#5 “Oral sex without a condom?”

I want to have sex with this guy I’m seeing but I’m terrified of catching an STI. Also is oral sex without a condom safe?

Having sex with anyone can be a nerve-wrecking experience, especially when issues of STIs come up. The best advice we can offer is to make sure both you and your partner are tested regularly. Depending on the area of the UK that you live in it’s usually possible to order free testing kits online.

In terms of HIV, there are several things you can do to protect yourself. If you’re worried that you’ve been exposed to HIV, you have a 72-hour window period in which you can go to any A&E or sexual health clinic and ask to be put on PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis). This is a month-long course of HIV medication that is very effective at stopping the virus from taking hold in your body.

If you’re frequently engaging in unprotected sex, particularly anal sex, there is a medication currently on the NHS called PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) that you can take before sex to keep yourself safe. Currently this is only being offered to people who meet certain criteria so if you feel it might be an option for you, I’d encourage you to discuss it with you local clinic.

It’s also important to note that people living with HIV who are on medication and have an undetectable viral load cannot pass the virus on to anyone.

Ultimately though, things like PrEP and PEP only protect against HIV, not other STIs. While oral sex is considered safer than other forms of penetration, all sex carries a certain amount of risk.

Your best bet to stay safe is to have open and frank conversations with all of your partners about testing, and where possible, to use a barrier such as a condom or a dental dam. Bacterial infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea can easily be spread through oral sex and don’t always produce symptoms. It’s a good idea to test after every new partner, and to remember that most STIs take 1-2 weeks to show up in a test after infection (HIV can take up to 90 days to show up).

Remember to have fun as well! Testing, condoms, PrEP and PEP are all important things to have in your toolbox, and are there to help you enjoy a happy, healthy sex life.

Please also remember that we are not a team of medical professionals and for expert advice you should contact your GP.


The Hourglass

CW: Car accident, death

This was her hourglass, and when I flip it over, I can hear her voice, bickering with me about how long to boil an egg. Telling me I’ve thought long enough, and it’s time to put the Scrabble letters on the board. Asking me to tell her when the time’s up so that she can pour the perfect four-minute cup of tea. Laughing as I time her putting up her waist length hair to go to work. Insisting that she was only going to be out in the garden for five minutes, and grinning when she came back to find me standing in the doorway, hourglass in hand.

It was in my pocket that night. I was home before her, and I was getting ready to make bread. I’d mixed the yeast and the warm water and the sugar. The timer was broken, so I’d decided to let the hourglass run through four times to give the mixture time to froth. It wasn’t really necessary but watching the sand run through the glass in the sleepy warm afternoon sunshine was soothing, almost hypnotic. The sound of the crash took a moment to work its way into my befuddled head.

It was all done by the time I got to the garden gate. A man sat inside the deep red Jaguar, his hair falling forwards, his face blank and white. And tucked underneath the gleaming front bumper, her bicycle. She was face down, still and quiet, her tweed skirt rucked up around her knees, her white silk shirt growing pink. And a cascade of late cabbage roses and heady sweet peas scattered around her. When I close my eyes, all I can see is her pink lace slip, her favourite, almost frivolous under the hem of her sensible skirt.

The ambulance arrived in seconds, or in days, I’m not quite sure which, and I was shooed away by the capable and set-faced men in uniform. We didn’t have a car, but Mr Jenkins, our neighbour, drove me over to the hospital.

They wouldn’t let me in to see her. I was only her landlady, the spinster she shared a house with. I found the hourglass in my pocket – it must have been in my hand as I ran out of the door. It was wrapped tight in my fingers when I heard her voice, quiet, tense, asking for me. But still they wouldn’t let me in. All they wanted to know from me was whether she had any family, and where they were. I told them what I knew.

They left me alone, and I turned the hourglass over and over, but I didn’t hear her voice any more. I must have dozed in that hard wooden chair, because the next I heard was an auxiliary, rubber-soled shoes squeaking on the polished floor, with an elderly woman on her arm. Later, a frantic call for a nurse, running feet, and then a doctor, walking quietly, a man in no hurry. And I knew.

On the long, cold bus journey home, the hourglass turned and glinted under my fingers, under the early morning streetlights, and all I could think was at least she didn’t die alone.

Her brother came to clear her things, and he treated me civilly, distantly. No discomfort, just the politeness reserved for staff. He told me about the funeral, and seemed surprised when I turned up. I sat at the back, looking at the grieving family in the front two rows. I said my silent goodbyes. And I never had another… tenant.

I’ve still got the hourglass, and now, watching the sand running though, it feels I’m seeing my future running through into my past. I might give it to my niece, when she marries her girlfriend next weekend, in the registry office right next to the beautiful park. We will have a picnic in the sunshine, she said. I might tell her what I have told no-one else, about the woman who, in a different life, could have been her aunt. I think they might understand.

By Suzanne Elvidge

#4 “Neopronouns?”

Could you please explain ae/aer and ze/zir and other sorta uncommon pronouns please? I just don’t really understand the need for them. Obviously if someone told me that these were their pronouns I wouldn’t refuse to use them, I just dont necessarily get the need for them

Thanks for the question – it’s a big one! It’s good to have asked, as this can be a knowledge gap for a lot of people.

What you’re calling “uncommon pronouns” are often called “neopronouns” and, despite the name, are not a new concept. If you count incomplete third-person pronoun sets there are records of such pronouns stretching back to 1789 – with usage prior to documentation.

Despite this, when referring to neopronouns you’re probably thinking of more recent, deliberate efforts to introduce an unambiguously singular gender-neutral (“epicene”) pronoun, such as the proposal of “thon” in 1884.
What is notable in recent examples of neopronouns is that they are designed not for an object or person of unknown gender – but of a known gender outside typical singular grammatical gender (masculine, feminine, object).

But to answer the question – why might somebody choose to use these pronouns? Why not just use “they”?
The answer to that, as you might expect, is complicated.

One possible answer is simply: singular “they” is uncomfortable. Although it is a grammatically correct reference, there is potential for confusion around the plural form – something that can be more rigid within certain English dialects and thus may be harder to relate to or manage at the individual level.

Otherwise, an individual may be trying to communicate something about their gender through these other forms of address. There may be some evocative “feeling” not captured by more usual pronouns.
Whilst this is true of some who are nonbinary in the traditional sense, there are others under the umbrella that tend to make heavy use of neopronouns: those identifying with “xenogenders”. In simple terms, these are individuals who feel that their conceptions of gender to not relate to typical descriptions – and may often describe their sense of gender through metaphorical means. This is mostly prevalent among neurodiverse, particularly autistic, individuals who may not connect with the typical social constructions of gender.

Another reason that may be overlooked – and has little to do with one’s gender – is as political expression; the “hu” pronoun’s proposal comes from ideals rooted in humanism and egalitarianism. One may adopt such a pronoun set to further its usage, or express agreement with those ideals beyond filling the lexical gap it’s designed for.

It would perhaps be worthy of not that the reason for using a particular set of neopronouns does not have to reflect their origins. For example the “ae/aer” pronoun set was originally developed for a 1920s novel by David Lindsay – but it would certainly be a stretch to suggest that all users of these pronouns are familiar with its history and, even if they are, that they were aware at the point the adopted their use.
Equally, “ze”, and its derivative pronoun sets, have a rather unclear history – with claims of first use ranging from 1864 right up to 1972. With that in mind, other than its seemingly Germanic roots, how could anyone adopt that set for some intended developmental meaning?

There’s a lot of information here, and no doubt some will be unfamiliar. Regardless, we hope that it has given some insight as to why people may prefer these.

  • -Queeries

#3 “Difference between bisexuality and pansexuality?”

I’m trying to figure myself and my sexuality out. I’m a bit confused about the difference between bisexual and pansexual. They seem like the same thing to me and I’m struggling to find a solid answer on what the difference really is. I’m sure I’m one of them but I don’t know which and I want to make sure I’m using the right label

Dear Queerier,

Thank you so much for using “Queeries”!

When first attempting to get a grasp on what your sexuality may be, it can certainly get confusing sorting through all of the terms and labels! In your case, worry not, because you’re not alone! Many people, myself included, have questioned and continue to question the difference between bisexuality and pansexuality.

Bisexuality is generally romantic and/or sexual attraction to two or more genders, whereas pansexuality is romantic and/or sexual attraction regardless of gender identity. In other words, pansexuality is broader, as someone who is bisexual may be attracted to two or more genders, but not specifically all.

Bisexuality is viewed by some as upholding the gender binary of male/female only; and while it could also mean being attracted to two genders (whilst not necessarily excluding any others), that probably isn’t a common usage and I suspect most people will think of the male/female definition when they hear it.

However, please don’t feel pressured to feel like you need to label your sexuality, and confine yourself to only one sexual orientation. There are some who consider the two labels to be interchangeable. And some people who are actually pansexual may select to identify as bisexual, mainly due to bisexual being a more commonly recognised label. Labels are helpful with gaining a sense of yourself, but they can also be what you choose to make them. It’s perfectly okay to take time to determine what they mean to you.

Considering this, some helpful questions to help yourself may be ‘are there any genders I don’t see myself being attracted to?’, or ‘what community do I feel comfortable with/what term feels best?’. There’s no right or wrong answer! There’s no legally binding contract between you and the label you wish to use.

I hope that my advice has been useful, however please remember that we are not a team of professionals.

Take care and stay safe!
— Queeries

Born Again Shoot

Lola Fierce is a Glasgow-based Drag Artist with a newly released single, “Born Again”. It is concerned with reminiscing about the past, the happiness you felt, and wishing you could just go back to live it all over again. Her song covers how Lola felt during lockdown; yearning to be making some new memories! The music video covers a range of themes – most of which Lola feels are relatable to those in the LGBTQ+ community.

”I hope everyone really enjoys and loves the video just as much as I do. It definitely makes me feel proud and happy to be a queer person.“

You can check out more of Lola’s work, and her single “Born Again”, by heading to her Artist Profile.

#2 “wlw Anniversary gifts?”

i have a pretty big anniversary with my girlfriend coming up (wlw relationship) and i have NO clue what to get her??? i feel like most anniversary presents are aimed towards hetro couples and any of the few wlw gifts out there are aimed towards the butch/fem stereotype, or focuses on the lesbian aspects (neither of us are lesbians). any tips?? i don’t mind if it is expensive – i would spend my life savings on this woman. I hope this is an ok question, just rly running low on ideas

Thanks for getting in touch with Queeries!

Congrats on your big anniversary, it’s wonderful that you have someone special in your life you want to celebrate and show how much you love! Unfortunately, you’re right – most anniversary themed gifts are aimed at hetero couples (you only have to walk into a shop during Valentines season to see it!) BUT there are so many indie options…Have you thought about finding something unique online?

My fave websites are Etsy (www.etsy.com) Etsy has handmade, cute gifts from all over the world! If you type in ‘Queer’ or ‘LGBTQIA’ to the search bar, you get all sorts of exciting gifts suggested! Pins, jewellery, accessories and basically anything rainbow inclusive!

Another option is The Pride Shop (www.theprideshop.co.uk) which has lots of lovely rainbow gifts, and you can search by gender identity or sexual orientation – which is an amazing search tool to have!

Another option could be Not On The High Street (www.notonthehighstreet.com) They have a huge catalogue of unique handmade items from artists and makers. Again, typing LGBT or Queer in the search box will bring up lots of lovely results, especially beautiful jewellery and home wares! They have so many options that can be personalised, too.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that Instagram now has a ‘Shop’ tab on it’s homepage. There are so many indie businesses on Instagram now, especially LGBT inclusive shops! (Just be careful that you buy from authentic/real shops, try searching for the shop name on Trust Pilot first to check the shop reviews – https://uk.trustpilot.com/)

Of course, there is a fantastic selection of “Gay things you should buy” right here on Queerativity! These small LGBTQ+ businesses have some wonderful gift ideas.

I hope this gives you some ideas to get you started! She will no doubt see that you have spent a lot of time and effort getting the perfect gift for her! Good luck! 🙂


A Queerativity Tale Chapter four

CW: blood, wound.

Lizzy wishes she could’ve stayed there forever with Sophie. The thought of the apocalypse was far in the back of their mind. The harsh realities of the seemingly empty, still world outside becoming a distant memory. Hours seemed to pass for the both of them as they stared intently at the painting, Lizzy tightening her arms around their girlfriend. Unfortunately, something dragged the two out of their dream, or rather someone. They heard screaming coming from outside the gallery doors, a cry of pain, a cry for help.  Sophie immediately shot up, pulling herself from the warmth of Lizzy’s shoulder and instinctively grabbing their hand, before dragging them both to the front doors of the gallery. 

Continue reading A Queerativity Tale Chapter four

#1 “How to propose to girlfriend?”

Hi Queeries! I’ve been dating my girlfriend for 6 years and I really want to propose to her, but I’m useless at romantic stuff. I wouldn’t want to do it in front of people like in public because I feel like that pressures people to say yes. But I don’t even know where to start? Any romantic/proposal advice would be appreciated!

First of all, congratulations on the 6 years together! That’s a lot of time spent getting to know someone, and I’m sure you two have no shortage of happy memories together.

If you’re struggling with romantic ideas, have you thought of drawing on some of these memories (for example, recreating your first date, playing her favourite song, going to a place that is significant to you both) for inspiration? Proposing to your girlfriend doesn’t have to be a huge flashmob-style event with fireworks, an ensemble cast, a news helicopter, and a buffet. From the sounds of it, a more intimate 1-1 proposal might work better for you (you can always celebrate and throw an engagement party after the event anyways). Essentially what I’m suggesting is, take her on a cute date, show her how much she means to you with a couple of simple gestures, and when it feels right, pop the question.

There’s no one “right” way to be romantic, all you need to do is show her that you care about her, and reminisce about the times, good and bad, that you have spent together. The rest will take care of itself.

P.S. good luck! You’ve got this.