all, positive or negative. Genitals are not the most interesting part of a person, and gender and sex are not as binary as society would like us to think, either. Many gay men and straight women don’t like touching penises. Many men also don’t have penises, and when we don’t talk about the nuances involved on a deeper level, we ignore the experiences of intersex, transgender, genderqueer, and other non-binary folks who are struggling to get away from the black-and-white image of genitalia=identity.


Whenever I’ve spoken with transgender, genderqueer, and intersex individuals, what stands out is what they’re looking for in terms of advocacy: for the rest of the world to stop pretending that chromosomes, genitals, and secondary sex characteristics are the be-all, end-all of defining oneself.

“I think once everyone realizes how non-binary human biology is, it’ll be easier for people to accept others on the sex or gender spectrum,” said Emily Quinn, the Youth Coordinator of Inter/Act Youth when we were in conversation about intersex acceptance.

Despite that, videos like this, by and for the queer community, aren’t something to get upset over. I couldn’t count how many times I’ve made a gay joke about myself when I’m in the company of other queer people and allies with whom I feel safe.

It’s the media representation that’s bothersome, because we could take a light-hearted video like this and turn it into a larger conversation. What does it mean to be attracted to men, and what does it mean to be a man, period? We could use this video to broaden the discussion of how someone defines their own gender, and how that plays a part in sexual orientation. What does it mean to be a lesbian, and is it okay for someone who has slept with men, and even still finds men attractive, to identify as a lesbian? A video like this is also an excellent opportunity to define what it means to be asexual—if a woman likes men emotionally but doesn’t want to sleep with them, can she still be straight? Is asexuality a queer identity by default because it doesn’t fit the norm? These are the complicated, messy conversations I’d love to see emerge from this video.

When I first came out, I was still in middle school, and I identified as gay. I had an inkling of sexual and emotional attraction to men, but I chose to use the label gay because I felt it was unlikely I would actually date or marry a man. Classmates who found out about my sexuality pestered me in the halls, asking me questions like, “If you want to date women, does that mean you’d sleep with your mom?” and “How do you know you’re gay if you haven’t had sex with a man?”

Time and exploration of identity complicated the way I labeled myself, over time, as I learned more about gender identity, the asexuality spectrum, and the intersex community. My sexuality, in this particular case, was less defined than I’d originally anticipated—although this is in no way true for all women who identify as lesbians. I began to ask questions of myself. If I found myself attracted to a transgender guy, did that mean I was bisexual, pansexual, or still gay? Was it okay to be attracted to some guys but not others? Was it okay to identify as asexual if I’m only interested in being with certain people?

Identity is complicated, and it’s rarely as simple as, “I like these genitals, and I like this sex.” Gender, sex, and sexuality are not always definable on an easy, binary scale the way that they’re presented in the media.

Maybe I’d feel differently if I were the one being filmed touching a penis for the first time, but somehow, I don’t think so.

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