How to have a polyamorous relationship…

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because it’s more complicated than just casual sex

Being in a polyamorous relationship is more complicated than just casual sex. We spoke with Sophie Lucido Johnson, author of “Many Love,” on what you should know about polyamory.

By Elizabeth Entenman

“In a city like New York, with its infinite possibilities, has monogamy become too much to expect?” When Carrie Bradshaw uttered that rhetorical question during a 1998 episode of Sex and the City, little did we know how common polyamory would become. Carrie was never in a polyamorous relationship, but if the show premiered today, the topic would probably come up in her column quite often.

Polyamory (or “poly” for short) is the belief that you can have an intimate relationship with more than one person, with all partners consenting. Being in a polyamorous relationship is not, as many people wrongfully believe, an exotic trend or an excuse to sleep with as many partners as you want. It’s an alternative to monogamy for people who don’t see themselves being with only one partner, emotionally and/or sexually, for the rest of their lives. Some research suggests that about four to five percent of people in the U.S. are polyamorous.

Polyamorous relationships (also known as consensual non-monogamy) require a lot of honesty and communication. To get a better idea of what it’s really like to be in a poly relationship, we spoke with Sophie Lucido Johnson, author of Many Love: A Memoir of Polyamory and Finding Love(s). She opened up about challenges, offered advice for maintaining strong communication, and shared important safety precautions for exploring polyamory. Read on if you’re curious about what it’s really like to be poly.

HelloGiggles: Is a polyamorous relationship the same thing as an open relationship?

Sophie Lucido Johnson: I describe it as being like squares and rectangles—you know, how every square is a rectangle, but not every rectangle is a square? Every polyamorous relationship is an open relationship, but not every open relationship is a polyamorous relationship. Polyamory requires enthusiasm, knowledge, and consent from all people involved.

HG: What are the basic communication “rules” of being in a polyamorous relationship?

SLJ: Every poly relationship is different, so the rules will absolutely depend on the people participating in the relationship. In my relationship, it’s 100% communication about everything all the time. Defusing the tension around talking about my partners’ other relationships has taken away the power there. For me, that works really well. I very rarely experience jealousy anymore, and when I do, it’s a great opportunity for my partners and me to talk about where it’s coming from.

HG: How can people in polyamorous relationships set boundaries?

SLJ: Once again, every poly relationship is different. Every person has to establish their own boundaries and communicate about them; their partners have to listen and honor those boundaries. But I’m working on a book right now where I asked a therapist about boundaries, and he said that boundaries are tricky because it’s hard to know where yours are until they’ve been crossed.

HG: What’s the biggest challenge of being in a polyamorous relationship?

SLJ: The biggest challenge is also the biggest gift: Polyamory asks for its participants to get in bed with their uncomfortable emotions. You can’t push away feelings of fear or jealousy or anger; you have to go into those feelings, pick them apart, and try to understand them. This is hard work, but it’s profoundly rewarding, too. Polyamory and radical honesty are closely linked, in my opinion. The truth isn’t always pleasant and lovely and comfortable. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t tell it.

HG: Are there any safety precautions people should take?

SJL: All the precautions. My brand of polyamory is not super sex-focused—I’m more interested in emotional intimacy with some kissing on the side. But when I do engage in sex with people, it’s always protected, except with my husband, with whom I am fluid bonded. Ask people when they last got tested; ask them if they’ve been with anyone since then; ask them what they feel is important to share about their sexual history. Always check the expiration date on your condoms and dental dams. Use condoms on sex toys and invest in some sexy latex gloves for hardcore finger play.

And then beyond that, work to de-stigmatize sexually transmitted infections. Most of them are relatively harmless (meaning: they’re not going to kill you, although they’re unpleasant). We have ideas about STIs that are way out of line in comparison to the way we look at other chronic infections. They’re not grosser because they’re on your genitals. Sexual health is just health. It is crucial that we begin to talk about it that way.

HG: How can someone bring up the subject of opening their relationship with their partner?

SLJ: Don’t open up your relationship because something inside your relationship is broken. Opening it up is not going to fix the broken thing. Work on the broken thing first and establish whether it can be fixed. If one person wants to be open and the other person really doesn’t, then that relationship is probably not going to work in the long run. Honor each other’s realities. If both partners are eager and excited to pursue other relationships—versus, say, terrified or desperate—then establish what rules and boundaries make the most sense for you.

I have personally never met a couple who has made a parallel polyamorous situation work out for more than a year, but the internet swears that it’s possible. Parallel polyamory is the sort of don’t-ask-don’t-tell version, where you and your partner date on the side but don’t tell each other details. I’m a big advocate of telling the truth. The difficult conversations are the ones that bring us closer.

HG: What’s the biggest misconception about polyamorous relationships?

SLJ: That polyamory is all about sex. For me (and tons of poly people I know), it’s about two main things. One: accepting and embracing that relationships do not stand still and will change over time, and committing to a partner or partners that everyone is going to communicate, constantly, about those natural changes. And two: shifting priorities to embrace friends, chosen family, and non-sexual romantic relationships, where traditionally our social priorities have been around a single partner. None of that has to do with sex. Assuming that polyamory is all about orgies and millennials three-way kissing in bars does the culture a tremendous disservice and excludes a ton of people who are asexual or sexually transitioning and are uncomfortable with sex.

Complete Article HERE!

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How to talk about kink with a new partner, because it doesn’t have to be awkward

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By Tracey Anne Duncan

“I like to struggle,” I whispered. What I meant was: Hold me down. Instead, she wrapped her arms around me and held me sweetly, nuzzling her face into my neck and petting my arm lightly with her fingertips. Oh, I thought. That’s not what I wanted. We had just been all sweaty and frenzied and now we were cuddling? Was she purposely withholding? Embarrassed? We had only hooked up once before, so I didn’t know her that well. “Are you into that?” I asked — determined to tell her about my kink preferences — but she was already gently snoring.

And then it hit me. She thought I said, “snuggle.”

I laughed to myself. She was a thoughtful lover and was just trying to give me what I asked for. She just wasn’t kinky, and I am kind of kinky. For the unfamiliar, that means that I like to do things in bed that some people find unusual. Kinky people call people who find our desires unusual “vanilla.” Although some people say it with shade, vanilla is my favorite flavor and I’m not here to judge anyone.

In any event, kink isn’t actually that unusual. Even though most people don’t consider themselves kinky, studies show that most people have kinky fantasies, even if they don’t actually have kinky sex. Interestingly, kink preferences often break down along party lines. Liberals tend to be drawn to BDSM (bondage, domination or discipline, sadism, and masochism), while conservatives are more likely to be into taboo-breaking activities, like age and incest play. Personally, I like to play with power dynamics. In kink circles, this is called domination and submission and they, along with bondage, are some of the most common practices of kinky folks.

But it wasn’t that long ago that I began exploring this facet of my sexuality. It’s taken time to learn how to communicate about kink well, and I still have questions — when is it OK to tell people I’m dating about my kinks? And how do I bring it up?

“There’s no one size fits all answer for these things,” says Dulcinea Pitagora, a NYC-based psychologist and sex therapist. “Anytime I hear someone say ‘that’s the rule,’ I immediately discard it. Disclosure is a privacy and a boundary issue. It’s entirely based on someone’s comfort level.”

Amanda Sanflippo, a New Orleans sex educator with an adult sex ed radio show, agrees. “It depends on the person,” she says. “I don’t have a formula.”

But if there aren’t any rules, what’s an aspiring kinkster to do with a new-ish partner when they want to try something that the other person might find strange? First of all, wait until you’re comfortable with someone and have developed a sense of trust. The experts are right in that there’s no formula for this, but you can typically tell if someone is basically trustworthy. While some people say that you should just let your freak flag fly from the very start, there are real risks around putting your private sexual desires out into the public domain, so trust is key.

“If somebody gets outed, they could lose their job, their apartment, or even their children. Discrimination happens in many different ways. There’s a possibility of disclosing that could put you in a dangerous situation,” Pitagora notes. She adds that these are worst case scenarios; if your employers or sex-negative people in your community find out about your “unusual” desires, you might just end up feeling uncomfortable, making someone else uncomfortable, or scaring off a person you want to get to know.

Sanflippo says that if you meet someone on a dating app and who is likely to be just a hookup, it’s OK to be upfront about your kinks. You can do this before you even give them your phone number or real name, so there’s no safety or outing risk. Recently, I was messaging a guy on Tinder and within the first few messages, he asked, “Are you sub?” What he meant was: Am I sexually submissive? It felt safe for him to ask and for me to answer honestly because our flirtation was still anonymous.

So if you’re chatting anonymously with someone and it feels safe to you, don’t hesitate to indulge in a little freaky banter. And if you’re already sexting on an app, it’s also OK to say, “I want to tie you up.”

But what if you meet someone IRL? Sanflippo suggests first asking your potential crush what they’re into, instead of just dropping the kink bomb on them. “If I was considering being intimate with someone, I might ask a person if they are into kinks rather than divulging my own,” she says. “I’ll ask them what kind of sex they enjoy. Then you can sense if they’re comfortable.”

This is a great rule of thumb. Wait to talk about sex with someone until it seems like you might want to have sex with them; if you’re already thinking about exchanging fluids, exchanging a few words beforehand can’t hurt.

And if you do plan to have sex soon, instead of making a demand like, “I want you to forcefeed me cake,” you can ask a question like, “What do you like to do in bed?” This is a direct and emotionally friendly way of figuring out whether your hookup might be into the same things as you. It’s also a good way to game out your sexual compatibility and strategize about what sexual activities might be mutually pleasurable in advance.

“The conversation about consent is what’s actually more important,” Pitagora says. “The nitty gritty and specifics aren’t as important.”

Basically, you can say you’re kinky and not go into detail — but you can’t not ask for consent. Since I’m already oversharing, I will tell you that more than half of my recent male partners have tried to do some pretty aggressive and dangerous to me without asking for permission. I don’t know what’s going on in cis-het 50 Shades of Patriarchy land because I mostly date women, but you cannot assume that people are into rough sex or BDSM.

“It’s important to know that it’s something that some people are into,” says Pitagora, “but some people aren’t and they could be traumatized. You don’t want to traumatize your sexual partners.”

Um, yeah. What she said.

Activities such as sexual choking, which is rising in popularity in vanilla het sex and porn, are considered “edge play” in BDSM communities. That means that it’s dangerous, and so not only do you have to ask for consent, you also have to know what you’re doing. “The person not asking for consent is also not trained to do it,” Pitagora says. This means that they shouldn’t do it, ever.

I’m (really) not trying to scare you away from BDSM, but sexual choking is also called “erotic asphyxiation” and you’ve definitely heard of it because people die from it. Tying someone up the wrong way can lead to all kinds of injury, including nerve damage. Getting and giving consent and talking about what you and your partner do in the bedroom aren’t just issues of ethics and pleasure — they can be issues of life and death.

“People should embrace saying the obvious,” Pitagora says, especially straight, cisgender men. “Cis-het men are used to being dominant by default. They might think asking for consent is too obvious, but because we can’t know, it’s just not obvious.” In other words, even if you are already pretty sure that someone is saying YES, you need to ask them to say (or scream, if you’re into that) YES out loud so that everyone’s signals line up. Consent can also be a great lead in to talking about your kinks. “Is it OK for me to kiss you?” is just a single word switch away from, “is it OK for me to spank you?”

In the past year, I’ve gotten a lot better about being explicit about what I want. In some ways, I was late to the kink party — I was basically married for half my life to vanilla folks and I never really thought to sexperiment with them. But, actually, I’m not late. Most people become more sexually adventurous as they age, and it can take a lot of trial and error before you get good at saying what you like out loud to new partners.

It’s definitely worth it, though. I’ve had more great sex in the last six months than I did in the first 20 years of my life. So if you’ve got some kinky fantasies, don’t worry, you’re not late, either, it’s just might take you a hot minute to learn how to talk about them.

A few weeks ago I hooked up with my sweet, snuggly friend again. She straddled me and playfully held my hands together over my head. When I resisted, she let go.

“No,” I said, “when I resist, I want you to push harder.”

“Ohhhhhhh,” she said, smiling. And then she held me down.

I think I like her.

Complete Article HERE!

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There are infinite ways to have sex & there’s nothing unnatural about any of them

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The famous sex researcher Alfred Kinsey once said the only unnatural sex act is one that can’t be performed.

By and

Humans have discovered an almost infinite amount of ways to have sex — and things to have sex with. The famous sex researcher Alfred Kinsey said: “The only unnatural sex act is that which can’t be performed.”

From foot fetishes to the kinkiest outfit or habits, fetishes are an endless rainbow of preferences and practices. Although human studies on fetishes and atypical sexual interest are few, case studies and research on non-human animal behaviour have revealed some insights about them and how they may develop.

In fetishism, the subject of the desire is not necessarily related to sexual intercourse, yet the fetish drives a person’s sexual arousal, fantasies and preferences. Fetishes can be part of a healthy and playful sexual life for individuals and couples, and also forms the basis of some sexual subcultures.

Unfortunately, fetishes have often wrongly been associated with sexual deviancy, making it easy to feel weird or shame about them. Many of us are quick to judge things we do not understand or experience. When it comes to sex, we can believe that things we don’t do are weird, wrong or even disgusting.

Let’s not judge each other’s sex lives. Instead, embrace your curiosity.

The Pride marches taking place this summer began as a social movement against repressive and discriminatory practices against LGBTQ people following the Stonewall riots in New York City in 1969. Fifty years later, Pride month has become a commemoration and celebration of sexual minorities and diversity.

Let’s take a look under the covers together to paint a more positive view of these so-called “perversions.” We all may have a kink or two. So why not feel more accepting of our more obscure sexual desires?

What are fetishes?

Fetishes are not just about whips and leather, but part of a natural curiosity to explore the unknown territories of our sexuality.

A lot of the early science claimed fetishes were sexual abnormalities or perversions. However, most researchers and clinical practitioners now only consider fetishes to be harmful if they cause distress, physical harm or transgress consent.

Scientists have recently begun to understand how some fetishes develop. Several animal studies and case reports on humans suggest that early imprinting and Pavlovian or classical conditioning can shape the formation of fetishes. We believe learning from experiences plays a large role in forming fetishes.

From a Pavlovian conditioning perspective, fetishes are seen as the product of associating early and rewarding sexual experiences with objects, actions or body parts that are not necessarily sexual. This is perhaps why different people have different fetishes.

As for early imprinting, the best example comes from a study in which newborn goats and sheep were cross-fostered by a mother of another species. Goats were mothered by sheep, and the sheep mothered by goats. The results showed male goats and sheep had sexual preferences for females of the opposite species, meaning the same species as their adopting mothers, while females on the other hand were more fluid in their choices and were willing to have sex with males of both species.

Studies with rats have shown that other non-human animals also develop fetishes.

This study shines some light on sex differences in human fetishes, as men with fetishes tend to vastly outnumber women with fetishes.

These sex differences appear to be explained solely by differences in sexual urges, where men tend to show higher arousal or less repulsion towards various “deviant” sexual acts than women do. This, nevertheless, does not imply men have more psychological disorders.

Fetish-related disorders

Fetishes, just like any other thing in life, can be taken to where it may be a little “too much.” They may not only be preferred, but also needed in the expression of sexual arousal, which can impair the preferred pattern of arousal or performance.

Fetish-related disorders are characterized by the expression of two main criteria: recurrent and intense sexual arousal from either the use of objects or highly specific body part(s) that are not genitalia manifested by fantasies, urges or behaviours; those which can cause great distress or impairment of their intimacy, social or occupational life.

Some are particularly troubling, like exhibitionism or frotteurism. These paraphilias are believed to be distortions of normal sexual interactions with others. Sadly, both of them still remain poorly understood.

As previously mentioned, if by some reason we can establish associations that can drive our arousal through learning experiences, research has also shown that these associations can be “erased.” However, this process can be quite slow, difficult to change and susceptible of being spontaneously triggered by familiar cues.

No definition of normal

Fetishes have the potential of enhancing or expanding the repertoire of sensations we experience during sex. In fact, experimental data shows that animals become more sexually aroused when they learn to associate sex with fetish-like cues.

Instead of focusing on what you should like or what should get you off or not, you’re better off wondering how that thing suits you or your partner. Normality falls within blurry lines, and it is up to you to expand its limits or not.

There is no exact definition of what constitutes normal or healthy. These definitions are highly dependent of the context (historical time and culture).

We get caught up with what appears to be more frequent, healthy, natural or normal: but what about what feels right?

So how do you know if you have a fetish? If there is consent and respect, it really doesn’t matter what you do between the bed sheets, on the kitchen table or on that secret hidden spot.

Perhaps you don’t have a fetish. But it’s never too late to try.

As North Americans celebrate Pride this summer, we should take it as a reminder of our colourful sexual diversity —and also the infinite ways to have sex, with nothing unnatural about any of them.

We believe all people should be allowed to express their sexuality and embrace it without the weight of stereotypes or “normal” standards to live by. Life is too short to not make the best out of it, especially when it comes to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh.

Complete Article HERE!

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If You’re Into Kink…

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You Need to Join One Of These Dating Apps

By Erika W. Smith

Kink can encompass a lot of things: bondage, yes, but also spanking, choking, feet, cuckolding, and watersports. And it turns out that many of us are at least a little bit kinky. One Canadian study asked over 1,000 adults about their sexual fantasies, and found that about half were interested in some kind of kink. The most popular kinks fell under the categories of voyeurism, fetishism, exhibitionism, masochism, and sadism.

“People want to be tied up,” researcher Christian Joyal told the Montreal Gazette. “As long as it’s with a consenting partner, people will be relieved to know that their desires are not necessarily abnormal.” He added, “One hundred years ago, oral sex was considered gross, 50 years ago it was illegal and now it is the number one fantasy. In 30 years from now, I would be surprised if BDSM wasn’t part of normal sexuality.”

Whatever you’re into, you’re far from alone. And while you can certainly ask your Tinder match if they want to choke you or exchange “kink menus” with your partner, there are also kink-specific dating apps out there to make the search for someone with compatible kinks a little bit easier.

Keep in mind that, as always, consent is mandatory — and if you match with someone who wants you to sign a “consent contract” or refuses to use a safe word, that’s a red flag. If you don’t already know your potential kink partner, sex and intimacy coach Shelby Devlin previously suggested to Refinery29 that it’s a good idea to “[go] on a couple of dates and [get] a feel for someone, giving them an opportunity to demonstrate that they’re good with boundaries, before you do any BDSM.” And that goes for any other kink, too.

On the plus side, many people using kink-specific dating apps may already be kinky pros, rather than someone who just watched Fifty Shades of Grey for the first time. Here are a few kinky apps to get you started

Complete Article HERE!

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Why it’s dangerous to treat gay and bi men’s sexual health in the same way

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Bisexual men’s sexual health is at risk, Lewis Oakley says, because researchers treat gay and bi men the same way

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One of my biggest issues as a bisexual campaigner is to tackle how we conduct sexual health research.

Last week’s Public Health England report demonstrated an issue we face again and again.

Their latest study found gonorrhea and syphilis cases are surging among gay and bisexual men.

Research like this classify gay and bisexual men as the same thing. But even though other studies have found bi men are more at risk of STIs, their public health needs are often unmet.

Why is treating gay and bi men’s sexual health the same an issue? 

It’s so basic, it’s baffling but here we go. Gay men only have sex with men and bisexual men could be having sex with men or/ and women. How can you not assess these two forms of sexuality separately when looking at sexually transmitted infections?

I do understand the perspective that what they are really doing is grouping together ‘men who have sex with men’ because they have unique health risks.

But from a practical point of view, that simply doesn’t work. You are only taking in to account part of a bi man’s sex life. It is the most obvious form of bi erasure. ‘We are only going to take in to account the sex you have with men. The fact you have sex with women will be omitted from the research.’

Limited studies that do look at gay and bi men differently have found startling results.

One study argued rates of HIV in bisexual men is closer to those of heterosexual men than gay men.

The truth is, this is a large scale failing on the part of sexual health research. It endangers bisexual men like myself.

Sexual health issues unique to bisexual men are ignored because it doesn’t correlate with what gay men are dealing with.

For example, no sexual health research has ever surveyed bisexual men to see if they are more or less likely to use a condom with a man or a woman. From my own interactions with other bi men, I’ve long suspected there could be a discrepancy in condom use. However, because such an issue doesn’t impact gay men, I have no research to prove this point. As a consequence, if I am right it means no effort is being put in to improving condom use by bisexuals.

Bisexual sexual health impact

If we wanted to play the discrimination card, you could argue an unintentional consequence of all this research encourages bi men to see sex with men as too dangerous. It may push them to be more comfortable with women.

For gay men, highlighting specific risks they are more susceptible too is good practice. But for bisexual men who have the option of sex with men and women only showing them negative realities of having sex with men could be off-putting. Obviously, no research has ever asked bisexual men if sexual health reporting makes them more cautious about having sex with men than they are women, so we will just leave that as wild speculation at this point.

More insidiously, the overall consequence is that bisexual men are being disenfranchised from the conversation about safe sex.

London Assembly Health committee found that bisexual people, and those who come under the + category, report that their identity is frequently misunderstood or simply erased by health professionals.

As a consequence, another study found there is a substantial gap in knowledge specifically on bisexual health needs still remains.

Feeling their bisexuality won’t be taken seriously, only 33% of bisexuals feeling comfortable sharing their sexual orientation with their general practitioner.

If we want to change this, we need to make the effort to bring bi men in to the sexual health conversation.

Time to take bisexuals seriously

What we need to see is research that reflects bi men’s experience. Statistics should be available on issues such as condom use, unplanned pregnancy and the most common STIs.

We then need targeted health campaigns telling bisexual men how to protect themselves.

From my own experience, we need to do a better job educating sexual health professionals. Doctors must know bisexuality exists and be educated on their sexual health risks.

As the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reported, men who have sex with men and women — regardless of whether they identify as bisexual — have distinct health care needs.

They could also do more to target bisexuals. I’m not tooting my own horn here but I’m pretty well known for being bisexual. I’ve written for most major sites, appeared across TV and radio and have a weekly column. You would think organizations might reach out to ask me to help promote their bisexual survey/ service – but no.

All I’m asking for is some specific research to help bi men make informed decisions about their sexual health. It’s not unreasonable to ask that bisexual men be looked at separately to gay men.

And until that becomes the new way of working, this bisexual activist will continue to say: the majority of sexual health research is fake news.

Complete Article HERE!

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Nonmonogamy Is Not The Answer To All Your Relationship Problems

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By Effy Blue

Nonmonogamy is becoming more recognized as a legitimate relationship structure with more people talking openly about their practice. Although it certainly is not for everyone and definitely not the “easier” option, it is piquing the interest of plenty of people for many reasons.

For some people, monogamy or nonmonogamy is an orientation on par with sexual orientation. It’s a part of who they are. For others, monogamy or nonmonogamy is a choice. It’s in line with what they want to create in their lives and in their relationships. It’s a reflection of their value system. Some people may value security, safety, and stability, and those may opt for a monogamous relationship, while others may choose nonmonogamy because they value multiplicity, sharing erotic energy, or exploring broader sexual orientation.

In an ideal world, partners are on the same page: They either decide on a structure at the beginning of their relationship, or they decide to shift into a different structure later on in the relationship with a consensus, through open communication.

Actively and consciously designing your relationships, including deciding on whether you want to be monogamous or not, can be a very powerful force for your relationship and set you up to thrive as a couple in the long run. However, if you’re currently in a monogamous relationship and considering opening it up, it’s important to note nonmonogamy is not an effective strategy to solve your current relationship problems or alleviate the boredom you associate with it.

When nonmonogamy doesn’t work.

Because I am a relationship coach specializing in consensual nonmonogamy, so many people come to me thinking an open relationship will fix their relationships. They come defeated, disconnected, and dissatisfied while still feeling very attached to each other. It soon becomes obvious they are reaching out for a life raft in the shape of nonmonogamy. A desire for nonmonogamy turns out to be a bid for space, a bid for attention, a bid for autonomy, a bid for a solution. 

But despite all its potential benefits and excitement, opening up your relationship is not a “solution” or a way to “fix” a relationship that feels negative, stale, or otherwise off.

The best relationships to open are healthy and thriving ones. A healthy relationship of any kind—but especially a nonmonogamous one—requires a foundation of vulnerability, open communication, and trust. Kindness, compassion, mutual respect, and joy for one another along with a desire to address and resolve conflicts create the ideal environment for people to thrive in nonmonogamous relationships. It’s essential for partners to feel heard and their needs highly regarded. If I were to be listening in to a relationship with a stethoscope like a physician to gauge the health of it, I’d be listening for thank you’s and I’m sorry’s. The more genuine gratitude and heartfelt apologies, the healthier and stronger the connection.

Monogamous relationships that lack these fundamental qualities and skills likely wouldn’t be able to withstand the transition to nonmonogamy. If you are finding yourself in the same arguments over and over again, exclaiming “I want an open relationship” as you slam doors; or if you have a closet full of desires that you’ve decided cannot be satisfied by your current partner, and you are not willing to talk about it; or if you feel you are drifting in a haze of sameness and can’t figure out how to break out, nonmonogamy is not the answer.

If you are in a sexless relationship and you aren’t able to have conversations about it; or if you feel chronically lonely in the relationship and aren’t able to restore frayed connections; or if you feel either unheard, unappreciated, uncared for, dissatisfied, smothered, or trapped, and you can’t find words to express these feelings to your partner, nonmonogamy is not going to save you.

Similar to any big change, be it moving to a new state or deciding to have kids, opening up a relationship will shine a sports-stadium-sized spotlight on the issues in your current relationship. Unresolved arguments, hidden resentments, ignored boundaries, delayed conversations, shelved desires, and unmet needs will all come to light and will demand attention. Without well-practiced tools and skills for communication, negotiation, and conflict resolution, nonmonogamy will only apply further tension to the relationship.

Further, if you do open up your relationship with current issues unaddressed and unresolved and start dating other people, you’ll be dragging unsuspecting new partners into your dysfunction.

Do some soul-searching. Are you saying, “I want an open relationship” because you can’t bring yourself to say, “I want to break up”? Are you running away from real or perceived conflict? Have you checked out of the relationship but you feel you can’t leave? If the answers are yes, I recommend you either get support to resolve these issues or find the courage to end your relationship in a kind and compassionate way.

Doing the work.

The truth is “wherever you go, there you are.” If you think the relationship or your partner is the problem and you are trying to get away to have something different, chances are you’ll only have more of the same. We are the common denominators of our lives.

Start with yourself. If it’s available to you, spend a period of time in personal therapy. Also invest in some personal development in the areas of sex and relationships. There are some excellent books, workshops, and online courses and communities dedicated to pleasure-based sex education for adults and communication skills. I also strongly recommend working with a professional, be it a couples therapist, counselor, or coach to address the relationship struggles. Make sure the people you choose to work with are open-minded to the idea that ultimately you may want to move to a nonmonogamous structure.

And last but not least, spend some time focusing on your relationship rather than running away from it. Find ways to have those unresolved conversations. Schedule time to reconnect in line with the way you show and receive love, be it a sensual massage or a picnic in the park.

Here’s the thing: There is no relationship free of conflict or struggle. It doesn’t mean you have to address everything before you can even begin to think about opening up your relationship. Research does show people in consensual nonmonogamous relationships are “more satisfied with and committed to their relationships,” suggesting nonmonogamy can absolutely breathe new life into a relationship. When practiced consciously and ethically, it can be an agent for new energy and connections, self-expression, adventure, discovery, and community.

Nonmonogamy can be a part of a creative, solutions-based approach to making sure everyone gets what they need in the relationship. It requires a goodwill effort to address the relationship as it is today, to hear and attend to the needs of the people in the relationship.

When will you know you are ready? When you feel you can approach nonmonogamy with curiosity and a spirit of exploration—not as a cure-all or an escape.

Complete Article HERE!

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Pride Month Too Often Overlooks LGBTQ Members With Disabilities

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Why we need to make Pride Month celebrations inclusive of people with disabilities.

By Sarah Kim

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Inn riots. Since then, June has been recognized as Pride Month, dedicated to celebrating the resilience, perseverance and unity of the LGBTQ community.

During a time when diversity and inclusion are the main pillars of Pride, people with disabilities are still left out in the discussion and celebration of sexual and gender diversity. Just last year, the historic Stonewall Inn bar denied entrance to a blind queer person because they didn’t provide paperwork for their service dog — a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which states no paperwork is needed for the entrance of a service animal.

That is only one of many examples of how Pride remains mostly inaccessible to the disabled, deaf or hard-of-hearing, blind and people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Accessibility issues are present in gay bars, parties, big parades, as well as protests and rallies.

The physical spaces of many of these events present obstacles for people with physical disabilities or with sensory sensitivities. For example, parades can often be difficult for people with mobility issues because of uneven, long routes, extreme heat and tight, narrow spaces. Even if there is a designated wheelchair path, often times the parade coordinators underestimate the amount of space needed, or the path becomes overcrowded.

Even intimate gatherings often lack disability accommodations. Events with speakers, more often than not, do not have accompanying ASL interpretation, film screenings do not have closed captioning and spaces do not account for participants with noise or light sensitivity or who are on the autism spectrum.

However, these physical barriers and obstacles have a more significant implication. People with disabilities have been viewed as asexual beings, or incapable of having other identities other than being disabled. The mainstream population too often feels squeamish about someone who might need help in the bathroom, also having a fulfilling sex life.

Activist points out that Pride is too often inaccessible.

The Atlantic recently released a short documentary following the hurdles a married couple had to face when trying to convince a group home to allow them to live together. They both have intellectual disabilities, but that doesn’t mean that they are incapable of understanding their sexuality or of being in a marital relationship. The couple had to legally prove that they can consent to their sexual relationship, and thereby earning their right to live together. The mere fact that the couple had to go through this process speaks volumes on the social and cultural perception on the sexuality of people with disabilities.

The fundamental meaning behind Pride is for everyone to be proud of their bodies, sexuality and physical appearances. However, the same invitation is too often denied to LGBTQ folks with disabilities. Instead, they are reminded that they don’t belong in such spaces and that they can’t have sexual or gender identities. They want the exact same things that non-disabled LGBTQ people want in life: acceptance and not being “othered.”

People have multiple facets of their identities — a concept that is often referred to as intersectionality in academic and research settings. To ignore, or not account for, one aspect of a person’s identify — say, their disability — penetrates the notions of exclusion and discrimination. In turn, this can eradicate the histories of members of the LGBTQ community with disabilities.

Disability accommodations and inclusivity should not be an afterthought, but rather a priority when planning LGBTQ events and celebrations. Pride should strive to honor and recognize the lives of all people who identify as LGBTQ, and that certainly includes people with disabilities.

“As long as trans disabled people like me exist, disability issues are trans issues, and trans issues are disability issues,” Dominick Evans told them. Evans is trans, queer and disabled filmmaker and advocate.

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How to Have Sex if You’re Queer

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

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Happy Pride!

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

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

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

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

What Queer Sex Means and How to Have it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Safer Sex for Queer Sex

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Complete Article HERE!

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Living and dying in the shadows

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

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

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

Often, they only met their murderers.

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

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

Author, James Polchin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet juries sympathized with the killers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Once again, the defendants were convicted only of manslaughter.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Compared to some attitudes, this was practically liberal.

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

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

Complete Article HERE!

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

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

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

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

Well-being differences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Identity and acceptance

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

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

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

Complete Article HERE!

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How the Nazis destroyed the first gay rights movement

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

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

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

The first LGBTQ liberation movement

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

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

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

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

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

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

The backlash

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

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

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

The ascent of Fascism

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

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

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

The nightmare

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

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

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

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

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

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

The looming danger of a backslide

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

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

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

Complete Article HERE!

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How Gay Culture Blossomed During the Roaring Twenties

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

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

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

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

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

A portrait of a couple, circa 1920s.

The Beginnings of a New Gay World

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

 

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

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

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

Gay Life in the Jazz Age

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Pansy Craze” Comes to an End

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

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

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

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

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

Complete Article HERE!

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Gay men reveal the fetishes they don’t want others to know about

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Kinky gay men who are open and honest with partners are more likely to have better mental health

By Joe Morgan

Gay men have revealed the fetishes they don’t want others to know about.

XTube surveyed their users to determine and rank which fetishes they get turned most on by.

The winner was ‘partialism’, also known as a fetish for a particular part of the body. This could be anything from feet to a hairy chest.

Role play was second on the list, while narratophilia (or dirty talk) was third on the list.

The answers was collected from over 3,000 gay or bisexual men over the age of 18.

Fetishes

The full list:

1. Partialism (9.54%)

2. Role play (8.24%)

3. Narratophilia [or dirty talk] (7.55%)

4. Uniforms [firefighters, soldiers etc] (7.41%)

5. Bondage (7.31%)

6. Submission (7. 3%)

7. Exhibitionism [sex in a place you can get caught] (6.28%)

8. Voyeurism [watching others have sex] (4.7%)

9. Maschalagnia [armpits] (3.4%)

10. Macrophilia [someone being bigger than you] (2.79%)

11. Olfactophilia [smells and odors] (2.52%)

12. Clothing fetishism [leather, rubber] (2.14%)

13. Underwear fetishism [jockstraps, etc] (2.01%)

14. Ablutophilia [baths, showers] (1.78%)

15. Technosexuality [robots, toys etc] (1.4%)

16. Medical fetishism [doctors etc] (1.36%)

17. Podophilia [feet] (1.24%)

18. Coulrophilia [clowns] (1.11%)

19. Sitophilia [food] (1%)

20. Pygophilia [bums] (0.79%)

21. Transvestophilia [wearing clothing typically worn by the opposite gender] (0.65%)

22. Toonophilia [cartoons] (0.3%)

Kink and mental health

If you are kinky, psychotherapists advise to share it with your partners if you already have good communication.

Also, some studies say people who do engage in kink are more likely to have positive mental health.

Deborah Fields, a kink-specialist and psychotherapist, told Gay Star News: ‘[There are studies that say] people who are kinky are more likely to be ok with themselves. People who are kinky tend to have better mental health than people who are not.

‘It’s a hard one to judge. I see a lot of mental health issues. However, do I see any more mental health issues than those outside of the kink community. No.

‘I think what kinky people do is talk more. We have to talk about our shit more than someone that doesn’t. You’re negotiating consent. That community, we, are more likely to discuss things and be open about mental health upfront. The idea of being risk-aware is also including mental health.

‘Research says we’re quite ok. However, there’s no widespread research that has yet to look at the kink community.

Complete Article HERE!

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How the homophobic media covered the 1969 Stonewall uprising

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The New York Daily News and the Village Voice used slurs in their reporting about the police raid that galvanized the gay rights movement

A sign at New York City’s Stonewall Inn, a gay bar and national historic landmark where a police raid and riots in 1969 galvanized the gay rights movement.

By Gillian Brockell

The most striking thing about the media coverage of the Stonewall riots — the 1969 uprising that was a turning point in the gay rights movement — is how offensive much of it was.

“Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees Are Stinging Mad” blared the headline on the front page of the New York Daily News. “Lilies of the valley” “pranced out to the street” when the cops showed up, the paper said.

“The police had difficulty keeping a dyke in a patrol car,” reported the Village Voice. And from inside the bar, where police and the Village Voice reporter were briefly trapped, “the sound filtering in doesn’t suggest dancing faggots any more.”

And if you’re wondering if those words were as derogatory then as they are now — “Yeah, these were not friendly words,” said historian Hugh Ryan after reading both articles. Ryan is the author of the book “When Brooklyn Was Queer.”

Both the Daily News and Village Voice stories were long and detailed, but the focus is on prurient descriptions of gay and transgender people meant to highlight their difference.

Consider the decidedly non-news lead in the Daily News:

“She sat there with her legs crossed, the lashes of her mascara-coated eyes beating like the wings of a hummingbird. She was angry. She was so upset she hadn’t bothered to shave. A day old stubble was beginning to push through the pancake makeup. She was a he. A queen of Christopher Street.”

We know now that most of the participants in the Stonewall Riots were gay men, though transgender women and lesbians also played vital roles. But more often than not in the Daily News story, the rioters are referred to as “lad[ies]-in-waiting,” “spokesman, or spokeswoman” and “girls.” Stonewall is described as a bar where “they could congregate, drink, dance and do whatever little girls do.”

Ryan says this may be shocking to read now, but he can’t say definitively whether the reporter is being intentionally offensive. Nowadays there is growing understanding of the difference between transgender women, like Laverne Cox; gay men who sometimes dress in drag, like RuPaul; and other people who just like to mess with ideas about gender by, say, wearing a dress and growing a beard.

For example, one of the rioters was a gay man named Martin Boyce who told Ryan that at the time of the riots, he was a “scare queen” — someone who “wore just enough drag to freak out the straights.”

“What does that mean in terms of how he would have been covered?” Ryan asked. Reporters may not have seen or known the difference between Boyce and transgender activists like Marsha P. Johnson. (Many newsrooms and journalism groups now have guides on how to cover LGBT subjects.)

Jerry Lisker, who wrote the Daily News article, died in 1993. Howard Smith, who wrote the Village Voice article and was a noted chronicler of the hippie movement, died in 2014. His New York Times obituary says many people first heard words like “Stonewall” from his reporting, without mentioning that Smith used gay slurs in the same report.

Coverage of Stonewall in the Times was certainly less salacious — and just less, in word count. A few hundred words describe the first night of the unrest under the headline “4 policemen hurt in ‘Village’ raid.” And the next day, when protests continued, a few hundred more words were printed under the headline “Police again rout ‘Village’ youths.”

The Washington Post was even more spare; toward the back of the July 1, 1969, edition, just 60 words follow the headline “N.Y. Homosexuals Protest Raids.” The Post didn’t mention Stonewall again for 10 years.

But according to Ryan, the fact it was covered at all is significant.

“Part of what is important about Stonewall is that it gets a certain amount of straight recognition,” he said.

That recognition was not accidental. Stonewall participants such as Jim Fouratt were actively seeking media attention.

Ryan said that when he spoke with Fouratt, the activist recalled, “The first thing I did when I got home from Stonewall is I picked up my Rolodex and I called everyone.” Fouratt, who was well-connected in the antiwar movement and music industry, called reporters and activists to amplify the impact of the riots.

Some of that coverage wasn’t exactly accurate. One of the long-standing myths of Stonewall — that it was sparked by the death of gay icon Judy Garland — springs from that coverage. While a few of the participants have told historians that, yes, they did stand outside Garland’s funeral earlier that day, Garland’s death had nothing to do with why they were rioting. Plus, most of the rioters were young street kids, not the older gay men more associated with Garland fandom.

In fact, the only mention of a Garland connection appears nearly two weeks after the police raid, in an insulting Village Voice column that began: “The combination of a full moon and Judy Garland’s funeral was too much for them.” The columnist then calls Stonewall “the Great Faggot Rebellion.”

“I think [the Judy Garland myth] persists because it’s a good story, because it’s easy to pass on … and that makes it survive,” Ryan said, “But I do think it trivializes” Stonewall to repeat the myth.

The most important thing about Stonewall, though, wasn’t that it happened or that it made the newspapers. Three days into the unrest, Fouratt and his friends founded the Gay Liberation Front, a gay rights group that took a much more assertive approach than its forebears.

The next year, with other groups including the Gay Activists Alliance, the GLF organized the first pride march on the anniversary of the riots.

But the GLF held its first protest the previous year on Sept. 12, 1969 — against the Village Voice for using gay slurs in its coverage of Stonewall.

Complete Article HERE!

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