7 min read

Finding Fuck Yes

Simplify your decision-making. Kind of.
A tuxedo cat asleep on a furry black blanket. In the background is the inside of an RV with yellow walls and hanging art.
This blanket is Thomas’ fuck yes—the other night he Fuck Yes’d it enthusiastically enough to rock the whole RV.

In 1996 at the Edge-O-Town Motel in Ashtabula, Ohio, I “lost” my supposedly straight supposed virginity. The supposedly gay sex I’d had previously was with a butch lesbian who was assigned female at birth and identified as a man who is a woman. (“You know what I mean?” I asked another trans person once when explaining this—I could only expect another trans person to understand this—and ze paused before saying, “Yeah, I know what you mean,” with a bit of a sigh, because queerness is spectacular and expansive and exhausting even to us sometimes.) So my relationship with that dyke may actually have been the straightest I ever had.


Anyway, at the Edge-O-Town Motel, with a penis-having boy who wholly believed I was a gal, I willingly engaged in what any observer would consider straight teenage intercourse. And there was an observer, actually: The drummer in the boy’s band (oh, the ’90s!) was awake in the room that four of us were sharing, watching us in the darkness by the light of the TV. I’m shaking my head now at this creeper—I don’t remember how much older he was than me/us, but older enough for the watching to be even grosser than regular nonconsensual watching. The boy, who I genuinely liked but who was not respectful enough for me to be hanging out with let alone screwing, entered me in a way that felt designed to be sneaky: He switched from fingers to dick with a series of moves that left me unsure, right up until he had both hands on my hips, what was going on. “He didn’t have to do that,” I said later, many times, unsettled; I was not just willing but hell-bent on having said intercourse, and would have said yes if he’d asked. Though it’s unlikely he’d remember or own up to any intentional trickery, I would totally call him now (you know I would) and ask him about it, but he drank himself to death before he turned 40.

My point is, that’s how I had basically consensual p-in-v sex for the first time, to the mood-lighting and soundtrack of Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People” video on MTV, at sixteen. Twenty-one years later, in 2017, a friend accompanied me back to Ashtabula because a rapist I’d tracked down (the one who told me he loved me) happened to live nearby. I went to his house and told him what I remembered. He doubled over like he’d been stabbed, saying no, no, he was “a protector of children”—he’d kill anyone who hurt a kid, he said, before saying that he once walked in on his nephew touching his daughter while they watched TV on a bed, and he just walked back out without saying anything, so maybe it was his nephew (who I didn’t know) who’d raped me, and he was sorry, and it wasn’t him, “but you remember,” he kept saying, “but you remember,” “but you remember.”

Afterward, I drove myself and my friend to the Edge-O-Town Motel.

It was still there. We parked in the parking space outside what I think was the room I stayed in two decades before and talked about the choices we might have made if we’d known there were choices—if we’d had any idea how many choices there were. Now we did, but we were so used to settling that it was hard to stop. When I consider my options, I reflexively think, “that could work,” or “I could make that work” or “what should I do?” or “what do I have to do?” or “what makes the most sense?” I cannot tell you, because it is a nearly infinite number, how many decisions I made about sex, but also about work and people and gender and every aspect of my existence, without any joy behind them. There in the Edge-O-Town parking lot, my friend and I asked each other what we’d do differently if we only did what elicited a Fuck Yes.

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