Gay boys: have you ever touched a breast, on purpose or by accident, and been intrigued by its warmth and texture? Straight women, have you ever noticed a pretty sheen on another girl’s lips that begged to be kissed? Have you wanted to taste some cherry chapstick? Lesbians, have you ever been playing with a strap-on and wondered what the real thing feels like? What about straight guys have you ever gotten a good glimpse of another dude’s six pack abs and just wanted to touch them?

Okay, maybe some of you haven’t, but a lot of people have fantasies about sex with someone whose gender doesn’t match up with their usual orientation. College is a time of exploration and pushing boundaries. You’re away from Mom and Dad, but you don’t have to worry about all the responsibilities of the real world yet. What better time to try something or someone new?

Fantasies about experimenting outside your orientation are pretty normal, but it can be tricky to act on them if you decide to go through with it. There’s a reason many of us have a distinctly defined sexual orientation. Knowing which way we swing helps us organize our friendships and relationships, and choosing to go outside that system complicates things.

We all know, though, how fun complications can be. Life would be boring if we didn’t mix things up or take a risk every now and then. If you want a little taste of adventure, the body of someone you wouldn’t usually go for is like a foreign land just waiting for exploration.
Of course, in order to perform a successful gender experiment, you’ve got to find someone who’s willing to be the subject. Many people, especially those looking for a serious relationship, don’t want to be a guinea pig. You’ve got to choose your partner wisely.

Given that, it’s probably best not to jump in bed with your best friend or roommate. I know the people who are closest are the most convenient, but if you don’t want a serious sexual or romantic relationship with this person, things will likely be awkward after you have sex. Especially if your friend is sexually oriented to your gender, bringing sex into the equation can just cause hurt feelings.

Keep an open mind going into things. If you’re trying sex with someone of this gender for the first time, there is a chance you won’t like it. Sometimes, our orientations are pretty fluid. Some people (like me) are bisexual or pansexual or eschew labels altogether. For them, it works out swimmingly. Other times, you might just be into the gender you’re into and that’s that. At least you’ll know for sure, now that you’ve tried another one.

Make sure your partner knows that you haven’t been with anyone of their gender before. It will make things much easier if you’re both on the same page. Some people see it as a big notch in their belt if they seduce someone who doesn’t swing in their direction. There’s a good chance they’ll be flattered that you’ve chosen them for your first orientation deviation. Plus, if you lack experience, it will give your partner the opportunity to teach you something.

Communicate clearly about what you’re feeling, and don’t be afraid to say no if there’s something you don’t want to do. You can stop things at any time; there’s no ‘point of no return.” This might be about pushing your boundaries, but you don’t want to agree to anything that will make you feel violated or make it a painful experience. Treat yourself and your partner with respect, and all should go well.

At the very least, you’ll end up with a good story to tell your grandkids or a good subject for a mega-hit pop song. At most, you’ll have opened yourself up to a whole new kind of sex or even started a new relationship. With an open mind and attention to your feelings and needs, anything is possible.

Waddill is a member of the class of 2009.

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