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I think you’re gay.” I’ve always been queer, but there were many years where that part of me fell by the wayside.It wasn’t on purpose — I started dating my boyfriend when I was still in high school, and monogamy was the default.

After 7 years of toiling at my desk in the living room of my apartment, I finally had the office of my dreams — and a closet dedicated to my sex toy collection. I discovered hands-free orgasms and lube dispensers and allowed someone to control my vibrator from across the country.

I bought a better camera and taught myself how to use it. I now fully believed in my work — and saw it as work.

I was overly scared about getting pregnant, concerned it was going to hurt.

Like anyone new to sex toys, I bought into myths that quickly proved false. Once, embarrassingly, I complained that a glass dildo felt uncomfortable when I used it UNDERWATER. All the while I wrote into the abyss, about futuristic cock rings, pornstars and politics, sex toy shaming, mansplainers.

I majored in English, having scant other abilities aside from writing.

Bless my liberal arts education, though, which forced me to take Gender Studies classes. I became a different person — a better, more aware person. I shot a low-budget sex ed video for a feminist theory course.

For a big research project, I remember driving all around town asking sex shops if they stocked various porn DVDs. Growing up, I got my orgasms from the bathtub faucet, then a few questionable sex toys.

I was looking for films that had won Feminist Porn Awards, which I then meticulously analyzed for markers of degradation and intimacy. I remember the sense of scandal I felt as I went to my college mailroom to pick up my first real vibrator.

I tried anal play, kegel exercise, cock rings, all kinds of sex toy materials. I’m an introvert, and as a kid I was often described as “shy” — a word that masked my feisty, opinionated nature. My blog was evolving, too, even if I couldn’t see it. I met people who, up until that moment, had only existed online. I chatted with the man who made the best G-spot dildo, the woman behind one of my favorite companies.

I tested no-name toys and toys with cult followings. Unlike in life, where I’d fumble over my words, online I could take my time and hone my phrasing. In January of 2012, I looked back at my income spreadsheet from the previous year and realized something remarkable: I was making money with this gig. Having no idea what I looked like, many people told me they “pictured [me] goth,” which still cracks me up. Meeting people scared me, so I taught myself to do it anyway.

I’ll never forget standing outside the restaurant at the end of our meeting. It was like seeing old friends, even with folks I’d never met. Sleep would mean less time with these amazing people; I couldn’t justify it.

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