When Brooklyn was queer: telling the story of the borough’s LGBT past

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In a new book, Hugh Ryan explores the untold history of queer life in Brooklyn from the 1850s forward, revealing some unlikely truths

The cover of When Brooklyn Was Queer.

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For five years Hugh Ryan has been hunting queer ghosts through the streets of Brooklyn, amid the racks of New York’s public libraries, among its court records and yellow newspaper clippings to build a picture of their lost world.

The result is When Brooklyn Was Queer, a funny, tender and disturbing history of LGBT life that starts in an era, the 1850s, when those letters meant nothing and ends before the Stonewall riots started the modern era of gay politics.

The book grew out of Ryan’s other project, The Pop-Up Museum of Queer History, a sort-of travelling museum that creates installations celebrating the histories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Ryan and his friends had done shows about local queer history in other cities but never in Brooklyn, where many of them lived. When they decided that they should do a Brooklyn event, they put out a call for information and got little reply. “People just didn’t know Brooklyn’s queer history,” says Ryan. “I thought I’d just go to the library, get the book about queer Brooklyn history. It’s probably from the 1970s and all of 10 people have read it. There wasn’t one.”

Ryan started collecting information and then got a grant from the Martin Duberman Fellowship in LGBT studies at the New York Public Library. “They said to me when you are done with this grant you should have your book proposal written.”

One recurring theme in his research that fascinated Ryan was how Brooklyn’s rise from rural backwater to New York’s second city mirrored the rise in interest in sex and gender studies and – sadly – the rise in homophobia, bigotry and abuse.

Construction on the Brooklyn Bridge started in 1869, the same year that human rights campaigner and journalist Karl-Maria Kertbeny first used the terms homosexual and heterosexual.

Shortly before that, the Erie Canal finally connected the city to the Great Lakes, bringing jobs and the urbanization that allowed queer life to flourish – especially along Brooklyn’s waterfront.

“Brooklyn’s growth runs along the same timeline as the evolution of our modern ideas about sexuality,” says Ryan. “You could chart the two against each other. I used Brooklyn as an example of how things were developing in the world and America generally.”

The poet Hart Crane.

The book is studded with the stories of Brooklyn-based A-list gays of yesteryear: Walt Whitman, Hart Crane, Truman Capote. Then there is The February House – a Brooklyn townhouse that was once home to WH Auden, Benjamin Britten, Carson McCullers and Gypsy Rose Lee and which also hosted Salvador Dalí, his fearsome wife and muse Gala, and the writers Paul and Jane Bowles (a cast that would make the most cerebral Celebrity Big Brother house ever).

But the book also excels in uncovering what life was like for “ordinary” queer folk such as Loop-the-Loop, a trans woman and sex worker from Brooklyn at a time when “trans” was not part of the vocabulary (Loop preferred “fairy”) and Coney Island’s working-class gay bath houses.

Much of the information Ryan gathered was from sources who hated the LGBT community – and increasingly so as it was studied and categorized.

One of those groups was the Committee of 14, a group of morally righteous New Yorkers who drove for prohibition, then against (straight) prostitution and, on discovering the queer community, went after them, too.

“They were crazy,” said Ryan. “On the one hand I am glad they existed because otherwise the records they kept wouldn’t have existed but at the same time it’s shocking. They were a very strange group of people.”

One of the fascinating aspects of the book is how accepted the queer community was in Brooklyn at certain periods (and by certain people). During prohibition, gay and straight bars merged while during the war, queer life flourished as sailors poured into town, categories were looser than today and – again with caveats – there was acceptance.

Hugh Ryan.

“Before World War II, especially in 1920s, there were a lot more spaces where queer and non-queer people mixed,” says Ryan. “There was even this period ‘the pansy craze’ where it was fashionable to have limp-wristed men in movies who may have been gay or trans or entirely outside that in movies.”

But as queer profiles rose, so did the backlash. The repeal of prohibition drove gays and straight apart and the queers went underground where the police – and the mafia – came after them.

America’s love affair with eugenics, the “science” of improving the population by controlled breeding, caught up with the queer community as it had with people of color. Queers were dangerous to the health of the nation, easily blackmailed, not to be trusted. They were driven out of public life, academia, the movies; society turned against them.

By the 1940s, thousands of men would be arrested each year for “degeneracy”. In 1942, Senator David Ignatius Walsh’s career was destroyed in a sensational sex scandal that involved rumours that he had frequented a gay Brooklyn brothel that was being used by Nazi spies. The New York Post, which had fought for the US to join the war against Germany when Walsh was set against it, broke the story which became known as “Swastika swishery”.

Ryan thinks Walsh was probably gay but that the claims he attended the brothel were dubious.

The brothel’s owner, Gustave Beekman, and several others were arrested. Beekman cooperated with the authorities but still received a 20-year sentence in Sing Sing for sodomy and wasn’t released until 1963.

“The legacy of all of this is when we get this turn towards homophobia – 45 to Stonewall or the early 80s – there is this really negative idea that gay life is sad, small, limited, dirty, painful, persecuted. And I think that we have internalized that. Anytime before Stonewall that was what gay life was, when really it was just what gay life was like when gay life was becoming speakable in most of America and was getting its history written,” says Ryan.

“We have this ahistoric idea that what life was like in 1957 was ‘What Life Was Like’ for gay people.

An image from Brooklyn Pride 2015

“Well, it’s not like that now. Today Brooklyn is arguably the epicenter for queer New York culture, vibrant, diverse, out and proud. It’s awesome,” says Ryan. “It’s exciting, it’s more diverse than it’s ever been. More powerful. I think people are paying attention. what happens in Brooklyn sets the tone – and not just in queer culture.”

But is it sustainable? Can we keep the gains we have while we strive for more?

“It’s very hard to tell. There is an amount of retrenchment that happens anytime there is progressive gains. We are always on a pendulum. I worry about that but I do think that some things have changed forever.”

There’s probably no better time for us to relearn Brooklyn’s queer history.

Complete Article HERE!

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Gay Sex And Censorship:

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How Gay Spaces Are Being Changed By “Family Friendly” Standards

By Devin Randall

As gay society continues to be accepted into the mainstream, its sexual identity is thinning out.

Gone are the days where a gay man could experience an establishment full of other gay men. Instead, the gay man is losing the place he so greatly needed. Spaces of self-expression where attraction and inclusion were guaranteed.

Now, our gay bars have become mainstream. The place to be. Now, a gay man will enter “the straight man’s gay bar” where female friends will feel comfortable and safe, and straight male friends will complain about having their butts groped.

Of course, some spaces do still exist. The occasional sex shop with a backroom used for unspoken exploration, the remaining bathhouses that pale in comparison to the social hotspots of the past century, and the leather bound clubs stationed in plain sight but covered with a “need to know” front. But these spaces don’t speak for all queer men.

Then there are, of course, gay apps. Apps like Grindr, Blued, and Scruff have become the calling card of gay men. They are the digital spaces where men can converse and, more likely, hunt for their next sexual adventure.

But the distance from our screns has created distance in our hearts. We have devolved into dehumanizing each other in preference of jockstraps and headless torsos. While gay men have always been overtly sexual, this digital age has made us less empathetic than ever before.

And worse of all, even these digital gay spaces are under attack of the mainstream eye. Social media apps like Grindr, Scruff, Tumblr, and Facebook are under attack from censorship.

Grindr is fighting a court battle with a man named Matthew Herrick. Herrick’s ex created several fake accounts of him. These accounts then pointed strangers to the man’s home address and place of work. But instead of suing his ex, the man is suing Grindr. He claims the app and company are negligent in monitoring its users.

If found guilty, Grindr’s case could change the face of the tech industry and apps in general. Companies will then increase their monitoring of users in fear of also being sued. While this result might, at first, seem appealing, it ultimately will lead to stricter rules and more oversight on apps.

We’re already seeing how that can be a bad thing with Scruff, Tumblr, and Facebook.

Last month, Scruff released an update to its policy on profile pictures. Users are no longer allowed to post pictures of themselves in jockstraps, underwear, or bikini styled swimsuits.

While some may celebrate this change as an effort to humanize and de-sexualize users/the app, the real effort was made to fit in with family friendly standards. Scruff made the change after its app was taken off the Apple app store. They want to appeal to the mainstream program’s regulations and are thus changing this gay space to do it.

Then there’s Tumblr with a very similar story. Tumblr got taken down from the Apple app store because child pornography had slipped through its censors (never mind the fact that the site was riddled with porn bots for years).

To fix this, Tumblr banned all adult content. Their very sloppy way of enforcing this is by flagging any pictures, videos, and gifs that can seemingly appear sexual in nature. If a post or picture includes too many flesh colored pixels, it’s flagged down.

In the process of this NSFW visual crackdown, LGBTQ users have found their accounts and posts flagged for deletion. Some with reason, but many without.

And then there’s Facebook. Ever since the site was used as a tool for influencing US voters, it has been changing its algorithms and policies left and right. Then late last year, the site updated it’s Community Standards Policy.

Now, gay users on the social media app have been flagged and outright banned for sharing LGBTQ content. In this case, even the inclusion of certain words and terms can incite a ban.

It’s not just everyday citizens who are getting banned or flagged for sharing gay content. Gay publications and sites are also feeling the pressure. Perhaps even more.

Due to Facebook’s constant tweaking of its algorithm, posts from gay sites get flagged and are shared less. Facebook will make it so fans and page-likers won’t see posts about gay content. This is partially because they are gay in nature, and partially because Facebook wants to avoid the spread of fake news.

In a business where clicks equal pay, the inability to reach your audience is a punch to the stomach.

But speaking of advertisers, there’s another problem here. Advertisers are pushing for more “family friendly” content from gay sites. That means tweaking the way that gay stories are told and presented.

On top of that, mainstream sites like Huffington Post and Buzzfeed have dedicated separate staff and sections for LGBTQ stories. Some believe that gay sites like Instinct, Queerty, and more will soon disappear. Then, queer citizens will have to go to these mainstream sites to find their news.

Clearly, there’s a change in the air. As gay men become more accepted by the mainstream, we are being forced to work under their restrictions. Our spaces, real and digital, are fading into theirs. Meanwhile, our self-expression and sexual exploration are being pressed down or outright banned in order to fit a global standard.

But here’s the thing, is all of this bad news? Not every gay man finds comfort in the gay sex scene. Once idolizing the gay club and sex scene through shows like Queer as Folk and movies like Not Another Gay Movie, I too have found the gay sex scene to be tiring. As I wrote last year, the hyper sexualized spaces no longer excite me but discomfort me.

It appears that specifically for gay men, this mainstreaming of LGBTQ culture is focused on watering down the heightened sexuality that we’ve indulged in for decades and centuries.

And as much as it’s a shame to lose the clubs and the sexual history, we gay men have evolved beyond it. Even further, we are not beholden to sex.

Gay men can be gold medal winning athletes, business men, singers, actors, politicians, teachers, lawyers, construction workers, drivers, and more. Sex is only one factor of what it means to be a gay man.

It’s a difficult issue, because gay men should fight to maintain our existence, our safe spaces, and our right to sexual expression. But, are we still only defined by our love of sex in dark and secluded spaces?

We are under attack by censorship, and we certainly should fight back. But, our pursuit of happiness is not determined by merely our right to sex but by our right to sex, love, and life.

Complete Article HERE!

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Better Sex Starts in your Gut

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By Dr. Edison de Mello

“There’s a Connection Between Your Gut Health and Your Sex Life”

What are the most common causes of low libido?

Libido and sexual arousal is, for the most part, grounded on intimacy involving the interaction of several components, including physical trust, belief system emotional well-being, previous experiences, self-esteem, physical attraction, lifestyle and current relationship.

In addition, a wide range of illnesses, such as thyroid disease, arthritis, diabetes, neurological disorders, hormonal changes and physical changes, such as High blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, menopause in women, andropause in men and pain during intercourse can cause low sex drive and/or inability to reach an orgasm. Medications, prescribed or over the counter, can also kill one’s libido.

What’s one cause that’s really surprising?  Great Sex too starts in Your gut!

“All disease begins in the gut.”  Hippocrates

Although most us do not necessarily think of our intestines or bad gut bacteria when we think of possible causes of low libido, an imbalance of Gut bacteria (microbiome) is more often than not, a significant cause of decreased sexual arousal. This is in addition to the more commonly known GI related causes, such as bloating, gas, acid reflux, bad breath, diarrhea, etc. In fact, because the gut contains billions of bacteria, the gastrointestinal tract, also known as the gut system, plays a major physical factor that has many unexpected effects on our ability to respond and perform sexually. The truth is that “gut bacteria is to our digestion and metabolism what a beehive is to honey”: Good working hive = great honey; well balanced gut bacteria = optimized gastrointestinal function and better sex! Gut bacteria are also responsible for producing hormones, enzymes, and neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which are essential for sexual health.

And then there is lifestyle…. although a glass of wine can get both men and women in the “mood” for sex, too much alcohol can actually have the opposite effect and not only kill your libido, but make you sleep, which can be devastating to intimacy.

10 Reasons Why you may not have a healthy gut?

  1. Bad diet (sugar and processed food based diet)
  2. Digestive Health: Unbalanced gut bacteria and lack of good probiotics
  3. Overuse antibiotics and other medications
  4. Sedentary life style
  5. Disease, including autoimmune.
  6. Mental Health and Mood.
  7. Low/ unbalanced Hormone.
  8. Vaginal Health/prostate issues
  9. Weight proportionate to height issues
  10. Decreased physical, mental and emotional energy

5 initial Steps to Take to Have Better Sex

  1. Balance your gut health,
  2. Eat a healthy diet and moderate your alcohol intake
  3. Exercise more often
  4. Do you inventory of your relationship: Are you really happy or just pretending that you are?
  5. Work on your self-esteem and body image, if applicable.

5 Ways how your partner can help you get there:

  1. Love you unconditionally
  2. Help you feel that intimacy is more than just having sex
  3. Encourage you to make the changes outlined here –  free of judgment, and instead assuring you that yes, you can.
  4. Be the change that he/she expects of you
  5. Not make sex so serious… have fun with it.

Other 10 possible causes of low libido:

  1. Mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression
  2. Stress, such as financial stress or work stress
  3. Poor body image
  4. Low self-esteem
  5. History of physical or sexual abuse
  6. Previous negative sexual experiences
  7. Lack of connection with the partner
  8. Unresolved conflicts or fights
  9. Poor communication of sexual needs and preferences
  10. Infidelity or breach of trust

Complete Article HERE!

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The Sexy, Secret History of Leather Fetish Fashion

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From post-war motorcycle groups to modern-day sex apps, this is the story of how leather became a symbol of masculinity and sexuality

By Louis Staples

This article is part of a series on AnotherManmag.com that coincides with LGBT History Month, shining a light on different facets of queer culture. Head here for more.

“When I’m wearing my leathers, I like the way I get to be such a symbol, a trope, of masculinity and sexuality,” explains Max, a 38-year-old gay man from London. Max is a “leatherman” or “leatherdaddy”, two common descriptors for gay and bisexual men who fetishise leather clothes and accessories.

“Fetish fashion” is the term used to describe the intrinsic link between clothing and sexual fetishes, with materials like leather, lace, latex, and rubber holding particular prominence. Dr Frenchy Lunning, author of the 2013 book Fetish Style, writes that fashion has historically been the easiest way to “traverse” from one spectrum of fetish to the other. Lunning gauges that, in the history of fetish fashion, there have been two climaxes – no pun intended – with the first occurring between 1870 and 1900. “The Victorians went crazy over silk and velvet,” writes Pat Califia, author of Public Sex: The Culture of Radical Sex. “As quickly as new substances were manufactured, somebody eroticised them.”

When fetishwear resurged for its second peak a century later, between 1970 and 2000, leather was the material of choice. On the gay scene, an infatuation with leather was alive and well as early as the 1950s. Today, leather fetishwear is worn by leathermen like Max in sex clubs, parties, Pride parades and hook-ups, but some incorporate leather into their everyday lives, too. Common clothes and accessories include leather trousers, boots, jackets, gloves, ties and caps, with harnesses, masks and jockstraps more often worn during sexual encounters.

While leather fetishwear is not exclusively queer, there is a widely acknowledged parallel between the increased visibility of gay and lesbian identities and leather-based fetishes in contemporary culture. Recon – a fetish app for gay and bisexual men – allows leather wearers to connect with others and follow a year-round calendar of global events such as “London Fetish Week” and “Leather Prides” in cities from Los Angeles to Belgium. Paul, a 34-year-old Recon user, tells me that he equates leather with “power, strength and dominance”. He doubts that he could be with someone “vanilla” – a term for someone who doesn’t have any fetishes. “There’s nothing hotter than the feeling of leather on my skin, it’s peak masculinity,” he says. Max, who was first drawn towards leather five years ago, also associates it with manhood. “It’s just so fucking masculine,” he explains. “The more masculine I’ve become over time, the more I’ve been into it. When I wear leathers, it feels like my exterior is reflecting my interior. It’s weighty too: the opposite of something light, diaphanous and feminine.”

“There’s nothing hotter than the feeling of leather on my skin, it’s peak masculinity” – Paul, 34

These remarks reveal leather fetish fashion’s significance to masculine gay identities, particularly those relating to sadomasochistic (S&M) sexual practices. In Hal Fischer’s seminal photography book Gay Semiotics, which analyses coded gay fashion signifiers in 1970s San Francisco, leather accessories like caps were indicators that the wearer was interested in sadomasochistic sex. Lesbians also adopted leather and, nowadays, female sex workers and dominatrixes often wear the material. Though, traditionally, the gay leather scene centres on “dominant” men wishing to “own”, or exert control over, a “submissive” male partner.

Sociologist Meredith G. F. Worthen, author of Sexual Deviance and Society, writes that the leather community first emerged after the Second World War, when military servicemen had difficulty assimilating back into mainstream society. For many of these men, their military service had allowed them to explore homosexual desire for the first time. When the war ended, a void was left by the absence of homosexual sex and same-sex friendships. Instead, many found sanctuary in motorcycle communities where leather clothing was popular. The men who rode these bikes were icons of cultural masculinity, conjuring up an image of dangerous rebelliousness that was alluring to many gay men who were weary of seeing themselves depicted as effeminate pansies. Peter Hennen, author of Faeries, Bears and Leathermen, believes that this caused gay men to “invest in leather with a certain erotic power intimately tied to the way it signalled masculinity.” Queer cultural historian Daniel Harris suggests that the “raw masculinity” that leather evokes “shaped a new form of masculinised gay identity among leathermen.”

Leather’s military routes, combined with its significance in hierarchy-driven male social groups, are thought to be behind its importance to sexual practices like S&M, which centre on order, discipline and control. Yet outside the leather fetish scene, artist Andy Warhol famously used garments such as the leather jacket as a device to appear more masculine from the 1950s to 1960s. Transforming his personal style, Warhol sought to present a more macho, aloof persona to the heterosexual male-dominated New York art establishment.

“Tom of Finland ‘set the standard’ for the ‘quintessential leatherman replete with bulging chest, thighs and cock’”

Max tells me that cultural imagery, such as “Tom of Finland, Robert Mapplethorpe, Marlon Brando and James Dean” contributes to his love for leather. Finnish artist Touko Valio Laaksonen, commonly known as Tom of Finland, is behind leather’s signature homoerotic aesthetic. According to feminist studies professor Jennifer Tyburczy, Finland “set the standard” for the “quintessential leatherman replete with bulging chest, thighs and cock.” By depicting working-class men like construction workers, bikers and lumberjacks, Finland allowed gay men to feel masculine and strong while maintaining their interest in those of the same sex. His images are the antithesis of the effeminate gay stereotype that was widely circulated at the time, bringing connotations of hyper-masculinity, strength and, of course, sex to black leather. After being circulated in physique magazines such as Physical Pictorial throughout the 1950s, his work quickly became emblematic of the gay fetish community.

Following the popularity of leather in the queer sanctuary cities on America’s coasts, international travel increased its global appeal, with leather kink scenes developing in London, Berlin, Amsterdam, and parts of Scandinavia. Imitations of Finland’s images became the customary advertisement of fetish events in these places, which were often disguised as motor sport or biking clubs. For the first time, Finland’s reclamation of masculine imagery provided gay men with what communications professor Martti Lahti describes as an “empowering and affirmative” gay image.

Though after years of resurgence, the leather fetish scene is facing challenges. Rising rents and gentrification in the world’s queer-friendly cities have caused most clubs to shut their doors. Fetish apps and websites now mean that attending a leather event is not necessary to connect with leather admirers. Lesbian leather wearers, who have traditionally operated their BDSM club scene separately, have been most harshly impacted by club closures as most gay leather nights purposely ban women from entering. With a full outfit of leathers costing several thousand pounds, it is little wonder that younger kinksters are turning to cheaper alternatives like rubber or sportswear to fulfil their fetish needs.

“Rising rents and gentrification in the world’s queer-friendly cities have caused most clubs to shut their doors. Fetish apps and websites now mean that attending a leather event is not necessary to connect with leather admirers”

The extended rights and freedoms won by queer people in recent decades have also resulted in pressure from wider heterosexual-focussed society to assimilate to their norms. Queer historian Lisa Duggan has described how the pressure to comply with what she calls “neoliberal” aims has resulted in a “depoliticised” and “desexualised” gay identity revolving around “domesticity” and heteronormative institutions like marriage. This gay identity can be exclusionary to those that fall outside its “acceptable” norms.

As the visibility of “vanilla” gayness has extended, heterosexual kink aesthetics have moved further into the mainstream, ushered in by pop moments like Madonna’s Justify My Love, Rhianna’s Disturbia and Christina Aguilera’s Bionic era, plus books such as 50 Shades of Grey. Reality star Kylie Jenner even graced the cover of Interview magazine dressed as a “sex doll”, clad entirely in skin-tight black latex. Though despite figure skater Adam Rippon wearing a leather harness once on the red carpet and the occasional performance costume from Jake Shears, the Village People’s Tom of Finland-inspired outfits and Robert Mapplethorpe’s extremely explicit photographs – both almost 40 years old – remain gay fetish fashion’s most visible representations.

With visible mainstream gay identities remaining “desexualised”, the false link between kink, sexual deviance, immorality and even criminality – a trope peddled for decades to depict gay men as “socially wrong” or “sick” – still lingers, even within the LGBTQ+ community. Andrew Cooper, author of Changing Gay Male Identities, suggests that overt sexuality has become less important to gay identities since the AIDS crisis, when sex – and communities like the leather scene that revolve around sex – became associated with death and shame. In Beneath the Skins, a book that analyses the politics of kink, Ivo Dominguez Jr writes that, as gay identities and attitudes become more sanitised, “leatherphobia” remains a significant barrier. Dominguez suggests that those who practice leather are seen by the wider LGBTQ+ community as “poor relatives they wish to hide” or an “albatross around their public relations neck”.

Yet the leather scene could certainly be more inclusive itself. In addition to its exclusion of women, it is overwhelmingly white. When combined with the fact that elements of the leatherman aesthetic have been co-opted by various sub-fetishes and groups that eroticise white supremacist roleplay and Nazi iconography, this paints a particularly objectionable picture. Then there’s the fact that much of the hyper-masculine culture that surrounds leather promotes the idea that feminine men are inferior. Society’s ever-evolving understanding of the effects of entrenched, socially-constructed gender binaries and toxic masculinity has undoubtedly reduced its appeal further.

However, despite its current challenges, the history of leather fetish fashion is as fascinating as the black cowhide is transformative to those who lust over it. Leather can conjure solidarity among those who feel alienated, while acting as a symbol of sexual liberation. Its history tells a nuanced, important story of just how integral fashion can become to communities and subcultures. To its devotees, it represents more than mere aesthetics or the leather-clad bikers of the past. To them, leather fetish fashion is a way of life.

Complete Article HERE!

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How to Have Sex in the Shower:

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A Safety Guide for Even the Clumsiest People

 

Shower sex can be hot and steamy, but it can also be dangerous. Here are some tips and positions to help you avoid unnecessary trips to the ER.

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Shower sex is the stuff that Hollywood love-making magic is made of. In real life, though, it’s more complicated than you might think — meaning, no showing off your yoga moves to your partner in the shower because we don’t want you to end up in the ER. When it comes to sex acts and positions, shower sex proves that there’s more to sex than just penetration. For example, you’re unlikely to slip if you’re on your knees, and since you’re already in the shower it’s super easy to get clean when you’re done.

You’ll have to think about barriers and not just condoms and dental dams, but also things like nonslip shower mats that can help ensure you have a much safer time while getting it on. Additionally, there are lubes that can help to make penetrative shower sex more enjoyable. That’s just the beginning of what’s good about shower sex — when you know how to do it right, it can be really amazing. Allure spoke to sex experts about the safest and steamiest (horrible pun intended) ways to have shower sex.

Which sex positions work best in the shower?

Those with nicer showers simply have an unfair advantage in the shower sex game, at least when it comes to space and positions. (Sigh — the one percent wins yet again.) If your shower has room for a chair, a bench, or has railings to hold onto, you’re far more likely to enjoy shower sex, as you have an array of seated positions available, such as cowgirl, reverse cowgirl, and seated oral sex.

To prevent a potentially painful spill, somatic psychologist and certified sex therapist Holly Richmond encourages using a railing to hold onto if you’re going to be lifting legs up or trying any positions that require balance. “People get really injured from slipping and falling,” says Richmond. “A mat or some kind of rail to hold onto is always helpful.” While installing a rail is more time-consuming, you can grab a nonslip mat from Amazon for $10.

However, that doesn’t mean that those of us with small showers can’t have a great time, too. The safest standing position in the shower is from behind, as you can leave both legs planted. “Unless you have safety rails installed, keep both feet on the ground if you’re using a standing position,” says sexologist Timaree Schmit.

And who says there needs to be any penetration involved? Oral shower sex can be super hot, too, not to mention a little simpler for the accident-prone. (Just be careful that you don’t choke on shower water.) There’s also nipple pinching, neck kisses, shoulder massages, and any other fun you can imagine.

What precautions should I take with using condoms in the shower?

While shower sex using condoms isn’t impossible, it’s not always the easiest — or the most fool-proof. “Have condoms or other barriers readily accessible, but be mindful that oil-based products degrade latex so consider what other soaps and lotions are on your hands,” explains Schmit. If you’re in a fluid-bonded relationship (meaning you have both been tested and have agreed to have sex sans condoms), shower sex comes with less stress.

Someone once told me in high school that you could have sex in the water and not get pregnant because the water would wash all the sperm away. Seriously. If you have heard any such rumor, don’t believe it; it’s dangerous fake news. “Don’t think because you’re submerged in water and you’re getting washed off that you can’t get pregnant or get an STI; you absolutely can get those,” says Richmond. If you’re not in a fluid-bonded relationship and feel apprehensive about the reliability of condoms in the shower, you can always move things to the bedroom after enjoying some bath-centric foreplay.

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Kinky Sex and Fetishes:

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How to Talk to Your Partner About Them

It’s normal to want to try new things in bed, but communicating those desires can feel wholly unnatural. These tips can help.

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Chances are, you’ve fantasized about having kinky sex. Most people have, according to sex researchers and people who say words. It’s also likely that more people have enjoyed what might be considered “fringe” activities in the bedroom than we would likely assume. So, the window of what constitutes “normal” sexual behavior is expanding. But not everyone has jumped onboard. Although, maybe they should. Studies show that novelty is a major contributor to sexual satisfaction, especially in the context of a long-term relationship. And, honestly, kinks and fetishes are nothing to be ashamed of.

Of course, there are a lot of opportunities to fail in the quest to become a sexual adventurer. Deliveries can go awry. Desires can be miscommunicated. At the end of the day, there’s no shortage of ways trying to introduce something new can dissolve into an embarrassing misadventure. Yeah, talking to your partner about sex can be weird. Still, it’s important to try. Listed below, we bring you a few different ways to kick off the conversation.

Start Small

So you want to try something new during sex. Maybe you’ve been thinking of bringing some BDSM, one of the most common fetishes, into the bedroom. Our advice is to start small. Remember, the acronym covers a lot of territory. It’s probably better to err on the lighter side of the spectrum before throwing on the gimp suit. In fact, it’s probably best to avoid accessories all together during the introductory phase. Instead, try talking to your partner about some light spanking, hair pulling, or maybe some edge play before diving into deeper waters.

Watch Some Erotic Films Together

We’ve said it before: if those who can’t do, teach, then those who can’t say, show. If you don’t have the words to communicate a certain sexual interest, then don’t worry. There is most certainly a video out there able to demonstrate your desires. As Rule 34 of the Internet states, “If it exists, there is porn of it.” The professionals have a way of making things look more appealing. Just keep in mind that it’s not realistic.

Read Some Erotic Literature

Ok, so porn might not be for everyone (although, research statistics would suggest that those who don’t care for the medium fall within a decreasing minority). Fortunately, there’s a slightly less explicit option out there to entertain, and it comes in the form of words. Erotic literature has become an increasingly popular genre over the past couple of years, with websites popping up all over the place designed to host this kind of content. Try combing through the selection. Find a passage that speaks to you, and your kink. Now go ahead and share it with your partner.

Go to a Sex Shop Together

Not everything has to have a specific aim and purpose. Entertaining more nonchalant activities can also help get the erotic wheels rolling. Try hitting up a sex shop with your partner. It’s a low-stakes way to become familiar with what’s out there. Sometimes, the best kind of inspiration comes when we aren’t looking for it.

Let Pop Culture Guide You

Maybe these explicitly sexual options aren’t for you. Don’t worry; there are, in fact, some PG approaches to talking about R-rated activities. All you have to do is put on some TV. Want to put pegging on the radar? Just tune into Broad City for a brief introduction. Interested in analingus? The cast of Girls has got your back. Into a good spanking? Check out Secretary. Seriously, there’s so much out there.

Amp Up Your Sext Game

Millennials have been accused of prioritizing digital communication over in-person encounters. And while that may come back to bite us in some ways, it does provide us with a skill set we can use to combat anxieties over speaking about sex, IRL. Chances are you text your partner throughout the day. Try introducing a little spice into the routine. You never know when a sexy message will spiral into a more substantial dialogue.

Complete Article HERE!

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9 New Year’s Resolutions For Exploring Your Sexuality In 2019

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They Will Make You Feel Empowered AF

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After the shimmery dresses come off and the Champagne hangover comes on, you may find yourself looking at your “resolutions” as a means to doubt how amazing you are. So, I’m going to cut to the chase: You’re beautiful and amazing and your weight, your clothes, and your skincare routine don’t need to change. But if you’re feeling stuck in a sexy rut, manifesting some New Year’s resolutions for exploring your sexuality in 2019, can be a fun and empowering way to feel more in tune with your body.

At it’s best New Year’s can be an empowering time to set intentions for the future and cultivate gratitude for the past. Taking a moment to focus on all you’ve made it through in the past year can propel you take the next 12 months head on. Whether you’re single, dating, or on a self-inflicted six month vow of celibacy, exploring your own sexuality can be a cool way to learn about your body, it can also be really fun. Of course, when trying new things, you may find out the stuff you’re not into. And if something’s not floating your sexual boat, you never need to push your boundaries, no matter the month.

Here are nine resolutions aimed at feeling in tune with your sexy side in 2019.

1 I will take time to day dream about what I want.

Sometimes we don’t even know what we’re into because we’ve never thought enough about it. Take some time to fanaticize and daydream about your desires. Think about what makes you feel sexy, and ways you can bring those feelings into the bedroom.

2 I will get it on with myself.

Knowing what physically feels good for your body may mean some self-discovery. Taking time to touch different parts of yourself, in sexual and non-sexual ways can be a great way to sense how and where you like to be touched.

3 I will not be ashamed to read or watch sexual media.

There’s no shame in reading about sexuality, erotica, or even wanting to watch sexual material. If you have questions, urges, or know some things that pique your interest, reading articles or watching videos can be informative and sexy.

4 I will journal.

Journaling about the best sex you’ve had or things you want to try can help you remember what has worked in the past. Having yourself literally sit and write can be a structured way to really dig into your sexy side while strengthening your ability to articulate your desires.

5 I will talk about sex.

Opening up a dialogue with the people you’re sleeping with or even with friends you feel comfy sharing with can be a great way to understand other people’s perspectives and feel validated in your desires. Hearing that others have shared your experiences or desires, even swapping tips and advice can make you feel less alone, and give you some sexy inspiration.

6 I want to take some (healthy) risks.

If you’ve always wanted to go to a bar by yourself, or try having sex wearing a blindfold, the New Year can be a time to roll the dice (within reason.) Of course, your well-being is the most important thing and if something is way out of your comfort-zone or kinda dangerous, there’s no need to feel pressure to perform. But if there’s something fun you’ve always wanted to try, like a new move or a new naughty night club, Jan. 1 may give you the boost you need.

7 I will do more of what feels good.

There is nothing wrong with having a plan or knowing what works. If you’ve found what works for you, it’s also awesome to continue to do that. Routine doesn’t need to be boring. Knowing what makes your sex good and enjoyable sex and doing more of that, is a great way to go into the new year.

8 I will pump myself up.

Your biggest cheerleader should be yourself. Whether it’s looking at your body in the mirror and saying positive affirmations to singing Cardi B songs or spending a little more money on a haircut, doing more of what makes you feel sexy, and puts you in the mood is a great way to explore your body and sexuality.

9 I will cut myself some serious slack.

If you’ve farted during sex, if you’ve tried to sexy talk and ended up laughing, if you’ve set up a sex swing and landed butt first on the floor — you don’t need to feel ashamed. It’s OK for sex to be funny, for it to be awkward, silly, or gooey and romantic. You don’t need to be a ballerina sex-kitten with grace, perfect hair, and no bodily functions. Remembering you cut yourself some slack in the streets and in the sheets can keep you feeling strong and good about trying new things and feeling what works.

As we look to the New Year, may we relinquish all the bad dates, idiot people, and terrible sex we dealt with in the past 12 months. Having empowering resolutions about exploring your body and your sexuality can help when manifesting our future plans. Feeling yourself and knowing what you’re into can really help the New Year come in with a bang.

Complete Article ↪HERE↩!

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3 Easy Sex Games For Couples To Try Tonight

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By Laken Howard

When you’re in a long-term relationship, it’s perfectly normal to develop a sexual routine with your partner. After all, the more often you have sex with someone, the better acquainted you become with their body, their turn-ons, their erogenous zones, their fantasies, and more. But while that level of sexual comfort with a partner can be advantageous in plenty of ways — like knowing exactly how to get each other to orgasm — having a “predictable” (or worse, “boring”) sex life can also be a source of frustration for many couples.

Although refreshing your sex life might sound like a daunting task, rest assured that it doesn’t have to be. In fact, finding new and exciting ways to enjoy sex in your relationship can actually be a fun way to connect with your partner, build intimacy, and experience pleasure. Besides, making an active effort to diversify your sexual routine doesn’t necessarily mean you’re dissatisfied with your current sex life; it simply means that you and your partner are open-minded and willing to grow even closer by sharing new sexual experiences.

If things are starting to feel a little blah in the bedroom, all it takes is a little creativity to heat things back up — and playing a few fun, easy sex games with your partner is the perfect low-pressure way to do so. Whether it’s naughty truth or dare or naked Twister, trying out some flirty and frisky sex games is a lighthearted way to switch things up in the bedroom without feeling like you’re doing a complete overhaul of your sex life.

Here are three easy sex games you can play with your partner that are pretty much guaranteed to make everyone feel like a winner.

If you and your partner are in the habit of breezing through foreplay in order to get to the “main event,” you might be surprised by how much slowing down and focusing on foreplay can transform your sex life. By elongating your foreplay sessions and savoring every touch, you can build all kinds of sexy tension before moving on to intercourse — or maybe you’ll get so caught up that you skip intercourse entirely (after all, penetration is not a prerequisite for great sex).”

“Start a timer and agree for there not to be penetration until the timer runs out,” says Danyell Fima, co-founder of adult pleasure company Velvet Co. “The anticipation makes it all worth it. This is best if you use a random timer, and set it between 10-20 minutes. To go even further, don’t touch each other, just tease each other with a feather.”

You might have the most comfortable bed on Earth, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only worthwhile place to get your freak on. Whether you live in a tiny studio apartment or a multi-suite mansion, there are plenty of opportunities to get creative with where you have sex: a bathtub, a kitchen counter, atop a washer… the list goes on. Sometimes a change of scenery is all it takes to make the whole experience feel brand new — even if you’re not technically changing the way you have sex all that much.

“Make every time you have sex [in] a different place and position,” says Fima. “Alternate which partner has to come up with the location between every time. Pretty soon, you’ll have touched every piece of furniture in your apartment in a new and exciting way.”

When you’re in the mood for a little extra stimulation in your sex life, using sex toys with your partner is an easy way to raise the stakes and experience even more feel-good sensations during sex. If you own a toy or two that can be controlled remotely, try making a sexy game out of allowing your partner to take total control of your pleasure.

“Have sex toys? Hand the controls to your partner,” says Fima. “It’s best when each person has a toy they can use. Last as long as you can! Have multiple sex toys? Pick which ones you’ll use blindfolded to keep things interesting

Complete Article HERE!

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How To Have Fantastic Shower Sex

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By GiGi Engle

There seems to be a never-ending quest to conquer shower sex, and the number of tips are almost endless. That’s probably because, while sex in the shower looks so hot and easy on television, it’s harder than it seems.

To be fair, there are a couple of reasons why penetrative shower sex is objectively difficult: It’s dangerous and there is no lubrication. You think that one-legged standing sex position is going to work out for you and then … it really doesn’t. You wind up with this awkward, dry humping and grinding situation that often ends in frustration and general angst.

So is having good sex in the shower even worth trying? The answer: Yep! Fantastic and wonderful shower sex is possible, you just have to know what you’re doing.<

Intercourse is hard, so do other things instead

Fact: The shower is slippery. With all that soap and water on tile or linoleum, you’re very likely to take a tumble if you decide to have penetrative sex. How can you expect to have an orgasm with one leg in the air, praying to the high heavens that you won’t fall and break your leg? It’s just not practical.

Instead of making P in the V sex the end-all-be-all of shower sex success, do other things instead. Have your partner stand with his back to you and reach around for a handy. The dominance is intoxicating. Bend down and suck on her nipples and touch her clitoris with your hand.

We have to stop putting pressure on ourselves to “get it in.” This makes shower sex less fun and ultimately a lot less satisfying.

Don’t rush it.

Enjoy the shower itself. Wash each other. Shampoo your partner’s hair and give them a head massage. Let them wash your back and shoulders. Showering can be very sensual even without sex so lean into that romantic aspect of the experience. There is a kind of primal urge that comes from cleaning your partner. Just look at monkeys picking bugs out of each other’s fur.

Listen to the sound of the water, smell the lovely soaps, and take your time to simply be with your partner. Showering together is basically foreplay with zero effort on your part.

Get comfortable with making out under the water

It should come as no surprise that, in the shower, there is going to be water everywhere. It’s going to run down your face and over your eyes, and probably into your mouth when you start kissing. Don’t let this deter you, let it be fuel for a steamy, wet makeout session.

Haven’t you ever heard of making out under waterfalls and all that other romantic movie stuff? It’s like that. These are going to be wet kisses so, get down with it. Yes, you might have to spit out water occasionally, but this just comes with the territory.

Feel the water running over your body. Lick it off of each other’s chests. Long showers are the best. Kiss and enjoy.

Try some standing sex positions if you’re brave enough

If you insist on having intercourse, there are definitely some positions that are better than others. We have a complete guide right here. Most comfortable for shower sex-ing are a three-legged stand and the 90 Degree Angle. For the 90 Degree Angle, if you’re on the receiving end, be sure your partner has something to hold onto with one hand. Again, slippery = dangerous.

Remember, this is not the only thing that makes shower sex valid. If you start having intercourse only to realize it isn’t working for you, have some hand-sex, oral sex, or any other kind of sexual play you feel like. Don’t force it. That isn’t fun for anyone.

Silicone and oil-based lube are your best friends

There are plenty of amazing (and not so amazing) lubes out there. You want to be sure whichever you choose is paraben, petrochemical, and glycerin free. When in doubt, water-based lubes are your best bet for sex. But, in the shower, water-based lubes don’t have the staying power you need.
Opt instead for a silicon or oil-based lube. These lubes hold up against the water test and will keep things smooth and slippery during shower friskiness.

If you go for silicone, we love Babelube Silicone from Babeland. If oil-based is more your style, you can use something all natural like 100 percent organic coconut oil or almond oil. If you’d prefer an oil-based brand, we’re big on Boy Butter in the original formula.

Just keep in mind that if you’re using condoms, oil-based lubes are a no-go. Oil is incompatible with latex and can break down the material, leading to breakage. With condoms, stick to silicone lube.

Don’t forget the toys

The golden rule of sex toy owners used to be: If it has a motor, don’t submerge it in water. Luckily, this is no longer the case for many a vibrator. Many companies have waterproof sex toys that are not only bomb for shower sex, but can even be taken into the bathtub and dipped under the water completely. It’s pretty revolutionary.

We have a bunch of favorites, but we love the We-Vibe Nova for a combination of G-spot and clitoral stimulation and the Lelo Lily for palm-sized, clitoral fun.

Complete Article HERE!

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Tumblr’s adult content ban means the death of unique blogs that explore sexuality

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Creators and readers alike don’t believe there’s another website like Tumblr

By Shannon Liao

Tumblr recently announced that it would ban all adult content from its platform and said any user who was hurt by the decision could simply migrate to another site. But creators and readers alike don’t believe there’s another website that fosters the same kind of sex-positive spaces that Tumblr has. It’s as though Tumblr CEO Jeff D’Onofrio has failed to understand his own platform, how unique these communities are to Tumblr, and how unlikely it is for them to survive beyond the shutdown.

“Sex wasn’t this separate, shameful thing. Tumblr allowed it to exist right next to every other facet of our messy, millennial experience,” says Vex Ashley, who runs the blog Vextape that’s inspired by her work as a cam model and making DIY porn. “We shared it, discussed it, debated it, and curated it.” Porn, she says, was as appropriate on Tumblr as song lyrics.

Tumblr is home to a myriad of sex-positive and body-positive blogs, in additional to indie porn blogs and curated archives that provide something not found on Pornhub, YouPorn, or any of the other mainstream adult portals. It’s also been relatively unique among social media sites for allowing nudity and sexually explicit content to be posted. Most sites, like Facebook and Instagram, prohibit nudity and regularly remove posts that are flagged. With Tumblr gone from the equation, creators and readers fear their hubs of sex-positive and body-positive content will vanish.

“There is a lot of value in being able to share images of and information about sexuality. This change will erase years of content from countless Tumblr users,” says the anonymous author behind Bijouworld, which curates photos of vintage gay porn, old magazine covers, and newspaper clippings. They believe that other blogs focused on the history of erotica will also suffer. “This was a good spot for us all to exchange and combine our info and knowledge, so I hope we can find a new way to do that.”

Bijou Classics, the gay adult company behind the blog, also posts regularly to Pornhub and maintains an extensive web presence across multiple platforms that allow adult content. But Tumblr, the blogger says, filled a void when the company wanted to explore the archival and historical aspects of gay porn.

“I do think Tumblr is unique … [it] was one of the few platforms that is broadly open to the public where we could share explicit photos in any sort of organized fashion.” The anonymous person behind the blog says that since 2011, Bijou Classics has “used our Tumblr presence to post images from our archives, written blogs, trivia, and more.” The purpose is to “keep information circulating about the history and evolution of erotica and gay culture.”

Many sexuality blog authors don’t see a way forward without Tumblr. That includes lawyer and journalist Maddie Holden, who runs Critique My Dick Pic, a blog that’s received attention from sites including The Hairpin, Jezebel, and The Daily Dot.

Holden takes a media that’s often considered a nuisance to receive and approaches it satirically as an art form, going in depth about the shadows and positioning of each photo. She ends her reviews with: “thank you for submitting to critique my dick pic” and a grade ranging from A to F. The latest lyrical review of a dick in the shower, posted on November 30th, reads, “your photo is certainly not coy but it avoids being dick-centric, and apart from minor flares of distraction — a green towel in the bottom-left corner and a blue razor in the windowsill — the background is uncluttered and effective.”

Critique My Dick Pic has been described by its followers as “hilarious and useful,” says Holden. She says a trans woman recently told her that the trans-inclusive nature of the blog factored into helping her decide to come out and transition.

The blog has been around since 2013, but Holden says she’s not sure if she’ll move to another platform after Tumblr hides her content from public view on December 17th. Holden tells The Verge, “I mean, it will be the end of the blog as far as I can tell. I receive a portion of my income from CDMP, which will end, and the site has been pretty beloved for years now, so it’s a shame for its followers.”


 
The operator of another quirky, body-positive blog, called Things My Dick Does, says he plans to keep his Tumblr open after the ban, but only to share safe-for-work posts to keep in touch with his readers.

Started by an anonymous man in 2015, the blog’s creator draws mustaches and smiley faces on his dick, often placing props around it in amusing situations. He tells The Verge, “I know it’s a silly dick blog, but I’ve gotten to know some pretty amazing people through here. (My girlfriend included!)” He says that as he continued to post pics of his dick sipping coffee, dressed as Batman, or just smiling cheerily, he received positive feedback and even had a woman reach out to him because they lived in the same city. She later became his girlfriend. “People say they’ve overcome some serious rough spots in their lives because of the laughs I brought them.”

The man says he can migrate to other platforms, but his presence on YouTube and Instagram is distinctly different. It’s covered up and less NSFW, obscuring the very quality of his blog that disarmed audiences — a charming, dressed-up dick that more resembled a cartoon than graphic porn. “It’s definitely a loss to the adult content creators out there,” the man behind Things My Dick Does says. “Seems like it’s getting more and more difficult to express yourself.”

There just isn’t anywhere else to go. Other than Tumblr, there aren’t many mainstream, well-acknowledged platforms that allow unique adult communities to grow. Facebook and Instagram both prohibit sexual content and nudity; Twitter allows it, but it’s not exactly known for its positive, supportive communities.

Ashley, who runs the curated, often DIY porn blog, explains that Tumblr was a livelihood and a home for people who didn’t necessarily conform to mainstream porn sites’ ideas of what is sexy. “As our lives move increasingly online, spaces that are safe for sex are becoming smaller and smaller,” she says, in words that are now published on Medium. “If we continue to push our depictions of sexuality into the shadows, we allow them to continue to be defined and co-opted by the status quo — whatever is on the first page of a porn tube site.”

Complete Article HERE!

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The 5 Most Common Sexual Complaints That Couples Have

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By Jessa Zimmerman

As a sex therapist, I see an amazing breadth of presenting issues and concerns in my practice. Despite the fact that I talk about sex all day, there is an incredible diversity in the people I work with, the stories they share, the goals they want to achieve, and the ways in which sexual difficulties show up and affect them. However, there are themes that emerge in my work. While every couple is different and their path to my office unique, there are several common problems people encounter in their sexual relationships. Here are five of the ones that appear the most, as well as ideas about how you might approach the situation if this is where you find yourself:

“We disagree about how often to have sex.”

For most of the couples that come to therapy, sexual desire discrepancy has become an issue. When a couple is counting how often they have sex, treating their intimate life as a math problem, that’s my clue that they have been having the wrong conversation. The answer is not about finding an average or creating a quota; it’s about creating a sex life that can be truly engaging for both people.

In every relationship, there is one person who wants more sex and one who wants less. That isn’t a problem by itself, but it can become one when people don’t know how to manage that tension and don’t know how to handle their part well. The person who wants more sex tends to take their partner’s level of desire personally. They tend to feel rejected, undesirable, and unimportant. The person who wants sex less feels pressured. They can either feel like something is wrong with them (that they are missing a “natural” sex drive) or resentful that their partner can’t accept them for who they are.

What to do

The more desirous person needs to stop treating sex as an affirmation of their worth. They need to separate their own sense of worth from their partner’s level of desire. If sex has become something that needs to happen to make you feel better, it’s lost its appeal. It’s not sexy to have sex out of neediness rather than an authentic desire to connect with each other. It’s also important that the more desirous partner continue to advocate for what they want. So many higher desire partners start avoiding the topic or waiting for the other to volunteer sex. Keep talking about the importance of sex and your desire to share that experience with your partner. At the same time, handle a “no” graciously.

The less desirous partner should start by identifying obstacles that are in the way of the desire they may otherwise have. Identify and address each barrier you find. Resolve the relationship issues that keep you feeling distant. Manage the environment to help you relax and shift gears into sex, whether that’s cleaning up or putting a lock on your door. Speak up about what you need in sex itself, especially if you haven’t been getting it.

It’s important to understand that you may also have what I call “reactive desire.” This means your sexual desire doesn’t show up until after you’ve started. This means you need to create opportunity to get aroused and interested. Instead of saying no out of instinct, consider saying “maybe.” Start talking, kissing, touching…whatever you like. And if you end up turned on and interested in sex, great! If not, that’s OK too. Either way, the less desirous person should take an active role in creating a sex life that they can embrace.

“I do all the initiating.”

There are two basic reasons one person ends up doing all or most of the sexual initiation. First, the desire discrepancy I described above tends to result in the higher desire partner being the one to suggest sex. The lower desire person often ends up accepting or rejecting the other’s invitations. Second, the more desirous of you also tends to be someone who experiences what I call “proactive desire.” This is the spontaneous desire that most of us think of as libido. This person thinks about sex, experiences spontaneous arousal or interest, and wants to seek it out and make it happen. This makes it easy to initiate. If your partner has “reactive desire,” though, they may almost never think about sex. It legitimately doesn’t cross their mind. This makes it more challenging to initiate sex.

What to do

The two of you need to accept that no amount of sexual desire is “correct” and that reactive desire is normal. Nothing is broken. You have to find a way to work together and collaborate on your sex life. To achieve more balance in your sex life, the person who struggles to initiate may need to do it on purpose. If you have reactive desire, you aren’t going to initiate sex because it’s on your mind and you’re horny. You can do it from a more intentional place, thinking about the value of your sex life in general and the importance of taking a more active role in your relationship. It’s OK to start with an engine that’s cold; take your time, get going, and see if the engine turns over. If you end up turned on and interested, you may want sex—when you couldn’t have imagined that just a few minutes ago. If you don’t, that’s fine, too. At least you connected with your partner and took some responsibility to tend to your intimate relationship.

We each have sexual preferences and desires that interest us and turn us on. Early in a relationship, we tend to migrate toward the common ground, the things we both enjoy and that don’t make either of us uncomfortable. Later in a relationship, though, this can become a problem. One or both of you may want to explore some of the sexual behaviors or activities that were held back or neglected early on.

What to do

It’s worth trying to get out of your comfort zone and experimenting with some of the things that interest your partner. If you think about it, everything we’ve done sexually started off as uncomfortable. We have to develop comfort with things over time, whether it’s French kissing or oral sex. So experiencing some discomfort or anxiety can be OK, if you’re able to approach it as a willing partner and as an experiment. Of course, it’s OK to have some hard no’s (or to discover some), too. You do need to take care of yourself and not violate your own integrity or bottom line. You’ll want to find a balance of saying no when you need to and yes when you can.

There are other ways to incorporate some sexual desires, too, if you determine that you can’t do them with your partner. You may be able to talk about them and bring them into your experience in imagination. You may find a “lite” version that works for both of you. If nothing else, you can use that erotic material in solo sex, fueling your fantasies and arousal there.

“My partner masturbates and/or watches porn.”

It’s perfectly normal to masturbate, whether you’re single or in a relationship. Solo sex and partnered sex are really apples and oranges. Sex with a partner is a collaboration, a give and take between two people. Solo sex is an opportunity to have a simpler experience, a quick release, or an exploration of your own eroticism. As long as masturbation is in addition to your sex life, not instead of, it is not a problem.

It may challenge you to think that your partner finds sexual arousal in anything besides you. We don’t stop finding other people attractive just because we’re in a relationship. And we don’t stop finding sexual behaviors interesting just because our partner doesn’t enjoy them. We don’t own the thoughts in each other’s minds, and it is futile to try to police what our partner is thinking about.

What to do

As long as the sex life you share is fulfilling and enjoyable, let go of the worries about what your partner finds arousing. And if your sex life needs work, focus on that rather than controlling their sexual thoughts.

Now, actually talking about the viewing of pornography and how you each feel about it can be a difficult and loaded conversation. For some, pornography is just another erotic medium that provides stimulation and fodder for the imagination. For others, it can become a compulsive and problematic behavior. Some people can enjoy watching porn; others cannot accept it at all based on moral, social, or ethical complaints. It’s not that viewing porn is either “right” or “wrong.” It’s about having a conversation where you can truly be curious about each other’s perspective and then coming to an agreement and understanding that works for you both.

“We find ourselves avoiding sex.”

If you and your partner have struggled with sex, with any of the problems I’ve already described or any of the many others, it’s likely you’ve started to avoid sex. It’s natural to avoid things that make us feel bad. Once sex has become loaded, stressful, disappointing, or negative, of course you aren’t looking forward to the next encounter. In fact, sex may feel like a test or an ordeal—one that you expect to fail.

What to do

You can take a two-pronged approach to addressing sexual avoidance: Deal with the things that make sex seem negative, and address your sex life together rather than avoid it.

The first step in dealing with what makes sex negative is to challenge your expectations. If you have the idea that sex should be easy, that sex should go a certain way, or that you have to perform, then you set yourself up to be disappointed. But if you adopt a view that sex is just about experiencing pleasure and connection with your partner, that anything you share sexually is a win, and that there is no way to fail at sex, then you set yourself up for success. Second, you can take steps (many that I’ve outlined in this article) to improve the sex you’re sharing with your partner.

The more you can treat sex as a collaborative process and endeavor, the more enjoyable you’ll find your sex life. Communicate openly with your partner about what’s working and what isn’t. Keep talking about what matters to you in sex and what would make it more engaging for you. Resist any urge to hide and avoid rather than deal with your issues.

It’s normal and common to struggle in your sex life. A long-term, committed relationship takes work—in the bedroom and out. If you’ve encountered any of these issues in your relationship, take heart in the knowledge that they’re common—and totally workable.

Complete Article HERE!

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Why Tumblr’s ban on adult content is bad for LGBTQ youth

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Tumblr’s new rules will likely shut much of the LGBTQ youth activity. Here a chaptered LGBTQ youth themed comic on Tumblr.

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As of Dec. 17, Tumblr will no longer allow “adult content,” defined as that which shows “real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples, and any content — including photos, videos, GIFs and illustrations — that depicts sex acts.”

Before this, the platform’s lenient policies contrasted significantly with those of Facebook and Instagram, which have stricter content moderation guidelines.

This update follows the removal of Tumblr’s app from Apple’s app store after child pornography was found on the platform. However, it also reflects broader changes following Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo, Tumblr’s parent company.

Katrin Tiidenberg, a researcher who has studied self-expression on Tumblr, conjectures that this change may have more to do with advertising sales than protecting users. Regardless of Tumblr’s motives, this update will seriously affect LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) youth who rely on Tumblr and its communities for self-discovery and support.

‘Safer’ online spaces

Since LGBTQ identities have often been stigmatized, the internet has been pivotal in helping those with diverse gender and sexual identities learn about themselves and find each other. Tumblr has provided a safe space for this through many of its key features (e.g. pseudonymous accounts, reblogging) and the communities it attracts.

Given this, it’s not surprising that a large Australian survey found LGBTQ youth use Tumblr much more frequently than the rest of the population. Many respondents indicated content on Tumblr broadened their understanding of sexuality and gender and facilitated self-acceptance.

The Tumblr logo is displayed at Nasdaq in New York in July 2013.

Tumblr has served as an essential outlet for LGBTQ youth in relation to other popular platforms. Alexander Cho, a postdoctoral fellow at UC Irvine, has written about Tumblr’s “queer ecosystem” where “users circulate porn, flirt, provide support to deal with homophobia as well as advice on coming out…” Cho has found that queer youth of colour experience Facebook as a space of “default publicness” and prefer Tumblr for sharing intimate and personal content.

LGBTQ people have also found Tumblr to be powerful for self-representation. Through sophisticated hashtagging practices, transgender people share art, stories and engage in dialogue that challenges cisgender norms.

Researcher Tim Highfield and I have explored how sharing queer GIFs – short, looping media — not only allows LGBTQ youth to engage in Tumblr’s fan communities but also playfully displays queer culture en masse. This broad representation of LGBTQ identities may dissuade homophobic harassment, as some of the queer women I’ve interviewed perceive less discrimination on Tumblr.

What’s porn got to do with it?

Porn is a portion of the multiple forms of media resonating among LGBTQ users. This media allows them to knit together non-mainstream identities and survive in a world where heterosexuality is ubiquitously portrayed across social media and broadcast outlets.

Not all LGBTQ content contains genitals, “female-presenting nipples” or sex acts, but not all content with these elements constitutes what we would generally think of as pornography. Much of the sexualized content circulated among LGBTQ Tumblr users make available depictions of sexuality that are frequently rendered invisible or marginalized.

These can take the form of fan art, remixed film clips of sensual embraces and selfies. This media allows LGBTQ people to see themselves as sexual beings — something that is particularly important for young people developing a sense of sexual and gender identity.

Even if you disagree with teenagers accessing this type of content, Tumblr’s new policy bans it for everyone regardless of age. Formerly, users could voluntarily mark their blogs as “NSFW” (Not Safe for Work) if they posted occasional nudity and “adult” if posting substantial nudity. This provided a sort of checkpoint to hinder younger users in accessing this content.

Now even adults won’t be able to access “adult content.” This means that young people over 18, who may be facing formative life changes, like starting post-secondary education or moving away from home, won’t have access to media that may help them learn about their identity and feel supported while doing so.

Commercial platforms shape culture

Strict content moderation policies tend to have negative outcomes for already marginalized users. In my research with Jean Burgess and Nicolas Suzor, we found that some queer women experienced Instagram’s content moderation as overly stringent.

Instagram asks users to report content and responds through automated mechanisms. Therefore, queer women’s content was subject to removal based on other users’ whims and the banning of certain hashtags like #lesbian. Tumblr’s new updates promise a similar mixture of user reporting and automated content detection tools.

Several scholars have begun to critically examine how platforms’ decisions shape our social and cultural norms.

In Canada, Chris Tenove, Heidi Tworek and Fenwick McKelvey have pointed out that content moderation is not standardized and lacks federal oversight. Platforms often apply content moderation categories, such as “adult content,” without transparency or accountability.

Tumblr’s CEO, Jeff D’Onofrio, said: “There are no shortage of sites on the internet that feature adult content. We will leave it to them and focus our efforts on creating the most welcoming environment possible for our community.”

It seems that with this new change, youth who want to encounter sexual content will need to relocate. While some young people may turn to pornography sites, many of these sites are not designed with diverse sexual and gender identities in mind.

Youth entering these sites may be more likely to encounter stigmatized, stereotypical and demeaning representations of women and transgender people. Even LGBTQ-friendly pornography sites don’t have the elaborate community networks unique to Tumblr.

Such communities help youth to make sense of sexual content in relation to who they are becoming as they grow up. Tumblr’s decision means LGBTQ youth will have one less outlet where they can learn about sexual identity and gain support from peers who are like them and sharing content for them.

Complete Article HERE!

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What is BDSM?

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A beginners kinky guide to getting started with BDSM

By Mistress Scarlett

Many people think of BDSM as whips and chains in dark, scary dungeons, but the truth of it is, anyone could be practicing aspects of BDSM in their own homes to spice up their sex lives, live out fantasies or enjoy minor taboos that in the past were not even mentioned in public. BDSM as a term stood for bondage and discipline, domination and submission and sadism and masochism in the past, which could make it sound quite intimidating to many people. BDSM is now used as a blanket term for fetishes and kinks that fall outside of mainstream behaviors. Many of these kinks and fetishes actually have nothing to do with sex at all while others are intricately entwined with what goes on in the bedroom. Some BDSM practices are only carried out in the bedroom while others such as TPE (total power exchange) may actually be ingrained in to every aspect of daily life. There are actually far too many aspects of BDSM today than what can be categorized in to neatly label little boxes, so we are just going to look at a small portion of what makes up BDSM and focus on the more erotic side of the topic.

Remember, the first rule in BDSM is consent and the persons giving the consent need to be fully informed of all the risks and be able to legally consent to whatever aspect is being introduced. Remember, BDSM as practiced by real people is not the same as what is shown in entertainment such as movies or porn. Most kinks, fetishes or role play do need special gear, clothing, equipment or even a dungeon. If you want to wear fun outfits for role play, that is up to you but the only thing that limits your BDSM play is your own imagination. If you do get wrapped up in all things BDSM you might then want to invest in equipment such as bondage gear, ropes, floggers, canes, electro-play equipment, sounds, leather, chains and more. There is a vast variety of equipment available online and in certain adult stores. Always purchase good quality, body safe equipment for any BDSM play to keep everyone involved as safe as possible. Do not try any of the more risky kinks such as suspension bondage, knife or needle play and so forth unless you have had some training and are 100% sure you can keep your partner safe from unintended harm. Even simple play such as spanking can go wrong if you don’t know the person you are playing with well and their potential health problems. Research everything thoroughly if you plan to go in-depth in to BDSM and get a mentor if possible. Go to events and moots to learn more so that you always play safely.

Let’s look at some basic BDSM play. Bondage can refer to ropes, cuffs and other restraints but can also include aspects such as mummification, vacuum packing, sensory deprivation, masks, gags and more. Bondage can be for a short time or extended periods and can be gentle to extreme. There is aesthetic bondage such as Shibari which is done for body decoration to suspension bondage where the person in bondage is actually hoisted off the floor / bed / flat surface. Both of these types of bondage require dedication, study and knowledge to keep everyone safe from injury. Discipline can be part of domination and submission play or just spankings for fun. Erotic discipline such as flogging can be extremely enjoyable to all involved while spanking for punishment can be attached to behavior modification and control. There are so many variables and aspects to this type of play as well and it is very important that research is done before embarking on any type of BDSM play.

In dominance and submission there is generally role play where one person is in control of another person or persons. For some people this role play happens in the bedroom only, while for others this can actually become part of their daily lives. Some people may also switch and be dominant on some occasions or with some people and be submissive at other times. These dynamics can change quite a bit as well. A male dominant is usually referred to as a Dom or Master and a female dominant as a Domme, Domina, Mistress, Goddess and other honorifics. The person is the submissive role is generally referred to as a sub or a slave depending on their roles. This type of play also encompasses “Littles” with Daddy/Mommy figures and other types of play such as Puppy, Pony and Kitten play. There is nothing wrong with experimenting in the different roles until you figure out what you enjoy and what you don’t. Just stick to the golden rule of consent and safety at all times.

Masochism and sadism usually features someone who enjoys inflicting pain with someone who enjoys receiving pain. This can be mild spanking to CBT and includes play such as knives, needles, hot wax and more. This type of play can be very erotic and can also be quite extreme depending on the people involved and what gets their motors running. There are many, many, many other kinks, fetishes and more that can be explored under the wide umbrella of the term BDSM. If you are interested in making things a bit more interesting in the bedroom or even your daily life, spend some time on sites dedicated to BDSM; go to events and meetings with like-minded people. You may very well be surprised at what turns you on.

Complete Article HERE!

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Holiday sex toy shopping dos and don’ts

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By Lucky Tomaszek

Like it or not, we’ve entered the annual period of seasonal gift giving. Hanukkah begins Sunday, December 2. St. Nick’s follows on Thursday, December 6 (leave your shoes out on the night of the 5th). Next up is Winter Solstice on Friday, December 21. And then we wrap up the traditional gifting holidays with Christmas on Tuesday, December 25. Basically, if you’ve got a romantic partner in your life, you’re probably going to be doing a little shopping real soon.

Each year, the staff of the Tool Shed spends about six weeks helping people navigate the fun—but sometimes tricky—adventure of purchasing sex toys for another person. Giving overtly sexy gifts has an etiquette all its own. There are some obvious things (like don’t give an acquaintance a set of vibrating nipple clamps) that are basically common sense. But there are some less obvious things, too. Read on for some important gift giving dos and don’ts from Tool Shed staffers…

Don’t limit yourself to obvious sex toys, i.e. dildos, vibrators, butt plugs, etc. Shy or modest folks may recoil from a gift so blatant. You may also find that a person is just not interested in owning or using a sex toy. And if you’re in a new relationship, getting a sex toy out of the blue can feel like a lot of pressure.

Do remember how many different ways there are to be sexy. TS staffer Stephanie says, “For my sister, I got soap and socks with a gift card. It encouraged her to come back to the store and shop for herself.” Massage oil, books, underwear, and truth or dare games are also fun ideas.

Don’t just buy the most expensive vibrator you can find. You wouldn’t believe how often this happens! A customer will walk in the store, browse briefly, and pick out a vibrator in the $179-$219 price range. Sometimes they’ll ask, “So, is this the best one?” And we’ll try to explain that there’s no best vibrator for everyone. It’s a very individual thing. But because our culture equates cost with quality, they buy the toy anyway.

Do pick a toy that is body safe and reliable, but also that’s likely to make your partner happy. Different things are important to different people. Some people love vibration, while other people find it distracting or annoying. Some people want something small and discreet, but some folks feel that bigger is better. Even color can make or break someone’s relationship with a sex toy.

Don’t buy a sex toy to fulfill your own fantasy, especially if you’ve never discussed it with your partner. For instance, TS staffer Ashe says, “Unless you’ve had a few conversations with your partner about anal play, don’t surprise your partner with an anal toy.” This is also true for BDSM related gifts like paddles, masks, and bondage supplies. New items for activities that you haven’t talked about before can feel less like a special treat and more like an ambush.

Do pick a toy based on what you know about your partner’s pleasure and previous sex toy experience. If the two of you have had your eye on something, but have held back because it seemed too extravagant for a random Tuesday in June, now’s a great time to pick it up. TS staffer Kayla adds, “If you haven’t tried mojoupgrade.com, it might be a great and somewhat subtle way of finding a new gift idea that you would both enjoy. This website allows you and a sexual partner to choose what you both want or desire, then emails you the areas in which you overlap.”

Don’t assume that you’ll get to participate in the using of the sex toy. If it’s a gift, then the recipient gets to decide how they’re going to use it. Before you buy something, ask yourself who will really benefit from the gift. If you want to get your boyfriend a cockring so that his erection will last longer, talk about that ahead of time. If you’re dying to use a vibrator on your girlfriend because you want to see her reaction, be up front about that.

Do give a gift because you want your partner to be happy, and to have some tools to make that easier. While there are definitely toys that are designed for couples to use together, gifts should be things that will bring joy to the receiver.

Don’t use gift giving to make a joke or intentionally cause someone to feel embarrassed. As Kayla wisely says, “Avoid gag gifts or gifts meant as a prank. They may seem funny at the time, but the money you’ve spent could go towards a gift they’ll definitely enjoy, without all the stigma and shame wrapped up around it. Consider getting a hilarious card or funny wrapping paper instead, and have the gift either be meaningful or practical.”

Do pick up supplies and accessories to help the recipient enjoy the gift. That could mean batteries, lube, locking toy box, or instructional book. Consider charging up rechargeable toys so they’re ready right out of the wrapping paper. Make sure you know how to clean and care for the toys, and share that information when you give the gift.

Complete Article HERE!

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