Tag Archive: bisexual


Why I’m Called Queer

It’s no secret that my sexual orientation has morphed over the years.  I’ve taken a number of different labels, each of which meant something to me at the time I adopted it, but as I switched between them, a gnawing falseness set in—a questioning of why I couldn’t simply stick to one identity.  I knew it confused people.  I often still use outdated labels with people who can’t keep up with the saga.  I’m bisexual to my friends and my parents back home, who’ve known me when I dated both my first girlfriend (a pan-romantic asexual, what a beautiful juxtaposition) and my two boyfriends, one of whom I loved with all my heart.  Bisexual still makes sense to them.

Meanwhile, I’m pansexual to many of my freshman year college friends, as a political statement about gender as much as an explanation of attraction, and I use the mouthful bi-romantic homosexual with my best friend, although that seems no longer accurate either.  Right now, I’m settled with queer, which feels hip and as close to concise and my own self-understanding can get.

And this whole timeline has the aura of something I’ve written down many times before, although I can’t remember if it was on this blog or in a journal or one of the multifarious word documents hiding on my hard drive.  But this article from Autostraddle reminded me why all these labels are important in forming the person I am today.

Reise from Autostraddle writes:

“So, what am I? I identify as bisexual because my relationships with men were not lies and I think that’s what bisexuality means. I loved them/sex…   “Lesbian” seems like what I am but “bisexual” honors who I was, too — it wasn’t just a filling station from there to here, it was another highway altogether. I didn’t evolve, I changed. But that girl was real, too.” 

“We want sexuality to be biological because we want sexuality to be instinctual and natural and out of our control… We don’t have faith in the rest of it because we doubt the permanence of anything we are capable of changing with our minds.”

And it’s true, isn’t it?  The scientific community is desperately seeking a “gay gene” that legitimizes our presence as LGBT people, because if sexuality truly is organic and predestined, it is also beyond our control and somehow…more ok.

I’ve had trouble in the past accepting that I am allowed to morph—that an identity doesn’t have to be something I stick with for the rest of my life, that I can shed layers and grow new ones, no matter what the rest of the world says.  But we are still accountable to them: the old friends, the grandparents, the family newsletter, those people and circumstances that do not closely follow our personal journeys and transformations.  And we have been taught to fear the idea of changing too much and returning home to find that the people who once knew you best no longer understand the person you’ve become.

And that is scary.

But sexuality, the fluidity of what attracts us to one another, embraces that fear and uncertainty.  It must, because its very idea is at the edge of society already.  I don’t have concrete answers for how you face that uncertainty and that fear and all the dynamism that comes with it, because goodness knows I haven’t completely.  But what I can advise is that you accept, at the very least internally, every label that you have ever ascribed.  You are who you allow yourself to be, and your integrated whole, which embraces your past love, your future possibilities, and your now- THAT is truly the most beautiful and authentic person you can be.

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The other day, I went to a counter-rally which was protesting a Westboro Baptist Church protest. For those who are not familiar with WBC, they are a family led by Fred Phelps who regularly advocate absolutely horrifying ideas about God. According to Wikipedia , they usually protest about 6 times a day at locations around the country. Essentially, anything bad that happens anywhere is considered to be God’s judgment for “letting” gays live openly and act as citizens—they protest at soldiers’ funerals (with signs like “Thank God for IEDs” and “Thank God for 9/11”) and the Holocaust Museum (“Rabbis rape kids”), for example.

Horrifically, they even decided to protest at the funeral of the 9 year-old girl who was killed at the Tucson, Arizona shooting of Sen. Giffords. Thankfully, Arizona quickly passed restrictions on protests at funerals (which is currently being challenged in court), and the WBC was persuaded by some DJs not to protest in exchange for getting their message out on the radio.

Many people are understandably upset with the WBC and its message of hate, and at many of its protests, angry passerbys and numerous counter-protesters have confronted the WBC protestors. But is it a good idea?

Here’s what the WBC spokesperson Sherly Phelps-Roger said to TBD.com about counter-protests:

“Tee hee! We LOVE THEM! When you are delivering a message to people, it makes it easier to deliver the message when people see the signs. So counter protesters have an opportunity to ask questions, and engage in discussion.”

Was my going to the protest appropriate? Or did it just help the WBC get their message out there? Here’s how I saw it:

1. The WBC was going to be there, and was going to get the media attention regardless of what we did in response.

Due to their inflammatory rhetoric, the WBC gets noticed wherever they go, so a counter-protest is unlikely to bring the spotlight to them anymore than they already would anyway. What’s a more positive headline, though? “Westboro Baptist Church protests at campus” or “Fighting hate with blackout poetry”?

2. An organized counter-rally is better than unorganized anger.

One of the most common responses to the WBC is yelling. I understand yelling: these are despicable people, doing despicable things. However, what benefit does yelling actually have, besides making yourself feel better? Phelps-Roger also told TBD.com that:

“We have gone into many places and they send their children out like attack dogs. At this hour, the nation is clear that when we go out, the mob comes out.”

In other words, they like the upset, angry, and untrained counter-protestors who simply spew vitriol at the WBC, making the WBC look almost reasonable in contrast. With an organized, calm counter-protest, a lot of the anger and upset can be channeled into a far more positive outlet, which certainly will not change the WBC protestors’ minds but is still a worthwhile demonstration of support for everything WBC vilifies.

Am I right, though? Did our counter-rally actually doing anything worthwhile, or did we just play right into the hands of the WBC? And here’s the biggest question: did we simply legitimize the WBC?

That is what I am most afraid of: that somehow, by my actions, I actually aided and abetted the WBC’s hate campaign. However, that brings me to the most important reason I went to the counter-rally:

3. It is never ok to stay quiet when hate is being perpetuated.

Certainly, it does not seem that the WBC will persuade many people with their sheer hate, but they are simply one small part of a much larger problem. Standing up to them is easy: they generally are repulsive to even those who might agree with their basic anti-gay rhetoric.

Standing up to the more subtle kinds of hate is hard: a gay slur used in casual conversation (“dude, you’re such a…”—if you’re under 25, you filled in the blank automatically, I’m sure), a derogative comment about how something is “so gay,” and so forth.

That is the real challenge for a decent person: to force yourself not to just let those little things slide.

-The Girlfriend

Out of Africa

There are a few reasons that I feel I need to write a serious blog post to you today.  First, I am leaving for Kenya in just shy of 3 weeks, and I am absolutely terrified and beyond excited.  Second, while I’m gone, this blog will go inactive, unless someone is there to care for it.  So three, I am scoping out caretakers for the site until I return.

This isn’t a big obligation, but if you ever felt like blogging about sex, sexuality, or the like, this is your shot.  I’ll be gone for four months and internet is spotty in Kenya, so I probably won’t have time to upload any content.  If you want to put something here, just email me at bonkiep@gmail.com or comment on this thread (or facebook me, if you must), and I’ll get it up there.  Your help will be greatly appreciated.

As for the actual post, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about homophobia on the international stage.  While I am in no position whatsoever to try and sum up what the nearly 200 countries in this world have integrated legally and socially into their codes against LGBT people, I can offer a few handy links to give you an idea.

The best source I’ve found to-date about the legal discrimination placed against LGBT people is this pamphlet issued by the International Lesbian and Gay Association called “State Sponsored Homophobia.” It goes state-by-state, listing all the applicable sodomy and obscenity clauses in national documents which apply to gay people.  The problem, of course, is that the document does not even begin to touch on the traumas, trials, and tribulations of transfolk in foreign countries, which is often an even more torturous road to travel.  As I’ve written before in my article on Queer Literature abroad, the story of Randa the Trans illustrates how even in the relatively progressive state of Lebanon, there are incredible hurdles for transpeople to clime in living the life they want, and if so desired, changing their body to fit that life.

As a queer person who is about to travel abroad, this reality terrifies me.  Queer activists in many countries, especially Russia, the Middle East, and Africa, are harassed, beaten, and stalked for their affiliations and beliefs.  They are murdered as examples to the LGBT community.  They are beacons towards a world of tolerance often swallowed up by the waves.

I am a person who despises injustice in all its forms and idolizes the people who fight for equality by putting their lives and futures on the line.  Yet, as a foreigner, I find myself worrying about my own personal safety.  What if I slip up and mention my girlfriend?  What happens if I attend a meeting for LGBT people in Nairobi?  Will there be angry mobs outside my door?  Will I be watched?  Vilified?  For me, perhaps this is an over-reaction- I am insignificant on the bustling streets of the city.  But am I really?  I’m a mwanza, a white person, sticking out like a sore thumb.  A white person in a black country means something, even when it means nothing.  People pay attention.  I do not honestly know how safe I am.

Now imagine that being your entire life.  Imagine always wondering who is watching you, who is checking the people you let into your apartment at night, who is noting where you go for drinks in the evening, who you dance with.  It’s an ugly, unnerving feeling, to be unsure who is out there and what their intentions are.

For the starkest picture, compound this constant alertness with the fear that strikes every woman at some point in her life: rape.  In many countries, most notably South Africa, civilian vigilantes still use “reparative rape” as a means of “converting” LGBT people back to normalcy.  And rape itself is not an unusual problem.  This article from BBC highlights the threat of gang rape in public latrines in Nairobi slums.  These are all issues staring me in the face during my study abroad.  The focus of the program isn’t ecology or African literature- it’s sustainable development.  That means addressing the structural problems of HIV/AIDS, rape, discrimination against women and LGBT people, the devastation wrought by poorly-run government programs and the slow decay of urban slums.  All problems are linked.  One cannot isolate one issue from another.

I can’t offer a solution to any of this yet, but perhaps after some field work, I’ll be able to report back with some perspective.  I don’t know where this journey will lead me to, but I know where it starts.  When I began my studies in International Relations, I thought there was no room for LGBT and sexuality studies in Africa, that other problems came first: water, access to medical care, etc.  But everything is interconnected, and I see now that the hardest and most obscure battle to be fought may be the one that needs the most help.  In closing, let me remind you to be thankful for your freedoms, but also never to compromise.  Always push for true acceptance, for real equality.  The battle is to be fought everywhere.

((side note: the bill to get rid of DADT just passed the house.  If it gets through the senate before the end of the year, President Obama will sign it and the discriminatory policy will be no more!))

I’ve written once before about open relationships and the mental/emotional puzzles that they pose, but within a very American-centric paradigm.  However, I’m finding through reading The Meanings of Macho: Becoming a Man in Mexico City, that the phenomenon of negotiated open relationships and even open marriages exists in many forms outside of my insular, highly-sexualized college sphere.

In Meanings of Macho, ethnographer and anthropologist Michael Gutmann interviews men in living in the Colonia Santo Domingo, a self-built neighborhood just outside the center of Mexico City, about the prevalence of extramarrital affairs among people in the colonia, expecting answers in line with the typical image of a machismo man who sleeps around with little regard for his wife or his family.  What he found, in many cases, however, is that not only are men have affairs, their wives are also getting around.  And more intriguing yet, some of them are negotiating marriages wherein either spouse is allowed to have one-night stands and liasons, so long as the other partner is never brought into the house or mentioned to their spouse.  Gutmann hypothesizes that a lot of this behavior is due to the surge of feminist sentiment that took root in the 1970’s in Mexico, and has allowed women to be more liberated in their own behavior.  And yet, how does this explain the way spouses negotiate open marriages?  It’s one thing to demand certain things from your husband- like doing dishes and making dinner- but one cannot simply demand acceptance of a practice so tied to the emotional roots of a marriage.

Gutmann doesn’t really deem to answer this, but it got me thinking about the way that open partnerships are navigated and the emotional costs vs. benefits of them.  I think this Sugarbutch article gives a pretty good run-down of the way one blogger and her partner have talked out and come to an understanding of non-monogamy.  What I like best about it is the distinctions drawn between different acts and their incorporations of main partners, as well as the idea of processing and outlining together what each individual incident of non-monogamy will mean.

“I know it’s possible to be attracted to or interested in more than one person at the same time, and that one does not necessarily take away from the other. Most importantly, though, I recognize that just if or when I or my partner feels an attraction, I want us to be able to talk about that, to puzzle through it, to figure out if it’s important to go sleep with that person or if flirty coffee dates or making out is enough, or if it’s a temporary infatuation, or if it should become a bigger friendship.”

In that sense, non-monogamy is really a set of decision based on mutual permission and understanding, which I can appreciate as very healthy and well communicated.  But Sugarbutch also acknowledges that the “need” for non-monogamy can change.

“We’ve been talking about this, lately. From the beginning, we’ve claimed that we were open, and for a while that meant we could do whatever we wanted when we weren’t with each other, and we didn’t need to know about it. Then, as things got more serious between us, we decided we wanted to know, which (chicken or egg?) meant that neither of us were sleeping with anybody else.

But what does it mean now, a year and a half into our relationship? I guess we’re still working that out. By “regular” standards, we are open because most folks would consider things like threesomes or making out with another person potentially crossing the lines of monogamy…. And we are open because we are acknowledge that sexual desire for someone else can happen, and we should be able to talk about that, that desire for someone else doesn’t have to have repercussions within our own relationship,  and that sex can be fun and playful and, ultimately, meaningless.”

So not only is non-monogamy fluid in practice, but it is also fluid in time frame.  Maybe for part of a relationship- when it’s more or less serious- casual hook-ups are ok, but in another phase, sex should take place only when both partners are present, even if it includes other.

I find this fluidity attractive, but incredibly dangerous.  It’s so easy for one person’s perception of an aspect of non-monogamy to change while the other’s remains static.  If that isn’t addressed immediately (and it probably won’t- for feelings of guilt and restraint), the entire arrangement can backfire in one ugly, trust-destroying move.  However, I like the stress Sugarbutch put on discussing each sexual decision individually, as it forces the lines of communication open and keeps them that way out of habit.  When there is a problem, it will be addressed, because everything gets addressed.  I can’t speak to the effectiveness of this model, having not tried it, but I find it promising.  And as the couples in Mexico City demonstrate, their are different forms of non-monogamy that work for everyone- you simply have to find the one for you.

 

 

Coming Out Day!

Geeze guys, why didn’t someone remind me?  It’s National Coming Out Day!

While this event is usually a celebration of open acknowledgement of sexuality and sexual orientation, I’d like to broaden the scope a bit and let you all think about the different ways one can come out.  The idea of coming out actually reminds me a little bit of (I know this will sound cheesy, but…)m High School Musical.  I know, I know, bear with me here.  So you remember the scene in the cafeteria where the one basketball kid tells his friends how he likes to bake, and then a nerd tells her friends that she loves doing hip-hop and suddenly everyone breaks out into that song “Stick to the Status Quo?”

Well, that’s how it goes with a lot of things.  We are children of societal expectation, and there are a lot of non-normative things that require “coming out.”  That can be anything from loving to knit to being gay or trans, to loving BDSM and kink.  There are a million practices and identities that society points fingers at, claiming that they are wrong or at the very least, not normal.

Which is why I love this article  by Asher Bauer and this video by Brown U. alum Marty about coming out  (which, of course, encompasses coming out to yourself) as kinky

http://vimeo.com/9310463

http://carnalnation.com/content/58326/1067/kink-coming-out-story?utm_source=CarnalNation&utm_campaign=232b2b8fe5-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email

Marty, the courageous soul, came out on his Law School Applications as polyamorous, queer, and kinky, sparking an interesting conversation with his dad and society in general about which spaces allow us to be open about who we really are.

I hope you take a look and comment on both, but in honor of Coming Out Day, I’d really like to hear from you all about your coming out stories (or if you are an ally, about a friend who has come out to you).  Please share the love!

Kinsey

Hey queer kids,

A reader suggested the movie Kinsey for your viewing pleasure.  You can check out the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppZwSABxeYE

And while the movie is quite good, it made me realize that I hadn’t really talked about Kinsey and his work at all.  So, here’s a primer:

Alfred Kinsey is known as the father of human sexuality and Indiana University, where he worked, now has a whole institute devoted to the study of sex and sexuality because of him, called the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. But Kinsey himself is best known for two things: first and foremost, his pioneering study of Human Sexuality in the Adult Male (and subsequently, a volume on the Adult Female), and secondly, his theoretical construct, now known as “The Kinsey Scale.”

The 2004 movie Kinsey focuses on the former: Kinsey and his team of researches took off across the country to interview all varieties of people- from prison inmates to public school teachers- about their habits regarding intercourse, masturbation, arousal, and sexual orientation.  The questions he asked at each interview span well over 3 pages and each case study would trace that person’s entire sexual history.  His studies found that, contrary to popular wisdom of the time, many more people of 1950’s America were engaging in premarital sex, masturbating, having sex across generation gaps, and committing adultery.  Obviously, it caused a huge uproar at the time of publication, although we may think of it as simple common sense at this point in history.

What I find more interesting was his theory about degrees of sexual behavior, known as the Kinsey Scale.  It runs from 0-6 with 0 being “exclusively heterosexual” and 6 being “exclusively homosexual,” with all others falling somewhere in between.  Of course, these demarcations can be divided infinitely, so that a 72 year old lesbian who once slept with a man in her 20’s could be a Kinsey 5.94, or a bisexual man who sleeps almost equally with men and women could be 3.2.  The interesting thing about the Kinsey Scale is the strong division in what it tries to assign value to: sexual behavior, but never sexual orientation. Kinsey understood that behavior and orientation sometimes do not align, and that in many cases, the way we understand sexuality can never be accurately represented by a simple point on a spectrum.  For example, I consider myself bi-romantic (I have fallen in love with men and women), but homosexual (I only enjoy sex with women)- what in the world kind of number could I assign to that?  On the other hand, sexual behavior is easier to diagram- I’ve had sex with 2 men and one woman, so I fall around a Kinsey 2, depending on how you factor in length of the relationships.  This, of course, gets very sticky when you consider people who are trans, genderqueer, two-spirited, or any other gender identity which doesn’t fit within our dichotomized idea of gender.  Sadly, that wasn’t where Kinsey focused his research energy.

POINT BEING- everyone should give Kinsey a hand for helping to deconstruct the societal taboos and misassumptions which plagued the 1950s and we should all try to emulate his openness by considering the way we are all, in our own way, abnormal sexually.  Yay!

Sex and Opera

Hey queer kids,

It’s time for Bianca’s entertainment corner!  Fighting for the spot of top bisexual romantic comedy, Puccini for

Beginners is one of my favorite movies for a couple reasons:

1. Adorable, attractive, compelling characters

2. Integration of opera into the main plot (see also: Milk and Pretty Woman.  All great movies should have Tosca references.)

3. Plenty of quotable quotes.

4. A awwww-worthy ending

So if you’re bored, here’s the link to the movie in full on the LOGO channel…http://www.logotv.com/video/puccini-for-beginners/1622788/playlist.jhtml

My introduction to C-spot magazine was this article-http://www.c-spotmagazine.com/main/?p=1110, On Loving Women, by Irin Piperin.  And I can assure you that the sexual undertones (and overtones) of the article indicates that I will be soon sharing links for some of my favorite literary erotica- because sometimes the pen is mightier than the video camera.  But ANYWAYS, this article is about sex, but also something a lot deeper.

Irin Piperin speaks to the interesting assumptions about the gender and power dynamics in lesbian relationships, which I find at once frustrating and highly intriguing.  Irin, now and open lesbian, writes of a conversation with a college friend:

“I don’t like women,” I said, taking a swig of beer. “I think that they’re silly and loud and generally obnoxious. They’re irrational and oversensitive and generally ridiculous. The thought of joining a sorority actually makes me itch all over.”

“But you are a woman,” he replied. “Do you hate yourself?”

“No,” I laughed. “But I feel like I’m a lot different than most others. And the women I do like all say they hate women, too.”

Irin frames being female in a very precarious way at the beginning of this article: she has a set idea of what women are like and her concept of femininity falls only into this one narrow category.  Therefore, because she is not traditionally feminine, she alienates herself from the title female.  And that’s just silly on a number of levels.

But it brings up an important point.  As I ranted about in an earlier post, we tend to view the world in dichotomies (however flawed they may be): rich/poor, straight/gay, black/white, and in this case…Butch/femme.

So much of the way popular culture looks at lesbianism is through this dichotomous butch-femme lens.  Butch lesbians wear flannel and crop their hair- they are masculine, strong, Amazonian, powerful.  Femme lesbians are soft; they have long flowing hair and apply ruby-red lipstick.  They are beautiful and little else.  But in the age of Ellen DeGeneres and self-proclaimed “chapstick lesbian” label, this dichotomy is becoming less and less relevant.

That’s because people, just like Irin Piperin, are realizing that there are more shades of lesbian than the butch-femme dichotomy showcases.  Irin writes:    “The women who turn me on are the opposite of everything that I once considered feminine but they are women in the strongest sense.” These are women who fall in between

the lines of her dichotomy- who have long, sexy hair and strong, tan muscles; who are self-assured and lustful but also

compassionate and soft.

Point being, not all lesbians play rugby or eschew bras and shaving, nor do they all play folk music in their hippy skirts.

This is just the same as saying that not all women wear mini-skirts or like high heels.  This should be self-evident.  Lesbians are just like every woman- varied, strong, curious, and unique.  They can be muscled and Amazonian, but still

sensitive and tender.  They fall not only within and around the butch-femme dichotomy, but encompass characteristics of each side simultaneously without compromising their own individual identity.

Irin sums up beautifully:

“I have realized that what I disliked about women was really just what I disliked about a kind of

person. I’m not sure anymore that there is some static definition of femininity. To say that I don’t like women is to demonstrate an unmerited gender prejudice. The same is true if one claims not to like men. One cannot presuppose an identity onto someone based on sex or gender.”

EXACTLY.  So if sex/gender does not presuppose a personality or identity, then where does that leave us?  Oh yeah, as

individuals, fighting for an expression of self beyond the labels we ascribe to our sexual practices, our genitals, our ethnicity, and our eating habits (queer, female, Russian-Italian, and pollo-vegetarian if anyone cares…).

So guys, girls, lesbians, bisexuals, genderqueer, allies, undefined, and all or none of the above, my challenge is this: describe yourself and how you are more than a dichotomy.

Here’s me: I am the strong, confident daughter of a bodybuilder with a propensity for muscle, but none of the drive.  I have loved men and women, but I feel more fiercely feminine around women and more masculine with male partners.  I refuse to be traditionally dominated or to traditionally dominate, so my sexual conception of self swings like a

pendulum depending on my partner.  I wear chapstick and eyeliner, but no mascara. I like vests with no shirts under them.  I waitress to pay the bills, but I am will to do a lot of other things far less acceptable for the enjoyment of it as

well as the money.  I am not ashamed of my body or its inherent beauty.  I smile a lot.

Ok, your turn.  Affirm yourselves.

Hey guys, this was submitted by one of our very insightful and intelligent readers, who has asked to remain anonymous.  If you’d like to submit something like this to our series, just let me know- but in the meantime, give this writer some love!

“Obviously you know that I’m bisexual (although I haven’t been attracted to anyone at all in a while. But that’s irrelevant. xD) I guess on the subject of that, I would be far more likely to enter a relationship with a man. In the past, however, I have been attracted to women in the same way I’ve felt attracted to men.

I was raised as an Episcopalian, which is a fairly liberal denomination. In fact, we do have a gay bishop; disregarding the fact that half the diocese broke away, our church is generally very open towards gay people and gay rights. In fact, I know of two openly gay people at our church.

However, I recently went through my typical “teenager questioning my religion” phase and discovered that I have a strong attraction towards Islam, for a variety of reasons.
The problem, however, is that Islam is traditionally very UN-accepting regarding homosexuality, and it is looked upon as a sinful practise. Multiple Qur’anic verses and Hadiths (aka Muhammed’s two cents) speak of this opinion. Which naturally poses a problem for one who is homosexual and Muslim.

There are some Muslims who believe that those who engage in homosexual acts are subject to physical punishment. I happen to follow the Hanafi school of thought, which is the most liberal branch of Sunni Islam; they do not believe homosexuality is cause for physical punishment.

However, the fact still remains that homosexuality is considered, haram, “forbidden,” and those who are gay have merely strayed from the path of Allah and find their inner strength to fight it, yadda yadda. The usual.

I’m at a point of conflict here. Obviously, I don’t like this attitude towards the gay community. The problem, however, lies in that I don’t know if it’s enough to turn me away from Islam. As far as religion goes, I’ve always been a person who believes that you can agree with some and disagree with some as long as the core principles are the same, but Islam is a very by-the-book religion. It’s very explicit with what is allowed and what is not allowed.

I suppose my problems are these:
1. I can live without alcohol, the tattoo I wanted, gambling, etc. Can I live with giving up the gay part of me, despite the fact that I am perfectly fine with a straight relationship?
2. Does the fact that as far as the sexuality spectrum goes, I’m more of a between-straight-and-bi-but-more-towards-bi lessen and/or discredit my predicament?
3. Should I give up on Islam because of this?

I obviously haven’t reconciled religion and sexuality yet, but I am in the process of seeking how to do so. But anyway, yes, that was a bit of personal insight on the matter. I hope it was a good enough contribution!”

I think one of the best things this writer did was to identify key questions- because in my opinion, identifying your core questions about a problem is 3/4 of the way to solving it.  What are your thoughts?

Whether you are gay, straight, bi, queer, or anything around and in between, sex has been a subject discussed either in the forbidding whispers and giggles or the clinical dryness of the health classroom.  And that’s a shame.  Because neither forum offers a comprehensive understanding of the physical, psychological, and emotional aspects of sex.

For LGBT teens, it’s even worse.  Our assumptively hetero-normative society American society not only totally dis-empowers and vilifies our personal attractions, but refuses to talk openly about the versions of sex that they do find appropriate.  I remember in 8th grade, I attended a school-sponsored overnight aimed at getting girls ready for High School with lectures and workshops on sex, drugs, body image, and media distortion.  One of the workshops featured an analysis of advertisements, including one of Britney Spears leaning over a soapy car, talking up some brand of Chevrolet or motor oil.  Point being, the instructor happened to mention that this ad was not only talking about [insert inane commercial product here], but also advertising a perverse form of sex aka anal.  Even at 13 this pissed me off.  Who is she to decide what kind of sex is perverse or not?  And yet we encounter this all the time- from protesters holding up signs that condemn sodomy to parents who tell their children that their effeminate classmates are “not normal” and do nothing to stop the teasing they encounter.

So with all of these silent, strictly codified rules making us second-guess our emotions and attractions, what do we as ambitious, hormonal, insatiably curious teenagers do?  Well, first of all, we do everything and then deny it.  But more importantly, we create online communities, blogs, confessions into cyberspace detailing all the things society tells us we’ve “done wrong.”

25 Things About My Sexuality is one of the more brilliant blog concepts I’ve seen: it offers online submission forms for anyone that desires to submit often lengthy and detailed “confessions” about their early sexual experiences, partners, and fantasies.

I put confession in quotes because of the completely artificial societal construct that makes 25 Things writers “guilty.”  There is nothing these bloggers have done that an open mind couldn’t fix.  Or better yet, an open dialogue.

FORRRRR EXAMPLE: Today’s post was from a woman who had grown up in a Catholic family where her parents were not very affectionate towards each other in public, nor did they ever talk about sex or masturbation.  She writes: “My parents didn’t talk much about homos at home, but all I remember hearing from them was that they were somehow weird and that it was not desirable to be one. We didn’t talk about masturbation either, I only remember one time when they told me that sex is something a man and a woman do together because they love each other. For a long time I thought masturbation was only for perverts, and I didn’t really try it at all until I was about 15.”

Now, understandably, in Catholic households, masturbation is sometimes considered unnatural and wrong, but this same stigma exists in thousands of non-religious homes too, because the taboos of sex and self-love have completely overtaken society.

This blogger writes further: “A recent post really made me think about how a lot of the people who write here think they’re weird and not normal, but really there are LOTS and LOTS of people out there struggling with very similar stuff.”  So if we acknowledge that there are many people in the world feeling just as guilty and awkward about perfectly normal things, what’s a society to do?!?

Bianca’s prescription is two-fold.

  1. Parents, teachers, mentors, peers- freakin’ TALK.  I know it’s embarrassing and awkward to bring up sex and sexuality, especially across generational gaps, but it’s so important.  Open discussions about what we feel as sexual beings will help smash negative stereotypes and stigma, as well as passing on positive attitudes for children who will grow up respecting people of all orientations and practices.
    1. Sidenote: Unitarian Universalist Churches have started a wonderful sex ed program that addresses these issues brilliantly. I attended one of the classes for a panel on LGBT issues this past year and found the kids very mature and comfortable with themselves.  The program features everything from safe sex practices to masturbation techniques to discussions on homosexuality and gender non-conformity.  I highly suggest that anyone who has this course available to them use it!
    2. Other teens- stop judging.  The terms whore, slut, cougar, perv, fag, cougar, etc. do not belong in our societal vocabulary.  Everyone is entitled to their own variety of sexual practice and you have no right to make arbitrary distinctions about the quantity or quality of their partners, the content of their encounters, or their personal feelings and fantasies.  If you have negative personal opinions about a certain practice, consider if they are grounded in safety or health concerns.  If not, consider re-evaluating.  Whatever makes a person happy is fine, as long as it goes without hurting another person.  Your recriminations only perpetuates a sexual elitism- and one day, the shoe may be on the other foot.

If the concept of sexual privilege in society strikes your fancy, mediate on Gayle Rubin’s “Charmed Circle” from the book Thinking Sex.  http://interalia.org.pl/pozycje/1194044411-533/1.gif

Also, another example of a good “Confession blog” is Queer Secrets.  It’s styled after PostSecret (also a personal favorite, but with exclusively queer material).  WARNING: it is very depressing, as it focuses on people who are forced to remain closeted.

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