In a perfect world, Ms. Dykefire would be an up-and-running bi-monthly newspaper advice column, a la Dear Abby. Though I prefer to stay in California and not relocate to Florida, the sentiment in the same: it’s time to provide a safe space for straights to air their problems to a sympathetic queer.

The first question comes from a night out with a friend a few months ago. We were in Austin, Texas, in the middle of an August heat storm, nursing cold beers and talking about identity (as you do). In the middle of a sentence, S (let’s just call him S) turned to me and asked “How can I be a better boyfriend? How do I give women more pleasure? What is your position on penises?” And so Ms. Dykefire was born.

To pay homage to the origin of the series, I am going to start with the question of penises:

I know this is an umbrella statement, but queers don’t hate penises. I have a drawer full of varying sizes of cocks and dick-shaped toys, at the ready for some penetrative fun. Bitch and Animal, a famous early 2000s lesbian band has an awesome song about dicks called “Best Cock on the Block”. I have a lot of dyke-identified friends who sport-fuck men, as well as a lot of bisexual folks in my community who are partnered with people who have penises. Many pre-op trans* women choose to keep their junk (though they may have different vocabulary for it, so please ask before you label!). The problem here is that we live in a society that unfortunately binaries how we live, present, fuck, and identify, tying them together in a wholly untangle-able knot. If I, a sworn queer since 2007, choose to paint the town red with a cisgendered guy or two, I rest peacefully knowing that my identity is still safe in the wings.

What many people don’t realize is that how you call yourself is reliant upon one factor, and one factor alone: yourself. If you are a lesbian partnered with a straight man, you’re still a lesbian, and he is still a straight man. To minimize the amount of identity-policing that occurs inside and outside of queer communities, I maintain that everyone gets to decide for themselves what moniker best suits them. So, dear S, to answer your question—cocks are awesome! But also complicated. You see, it isn’t really so much about anatomy. Identity is nuanced, complicated, and multi-faceted, and doesn’t rely on a penis-no penis model. So though it is likely that the lesbians in your life have encountered dick in some form in their lives, it is still very unlikely that your dreams of walking into a queer sex scene and being invited to participate will come to fruition without a lot of pre-negotiation.

Though I want to address the biggest question (“How do I be a better boyfriend?”) in the next part of this series, I do want to point out that there are many, many, many books, online tutorials, and classes about pleasuring women (or people with vaginas, though they may use their own language around their bodies). Felice Newman’s The Whole Lesbian Sex Book is a self-proclaimed ‘passionate guide for all of us’. Allison Moon is in the middle of working on Girl Sex 101, which is geared for anyone having sex with anyone who has a vulva. Does your city have a Center for Sex and Culture, like San Francisco does? Many communities have local classes where one can learn about all sorts of sex techniques (sexniques?) that fall along a wide spectrum of interest, such as cunniliginus, beginner bondage, mutual masturbation, boot blacking, and needle play. Cleis Press is a whole publishing house dedicated to the provision of information, especially as it pertains to the queer community, and their titles give you the opportunity to learn from the greats.

And, of course, nothing beats doing your homework. If you have someone to practice with, just remember that pleasure is not universal. Many factors, including sexual history, illness, body type, preferences, and trauma can affect the way people get off, so be sure to ask lots of questions. My favorite thing to implement when taking on a new lover is the green, yellow, red method: when trying something new, use the words green, yellow, and red to mean yes perfect, slow down, stop immediately. Listening and having honest and open dialogue about the ways you are touching each other is the best way to insure that both are you are having a good time.

Next up on Ms. Dykefire, we’ll be discussing how to be a better boyfriend. Stay tuned!