Tag Archive: sexuality


barbie tiny waistA couple of months ago I did an interview with a German television station as a part of my pole dancing studio to support Lulu Browne, a plus size pole dancer who rose to fame after her appearance on America’s Got Talent.  The interviewer asked me if I thought I would have the strength and courage to put myself out there if I were in Lulu’s shoes (weight-wise).  Though I told the interviewer that I could only hope so, looking back, I realized that I knew my real answer was very different.

Like so many other men and women in this crazy, media-hyped, perfect-body driven world, I suffered (and still do suffer) from serious self-doubt about my body. In a family of dancers, bodybuilders, and gym teachers, I was the brainy, but chubby couch potato.  I was not graceful or lithe or flexible or beautiful.  I had zits and wore stretch pants and no bra whenever I could get away with it.  Things have changed a lot since then—I’ve lost weight and gained muscle mass, my face has cleared up somewhat, and I’ve ditched the stretch pants for fitted shirts (although I still ditch the bra probably too often…).  And even though I’m closer than I ever was to our culture’s idea of the “perfect body”, I still have moments of self-loathing and frustration, when my thighs jiggle too much, or my stomach bunches up when I sit.

That’s why I have complicated feelings about this article from Bitch Media (wow is it hard to make that sentence sound serious…) about I am Ugly mirrorself-image and weight.

Author Tasha Fierce writes: I’m sure we all know a fat girl who feels like crap about her size until she receives some positive sexual attention from someone. Unfortunately, healthy self-esteem is not built on the slippery slope that is random affection from potential partners. If you only feel good about yourself when you’re with a partner to validate your attractiveness, once that partner has moved on (and they most certainly will when they figure out your feelings about yourself are inextricably tied to them), you’re back in the same, leaky, no-self-esteem boat.

She makes a strong point: Feeling good about yourself starts with feeling good about yourself, it doesn’t start when someone else starts feeling good about you. Your self-image should never be built on the approval of another person, no matter how important that person is in your life.

However, the reality may not be so simple.   I have done the work, internally, to get myself to a much more stable place with embracing my body.  I purposefully do one activity naked every day to feel more comfortable in my skin (plus, clothes suck!).  I look at myself in the mirror and find things I like.  But some days it’s still a struggle.  And moreover, I don’t think I could have ever gotten over that initial hump of disapproval without the help of my first boyfriend, who decided I was sexy enough to desire. His approval gave me the power to love myself, even after he was gone.

body_is campaignMy journey has shown me how unfair it is to expect people to self-motivate that journey toward acceptance from the very beginning. It is really hard living in a world where everyone and everything in media, society, culture, even family, is telling you to look a certain way, and you DON’T. The tiniest bit of sexual interest from someone else can “flip that switch” inside that gives you the power to start approving of yourself.

It also reinforces the things you already know about yourself when you lose sight of them.  My girlfriend kisses my back and says she loves the graceful arch it carries.  She nods approvingly and notes that my legs have strength and definition to them.  And she loves my butt (!!), which has always been my greatest insecurity.

Case in point, yes, acceptance of your body should come from within, but there’s a place for others—to push us, to light a fire, to remind us— to bring us closer to that inner sense of balance and bodily love.

 

A Trans Sex Guide

I’ve been sitting back on Forever the Queerest Kids these past few months as my life has undergone some transitions—graduation from college, the start of a new job (that I tolerate), an internship with an organization that makes me excited for the next 10 years of my life, and the move to a new apartment (to come next month).  But I haven’t forgotten about you guys!  I’ve also been slowly collecting material to talk about, important things that I hadn’t gathered my thoughts on yet.

So here we go.

Looking through my bookmarked FTQK pages, I found that I suddenly had a lot of material on trans issues, and trans sex particularly, which is awesome, because I spent so much of last year trying to integrate more trans-friendly programming into my college campus.  I’m always on the lookout for intelligent responses to the incredibly difficult issues trans people face daily.  Here are a few.

My girlfriend recently alerted me to a really cool PDF Brazen: Trans Safer Sex Guide written by Morgan M. Page and published by The 519 last year.  The PDF is pretty groundbreaking just by the fact that it specifically deals with Trans issues AND sex specifically, but I thought the particular subtopics covered were even more interesting.  There’s a lot of stuff in Brazen that you just wouldn’t find in a safer sex guide aimed at cis-women.

For instance, Brazen devotes sections of each topic to dealing with people who engage in sex work.  Because the PDF is aimed at people in Canada, where sex work is technically legal (although there are a lot of restrictions around the trade), Brazen deals speaks to sex workers on amicable terms. There are concrete, specific tips for keeping yourself safe in the trade (don’t wear scarves or necklaces, as they can be used to choke you if a date goes wrong) and a no-nonsense approach to keeping yourself safe.  While it’s frustrating and sad that trans women are pulled into sex work out of necessity in inordinate proportions, I’m happy to see Brazen deal with that reality directly.  I don’t believe I’ve ever seen sex work dealt with in a publication of this nature as anything other than among a laundry list of threats and potential missteps to a healthy sexuality.

Brazen also directly confronts the reality that many trans people are also recreational drug users.  Again, a sad and frustrating reality, and one that is NEVER dealt with in safe-sex guides for women.  Drugs and sex are very purposefully kept away from each other, in an effort to elevate the status of sex (by demoting drugs and distancing their combination in real life) at the expense of information.  Brazen makes very important points about mistakes people can make with drugs that are particular to trans situations.  EX: needles used for hormone injections are a different gauge than needs used for drug injections.

And on top of all that, Brazen does an incredible job of dealing with the nitty gritty of safety, like which activities put you at risk for which diseases, and how you can adapt condoms and other forms of protection to a trans or transitioning body.

Aside from safe sex, A Queer Chick, one of the columnists over at TheHairpin, had a great column back in march about navigating sex with a partner who has transitioned when you have never had sex/been attracted to that gender before.  She has great suggestions, like hanging out with dykes and watching queer porn, but the crux of her advice is strong for anyone, LGB, T or partnered with someone T, straight, queer, etc.

Don’t think about “how to have sex with a woman.” Think about how to have sex with your partner, your special beautiful sweet unique partner you’re crazy about. You don’t have to be a good lesbian, or any kind of lesbian at all. You just have to be with her.

And isn’t that how we need to think about trans issues in general?  That people are not their identity, but a unique individual who has come to their place in their own specific way?

But alas, it isn’t always that simple, especially for people who identify as lesbian or gay and fall for a partner who transitions to a gender that allows them to present as a straight couple.  Aja Worthy-Davis,who guestposted this article on Racialicious, writes eloquently on the subject.  She shows how complicated the intersections between race, gender, sexuality, and transition can be in a world where we wear our labels not only through our own actions and presentations, but through those of our partner.

I’m a queer Black femme prone to dating middle-aged divorced hippie White guys due in equal parts to my upbringing, my personality, and my personal baggage. He’s a Black man who has dated more than his share of middle-aged divorced hippie White lesbians. And (I guess this is the kicker) when we met in our staunchly Catholic high school over a decade ago, he was a girl.

…[When he transitioned] My personal life sped up to where I thought it would slowly lead, and my mind was so wrapped-up in the practical questions (Where will we live? When will we go to graduate school? Who will do the cooking?), that it totally bypassed the more personal introspective question about how it would change my personal and relationship identity to be perceived as straight and be with a Black man.

While it’s easy, in theory, to acknowledge that the transition has not changed anything of substance in their identities, the way that a trans man and cis woman are seen is very different than the way two cis women are seen.  And I think it’s legitimate for there to be an element of mourning for the cis woman—the way she expresses her sexual identity has been changed.  She will, to most strangers, be forever read as a straight woman, and there’s not a whole lot to be done about it.

So at the end of the day, it’s a little stickier than just, “Well, this is the person I fell in love with, not the gender I fell in love with.”  Transition will affect many aspects of your life, and embracing that takes a lot of thought and work personally.  From the outside, it’s very easy to sing Love Makes the World Go Round, but inside a relationship, it’s more difficult.  But I would argue, inside that relationship is a complexity and strength that is a lot richer.

Get talking, get yourself tested logoUnlike most 9th graders, I actually paid attention in health class.  I can tell you that trichomonaisis is one of the only STDs that can live outside of the human body for more than an hour.  I can tell you all the terrible things that will happen to you if you don’t get treatment for syphilis early enough.  I also THOUGHT I knew everything I needed to know about herpes

  1. You get it through skin to skin contact when you have an outbreak
  2. Like most STDs, condoms and other latex barriers will help prevent it, although they are not 100%
  3. There’s no cure for it, only treatment for the sores when you get outbreaks.

But I didn’t even realize how much I didn’t know until I read an article by Mollena (of The Perverted Negress– y’all better check her out)  about coming out about having herpes.

“I discovered that many people who have Herpes are asymptomatic. In other words, they never have outbreaks. I also learned that between 65 and 80 percent of adults are seropositive for HSV-1, the virus that causes oral herpes, or cold sores.

I learned that the statistics as they apply to HSV-2, the strain that usually causes genital Herpes, are a bit more troubling.

The CDC Says

The latest HSV-2 data – announced at CDC’s National STD Conference in Atlanta on March 9, 2010, and published today in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) – indicates that overall national HSV-2 prevalence remains high (16.2%) and that the disease continues to disproportionately burden African-Americans (39.2% prevalence), particularly black women (48.0% prevalence), who face a number of factors putting them at greater risk, including higher community prevalence and biological factors that put women of all races at greater risk for HSV-2 than men.”

My mind was a little blown.  Over half the population has one or both forms of herpes?  Is that for real?

The great thing is, even if you contract herpes, you’re likely as not to be asymptomatic.  Many people don’t react to the viral infection with outbreaks, so lots of Americans have herpes but have no idea.  The terrible thing is, even if you contract herpes, you’re likely as not to be asymptomatic.  That means lots of Americans have herpes but have no idea.

It bears repeating because that means, if you have sex with a partner who swears s/he/ze isn’t infected, they might not know any better.  And that puts you at risk for exposure.

There’s also a lot of misinformation and lack of education  around herpes.  When I got my STD tests done at Planned Parenthood, I asked to get tested for herpes, but the nurse practitioner said that they couldn’t test without an open sore to swab.  I figured, since I hadn’t had an outbreak, I couldn’t have herpes.  I still haven’t been tested for it, because I really only realized a few weeks ago that I should be tested.

most people infected with genital herpes do not know they have itThe terrible thing is, even though such a large portion of the population has herpes, there’s still immense amounts of stigma around the disease.  This Scarleteen article by Leah Berkenwald does a great job breaking it down.

Ever notice the only time we hear herpes mentioned in movies or on TV is when it’s the butt of a joke? Genital herpes is an easy target for humor because it’s not fatal and the people who suffer from this STI are not usually considered victims. Unlike HIV/AIDS, genital herpes is a relatively mild condition that does not usually warrant the seriousness or sensitivity that society grants fatal illness. Instead, genital herpes is understood to be a punishment, or something you “bring upon yourself.” People with genital herpes aren’t thought of as victims; they’re thought of as sluts, monsters, lepers, or just stupid.   

And she’s right.  I started paying attention, and it’s abominable how many herpes jokes there are on TV and in movies.  No other disease gets the kind of attention herpes does.  And yet almost everyone has it!

So what do I know now that I didn’t know in 9th grade?

1. The majority of Americans are carriers for one of the two herpes simplex viruses

2. Most of them will never know it.

3. You can pass herpes on to a partner whether or not you have an outbreak (it gets passed through saliva, mucous, or skin-to-skin contact when you have an outbreak)

4. You will almost never have a doctor recommend a herpes test.  You have to ask for it yourself.

The good news is, as Mollena’s article ALSO pointed out, finding out you have herpes is not a death sentence for your sex life.  It pays to be careful, use condoms, dental dams, and gloves, but being open and honest about your infection can lead other people to feel more at ease and talk about their STD status too. 
“So I have herpes,” I said.

He smiled, and that only got me hotter. “Its cool. I’ve had partners before with Herpes.”

He then disclosed to me that he’s been recently treated for Gonorrhea, which involved an initial injection of antibiotics, then a course of antibiotic pills. We discussed our safer-sex protocols, broke out the condoms and lube, and then he shagged me halfway off the bed and sideways into next week.

Yep, sex is better when you’re an expert. But most importantly? There’s nothing like fucking when you trust someone and feel good about being able to be honest.

Hell yes.  Stay cool, queer kids.

shorts kinda like theseI thought I was just making a healthy, positive decision to bike to my pole dancing class in Cleveland Park.  It was easier and faster than taking the bus, and it would get my muscles warmed up for a good pre-workout stretch.  It was finally warm outside, sun shining bright, pleasant heat but no humidity.  To me, it just made sense to wear my pole shorts for my bike ride (why dirty another pair of clothes?).

What I didn’t expect was the barrage of catcalls, whistles, hooting, and ogling that I got on my two mile ide to the studio.  The first time, I thought it was an anomaly.  When I walk down the street, I try to smile at people and be friendly, so occasionally I will get a leer or whistle from a guy who took my smile as an invitation (This, also, is rape culture, btw).  But after the second and third guy hung their smug heads out the window to holler at me, I realized that it had to do with my shorts.

Ugh.  “Fuck them,” I thought.   I know many women who face street harassment of this variety on a daily basis, because of how much makeup they wear, the attractiveness of their figure, the tightness of their clothes, etc.  Intellectually, I understand that it happens.  Intellectually, I knew it could happen to me too.  Which is why I was angry, but not surprised when it finally happened.

For those of you not familiar with the term rape culture, street harassment is a prime example of it.  My short shorts were seen as an invitation by many men to objectify me and treat me with less courtesy as a normal person.  If I had been a man in bike shorts, this would not have happened.  If I was a woman in capris, this would probably not have happened.  It was specifically the combination of my gender and my outfit that made it acceptable for these men to treat me like I was an object of their spectacle.

A lot of people justify this reaction by saying that I made the choice to wear those shorts, knowing that it invited people to look at the skin they exposed.  This is, in a way, true.  I have a good body.  I don’t blame anyone for looking.  To suggest otherwise would be prudish and absurd.   HOWEVER, to make a connection between gaze and the inherent disrespect of a catcall or wolf-whistle is what constitutes rape culture.

In essence, look all you want, but do not treat me with any less respect as a human being because of the clothes I wear.  You wouldn’t cat-call at your cousin, even if you knew she looked very attractive.  Why?  Because there is a level of respect and distance between you and your cousin, no matter what she is wearing or doing.  That same courtesy should extend to me.  Even if you’ve never met me.  Even if you don’t give a damn about me.

Does this skirt make me look slutty?What really surprised me about this whole incident, however, was the reaction I received from my fellow pole dancers once I arrived at the studio.  None of them were outraged, or even mildly annoyed, by the story I presented.  Most of them shrugged, and my instructor said, “Yeah, you really shouldn’t wear your pole shorts out in public.”

Wait WHAT?  This, ladies and gentlemen, is the most insidious side of rape culture.  It has infiltrated the minds of the people who suffer from it, legitimizing itself and its world order.  My fellow pole dancers, who undoubtedly have suffered street harassment themselves, see my experience as ordinary and acceptable, simply “the way the world is.”  Rather than critique the systems that make it socially acceptable for men to whistle and cat-call at us, they blame their friends for life choices that leave them vulnerable to the system.

I’m sure my pole dancing friends didn’t intentionally blame me for wearing my shorts.  It was meant as a friendly reminder, a suggestion for next time to avoid the hassle.  But in doing so, they reinforce the way that society operates, affirming that men are allowed this indulgence of street harassment.

And that, my friends, is just bullshit.

Because I must end these posts in a prescriptive manner, PLEASE, please with everything you do, think not about how the world does work, but how it should work.  Don’t blame women for the choices they make about their bodies.  Think critically about how society has given men the privilege to demean and objectify us, and make sure your men-folk know that this behavior is NOT OK.

 

****Note to any trans readers out there, I know this was a very gender-binary article.  I beg your patience in that regard, as I know trans people experience severe street harassment, which deserves equal treatment and attention.  It is, however, a much more complex topic and I felt I could not do it justice.  If someone else is interested in guest blogging about it, I would more than welcome such a submission.  Thank you!

I’m A Slave For You

One of the hardest things for us equality-driven feminist-ish types to wrap our heads around is the BDSM idea of the master/slave relationship.  These relationships can take on a lot of different forms, but for a lot of people (myself included for quite some time), the idea that sticks is that of a woman caged against her will by the domineering of an aggressive man.  Never mind the numerous gendered assumptions made in this model (which are equally problematic)- I always believed that you couldn’t be a slave without giving up some inherent part of yourself in the submission, that you lose WHO YOU ARE when you become a slave.

Which is why it’s always so refreshing and exciting and hot to read The Perverted Negress, a blog about being in a master/slave relationships, from the slave’s perspective.  Mollena (the blogess herself) has a great snarky, sometimes even biting way of discussing things with her master, while simultaneously writing very evocatively about the emotional and spiritual journey that being a slave puts her through.  She is very much her own person, and anyone who is interested in a master/slave relationship, but afraid of the way the dynamic might cage their own sense of identity, should read some of what she’s written.

Today I want to link to a great advice column Mollena wrote giving suggestions for dominants.  Her unique viewpoint as a (particularly articulate) slave humanizes dominants and masters in a really wonderful way.

Yeah the big tough dominant thing is a hot and sexy image. But knowing about your process and emotional state

From Mollena's site- Copyright Michele Serchuk

creates intimacy and lets us trust you with our intimate thoughts and feelings as well. When you are involved in an intimate relationship, sometimes you don’t even have to hear the emotions of another spoken aloud to know when something is amiss, or when they are simmering with joy. Regardless? Letting those in service to you or owned by you in on your emotional state is absolutely necessary.

Too often dominants/masters are looked at like giant, looming, unquestionable figures without flaws or misgivings.  And that can be part of the appeal.  Being able to give yourself over to someone you trust completely and know will unconditionally be able to handle you with strength, authority, and grace.  But that’s an incredible expectation for even the most poised of dominants, and it is worthwhile to acknowledge that they are people with weaknesses and doubts too, who may even need comfort, who aren’t afraid to say “please” and “thank you.”

Celebrating dominance is not something our society is conditioned to do.  We have culturally encoded equality as (at least the hypothetical) objective, and so master/sub relationships come across as abusive and scary.  But they don’t have to be.

The sex-positive and BDSM blog circles have done an amazing job of bringing to the fore the voices of submissives who celebrating their desire to be dominated.  A great example of this is a recent post by Alyssa Royse, who owns the women’s sexuality company, Not So Secret.  She writes:

As usual, the woman who approached me after my TEDx talk wanted me to tell her that it was demeaning to see women tied up and spanked. And as usual, I told her I didn’t feel that way at all. I told her that I am a woman who likes to be tied up, blindfolded, spanked and devoured. And that it takes an enormous amount of strength to stand up and say that. To ask for it. To  be good, giving and game sexually and get what I want. It takes courage to trust so completely that I can get what I want.

Sometimes, the strongest decision you can make is the decision to not control things. To trust.

This is one of the most eloquent arguments for the beauty, honesty, and positivity that can come out of BDSM relationships.  But there are a lot of voices still missing from this conversation.

Where are the submissive men to dominant women?

Where are the lesbian, genderqueer/fluid, trans couples- monogamous and non- engaging in BDSM?  (a nod to Sinclair of Sugarbutch for being on this train and talking about it eloquently)

Where are the gay men talking about masculinity and dominance, the contrast between being seen as a bear and liking to be submissive, being effeminate and liking to dominate?

Where are the LGBT people talking about the way suburbia, marriage, and assimilation-ism is changing how we relate to our BDSM identities?

Where are the kittens?!

Where is low-income kinky people talking about how they find BDSM relationships in a world where $30 entrance fees and expensive toys exclude them from traditional venues?

Where are the people with disabilities who are talking about making BDSM work for them in an able-bodied world?

If you guys know of high-quality bloggers talking about this stuff, throw a recommendation my way.  I’ll put them on the blogroll for everyone to know about, and we can all learn.  Because there are so many viewpoints- so many ways of interpreting BDSM, master/slave, etc that we should try our hardest to hear them all.

Stay cool, queer kids, and hit me up with any questions.

 

 

The Vibrator

I recently got into watching the show “How I Met Your Mother” due to wonder that is Netflix Instant Streaming and a sudden expanse of free time now that my semester has ended.  I love the show, but one of the episodes I watched recently totally baffles me.

One of the main characters, Lily, is getting married in a few days, so she throws a bridal shower.  Her best friend, Robin, in an effort to be racy and exciting, buys her a vibrator as a gift, which she gets super embarrassed about when she finds out that the bridal shower is mostly Lily’s grandparents, cousins who are soon-to-be-nuns, and other wholesome types.  After the hilarity of giving the gift, there’s this weird moment where Robin says how embarrassing the gift was and offers to take it back.  And then there’s Bianca, sitting on the couch, eating her chicken curry and thinking, “WTF?  How is this awkward?  Doesn’t she already have one?”

I understand that sex toys tend to be one of those private things that we talk about mostly in very sexually charged environments and can only laugh about elsewhere, but I felt like this episode really did a disservice to individuals who do use vibrators all the time, and consider it a normal, healthy part of their sexuality.

Robin and Lily’s interaction implied two things that I think suck about US “sex culture”:

collection of dildos and vibrators

1. That normal people don’t have vibrators.  The fact that Robin didn’t even know where to buy one and Lily didn’t already have one makes the statement that “regular people” don’t need crazy things like vibrators, and that’s a message that a lot of people have internalized.  When I was shopping around for my first one, I asked a couple friends for suggestions and not a single one of them owned a vibrator.  Most of them laughed at me, and one went so far as to say, “I have a boyfriend to do that for me.”

I’m sorry, love, are you too good to masturbate?  Well, I guess that’s her loss.

2. That the only legitimate reason to buy/keep a vibrator is for a laugh.  Robin clearly buys this gift as a joke, and when she offers to return it, Lily says that she will keep it because her husband, Marshall, would get a kick out of it, and deserves to see it.  The subtext to this is of course that they are both actually fighting over the vibrator, because neither one of them has one, but they can’t actively SAY that they want it, and GOD FORBID, Robin couldn’t go out and buy another one for herself because that would just be weird.

 

Thing is, it’s unfortunate that these are the messages that get sent to people about sexual health and pleasure, but we are adults capable of seeking out alternative messages and bucking the trends of the global media when we want to.  So I won’t boo-hoo for too long about all the orgasm-starved people out there who are too scared to go out to a sex shop or order a dildo from Babeland.com.

But when these messages turn into behavior like this, I get a little pissed off.

Because it’s one thing to hold your own private opinions about sex toys—It’s QUITE ANOTHER to leave a note in a strangers luggage about them (affirming or otherwise!)

I’m happy to say that the man who left that note was fired for his indiscretion, but I think the incident illuminates larger societal discomfort that we just need to get the heck over.  Josey Vogels from the Huffington Post writes eloquently and entertainingly about some of the other problems people have faced while traveling with sex toys- from sheepish security guards to excessive scrutiny by border police.  And while it’s funny enough from a distance or when such infringements are an occasional occurrence, but I feel like this culture of being ashamed and awkward about sex toys gets old after a while.

When you’re in my line of work, travelling with sex toys is part of the job. Which is why I was relieved when earlier this year the Tranportation Security Administration officials in the U.S. announced that “whips, chains, handcuffs, vibrators, and other personal ‘toys’ that don’t exceed certain measurements are OK to pack in your carry-on as long they don’t become ‘club-like,'” according to Lifehacker.com.

As far as I know, no one has ever been “clubbed” on a plane with a vibrator, but in these post-9/11 days, when a tube of liquid hair gel is a potential threat, what’s a customs guy to do with a bag full of tubes of personal lubricant?

Confiscate them… of course.

The dualistic way we approach sex toys- at once as something fascinating and desirable, but also awkward and unnecessary- is frustrating.  I cannot tell you the number of people who have been incredibly excited when I tell them that I get sex toys from Babeland for reviewing on Forever the Queerest Kids, but who own none of their own!

One of the things I really hope to accomplish with this blog is to make people more comfortable with their own bodies sexually, and not to feel afraid to talk about and explore new things in their sexual lives.  For some people, that might be opening up their previously monogamous relationship.  For others it might be learning to ask their partner for dirty talk in bed, or learning to relax about masturbation.  And I hope for many people, it’s a growing comfort with owning and using sex toys in their personal lives, whether that’s solo, with a partner(s).

 

Stay cool, queer kids, and go buy some sex toys!

 

Our guest post today comes to me from a very articulate and intelligent blogger; Bydarra@hotmail identifies as a heterosexual, male, middle aged, kinky, poly, and a tech geek residing in central Texas.  There are other labels he embraces but they aren’t as relevant.  Much thanks to him for providing this person insight into practicing polyintimacy.

I think his post is incredibly important in the way he describes the ordering of our important relationships- whether they be with friends, romantic or sexual partner, or something else entirely.  It echos what Forever the Queerest Kids has always stressed- knowing what works for you in your relationships and going for it.

When I was young (20ish), I read Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land.  This turned out to contain the seeds that would germinate over the next 25 years and eventually result in my abandoning romantic monogamy (after the end of a 17 year marriage) and seek to put my thoughts in order.  This was, in part, an academic exercise but  even more it was an attempt to figure out how to implement relationships that would be meaningful and authentic for all involved.

I identify as polyintimate which I define as pursuing relationships in which participants strive for intimacy to whatever degree they are able. A sexual component may be included but not necessarily.  Some may have more emotional depth. Whatever elements come into play, these relationships encourage us to be our authentic selves.  Polyamory is but one avenue of this philosophy. Whatever the model of relationship, the one true thing is that time and resources are finite. As such, some relationships will receive more than others. Some people play a greater role in our lives. Sometimes that’s by chance. Sometimes that’s by design.

My involvement in the online public polyamory community revealed that my thinking diverges to a degree from many practitioners.  I think this is because of my nature.  I’m a geek who can be a bit OCD about order and trying to get concepts to fit together in a consistent fashion.  As a result, I’ve figured out how polyintimacy can work in my life.  A part of those thoughts are laid out in the following paragraphs.

Unlike many who practice polyamory, I see a validity in identifying the priority of a relationship. The terms Primary and Secondary are valid as long as we have some way of defining them for ourselves and those we are involved with know where they stand. For me, these terms go beyond polyamory. My son is a Primary relationship. My brother is not. He isn’t even on my radar in this. A very close friend could be Primary though not remotely romantic. So how do I define these gradations of intimacy and commitment? Those are the key elements for me. Let me stress that these are not specifically romantic. These frameworks should be applicable to any type of relationship from professional to personal; from platonic to romantic…

A Primary relationship is one where I see the other person as a long term participant in my life and vice versa. I consider them in my long term plans. I may not completely change those plans to accommodate them but I will modify my plans to maintain our relationship as best we can. This relationship is the kind where families exist… We sacrifice what we want when the others’ need is greater. Maybe we sacrifice what we need for our Partner(s). How far we go is up to each of us to decide. I love these people in some context. They’re my family of choice.

A Secondary relationship develops from a Tertiary. In some cases, it may be a negotiated relationship such as Mentor/Apprentice, Dom/sub, etc… Sometimes it may be more egalitarian and organic. In any event, participants have an expressed commitment to each other and the relationship. There is a much greater degree of intimacy that has been achieved over time. In a romantic context, I see this as the beginning of polyamorous involvements. Love is not necessary but it is a probability that it might develop.

A Tertiary relationship occurs when I’ve met someone and see a potential for growth beyond the casual acquaintance. I’ll spend resources in getting to know this person better. There will be a lot of conversations about philosophies, interests, plans, etc… to determine if there is a basis for increased intimacy. This takes me beyond the basic chemistry/’shiny’/appealing stage. If the growth of this relationship is mutual, I’d define this as the place where it has begun. At thispoint, we discuss what’s happening, decide to move forward or not, and begin negotiating future involvement.

Beyond this are acquaintances, buddies, strangers, and the rest of the world. Not all relationships fit easily into one of these ‘levels’. Many of mine fit somewhere in between. Some move between one level and another.

As a closing thought, I think it is profound to note how Bydarra also acknowledges the fluidity in the way that we relate to ourselves and our partners.  Our relationships were not meant to stay stagnant, but to evolve the way our personal identities do.  I find his story affirming and encouraging, so thank you again for writing!

Stay true to yourself, and be cool, queer kids.

Click through to buy these Lavish Nipple Clamps at Babeland.com

It’s been a while since I’ve done a toy review because I’ve been waiting for something awesome enough to post about.  And now I have it!  These lavish nipple clamps from Babeland are both classy and secure.

These claps are tweezer style, which initially made me nervous, because they often don’t have very good hold, but these babies are perfect.  There’s a ring that sits at the base of the tweezers which you can slip up towards the tip to increase pressure.  The pinch that the lavish nipple clamps provide is probably too light for many enthusiasts, especially people who identify as masochists, but they’re just right for the “causal user” and have a good range of adjustability because of the sliding ring design.  For me, they felt just right at about ¾ up the slide, but once I’d had them on for a while, I could have easily tolerated more.

The metal tweezers are fitted with hard plastic ends to make the pinch softer and smoother, and I haven’t been daring enough to remove them, but that might add enough concentrated pressure to work for someone with a higher pain tolerance.

Though it hasn’t been an issue yet, the plastic ends to the clamps come off very easily and might get lost in your toy chest.  I highly recommend a plastic baggie for keeping everything together.

And darn are they pretty!  The beaded tassels swing freely and are a beautiful accent, so that these clamps can be accessories as much as play toys.

At a $20 price point, these are among the better clamps you can get.  I’ve never gone for the industrial look, so these are a lot more appetizing than alligator clamps or something more “chrome and steel-esque.”  They seem durable and they hold to your breasts very firmly, even when swung or tugged on.  And because they aren’t as intense a pressure as other types of clamps, they are more versatile and useful for pinching other, more sensitive areas!

Pick them up at Babeland today for yourself, or as a titillating Christmas gift.

Experiments of Welcome Week

Welcome Week logoCollege welcome week has just come and gone, replaced with the responsibilities of classes and club sports, papers and calling home.  To many, the past week has become synonymous with debauchery: wild frat parties with copious amounts of alcohol, random hookups with freshman whose names you’ll never remember the next morning, and LOTS of free food.

I think welcome week was also part of the genesis of the “Lesbian Until Graduation” myth, and similar cultural tropes about sexual exploration in college.  I feel like this storyline has crossed most people’s minds:  in your sleep-deprived, overly-intoxicated freshman haze, you somehow find yourself in bed with an equally drunk senior Women’s studies major who opens you up to the incredible, life-altering world of lesbian sex, so that, the next morning, you declare to all of your friends that you are firmly and absolutely a lesbian.  You follow this Women’s studies major for half the year, when she finally confronts you about stalking her and sends you packing.  In despair, you sleep with every available woman on campus, until you finally realize, upon graduation, that you never really liked women that much to begin with, settle down with the hunky star of the swim team (with his incredibly built shoulders and pecs) and start cranking out babies like a normal heterosexual.

((Ok, maybe I’m the only who thinks about that…))  

Either way, this trope makes about as much sense as Charlie Sheen, and yet the idea of college promoting sexual experimentation persists.  (I don’t like it to begin with, because it involves alcohol, which makes consent impossible, and this is not a point I can stress enough!)

Moreover, I’m not one to use personal experience for or against this argument- I’ve never been to a frat party, never “hooked up” with anyone in college, and all the girls I know on the women’s rugby team are straight.  However, this article from the New York Times breaks down the sexual experimentation myth into both statistical reality and conjectures about the origin of the sexual experimentation myth.

“The popular stereotype of college campuses as a hive of same-sex experimentation for young women may be all wrong...according to the new study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based on 13,500 responses, almost 10 percent of women ages 22 to 44 with a bachelor’s degree said they had had a same-sex experience, compared with 15 percent of those with no high school diploma. “

The most interesting question raised by their initial finding is the difference between this data (collected between 2006-2008), and the data of 2002, which showed almost no correlation between education level and same-sex sexual activity.  The article doesn’t really address why this is, but I suspect it has to do with the growth and accessibility of lesbian-friendly dating sites and the greater prominence of display in lesbian sexual identity online (think about how easily you can check someone’s facebook to see who they’re “interested in”), which makes it easier for working-class (sometimes socially isolated) lesbians to find others.  But that is just a shot in the dark on my end.

Book: Adventures of a Lesbian College School GirlThe rest of the article is a little scatter-brained, dabbling in questions of sexual fluidity, white middle-class stereotypes, and the gender gap in homosexuality, but it’s essence boils down to this: far from being exclusively a phenomenon of the crazed experimentation of college students finally liberated from their parents’ watchful eye, lesbian sex happens in the real world, where working class people, ethnic minorities, professionals, day laborers, and everyone in between coexist.

And as for welcome week?  I guess there aren’t that many hot girls hooking up with each other after all.  You should probably go fix that.  But keep it safe, keep it sober, and keep it consensual.

Welcome back to college everyone.

SlutWalk DC

Saturday was the big day for DC sluts who got together to protest the victim blaming and slut shaming of present-day rape culture.  Hundreds of us met in Lafeyette Park and marched down to a stage at the Washington Monument, sporting everything from kilts to rainbow suspenders and pasties to just regular ol’ t-shirts and jeans.  Regardless of what we were wearing, we were all saying the same thing: that rape and sexual violence of any kind is completely unacceptable, and as a society, it’s high time we evolved.

If you don’t know what SlutWalk is, or want a reminder of why I think it’s such a worthwhile cause, take a look at In Defense of SlutWalk from earlier this summer.

SlutWalk DC was organized as a satellite event to benefit the DC Rape Crisis Center, an excellent organization that has been serving people of the metro area with counseling, assistance in navigating the medical and legal systems associated with rape, and offering sexual assault awareness education to the community for many years.  The turnout on behalf of the cause and the center was impressive in the spirit and strength of their message and conviction, if not in their numbers.

It astounds me that events like the Equality March and the Rally to Restore Sanity can amass hundreds of thousands of supporters, while SlutWalk DC pulled together shy of 500 people for their cause.  I could rant for a few paragraphs about how this represents a cultural insensitivity towards rape as an epidemic and startling inability to see beyond tired moral messages about promiscuity on behalf of the greater issues, but I won’t.  Why?  Because it undermines the people who did come to SlutWalk and the passion they gave for their cause.   SlutWalkers pasted posters on passing buses, danced to techno pop emitting from tiny rolling speakers, booed the ignorance and prejudice of the DC police who handle rape case reporting, and made noise on behalf of thousands of people who have lost their voices through sexual violence.

What was most poignant about SlutWalk DC, however, was the keynote speaker Andrea Bredbeck, the survivor of three violent rapes, a presenter at the UN Conference on New and Renewable Energy Sources, and now the producer of a documentary called “Living After Rape.”  Her entire speech was amazing, but her most important point was this: even those of us protesting and fighting back against rape culture must be careful where we aim our ire.  Men do not come out of their mothers’ wombs with the desire to rape- it is engendered by a society that permits the attitudes surrounding rape, the ones which tell us how much a girl is allowed to talk about or want sex, about how men should be aggressive and women passive, about which women are respectable and which ones are sluts.  And yes, this is aimed at my sister, and all my high school friends, and everyone who has ever pointed the finger at women in short skirts and red lipstick and demeaned them for what they decided they wanted.  These messages create rape culture, and thus, allow rape into existence.

And frankly, that’s what this whole blog boils down to.  That we are all people, and regardless of how we dress and who we sleep with and what gender we identify as, we all deserve the dignity and respect inherent in our humanness.  Creating those lines, those divisions and moral judgments only serves to justify the violence and dehumanization that begets and is beget by rape.   My friend George summed this up in a late-night talk recently: “all sex is good sex, as long as it is consensual and everyone is having fun.”  I think that holds up for everything SlutWalk is about.

PS: If you like this blog, consider heading over to Between My Sheets where you can nominate me and Forever the Queerest Kids for the “Sexiest Blogger of 2011” contest.  It would mean a lot to get on the list, and all you have to do is comment on the  blog post at Between My Sheets linked above with the title and URL of this blog, and I’ll be entered.  Nominations close August 31st, so be quick about it!  Thanks for your support!

Stay cool, queer kids.

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