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We’re Not Quite ‘Born This Way’

By

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Back in 2014, a bigoted African leader put J. Michael Bailey, a psychologist at Northwestern, in a strange position. Yoweri Museveni, the president of Uganda, had been issuing a series of anti-gay tirades, and — partially fueled by anti-gay religious figures from the U.S. — was considering toughening Uganda’s anti-gay laws. The rhetoric was getting out of control: “The commercialisation of homosexuality is unacceptable,” said Simon Lokodo, Uganda’s ethics minister. “If they were doing it in their own rooms we wouldn’t mind, but when they go for children, that’s not fair. They are beasts of the forest.” Eventually, Museveni said he would table the idea of new legislation until he better understood the science of homosexuality, and agreed to lay off Uganda’s LGBT population if someone could prove to him homosexuality was innate.

That’s where Bailey comes in: He’s a leading sex researcher who has published at length on the question of where sexual orientation comes from. LGBT advocates began reaching out to him to explain the science of homosexuality and, presumably, denounce Museveni for his hateful rhetoric. But “I had issues with rushing out a scientific statement that homosexuality is innate,” he said in an email, because he’s not sure that’s quite accurate. While he did write articles, such as an editorial in New Scientist, explaining why he thought Museveni’s position didn’t make sense, he stopped short of calling homosexuality innate. He also realized that in light of some recent advances in the science of sexual orientation, it was time to publish an article summing up the current state of the field — gathering together all that was broadly agreed-upon about the nature and potential origins of sexual orientation. (In the meantime, Museveni did end up signing the anti-gay legislation, justifying his decision by reasoning that homosexuality “was learned and could be unlearned.”)

To help write his paper, Bailey assembled an impressive multidisciplinary team: It consisted of the psychologists Paul Vasey and Lisa Diamond, the neuroscientist S. Marc Breedlove, the geneticist Eric Vilain, and Marc Epprecht, a historian with a focus on gender and sexuality in Africa.

Their article, which was recently published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, is something of an all-you-can-eat buffet for anyone interested in the current state of scientific research into sexuality. While it’s loosely organized around the “moral” concerns raised by Museveni, it covers a wide range of subjects. It’s worth a full read, but three main points leaped out at me:

1. There’s a connection between gender expression and sexual orientation that seems to show up just about everywhere. It’s important to note that just about everything in Bailey and his colleagues’ paper has to do with average differences between members of different groups. Nothing in the paper (or this article) should be taken as implying that “all straight people X” or “all straight people Y.” The average man is significantly bigger than the average woman, but plenty of women are bigger than plenty of men; the same logic holds here.

That caveat aside, there seems to be a consistent, robust way in which sexual orientation and gender roles play off of each other and that starts early in childhood for many people. Bailey and his colleagues point out that “Childhood gender nonconformity … is a strong correlate of adult sexual orientation that has been consistently and repeatedly replicated.” For boys, this means that if a child enjoys cross-dressing, playing with dolls, growing their hair long, preferring girls as playmates, and so on, then — true to stereotype — there’s a significantly increased chance that he will grow up to be gay (in cases where all this is accompanied by gender dysphoria, or discomfort with their natal sex, there’s a chance he could also end up identifying as transgender).

Broadly speaking, these sorts of differences between (pre-)gay and (pre-)straight people persist into adulthood. Among adults, “Research indicates that heterosexual men have greater interest in occupations and hobbies focusing on things and less interest in those focusing on people, compared with heterosexual women.” For gay men and women, the pattern flips: Gay men are more into people-things than their straight brothers and dad, while gay women are more into object-things than their straight sisters and moms. This blending of stereotypically gendered behavior seems to extend to “gestures and walking,” “speech,” “physical presentation,” and “even facial appearance.”

Fascinatingly, “the link between gender nonconformity and nonheterosexual orientation has been found in a wide variety of cultures,” the authors write, and seems to manifest itself in similar ways just about everywhere. To take one example, the researchers quote from a book chapter called “Os Entendidos: Gay life in São Paulo in the late 1970s”:

In the Guatemalan Indian town of Chimaltenango, two men lived together as lovers, wearing typical Indian clothing in an outwardly traditional Indian adobe house. The house, however, was decorated in a manner strikingly different from the other Indians. It was meticulously and elaborately decorated, a characteristic frequently found in homosexual subcultures … The occupation of the lovers was that of stringing pine needles in decorative strands, traditionally used in Guatemala for holidays and other festive occasions, and supplying flowers for weddings. In essence these two men were florists, involved in the arts of embellishment, which in larger societies are universally linked with homosexual subcultures.

Because of this striking consistency in the (again, average) differences between how straight and gay people present themselves around the world, the researchers suspect that whatever’s going on here can’t be explained solely by suggesting gay people are simply fulfilling — or being socially coerced into — culturally expected roles:

Before leaving the topic of gender nonconformity, we address a commonly raised question: Might the gender-atypicality of adult homosexual men and women simply reflect a culturally influenced self-fulfilling prophecy? In other words, given that society expects homosexual individuals to be gender atypical, and given that LGB communities often support and facetiously celebrate such gender atypicality, perhaps some homosexual people adopt gender-atypical characteristics to conform to their own stereotypes. Because of the evidence we have reviewed — indicating that gender nonconformity often begins before a prehomosexual child even has a sexual orientation or is aware of cultural stereotypes, and that the link between gender nonconformity and nonheterosexual orientation has been found in a wide variety of cultures — we think it is highly unlikely that gender nonconformity in LGB populations represents a self-fulfilling prophecy due to cultural beliefs. It is possible, however, that cultural stereotypes sometimes amplify gender nonconformity among LGB people. Many LGB individuals report that they have always been fairly gender-typical in dress, appearance, and interests. It is possible that as these individuals come to identify as LGB and participate in the LGB community, they adopt aspects of gender-atypicality.

So if they’re right, what does explain these average differences? No one’s quite sure. But it seems like for the average human, sexuality and gender presentation are intertwined in important ways.

2. The best evidence for a nature-over-nurture explanation of sexuality comes from an accidental quasi-experiment involving surgically removed penises. Bailey and his colleagues ran through a bunch of the different ways researchers have tried to puzzle out what makes some people gay, others straight, and others bisexual: brain and hormone and genetics studies, among other areas of research. All these fields have added interesting nuggets, but it’s clear from the study that the researchers are most excited by a coincidental small pile of research they call “the near-perfect quasi-experiment.”The participants in this quasi-experiment might not share the researchers’ enthusiasm. All of them were natal males who were either “born with malformed penises or lost their penises in surgical accidents.” Between 1960 and 2000, Bailey and his colleagues write, “many doctors in the United States believed that such males would be happier being socially and surgically reassigned female,” and that’s what happened to these kids: They were raised as girls, wearing “girl” clothes, doing “girl” things, and so on. (Alice Dreger does a wonderful job explaining this practice and how it came to change, in part due to activism she herself helped to spearhead, in her book Galileo’s Middle Finger.)

Bailey and his colleagues examined the seven such cases that have been written up in the literature. Of the seven, they found, six of the unfortunate subjects came to eventually identify as heterosexual males at the time they were followed up with; the seventh still identified as female and said she was “predominately” into women.

If socialization were a significant part of the sexuality equation, the odds that not one of these natal males would grow up to be attracted primarily to men are just about nil, statistically speaking. “These results comprise the most valuable currently available data concerning the broad nature-versus-nurture questions for sexual orientation,” write the researchers. “They show how difficult it is to derail the development of male sexual orientation by psychosocial means. If one cannot reliably make a male human become attracted to other males by cutting off his penis in infancy and rearing him as a girl, then what other psychosocial intervention could plausibly have that effect?”

So does that clinch it? Sexuality is, in fact, innate? Not quite …

3. “Born this way” is probably wrong, but it doesn’t matter. Think back to the reason Bailey decided to co-author this paper: Uganda’s homophobic president was asking for “proof” that homosexuality is inborn. Bailey and his colleagues don’t think it would be accurate to claim to be able to deliver him that proof. At the moment, they write, when you look at the (somewhat limited) twin research that has been conducted — studies on twins being the best large-scale way to tease out nature-nurture questions — it looks like about a third of the variation in sexual orientation in human beings comes from genes; 43 percent comes from environmental influences a given set of twins don’t share (random factors that cause their brains and bodies to develop differently, such as different experiences); and 25 percent from environmental influences they do share (their general upbringing, developing in the same uterine environment, and so on).

Putting things a bit more straightforwardly: Identical twins share the same genes and the same womb, and yet when one is gay, the other is usually straight. That means things likely aren’t set at birth. Those environmental factors — mostly nonsocial ones, the researchers think — do matter.

So it’s complicated, and there’s also a sex divide: Bailey’s current view is that male sexual orientation is probably more or less set by birth, but for females, who in general exhibit a bit more fluidity with regard to sexual orientation, postnatal factors could be important. For humanity as a whole, “born this way” is probably a bit too pithy a summary of what’s going on, at least in light of the current evidence — which could change as we come to better understand the brain, genetics, and hormones. (Note: I updated this paragraph post-publication to mention the sex difference, which is important and comes up throughout Bailey and his colleagues’ paper.)

But as the authors hint, people often misinterpret this as meaning sexual orientation is a choice, or is something one person (presumably a creepy older adult) can teach another one (presumably an innocent, otherwise-straight child). That’s not the case. It’s important, they argue, to keep in mind a simple distinction: The sentence “I choose to have sex with partners of my own sex” makes sense, while the sentence “I choose to desire to have sex with partners of my own sex” doesn’t. No one chooses what they desire. The authors make this point nicely with a quote in which Einstein sums up one of Schopenhauer’s views: “Man can do what he wills, but he cannot will what he wills.” The opposite of inborn isn’t chosen.

It’s perhaps no surprise that in the last part of their paper, Bailey and his colleagues come out strongly against the harsh anti-gay laws Museveni passed. There’s scant evidence, contra Museveni’s claims, that homosexual people “recruit” otherwise-straight children into their subculture, or that sexuality is otherwise socially learned. Museveni’s resistance to evidence might be a useful lesson: People seeking to demonize and stigmatize other people’s identities and behaviors probably aren’t particularly interested in the science underlying those identities and behaviors, anyway. They tend to be far more animated by political opportunism or fear or disgust than a desire to truly understand the full, fascinating range of the human experience.

For the rest of us, born this way might be useful shorthand, but it doesn’t capture the full picture — and we can handle the nuance.

Complete Article HERE!

Is this gonna warp me?

Name: Jake
Gender: male
Age: 23
Location: Omaha
I’m 23, and I’ve been dating 30-year-old chick for nearly a year now. I come from a very conservative Christian upbringing and I love that she is more experienced than me. My girlfriend likes to tie me up. I’m a college gymnast so I have very defined muscles. They are a huge turn on for my girlfriend, which I guess explains why she likes to see me struggle against the rope. I get real turned on too when I’m tied up. Sometimes she teases my penis and testicles with a feather or a piece of leather, which drives me wild. I’m worried though, because I think this is gonna warp me somehow. Do you think this is perverted? Why is it so much fun?

Ahhh yeah Jake, I do think it’s perverted. I think your girlfriend is a big fat pervert and I think you’re still a little tiny pervert, but well on your way to being a big fat pervert, just like your girlfriend. So YAY for that!

bondage236And why is this bondage thing so much fun? It’s such a blast because it’s perverted, nasty and forbidden, silly! One can only guess what your fundamentalist Christian mom and dad would think about their star athlete son trussed up like a thanksgiving turkey while a considerably older dominatrix punishes his family jewels. I fear this apple has fallen a great distance from the tree, right Jake? I absolutely love it!

Bondage is fun for you because you have to relinquish all your male privileged, Christian, preppy frat boy control to this unlikely kinky lady friend of yours. And what’s even better, you let her have her way with you. I have a feeling you’re not telling us everything about what she does to you when you’re all tied up. I’d be willing to guess there is a lot more perversion here than meets the eye. Not that that’s a bad thing, necessarily. I think it can be very therapeutic as well as amazingly hot to be completely helpless and in the control of another.

For a dominatrix, like your girlfriend, there is, as you say, the visual aspect to bondage. I think she’d agree, there’s nothing sexier then young masculine, muscular male flesh wrapped in ropes while having his cock and balls available for discipline. It’s the ultimate form of objectification. And, I might add, that you guys are turning all of society’s conventions — particularly the sacred “male as top” thing — on their head. YOU GO!

This has got to turn your crank, on some base psychological level too. I would so love to know how you and your girlfriend met. How she introduced you to all this pervy stuff. And more importantly, how you came to submit so unequivocally. That’s the real story here.bondage237

Jake, you are on the cutting edge. I think you have some sense as to how radical your play really is, don’t you? And I think it’s the radical nature of your play that gives you pause, right? It’s not the actual bondage, discipline, and possible humiliation that concerns you as much as you feel like you are losing your moral moorings. Nothing about what you are currently experiencing at the hand of this woman has any connection to the life you were brought up in. That has to be a bit of a jolt, which makes it all the more enticing. And there is virtually no turning back, is there? Once you’ve tasted the sweetness of surrender, vanilla will never again be enough.

Trust me, none of this makes you a bad person. On the contrary, if you embrace and integrate all this new information about yourself and live your life with authenticity and integrity, it will make you exemplary.

I do have one fear, however. I fear that one-day you will begin to second guess your harmless submissive eroticism and cave to the dictates of the popular culture. The worst case scenario would be for you to continue to enjoy your BDSM lifestyle on Saturday nights, then rush off to church on Sunday morning to join the choir of sanctimonious hypocrites who do one thing in private, but who publicly endorse and promote a sex-negative message of repression and denial. That, my friend, would be criminal…and a real perversion.

Good luck

In Defense of My Small Penis

By Ant Smith

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A study released this week informs us that the average penis size worldwide is 5.2 inches long when erect. According to the BJUI, the urology journal, which published the findings, this should help to “reassure the large majority of men that the size of their penis is in the normal range.”

I’m sure it does, but that doesn’t mean these results are all good news: My life does not change one bit waking up to find that, today, I am only 1.2 inches below average, as opposed to the whopping 1.8 inch discrepancy of yesterday.

I suppose this whole exercise of laboriously measuring 15,521 penises—both flaccid and hard—demonstrates that, as a society, we do still possess the ability to obsess about size. ( I’m open to that accusation myself.) So, whatever else is said, I’m happy that we’re all talking about penis size in an open, honest, nonjudgmental, serious way. Which we all are, right?

And yes, another positive factor—helpfully pointed out by the folk at BJUI—is that those worried about their average-sized dick being small no longer have cause to worry. Because, at five inches, it’s not small; it’s average. From now on, when someone tells you that your average dick is small, it’s abundantly clear that the problem is in their perception, not your equipment.

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However, I’m unconvinced that second point holds up. For the man with penis size anxiety is a man who takes an enormous amount of convincing. Every time he hears a kindly lady state, “That’s not small,” he gives a blank stare and thinks, Thank you. I wish that were true.’

A penis can’t be measured by inches on a stick—a penis is as small as a man’s confidence betrays it to be, or else as small as the imagination of the partner he is with. We see new research emerging regularly, seemingly always driving down the international standard of “acceptable dick.” But this has never helped—and will never help—a single soul.

At the same time, we find ourselves confronted with language like “average” and “the normal range.” This implies that the rest of us are in the abnormal range, a polarization that doesn’t serve anyone very well. A polarization, in fact, that immediately draws my mind to a solemn story of penis size anxiety leading to teenage suicide. Size is not a mark on a ruler; it really is a state of mind.

There is no doubt in my mind that you know a man of around my stature, or less. Think for a moment who it could be. Your dad? Your brother? Your roommate? Wouldn’t you be angry to see someone point a finger at their penis and shriek, telling them, “Ew, you’re abnormal!” Draw upon the strength of your familial and social bonds and recognize this thinking as the trouble that it is.

When a man suffers size anxiety there is only one solution. Enlargement methods (pills, devices, surgeries) will never yield a result that ends in happiness—though bankruptcy, anguish, and physical deformation are definitely in the cards, if that sounds like your vibe. Likewise, comparison to others will never ease a troubled mind; you’ll go mad questioning the veracity of the data or the quality of the interpretations.

The only answer is to accept who you are.

While these surveys may seem to be devised to help that, they simply do not. Nobody quite believes them. At the rate they crop up, saying different things each time, they don’t even seem to believe themselves. They polarize society into those who are normal, and those who are abnormal. Even if they don’t quite encourage an obsession with size, they certainly endorse the idea that size is a necessary concern.

“But I have to feel something,” a lady recently said to me in an interview on the topic. And I quite agree. But I believe technique and imagination can excite a greater response from a greater expanse of flesh than any dick, of any size, could ever hope to.

Complete Article HERE!

10 Topics Gay Guys Never Discuss With Their Parents

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When you’re gay, it’s hard to talk to your parents about certain things. No matter how accepting or open-minded they may be, gay relationships, gay culture, and the mechanics of gay sex will stay a mystery to them — unless, of course, one of your parents is gay — or both.

Anyone who has been out of the closet for any amount of time knows that “gay” is more than a label to define your sexuality. It is a core part of your identity, and words like “queer,” “bi,” and “LGBTQ” constitute a significant part of your life — your people, your language, and your interests, both politically and socially. These words define a culture that our straight parents will never fully know. They may watch softened depictions of it on Modern Family, but they have never sung drunk karaoke at your favorite gay watering hole or queened out to Britney. They’ve never danced in a sea of sweaty men till 6 a.m. and they have no idea what Nasty Pig is.

Much of our culture can be hard to explain. Poppers and anal plugs will probably never warrant a conversation with mom, but other conversations — about PrEP and nonmonogamy, for example — can lead to greater understandings. Here’s a list of all those things gay men don’t talk about with their parents, with a small smattering of advice on how to do so!

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1. Douching

The thought of you having sex with another man crossed your parents’ minds from the moment they found out you were gay. Though they would never admit it, they still wonder about it from time to time. The image flashes when they’re trying to go to sleep, when they’re taking the dog out for a walk. Like many straight people, they may be clueless as to how it all works and may mistakenly believe it to be a very messy business. But douching — the process of cleaning out the anal cavity before sex — is one of those off-limits topics, one I would never bring with to them.

One way to hint at it without having to say anything is to have your parents over to your place for a night where there is, regrettably, only one shower. You must conveniently forget to unscrew the metal douching hose from its attachment at the side of your shower head. I’m not saying you should picture your mother naked, but envision her standing in your shower, looking through your assortment of overpriced sugar scrubs, charcoal-infused body bars, and organic, woodsy-smelling shampoos, and frowning over that dangling hose with the phallic-shaped metal attachment at the end. Then, hopefully, it will click, and she’ll deduce that your sex is not quite as messy as she thought.

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2. Poppers

When I’m talking to guys on Scruff whose profiles read “No PnP,” I usually ask, “Do you use poppers?” Most frequently, the answer is, “Sure. Love poppers.”

Poppers, while still a drug, are so mild that many gay men do not consider them in the same “sex drug” category that Tina (crystal meth) and G fall into. They’ve become staples of gay sex, gay culture, and gay history. We’ve been using them since the ’70s for their particular power of relaxing the anal sphincter for a few minutes, just long enough to get sex revved up. But if you try to explain the process of inhaling alkyl nitrites — video head cleaner — to your parents, they will likely conjure the imagine of junkies snorting glue in the school supplies aisle.

As with many items on this list, you could make the reasonable argument that poppers — like most facets of gay sex — never need to be brought up to your parents, since your sex life is not any of their business. But if they ever wonder why you have a few small amber bottles of some chemical that smells like nail polish in the freezer, poppers may inadvertently become a discussion topic in the kitchen.

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3. Fisting

Even if you don’t do it, you know someone who does. Fisting has long lost its shock value in gay circles, and has crossed over from dark sex dungeons into the arena of mainstream gay life. Many guys who aren’t regularly seen in leather harnesses now enjoy fisting. But imagine explaining to Dad how some guys take hands (and more) up the anus — especially when the idea of taking an erect penis up there is already outside the realm of his imagination. Many people, gay and straight, do not believe — or have not accepted — that fisting, when done safely and correctly, does not create long-term damage and can be an incredibly passionate and enjoyable sexual experience.

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4. Drag

Even though words like “slay” and “werq” have broken into the straight lexicon — primarily thanks to RuPaul’s Drag Race — the art and culture of drag is still a queer creation and belongs to us. Straight people are welcome to enjoy drag shows at their local gay bar, so long as they tip, but theirs is not a history of disenfranchisement and oppression, abuse and homelessness, poverty and sex work — a queer history in which drag emerged as an act of self-empowerment.

Drag can be hard to explain to your parents. It was hard to explain to mine. My parents assumed that all gay men dress up in women’s clothes and sing diva power ballads, so the concept of drag was indistinguishable from the rest of gay life to them. They could not appreciate drag’s cultural importance because it’s not their culture, and they did not understand its complicated history with the transgender movement because they do not understand, and refuse to understand, the concept of transgender identity.

To them, as well as to many others, drag artists and trans people are the same thing — a deeply incorrect assumption that has led to something of a modern cultural rift between trans activists and the drag world. The two camps have an overlapped history, since many trans folks first discovered their true identities through drag. In the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, when the concept of “transgender” was not as developed as it is today, many transgender people could only express themselves through drag art. As our cultural understandings both of drag and transgender identity have evolved, the two have split, and the burden has fallen on many transgender folks and trans activists to highlight and explain the significant difference between the two. Many people, my parents included, consider a trans woman to be “a man in a dress” — essentially a drag performer — and the phrase has become a terribly offensive slur against transgender women.

Take your parents to a drag show. Give them bills to tip the queens. (This assumes that your parents, unlike mine, are wiling to set foot in a gay bar.) Let them see drag in all its ferocity and kitschy wonder, then afterward, walking home, highlight the fact that what they saw was performance art, a toss-up between cabaret and camp. Explain to them that even if a transgender person does drag, the drag is the performance, but their trans identity is not. Regardless of what someone does onstage, transgender identity is a person’s authentic identity. “While drag is done for an audience, coming out as transgender is done solely for oneself,” a trans friend once told me. “And it is just as healthy and important to do as any coming-out, any form of self-acceptance that your mental health depends on.”

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5. Bears, Otters, and Pups, Oh My!

The labels will be the bane and the delight of your gay life. Gay men have long established the bizarre practice of defining and stereotyping ourselves into labels based on body type and sex practices. In the gay lexicon, burly, hairy men over a certain age are “bears.” Young bears are “cubs.” Skinnier, scruffier guys are “otters.” Young, lean, hairless guys are “twinks.” Guys into puppy play (a kink scene that was listed on my list of 30 kinky terms every gay man should know) who enjoy the “pup” role are “pups,” both in and out of the scene. Guys who prefer condomless sex are “pigs.” Tall, skinny gay guys are “giraffes” (a lesser-known label).

How did we come up with these? Regardless of where they came from, and in spite of their much-debated value, the labels are likely here to stay. While they are common parts of our speak, your parents would probably be confused to learn that you think bears are sexy or that your boyfriend is a puppy.

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6. Nonmonogamy

Nonmonogamy works out for gay men. In fact, this writer believes that nonmonogamous pairings, open and semi-open relationships, and relationships with relaxed sexual parameters are ideal for us — much more so than the monogamous alternative. The concept of nonmonogamy may seem foreign to our parents. Having a frank conversation about the parameters of your particular gay relationship with your parents may be awkward, but it can lead to something good. Explaining the distinction between sex and love may not leave everyone in agreement, especially if your parents are religious, conservative, or both. But at the very least, it will be an illuminating window into your life.

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7. HIV

Gay men are still disproportionately affected by HIV compared to our straight counterparts. While no one needs to come out as HIV-positive, least of all to their parents, many poz gay men choose to do so at some point, for various reasons. Coming out to my parents about my status was hard; I did it the same morning an op-ed I wrote about coming out as poz was published in The Advocate last December.

Many of our parents remember the early days of the AIDS epidemic, so the news can be hard for them. They may mistakenly believe that the outlook for an HIV-positive person in 2016 is the same as it was 30 years ago. Most well-informed gay men, particularly those who live in urban areas, are up to speed on modern HIV care and know that with antiretroviral treatment, HIV has become a livable chronic illness that is more preventable today than ever before. Our parents aren’t accustomed to seeing testing trucks outside of gay clubs or HIV pamphlets disseminated in chic gayborhoods, so they will probably need some information to alleviate the initial fear. Give them resources and time.

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8. PrEP

There may never be a need to talk about your once-daily Truvada pill to your parents, but if they see the medicine bottle by the sink one day when the family is sharing a beach condo, you need to have answers ready.

PrEP is the once-a-day pill regimen for HIV-negative people that has proven extremely effective at preventing HIV transmission. Statistically, it’s more reliable than regular condom use. Upon initial explanation, your parents will likely respond the way many have responded to PrEP and see it as an excuse to have raucous unprotected sex. Even if you are having raucous condomless sex, you will have to explain to them that you are still protected from HIV.

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9. Top/Bottom

Just as your parents have been envisioning your sex from the moment they first learned you were gay, they have been wondering “what you do.” When/if they meet your boyfriend, they will wonder “what he does.” They won’t say it aloud, but they wonder, late at night, after the dinner dishes have been put away, whether you’re the top or the bottom. (I always find it remarkable how straight people assume every gay man is one or the other — versatile guys don’t exist in straight visions of gay sex.)

Like douching, this is one I will never talk about to my parents, no matter how chummy we get.

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10. Kink

My parents know I am gay. They know I am having sex. They know I date and have sex with other men. But they do not know and will not be told how much I love having used underwear stuffed in my mouth and my wrists tied together with duct tape. The only time I ever came close to explaining my kink practices was at the beach a few years ago when I realized there were still red caning lines on my butt and legs. I lay in the tanning bed to darken the skin around the marks and opted for a pair of baggier, less flattering board shorts.

While kink is not restricted to gay men, we have certainly been longtime practitioners of the rougher arts. Like drag, leather was originally our thing and has by and large remained so. Kink and fetish play are things that gay men of all stripes can at least be familiar with, and have probably dabbled in at one time or another. But it is one area of gay life that our parents may have a hard time distinguishing from rape and abuse, perversion and degeneracy. Explaining it can be tough.

Its accouterments can be hard to hide — all those ass toys and leather gear require storage, and that sling in the bedroom cannot reasonably be disguised as a place to hang laundry. Have a regimen prepared for surprise visits and dinners, and if you enjoy getting backlashes or caning down your legs, try not to do so before a family beach trip.

Complete Article HERE!

An Instructional Guide to Kinks, Fetishes, and the World of BDSM

dyson

This is a guide to various kinks and fetishes that are found in the world of sex. They can be used in your roleplay as your characters turn on’s and turn off’s, or a secret that they have. Or maybe it is something to has shaped them. I have not only discovered various ones and experimented with them personally, but have had exposure to them. Master/Slave RP’s are taking off and I am one of few who will touch on the subject. There is a lot of fear in this world because things can go very VERY wrong very fast. How do I know? I have been there. I have been the observer and the recipient of things going wrong. So this is to help you know and learn about the basics. I will go over some fetishes that are often blown out of proportion and also explain the dynamic of a Dom/sub and Master/slave relationship. I do not claim to be an expert. This is just what I have learned and absorbed from being in the scene for several years.

Now first off this isn’t a way to say “I can do this to someone without asking first” DO NOT EVER DO THAT! No one asks you to do something to them unless they have given you verbal or written permission (That is witnessed) to do the things I will discuss. It is never EVER okay to do this to a man or a woman and anyone who says otherwise has not be in the position where their no’s are not listened.

Kinks are defined as socially acceptable forms of fetishism’s. Where as Fetish is something you worship, fantasize over completely. Both of these are found in the overlapping work of BDSM (Bondage, Domination, Sadism and Masochism). They can vary to the smallest things to the biggest, weirdest things you would ever think of. Almost every town around the world has a community of people who participate in these various acts. The community often meets to talk, hangout and have coffee and throw events for their members. These events include play parties, classes and munches (hanging out in a vanilla setting – vanilla being normal).

The first rule in the community of BDSM, Kink and Fetish is Consent. No matter what it is. You consent with your fellow party(ies) about what is occurring because everything needs to be Safe, Sane and Consensual. You need to establish the basics of what is going to happen, what your limits are (Both soft – so what you aren’t to keen on trying but if you trust your partner enough, you will do it – and hard – so no way in hell you are doing that). You need to establish a signal, be it verbal or physical, to indicate when you need it to stop or change. Often the word Yellow and Red are used and for physical signals, number of blinks or a hand gesture. And you need to express when you do not feel comfortable. If you feel uncomfortable with what is going to be done to you or that you are going to do YOU HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO SAY NO!

That being said! Let us start.

There are many different kinks and fetishes that can be found in the world. These can include simple ones of being tied up, blindfolds, feathers, women (or men) wearing heels, eating food off of one another, biting, hair pulling, uniforms, long hair (or short hair)… the list is long because in truth there are many and I am not going to list them all. Then there are the more complex, more intense ones. These include needle play, CBT, cupping, impact play (This includes paddles, whips, floggers, hair brushes, hands, wooden spoons, canes and any other instrument you can spank with), chastity devices, latex, gagging… again the lists are long.

Impact Play

Impact Play

Impact Play:

  • Impact Play is the use of a hard (or soft) object by the top to strike the bottom repetitively.
  • Instruments that can be used in Impact Play include: Flogger, Cane, Paddle, Whip, Riding Crop, Wooden Spoon, belt, hair brush, hand, etc.
  • Impact play usually occurs on the buttocks and thighs. It is often advised to not strike anywhere that isn’t cushioned with fat. This includes the kidney area, neck, tailbone, hipbones, head and all joints.
  • When using whips, one has to be careful to avoid a wrap around effect. This is when it coils around an appendage and can either cause excessive pain or something more horrible.

 

Sensory Play

Sensory Play

Sensory Play:

  • Sensory Play is limiting one sense to enhance the other senses.
  • Sensory Play includes blind folds, ear muffs/plugs, large boxes over the head, wax, feathers, ice, silk, and anything else that plays with the senses.
  • These can be used often without much worry, though wax can cause burns ans pain at the same time. Sensory play always involves signals, either verbal or physical and the top must respect when the bottom says stop (or red).

 

Restraining:

  • Restraining in kink and BDSM is restricting a limb(s) from movement or use. This includes the arms, feet, legs, hands, neck and whole body if desired.

    bondage003.jpg

    Bondage

  • Items often used in restraining include rope, duct tape, packing tape, industrial roles of saran wrap, vacuum bags, spreaders, chains, bondage tape, ties, long pieces of fabric and anything that can tie have a not tied in it.
  • With rope, there are various ways to it. There is just simple knots and there is also costume style (full body binds). There is also shibari, which is a Japanese form of restraint with rope. Both forms can take loads of time to complete to create beautiful pieces on a man or woman’s body. Costume Style x Shibari Style x
  • When binding with ANYTHING you do not (And I repeat NOT) want to cut of circulation to any area. You want to be able to place two fingers comfortably in between the restraint used and the skin. If you can’t, it is to tight and will eventually lead to the discoloration of skin and numbness and blood flow begins to slow.
  • Some people enjoy having this though but it is ill advised to do because nerve damage can occur.

 

Other Kinks/Fetishes That Need to be Known and Understood:

  • There are many kinks and fetishes in the world but some are not understood as they should be. This is because the media has made them out to be worse than they are or people are not educated enough to understand them. These include: needle play, voyeurism, exhibition, humiliation, role playing (Not like what we do! I will explain…), artistic cutting.
  • Needle Play: Needle play is the use of sterile needles to do artistic works on the human body.
    Needle Play

    Needle Play

    The gauge of the needle varies to what the bottom can handle but usually a gauge between 17 and 20 is used. This is always done in a sterile environment with proper precautions taken. This includes the wearing of gloves, a bin to dispose of the used needles and something for the marks left from the needles. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of this being done to you than you have every right to deny it. Some people enjoy having needles put in to all parts of their body, literally. But you are not expected to do it. And you do not have to observe it either. But to some this is very zen.

  • Voyeurism, Exhibition and Humiliation: I am grouping these together because they often go hand and hand together. Some people do get turned on by doing things in public. Be it having a spanking, walked down the street nude and leashed or, sorry to be so blunt about it, fucked in a public place. People do enjoy this sorta of thing. To many of us this would traumatize us and you have every right to tell the Top that you will not do that.
  • Role playing: Role playing in BDSM is indeed playing out different roles, which might include: Doctor/Nurse, Priest/Nun, Teacher/Student, Doctor/Patient, Guard/Prisoner… really there is no limit to what can occur. This are all sorts of creations that people come up with and it is always between two consenting adults.
  • Artistic Cutting: This is in shape, form or way the same as cutting that people do when they are depressed or that. This is done with a sterile razor or scalpel that is disposed of after and done to create a design drawn out and planned. It tends to permanent so it takes a lot of for thought and decision to do before hand. The top has to take plenty of care not to cut to deep in to the skin in order to keep the nerves and veins safe. It is a very delicate process and, once again, you do not have to do it if you do not feel safe doing it.

Relationship Dynamics:

  • There are various relationship dynamics that can be found in BDSM, Kink, and the Fetish community. A few are as follows:Master/slave or Mistress/Slave
    Dominant/sub or Domme/sub
    Top/Bottom
    Daddy/baby-girl/boy or Mommy/baby-boy/girl
    Owner/pet (This can be a puppy, kitten, pony or whatever else one desires.)
  • All relationships have a contract. This states what the sub/slave/bottom/baby-girl/boy will do and have done to them. But it also stipulates what the Dom/Domme/Master/Mistress/Mommy/Daddy/Top will do for the sub/slave/bottom/baby-girl/boy. Some examples of what would be include in a contract is limits, comfort time, expectations from both sides (weight lose for health, outfits, curfews, etc), safety regulations, etc. Anything to ensure the safety, sanity and respect of BOTH parties is put in to the contracts.
  • Also you will note that I have capitalized the Dominant role and lower case for the submissive
    full out collar

    full out collar

    necklace

    necklace

    role. I don’t know exactly why this is done but in my humble opinion it is because the Dominant role is in charge and has the sense of power while the submissive role is lacking power and has given up control to the Dominant role.

  • Master(Mistress)/slave: This is the most strict relationship that a relationship in the BDSM world has. The Master or Mistress has complete control over what occurs in the slaves life – what is eaten, when and where they sleep, who they see and how often they see these people, where and how money is spent and even chores. Often these relationships are long standing and result in marriage or partnership. The slave however is not the only one who makes a commitment in this relationship. The Master or Mistress agrees to take care of the slave, to help them and comfort them if need be and to protect them. A slave is always wearing a collar. They can be a full out collar, a slim collar, a necklace, a bracelet, or a ring. The giving of one of these items is a very serious ordeal and is often done in a ceremony with friends from the community they are in. The slave wears their collar (or other piece of jewelry that claims they are a slave) 24/7. The also may have multiple collars – one to wear in public, one to be worn at home and one to be worn in play, with a combination of any of these three. They rarely remove it – only if they are showering and the collar is made of leather or if they are changing from an informal one to a formal one.
  • Dom(Domme)/sub: This is the most common relationship dynamic found in the BDSM
    kitty play

    Kitty Play

    puppy play

    Puppy Play

    community from what I have seen. It is similar to a Master/slave relationship but they are not as strict and direct. They also have a contract drawn up with expectations from both sides as well as what the limits are for the submissive. A sub can receive a collar similar to what a slave receives but they are not obligated to wear it all the time. It is only worn in play or at home usually. However, some Doms may seem like they are more of the Master type as they are firm and hard with their submissive and they refer to themselves as a Dom. It is because of how they are in play and not how they come off. Even the hardest man (or woman) may be a sub in truth.

  • Top/bottom: This is the center and general names for people who play. Not every Dom is a Top and not every sub is a bottom. These are merely the positions that are taken in play.
  • The top being the one who does things to the bottom, which usually is involved in any type of play that is done. The Top ensures that all things are safe throughout the entire play session. They are to check on the bottom to ensure that they are okay, that they want to continue on, to ask if they want to take it a step further and to comfort them at the end of the session. The bottom is to tell the top how they feel throughout the whole think. If the bottom at any point wishes to stop and says so by speaking the safe word, than the top must comply. There is no ifs, ands or buts. THE TOP WILL STOP WHEN THE BOTTOM SAYS RED OR WHATEVER SAFE WORD HAS BEEN DESIGNATED TO STOP. The bottom in a sense does have complete control over the session because if they can not do anymore than that is it. The top DOES NOT continue after the safe word is said.

    Pony Play

    Pony Play

  • Daddy/baby-girl/boy or Mommy/baby-boy/girl: This is a softer approach to a BDSM relationship. There is often a lot of cuddling and softer things than what you would find in a Dom/sub relationship. The baby-girl/boy does have expectation to and doesn’t have to wear a collar unless they desire to. It is just a softer dynamic and is in no way related to incest. This is two adults who consent to these roles.
  • Petplay: Petplay involves the taking on an appearance of an animal. The most common ones being puppy, kitty and pony. The animal often has a human owner but in puppy and kitty play, it is possible for both people in the relationship to be the animal, but there is one who is an Alpha. So they take on the Dominant role. There is the costumes and accessories for this sorta of thing available for purchase or you can make your own items.

“But you may ask; why not? I am the Top. The Dom. A true Master.” Really? Cram it! And if I hear you say that again I will take a book to your head to beat some sense in to you! There is no true Master or true Dom. Safety is key and if you can not respect that then you should be reprimanded by everyone and anyone. No matter the dynamic, you take care of one another because that is what a good relationship does. Nurture the relationship and let this guide aid you in creating a good SAFE dynamic between you and others.

If anyone wishes for me to expand on anything, just ask. Maybe I will do a guide with just one thing or another. This is just a summery.

Complete Article HERE!