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'Donorsexual,' from the Other Side of the Bed

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The newest sexual orientation term floating around is "donorsexual." Mostly, it's been used to describe "super-donor" Trent Arsenault, a 36-year-old Californian virgin who donates a lot of sperm, and makes videos of himself prepping the donations (i.e., masturbating). Trent's donation activities have resulted in many children, and I think it's safe to say that he takes pleasure in his generosity. Trent identifies as "donorsexual," and there may be other men out there who are sperm donors and who consider themselves "donorsexual." It's a fascinating topic, the emergence of a new sexual term. However, it's not exactly why I'm writing this article. I'm writing because lately I've been thinking about things on the other side of the proverbial bed, namely the sexual experiences of women receiving donations.

Bisexual author Susie Bright famously wrote this about her experience of getting pregnant in 1989, in her memoir Big Sex Little Death: "'Did you inseminate or did you party,' asked Marika at our Christmas party. I laughed so hard, she said, 'Oh, you partied!'" But it doesn't have to be an either/or proposition. For example, what if the insemination itself is a party? Queer writer Michelle Tea has been chronicling her insemination experiences on xojane.com, in her aptly titled column "Getting Pregnant with Michelle Tea." Essays describe her adventures, such as her primary donor hanging out in her kitchen after he's done "getting friendly" with a bowl, while her friends, girlfriend, and even her cat assist her in the bedroom with the contents of said bowl. Most of her insemination sessions involve semen ejaculated into a bowl, then drawn up a needle-less syringe, and then squirted into her vagina. But one donation is handled in a different way: "[A] DIY home insemination isn't actually optimum, with the sperm spending time outside the body, so Gertrude has arranged for a friend to knock me up the old-fashioned way. Old-fashioned is the optimum way to go."

Procreative sex as part of a donor insemination may be a convenient delivery method, but for women in the LGBT community who are attracted to men -- whether these women identify as bi or something else -- it can also be sexually satisfying. After all, if you're having sex with someone you're attracted to in order to get pregnant, that's really multitasking at its finest!

A friend of mine is in that very situation right now. She and her partner want to have a baby; they found a donor and decided to do the cup-to-syringe-to-vagina procedure; and then she and the donor -- after a long, awkward process -- finally acknowledged a mutual attraction to each other and an interest in doing things, as Michelle Tea says, the "old-fashioned way." Her partner is in complete support and has taken to calling this the "direct deposit" method of insemination.

For my friend, a bi woman who mostly has relationships with women and has absolutely no experience having procreative sex, the idea of having sex with a man that's a) unprotected, b) oriented toward the goal of conception, but also potentially pleasurable, and c) fully fine with her partner, is, if you'll pardon the expression, a mind-f*ck.

"How can I be attracted to the biological father of my future child? It seems so weird and unnatural," she asked me. "Is this what straight women feel?" Not being straight, I don't know how to answer her. She says it brings up issues for her, like the fact that when she looks at her child, she'll think, "You were conceived because I had sex with someone." I gently point out that that's how she was conceived, too.

"Good point," she replies. "I hadn't thought of that. I've just spent so many years knowing that I liked men, but pretty much just being with women, that it's hard to think about sex as anything but recreational."

I hear what she's saying. I think that a lot of women in the LGBT community experience consensual sex as completely pleasure-focused. Sex results in orgasms, not morning sickness. Sex is not goal-oriented, beyond the goal of having fun with someone you love, or at least like, or at least spotted online and thought was cute. Isn't that the sexual freedom that our sexuality is supposed to be about? Isn't that the type of sexual liberation that our movement has been fighting for?

My friend continues: "In our community, it feels taboo [to be attracted to a donor, or to have sex with a donor]. Like, it's getting more and more OK for us to be out [to lesbians] about being bi, but we're still not supposed to act on it. And then, when I hear lesbian couples talking about having kids, the conversation is always like, 'What clinic are you using? We're going to the blah blah blah clinic.' It's very medical and sanitary, and not about anything erotic at all."

She pauses, and laughs. "I feel naughty and dirty because I'm doing it this other way."

A lightbulb goes off for both of us. If procreational sex is the newest kink, I guess that makes it pretty queer in the end.