I Always (Never) Feel Like — Somebody’s Watching Me

Two Black women are standing next to each other surrounded by pink and purple flowers. The word Autostraddle is in cut up pieces.

Autostraddle Strap Week 2021 – All Images by Demetria.

In this series, two babes chat through both sides of one strapping topic — sharing personal narratives with you on their perspective at this point in their queer story. Next up — Are you gonna let them watch you strap up or are you more of a “BRB — but stay turned on!” kinda babe?

Funny Sex Is The Best Sex

“I used humor as a way to take what could have been a mortifying experience and turned it into a shared one of connection and sexual adventure.”

Before you change the channel, let me explain. Humor is a spectacular way to allow space for vulnerability and closeness. When I think about some of the best sex I’ve had, it was more to do with the comfort level with that partner than the type of lingerie they were wearing. It’s difficult for me to think of anything more vulnerable than having the person I want to do unspeakable things to watch me put on a bouncy detached silicone dong.

My mind wanders back to the first time a nervous, young, and strapping (no pun intended!) version of myself was getting ready to put on my first strap-on. I can feel the hotness in my cheeks like it was yesterday. I was apprehensive to suggest bringing an extra apparatus into our bedroom, fearful that it would be perceived as a sign of sexual inadequacy and not the interest in fun and exploration I’d intended it to be. I was also terrified the experience would be lackluster or painful for my partner, but she soothed my fears and we went into the new experience together. Giggling like little school girls, we opened the box and touched the soft synthetic skin and the harness buckles for the first time. She sat on the bed with her eyes wide watching my every move. She laughed as I fumbled with the buckles, and when my toe caught the strap when I slipped my leg in and it pulled me down. I was wondering if she was laughing out of nervousness or at me. I thought I looked silly, but she’s beautiful when she smiles so I used it to my advantage.

I quickly realized that by looking a little foolish I had removed the pressure and anxiety from the situation. I used humor as a way to take what could have been a mortifying experience and turned it into a shared one of connection and sexual adventure. When I finally managed to get it on, she reached out to grab the harness around my hips and pulled me closer. Insecurities that I felt were blasted away by the eagerness in her eyes as I proudly displayed my faux phallus. I wouldn’t have seen those looks of growing anticipation or smiles on her face if I allowed my nerves to make me strap up out of sight. Self-doubts dissipated when humor was the guide into my vulnerability. When my nerves and confusion of strapping up for the first time were on full display in front of her, I’d removed the damaging power of embarrassment. We both released our nervous energy in front of each other through laughter instead of adding to it while hiding away to strap up alone.

When we feel safe enough to be vulnerable, we provide an opportunity to perform in a way that is appreciated and hot. Vulnerability creates closeness. Experiencing these moments of full exposure together harbored a connection far deeper than just physical and enriched the entire experience. Using my humor and allowing myself to be perceived by my lover outside of the conventional sexy ways made me feel desired and accepted — and to me, there is nothing sexier than acceptance. Strapping up has gotten less fumbly for me over the years, but I still invite my partners to watch me. Every buckle, tug, and occasional slip-up they see creates an unguarded and fun atmosphere, free of inhibitions to engage in the connected and stellar sexual experience we both truly desire.

SC Dillon, Author

How Putting it On Takes Me Out Of Myself

“I feel no shame when I put it to use; I rather enjoy it. It’s the putting-it-on part that takes me out of myself.”

I am standing in a room with a handful of leather straps in one hand and a smooth graphite-black cock in the other. I don’t love this part. Not because my queer body feels confused or dysphoric, because it doesn’t. To be fair, strapping doesn’t feel euphoric or affirming, either. The strap-on, for me, exists as a neutral — but delightfully handy — object. I feel no shame when I put it to use; I rather enjoy it. It’s the putting-it-on part that takes me out of myself.

I prefer a traditional harness. Mine is custom-made: the rust-brown leather is yielding and butter-soft, with brass hardware that makes me feel as though I’m paying tribute to some older, classier time when dildos were known by their Italian sobriquet “diletto,” (translation: to delight) and strap-ons were lauded for their erotic innovation behind-doors. I love this harness.

The day after I wear it, I will clean the leather slowly and deliberately. This task doubles as a gift of time I give to myself where I can call to mind the night before when my harness wasn’t just a pile of leather and brass, but an opportunity to redistribute touch, to employ parts of my body that are often otherwise engaged in and for pleasure. Remembering this particular kind of intimacy grounds me in dignity. It feels good. This part is meaningful because it reassures the very small part of me that wavered the night before — at one very precise moment — when my lover asked me to put on my cock.

I’m rather serious about sex. By serious, I mean I firmly believe that pleasure and desire are essential, vital forces. I don’t take that lightly, even when the sex is light. But it’s also important to understand that I am scandalized by absurdity. And putting it on feels absurd.

I felt wrong in my body for a long time, so it never really mattered where I strapped on my cock; I was already so preoccupied with my constant discomfort. The reason I felt wrong in my body, though, was not because my body was wrong, but because it had the wrong name. When I finally understood this, the newness of my body was a revelation to me. I mean newness in that way that we as queer and trans people recognize newness; in how we excavate and embroider a place we already understand to be home.

For LGBTQ people, stepping into our right lives is a potent medicine. For the first time, I felt correct, but I’d also grown accustomed to feeling uncomfortable all the time; it hadn’t occurred to me that I would still have to face it at times. The process of strapping a cock to my body is one of those moments. I feel inelegant and clumsy and it brings me back to that place outside of myself when uneasiness was routine. It’s the hurdle I trip over every time and because I know this will happen, I leave the room as a kindness to my older self. A gesture that says, I want you to be here and bear witness to how we’ve grown.

As I pull the straps of my harness securely around my lower hips, between my thighs, and under my ass, adjusting the fit to adapt to my ever-changing body, I consider that doing this in front of my lover will ruin the moment for her; but I know she wouldn’t mind it. I don’t want her to watch me step away from my body. My bold body that, only moments ago, was steeped in pleasure, galvanized by our shared desire.

The moment I take to allow my old and new parts to converge and make sense of one another — that’s for me. I leave the room to briefly dip into the bewilderment of my body as I now know it, and recognize that although it sometimes confounds me, it is still mine, mine, mine.

All of this takes place in the adjoining room. And then I step into the doorway where my lover is waiting, the leather straps webbed around my hips and thighs, my cock at the ready. And we look at one another with a kind of jolting clarity. She motions for me to come back to her — just as I come surging back to myself.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


I'm a freelance writer living in the beautiful city of Wilmington Delaware. I specialize in interviews, personal essays, and reviews.

Danielle has written 1 article for us.

SC Dillon

Sarah (SC) is a butch first, queer writer based out of Toronto. Their writing can be found in Hazlitt, Joyland and Descant.

SC has written 3 articles for us.


  1. Once again I love the way this series is set up. It’s incredible to get to see not just two different opinions, but two completely different tones and takes. These two were way more moving than I thought was possible from the prompt.

  2. Such amazing writing, thank you both. Each narrative helped me find parts of myself I’d never put into words before. New treasures.

    This series is nothing short of revolutionary.

  3. this series needs its own awards show & event for Shelli Nicole & all the writers!!!! where everyone gets an award!! alsoooo the graphics! (sarah is that you? the mirror in this one is doing SO MUCH)

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!