It’s a new semester, you’re taking An Introduction to the Wage Gap in Child Labour, sitting bored in the cramped tutorial room. You didn’t do the reading, and a white man just walked into the room. A tote bag flops onto the table next to you. A hand, covered in rings and chipped nail polish, reaches down past the bubble-gum vape and pulls out a laptop. A laptop covered in stickers, from the Greens to BLM to one that just has a picture of Mitski captioned “I love my wife.” And nestled amongst a feat of signaling that would make Barthes proud, is a blue, white and pink flag. You’ve encountered, for the first time and up-close, a nonbinary person.
To perform a public good for this small, almost pointless-to-write about niche, here is my guide on how to seduce, and sleep with the non-binary person in your class. Take this both in reverence and with an immensely large grain of salt.
Seduction begins, as it always does, by establishing yourself in relation to them. You want to differentiate yourself from the other tote-wearing, oat milk drinking queers who normally swing their way. In seducing your nonbinary target, imagine you are the siren atop the rocks, offering to fix their relationship with their parents.
If you’re wondering, at this point, if the first step is surely to get their pronouns right, I’m sorry, but this isn’t for you.
Start with subtle but smart phrases. Compliment their niche tattoos that either have a paragraph long history or mean fuck all. Even their crustiest stick’n’pokes deserve your adoration (and perhaps later a gentle kiss to the scabbed and flaking ink). Make fun of the straight men in your class. Refer endlessly to the latest TikTok trends or your family traumas and how they led you to reading fanfiction. Make a point to overshare on something sexual, but don’t go too far. Tell them about a fetish, or your most recent hook-up and change the conversation immediately. Be casual and non-confrontational about your repertoire.
The next step in seduction is to convince them that sex with you will not induce a month-long gender crisis requiring two more trips to the therapist. (The formula for a nonbinary person’s therapy attendance per month is 1 + n where n is the number of years they lived at home.) This is probably the most crucial part of the entire process and the key is to highlight your expertise and previous experience in nonbinary forays.
Phrases to use include telling them that everyone else you’ve slept with also wears Docs, or that you liked Keith Haring before he was commercialised. Casually mention how you’re getting into crocheting, and how your pink strap-on is hot pink, not just pink, and that the silicone is ethically sourced and recyclable. Try buying your own carabiner to incite a Pavlovian response from them. Be sure to be seen reading Sylvia Plath with cum or lipstick smudges on some of the pages.
When you move from the sussing out period to the downright flirting stage, there are two strategies. Going high or going low. Going high consists of things like giving them your favourite book to read, bonding over your mutual stupol friends, lending them your overalls, and casually touching hands in the oat milk aisle at the supermarket. Going low is the more sensual avenue, such as making them a playlist, getting your septum pierced, or offering to touch up their shag mullet. Go high for the nonbinaries who were radicalised by Judith Butler and go low for the nonbinaries enlightened by jungle juice.
After you’ve successfully and metaphorically (or literally) put a leash on them comes the more immediate seduction: getting them back to your salt-lamp lit room to do it in a way my parents nor the straggot Peter Dutton could ever begin to imagine.
Inviting them over for tea, for instance, elicits an immediate response, but be sure you’re well stocked with herbal options. Offer to crochet with the more sapphic ones. Or suggest attending an erotic haiku reading at Sideway on a Friday night.
When trying to move things back to their apartment / decolonised sharehouse / the nearest bathroom, someone has to be direct. This is either you or them, and you’ll know who’s who based on who says slay more.
Now, you have them somewhere private, and it’s time to ask for consent. This can start as simply as putting on a Studio Ghibli film, discussing your most toxic ex, or sharing a cigarette.
More complex techniques include studying the number of authors of colour they have on their bookshelf, or, conversely, showing off the diversity of your own. A word of warning though. If your bookshelf is not majority second-hand or Penguin, make sure it is organised aesthetically to distract them from this failing.
If you’ve gotten this far and are wondering at which point to pull out your Lana Del Rey vinyl, stop reading.
At some point here, you’ve sneaked a first kiss and realise that you don’t actually mind the smell of their septum piercing. Assuming you have down pat the rudiments of sex, let’s talk about that holiest of holy words: climax. (No, I thought you were bringing the strap-on).
Crucial here, is the playlist you put on. Unless you’re experienced, or sleeping with them regularly, you need to have some good tunes to make them forget that their mum still mispronouns them. Personal favourites include Simon & Garfunkel’s 1981 live concert in Central Park, or a mix of Mitski/Azaelia Banks/ Hozier.
Good sex, I’ve heard, begins with foreplay. Acknowledgement of country is a good opener, as is listening to their 3-hour interactive lectorial on exactly what kind of nonbinary person they are with a supplementary reading on the infinite iterations of their pronouns or the moments and queer relationships they had through their childhood. Alternatively, if you’re looking to top, try giving head while introducing your stuffed animals.
Phrases like “oh that’s so they/them of you” are a must, and if whispered at just the right moment, can induce orgasm. So too can offering them an ointment for their infected nipple piercing and complementing the boldness of their pubic hair styling. If these fail, fuck them tenderly, so that three weeks later they’ll be convinced that you’re going to cure them of their borderline personality disorder and they’ll cure you of your cisgenderness.
Having followed these steps closely you will find yourself well-endeared to your nonbinary lover, as well as their nonbinary friends, and exes. All of these individuals will be potential candidates for bedding, but proceed with caution as you may find yourself itching for a pronoun change.
Originally published in Woroni Vol. 72 Issue 5 ‘Cum As You Are’
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