The Lesbian Vloggers Teaching Queer Teens How to Have Better, Safer Sex

"I do not think young queer women understand how to have safe sex... It's not in the media, not even in lesbian programming."

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Oct 4 2017, 2:54pm

Jade a.k.a. F0XY and Riley J. Dennis, photos courtesy of subject

In "Unscrewing Ourselves," our first annual Sex Month on Broadly, we explore the state of sex ed today by highlighting the individuals changing our sexual health for the better. Read more from this series here.

Finding sources of inclusive sex education for queer women has always been a challenge. Most young people rely on class—or whispers in the school hallway—for their introduction to sex ed. Unfortunately, most schools just barely cover the how-tos of heterosexual sex, let alone sex between women. And for young queer women, there's never been an obvious place to look for information on how to have sex—the shameful process of Googling "how to go down on girls" is pratically a rite of passage—and a lot of us have learned what we know from the internet.

Jade—better known online as F0XY—is a 26 year old YouTuber from Los Angeles who mainly makes comedy videos with a queer twist, like "4 Reasons Why Being Gay Is Lit" or "Annoying Things Girlfriends Do." Most of her audience is made up of young, queer black women like herself, and Jade says this is no coincidence: "You are what you watch, right?"

Comedy is the focus of her channel, but she's also made a number of videos about queer sex—because she felt like it was something vloggers didn't discuss enough. While there were queer women talking online about sex, she says, there were "none that looked like me." In videos like "How We Have Sex… (Safely)," and "Lesbians Tell The Truth About Strap-Ons," Jade and her girlfriend tackled lack of knowledge about safe sex in the lesbian community and sex toy safety.


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"I do not think young queer women understand how to have safe sex," she says. "I don't think that older women know how to have safe sex. It's not in the media, not even in lesbian programming. Probably because we're conditioned to create content that appeals the male gaze."

Jade argues that the little content out there aimed at queer women tends to focus more on how to use sex toys than on general sex safety, including the use of dental dams and finger condoms. But there's clearly an audience for it; Jade currently has 115,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel and the safe sex video is her ninth most-watched video, with 99,000 views. As LGBTQ vloggers gain more of a following, she hopes that safe sex will become just as part of young lesbian culture is it is in "gay male culture."

There are good reasons for queer girls to talk about safe sex, too. Contrary to popular myth, unprotected sex between two women can still pose the risk of STI transmission. HIV can still be spread through vaginal fluids, and infections like HPV (which can lead to genital warts and cervical cancer) and herpes can spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact.

Plus, in the words of popular YouTube sex educator Stevie Boebi, safe sex isn't just about the paraphernalia of dental dams, condoms, and gloves—it's also about the psychological stuff, like the clear communication of consent and boundaries. As she puts it: "Even if you don't have an STI, you need to protect yourself and respect yourself ." (Even if the basics of protection aren't always easy if you're a gay or bisexual woman—as Boebi jokes in one video, "Has anyone ever seen a dental dam? Do you know where I can buy them? Stores don't sell them.")

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Boebi and Jade's focus on queer sex safety is echoed by Riley J. Dennis, a gay trans vlogger with 41,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel. In videos like "Condoms: Everything You Need to Know (LGBTQ+ Friendly)" and "Having Sex as a Trans Lesbian," Dennis challenges what she describes as the "very cisnormative, very heteronormative" sex ed that most people get in school.

Like many others, Dennis's interest in producing educational content came from the realization that there simply wasn't anything else available. "I learned about queer sex entirely from the internet and my experiences and the experiences of my friends," she tells Broadly. "Because there aren't many resources out there for queer kids looking for sex education, even my internet education was super limited."

She says that she's faced resistance for sharing these videos, but remains undeterred. "I'm a gay trans woman who cares about social justice issues—and on YouTube, that makes me a target," she explains. "There's an entire culture and niche of YouTube dedicated to making videos about me. So of course people were going to ridicule me for talking about sex."

Mainstream YouTube, Dennis says, isn't the most welcoming place for LGBTQ vloggers, especially those who tackle explicit subjects. "All the biggest YouTubers are too worried about their brand to delve into anything that's too deep, too messy, too controversial," she says. Instead, it's the "smallest channels" that are talking about the vital but lesser-covered subject of safe sex.

Riley J. Dennis in a YouTube video. Photo courtesy of subject

Still, the diversity of queer female YouTubers now speaking about safe sex is an enormous step up from a few years ago, when two of the most popular vloggers in this arena were Laci Green and Arielle Sarcella. Both have since been largely excommunicated from the LGBTQ YouTuber community after they posted questionably transphobic content on their channels, including videos like "TERFs, Non-Binary, and S-E-X" (Green) and "Would You Date a Lesbian With a Penis?" (Sarcella).

While Green and Sarcella still have some supporters within the LGBTQ vlogging community, many queer YouTubers (including Boebi and Dennis) are vocal on social media about their disapproval of such content. It also points to a larger problem with most lesbian sex ed, which all too often skips over how to have safe sex as a trans woman or with a trans partner—and in doing so, misses out on a crucial part of what safe sex can mean for queer people.

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Though Youtube can be an excellent resource for some LGBTQ people, the number of videos about safe sex are few and far between—a cursory search for "queer safe sex" only brings up 12,000 results. The platform's ever-changing algorithms may be partly to blame. They prioritize more popular and politically neutral channels, leaving queer channels—which rarely make it to the same level of mainstream fame—behind. The recent addition of a "restricted mode" disproportionately affected the views of queer YouTubers, whose content—sexual or otherwise—were suddenly blocked for those under 18.

Nonetheless, queer women continue to fight for their place in the YouTube community—and many of them are using their platform to talk about sex. Now if they could just find the dental dams.