Sex ed/itorial: My first time in a sex shop

I never knew there were so many types of dildos

I am proud to say that sex shops are my safe place. Graphic Joey Bruce

What I thought was going to be a normal day turned into an afternoon of self-discovery. My partner told me we were going somewhere as a surprise, and I didn’t know what to expect. This day resulted in my first time walking into a sex shop, and it changed me. 

As I entered Rose et Passion, I felt my face go flush. This was a sex shop, and I was inexplicably nervous. I didn't know how to feel being in such a place. I was instantly surrounded by sexy clothes that I would never even dream of fitting in, although I was still able to admire how cute some of the lingerie was. 

Of course, the thing I was most curious about was what sex toys they had. I heard that sex shops had a wide selection, and one of my first thoughts, after having looked through their selections was, "damn, I didn't realize pleasure was so expensive." I was kind of astonished to see how much people were willing to pay for a seemingly basic dildo.

Speaking of dildos, some of them were detailed to the point they ended up looking more like caricatures of penises than the actual thing. I couldn't help but giggle, I have never seen a penis with that many veins.

I was shy at first, and felt like maybe I shouldn't be there. I always thought of myself as a sex-positive person, but being here made me feel like I still had a lot of work to do when it came to facing sex so explicitly. I talk about sex in private, watch pornography without much hesitation and I have been pro sex-work for a long time. 

Yet here I was, in a sex shop, and all I wanted to was hide under a rock. I felt so uncomfortable walking in—almost like there was something wrong about embracing sex in a public space. I needed some time to take it all in, and just let myself explore the store.

What caused a real change in me was seeing a man buy a penis pump, and the sales associate treating it like he was asking for some cereal. 

Being in a place that sold sex toys, adult movies, and party favours felt liberating.

I had this moment of thought where I realized this was a place where I could openly talk about my desires, without feeling a sense of shame. I started to realize sex was embraced within these walls. There was no hiding of merchandise and you didn’t have to be discreet if you needed help with anything. I was incredibly tempted to ask which whip the employee would recommend for beginners.

While it may seem obvious that a sex shop embraces sex, for me it was still eye-opening. I used to hear sex shops were sleezy, and gross, so I walked in expecting the worst. I don’t think I understood just how open a place like this really was. I was taught that sex is meant to be private, and that it shouldn’t be discussed in public. Being in a place that sold sex toys, adult movies, and party favours felt liberating. 

I suddenly didn’t feel so flushed, and I was able to relax and enjoy my time there. I was able to laugh and make jokes. I got to talk to my partner about the things we might want to try in the future. I never thought I would be in a position where I could be this comfortable with my sexuality. 

There was a room that was closed off from the rest of the shop which housed porn movies and magazines. Seeing this room made me think back to when I would go to my local video store. There was a door that had an 18+ only sign on it.I wasn’t allowed to go in there, but I remember always watching the men coming out of the curtained room as if they were doing a walk of shame. I could have been that person too, but I was actually excited to go in there. 

There was an openness here that didn't make me feel that shame. There wouldn't be people snickering or giving me odd looks because I had porn in my hands.  I must say, some of the porn selections were not anything that I was interested in watching. Yet, I loved that I was in a place where that kind of movie could be on display and it was fine. The taboo of exploring porn in a public space—of not being able to talk about it freely—vanished, and I loved that. 

Turns out, I actually enjoy going to sex shops, and get excited when I discover different ones.