June is Pride Month.
The summer TV goddesses have blessed us with the Season 2 premiere episode of The Bold Type, the Freeform dramedy series that follows the staff of a popular women’s magazine, Scarlet. After binging the entire first season recently (per the recommendation of a close friend), I may have been most excited to watch the story arc between the characters Kat and Adena continue. The blossoming relationship between Kat — the self-professed “mostly hetero” social media director at the fictional Scarlet magazine — and Adena — the queer Muslim photographer — is the most refreshingly honest exploration of sexuality between millennial women that I’ve seen in awhile, and it’s a bold move from a network like Freeform.
For me, the highlight of the Season 2 premiere on June 12th was Kat and Adena’s perfectly frank conversation addressing why Kat hasn’t yet gone down on Adena, despite the other areas of intimacy within their relationship. While, in recent years, we have gotten to see more queer relationships (especially the sexual aspects of them) represented on the small screen, depictions of queer sex can sometimes feel like afterthoughts — or even marketing ploys.
But as I watched Kat and Aden broach the subject of oral sex, it felt real AF.
During the episode, Kat is fresh from her European backpacking trip with Adena. She has no problem claiming Adena as her girlfriend on social media, at work, or in public, and she proudly proclaims that she’s in a new lesbian relationship. All of this affection rubs Adena the wrong way though, and when Kat tries to take red carpet pictures with her at a work party, Adena tells Kat that she is “going too fast,” and then points out, “you’re not ready to go down on me.”
That last question felt so relatable if you are still figuring out your sexuality or entering into an intimate queer relationship for the first time: “Am I really queer, or has this whole relationship been a lie?” Kat even goes on to wonder why Adena would date her if it turns out she’s no good at performing oral sex on another woman.
This moment resonated with me.
I’ve recently realized that my sexuality falls somewhere in between genuine bicuriosity and queerness. Applying a strictly hetero label to myself no longer feels right.
It is, thankfully, becoming safer and more celebrated to love whoever you love — but intolerance is still alive and well in this country, and inexperience makes it intimidating to fully explore a possibly queer identity. Kat’s vocalization of her fears around sexuality echoed my own — the fear of not checking off all of the boxes that make someone queer (as if those boxes actually exist), and the fear of failing at a queer relationship because you’ve never been in one before.
Anxiety around failing at certain sexual acts can be present in all kinds of romantic or sexual partnerships, but media portrayals of queer or bisexual relationships are especially painted as short-term experiments or quick detours from dating men.
But what this particular episode of The Bold Type got right is its way of tackling what queerness can look like for many millennial women in 2018: Less of a fearless proclamation and more of a stumbling journey to find your identity.
The episode dug into the very real truth that exploring your newfound queerness can be hella scary. It was an unapologetic and necessary discussion about sex positivity in queer relationships that centered women celebrating one another’s bodies sexually. I’m here for all of it.