Why the Sex Toy Industry Needs Queering Up
14 September 2021
Queer it up – Here at Queers Next Door, we believe that just about everything needs queering up, especially when it comes to sex.
Queer and trans folks are seeing ourselves better (and more accurately) represented in porn, kink, and even sex education to an extent. But the world of sex toys and reviews is definitely due for an upgrade.
To exist as a queer person in mainstream society is to be constantly inundated with messages that things are not for you. When sex toys are labeled ‘for him’ and ‘for her’ (descriptors based solely on anatomy or perceived sexual interests), many queer, trans, intersex, and non-binary folks are immediately excluded. And when toy reviewers skew cis, heterosexual (and white), the point of view of their reviews can have a similarly limited scope.
How to queer it up
Removing gendered language from product descriptions and reviews is a great place to start.
There are ways to be descriptive – using phrases like ‘clitoral stimulator’, ‘penis-haver’, ‘prostate toy’ – without unintentionally gatekeeping who the toy is for. The same is true for so-called ‘couples toys’. If you highlight all the ways a product can be used by two or more people (shout out to poly triads and group sex aficionados), then there is no longer the underlying assumption that couple = one cis man and one cis woman.
A core tenet of the sex-positive movement is the idea that there are as many ways to have sex as folks to have it
Another assumption that we would love to see dismantled is the idea that certain sex acts are for certain folks. We’ve seen toy subscription boxes include gay and lesbian categories, but this is too often code for butt plugs and vibrators. What if folks want to try something new? What about queer gals who like butt stuff? Gay dudes who have vulvas?
A core tenet of the sex-positive movement is the idea that there are as many ways to have sex as folks to have it, but this isn’t always reflected in the adult product industry, which tends to rely on default and outdated narratives.
Some people are already working on this
The good news is that there are already a number of rad queer toy reviewers, queer-owned and operated toy companies, and mainstream companies willing to grow and learn.
We love partnering with Hot Octopuss for exactly this reason: they are working toward more inclusivity in their product and marketing language, and they actively seek out queer folks like us to send toys to in exchange for honest reviews. Their social media is full of queer representation, and their tagline – Pleasure for Every Body – is one we can wholeheartedly get behind.
A solo scissoring toy was something that we didn’t even know we needed… until now
We are also excited about other companies, like trans-owned and operated Transthetics, that focus specifically on gender-affirming toys. Their Hot Rod is a toy for trans men and non-binary folks that works for both masturbation and partner play without the need for a harness. Made from prosthetics-grade silicone and with three skin tones to choose from, the Hot Rod suctions on to the wearer’s anatomy and provides a realistic look and feel. And it even comes with a bullet vibe for extra sensation.
Etsy seller Cosmic Feelings showcases another queer toy we love: the Grind. A vulva for people with vulvas, the Grind is a non-insertive, sparkly, silicone vulva made specifically for grinding against. A solo scissoring toy is totally something that we didn’t even know we needed… until now, and now we wish it had been around when we were baby queers.
Awesome bloggers who are queering it up too
Even though we feel like queer sex can always use more representation, there are already awesome bloggers and reviewers doing great things out there.
A few of our favorites are Betty Butch, a non-binary sex writer who blogs personal essays and guides, and also focuses on budget friendly toys. Aretha of BlkVibes blogs about ‘finding power of our own pleasure while learning to resist patriarchy’, they have a number of sex toy reviews from a queer lens to check out. You can also find our toy reviews on the Queers Next Door blog; even though we are newer, we hope to continue sharing our experiences with sex toys and gear.
We would love to hear what you feel like the world of sex toys and reviews is missing, or what companies and reviewers make your queer heart sing. Let us know in the comments or hit us up on Instagram or the Queers Next Door blog.
Sex Coach Leigh is Holistic Sex Coach and Clinical Sexologist, as well as a writer, speaker and educator. She specialises in working with queer and non-monogamous folks, and is deeply involved in both of those communities.
Megan Ashley is a queer and kinky blogger, podcaster and cam model. She strives to show that trauma survivors and mentally ill folks can still have healthy sex lives – whatever that looks like for them.