The first time I ever wrote about sex, I was in the ninth grade. I was trading dirty emails with a summer-camp boyfriend. He wrote half-hearted missives about how awesome it was going to be to do each other next summer. I wrote elaborate fantasy scenes that were, to my huge embarrassment, ferreted out by my parents, who were totally grossed out. I think it was because of those emails that the internet was monitored basically the entire time I lived at home. I don't blame them - home internet access was still a novelty then, and it was a digital Wild West. They didn't want me turning into the slutty saloon girl.
I've always been a reader, and a writer, and to me, putting pen to paper and describing all my sexiest thoughts came naturally. My parents were, of course, horrified by the thought of their ninth-grader having sex, but I wasn't describing things I was going to do, or even really wanted to do - I was writing about the things that excited me. When I moved into the dorms my freshman year, my laptop hummed into the night as I read erotica. It was all so chaste - having two other girls living in the same room meant that I would have passed any hand-check with flying colours - but the titillation from finally being able to look, and read, and see, was undeniable.
Student co-op housing opened my world. My dorm had been Catholic, run by actual, habit-wearing nuns, and my parent's house had been, well...my parent's house. But this place! All kinds of people lived with me: gay men, straight women, the sexually active and the celibate. Girlfriends openly discussed the sex they had with their boyfriends, people hooked up and then drifted apart, and there were group shopping trips to Good For Her in order for everyone to buy toys. (We compared notes: one model was likened to a hyperactive mouse. I'll keep that image with me until I die.)
It was mostly just a relief to be open. Things weren't weird or shameful - we all have our preferences and proclivities, and it was liberating to unabashedly own them. I realized that talking about sex was like talking about damned near anything else - it's easy, once you know how. My friends and housemates taught me how to be open. I still love them for it.
A few years late, I drunkenly accost my new friend Erika at a New Year's Eve party and tell her how much I love writing, and how much I like talking about sex. Graciously, she looks past my red-wine teeth and sets me up with the XOXO Amore gig, which she's started a few months before. I'm slightly embarrassed about the red-wine teeth, but as I start writing for the site, I realize, hey, this is fun. And I'm good at it.
The XOXO Amore vibe isn't "all sex, all the time:" they write about sexy stuff, sure, and plenty of it. I debated whether or not I should tell my mom about this new gig - on one hand, she'd be proud of me, on the other hand, probably grossed out again. But the site administrators have also put a large emphasis on dating and romance - restaurant reviews that'll suit couples are posted alongside reviews of bondage gear. It's a mixed bag, but so is dating, and love, and sex. And parents. And writing.