How to Have Sex if You’re Queer

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What to Know About Protection, Consent, and What Queer Sex Means

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Happy Pride!

Rarely does traditional sex education tackle pleasure for pleasure’s sake, how to have sex for non-reproductive purposes, or the wide spectrums of sexualities, bodies, and genders that exist. Instead it tends to cover penis-in-vagina penetration only, pregnancy risks, and STI/STD transmission, leaning heavily on scare tactics that may not even work.

Traditional sex ed is failing us all, but when it comes to standardized sex education in the U.S., the LGBTQ community is especially left out of the conversation. A GLSEN National School Climate Survey found that fewer than 5% of LGBTQ students had health classes that included positive representations of LGBTQ-related topics. Among self-identified “millennials” surveyed in 2015, only 12% said their sex education classes covered same-sex relationships at all.

The good, and even possibly great news is that not being boxed in by the narrow definitions of sex provided to us via traditional sex ed means that we are free (and perhaps even empowered!) to build our own sex lives that work uniquely for us, our partners, and our relationships. But we still need some info in order to do so.

Let’s talk about what classic sex education might’ve missed about how to have sex if you’re queer, from what sex between queer people means to how to keep it safe and consensual between the rainbow sheets.

What Queer Sex Means and How to Have it

Redefine and self-define sex. Sexual desire exists on a spectrum just like gender, sexuality, and other fluid and fluctuating parts of our identities. From Ace to Gray-Ace to Allosexual and everywhere in between and beyond, check in with yourself and your partners about how they experience sexual desire (if at all).

Similarly, “having sex” can mean a million different things to a million different people from making out, to certain kinds of penetration, orgasmic experiences, etc. You get to decide “what counts as sex” to you which is especially true when it comes to sexual debuts — a necessary and inclusive term for self-determined first times that looks beyond the traditional, heterosexist version of “losing your virginity.”

Honoring the identities and bodies of ourselves and our partners with respect, kindness, compassion, and tenderness is crucial and can feel even more precious and rewarding when you’re queer. Truly pleasurable sex — regardless of your identity — starts with a sense of safety, clear communication, confident boundaries, active listening skills, and self-awareness.

Check in with yourself first. Active consent starts with knowing yourself and what your boundaries are. Though an important piece of practicing consent is asking your partner for permission and for their preferences, it can be easy to forget to ask yourself similar questions. What do you want out of a sexual experience? Where are you confident you don’t want to venture now, yet, or maybe ever? What are you super excited to explore?

This check-in can help you determine what you want from sex and what queer sex means to you. This is when you can think about experimenting with sex toys, whether you’re interested in penetration, and what kind of touch feels good to you.

Sometimes we don’t even know where to start if we’re not sure about what our options even are. Scarleteen.com or Girl Sex 101 (much more gender-spectrum-inclusive than the title suggests) are both great resources that can get some of your questions answered. You can also find more information here.

Name your own bits. Body parts, especially private body parts, can be complicated territory for LGBTQ folks, and understandably so. One of the main goals of sex for many of us is to feel good in our bodies. The first step to this can be feeling good about the terms we use for our body parts. Try on one or a few that might work for you, communicate them to your partners (especially new ones), and ask them how they like their bodies to be talked about or touched.

Gender roles are bendable roles. You don’t have to adopt traditional gender roles in sex unless you want to. Media mediums from PG-13 sex scenes to X-rated porn can create clear splits between what’s considered being “sexually masculine” (being the do-er, taking control, knowing the ropes) and being “sexually feminine” (being the receiver, being passive or reactive, being led rather than initiating the sexual interaction).

Just because you identify with being masculine, feminine, or somewhere in between doesn’t mean you need to act a certain way or do anything in particular in your sex life. You can be a Ferociously Fierce Femme, a Passive Prince of Pillows, a Non-Binary Take-Charge Babe, or any version of your sexual self that follows what feels good, affirming, and right to you and your partners.

Talk about sex outside of a sexual context. Talking about sex with your potential or current partners before the clothes come off can be a great way to keep clear-headed communication and consent thriving. Sexual interactions are vulnerable, exciting, and can get your body and brain functioning in all new ways. So, sometimes it can be easier to talk about your feelings about sex, your enthusiastic Yes-es, your definite No’s, and your curious Maybes over coffee or text first, in addition to in-the-moment communication about consent.

Make an aftercare plan. We know that consent, permission, and pre-sex talks are all important parts of a healthy sex life, but we can forget to think about what happens after we have sex (besides water, a pee break, and snacks, of course). This is aftercare — or, how we like to be interacted with after sex has ended.

Aftercare preferences can include what we want to do immediately after sex (cuddle? watch Netflix? have some alone time?) and can also include what happens in the upcoming days or weeks (check-ins over text? gossip parameters? is there anyone you and your partner definitely do or don’t want to dish to?).

No matter your aftercare preferences, a post-sex check-in conversation about how things went, what you’d love an encore of, and what you might want to avoid next time (if you’d like there to be a next time) is always a good idea.

Always keep it consensual. Consent starts with asking permission before any sexual touch or interaction begins, continues with checking in about how things are going, and ends with talking with each other about how the sexual interaction went overall so that feedback can be exchanged and any mistakes can be repaired.

True, enthusiastic consent thrives in a space where each person feels free, clear-headed, and safe to speak up about what their No’s, Yes-es, and Maybes are.

Safer Sex for Queer Sex

Hormones matter. Even though testosterone hormones can decrease your risk of unwanted pregnancy, folks on T can still become pregnant, so make sure to use condoms if sperm is likely to be in the mix. Estrogen hormones can slow sperm production, but if your body is still producing sperm, an egg-creating partner could still get pregnant, so put your favorite birth control method to work.

Starting or ending hormone therapy, whether it’s testosterone or estrogen, can impact your sexual response, your desire levels, your emotions, and even your sexual orientation — so don’t be surprised if these changes crop up. Find safe people to talk to about any complicated feelings this may trigger rather than keeping them bottled up.

Condoms aren’t a one-trick pony. Though the gym teacher might think that putting a condom on a banana tells students all they need to know about wrapping it up, they’re usually doing little more than wasting a high-potassium snack. Condoms can help reduce pregnancy and STI/STD transmission risk for all kinds of penis-penetrative sex (vaginal, anal, and oral) so they’re important to learn to use correctly. But, they can also be used in other ways. Condoms can be put on sex toys to help with easy clean-up, or if you want to share the toy with a partner without getting up to wash it (just put on a fresh condom instead!), and can even be made into dental dams.

Gloves are another important piece of latex (or non-latex if you’re allergic) to keep…on hand…in your safer-sex kit, as they can prevent transmission of fluids into unnoticed cuts on your hands and can protect delicate orifice tissues from rough nails or your latest catclaw manicure (Pssst: if your nails are extra long and pointy, you can put cotton balls down in the tips of your glove for extra padding).

Lube is your friend. Lube is a great addition to all kinds of sex, but comes highly recommended for certain kinds of sex. A good water-based lube (avoid the ingredient glycerin if you’re prone to yeast infections!) can add pleasurable slip to all kinds of penetration, is latex-compatible, and reduces friction from sex toys or other body parts.

Lube can also be put on the receiver’s end of a dental dam or a small drop can be added to the inside of a condom before you put it on to create more pleasure for the condom-wearer.

Anal sex especially benefits from lube as your booty doesn’t self-lubricate like the vagina does, so it can be prone to painful tearing or friction during penetration. Using a thicker water-based lube like Sliquid Sassy for anal sex reduces friction, increases pleasure, and decreases chances of tearing which, also lowers risk of STI/STD transmission.

Sadly, no one is immune to STIs. Though it’s true that certain sex acts come with greater or lesser risk of STI/STD transmission, it doesn’t mean that certain partner pairings are totally risk-free. The Human Rights Campaign’s Safer Sex Guide (available in both Spanish and English) contains a helpful chart that breaks down the health risks associated with specific sex acts, complete with barrier and birth control methods that’ll help lower your risk.

Remember, some STIs/STDs are easily curable with medication, some are permanent-yet-manageable, and some can be lethal (especially if left untreated). So, knowing the difference and knowing and communicating your status are all important pieces of your sexual health. You can continue to lower STI stigma while reducing rates of STI transmission by keeping conversations about sexual health with your partners open and non-judgmental.

Sex toys need baths, too. When choosing sex toys, it’s wise to pay attention to the kind of material your toy is made out of. Medical grade silicone, stainless steel, glass, and treated wooden sex toys are all, for the most part, non-porous, meaning that they can (and should) easily be washed with soap and water between uses, between orifices, and between partners.

Sex toys made out of cyberskin, jelly rubber, elastomer, or other porous materials have small pores in them that can trap dirt and bacteria (kind of like a sponge), even after you wash them! This means that you could reintroduce dirt and bacteria to your own body causing bacterial or yeast infections for yourself, or you could pass bacteria or STIs to a partner via the toy. You could avoid these porous materials entirely (check the packaging to see what your toy is made out of) or you could use a condom on them every time like you would a body part.

For more tips on building a culture of consent in your communities and relationships, head to yanatallonhicks.com/consenthandout.

Complete Article HERE!

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Living and dying in the shadows

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Louis Kenneth Neu, 26-year-old cabaret singer of Savannah, Ga., left, is pictured on trial, Dec. 15, 1933, in New Orleans for the slaying of Sheffield Clark Sr., a Nashville, Tenn., businessman, in a New Orleans hotel. His attorneys set up an insanity plea for defense but Neu, claiming to be “perfectly sane”, has repeatedly expressed the wish that “they would hang me quick and get it over with.” He confessed to beating Clark to death just a week after he had similarly killed Lawrence Shead, a theater manager of Paterson, N.J. Others are unidentified.

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The world treated them like criminals. And that made them victims.

In an America where their very existence was illegal, gays were forced into dangerous shadows. At a time when being out meant being arrested, lonely men looked for love in dark parks, public bathrooms, and Times Square bars.

Often, they only met their murderers.

James Polchin’s “Indecent Advances” tells the grim tale. Advertised as “A Hidden History of True Crime and Prejudice Before Stonewall,” it focuses on what it meant to be a gay man in the first half of the 20th century: A target.

Polchin begins his story after World War I, as millions of American soldiers and sailors returned home, ready to celebrate. The Jazz Age was starting, and young men were eager to join the party.

Author, James Polchin

Having defeated a foreign threat, though, the American establishment now turned its attention to domestic ones. While the government hunted down political subversives, police departments and the armed forces searched for “sexual deviants.”

That crusade pushed the propaganda that gay men were dangerous perverts, eager to molest children and recruit innocent youths. It fed a paranoia that justified almost any action against them, from legal entrapment to brutal vigilantism.

In 1919, worried about corrupting influences, the Navy asked sailors to catch off-base seducers by going undercover. Some were even urged to go under the covers. In Newport, R.I., sailors were told that just going home with a man wasn’t enough. Only a “full act” would guarantee a conviction.

The practice was eventually dropped, but only because of public outrage at what good clean American boys were being asked to do. Ridding the streets of homosexuals was still seen as a moral crusade.

Ernest Kehler, right, 24, Canadian-born boxer, is shown as he was brought to New York police headquarters from Toronto, Dec. 20, 1939, to face charges in of slaying Dr. Walter Engelberg, first secretary of the German consulate in New York. Man at left is an unidentified police officer.

It was a growing one, too. In New York in 1918, there were 238 arrests for homosexual solicitation. Within two years, that number more than tripled. Police regularly raided bars in Greenwich Village. Sweeps of Bryant Park, a popular cruising spot, were common.

Being gay in public was a crime. But being gay in private could be fatal.

The stories were grisly. In 1933 in Paterson, N.J., Lawrence Shead, a movie-theater manager, was found in his apartment, beaten to death with an electric iron. When the killer was nabbed, he claimed self-defense. Shead had made a pass, the killer explained.

New Jersey declined to prosecute, allowing the suspect to be extradited to Louisiana, where he was wanted for killing a wealthy businessman. In that case, though, robbery, not sexuality, was seen as the motive. The suspect was convicted and hung for that crime. Getting away with murder was possible.

The message was clear: Gay lives don’t matter.

In 1945, ballroom dancer Burt Harger disappeared from his Manhattan apartment. Then his body started showing up, in pieces. Police arrested his roommate, who confessed to killing Harger with a hammer and cutting him up in the bathtub. He said he’d just thrown the last piece, the torso, off the Staten Island ferry.

The reason for this gruesome crime? Harger came on to him, the roommate said. Convicted of manslaughter, his sentence was 10 to 20 years.

It practically became a pattern. In 1948, there was a rash of hotel room murders in New York: a merchant seaman in Times Square, an NBC executive in Albany and a Canadian businessman in the Waldorf-Astoria. Nothing connected the crimes, except the perpetrators’ excuse: Self-defense. The other guy made a pass.

Some prosecutors pushed back, insisting these were premeditated crimes. Robbery was the underlying crime; smart thieves knew that gay men were reluctant to go to the police. Prosecutors argued that these were cold-hearted killers, taking advantage of their victims’ own isolation.

Yet juries sympathized with the killers.

For example, the victim at the Waldorf-Astoria, Colin MacKellar, always stayed at the posh hotel when he was in town. He also always drank at the bar, known as a discreet pick-up joint. One night the middle-aged MacKellar befriended a hunky 19-year-old patron. After several rounds, the older man invited the younger one to his room.

The teenager beat MacKellar to death. Then he went to the movies.

When arrested, the suspect’s defense was the older man propositioned him. He was just protecting himself, the teen insisted. That might have gotten him released, too, if the prosecutors didn’t discover the kid had a long history of haunting bars, meeting older men, and robbing them.

Even then, he, too, was only convicted of manslaughter.

The homophobia grew, convincing many Americans that the scariest problem wasn’t gay bashing, but gays. In 1954, a handsome airline steward, William Simpson, was found in a lover’s lane in North Miami, shot to death. His wallet was missing. Police eventually arrested two young men.

They admitted to “rolling” gay men, first hitchhiking along Biscayne Boulevard, then robbing whoever gave them a lift. “Getting money from perverts,” they called it. The defendant who shot Simpson said he panicked, thinking the man was going to rape him.

The press and public couldn’t help but sympathize – with the defendants.

“Third Sex Plague Spreads Anew,” Brevities (November 2, 1931)

“Good Guys – Not Toughs” the Miami Daily News editorialized. “5,000 Here Perverts, Police Say” the Miami Herald reported. Other stories warned of a secret colony of sexual deviants. Politicians vowed to “run them out of town.”

Once again, the defendants were convicted only of manslaughter.

Even when people worried about crimes against gay men, they weren’t concerned about the victims. No, people were far more concerned with gays in the neighborhoods bringing down property values. And they feared how homosexuals endangered heterosexuals.

In 1955, in his syndicated column “Dream Street,” Robert Sylvester churned out hard-boiled prose about a rapidly decaying Times Square, home to sleazy bars and short-stay hotels. “The Bird Circuit,” he called it, were gay hangouts where thugs waited for gay men to pick them up, go back to their rooms and rob them.

It was a terrible thing, Sylvester wrote because it put truly innocent people at risk. “It probably isn’t important if a homo is roughed up by some hoodlum,” he concluded. “The important thing is that when there are no available homos, any unprotected citizen makes a satisfactory substitute.”

By the ’50s, some gay activists, notably the members of the Mattachine Society, began to push for acceptance. The movement


Illustration from Psychopathology by Edward Kempf (C.V. Mosby Company: St. Louis, 1920)

grew. In 1967, after the police raided the Black Cat Tavern in San Francisco, supporters politely protested. Two years later, when cops tried the same thuggish tactics at the Stonewall Inn, patrons fought back in the streets.

Times were changing. When the Supreme Court ruled, in 1972, that state governments could refuse to employ homosexuals, a Daily News editorial agreed but made a modest plea for tolerance from private employers. “Fairies, nancies, swishes, fags, lezzes – call ’em what you please – should of course be permitted to earn an honest living,” the editorial stated.


Ralph Edward Barrows, 20, formerly of Grand Rapids, Mich., smiles and waves his hand, which is handcuffed to that of another prisoner, in a train at Hoboken, N.J., March 7, 1950, as he leaves for the state prison at Elmira, N.Y. Barrows was sentenced to 40 years on a manslaughter conviction for killing wealthy Canadian businessman, Colin Cameron MacKellar of Montreal. MacKellar was found dead in his Waldorf Astoria suite on Nov. 5, 1948.

Compared to some attitudes, this was practically liberal.

The cries for real liberation were growing louder. As Stonewall proved, gay people were no longer worried about what was permitted. Instead, they were intent on what was owed.

They were no longer going to be quiet and ashamed, they were determined to be loud and proud. And that pride, already on display, will be on the march next Sunday.

Complete Article HERE!

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14 Sex Questions To Ask Your Partner

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To Ensure Sexual Consent

By Stacie Ysidro

Get comfortable talking about sex.

Before getting intimate with your partner, there are a few consensual sex questions that are worth asking.

Over  the last 10 years of coaching and connecting, I have worked with mostly men and couples. I started out with tantra and sacred sexuality focusing on premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction.

I have helped men connect to get out of their heads(quiet thoughts) and into their bodies(feel sensations), harness and control their sexual energy and orgasm. I have helped them get to know women’s bodies and women’s sexual response.

They have gained confidence and knowledge that helped them have more sex and importantly more satisfying sex.

Along the way many men have opened up to me about their concerns and fear around dealing with masculinity and understanding women in and out of the bedroom. Men either feel like aggressive entitled jerks or passive pushovers stuck in the friend zone.

Men need an assertive safe zone.

In the wake of this ‘Me too’ movement there has been a rise in fear around masculine energy. It has been framed as toxic and detrimental.

Not every touch, compliment or glance is an assault. Not every woman feels like a victim. The toxic masculinity frame has harmed men as well as women! The time has come to bring the conscious divine masculine to clarity and shatter the toxic masculine image!

Instead of taking sides let’s come together and communicate in a healthy, loving way.

Fact is, we have a lack of sex education in our country and most of the world. We are not taught communication skills in general. It is clear why we have so much miscommunication or lack of communication about sexuality.

Women and men have been taught opposite messages around sexuality. It is time to unlearn these harmful ideas, attitudes and beliefs.

Always talk about sex before diving in. If you are not comfortable talking about it, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.

Here are some helpful questions everyone can use, for having sexual consent conversations with your partner/partners or a potential partner.

Say out loud and agree up front: there are no judgments or expectations and nothing will be taken personally, this is all just information.

What to say, what to ask:

1. Do you want to be in a monogamous relationship?

2. What does monogamous mean to you? 

3. I’m really into XYZ are you comfortable with that?’

4. I recently saw this type of play and I am interested in experimenting.

5. How do you feel/what do you think about that?

6. Would you like to try XYZ with me?

7. Tell me if I am using too much or too little pressure.

8. Does XYZ feel good to you?

9. Would you like more pressure than this or less?

10. What are your boundaries in the bedroom? What is completely off the table?

11. What do you find pleasurable?

12. What is not pleasurable to you?

13. What are some things you would like to experiment with?

14. What is you definition of kink? what is taboo to you but is a turn on?

Always keep in mind that in the heat of the moment a yes can become a no but a no can not become a yes. The last thing you want to do is break trust.

You can always have another conversation and create new boundaries for next time. Better to take it slower and be conscious than to have remorse later for crossing a line in the heat of the moment.

A little bit of communication even if it feels awkward, can guarantee a more satisfying experience for you both. Keep in mind the more you have these conversations the more comfortable they will become.

Complete Article HERE!

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How To Talk About Sex (And Consent)…

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4 Lessons From The Kink Community

Talking about sex and consent can be awkward, but it’s important — learning to do it better can help make sure that everyone is on the same page and also that you have the kind of sex that you want to have, whether that involves handcuffs or not.

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I don’t remember when the concept of consent as it relates to sex became part of my vocabulary, but it shapes how I approach my personal relationships and affects the way I move through the world. I was shaken when the #MeToo Movement exploded, not only by the stories of sexual assault and harassment, but also by the stories of women who had felt pressured or coerced into having sex they didn’t want.

I flashed back to my own similarly uncomfortable experiences, when I was single and new to D.C. I remembered times on dates when I’d expressed my discomfort by simply pulling away or turning my head when a guy tried to kiss or touch me when I didn’t want to be kissed or touched. I was familiar with the sickening feeling of being distressed by something that was happening, while also feeling unable or hesitant to speak up for myself.

It’s been on my mind a lot recently, how I, like so many people, have been socialized not to talk about sex — because it’s uncomfortable or awkward or it might kill the mood. I thought about how that hesitancy to speak can muddy the waters of consent, and I wanted to explore that idea with people who talk about sex a lot: the kink community, or kinksters, as they’re known.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of kink is “unconventional sexual taste or behavior,” and includes a wide variety of behaviors and preferences. That includes BDSM — a subset of kink — which stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism. Being tied up or handcuffed (bondage), spanked (discipline), and role playing all fall under BDSM.

To make sure each partner is on the same page, kinksters have to talk about sex in a way that vanilla people — those who don’t participate in kinky activities — often don’t. Julie, a kinkster and sociologist in the Washington DC area, believes that the communication kinksters have with each other distinguishes them from “vanillas.”

“Ultimately, what it seems to come down to more than anything is not how many whips and chains are involved, but rather how openly are you willing to talk about the sex that you’re having in the most blatant of terms,” she says.

Of course, the kink community isn’t perfect, as several kinksters told me. They’ve had some high-profile cases of bad behavior — non consensual or even abusive — and as a community they’re dealing with their own need to root out abuse. The kinksters I talked to stressed the importance of evolving the conversation to be even more thoughtful in navigating sex and consent.

Since this is a community that’s made an art out of talking openly about sex, I sat down with six kinksters in Washington D.C to learn some better ways to think and talk about consent. We aren’t using their full names to protect their current and future employment opportunities. Here’s what I found out.

Consent isn’t a simple Yes/No question … it’s a dialogue.

A core principle of kink is negotiating with a prospective partner before anything happens — if that negotiation is done right, it’s more like a collaboration toward a common goal: each party’s pleasure. That includes discussing what’s about to happen before it happens, hashing out boundaries, and ensuring that everyone involved is on the same page.

For Ren, the kind of consent she’s getting is especially important. She organizes cigar socials — events where kinksters can explore the ritual of smoking cigars in a more sexual context. That could include one partner preparing the cigar for their dominant partner, presenting it, and lighting it in a show of submission. Ren says she’s started only working with what she calls “enthusiastic consent.”

“It’s opt-in consent, as opposed to what the vanilla world works with which is opt-out consent. ‘If you don’t say no, it’s fine’ versus what I go for is, ‘If you say yes, it’s good.’ ” For Ren, that opt-in consent means only doing to a partner what’s already been discussed.

But consent isn’t just something given or received at the beginning — it needs to be ongoing. Julie says: “I’m most sexually compatible with the kinds of people who say, ‘Of course I’ll tell you if something’s wrong.’ I don’t want to be in a situation where I don’t trust you to tell me if there’s a problem.”

Ren adds that there have been multiple times when she’s stopped having sex with a person when they’ve done something to her that she’s specifically told them not to do: “I’ve kindly given them their pants back, and I’ve been like, ‘Well, it’s time for you to go.’ ”

Consent is ongoing, and partners should be talking; if something goes wrong and someone wants to stop, everything should stop.

“Talk about sex before you have sex. Talk about sex during sex. Talk about sex after sex,” says Heather, who works with the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, an advocacy group for kinksters.

“It’s okay to have a discussion the next day or the week after and say, ‘I liked this but I didn’t like that or can we try this next time,’ etcetera,” she says.

When you talk about sex acts, talk about what they mean to you.

The kinksters I spoke with said there was not a perfect checklist or script for how to talk about sex. Remy, a lawyer in the NYC area, says that’s because everybody is different.

“People have different minds, and that sounds very simple but what it can mean in practice is that somebody could do everything right and have taken every precaution, and the other person with whom they are doing something can still experience that as a violation of consent,” Remy says.

Which is why it’s so important to kinksters to talk frankly with each other about what they want and about how they want to feel. What does each person want to experience? What do you want to feel emotionally?

“There are so many things that when we get too hung up on specifics of activity, we lose track of some of the meaning — and a lot of times, the meaning is what affects people more,” says Evan.

Heather says she prints out a short checklist on negotiation. “I always tell people ‘this is not a comprehensive list but is a great conversation starter for both sides,” she says.

At the very top of the list is the question “Mood: how do we want to feel.”

Ren says that requires a little bit of self-reflection. “I don’t want to have bad sex anymore, so it’s like how do I want to feel during sex? Well, I want to feel powerless, and then having conversations based on that in order to find compatible people to have that type of sex with.”

“One of the most useful pieces of advice, is not just negotiating what’s going on but negotiating what things mean,” says Evan . “You can say to someone, like, ‘I want to be spanked. I want you to spank me’ but what does that look like? What does it mean, where does it involve touching?”

Make the consent conversation fun and seductive.

Yes, having frank and open discussions about sex can be awkward, but kinksters say they’re able to have fun with it too.

“I think there’s a real failure in the imagination of a lot of the broad public to think that you can’t ask for and even, you know, specifically in a detailed manner negotiate activities, without it also being sexy,” Evan says.

The kinksters’ “negotiation cheat sheet” encourages talking about things like each party’s hard limits and triggers, level of experience, and who is doing what in the scenario (for example: who is being spanked and who is doing the spanking). It also suggests talking about each person’s tolerance of the risk of minor harm, like rope or wax burns, or the potential emotional impacts from play.

And all of it can be sexy to talk about, says Ren.

“There are so many ways you can get consent without going ‘I’d like to kiss you right now’ or ‘I’d like to touch your leg,’ ” Ren adds. “Like begging can be really hot. And if you make somebody beg for the thing they want, you would assume that they want that thing.”

Talking about fantasies is another way to figure out what a partner might want to do in bed.

“A lot of time, when you start from fantasies, you can get a much better picture of how someone wants to feel,” Julie says. “Then at some point, it becomes a question of ‘you fantasize about this thing, are you actually okay with doing it in reality?’ So then it’s a matter of trying to make that feeling happen.”

Get good at describing what gives you pleasure.

Many of us have been socialized to find it shameful to ask for what we want sexually, and Julie thinks that needs to change to make communicating about sex easier.

“When we’re too ashamed to do it when we’re sober, and [think] that anyone who’s had sex with too many people isn’t worthy of marrying, you make it impossible for people to have a context for open and honest sexual communication,” she says.

For kinksters, it’s not just about ensuring that all parties involved are comfortable, and consent to what’s happening. It’s about having good sex. It’s about feeling empowered to ask for what you want out of sex — without being shamed for it — so you can have the sex that you want to have with the people you want to have it with.

“I think the vanilla society are missing out on a lot of feelings and emotions and satisfaction that they could get if they would be more open and honest with each other and more willing to communicate about these things,” Heather says.

And for Ren, that’s one of the biggest changes she’s found since joining the kink community.

Getting better negotiation skills led to better sex,” Ren says. “A lot of my experiences with my partners are a lot better now because I’m a lot better at communicating the things I want out of our interactions, and I’m also able to give them more of the things they want.”

Complete Article HERE!

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If your sexual orientation is accepted by society you will be happier and more satisfied with your life

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Lesbian women are mostly happier with their lives than straight women.

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In recent years LGBT+ rights have improved dramatically. Same-sex marriage is now legally performed and recognised in 28 countries. Equality laws protect LGBT+ people at work and increased media coverage is improving knowledge and awareness of sexual orientations. More to be done, however, to ensure equality for all, and researchers have been looking into how different factors like these contribute to the happiness and life satisfaction of people with minority sexual identities.

Studies have shown that, on average, homosexuals and bisexuals report lower levels of life satisfaction than heterosexuals. This has been linked to homosexuals and bisexuals experiencing heteronormativity (the assumption that heterosexual orientation and binary gender identity are “normal”, which has led to the world being built to cater to the needs and desires of heterosexual life), which leads to stigmatisation. For our new study we looked deeper into the links between sexuality and life satisfaction, and found that people with an “other” sexual identity – such as pansexual, demisexual, or asexual – also experience lower levels of life satisfaction than heterosexuals.

Well-being differences

Using 150,000 responses collected over five years as part of the Understanding Society survey, we analysed whether the happiest heterosexuals are happier than the happiest sexual minorities, and if the least happy sexual minorities are less happy than the least happy heterosexuals. When looking at the data, we controlled for a number of things – such as age, employment, personality, and location – to make sure our results focused solely on sexual identity.

While other studies have looked at the “average” effect of sexual identity on happiness (where it has been shown that sexual minorities report lower levels of life satisfaction), my colleagues and I considered the whole well-being distribution. That is, we looked at the differences between heterosexuals and sexual minorities at the lowest, average, and highest levels of self-reported life satisfaction.

Our results are clear that sexual identity is correlated with life satisfaction, but it is a nuanced picture. We found that homosexual males are less happy with their lives than heterosexual males, except for at the very top of the well-being distribution (where they are happiest). We also saw that homosexual females are happier with their lives than heterosexual females. Although interestingly that is except for at the lowest levels of well-being.

Facing ostracisation on the basis of your sexual identity has a large negative impact on how satisfied you are with your life.

Bisexuals – irrespective of gender – report the lowest levels of life satisfaction, and the loss to well-being associated with being bisexual (rather than heterosexual) is at least comparable to the effect of being unemployed or having ill-health. In fact, out of all the sexual identities analysed we found that bisexuals are the least satisfied with their lives.

“Other” sexual identities are associated with lower levels of life satisfaction in the bottom half of the distribution, but higher life satisfaction in the top half. This means that the least happy people with an other sexual identity are less happy than their heterosexual counterparts. But the happiest people with an other sex identity are actually happier than their heterosexual counterparts.

While our findings highlight the importance of gender (or more precisely its interaction with sexual identity), this is only relevant for homosexuals. As noted above, the results for homosexual males and homosexual females are drastically different This makes sense considering that other research has highlighted that societal attitudes towards lesbians are more preferential than to gay males. So it is likely that the higher life satisfaction reported by lesbians (compared to heterosexual women) is associated with these more positive societal attitudes.

Identity and acceptance

Looking to our findings for other sexual identities, we believe that growing awareness (for example due to increased representation on television) is likely to have reduced the need for some people to “explain” their identity to others. This will have made reaffirming the validity of their sexuality to themselves easier too. If we couple this with increasing self-awareness of an identity that gives meaning to attractions (or lack thereof), the positive well-being identified for this group is understandable.

While it could be argued that the same should be true of bisexuals, there is a significant difference between bisexuality and “other” identities. Bisexuality is an identity that has existed significantly longer and was part of the original LGBT movement. And yet the greater minority stress experienced by bisexuals is likely a reflection of how they experience stigmatisation from both heterosexual and homosexual communities through bi-erasure and lack of acceptance of bisexuality.

Overall our research shows that people with a minority sexual identity are on average less satisfied with their lives, but across the distribution of well-being a more positive picture emerges. If we look at other research into the different societal attitudes and growing acceptance towards certain sexual identities, it is clear that being accepted is important. Facing ostracisation on the basis of your sexual identity has a large negative impact on how satisfied you are with your life.

Complete Article HERE!

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Is it healthy to have make-up sex?

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There’s a longstanding joke that people in relationships like to argue with each other because the make-up sex is so good.

By Almara Abgarian

Similarly, many say that having angry sex (having sex before you’ve actually made up) is equally appealing, because it’s fuelled by a primal passion.

You just have to have each other, right there, right then – even if you’re furious with the other person.

There is likely some truth to it, but research around it has conflicting results.

For instance, a study from 2008 by Israel’s Bar Ilan University claimed that make-up sex is much better than plain friendly shagging, but another piece of research revealed that this works best when you’ve already made up on a psychological level (rather than having sex in the middle of a fight).

The physical reaction you have during make-up sex – feeling hornier and finding your lover extra attractive is actually your mind’s response to the ’emotional threat’ that it’s going through.

In other words, the possibility that you might break up with your partner is encouraging you to make up, while the sex brings you closer together.

But is this really the case?

Annabelle Knight, sex and relationship expert at Lovehoney, tells Metro.co.uk that make-up sex can be a good idea as it allows partners to reconnect, but if you’re regularly turning to sex to sort out arguments, it’s worth considering why – and if there are deeper, underlying issues (that a round in the sheets can’t fix).

‘There is nothing wrong with make-up sex as long as you are doing for the right reasons – emotionally reconnecting with a partner that you love and trust,’ said Annabelle Knight, sex and relationship expert at Lovehoney.

‘All couples row and make-up sex is a great way of getting over an argument. It can be especially exciting.

‘It is a reminder that even though you can hurt each [other], you are still there for each other.

‘The obvious danger with make-up sex is if you are in an abusive relationship.

‘You really need to look at the reasons why you are so often having make-up sex – because your partner’s unreasonable behaviour is causing too many rows. If that is the case, it is best to look at the fundamental flaws in the relationship and either address them or walk away.

‘Make-up sex is not going to paper over the cracks.’

If you’ve spent hours talking, shouting and fighting, sex can serve as a helpful break – letting you regroup, remember how much you love and care for each other and continue the fight in a settled manner afterwards.

It’s harder to be angry with someone when you’re cuddled up to them post-orgasm, full of happy endorphins.

The issue here, according to Pam Custers, who runs a psychotherapy clinic and specialises in relationship issues and couples counselling, is that men and women interpret sex in different ways.

‘Make-up sex can be powerful way to heal a rift,’ the psychotherapist, who is a Counselling Directory member, tells Metro.co.uk.

‘Make-up sex says that all is forgiven, but it can’t be used as a quick fix.

‘Generally speaking men tend to have sex in order to feel loved and women tend to have sex because they do feel loved. This is where make-up sex can fall down.

‘If the underlying cause for the discontent is not discussed and resolved no amount of make-up sex will build the bridge. Soon one person in the partnership will start to feel like there is something missing in the relationship.’

So, is there a better option? Yes – talking.

‘Sex is a form of communication but it can’t take the place of all types of communication. Talking and behaviour are key to a good relationship and no amount of make-up sex can take its place,’ Custers explains.

‘The ideal would be for good communication to resolve the issues so both parties feel heard and understood, then a way forward that is in the best interests of the relationship and then followed by intimacy that rekindles the loving feeling.’

It’s worth noting that sometimes both talking and sex are off the table.

If the anger is taking over, go for a walk, try to cool down and then sit down with your partner to hash out your issues afterwards instead. As they say, cooler heads prevail.

The danger in having make-up sex is that it may not have the same effect for both of you.

And if it doesn’t ‘work’, the sex could leave you feeling worse than you did before (both about the relationship and yourself), and now you might also question why sleeping with your partner doesn’t help resolve your issues.

Especially if others around you are constantly discussing how great make-up sex is.

Each relationship has its own kinks and quirks; if make-up sex works for both of you, and gives you that time to connect before looking at the bigger picture (why you were fighting in the first place), then go forth and shag.

For some people a lack of intimacy can also be the reason couples are in a tiff, and so the sex might help.

Just be safe and if you feel sex isn’t enough to resolve the matter, then it’s time for a chat with your partner.

Complete Article HERE!

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What is ‘morning wood’?

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And why does it happen?

“Morning wood” is a slang term that refers to a person having an erect penis when they wake up in the morning. The medical term is nocturnal penile tumescence. Some call it having a nocturnal erection.

Nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) is not a result of sexual arousal or having a dream relating to sex. Instead, it is a normal function of the male reproductive system.

In fact, regular episodes of NPT are a sign that the nerves and blood supply to the penis are healthy.

If a male does not have NPT regularly, it can indicate a health issue, such as erectile dysfunction (ED), which involves having trouble getting or keeping an erection. Not having regular NPT can also suggest other problems with the nerves or the blood supply to the male reproductive organs.

A hormonal imbalance, such as a decrease in testosterone, can also affect how often a person experiences NPT. A lack of regular NPT can sometimes result from not getting quality sleep.

As a person gets older, they can expect to experience NPT less often. This change should happen gradually, as hormone levels shift. Anyone who notices a sudden drop in the number of their NPT episodes should speak with a doctor to rule out any potential health issues.

Causes

NPT is not a typical erection because it is not related to sexual thoughts, dreams, or stimulation. It is simply a result of sleep cycles, combined with healthy nerves and blood flow in the body.

NPT tends to happen when a person is in a rapid eye movement (REM) phase of sleep. REM sleep can occur several times during an 8-hour sleep cycle. The erection may go away on its own as a person enters deeper sleep. Thus, a person may have erections several times during the night but may not be aware of them.

Often, a person wakes up at the end of a REM sleep cycle, which explains why NPT seems to happen in the morning. In addition, testosterone levels tend to be elevated in the morning. Males have high levels of this hormone, which contributes to sexual function.

An erection caused by NPT may be physically different from one caused by arousal. One study found that some men experienced pain when they had NPT, but not when they had typical erections.

How often should morning wood occur?

Males of various ages, from children to older adults, experience NPT. Usually, younger adults, who have the highest levels of testosterone, will experience nocturnal erections more frequently than children or older people. Young adult males may have NPT every morning and a few times during the night.

The peak of sexual maturity generally happens when males are in their late teens to late 30s, and this may correspond with higher testosterone levels. It is normal for people in this age range to experience frequent episodes of NPT.

As a person approaches their 40s and 50s, they may notice fewer episodes of NPT. This often occurs because testosterone levels are naturally declining. However, the episodes should decline gradually, not suddenly. A gradual decline in NPT with age is customary.

A hormonal imbalance, especially one that affects the penis and testes, can result in few or no episodes of NPT. This is one reason why having regular erections in the morning is an important indicator of healthy male sexual organs.

One study found that men with hypogonadism, which prevents the sexual organs from fully functioning, experienced an increase in NPT after they had received testosterone therapy.

Some research says that a person’s quality of sleep can affect the frequency of NPT. If a person is not getting good sleep and entering the REM cycle, they may not experience nocturnal erections.

A study of 61 men with obstructive sleep apnea and ED found that getting better quality sleep resulted in more frequent NPT. The participants who used continuous positive airway pressure devices had more frequent nocturnal erections than those who did not.

Other studies have used NPT as an indicator of hormonal or sexual health, especially when treating ED.

For instance, if a person has NPT but cannot get or maintain an erection during sexual activity, doctors can rule out issues such as insufficient blood flow or nerve responses in the penis. If this is the case, ED may be a psychological issue, and a health professional can treat it accordingly.

However, if a person has no nocturnal erections and has trouble getting or keeping erections related to sex, doctors may determine that there is a physical cause of ED.

When to see a doctor

Because NPT is an indicator of quality sleep and the health of sexual organs, it is helpful to pay attention to how often NPT happens.

If NPT suddenly stops or is happening much less frequently, speak with a doctor. They may wish to discuss possible health conditions, such as sleep disorders, hormonal imbalances, anxiety, and ED.

It is important to see a doctor about a lack of NPT, as it can be a symptom of ED. This condition can indicate serious health issues, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes, especially in younger males. A health professional can help treat these conditions, including ED.

Certain medications, such as antidepressants, can make it more difficult for a person to get or maintain an erection. They may also cause a decrease or sudden stop in NPT. Some of these medications include:

  • high blood pressure medications
  • muscle relaxers
  • hormonal medications
  • seizure medications
  • antidepressants
  • histamine H2 agonists (which can help treat some types of ulcers)
  • chemotherapy drugs
  • medications to treat heart arrhythmias
  • diuretics

If a person has recently started a new medication and notices changes in the frequency of NPT, they may wish to speak with their doctor. Sometimes, the doctor can prescribe a different medication to help address this side effect.

See a doctor if NPT or erections in general are painful.

Seek emergency medical help for an erection that does not go away after 4 hours. If this occurs, it can cause tissue damage in the penis and problems with sexual function.

Summary

Morning wood is a healthy function of the male body.

A person should talk with their doctor if they notice a sudden change in the frequency of nighttime erections. This can ensure that a person receives prompt treatment for any underlying health conditions.

Complete Article HERE!

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What’s the sexual taboo that will define the next generation?

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By Almara Abgarian

Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, Generation Z.

As human beings, we like to attribute societal trends and cultural shifts to a specific generation.

Sexual trends are no exception.

Generation X, people born in the early to mid-60s to early 80s, were influenced by the sexual revolution and ruled by the blowjob, while Millennials embraced anal sex.

Back in 1992, 16% of 18 to 24-year-old women reported they’d tried anal sex. Now, it’s 40% of people by age 24.

Data suggests 94% of women who had anal sex in their last encounter achieved orgasm. That compares 81% for oral sex and 64% for vaginal orgasm.

It’s not as simple as anal sex equals orgasm but having anal sex as part of people’s sexual experience seems to show more sexual satisfaction.

Generation Z has seen conventional sexual roles removed and have taken anal play one step further with pegging – a woman wearing a strap-on and inserting this into the man’s anus.

LoveHoney reported a 200% increase in sales of strap-ons in 2017 and it has continued to grow since then.

So what’s the next taboo to be broken?

‘Society is moving away from the idea that vaginal penetrative sex is the only accepted form of sexual intercourse,’ said Sienna Halliburton, sex expert at Je Joue.

‘Blowjobs, anal sex and pegging have moved, or are still moving, away from being seen as taboo subjects into the realm of “normal” conversation.

‘Greater interest in sex education and liberalising attitudes towards gender and sexuality are largely responsible for these shifts.

‘So what is still a taboo subject that can be broken? Mutual masturbation.’

Masturbation ‘will overtake penetration’

People now developing their sexual identity have been born into an era concentrated on social media and technology, where interaction can be confined to a computer or smartphone.

Research shows that they’re given less opportunities to interact with others at school, with young people half as likely to meet up with peers in person, compared to 2006.

Some experts conclude that this will lead to a lack of social skills, which in turn will cause the next generation to become less interested in penetrative sex with a partner and more focused on masturbation.

‘Sexual content is at their fingertips 24/7 as they navigate the world via smartphones, tablets, and laptops,’ Chelsea Reynolds, assistant professor at the Department of Communications at California State University, tells Metro.co.uk.

‘Because they are exposed to porn, sexting, and online dating at a young age, they feel online-mediated sexuality is natural.

‘What they aren’t comfortable with is face-to-face communication.

‘If Gen X’s thing was the blowjob, millennials’ thing was anal, and Gen Z is into pegging, the next generation will likely be the masturbation generation.

‘For 20 years now there has been a downward trend in teen sexual activity.

‘Teenagers have been consistently losing their virginities at an older age and having fewer sexual partners overall. Although teen sexuality may [be] less taboo than it used to be, teens have a million sexual outlets today that don’t involve genital contact.’

Virtual Reality sex

Another sexual trend influenced by technology is the rise of virtual reality (VR).

Through VR tools, people will be able to act out their wildest fantasies without judgement, as well as find (or create) sexual partners without having to step outside their door.

The opportunity already exists to some degree; the US-based company, Naughty America, allows its users to ‘star’ in porn films, while on adult sites, there are entire sections dedicated to virtual reality-inspired porn.

‘Naturally, the next step from here to take sex to the next level is virtual reality sex,’ Paul Jacques, technical manager at Lovehoney, tells Metro.co.uk.

The best of The Future Of Everything

‘Virtual reality as an industry is booming, and the adult industry is right there taking part in it, with haptic feedback devices (the application of forces, vibrations and motions to help recreate the sense of touch for the user) and full-rendered environments fulfilling consumer fantasies.

‘Companies like Kiiroo and Fleshlight have created toys like the Launch, that combine a really great sex toy with an automatic device that can be linked to online content. CyberSkin’s twerking realistic butt comes with a VR headset that provides a link between the motions you see onscreen and the movements of the toy itself.

‘Particularly of interest is the rise of app-controlled toys, which are shaking up the industry in every way, and ultra-realistic, highly sophisticated sex-cessories, which are starting to make even the most unusual sci-fi fantasies seem like reality.’

Sex will be less important in relationships and introduced later in life

If masturbation becomes the sexual trend that defines the next generation, could people stop having sex altogether?

Sally Baker, a senior therapist, explains that not only will young people have sex later in life – starting in their 30s – but sex will also lose its importance in society as a whole.

This may have already come into motion, with research revealing British people are having less sex than before.

Additional statistics from dating website OKCupid show similar trends, with both millennials and Generation Z prioritising love over sex, or opting out completely because they are ‘risk-averse’.

‘Abstinence or non-penetrative sex could be the next thing,’ Baker tells Metro.co.uk.

‘Friends of any gender mix and sexual orientation will commit to having a primary sexless relationship with each other. Couples or small cores of people will no longer be defined by a shared sexual orientation but by shared values, drives and their mutual emotional need to be together.

‘Young people will commonly delay sexual experience with anyone well into their 30s even if they are already living in a committed relationship.

‘Sex if and when it does take place might well happen externally of the central relationship. A couple may choose to have sex with other people while maintaining their core sexless relationship as their primary commitment.

‘Sex with other people will not be a cause of jealousy or a disruptor of their primary relationship.

‘Sex with others will not overshadow the primacy of their key relationship because they consider the supremacy of their key relationship transcends all base instincts.’

Couples will focus on ‘non-hierarchical’ sexual experiences

That all sounds like a really progressive way to experience relationships but, for those in the older generations, it could look from the outside to be very confusing.

‘If sex happens within a young couple, it will often be solitary and perfunctory,’ Sally Baker says.

‘If they do have sex together, the emphasis would be on mutual extended foreplay and de-emphasising or excluding penetrative sex. This ensures the sex they experience is non-hierarchical and non-binary.

‘Couples will not value sexual imperatives and sexuality takes second place to their desire to experience deep commitment and loyalty for and with each other.

‘Gen A will be highly motivated to form long-term committed relationships as a survival strategy to cope with the disconnect they experience in their lives and careers.

‘Feeling overwhelmed and anxious while living in increasingly inhospitable economic conditions will make it impossible to be single and to thrive.’

If that’s the case, then the sexual taboo of the next generation could be no sex at all.

Complete Article HERE!

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How the Nazis destroyed the first gay rights movement

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In 2017, Germany’s Cabinet approved a bill that will expunge the convictions of tens of thousands of German men for “homosexual acts” under that country’s anti-gay law known as “Paragraph 175.” That law dates back to 1871, when modern Germany’s first legal code was created.

It was repealed in 1994. But there was a serious movement to repeal the law in 1929 as part of a wider LGBTQ rights movement. That was just before the Nazis came to power, magnified the anti-gay law, then sought to annihilate gay and transgender Europeans.

The story of how close Germany – and much of Europe – came to liberating its LGBTQ people before violently reversing that trend under new authoritarian regimes is an object lesson showing that the history of LGBTQ rights is not a record of constant progress.

The first LGBTQ liberation movement

In the 1920s, Berlin had nearly 100 gay and lesbian bars or cafes. Vienna had about a dozen gay cafes, clubs and bookstores. In Paris, certain quarters were renowned for open displays of gay and trans nightlife. Even Florence, Italy, had its own gay district, as did many smaller European cities.

Films began depicting sympathetic gay characters. Protests were organized against offensive depictions of LGBTQ people in print or on stage. And media entrepreneurs realized there was a middle-class gay and trans readership to whom they could cater.

Partly driving this new era of tolerance were the doctors and scientists who started looking at homosexuality and “transvestism” (a word of that era that encompassed transgender people) as a natural characteristic with which some were born, and not a “derangement.” The story of Lili Elbe and the first modern sex change, made famous in the recent film “The Danish Girl,” reflected these trends.

For example, Berlin opened its Institute for Sexual Research in 1919, the place where the word “transsexual” was coined, and where people could receive counseling and other services. Its lead doctor, Magnus Hirschfeld, also consulted on the Lili Elbe sex change.

Connected to this institute was an organization called the “Scientific-Humanitarian Committee.” With the motto “justice through science,” this group of scientists and LGBTQ people promoted equal rights, arguing that LGBTQ people were not aberrations of nature.

Most European capitals hosted a branch of the group, which sponsored talks and sought the repeal of Germany’s “Paragraph 175.” Combining with other liberal groups and politicians, it succeeded in influencing a German parliamentary committee to recommend the repeal to the wider government in 1929.

The backlash

While these developments didn’t mean the end of centuries of intolerance, the 1920s and early ‘30s certainly looked like the beginning of the end. On the other hand, the greater “out-ness” of gay and trans people provoked their opponents.

A French reporter, bemoaning the sight of uncloseted LGBTQ people in public, complained, “the contagion … is corrupting every milieu.” The Berlin police grumbled that magazines aimed at gay men – which they called “obscene press materials” – were proliferating. In Vienna, lectures of the “Scientific Humanitarian Committee” might be packed with supporters, but one was attacked by young men hurling stink bombs. A Parisian town councilor in 1933 called it “a moral crisis” that gay people, known as “inverts” at that time, could be seen in public.

“Far be it from me to want to turn to fascism,” the councilor said, “but all the same, we have to agree that in some things those regimes have sometimes done good… One day Hitler and Mussolini woke up and said, ‘Honestly, the scandal has gone on long enough’ … And … the inverts … were chased out of Germany and Italy the very next day.”

The ascent of Fascism

It’s this willingness to make a blood sacrifice of minorities in exchange for “normalcy” or prosperity that has observers drawing uncomfortable comparisons between then and now.

In the 1930s, the Depression spread economic anxiety, while political fights in European parliaments tended to spill outside into actual street fights between Left and Right. Fascist parties offered Europeans a choice of stability at the price of democracy. Tolerance of minorities was destabilizing, they said. Expanding liberties gave “undesirable” people the liberty to undermine security and threaten traditional “moral” culture. Gay and trans people were an obvious target.

What happened next shows the whiplash speed with which the progress of a generation can be thrown into reverse.

The nightmare

One day in May 1933, pristine white-shirted students marched in front of Berlin’s Institute for Sexual Research – that safe haven for LGBTQ people – calling it “Un-German.” Later, a mob hauled out its library to be burned. Later still, its acting head was arrested.

When Nazi leader Adolph Hitler needed to justify arresting and murdering former political allies in 1934, he said they were gay. This fanned anti-gay zealotry by the Gestapo, which opened a special anti-gay branch. During the following year alone, the Gestapo arrested more than 8,500 gay men, quite possibly using a list of names and addresses seized at the Institute for Sexual Research. Not only was Paragraph 175 not erased, as a parliamentary committee had recommended just a few years before, it was amended to be more expansive and punitive.

As the Gestapo spread throughout Europe, it expanded the hunt. In Vienna, it hauled in every gay man on police lists and questioned them, trying to get them to name others. The fortunate ones went to jail. The less fortunate went to Buchenwald and Dachau. In conquered France, Alsace police worked with the Gestapo to arrest at least 200 men and send them to concentration camps. Italy, with a fascist regime obsessed with virility, sent at least 300 gay men to brutal camps during the war period, declaring them “dangerous for the integrity of the race.”

The total number of Europeans arrested for being LGBTQ under fascism is impossible to know because of the lack of reliable records. But a conservative estimate is that there were many tens of thousands to one hundred thousand arrests during the war period alone.

Under these nightmare conditions, far more LGBTQ people in Europe painstakingly hid their genuine sexuality to avoid suspicion, marrying members of the opposite sex, for example. Still, if they had been prominent members of the gay and trans community before the fascists came to power, as Berlin lesbian club owner Lotte Hahm was, it was too late to hide. She was sent to a concentration camp.

In those camps, gay men were marked with a pink triangle. In these places of horror, men with pink triangles were singled out for particular abuse. They were mechanically raped, castrated, favored for medical experiments and murdered for guards’ sadistic pleasure even when they were not sentenced for “liquidation.” One gay man attributed his survival to swapping his pink triangle for a red one – indicating he was merely a Communist. They were ostracized and tormented by their fellow inmates, too.

The looming danger of a backslide

This isn’t 1930s Europe. And making superficial comparisons between then and now can only yield superficial conclusions.

But with new forms of authoritarianism entrenched and seeking to expand in Europe and beyond, it’s worth thinking about the fate of Europe’s LGBTQ community in the 1930s and ‘40s – a timely note from history as Germany approves same-sex marriage and on this first anniversary of Obergefell v. Hodges.

In 1929, Germany came close to erasing its anti-gay law, only to see it strengthened soon thereafter. Only now, after a gap of 88 years, are convictions under that law being annulled.

Complete Article HERE!

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Everything You Need to Know About Sex After Divorce

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Getting back out there may seem tricky, but we’ve got ways to keep your mind and body healthy and happy.

Are you recently (or not so recently) divorced and out there in the dating world for the first time in, well, what feels like forever? Getting to the part of a new relationship where you take off your clothes can be challenging, or even downright intimidating. That’s where we come in. From our viewpoints as medical pros—Lauren Streicher is an ob/gyn and her daughter Rachel Zar is a relationship and sex therapist—we can help you navigate the tricky mind and body issues that arise.

Get over your anxiety around dating

Many people assume that relationship and sex therapists only focus on people in committed relationships, but many of my single (or newly single!) clients are actually sorting through the complexities of dating—from choosing the right app to choosing the right partner. And as women get older, anxiety around dating goes up. Maybe it’s been years since your last first date (and now you have to learn how to swipe?!), or your internal clock is ticking, or it simply seems more complicated now to find someone to have fun and socialize with.

Still, there are many reasons why dating gets better with age. First of all, those rumors you’ve heard about the dating pool shrinking are a myth; in fact, right now there’s the largest population of single adults in history (chalk it up to the increased acceptability of divorce as well as more people staying unmarried by choice).

But let’s say you’re over 40—libido and sexual pleasure go down with the years, right? Wrong! Research shows that 53% to 79% of older adults who have a partner are sexually active, and it turns out age and menopausal status are not significantly related to overall sexual satisfaction. Even most sexually active adults over 60 are satisfied. Age often comes with an added dose of self-understanding, which does wonders to counter issues caused by the anxiety of our younger years.

Dating gracefully at any age can be difficult. The biggest issues I see single women struggle with—whether they are new at the dating game or have been doing it for years—are confidence and communication.

Limit your online stalking to a quick search

By the time you’re well into adulthood, bringing someone new into your life doesn’t just mean getting a plus-one for parties and regular sex; it also means fitting another human’s habits, friendships, schedules, and past on top of your own. Dating and relationships are all about that give-and-take—and compromise is trickier and a little uncomfortable when we’re set in our ways.

Knowing this may send you straight to Google before each date to try and prejudge whether he (or she) will be compatible with you—but that’s a surefire way to kill the thrill of getting to know someone new. If you’re meeting a person from a dating app or as a blind setup, there’s no harm in doing a quick search to make sure he actually exists and isn’t on any terrifying registries. But I caution my clients away from getting sucked into the online wormhole. Think of how you would feel if, before a first date, this new person had already been judging your past partners on Facebook, scrutinizing your job history on LinkedIn, and even scrolling through your high school yearbook (yes, many of these are online now). Some of the fun of dating is letting information roll out slowly over time and staying curious about each other. Jumping to the finish line takes away the mystery (an important component of eroticism and attraction). It also doesn’t allow you or your date to pick and choose how and when you share certain information.

Decide how and when to disclose your “baggage”

 

Deciding when to reveal not-as-much-fun details to a new partner—from past heartbreaks to current hardships—is complicated. And the older we are, the more baggage we accumulate. But how soon is too soon to share your most private truths?

Let’s start with the basics: When it comes to sharing information about sexually transmitted infections, a good rule is to do so before things go below the belt. Yes, you know the odds of passing on that well-managed, yet still very real herpes infection you caught in college are low, but it’s still important to let your partner know before there’s any chance he could be infected. Potential sexual partners will take cues from you on how they’re expected to react, so if you do your homework, have your facts ready, and calmly mention it and assure him you’re on top of it, he’ll be more likely to respond calmly too.

What about other life issues you aren’t sure about sharing? The etiquette around that kind of information gets trickier, so your best bet is to trust your gut. I’ve worked with clients who feel that all their “stuff” (say, a diagnosis of depression, an aging parent they care for, or a history of abuse) must be put out there on a first date so potential mates know what they’re getting into. But remember, emotional safety is just as important as physical safety; sharing sensitive pieces of yourself should only be done with those who have earned that right. If a new suitor you don’t yet trust reacts strongly to an early share or an over-share, it may leave you feeling raw. My advice is to start lighter and gauge how safe you feel with a person before you reveal your most vulnerable aspects—and then when you do, you can assess whether he’s a good match for you. If he judges you for seeing a therapist, he’s not going to be a supportive partner long-term. If he freaks over the idea of visiting your dad’s retirement home, he may be fine for a casual relationship but not a good fit if you want something serious.

Rediscover what feels good in bed

Revealing your private parts is a big step in any dating relationship, one that should be handled with confidence and care. The great thing about having a little more experience is that you may have developed a better understanding of your body—of what feels good, of what feels great, and of what feels oh-my-God fantastic. If this doesn’t apply to you, there’s no time like the present! Give yourself a massage in the bathtub and focus on how your body feels instead of how it looks. (Scrutinizing every stretch mark and wrinkle isn’t sexy.) Notice that stroking your inner thigh gives you goosebumps or that your nipples are extra sensitive. Knowledge breeds acceptance, and acceptance breeds excitement. The more you know about your unique body, the more you’ll be able to communicate to your partner.

That communication is what separates mediocre lovers from great ones: Studies have shown that couples who talk about their sexual wants and needs report higher satisfaction. Once you know what works for you in bed, let partners know with a direct conversation (most people really want this information!). Tell them where you like to be touched, what kind of touch you love, and any specific acts you know lead to bliss. A simple “harder,” “slower,” or “more to the right” can do wonders in the heat of a moment. And if it’s difficult to find your voice, your hand can be a great guide.

Whether it’s online, on a first date, or in the bedroom, the more you’re able to really show up—being honestly and authentically you—the more success you’ll find and the more fun you’ll have with the new people in your life.
Protect yourself (and your partner) from STIs

When you become sexually active with a new partner after a divorce, the reality is that unless he (or she) is a virgin, you need to think about avoiding a sexually transmitted infection (STI). And midlife women are at much greater risk for STIs than most people appreciate—many of my patients seem to think chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes are limited to 20- and 30-year-olds who are having random hookups. Trust me, it’s not as if these bugs ask to see proof of age before infecting someone.

Another thing to know: Women are at higher risk than men, since STIs are more easily passed from male to female than vice versa. In fact, if exposed, a woman is more likely than a man to contract hepatitis B, gonorrhea, or HIV. The risk is even higher for postmenopausal women, since thin vaginal walls are more likely to get microscopic tears during intercourse, creating an easy portal for infection. Women who have common STIs are less likely to have symptoms than men, which means diagnosis is often delayed or missed.

That’s why the age group in which STI rates are rising most rapidly is that of adults at midlife and beyond. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the rate of gonorrhea cases among U.S. women ages 40 to 64 increased over 60% between 2013 and 2016. Chlamydia and syphilis are also on the rise.

A lot of women are reassured by the fantasy that the typical midlife guy is “low-risk,” especially if he’s just ended a long marriage. That’s true if he and his wife were monogamous—but a lot of marriages end because someone wasn’t monogamous. And if you’ve had the thought, I’m not worried…he’s a nice guy, I’ve got news for you. Sometimes the nice guys are the ones most likely to have an infection. Face it: Creepy guys probably have a harder time getting someone to sleep with them.

The solution? Know your enemy (the bugs, not the guys) and protect yourself.

Don’t be a “just this once” person

 

Here’s what you may have told yourself: I’ll always insist on a condom, so I have nothing to worry about, right? Not really. Condoms are not foolproof. First of all, HPV, herpes, and a number of other STIs live not in semen but on skin, so intercourse isn’t necessary to transmit them. Since a condom covers only the penis, short of strapping on a garbage bag to cover a man’s scrotum, anus, and surrounding skin, there is no such thing as total protection.

Still, using a condom consistently remains the best way to lower your risk of getting an STI. But studies show that single women in midlife with new partners rarely report consistent condom use. (I even hear this from my very responsible, hyperaware patients.) For those who are over 40, here’s one possible reason: Women over 40 are generally dating (surprise!) men over 40. Sometimes way over 40. In general, the older a guy gets, the more difficulty he has in getting and maintaining an erection, even in the best of scenarios. Add a few glasses of wine and a condom, and it’s game over.

So while my patients all intend to use condoms, they often don’t. I see and treat a lot of infections in women who decided to skip the condom “just this once.”

Don’t be one of those women—and don’t depend on a man to be prepared. You should have an assortment of male condoms on hand. (Be sure they are all marked “extra-large”!)

The female condom hasn’t caught on yet, but it’s a very viable option. A soft, thin nonlatex sheath, it’s designed to not only cover the cervix and vaginal walls but also shield the outside of the vagina. No special fitting is needed: One size fits everybody.

As my daughter said, talking to a partner about your respective STI histories and current status is key. To do this, you need to be screened—especially important since the majority of these infections have no symptoms in their earliest stages. Despite what you may think, screening for STIs is not done automatically when you go to your doctor, nor is it part of a Pap test. So if your doctor doesn’t bring it up, you need to ask. There’s no need to go into lengthy explanations; simply say, “I’d like a screen for sexually transmitted infections today.” Your doctor will not be shocked. Really.

Okay, now you’ve got both the mind and the body prep from us—go out there and have some fun!

Complete Article HERE!

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Can Your Vagina Be Too Tight For Sex?

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Not exactly, but there are reasons it might *feel* that way.

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It’s a logical conclusion: If it hurts when a partner tries to put their penis or a toy inside of you, or if they can’t get all the way inside, then it must be a problem of tightness, right? Ehhh, not exactly.

There are several reasons for why you might feel like you’re too tight for vaginal penetration, and it’s actually a pretty common problem that gynecologists hear about. But it’s a misconception that feeling a sensation of tightness means you actually have less elasticity down there—and thinking this may prevent you from finding a real (and, in many cases, easy!) solution.

The truth is, vaginas are ridiculously stretchy, says ob-gyn Susan Khalil, MD, director of sexual health for the Mount Sinai Health System. Think about it: Lots of people push babies out of that tiny hole, so it’s gotta give.

So if it’s not a problem of stretch, what’s the issue? Well, there are a variety of factors that might be at play. For instance, “Certain medical conditions can mimic the feeling of tightness,” Dr. Khalil says.

Here are a few common reasons why it may feel as if your vagina is too tight for sex, plus how to find relief.

You went through a hormonal shift.

During menopause, your body experiences a drop in estrogen, which can lead to dryness and the thinning of vaginal tissues, the Mayo Clinic explains. As a result, you may feel a sensation of tightness or irritation during sex. This is something you should bring up with your doctor, who can recommend an over-the-counter vaginal lubricant, or possibly a prescription estrogen cream or hormone replacement therapy.

For some people, menopause messes with more than just lubrication. Sometimes a postmenopausal vagina also atrophies a little bit, Dr. Khalil says, meaning it literally gets more narrow. “And if they don’t have intercourse at all, it can become very uncomfortable,” she says.

Her recommendation? Masturbation. This way, you’re in total control and can gradually help stretch your vagina and make penetration feel more comfortable for you. If a larger toy is uncomfortable at first, you can practice with a series of vaginal dilators that will help your vagina stretch slowly over time.

Birth control, too, can sometimes cause a bit of hormonal upheaval for some people and cause dryness (and, in turn, painful sex). If you just switched your BC and noticed feeling dry or “tight,” or if you have this issue at a particular time during the month, talk to your doctor about it so they can help you determine whether your birth control might be to blame.

You recently had a baby.

Pregnancy and childbirth also involve hormonal changes that can lead to vaginal dryness and issues with painful sex. This is especially the case if you are breastfeeding, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG).

Or, if you’re seriously convinced your vagina is tighter after childbirth, it may not be in your head. Though this isn’t super common, Dr. Khalil says that some women who tear during childbirth get stitched up too tightly—meaning that in this one case, their vagina truly is too tight for sex. “Sometimes sutures are done too tightly [and] they’ll need a surgical procedure to fix it,” Dr. Khalil notes.

The same thing can happen if you’ve had a surgery in your genital area (with or without a baby involved), Dr. Khalil notes. But once your doctor goes back in and loosens the stitch, you should be good to go.

Your vagina is too dry.

There’s a laundry list of of reasons for why your vagina may be producing less natural lubrication than it usually does: Maybe you’re going through menopause, you’re breastfeeding, your vagina is naturally dry, or you’re on medication (yup, like birth control) that messes with your lubrication.

Regardless of the reason, though, not having enough lubrication can make sex feel more painful and might make you think your vagina seems tighter, Dr. Khalil says. “I’ll have patients come in and they’ll say it really hurts to have sex,” she says.

Luckily, the immediate solution is pretty easy most of the time: Use a lubricant. Tbh, lubricant makes sex feel better for most people, but it’s especially helpful for people who are dealing with vaginal dryness. Keep in mind, using lube doesn’t actually fix the underlying issue at hand (say, finding a birth control that vibes better with your body), so you should still *always* bring it up with your doc if dryness is a problem for you.

You have vaginismus.

Some people have a condition called vaginismus, which is when the muscles inside their vagina contract involuntarily. The muscle contraction makes it painful anytime something is inserted into the vagina; sometimes even tampon insertion is too much, according to the Merck Manuals.

Most of the time, someone who has vaginismus has it from the very first time they attempt to have penetrative sex. But in other cases it can develop later in life. For some, the cause behind vaginismus may be psychological or a result of an emotional trauma, the Merck Manual says.

While it may take some time to treat vaginismus, working with a pelvic floor physical therapist or gradually using larger and larger vaginal dilators can help, Dr. Khalil says. Working with a mental health professional may also help some individuals.

No matter what, Dr. Khalil encourages talking openly about *any* vaginal discomfort that you’re unsure about.

Whether you feel “tight” or something else, know that you deserve to feel pain-free down below during sex and everything else in life. So be your own health advocate and speak up—to both your partner(s) and your gynecologist.

“Your annual exam is more than a Pap smear,” Dr. Khalil says. “It’s also an opportunity to get to the bottom of any sexual health concerns.”

Complete Article HERE!

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How Many Genders Are There

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— And Why Does Talking About The Spectrum Of Identity Matter So Much?

By Amber Leventry

Lack of representation in the media doesn’t mean you’re not normal.

A person’s identity is so much more than a name scribbled on a ‘Hello My Name Is …’ sticker tag.

We are each complex beings made up of our histories, emotions, desires and values, and defined by our gender identity, sexual orientation and gender expression.

Conversations around the spectrum of gender and human sexuality are evolving, as discussions and celebrations during Pride Month 2019 attest.

It’s becoming more common to see the option of “other” or “preferred” as choices when selecting gender and pronouns on registration forms.

To many of us in the LGBTQIA+ community, asking about our preferences — really, asking who we are — feels refreshing, even hopeful. It makes us feel respected and seen.

But for others, it raises some big questions. How can you prefer something other than male or female?

How many genders are there?

There’s only one good answer to the question of how many genders there are: Gender is a spectrum, and there are as many gender definitions as there needs to for every person to have a label that feels true to themselves.

Maybe that’s confusing. Let me explain.

These three distinct and independent pieces of who we are — gender identity, sexual orientation and gender expression — depend on each other; they weave in and out, touching and layering on themselves to form a complete identity.

Photo credit: The Trevor Project

How do we proudly display all of our components in safe and meaningful ways to strangers if there isn’t room to include more than a name?

We do it by making room in our society for identities that do not follow the heteronormative assumptions of what is “normal”.

This may mean that we need to get a little uncomfortable while we learn about people and terms that are new or confusing.

Think of the sense of self as a spectrum with unlimited possibilities.

The first thing we either attach to or reject is our gender identity — that sense of being male, female, neither, or both.

When humans are born, they are given a gender assignment based on sexual anatomy. That assignment is usually limited to only two genders: male or female.

Even babies who are born intersex, “a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male”, are given a gender assignment with the assumption that one needs a binary label.

But the label is just a suggestion, because sexual anatomy (traditionally used to define “sex” in terms of identification) does not equal gender, and gender is not limited to meaning only one or the other.

Gender is not the binary constraint of being a man or woman, boy or girl.

So while I can’t tell you how many genders there are, there definitely are more than two.

It might help if you understand a little about my personal history.

Based on my anatomy, I was assigned female as my sex at birth. But since I was a kid, I knew I wasn’t just a girl. And as I got older, I knew I wasn’t a boy, either. I am both.

Once I discovered the language for this, I knew the word to describe me is nonbinary.

I can’t be placed into a box of being either male or female, though trust me, it would be easier to do this at times.

The world is not a kind place for those of us who know one of the key components of our identity is a gender many people and organizations do not recognize.

So, how do I know what my gender is?

Well, how do you know you are male? Or female? You just know — I do, too.

On most days I feel like a perfect mix of being both male and female; it’s a grounded feeling of knowing I am a hybrid of two genders.

On other days, I don’t feel overly connected to any gender. I am just me, but male pronouns are not right and female pronouns hurt.

Because of this, I use they/them pronouns.

There are other options for gender neutral and inclusive pronouns, and it’s anyone’s right to use what feels most comfortable.

Photo credit: UWM Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center

While it may seem confusing at first, you don’t have to “get it” to respect it.

In some countries and cultures, the people who know they are neither completely male or female are celebrated. In the United States, it’s hard for people to even get my pronouns correct, so I am not expecting mass celebrations.

Here is a list of some other important gender terms and definitions:

1. Genderfluid or Genderqueer

Some folks who don’t identify as either male or female may call themselves genderfluid or genderqueer.

A genderfluid person is someone who feels male one day, maybe one hour, and female the next. Their gender fluctuates, but what’s consistent is that they are not always one or the other.

Genderqueer folks may identify as neither or both male and female, much like a nonbinary person, and their gender expression may fluctuate, breaking stereotypical gender expressions of what it means to be masculine or feminine.

2. Transgender

If your gender assignment at birth does not match your gender identity, you are transgender, sometimes abbreviated to “trans”.

My gender assignment at birth does not match my gender identity, so this makes me transgender, and my gender identity is nonbinary.

3. Cisgender

If your gender assignment at birth does align with your gender identity, then you are cisgender, sometimes abbreviated to “cis”.

Being referred to by this label is not an insult; it’s simply a way to describe the fact that your assigned gender matches your true identity.

Note that the words transgender and cisgender are adjectives, not good or bad, just descriptors of gender.

Many transgender people still fall into the binary of being male or female. For example, a woman who was assigned male at birth based on anatomy knows she is a woman because of that inner sense of self. Therefore, she is a transgender woman.

4. Gender expression

Our gender expression is how we want to show the world who we are.

As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone, we all have the right to do what makes us most comfortable and happy. This includes what we wear, how we style our hair, if we wear makeup or jewelry, the names and pronouns we wanted to be called and how we accessorize any other external aspects of ourselves.

While I am not male, I express myself in a masculine way. I consider myself trans masculine, even androgynous at times. Others express themselves in more feminine or femme ways; all genders can consider themselves masculine, feminine, neither or both.

5. Gender nonconforming

Some expressions, like a man wearing dresses, is considered gender nonconforming.

For example, a person might identify as being a female, but describe her gender expression as masculine.

The important thing to remember is that there isn’t one way or a right way to be a man, woman, or nonbinary person.

It’s a bummer to feel like we are constantly compared to what many think is the “normal” way men and women and male and female-bodied people should present themselves.

Just because I am not represented in the media, movies, or books, that doesn’t mean I am not normal.

I am unique, perhaps. I am part of a minority. But I am normal and want pretty normal things in life and from others.

I want respect, kindness, and happiness. I want to feel safe and loved (because I fall in love, too).

My sexuality is an important part of who I am because it attracts people who see me for who I am. And for me, I want to find intimacy in vulnerable places with people who don’t question my identity.

The world can be pretty lonely for folks like me who are considered outliers.

What makes me feel most at home and sure of myself can make others feel uncomfortable.

My sense of self includes a gender outside of the binary, but my need for acceptance and compassion falls well within the range of deserved human decency.

What I really want is to feel more comfortable, and that can start with you.

Let go of assumptions and trust that the person you are talking to knows themself better than what you think you know about them based on stereotypes and heteronormative thinking.

And when you add your name to that ‘Hello My Name Is …’ sticker, add your pronouns, too.

It shows that you don’t want anyone making assumptions about you and that you are happy to acknowledge any and all pronouns of the people who may be in your presence.

Hi, my name is Amber. I use they/them pronouns. I am a person who deserves kindness and respect.

There’s a lot to who I am.

For instance, I like tacos and books and I want good coffee and great friends.

And when we meet, I want to know what pronouns you use because I want you to feel good, too, while we search for the nearest library or taco truck together.

Complete Article HERE!

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Sexual Chemistry Isn’t Built In Bed

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— Here’s What Couples Should Do Instead

By Jennifer Guttman, Psy.D.

When couples start experiencing dissatisfaction and dysfunction with the quality of their intimacy and sexual interaction, they tend to focus almost entirely on what happens in the bed. The problem is, by the time you’re in bed, it’s already too late. You’re doomed, just like when you face a big life challenge, test, or exam, and you haven’t put in the hard work and time to study and prepare adequately.

A loving, intimate, and happy sex life takes time to manifest, and most of the real work and “emotional foreplay” needs to happen before the sex occurs. When that doesn’t happen, one or both partners can become resentful about the lack of intimacy, potentially interpreting the behavior correctly or incorrectly as a function of attraction. This can lead to a negative spiral of self-confidence in the relationship and an even deeper negative feedback loop in the bedroom. But the truth is, many dips in a couple’s sex life have little to do with being attracted to each other or not.

If you’re finding there’s not a lot of heat in your relationship these days, it’s important to think about what you’re doing outside of the bedroom to facilitate more intimacy. Here are a few ideas:

1. Foreplay doesn’t start in the bedroom.

Be creative and start setting the tone and warming up to each other throughout the day. Foreplay is about the connection—really feeling “seen” by each other. This can start over a quiet dinner at home or in a restaurant where communicating helps with connecting, or you can use an activity that loosens you both up and brings you both together—a concert, watching a thriller in theaters, hiking, or whatever else you both enjoy. It can also start with playful texting throughout the day, communicating about a suggestion for a planned night out together.

When intimacy becomes more about the “connection” than just the physical act, it shows your partner that you want to have sex with them, not just anyone. Sex begets sex, so having intimate sexual encounters will also make room for opportunities for quicker physical sexual connections with your partner to flourish as well.

2. Find ways to connect about the private—in public.

Reminding each other throughout the following day or week about an intimate encounter that you experienced together is a great way to keep it alive. You can do this by taking a few seconds to send suggestive texts or quick phone calls. The message is “I haven’t forgotten about what we shared together,” and it also subliminally sets the stage for “more to come.” Even a wink at a dinner party can set the stage for a private moment shared between a couple. It may serve as a reminder of something shared the night before or something they’re anticipating.

3. Shower appreciation on each other in your normal lives.

We don’t often connect gratitude and domestic chores to sexuality, but in truth, they can be deeply linked. Most people appreciate follow-through because it indicates that they’re on their partner’s mind. People like to feel appreciated for the acts of kindness they do and all they provide in a relationship. That helps them feel “seen,” which in turn allows people to feel more vulnerable, open, and confident—feelings that are necessary for a healthy, energetic sexual connection. Remembering to follow-up with a question about your partner’s day or a comment of gratitude, for example, can go a long way toward making people feel seen, appreciated, and connected to the relationship.

4. Schedule dates, not sex.

Scheduling dates is much more important than scheduling sex. Scheduling sex can feel robotic, and when sex becomes robotic as opposed to organic, it becomes harder to ensure that on a given day and time, each of you is in a head space to “connect” on an intimate level. If the sexual encounter becomes purely physical on prescribed days, it may feel forced and drive a wedge between the partners. When one partner has an expectation on a certain night that another may not be able to provide, it will inevitably cause a disconnect. Performance anxiety or insecurity may follow, leading to sexual avoidance.

Schedule the date, and try to connect with each other as human beings that love and care about each other. If that leads to a sexual encounter, great! If it doesn’t, the more meaningful the connectedness continues to be, the more likely the sexual encounters will follow.

5. Have a real talk.

Pick a night on which you both agree you’re not having sex but want to come together to talk about it—and I mean really talk about it. Get into the details about what you want and what you’re feeling: Are you bored? Do you feel overwhelmed by your partner’s overtures? Does sex just not feel good or exciting to you right now? Is it hard to have sex when you have other ongoing problems in your relationship or in your life?

These aren’t easy things to talk about, and even if they’re about sex, they’re by no means “sexy.” (Which is why I recommend setting a night aside to talk about this that is separate from date night.) But if you ignore and don’t address uncomfortable issues, you are at risk of not being equipped to confront more challenging topics later. If one partner or the other is feeling resentful about too much or too little sexual contact, a conversation, albeit difficult, is necessary to understand what is in the way of a synergistic sexual relationship. Once the partners have a better understanding of each other’s needs, it’ll be easier to discuss solutions to find the right balance that accommodates both people’s personal preferences.

Consistent and reciprocal communication is imperative. You might want to set aside a specific night for this initially; then over time, hopefully you can develop a rhythm where it’s easy and comfortable bringing these topics up organically as necessary. In order to maintain a healthy sexual relationship, it is critical to reach a reasonable comfort level of communication with each other. Having these mindful albeit challenging discussions about how to break through barriers of boredom to meet each other’s needs is essential.

6. Nurture, nurture, nurture!

Healthy sexual relationships need to be nurtured on an ongoing basis like you would care for all other important aspects of your life. Getting it back on track is one thing; keeping it on track is another. Even as you do begin to build new energy in your intimate life, make sure to keep putting in the work and effort to prevent you from detailing again.

Complete Article HERE!

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How Gay Culture Blossomed During the Roaring Twenties

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During Prohibition, gay nightlife and culture reached new heights—at least temporarily.

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On a Friday night in February 1926, a crowd of some 1,500 packed the Renaissance Casino in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood for the 58th masquerade and civil ball of Hamilton Lodge.

Nearly half of those attending the event, reported the New York Age, appeared to be “men of the class generally known as ‘fairies,’ and many Bohemians from the Greenwich Village section who…in their gorgeous evening gowns, wigs and powdered faces were hard to distinguish from many of the women.”

The tradition of masquerade and civil balls, more commonly known as drag balls, had begun back in 1869 within Hamilton Lodge, a black fraternal organization in Harlem. By the mid-1920s, at the height of the Prohibition era, they were attracting as many as 7,000 people of various races and social classes—gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and straight alike.

Stonewall (1969) is often considered the beginning of forward progress in the gay rights movement. But more than 50 years earlier, Harlem’s famous drag balls were part of a flourishing, highly visible LGBTQ nightlife and culture that would be integrated into mainstream American life in a way that became unthinkable in later decades.

A portrait of a couple, circa 1920s.

The Beginnings of a New Gay World

“In the late 19th century, there was an increasingly visible presence of gender-non-conforming men who were engaged in sexual relationships with other men in major American cities,” says Chad Heap, a professor of American Studies at George Washington University and the author of Slumming: Sexual and Racial Encounters in American Nightlife, 1885-1940.

 

In addition to these groups, whom social reformers in the early 1900s would call “male sex perverts,” a number of nightclubs and theaters were featuring stage performances by female impersonators; these spots were mainly located in the Levee District on Chicago’s South Side, the Bowery in New York City and other largely working-class neighborhoods in American cities.

By the 1920s, gay men had established a presence in Harlem and the bohemian mecca of Greenwich Village (as well as the seedier environs of Times Square), and the city’s first lesbian enclaves had appeared in Harlem and the Village. Each gay enclave, wrote George Chauncey in his book Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940, had a different class and ethnic character, cultural style and public reputation.

A 1927 illustration of three transgender women and a man dancing at a nightclub.

Gay Life in the Jazz Age

As the United States entered an era of unprecedented economic growth and prosperity in the years after World War I, cultural mores loosened and a new spirit of sexual freedom reigned. The flapper, with her short hair, figure-skimming dresses and ever-present cigarette and cocktail, would become the most recognizable symbol of the Roaring Twenties, her fame spreading via the new mass media born during that decade. But the ‘20s also saw the flourishing of LGBTQ nightlife and culture that reached beyond the cities, across the country, and into ordinary American homes.

Though New York City may have been the epicenter of the so-called “Pansy Craze,” gay, lesbian and transgender performers graced the stages of nightspots in cities all over the country. Their audiences included many straight men and women eager to experience the culture themselves (and enjoy a good party) as well as ordinary LGBTQ Americans seeking to expand their social networks or find romantic or sexual partners.

“It gave them many more possible places they could go to meet other people like themselves,” Heap says of the Pansy Craze and accompanying lesbian or Sapphic craze, of the ‘20s and early to mid-‘30s. “At its height, when many ordinary heterosexual men and women were going to venues that featured queer entertainment, it probably also provided useful cover for queer men and women to go to the same venues.”

At the same time, lesbian and gay characters were being featured in a slew of popular “pulp” novels, in songs and on Broadway stages (including the controversial 1926 play The Captive) and in Hollywood—at least prior to 1934, when the motion picture industry began enforcing censorship guidelines, known as the Hays Code. Heap cites Clara Bow’s 1932 film Call Her Savage, in which a short scene features a pair of “campy male entertainers” in a Greenwich Village-like nightspot. On the radio, songs including “Masculine Women, Feminine Men” and “Let’s All Be Fairies” were popular.

The fame of LGBTQ nightlife and culture during this period was certainly not limited to urban populations. Stories about drag balls or other performances were sometimes picked up by wire services, or even broadcast over local radio. “You can find them in certain newspaper coverage in unexpected places,” Heap says.

A cross-dresser being taken away in a police van for dressing like a woman, circa 1939.

“Pansy Craze” Comes to an End

With the end of Prohibition, the onset of the Depression and the coming of World War II, LGBTQ culture and community began to fall out of favor. As Chauncey writes, a backlash began in the 1930s, as “part of a wider Depression-era condemnation of the cultural experimentation of the 20’s, which many blamed for the economic collapse.”

The sale of liquor was legal again, but newly enforced laws and regulations prohibited restaurants and bars from hiring gay employees or even serving gay patrons. In the mid- to late ‘30s, Heap points out, a wave of sensationalized sex crimes “provoked hysteria about sex criminals, who were often—in the mind of the public and in the mind of authorities—equated with gay men.” 

This not only discouraged gay men from participating in public life, but also “made homosexuality seem more dangerous to the average American.”

By the post-World War II era, a larger cultural shift toward earlier marriage and suburban living, the advent of TV and the anti-homosexuality crusades championed by Joseph McCarthy would help push the flowering of gay culture represented by the Pansy Craze firmly into the nation’s rear-view mirror. 

Drag balls, and the spirit of freedom and exuberance they represented, never went away entirely—but it would be decades before LGBTQ life would flourish so publicly again.

Complete Article HERE!

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