Patrick from Germany
“Shame is the worst part of human sexually. It’s a normal feeling but really strong, especially as a kid. Everything that you don’t think is totally normal seems really out there and horrible.”
As a kid, I had this big tiger stuffed animal and at some point I realized if I rubbed my crotch on it in a certain way, I got a nice sensation. I starting rubbing on the tiger like this all of the time. Even if I didn’t fully realize what I was doing, I knew it was not something I should tell my parents. I knew there was something wrong or at least not allowed in what I was doing but I am not sure where I got that idea.
I knew I could talk to my brother though and I was so proud of my discovery that I told him and encouraged him to try it. We never did it together or in the same room but he later told me that he tried and thought it was great.
I kept that tiger until I was eighteen but eventually I started to be ashamed of it. Plus, I had used it so much that the fuzz on one side of the tiger was totally flat and rubbed off. At some point, my parents also noticed that the wear of the fur was super uneven. Maybe they just thought I laid on that side a lot.
I first questioned if what I was doing with the tiger was ok when I was eight. Actually, I started to wonder if what I was doing made me gay. I didn’t actually know what being gay meant; I just knew that being gay was something weird or unusual and what I was doing was both of those things. The threat of this possibly turning me gay concerned me, but not enough to make me stop.
A few years later, still using the tiger quite a bit, I started to get a hard-on when I would start this rubbing and not long after that, I ejaculated for the first time. It was at that point that I started to realize this was serious and in the category of sexual interaction. I would get embarrassed when I would think of what I was doing as sexual pleasure instead of just an innocent game or sensation. Again, I got the feeling that I had to stop and so did my brother. I told him he we couldn’t do this anymore because it made us gay and he just went with it, without knowing exactly what being gay was either. I think maybe I still thought it had something to do with touching yourself.
Of course I eventually discovered what being gay actually meant and realized that no, it’s nothing close to what I thought it was.
Figuring out what gayness actually meant turned it from something that I was afraid of to something that I could use. In school, I wasn’t a total loser or anything but I would get made fun of sometimes in the ways that groups of boys tease each other. I figured out early on though that when I got picked on, I could “play gay” and it gave me a way to scare off the kids that were bullying me. I didn’t understand at the time why this scared them but I see now they were just homophobic. From then on, whenever I was bullied, I would play this stereotypical gay caricature and the boys would get weirded out and leave. This was my way out, my way to get rid of them so I wouldn’t be physically attacked anymore.
There was a section where kids could write in and ask questions about different topics within health and sexuality and the answers were really clear and educational. Readers could also send in a naked photo of themselves totally natural, no make up or whatever else, along with a short interview answering some questions like: when did you first have sex, when did you start to masturbate and things like that. Reading these gave me my first idea of what sexuality really was and taught me that you don’t have to be a beauty queen to be attractive or loved.
There were some beautiful people who sent their pictures in of course but there were also a lot of non-standard beautiful people. The market for this magazine is kids between twelve and sixteen years old so it’s especially important for people that age to see that and realize, “I am not ugly.”
Since this was before internet porn, being able to see these pictures was also exciting because it was one of the few ways to look at naked people.
Before, I could only steal the underwear and lingerie pages from my parent’s shopping catalogs. Bravo was the first time I could see genitalia and more importantly, people of my own gender and age so I could compare what was happening with our bodies. I was really interested in what was going on with others because one of my testicles is quite a bit lower than the other and while I know now that it is totally normal, as a child I thought that made me disabled.
Another big experience is something that I don’t really know how to define but I think is important in this context because I imagine a lot of people must have similar feelings about things that happened to them as kids.
I have a cousin who is ten years older than me and when this happened he was probably fifteen so in the middle of puberty. We were both kids and didn’t really know what we were doing.
Starting when I was about five years old, we would play this boat game when we saw each other. I would be the sailor and he would be the boat and would rock back and forth while I would try not to fall off. One time while playing, I think by accident, he got a boner and he told me it was a stick to navigate the ship. I took a hold and was moving the ship left and right with it. It’s kind of funny because for sure I wasn’t touching it gently but maybe it was nice for him.
We played the game several times over the years but eventually it stopped I think because he got older and realized what he was doing.
I don’t feel that this was a negative experience that damaged or traumatized me in any way but it’s something that I find to be pretty in between. You shouldn’t do that when you are fifteen but it’s still kind of a gray zone. I wonder if other people had similar things happen to them where it left them wondering where that line is.
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