I Am A Barista By Day & A BDSM Teacher By Night

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By Kasandra Brabaw

To the people who come through the coffee shop where she works every day, Afrika is simply a barista. But to the BDSM community members who frequent the dungeon where she works every night, she’s Envy Adams, a “dom/sub/switchy sado-masochist” and all-around “kinky girl.”

In her dungeon life, Afrika is able to play with gender identity and power dynamics. She feels masculine and dominant in her everyday life, but is able to be more feminine and shy or submissive when she’s negotiating a BDSM scene with one of her play partners. “In my normal day, I’m wearing joggers and a button up and my backwards hats. And now I’m shopping for latex skirts and nipple tassels,” she says. In a new video for Refinery29, we see Afrika make the transition from masculine barista to hyper-feminine BDSM dungeon worker. As she shops for a wig and outfit for her alter ego, she explains how the BDSM community allows her to explore her sexuality and gender identity, and why consent is so essential for BDSM play.


 
“There is no sex involved, it’s just all play,” Afrika explains about the dungeons. The fact that BDSM doesn’t always involve sex — which Afrika defines as touching genitals — is only the first stereotype she breaks. She also shatters the idea that the BDSM community doesn’t really care about consent, given that the whole point is intentionally inflicting pain. In reality, people who practice BDSM are often way more skilled at asking for consent throughout an intimate experience than are people who don’t have kinky sex. “[BDSM is] a very consensual community. It’s an understanding, non-judgmental community,” Afrika says. “Gender and sexuality is not a big, important issue there. It’s all about how you treat the person, and your consenting and negotiating of the scene that you’re going to partake in.”

Without ongoing consent, Afrika wouldn’t be hitting her play partners, or tying them up, or doing anything else with them. It’s also very important to her that there’s never alcohol involved in any of her BDSM scenes, because alcohol blurs lines of consent. “Being sober during a scene is super critical,” she says. “You don’t want to negotiate anything under the influence.”

So while it may seem to non-kinky folks that BDSM is a free-for-all, do-whatever-you-want kind of sexual experience, that couldn’t be further from the truth. As Mistress Yin, a BDSM dominatrix, told Refinery29 previously: “Even if you’re saying ‘Yes, I want to be placed into bondage,’ it does not mean that you’re saying yes to all the different things that could happen to you while you’re in bondage. There has to be so much really honest communication with your partner.”

Complete Article HERE!

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What Monogamous Couples Can Learn From Polyamorous Relationships

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By Samantha Cooney

Polyamory — having more than one consensual sexual or emotional relationship at once — has in recent years emerged on television, mainstream dating sites like OkCupid and even in research. And experts who have studied these kinds of consensual non-monogomous relationships, say they have unique strengths that anyone can learn from.

Consensual non-monogamy can include polyamory, swinging and other forms of open relationships, according to Terri Conley, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Michigan who has studied consensual non-monogamy. While there aren’t comprehensive statistics about how many people in America have polyamorous relationships, a 2016 study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy found that one in five people in the U.S. engage in some form of consensual non-monogamy throughout their lives.

But these relationships can still be shrouded in stigma. And people in polyamorous relationships often keep them a secret from friends and family.

“Often they’re scared of losing their jobs, not getting a job, losing family or friends who won’t respect them anymore or scared that their children will be taken away,” says Carrie Jenkins, a professor of philosophy at the University of British Columbia and the author of What Love Is: And What It Could Be.

But Jenkins, who participates in polyamorous relationships herself, cautions that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to relationships. “One impression that I don’t want to give is that I think polyamorous relationships are better for everyone,” she says. “We’re all very different from one another.”

Still, experts who study relationships say polyamorous relationships can provide useful lessons for monogamous couples. Here are a few areas where, researchers say, polyamorous couples are particularly successful:

Communication

Successful monogamous relationships require communication about desires, needs and problems, says Joanne Davila, a professor of clinical psychology at Stony Brook University who studies monogamous relationships. And this is one area where polyamorous couples excel.

A May 2017 study published in PLOS One noted that people in consensual non-monogamous relationships communicate to “negotiate agreements, schedules, and boundaries, and to work through the kinds of problems that emerge when negotiating polyamory, amongst the typical relational problems that can emerge in any relationship.” The study found that polyamorous individuals tend to communicate better with their primary partner than secondary partners — because “greater communication may be necessary for primary relationships to endure while other relationships are pursued.”

This is one area particularly relevant to monogamous couples, according to Benjamin Karney, a professor of social psychology at UCLA who researches monogamous relationships. “I don’t see studying non-monogamous couples as studying a totally separate country with no relevance to monogamy at all,” he says. “Consensually non-monogamous couples might have a lot to teach everybody about negotiating desire and competing interests.”

Defining the relationship

Polyamorous partners often define boundaries and form agreements about what each relationship should look like, and Conley says these agreements can be beneficial to monogamous relationships, where partners might assume they’re on the same page about what monogamy means.

When deciding to enter a relationship, “there might be a conversation beyond that about what that means: does it mean we’re monogamous? What does it mean to be monogamous?” Conley says. “For some people, even mere thoughts of attraction to someone else can be defined as cheating. For other people, anything but intercourse is OK.”

Polyamorous relationships can take many different forms. Sometimes, partners will know each other and form a family-like network sometimes called “kitchen table polyamory“, according to Kate Kincaid, a psychologist at Tucson Counseling Associates who works with polyamorous couples. Another style, known as “parallel polyamory,” means that all of the partners are aware of each other, but have little to no contact, Kincaid explains.

Kincaid says that she works with couples to figure out which model is best for them — though she often recommends kitchen table polyamory because it’s often more efficient for all parties to communicate directly. She says that one of the biggest challenges she encounters with polyamorous couples is time management.

“Everyone jokes that love is not a finite resource, but time is,” Kincaid says. “You can have multiple partners you want to see a lot — you have to negotiate time and space to do that.”

Practicing safe sex

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that individuals in polyamorous relationships were more likely to practice safe sex than those who cheat in monogamous relationships. The study showed that monogamous individuals often consider monogamy a safe sex practice in and of itself, so “sexually unfaithful individuals may reject safer sex strategies because of the presence of a stable relationship.”

Kincaid says that she works with clients to fill out a questionnaire about what sexual acts they’d be comfortable with them doing with other partners to make sure they’re on the same page. Amy Moors, an assistant professor of psychology at Chapman University who conducted the 2012 study with Conley, says consensually non-monogamous couples often make explicit agreements with partners to use condoms and get information about STI history with each new partner.

“They have to navigate the sexual health of a bunch of people,” Moors says. “Implicit in that is that there’s very clear conversations about sexual health that are happening in consensual non-monogamous relationships that may not be happening in monogamous relationships.”

But in monogamous relationships, couples often “stop using condoms as a covert message of intimacy: now, we’re really dating,” Moors says. But if a monogamous individual decides to cheat on their partner, there’s no guarantee he or she will practice safe sex.

Managing jealousy

You might think that having multiple romantic partners would elicit more jealousy than being in a monogamous relationship. But according to a a 2017 study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, that’s not necessarily the case.

The study, which surveyed 1,507 people in monogamous relationships and 617 people in consensual non-monogamous relationships, found that people in consensual non-monogamous relationships, including those who engaged in polyamory and swinging, scored lower on jealousy and higher on trust than those in monogamous relationships.

“People in monogamous relationships were really off the charts high on jealousy. They were more likely to check their partners’ phones, go through their emails, their handbags,” Moors says. “But people in consensual non-monogamous relationships were really low on this.”

Davila, who also works as a couples therapist, says that she’s observed monogamous couples avoid addressing jealousy altogether, whereas consensual non-monogamous couples might be more vocal with their feelings. “In consensual non-monogamous relationships, jealousy is expected,” Davila says. “But they see what feelings arise and actively work to navigate them in a proactive way.”

Maintaining a sense of independence

Another area where polyamorous couples tend to excel, according to Kincaid, is allowing their partners to maintain a sense of independence outside of their relationship. Conley and Moors found in their 2017 study that monogamous couples are more likely to sacrifice their own needs for the sake of their relationship, while polyamorous couples put their own personal fulfillment first.

“The biggest thing that I appreciate about poly people is that they focus on knowing what their needs are and get their needs met in creative ways — relying more on friends or multiple partners instead of putting it all on one person,” Kincaid says. “Once [monogamists] get into a relationship, they tend to value their romantic partner above everyone else.”

She suggests that doing the former allows your relationships to be deeper and can enable you to get a lot more support from your loved ones.

Karney says that he could also see how having your needs met by others might strengthen consensual non-monogamous relationships.

“If we’re a married monogamous couple, we have to figure out what to do about our problems. We’re either going to avoid them, resolve them or break up,” Karney says. “But if I’m in a non-monogamous relationship and I have the same problem, I might not have to resolve it if I’m not getting all my needs met from you.”

Complete Article HERE!

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How to Have ‘The Talk’ With Your Queer Kid

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By Kate Ryan

I never had The Talk with my parents. We shared the assumption I was having safe, straight sex because I never suggested to them I was doing anything otherwise. So, you can imagine their surprise when I came out as queer at the age of 26. After spending the day in downtown Los Angeles for the Day Without a Woman strike, I’d come home overheated and exhausted. I didn’t expect to open up to my mom when she called and I picked up the phone. When she pressed me for a reason why I was breaking up with my boyfriend of five years, I hadn’t intended to blurt out, “I’m gay.” But that’s exactly what I did.

All she said at first was, “Oh.” A moment passed. Then another. I lay on my bed staring at cracks in the ceiling’s ancient plaster. At last, she said, “That makes sense.”

Even though my mom has been talking about wanting grandchildren since I was old enough to understand reproduction as a concept, as a family, we never talked about the intersection of sex, identity, and relationships—or intimacy at all for that matter. It wasn’t until I was much older that I understood how isolating this lack of open communication had been, how my parents’ assumptions—though rarely vocalized and largely invisible—weighed me down with expectations that made me feel strange and alone when I couldn’t conform.

The messages we don’t receive as kids end up being just as important as those we do. I get that talking to kids about sex can sometimes feel like threading needles with your eyes closed, but for me, having any kind of discussion about the sexual spectrum would’ve been enormously helpful. After talking to friends and experts, I’ve gathered some ways that straight parents can connect with their kids in a way that allows for safe sexual exploration and expression, despite their fears and discomfort.

Pay Attention to How You Talk About Gender

When talking to a queer kid—or any kid for that matter—avoid gendering your language. For instance, instead of speaking in terms of future husbands and wives, refer to future partners and gender-neutral spouses. Ask your kids if they’re crushing on any people at school as opposed to boys or girls. Kids are better at picking up on subtext than we give them credit for, making these small shifts in language incredibly important. While it wasn’t her intention, all my mom’s talk about grandchildren made me feel guilty for entertaining any dreams beyond marrying a man and raising children.

React Without Judgment

“Children will open up about their feelings only if they feel safe doing so,” says Dr. Ron Holt, a psychiatrist and author of PRIDE: You Can’t Heal If You’re Hiding from Yourself. “Using open-ended questions and following their lead is the best way to lead to a healthy and honest discussion about their sexuality.” If your kid mentions that they like someone of the same sex, react nonjudgmentally and and accept that your kid’s feelings or attractions are real and valid. It’s all too common for queer kids to try to ignore their sexual preferences because a parent told them their same-sex attractions were just a phase or a normal part of being straight.

Exploring romantic relationships can be stressful at any age, and for queer kids, there can be the added pressure of having to clearly define their sexuality. Parents can lessen this burden by reassuring their kids the door is always open when it comes to matters of sex, sexuality, and identity. In households where this is the case, “children are much more likely to come to their parents when they are ready to discuss,” Dr. Holt says.

Go Beyond Mere Acceptance

It’s also worth going out of your way to let your kids know queerness is not just normal but something to be celebrated. In a discussion with Jason Black, a producer and LGBTQ activist, he stressed this point, telling me it’s about time we take the discussion beyond “If you’re gay, it’s OK” to something more along the lines of, “If you like a guy, or a girl, or both, here’s how to be safe and respectful of both yourself and that other person.” This is another way parents can pivot away from the misconception cisgendered heterosexuality is the default setting rather than one point on a vast spectrum, while also setting up a larger conversation about respect and consent.

Make It an Ongoing Conversation

While puberty is a classic time to open up the discussion about sex, you can softly start to approach the subject earlier depending on your kid and how curious they are about sex and identity. In Dr. Holt’s mind, there isn’t a wrong time to go about it, as long as you’re rising to the occasion when your child needs you for support and honest advice.

As a culture, we tend to think of it as one big discussion in which all questions are brought to the table and answered factory-line style. In reality, ongoing, casual conversations would be more helpful and less intimidating for both kids and parents—no matter where they fall on the sexual spectrum. There are plenty of online resources to help you out along the way. The CDC has tons of information for LGBTQ youth, as does PFLAG, an organization founded specifically for parents, friends, and allies of the LGBTQ community.

Don’t Worry About Getting Everything ‘Right’

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that straight parents can feel reassured knowing their love and willingness to learn mean more than their ability to master queer terminology. That day I came out to my mom, she told me I was like Julia Roberts in the seminal, egg-sampling scene from Runaway Bride. For those who can’t immediately conjure this scene, Roberts makes and eats eggs using every technique you can imagine after realizing she failed to form opinions of her own in a relentless quest to appease the men in her life. “You need to try all the eggs to know which kind you like,” my mom said, and despite the somewhat grotesque imagery, I knew she was listening and I was loved. Ultimately, that’s what counts.

Complete Article HERE!

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‘The king and his husband’: The gay history of British royals

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King Edward II was known for his close relationships with two men.

By Kayla Epstein

Ordinarily, the wedding of a junior member of the British royal family wouldn’t attract much global attention. But Lord Ivar Mountbatten’s has.

That’s because Mountbatten, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, is expected to wed James Coyle this summer in what has been heralded as the “first-ever” same-sex marriage in Britain’s royal family.

Perhaps what makes it even more unusual is that Mountbatten’s ex-wife, Penny Mountbatten, said she will give her former husband away.

Who says the royals aren’t a modern family?

Though Mountbatten and Coyle’s ceremony is expected to be small, it’s much larger in significance.

“It’s seen as the extended royal family giving a stamp of approval, in a sense, to same-sex marriage,” said Carolyn Harris, historian and author of “Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting.” “This marriage gives this wider perception of the royal family encouraging everyone to be accepted.”

But the union isn’t believed to be the first same-sex relationship in the British monarchy, according to historians. And they certainly couldn’t carry out their relationships openly or without causing intense political drama within their courts.

Edward II, who ruled from 1307-1327, is one of England’s less fondly remembered kings. His reign consisted of feuds with his barons, a failed invasion of Scotland in 1314, a famine, more feuding with his barons, and an invasion by a political rival that led to him being replaced by his son, Edward III. And many of the most controversial aspects of his rule – and fury from his barons – stemmed from his relationships with two men: Piers Gaveston and, later, Hugh Despenser.

Gaveston and Edward met when Edward was about 16 years old, when Gaveston joined the royal household. “It’s very obvious from Edward’s behavior that he was quite obsessed with Gaveston,” said Kathryn Warner, author of “Edward II: The Unconventional King.” Once king, Edward II made the relatively lowborn Gaveston the Earl of Cornwall, a title usually reserved for members of the royal family, “just piling him with lands and titles and money,” Warner said. He feuded with his barons over Gaveston, who they believed received far too much attention and favor.

Gaveston was exiled numerous times over his relationship with Edward II, though the king always conspired to bring him back. Eventually, Gaveston was assassinated. After his death, Edward “constantly had prayers said for (Gaveston’s) soul; he spent a lot of money on Gaveston’s tomb,” Warner said.

Several years after Gaveston’s death, Edward formed a close relationship with another favorite and aide, Hugh Despenser. How close? Walker pointed to the annalist of Newenham Abbey in Devon in 1326, who called Edward and Despenser “the king and his husband,” while another chronicler noted that Despenser “bewitched Edward’s heart.”

The speculation that Edward II’s relationships with these men went beyond friendship was fueled by Christopher Marlowe’s 16th-century play “Edward II”, which is often noted for its homoerotic portrayal of Edward II and Gaveston.

James VI and I, who referred to a man as his “wife” in a letter.

James VI and I, who reigned over Scotland and later England and Ireland until his death in 1625, attracted similar scrutiny for his male favorites, a term used for companions and advisers who had special preference with monarchs. Though James married Anne of Denmark and had children with her, it has long been believed that James had romantic relationships with three men: Esmé Stewart, Robert Carr and George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham.

Correspondence between James and his male favorites survives, and as David M. Bergeron theorizes in his book “King James and Letters of Homoerotic Desire”: “The inscription that moves across the letters spell desire.”

James was merely 13 when he met 37-year-old Stewart, and their relationship was met with concern.

“The King altogether is persuaded and led by him … and is in such love with him as in the open sight of the people often he will clasp him about the neck with his arms and kiss him,” wrote one royal informant of their relationship. James promoted Stewart up the ranks, eventually making him Duke of Lennox. James was eventually forced to banish him, causing Stewart great distress. “I desire to die rather than to live, fearing that that has been the occasion of your no longer loving me,” Stewart wrote to James.

But James’s most famous favorite was Villiers. James met him in his late 40s and several years later promoted him to Duke of Buckingham – an astounding rise for someone of his rank. Bergeron records the deeply affectionate letters between the two; in a 1623 letter, James refers bluntly to “marriage” and calls Buckingham his “wife:”

“I cannot content myself without sending you this present, praying God that I may have a joyful and comfortable meeting with you and that we may make at this Christmas a new marriage ever to be kept hereafter … I desire to live only in this world for your sake, and that I had rather live banished in any part of the earth with you than live a sorrowful widow’s life without you. And may so God bless you, my sweet child and wife, and grant that ye may ever be a comfort to your dear dad and husband.”

A lost portrait of Buckingham by Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens was recently discovered in Scotland, depicting a striking and stylish man. And a 2008 restoration of Apethorpe Hall, where James and Villiers met and later spent time together, discovered a passage that linked their bedchambers.

Queen Anne

One queen who has attracted speculation about her sexuality is Queen Anne, who ruled from 1702-1714. Her numerous pregnancies, most of which ended in miscarriage or a stillborn child, indicate a healthy relationship with her husband, George of Denmark.

And yet, “she had these very intense, close friendships with women in her household,” Harris said.

Most notable is her relationship to Sarah Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough, who held enormous influence in Anne’s court as mistress of the robes and keeper of the privy purse. She was an influential figure in Whig party politics, famous for providing Anne with blunt advice and possessing as skillful a command of politics as her powerful male contemporaries.

Whether Churchill and Queen Anne’s intense friendship became something more is something we may never know. “Lesbianism, by its unverifiable nature, is an awful subject for historical research and, inversely, the best subject for political slander,” writes Ophelia Field in her book “Sarah Churchill: Duchess of Marlborough: The Queen’s Favourite.”

But Field also notes that when examining the letters between the women, it’s important to understand that their friendship was “something encompassing what we would nowadays class as romantic or erotic feeling.”

Field writes in “The Queen’s Favourite”:

“Without Sarah beside her when she moved with the seasonal migrations of the Court, Anne complained of loneliness and boredom: ‘I must tell you I am not as you left me … I long to be with you again and tis impossible for you ever to believe how much I love you except you saw my heart.’ (…) Most commentators have suggested that the hyperbole in Anne’s letters to her friend was merely stylistic. In fact, the overwhelming impression is not of overstatement but that Anne was repressing what she really wanted to say.”

Their relationship deteriorated in part because of Anne’s growing closeness to another woman, Churchill’s cousin, Abigail Masham. Churchill grew so infuriated that she began insinuating Anne’s relationship with Masham was sinister.

The drama surrounding the three women will play out in the upcoming film, “The Favourite,” starring Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone and Olivia Colman.

Though there is much evidence that these royals had same-sex relationships with their favorites or other individuals, Harris cautioned that jealousy or frustration with favorites within the courts often led to rumors about the relationships. “If a royal favorite, no matter the degree of personal relationship, was disrupting the social or political hierarchy in some way, then that royal favorite was considered a problem, regardless of what was going on behind closed doors,” she said.

Harris also noted that it was difficult to take 21st-century definitions of sexual orientation and apply them to past monarchs. “When we see historical figures, they might have same-sex relationships but might not talk about their orientation,” she said. “Historical figures often had different ways of viewing themselves than people today.”

But she acknowledged that re-examining the lives, and loves, of these monarchs creates a powerful, humanizing bond between our contemporary society and figures of the past. It shows “that there have been people who dealt with some of the same concerns and the same issues that appear in the modern day,” she said.

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Enjoy kink?

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Here’s how to handle the ‘drop’ you may feel after you play.

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‘I tend to play pretty hard,’ Rizzo Barajas from Martinez, California told Gay Star News. ‘Usually involving blood or very hard physical impact play.’

Rizzo identifies as a queer agender person of color.

He’s also a switch, which means he alternates between taking either the submissive or dominant role during Bondage, Discipline, Sadism and Masochism (BDSM) sessions.

But sometimes after a heavy session (also known as a scene) he’ll go from extreme pleasure to an intense drop in his mood.

‘It’s kind of like extreme temperature changes,’ he said. ‘Running from the pool to the hot tub and then back to the pool.’

He continued: ‘It’s jarring for me to go from having the hell beaten out of me to sitting and having a cup of water while trying to socialize.’

Marilyn Hollinger from Millbrae, California describes herself as a ‘sadist, mistress, femme top who likes to play very hard’. She’s been in the leather scene since 1986 and identifies as a lesbian.

She described a ‘drop’ as a bit like a skydive.

Marilyn said: ‘In a usual scene, I find I experience euphoria and it’s almost like an altered state – it can feel like a drug sometimes where you’re just in such a state of pleasure and extreme emotional or physical feelings.

‘So when you’re in this high state, at some point, you come down. You come down into this normal state but sometimes you dip and that’s called a drop,’ she said.

What is a ‘drop’?

Susan Wright from Phoenix, Arizona is the founder and spokesperson for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom.

She said: ‘A drop is a feeling of depression or bodily decline.’ Susan said it’s a drop from the intense emotional, physical and mental feelings you had during the scene.

Dr Brad Sagarin is the Head of the Science of BDSM Research Team at Northern Illinois University.

Their research examines the positive physiological and psychological effects of consensual BDSM activities.

Sagarin explained: ‘Both bottoms and tops show increases in relationship closeness and reductions in psychological stress from before to after their scenes.’

Bottoms show increases in cortisol (a hormone associated with physiological stress) during scenes and tops show a ‘pleasurable altered state associated with optimal experiences.’

Dr Richard Sprott at the California State University wrote in the 2016 Journal of Positive Sexuality that ‘drops’ can happen to anyone.

They believe there are two different types of drop – immediate after-scene drop and drops that can happen days later.

Both types can leave people in a deep psychological process that leads to feeling ‘lost, ungrounded, disconnected, unsatisfied, depressed, irritable, vulnerable, raw, sad’.

The science behind a drop

Sprott and Randall theorize a ‘drop’ can be a process of grief and bereavement. Grief ‘refers to the emotional and cognitive reactions that a person has when one experiences a loss or separation.’

They also believe drops can be the result of a person losing their identity.

They wrote: ‘One’s self, or a central identity, is changing in some way. And that change involves a loss of the old self – the old identity.’

Susan said drops can range from being very mild to very intense, boiling down to endorphins and adrenaline.

She said: ‘After a scene, my body is trying to deal with flushing those chemicals out of your system and you really feel it.’

Susan also says a person experiencing a drop might have a little internalized shame.

She said: ‘For some people, the shame of being kinky and having done what you did may be the reason for a drop. We have so much societal disapproval and perhaps what they did conflicts with what their ideas of what a good person does.’

She added: ‘It’s a terrible thing for someone to feel bad about who they are – it’s why community is so important.’

Marilyn agreed: ‘Sometimes the bottom might think: “Oh well how can I be a good person if I like being hit?” or humiliated, or whatever it is we’re doing.

‘How can I be a good person and person of value? That all hits you in a drop,’ she said.

Another part of feeling a drop might be a physical reaction.

During an intense scene, you might be putting your body through strenuous positions.

If you strain your muscles too hard, you might get a build up of lactic acid. This, in turn, can lead to you feeling sore.

How to prevent a drop

The best way to prevent a drop is open and honest communication with any scene partner you might have.

An important way to do this is to negotiate with your partner beforehand about what you might need after the scene.

This could be as simple as a back rub, a cuddle or sharing a meal together.

Another great way to prevent a drop is to take things slow.

Susan explained: ‘One of the ways to prevent a drop is to have a more gradual build-up in the scene and then a more gradual drop off.

‘For example, if you wanted to do a caning scene, you start with the spanking, you warm up with a good 15 minutes of spanking and tapping lightly with the cane. Then you might administer a stroke of the cane.

‘Then you do your caning for however long you want and then you taper off. You stroke the rest of the body as a decline or you cuddle a lot afterwards,’ she said.

Rizzo agreed: ‘I like to do a cool down period where the impact is not as hard but is still present. It’s a slow change instead of a hard stop.’

Vigorous stretching beforehand and taking vitamin B is also a good way to deal with lactic acid build up.

Susan also said it helps not to do drugs or drink alcohol before or during a scene.

After care: Dealing with a drop

Every good BDSM-lover knows to have good after care when your scene is done.

After care is giving your body or mind what it needs in order to alleviate or stop a drop from happening.

Marilyn is a mistress and is currently in several master/slave relationships, where she’s the authority.

Even though she’s a top, she says she still experiences a drop in ‘virtually every level of play scene’ she does.

She explained she can be doing some very intense scene work, involving inflicting high levels of pain. But this is the complete opposite to how she is in the real world.

So a form of after care for her is scheduling a check-in with her partner after the scene is done.

She said: ‘Even though I’m the top, I need reassurance that I’m not evil. So that’s the reason I personally need a check in.’

Rizzo agreed and said he likes to follow up with subs he plays with in the days after, via text or phone calls. He always wants to make sure they’re OK physically and mentally, and if there is anything he can do for them.

He joked: ‘Remember – if you break it, you buy it. So don’t break it!’

Susan said a great way to deal with a drop is to have some chocolate.

She explained: ‘It helps mirror the oxytocin. So it can really help. Often, at parties, they can have little tables of sweets and chocolates.’

Marilyn said: ‘If I’m doing a scene on a Sunday for example, on Tuesday I’m going to time it so I’m not doing anything emotional because I know I’m going to be in a little bit of a funk.

‘That might be the time that I go do a massage,’ she said.

Complete Article HERE!

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7 Ways To Have Sex Without A Penis

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— Because You Really Don’t Need One

By Kasandra Brabaw

When most people think about sex, their minds likely jump to penis-in-vagina (P-in-V) sex. And it’s no wonder, given that the sex ed many of us had (if we had it at all) focused on teaching us how to not get pregnant. When pregnancy is the concern (or the goal) then the only kind of sex that seems to “count” is P-in-V sex. We’re so invested in the penis’ involvement in sex, that when the story of a man who lost his penis in a childhood accident came out on Reddit, people had one burning question: How can he fuck his girlfriend?

“We typically end up having this picture in our brain that sex involves a penis and vagina,” says Laura Deitsch, PhD, resident sexologist of Vibrant. “It starts when a penis is hard and it ends when a penis ejaculates.” That fixation on penis-in-vagina penetration as “real sex” not only leaves a bunch of people out, it also ignores all kinds of sexy things couples could be doing instead of sticking a penis into a hole, she says. Plenty of people default to penis-less sex because they have to — including cisgender women in queer relationships and trans or non-binary people who feel gender dysphoria around their genitals — but even straight, cisgender people could benefit from giving the penis a break. Taking one night off from P-in-V sex could inspire creativity in straight couples’ sex lives, and that helps to stave off boredom.

Whether you’re a cis queer woman wondering what to do with her penis-less partner, a trans person looking for ways to avoid gender dysphoria, a straight and cis person whose partner can’t use his penis for medical reasons, or someone who simply wants to add a little excitement to your sex life, we’ve rounded up five ways to have sex without a penis. So, consider giving the P-in-V sex a break, and trying something new.

Put your tongue to work.
You’ve likely heard of the orgasm gap — the fact that straight women orgasm significantly less often than straight men — but have you heard of the oral sex gap? According to at least one study, women are more than twice as likely to go down on a sexual partner than men. So if you’re in a straight pairing, use your penis-less night to start filling in that gap.

Often, oral sex is way more effective (in terms of having orgasms) than penetrative sex alone for people who have vulvas, because there are about 8,000 nerve endings in the clitoris. But, regardless of your gender identity or sexuality, eating someone out for the first time can be scary. Vulvas and vaginas seem like this big mystery, simply because no one talks about them.

So let’s shatter the mystery. All it takes is a little bit of anatomy knowledge and some stellar communication to know what you’re doing. Things to remember: 1) All clits look different, but they’re generally located toward the top of your partner’s vulva. If you can’t find your partner’s clit, ask if you’re in the right spot. 2) Talk to your partner about what they like. It’s the best way to get them off, promise. 3) Have fun! Oral sex is hot.

Get your fingers (or fist) in there.
Fingering isn’t just for foreplay. When done correctly (meaning, there’s plenty of lubrication and it feels good), fingering can be just as satisfying as other forms of penetration. Plus, if your partner has a vulva, using your fingers gives you plenty of mobility to add another finger, tongue, or vibrator circling their clit. And that combo is amazingly good at creating explosive blended orgasms.

If your partner has a penis, you can finger them, too. It’s called “muffing.” People with penises have two spots tucked behind the scrotum and testicles called inguinal canals, which are about the diameter of a finger (but also stretch). Mira Bellwether first wrote about this kind of fingering in a zine called Fucking Trans Women, but the sex act can feel good for anyone who has a penis, regardless of gender identity.

Kick it old school.
Think back to the days of your first romance. You were likely waiting a while to have “real sex.” So, instead, you’d rub your fully clothed body against your partner’s. That, my friends, is dry humping and it can count as sex, too. If you rub in the right places, it can also result in orgasm.

“The main thing for people to remember is that you’re going to try getting some constant friction on the clit,” Laura McGuire, PhD, a sexologist and consultant, previously told Refinery29. So just swivel your hips around on a partner’s erection, hip, thigh, or a sex toy, until you hit a spot that feels good.

Take out the toy box.
Sex toys are your friend, and they can make any kind of sex much more interesting (whether or not the penis is in play). If at least one partner has a clitoris, toys like vibrators and dildos can be used either in combo with oral sex or fingering or they can be used on their own to stimulate any part of the body, Dr. Deitsch says.

Strap-ons can also be a great addition to your sex adventures, whether or not your partner has a penis. And if they do have a penis, toys can still come in handy. Anyone who has a prostate can get lots of pleasure from anal sex, so you can use a strap-on to peg your partner (aka, enter them from behind).

Share your fantasies.
Sex means so many different things to different people that it sometimes doesn’t require much touching at all, Dr. Deitsch says. “If we opened our minds, we’d realize that sex is a whole lot of stuff,” she says. “And I challenge someone, if they’re thinking that something like tying your partner up and reading them erotic fiction isn’t sex, would they do that with a family member or with someone who they just met at the grocery store?”

To some people, sharing sexual fantasies can be highly erotic. So Dr. Deitsch recommends laying with your partner and describing the sexy things you want to do to them, or watching porn together, or engaging in some light bondage as you read sexy stories.

Experiment with texture and touch.
If non-penetrative sex is new for you, then now is a great time to really get to know your partner’s body. “An interesting way to conceptualize a partner is having them be your canvas,” Dr. Deitsch says. Use whatever you can find, that your partner feels good having on their body, and explore different parts of your lover’s body. That can mean a wooden spoon or spatula, a comb, an ice cube, a smooth piece of cloth or a fork. “Rake a comb across their back or take a piece of cloth in between the cleavage area,” Dr. Deitsch says. “Just making a big long production out of feeling different types of touch with different materials.” It’s fun, but can also help you get intimately acquainted with all of your partner’s sensitive spots. (Maybe you can even attempt the elusive nipple-gasm.)

Make it booty-licious.
(Almost) everyone has an anus, Dr. Deitsch says. So anal sex is the great equalizer. “There are a plethora of new toys on the market, like butt plugs and anal beads, that you certainly don’t need a penis to be able to utilize,” she says. And whether any partner involved has a prostate or not, anal sex can feel amazing.

But, it’s also easy to have anal sex that hurts. So, if you’re a first-timer, make sure you’re buying smaller butt plugs that have a flared base and using plenty of lube.

Complete Article HERE!

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Disabled LGBT+ young people face a battle just to be taken seriously

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Following their own path.

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As young people navigate adolescence, they ask questions about their sexual attractions and how they understand gender. If they are fortunate, they have access to sex and relationship educators or mentors and support networks. But my research with young people who identify as LGBT+ and disabled shows that they are often treated as though their gender or sexuality is just a phase.

In my research looking at the experiences of young people aged between 16 and 25, we’ve seen how harmful this approach can be. Not recognising that young disabled people can be LGBT+ can reduce their ability to have fulfilling sexual lives. It also reduces the chance that they will receive appropriate help and support in relation to their sexuality or gender throughout their lives.

Seeing sexuality or gender as a phase is not new. But for the young people we work with, it comes as a result of misconceptions about their disability, sexuality and their age. As one young person put it, with regards to their disability:

I do sometimes think that my mum thinks my whole mental health issues and my autism…I think she hopes it’ll go away, she goes on about me getting a job which makes me feel even worse. It makes me feel panicky. It makes me feel like she wants a better child than I am, like I am not good enough because I don’t want work.

These ideas about disability often work alongside misconceptions about sexuality. One young person explained how being gay was “blamed” on their disability. They felt that people think you are LGBT+ “because you are ill or have autism”.

In addition to confusion about disability and sexuality, young people reported challenges due to their age. One interviewee was told to hold off on identifying in one way until they’re older and more mature; “so that you know for sure, so it gives you time”.

These reactions suggest that there is resistance to young disabled people identifying as LGBT+. There seems to be a perception that young disabled people cannot understand LGBT+ sexuality. But the stories the young people told me show a long process of working to understand sexuality and gender. Such decisions were not trivial or a result of trends.

It’s not a phase

Labelling sexuality as a phase suggests that it is something through which one will pass, emerging on other side as heterosexual. This frames anything other than heterosexuality as being flawed and suggests that there is something undesirable about being LGBT+. One young person said that they thought being “LGBT in the heterosexual world is a bad thing”. As a society, we appear to be more accepting of LGBT+ identities. Yet not for young disabled LGBT+ people who are seen as non-sexual and unable to understand what LGBT+ means.

Young people have thought this through.

We need to think about sexuality and gender as part of life and not a passing moment. This is important because young disabled LGBT+ people need appropriate support. Labelling their sexuality as a phase denies them access to information and support as their sexuality is not seen as being valid. They may suffer physical and mental violence and discrimination because of who they are, and are left to fight on their own because no one recognises them for who they are.

In order to work against societal attitudes and misconceptions, we need to listen to the experiences of young disabled LGBT+ people and understand that they are experts in their own lives. Dismissing sexuality as a phase says a lot about societal attitudes towards what it means to be young, disabled and LGBT+. Yet most importantly, such reactions have a direct impact upon the intimate lives of young disabled people as they work against such challenges to make sense of who they are.

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I’m Pansexual, and Here’s What I Want You to Know

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by Hannah Pegg

The first time I came out to my parents was in 2013. I was 15 at the time, but I still remember it clear as day. I wrote my mom and dad letters, put them each into an envelope, and handed them off. I knew I would be a mess of tears if I tried to come out to them face to face, so I figured I could gather all of my thoughts more concisely into a letter. I don’t think either of them were quite shocked because I was always a little different, but nonetheless, they told me they were proud of me and wouldn’t trade me for the world.

I’d always assumed I was a lesbian because I was attracted to women and had only ever dated a girl before. I was confused and felt the weight of society falling on my shoulders. I was 15 and liked women, but there was still this nagging feeling that maybe I wasn’t just a lesbian.

I never knew that I could be anything more than a lesbian, so I continued to identify that way. It wasn’t until last year that I sparked a conversation with my roommate about sexuality. I was taking a queer studies class, and for the first time since 2013, I stopped and looked my sexuality dead in the face. And I was truly stumped. I knew I liked women, and I knew I’d had feelings for men, but I wasn’t quite sure that I was bisexual. My feelings felt stronger than that.

It wasn’t until I did some necessary Google searching that I came across a list of sexual orientations. I scrolled through terms I knew, and ones I’d never heard of, until I finally landed on pansexual. Something just seemed to fall into place. There was finally a word to explain how I’d been feeling.

So, what exactly is pansexuality?

This is a perfect starting point for something so complicated to explain. The thing is, you can look up a definition with a click of button, but in the end, you’ll find that pansexuality as a whole is very different from person to person. As Merriam-Webster puts it, “Pansexuality is of, relating to, or characterized by sexual desire or attraction that is not limited to people of a particular gender identity or sexual orientation,” but what I really like to tell people is that pansexuality is fluid and encompasses all people, regardless of their gender identity.

One of the many things I love about being pansexual is that my love for human beings has no bounds. There are no restraints telling my heart that I can’t love a person because of their gender identity. When it comes to attraction, I look for a connection as opposed to a gender, which really opens up a whole new world of relationships.

A common misconception people have about pansexuals is that since we are attracted to everyone, we must be having lots of sex, right? Well, that depends on the type of person you are. The great thing about sexuality is that it’s not just about sexual preference. Again, for me, I look for someone I can connect with as opposed to jumping into any type of physical relationship. What I’ll never quite understand is why attraction becomes a reason to shame someone for their sexual experiences. If you find yourself in a situation where you’re about to ask someone if they “get around,” take a second to ask yourself, would I feel comfortable answering this?

OK, well this seems very similar to bisexuality. How are they different?

I get asked this question a lot, as I’m sure do many others. The difference really lies in how a person wants to identify. Most people know bisexuality as an attraction to both men and women, but as vocabulary changes, it can now be defined as an attraction to more than one gender. The prefix “bi” in bisexuality means two. However, in recent years, people are becoming increasingly aware that there are more than two genders, thus changing the definition to be more inclusionary of those who fall outside of the gender norms.

For years, there have been disagreements within the bisexual and pansexual communities about whether bisexuality enforces the gender binary. Well, what is the gender binary? It’s the social construct, or gender system, of sex and gender into two categories, masculine and feminine. So when a female is born, she is assumed to be feminine and follow the social codes that have been placed on women (i.e. body standards, sexuality, behavior, etc.).

So then what does this have to do with bisexuality? Well, some people in the LGBTQ+ community believe that labeling oneself as bisexual enforces certain societal codes that do not coincide with those who identify as intersex, gender fluid, androgynous, nonbinary, transgender, etc. So, is bisexuality discrediting certain individuals who do not follow the gender norms? I don’t think so. I think that bisexuality, like pansexuality, varies from person to person.

Is pansexuality just another label?

No, I really don’t think so. In fact, I think it’s important to put a name to the feeling. Previous to last year, I didn’t even know what pansexuality was. I struggled with my sexuality and felt out of place calling myself something I was not. It wasn’t until college that I realized maybe I wasn’t so alone. But I wondered, if I felt this way, how many other people have struggled to find their place in the LGBTQ+ community?

The word pansexual has been around for ages, but it wasn’t until recent years that it took its place on the spectrum. It was first used by Sigmund Freud to describe the sexual desires of humans; however, he never really coined the term as a sexual orientation. Pansexuality as an orientation really took off at the end of the 20th century, leading into the 21st century. So why then do so few people know about it? And how can we make pansexuality a term that is readily available to younger generations?

If you or someone you know is questioning their sexuality, I think it is incredibly important to look into all sides of the LGBTQ+ community. There are so many orientations, genders, and identities that are not covered in schools or by acronyms that deserve to be discussed. Personally, I went to a high school that didn’t do much to explain anything other than the heteronormative in health class. I think it will take time to implement more LGBTQ+-friendly curriculum into schools, however, clubs, events, and open discussions are a wonderful way to expand queer vocabulary. If words like demisexual, asexual, queer, intersex, nonbinary, etc. are talked about more frequently, it will allow those who are unsure a chance to interact with others who feel like them.

Final Thoughts

So what has my year as openly pansexual been like? Honestly, I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. For me, pansexuality is much more than just my sexual orientation. It has helped me to put into perspective my behavior toward all people. Perhaps my heart is just a little too big, but I believe that every person I come across, regardless of gender, race, religion, sexuality, etc., is deserving of some type of connection, whether it be emotional, physical, or intellectual. Those connections are what made me who I am and I think what led me to pansexuality.

I don’t think I could have done this without my incredible roommate, who has listened to my struggles for countless hours and encouraged me to explore my sexuality. I’m also incredibly grateful for my family who are always asking questions and have gone above and beyond to research pansexuality and the LGBTQ+ community.

I’m not sure what’s in store for me, however, I know now that I’m not alone or “confused.” In fact, I’m the furthest thing from confused. I didn’t need some big revelation to tell me that I was pansexual. All it really took was some reflection and a Google search.

Complete Article HERE!

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Gay men: Finally, sex without fear

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PrEP is effective as a protection against HIV – though condoms can still be used to prevent STDs. Why can’t we celebrate the idea that men can have sex without fear of death?

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Have you heard of the anti-AIDS drug PrEP? Most straight people are unaware of it. In 2015, the World Health Organization said “the efficacy of oral PrEP has been shown in four randomized control trials and is high when the drug is used as directed.

PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) is a drug that allows you to have as much sex as you want, without a condom, and remain HIV-negative. If you use it, you probably won’t catch HIV. POZ magazine says that it has “100 per cent efficacy for those who stick to the treatment.”

Doctors recommend everyone use condoms, because although PrEP is very effective as a protection against HIV, it does not guard against the transmission of other sexually transmitted diseases.

Recently, Patrick William Kelly — a gay academic from Northwestern University who is writing a “global history of AIDS” — sounded the alarm about PrEP. For many straight people, Kelly’s discussion of PrEP may be the first they have heard of this revolutionary drug.

Kelly’s concern is that the popularity of PrEP will cause gay men to stop using condoms. He worries:

“An entire generation of gay men has no memory or interest in the devastation [AIDS] wrought. AIDS catalyzed a culture of sexual health that has begun to disintegrate before our eyes. What is there to be done to bring it back?…The nonchalant dismissal of the condom today flies in the face of the very culture of sexual health that gay men and lesbians constructed in the 1980s.”

Doctors still recommend that everyone use condoms because although PrEP is effective as protection against HIV, it does not guard against the transmission of other sexually transmitted diseases.

There is one sentiment that is missing from Kelly’s article. Why doesn’t he celebrate the fact that gay men — and everyone else — can now have sex without fear of death? PrEP makes sex safer for everyone. It is just one new tool in the “safe sex arsenal.” Why not be happy about the fact that PrEP will undoubtedly save many lives?

Not a lethal illness anymore

Some might ask — isn’t AIDS still a lethal illness? Not so much.

The gold standard in HIV treatment” (highly active antiretroviral therapy or HAART) was first introduced at the 1996 Vancouver International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference. According to Dr. Julio Montaner, director of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, “this was a pivotal moment, when HIV infection became a chronic manageable condition.

In 2014, The Globe and Mail reported that worldwide deaths from AIDS were massively decreasing:

“In 2013, 1.5 million people died from AIDS-related causes worldwide, compared with 2.4 million in 2005, a 35 per cent decrease.”

This state of affairs seems particularly significant when one considers hysterical early predictions concerning the effects of the disease. In 1987, Oprah Winfrey stated confidently that “research studies now project that one in five — listen to me, hard to believe — one in five heterosexuals could be dead from AIDS at the end of the next three years.”

This never happened.

It’s absolutely true that AIDS affects different demographics,

In this 1989 photo, protesters lie on the street in front of the New York Stock Exchange in a demonstration against the high cost of the AIDS treatment drug AZT. The protest was organized by ACT UP, a gay rights activist group.

ethnicities and geographies differently, and that gay men are not the only population to be affected by it worldwide. But the improvement in the lives of HIV-positive people everywhere is only in part due to the tireless efforts of doctors, researchers and health-care workers.

It is also due to the tireless efforts of gay men everywhere — many of whom became safe-sex activists during the last 35 years, distributing pamphlets, marching and just generally spreading the news.

So why would a gay professor characterize PrEP as a bad thing? Why is he worried that gay men — en masse — will suddenly start practising unsafe sex?

Kelly is the victim of another kind of infection — the notion that gay men are criminals whose desires must be controlled.

This criminalization of homosexuals goes back as far as the notion of sodomy.

Viewing homosexuality as criminal

In the England of Henry VIII, the punishment for sodomy was death; India today is still struggling to legalize same-sex encounters.

In 1972, gay liberation theorist Guy Hocquenghem flatly stated in his book Homosexual Desire: “Homosexuality is first of all a criminal category.”

Hocquenghem went on to suggest that even though the late 19th century brought a tendency to view homosexuality through the more “tolerant” lens of illness, the human need to view homosexuality as criminal is persistent.

“Certainly as we shall see later, psychiatry tends to replace legal repression with the internalization of guilt. But the passage of sexual repression from the penal to the psychiatric stage has never actually brought about the disappearance of the penal aspect.”

Both the sexuality of gay men and the sexuality of women are a threat to the primacy of patriarchal male heterosexual desire. Heterosexist culture believes this threat must be controlled. The LaBouchere Amendment in England (1885) was used to incarcerate Oscar Wilde for his homosexuality as a crime of “gross indecency.”

But Labouchere was an amendment to legislation designed to control female prostitution — a law that angered many 19th-century trailblazing feminists.

When AIDS appeared in the early 1980s, some heterosexuals saw it as primarily a gay disease (AIDS was first called GRID — gay-related immune deficiency). They worried that gay men might infect straight people, especially children.

In his influential book of essays, Is The Rectum A Grave?, Leo Bersani suggests that when small-town Americans wanted to ban HIV-positive hemophiliac children in schools, what they actually feared was the spectre of “killer gay men” acting too much like women:

Women and gay men spread their legs with an unquenchable appetite for destruction. This is an image with extraordinary power; and if the good citizens of Arcadia, Florida could chase from their midst a very law-abiding family it is, I would suggest, because in looking at three hemophiliac children they may have seen — that is unconsciously represented — the infinitely more seductive and intolerable image of a grown man, legs high in the air, unable to refuse the suicidal ecstasy of being a woman.

AIDS was not the first thing to make straight people think gay men

A doctor holds Truvada pills, shown to help prevent HIV infection.

had to be controlled. It simply fit like a glove on a fear of homosexuality that was already culturally endemic.

Our society seems addicted to the notion that homosexuality is something uncontrollable and potentially lethal. So when AIDS came along, as the long-time AIDS worker Simon Watney wrote, it was “effectively being used as a pretext throughout the West to justify calls for increased legislation and regulation of those who are considered to be socially unacceptable.”

The concern over gay male imagined libidinal insanity is a throwback to an old trope. Gay men don’t need to be controlled; at least not any more than anyone else. And if you think otherwise? Well, it’s based on prejudice. Not fact.

Complete Article HERE!

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Course disputes idea that heterosexual sex is ‘natural’

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  • Eugene Lang College is offering a “Queer Ecologies” course this fall devoted to countering “heterosexist” explanations of animals and nature.
  • According to the instructor, common scientific practices like using the terms “male” and “female” when describing reproduction among plants and animals contributes to the perception that “queerness” is “unnatural.”

By Toni Airaksinen

Eugene Lang College, part of The New School in Lower Manhattan, will offer a course next semester for students who wish to fight “heterosexist” explanations of animals and nature.

Taught by Heather Davis, “Queer Ecologies” is a four-credit course offered by the school’s Culture and Media department for students who wish to “disrupt prevailing heterosexist discursive and institutional articulations of sexuality and nature.” 

According to the professor, these “heterosexist” explanations of sexuality and nature often involve referring to male/female animals.

According to the course description, students will be taught to “reimagine evolutionary processes, ecological interactions, and environmental politics in light of queer theory” by drawing from research in fields such as feminist science studies and environmental justice. 

Students will also “draw important connections between the material and cultural dimensions of environmental issues, and examine the ways in which sex and nature are understood in light of multiple trajectories of power and matter,” the description adds. 

During an interview with Campus Reform, Davis explained that queer ecologies is an “interdisciplinary field that examines the relationship between sexuality and nature, thinking beyond the boundaries of assuming that heterosexuality is the norm or standard.”

The field “inquires into the sexual lives of animals, plants, and bacteria—lives that are often much more strange, adaptable, and queer than anything humans do,” she elaborated. “It also seeks to critique how heterosexuality is presumed as natural.”

While it is not immediately apparent why the school’s Culture and Media department is offering the class, Davis explained that the course takes aim at how institutions like media outlets and schools often perpetuate myths about sex, gender, and the environment.

Such institutions, Davis said, often promote the idea that “mammals only use sex for reproduction, and that this is always heterosexual sex,” for example.

“We can see this in how queerness is often said to be ‘unnatural’…rather than thinking about how queer sex might actually be helpful to the survival of species,” Davis noted.

One example of this, Davis asserted, is how scientists often characterize plants using gender-specific language.

“We still tend to characterize plants that reproduce sexually in heterosexual terms where a male and female plant need to transfer gametes. Although this understanding of plant reproduction is not un-true, it misses the point that in order for these plants to fertilize they also rely on other species, such as bees and wasps,” she argued.

“In other words, reproduction here is about cross-species interaction, even pleasure, and reducing this description to purely an exchange of genes misses the opportunity to inquire into these relationships,” Davis elaborated. “Queer theory helps to broaden the picture, understanding the behaviours and companionships that exist in these ecologies.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Modern sexuality: 8 terms you need to know in 2018

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By Maya Khamala

Back in the 70s, French philosopher Michel Foucault made the case that sexuality is a social construct used as a way of controlling people. In his History of Sexuality, he explores how Western society’s views on sex have undergone a major shift over the last few centuries. It’s definitely not that transgressive relationships or desires didn’t exist before. What’s relatively new, though, is the idea that our desires reveal some fundamental truth about who we are, along with the idea that we should (or must) seek out and express whatever such truth we may find. By this logic, sex is not just something you do, but the kind of sex you have (or want to be having) becomes a characteristic of your sexuality.

Freedom, or more boxes? 

But even though Foucault (who identified as gay) acknowledged constructed limitations, to him, getting to the highest truth of our sexualities can easily become an obsession, or a trap, and I’m inclined to agree. I mean, how do we actually know when to stop searching and defining? Some believe that grouping sexual identities into increasingly narrow categories can restrict a person’s freedom to express a truly fluid sexuality, and that each newly accepted sexual orientation demands both acceptance and adoption of increasingly specific criteria. There’s the danger, too, that self-definition pressures others to define themselves using the same parameters, whether they would otherwise choose to do so or not. 

Dissatisfaction with “traditional” labels is more than valid, but doesn’t necessarily have to lead to creating new ones. I’m all for the pro-choice approach, personally. Live and let lust: define away, or opt for the anti-identity and refuse to define yourself. Either way, no need to judge others for the path they choose. And reductive or frustrating though constructs may be for some, I personally don’t believe that makes them any less real or useful to others.

Gender: no longer the top determinant? 

One thing is for sure: in the last few decades, society has most definitely been hard at work constructing sexualities. Alongside the “traditional” heterosexual and homosexual orientations, a seemingly endless variety of other options and avenues now exist. Many of these newly created identities (originated in the past decade) reduce the role of gender in establishing sexual attraction, instead focusing on non-gendered attributes (like emotions, intelligence, or style, for example). As modern times and the dating sites that accompany them would have us believe, rather than emphasizing gender as the primary factor at play in determining who a person might be attracted to, many people are able to identify other features that attract them, which may actually overshadow or even supersede gender as the overarching thing.

Consider the following 8 ways of defining sexuality that I have seen floating around in recent times. They barely even scratch the surface in terms of what’s out there, but everything starts with a taste.

1. Asexual 

Being the absolute horn doggess that I am, I’ve tried and failed to wrap my mind around the asexuality thing. But I respect and believe in its existence. This orientation denotes a lack of any sexual attraction, regardless of gender. No matter what their reasons or lack of reasons are, asexuals are neither interested in nor desire any sexual activity. Nonetheless, they may or may not be in an asexual romantic relationship. Asexual is different from celibate- since the latter is about choosing to refrain from sex, despite desire still existing.

2. Demisexual 

This is one of those “entirely unrelated to gender” sexualities I was mentioning. Characterized by the need to develop a strong emotional connection before engaging in sex, demisexuals require a strong emotional bond before they feel capable of getting sexually involved with anyone. An initial attraction will never spring them into action. “Demi,” means half, and so demisexual kinda sorta means “halfway” between sexual and asexual—which is one way of looking at needing an emotional connection to get aroused, I suppose…

3. Sapiosexual 

I see this one a hell of a lot. I dare say it’s trending. If I was more into amassing identities, I’d claim this one too. Of course, intelligence is relative and varied. Sapiosexuals are those who find intelligence (whatever that may be to them) to be the most sexually attractive feature in a person. They become attracted to or aroused by intelligence and its use over other qualities. This may or may not override the preference for a specific gender, depending on the person.

4. Gynosexual 

Gyno what? Have you had your pap smear this year? Just kidding, different use of gyno. Gynosexuals are sexually and/or romantically attracted to anything associated with females, female parts, female identity, women, femininity. Obviously, this can be interpreted in any number of ways, and differs from person to person. Some people who identify this way may care more about gender, or specifically cisgender identity than others.

5. Androsexual 

This one is the sexual or romantic attraction to males, men, masculinity, male parts, male identity, and just like gynosexuality, can differ wildly in its expression from person to person. By some people’s standards, I very likely fit into this category (among others, of course). But other people’s standards hardly matter when expressing your own sexual identity, just remember that. So you might as well cherry-pick as/if you see fit!

6. Bisexual 

Bisexuality is a sexual attraction to both men and women. Basic, and accepted long ago, right? Except bi people happen to deal with a (not) surprising amount of stigma, even (or especially?) in the LGBTQ universe. Apparently being part of the acronym doesn’t equal acceptance. Most of the stigma comes from an unwillingness to “pick sides,” which is exactly the problem (sometimes) with too many definitions. People get judgy and end up replicating the same oppressive bullshit they were trying to define themselves out of.

7. Pansexual 

Some people conflate pansexuality with bisexuality, but they’re different. The former is a sexual attraction to people of any gender—not just men and women. Considered one of the most fluid orientations, pansexuality means feeling sexually attracted to people of any gender, including people who identify as transgendered, transsexual, androgynous, or gender fluid—to name a few. Pansexuality has been more in the spotlight recently, at least in part due to celebrities choosing to identify this way (including Miley Cyrus and Janelle Monae).

8. Skoliosexual 

To be skoliosexual is to be attracted to anyone who isn’t cisgendered. Skoliosexuality refers to sexual attraction to people who identify as non-binary, and apparently does not generally describe an attraction to specific genitalia or birth assignments. I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a word for people who are only attracted to binary/cisgendered people, and while I didn’t come up with anything conclusive, controversial opinion would simply call that “transphobic”. 

Now, while I am inclined to believe that I’m attracted to what I’m attracted to, and that there’s not much I can do about it, labels be damned, maybe one real benefit of being able to cherry pick sexualities is that they get us thinking. They even challenging ourselves, sometimes in ways that help us grow and shed unhealthy habits (like being attracted exclusively to assholes, for example—what’s the word for that one?).

Complete Article HERE!

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I’m a young gay man. Here’s how sex-ed class failed to represent students like me

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Sex ed taught me little about LGBT relationships, so I went searching on my own

Nathan Sing today.

“Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant and die.”

Before today, this exclamation by the pedophiliac health teacher Coach Carr in the iconic film Mean Girls formed the bulk of my understanding of sex-ed class.

But on this afternoon in my high school library, as my classmates and I giggled, two sexual health educators taught us how to put on a condom on a banana — or as per the demonstration — a wooden dildo painted as the universally-loved Nintendo character Yoshi.

As the educator slid the condom down the shaft of the dildo (or in this case Yoshi’s pink tongue), my best friend and I held back laughter as we did the same to our bananas, unaware how normal this practice would become in our lives years later.

The educator followed the demonstration by briefly discussing a wide variety of topics, without going in-depth into the many aspects of sex education that concern LGBT people and the distinctive qualities that concern the queer community.

Instead, a majority of the conversation focused on contraceptives, bullying, pregnancy and heterosexual-centric information involving relationships between men and women.

Even then, these classes were short. I can say with absolute certainty that I spent more time in high school memorizing the periodic table of elements than the sum of classes that were focused on sexual health.

My school’s sexual education primarily equipped me with misapplied information on how to be a respectful cisgender heterosexual man — although topics concerning queer people were brought up in sex-ed class, the majority of the focus was allocated towards heteronormative material, which bolstered the feeling that my concerns came second to that of my heterosexual peers.

Even though information on LGBT relationships and sexual health was somewhat of an afterthought compared to my heterosexual counterparts, the brief acknowledgement that I could one day get married — and that my feelings were valid — was enough for me to seek out more information on my own.

I had grown up in an environment where I was assumed to be heterosexual, and I often internally questioned my sexuality. At an early age, I was rarely given information that reassured me I belonged or what I was feeling was valid.

Nathan Sing at a younger age.

Having no LGBT figures in my life, I formed an idea of what it meant to be gay through stereotyped characters in television and film. These stereotypes permeated my perception of what it was to be a gay man so deeply that in my early years as a teenager I equated an interest in fashion and speaking with an “unmasculine” way to being a gay man.

I could not go to my heterosexual parents although they raised me with progressive and inclusive views, because they had no knowledge of same-sex relationships or answers to my questions about being a gay minority man. Instead, I sought out this information from online forums, various blogs and informative videos on YouTube.

Being that I had no queer friends or family members and was not openly gay myself, consuming this information solitarily felt isolating at times. Still, watching these videos offered a sense of inclusivity and community through my screen, as I discovered resources that my school’s sex-ed class lacked.

Through these digital resources, I watched hundreds of videos where individuals shared their coming out stories, learned of the mistreatment of gay men during the HIV/AIDS epidemic as well as other cases of mistreatment of LGBT people throughout history, and became educated on the precautionary measures to take while on dating apps.

Even though I found answers to my questions independently, not all youth will go to these lengths for the information they need.

Young LGBT people, especially those in marginalized communities where talking about queer identity with family may be difficult, will undoubtedly benefit from being taught comprehensive and representative material in school instead of being taught a curriculum that largely benefits youth in heterosexual relationships. I am a young gay minority and part of a community that is often underrepresented, heavily stereotyped and misportrayed in the mainstream — it’s incontrovertible that I would have benefitted from that kind of sexual education.

For a time, it seemed that this ideal world could become a reality in Ontario high schools: in 2015, three years after I saw a condom being slid over Yoshi’s tongue, the Liberal BC and Ontario governments updated the sexual-education curriculum to cover areas including mental illness and stereotypes in media.

In Ontario, the changes were even more considerable being that this was the first update to the curriculum since 1998; the new 2015 curriculum added new topics including same-sex relationships and gender identity, the concept of consent, homophobia, sexting and cyberbullying, to name a few.

Yet on July 11, 2018, less than three years after the Ontario Liberals introduced the new sex-ed curriculum, Ontario’s education minister announced that in September, students would be going back in time: the revised curriculum will be replaced with the one from 1998. Students will be taught a sexual-education program that is as old as I am.

This is a curriculum that was designed well before the creation of Tinder and Grindr, let alone the devices they are powered by. In an age where youth are exposed to sex by virtue of social media, technology and dating apps, this curriculum will not equip young students with the information required to properly learn about and deal with revenge porn, cyberstalking and consent, issues that were not as prevalent or discussed two decades ago.

The Ontario Progressive Conservatives’ decision to return to a 20-year-old way of teaching a subject as ever-changing and complex as sexuality is not only absurd but irresponsible. What a young person learns in sex ed during their formative years sets the groundwork to cultivate their identity, build their confidence and have agency over their own sexual health.

Nathan Sing as a teenager.

The information that is taught in sex ed goes beyond courses such as chemistry and calculus; while those classes may get some in the door to college, topics related to sexual health are fundamental to everyone. We are sacrificing medical- and fact-based information for the next generation over intransigent moral opposition from parents and politicians.

Even if the 2015 curriculum is not taught in schools, young people will still seek out information about sex, but from potentially dangerous sources. In today’s world where knowledge is in the hands of every young person with a cell phone or laptop, offering students comprehensive information about sexual health in a place meant for learning can help keep youth from believing and acting on false and potentially damaging information they might discover on their own. This is especially true for LGBT students, who often don’t see themselves reflected in sex-ed programs.

The world has changed dramatically over the last 20 years, as has our knowledge of sexual health. The way Ontario’s educators — and all educators for that matter — teach sexual health and education must reflect that.

Come September, young people in Canada’s most populated province will be learning about sexual health from a curriculum that predates the impact of the internet, the cultural shift towards the mainstream acceptance of LGBT people, and the legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada. If I am proof that this more recent curriculum still has a ways to go in meeting young people’s needs, the announcement that students will now be taught a more dated program should be hard to swallow for everyone.

Complete Article ↪HERE↩!

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Meet the men who get off on their wives having sex with other people

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Cuckolding is form of consensual non-monogamy, and these guys find it hot AF.

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Having sex with other people while in a committed relationship isn’t necessarily cheating—especially for those who are into consensual non-monogamy (CNM). In fact, the prospect of watching or hearing about their partner’s sexual escapades is such a turn on for some people, they actively encourage their lover to share as many unfamiliar beds as they want.

CNM is practised in all sorts of forms, such as polyamory (having multiple romantic partners) and swinging (swapping sexual partners with other couples). Cuckolding is a form of CNM where one partner (the cuckold) agrees their lover can have sex with other people—often known as ‘bulls’. There are variations in how cuckolding plays out for different couples—some cuckolds enjoy being verbally and sexually humiliated—but cuckolds are generally involved with watching their partner have sex. Or getting message/photo updates throughout, and being told in detail about it afterwards.

“It makes me pursue and compete for my own wife”

All varieties of cuckolding can be practised by anyone, regardless of their gender identity or sexuality. Nonetheless, there seems to be a high proportion of straight men who are interested in it—and yes, if you sleep with men, you might be familiar with a version of dirty talk that involves you recounting past hookups.

Here, three straight men discuss how they got into cuckolding, what they like about it and how it’s actually benefited their relationships.

“It allows me to watch the best possible porn ever”, says Ben*, a computer systems administrator

“For most of our marriage, my wife has been free to sleep with other men. When she does, she’s always told me about the experiences. We got into polyamory because my wife was having problems staying monogamous. She didn’t understand why it was wrong to love more than one person. We have been doing what is usually called cuckolding for 15 years.

How did you bring up cuckolding with your wife?

“We sort of grew into this place in our lives. We learned to be completely honest with one another, and trust each other. It was incredibly scary to tell my wife some of the things I would be interested in, involving cuckolding. I was terrified she would see me as less than a man, or that I didn’t want her the way I used to, but she’s been very supportive of me.”

What do you like about cuckolding?

“I love the way my wife comes alive. Her body is almost constantly primed, partly from the excitement of the relationship, and partly from the feeling of being wanted by someone new. When she feels sexy and wanted, she becomes a more sexual being, leading to a much more fulfilling sex life for the two of us

“I also believe that wanting something is more powerful than having it. So, feeling like I’m being denied things that my wife is freely sharing with others is a powerful aphrodisiac—it makes me pursue and compete for my own wife in ways I haven’t in a long time.

I’ve always considered myself a feminist. As such, I want my wife to be true to her own desires so that we can meet as equals—she’s not putting aside what she wants for me; we’re moving forward together, accepting one another as we truly are. Autonomy is important to me, and I don’t want my wife to ever feel trapped with me. With cuckolding, I know she could choose anyone she wants, but she always chooses to continue to spend her life with me.”

What are the downsides and benefits?

“There have been plenty of times where I had to fight hard against jealousy, especially in the beginning. I think most of the times that jealousy has taken over, it boiled down to me feeling unimportant, or left out of the loop. Now, when something bothers me, we talk about it quickly and agree on a path forward that works for everyone involved.

“One benefit to me is that my wife is the sexiest person I know. When we make love, I’m entirely responsible for her pleasure, so I tend to focus so much on whether she’s enjoying what I’m doing that I can’t really appreciate her reactions. Being able to watch someone else have sex with my wife allows me to watch the best possible porn ever—I get to fully enjoy the sights and sounds of her pleasure, while also learning entirely new techniques or discovering activities that I never knew she enjoyed.

“For both of us, one of the biggest advantages is how much our bond to one another has strengthened. We talk openly, honestly, and often. We regularly share our feelings, hopes, desires and fears. We have grown so remarkably close, and have gotten to know each other more deeply than we ever could have otherwise.”

“It’s fun to have a secret about our sex lives”, says Oscar*, a marketing manager

“I started dating my fiancée seven years ago. We had spurts of long distance in our early years, so we starting exploring cuckolding. We found that typical sexting was repetitive and a little boring, and one day she offered to tell me about a past sexual encounter in detail. It was a rush to hear, and over time she would tell me more stories. Then I’d occasionally encourage her to flirt with guys when she would go out, and that flirting eventually translated to hookups. I’d say we’ve been active for the last five years.

How did you bring up cuckolding with your fiancée?

“It was a natural progression for us. It arose from boredom in a long distance relationship and a realization that she enjoys being sexually active, while my kink is releasing my partner from the confines of monogamy.”

What do you like about cuckolding?

“For me, it’s a chance for her to explore her sexuality and bring that fun back to the bedroom. She was significantly more sexually experienced than I was when we started dating, and I’ve always found her love of sex and attention to be a major turn on. It’s a little bit like being an introvert who gets to see life through an extrovert’s eyes.”

What are the downsides and benefits?

“Downsides could be bad communication and jealousy. I suppose emotion could get in the way, and she could start falling for someone. But that hasn’t happened to us

“Cuckolding is great because there is no fear of cheating—she gets to do whatever she wants, as long as I get to be part of it too (even if that just means hearing about it). It has brought us closer together sexually. It’s fun to have a secret about our sex lives, and it’s fun to be my fiancée’s cheerleader when she is attracted to a guy.”

“Sexual jealousy, for me, is like a roller coaster ride,” says Liam*, an energy consultant manager

“My wife and I have been together for a little over five years, and it’s always been a small or big part of our relationship. She’s quite a bit younger than myself, and has a very high sex drive. Back when I first became interested in seeing my partner with another man I was in my 20s, though I guess I had been a voyeur all my life. My girlfriend (at the time) and I had an upstairs neighbour, and the idea [of a threesome] just kind of caught hold. It was me who brought it up, but [my girlfriend] was all for it. Since that time, and with every serious relationship since, there have been elements of cuckolding or swinging.”

How have you brought up cuckolding with your partner(s)?

“I talk about it early if I’m feeling really attracted to someone. More about open relationships and swinging, and if they are biting, then great; if not, I know I should move on.”

What do you like about cuckolding?

“I’m easily bored. Some people like fishing, some like motor sports and some like stamp collecting. I like crazy sexual excitement, and I’ve always been drawn to women that are up for the same. I found along the road that I enjoy a bit of jealousy. Sexual jealousy, for me, is like a roller coaster ride—fun, brief, perhaps a little scary, but in the end an experience I’m happy to have.”

We both love sex, so it adds to our sex life

What are the downsides and benefits?

“I guess a downside would be not everyone understanding. [My wife and I] stay discreet. We have separate groups of friends—those that might know and those we would never tell.

“We both love sex, so it adds to our sex life. We are very open with each other and can talk about anything. She loves the attention and the men (or women) she gets to have, and I love having [a wife who is like] a very hot porn star in my home. I’m her biggest fan.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Here’s the lowdown on a lesser-known sexual orientation: asexuality

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Debunking some myths regarding people who identify on the asexualility spectrum

by: Simran Randhawa

Sex usually is directly associated with romance and intimate relationships, but what if you love someone and you still don’t feel sexual attraction towards them? Experiencing this without understanding it can often lead a person to feel inadequate, rejected, and isolated. To make it worse, there are many myths about asexuality and not enough information to go around.

Well, today is your lucky day. Here’s some of the most essential information regarding asexuality.

Asexuality, just like other sexualities — and almost everything — is on a spectrum. One end is a complete lack of sexual attraction and the other end is total sexual attraction. There are multiple sexual and romantic identities that are in-between, such as:

Demisexual: sexual attraction contingent on romantic attraction and a connection to the other person.

Grey-A: the grey area between sexuality and asexuality.

Aromantic: people who experience little to no romantic attraction to others, and can be content with non-romantic partners or friends.

Being a person who identifies as asexual doesn’t mean that you hate sexual intimacy; it only means that this particular form of intimacy is not necessary for you to have a fulfilling relationship. Just like how people who identify as heterosexual don’t feel sexual attraction towards people of same gender. Your romantic attraction is different than sexual attraction, and is treated as such. You could be asexual and still only feel romantic attraction towards people of the same gender, or of different genders.

Although many who identify as asexual do not experience sexual attraction, you can be asexual and still experience other forms of attraction. Some commonly mentioned categories include romantic attraction, aesthetic attraction, and sensual attraction. Aesthetic attraction is when you are attracted only to a person’s looks and how they present themselves. You appreciate their beauty. That doesn’t mean you either want to fall in love with them or have sex with them. Sensual attraction is when you have a desire to engage physically with another person while remaining nonsexual. You might want to platonically sniff, hug, kiss, or cuddle them.

Asexuality is not made up. It is not an excuse to not have sex with you. This cannot be said enough.

Asexuality is not the same thing as celibacy. Being celibate is a choice, regardless of whether it’s for religious or personal reasons. Asexuality isn’t a choice; it’s just who you are. If a person on the asexual spectrum feels sexual arousal, it is very specific to that person and where they are on the spectrum.

Asexuality is also not the same as impotence. Impotency implies that one is unable to perform sexually, and has nothing to do with willingness to do so. Asexual people can perform sexual acts, but would not necessarily want to do so. It does not mean there is something wrong with them or with their significant other, but just that sexual attraction isn’t the defining trait for them. Just because asexual people may not want to have sex with others, doesn’t mean that they don’t masturbate or have sexual fantasies. They can think about others in sexual connotations, but would not want those fantasies to become reality.

Asexuality is not a medical or mental health condition. It’s a sexual orientation, just like heterosexuality and homosexuality — it is just not widely known. The “A” in LGBTQIA doesn’t stand for ally; A is for the people who identify as asexual. But asexuality needs to be just as visible as the other parts of the acronym LGBTQIA, as the lack of information and visibility means that people of this orientation are left to feel like there is something wrong with them.

In summary, sexuality is different from person to person, and everyone falls on the spectrum between a lack of sexual attraction and complete sexual attraction. Some still feel romantic attraction, and they are capable of sexual intimacy. They just don’t feel the need for it, and their relations aren’t contingent on them. The best way to interact with asexuals is exactly the same as with members of other sexual orientations: just be respectful and kind.

Just remember, if you are asexual, there is nothing wrong with you — regardless of what others might say.

Complete Article HERE!

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DublinBus Proud Dads

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This year at Pride, we had the proudest bus in the parade, not because it had the most glitter or flags, because it had the proudest people, Proud Dads. Gwan ahead and warm the cockles of your heart.

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