Why are we so coy about sex education for gay teens?

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For novelist Lev Rosen, school sex ed involved putting condoms on fruit. We need to be much more creative – and fun, he argues

By Lev Rosen

When I was 13 years old, when I knew I was queer but wouldn’t be saying so for a year, I remember some boys at school during lunch talking about gay sex. They called it “gross”, they laughed about it. That’s what I heard from my peers about the topic. I heard nothing from my teachers; I wasn’t about to ask my parents; and the gay people on TV never did more than peck each other on the lips.

Sex education for teens is one of those topics we tend to dance around. No one wants to talk to them about sex. It sounds pervy to tell kids how to have sex – as if you’re ruining their innocence or, worse, grooming them. I don’t know what your sex education was like, but I remember mine: it was putting condoms on bananas.

Fun fact about bananas: they’re all genetically identical. Every banana you’ve eaten is the same as every other banana you’ve eaten. And many of the sex-education classes taught today are exactly the same as the one I attended more than a decade ago. Condoms on bananas, STDs, reproduction – no talk of pleasure or consent, much less gay sex.

So, I wrote a novel for teens that features guides to oral sex, anal sex, and basic BDSM. I didn’t do this just so people had someone new to send hate mail to; I did it because teens have heard all this already from TV, playground talk, and online porn. Even sheltered teens already have some idea about how sex works; pretending they don’t isn’t going to help anyone. And while not all of them want to try these things, those who do, need to know how to do it safely, and with consent. Instead, they learn all of that from the media.

In most media aimed at teens, queer men tend to be sweet and sexless. You’ve seen or read the gay best friend character who talks about how hot guys are but never touches one. Or you’ve experienced mainstream gay romance – with gentle kissing, hand-holding, maybe a hug (fully clothed). Even when they get to say what they want, these boys on TV or in film rarely long for more than a kiss and a cuddle. We never see the mimed, under-the-covers sexy-and-shirtless making-out that our straight peers are treated to. Straight teens get to have sex on TV. Gay ones, not so much.

There’s this thing I call the glass closet: the idea that liberal-minded, well-meaning folks who genuinely don’t think they have a problem with queer people tend to confine them to a rigid definition of “good” queerness. For women, this means not going too butch, usually. For men, it means not going too femme, and also, not being too slutty. “I love gay people, but do they have to be so in-your-face about it?”; “I love gay people – but not being ‘too gay’, OK guys?”

And gay sex? That’s way too gay.

Society likes to keep gay teens sexless. It likes to maintain that gay content (even something non-sexual, like the representation of gay parents) is inappropriate for children’s TV or books. Those who complain say it’s too adult – implying that queerness, essentially, is all about sex, while straightness is just what a normal relationship looks like. It’s a weird dichotomy: straight people holding hands are non-sexual, while queer people holding hands is somehow the same as broadcasting pornography. The message is clear across all media: gays have to be kept sexless because they’re already too much about sex.

And so, if all the gay teenagers on our screens are portrayed as “good” gays, kept safely in the confines of the glass closet, and sex-ed doesn’t discuss more than bananas and STDs, then real queer teens turn to the one place they can see their desires: porn.

If you haven’t seen any gay (male) porn, let me describe most of it: everything is clean and polished (yes, even most of the dirty stuff). Everyone has lots of vocal fun. No one ever flags until they finish.

Of course, porn is fantasy, and the men in these videos do massive prep for these scenes. It looks much easier than it is – that’s half the fantasy. And as fantasy, it’s fine. But as a primary source of education, gay porn leaves young queer men with an idealised, routine set of acts that suggest a (wrongly) regimented set of requirements for “real” queer sex. Standardised sexual imagery, it turns out, is just bananas with abs.

I’ve also spoken to queer women about their sexual education. They didn’t always go to porn for their sex-ed, but they didn’t find it at school or home either. Those who did look for it in porn had the additional problem that the fantasy being presented wasn’t even being presented for them.

“Many young women will encounter lesbian sex through mainstream porn,” says Allison Moon, sex educator and author of Girl Sex 101. “This means everyone, not only girls, can get some very wrong ideas about lesbian sex, because the lesbian sex in mainstream porn is designed for male visual pleasure. So queer women have to navigate male sexuality whether or not it interests them.”

And that leaves queer teens in sex-education classes in an awkward place. Straight teens can ask about things they’ve seen on TV, they can apply condoms-on-bananas to what they learn from the media, and come away with a basic framework of sex. Queer teens can only turn to porn.

The good news is that, in some places, things are changing. When I contacted my old high school to find out how the condom bananas were going, I spoke to the director of health and wellness about how the sex-education curriculum has changed, and how it’s about to change even further.

“We can do better, and we’re on the cusp,” she told me, before going into future plans: a curriculum that covers the usual safe-sex issues, but also talks about consent, healthy relationships, porn literacy and queer sex. I was thrilled to hear it. I may have even become a little teary, thinking about a class of young queer people who get a real sexual education that applies to them.

But not every school does this. And they need to, because queer people are everywhere. We’ve made strides in acceptance, but today I still see gay men in their 20s and 30s online saying they don’t know how things work. I get emails from men saying my book taught them things they wish they had learned as a teen. Teens today tell me that it’s so nice to hear someone talk about gay teens having sex, about how they feel, as though, even if they’re out, they’re still not allowed to act on their desires – or are unsure how.

Right now, teenagers’ choices for learning are two extremes (the “good gay” or the “bad gay”) – neither of which is helpful. Either way, these teens end up feeling as if they’ve done something wrong. And we can fix that so easily. Just start talking about it, teaching it. We do it with straight sex. We can fix this the way we can fix most things in life: just gay it up.

What gay teens should watch and read

Another Gay Movie (2006) A raunchy teen sex comedy about four gay guys trying to lose their virginity before graduating. There are gross sex gags, some nudity, and the pressure to lose one’s virginity is problematic, but if you wanted a queer male version of the American Pie movies (or the more recent Blockers), this is it.

I Killed My Mother (2009) A French-Canadian film that features young gay men having fun, sexy sex without being porn – like many of the straight teens you see on TV today.

Release, by Patrick Ness There are plenty of graphic, but beautifully wrought sex scenes in this book about a queer teen trying to find some freedom for himself in a small American town and with his deeply religious family.

Under The Lights, by Dahlia Adler This fun romp on the set of a Hollywood television show has explicit lesbian sex behind the scenes, as the character deals with who she’s playing on TV, and who she is when she’s with her publicist’s daughter.

Princess Cyd (2017) In this quiet and beautiful film about a teen girl (Cyd) spending the summer with her aunt, there’s one great scene between Cyd and Katie, who is a “little bit boy” (and played by a non-binary actor). It’s exactly the sort of sex we should be seeing everywhere.

Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by LC Rosen is published in paperback by Penguin on 7 February at £7.99.

Complete Article HERE!

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11 Sex Tips for Guys Just Coming Out of the Closet

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By Zachary Zane

A few pointers for people who are just starting to explore their sexuality!

Right after coming out as gay/bi, the idea of having sex with another man can be nerve-wracking. The mechanics, while simple, aren’t necessarily intuitive. It also can be tough to really connect to another guy sexually right after sashaying out of the closet. Well, as we begin 2019, let’s make a New Year’s resolution to explore having better and more meaningful sex. With that in mind, here are 11 sex tips for guys who’ve just come out as queer.

1. There will always be cute guys

Cute guys are a dime a dozen. There will always be cute guys, so don’t be upset if one rejects you. Seriously, it’s not the end of the world! Don’t do anything stupid just to have sex with one. Relax. You have the rest of your life to sleep with cute guys.

2. Use condoms (even if you’re on PrEP)

If you just came out and are just starting to get comfortable with your sexuality, the last thing you’ll want to be doing is getting an STD or STI. Honestly, it’s just going to bum you out and make you never want to have sex again. So wear condoms. (Even if you’re on PrEP!)

3. Tell him what you’re into beforehand

Sex shouldn’t be a guessing game. If you’re into something, let him know beforehand that you like X, Y, Z, and it would really turn you on if he did that to you. That’s one of the (few) things that’s great about apps like Grindr. You can explicitly state what you’re into before meeting up without any judgement.

4. Be vocal during sex

In addition to saying what you’re into before things start heating up, you should also be vocal about what you like during sex. If that position isn’t doing anything for you, tell him you want to change positions. He isn’t a mind reader. Let him know what’s up!

5. Have sex with guys who are outside your normal “preference”

We all have men who we are attracted to and not attracted to. I’m not saying that you should sleep with men you’re not attracted to, but I am saying that you should broaden your horizons. Often, societal norms dictate to us what’s attractive. If we’re able to break away from societal standards of beauty, it opens us up (metaphorically and physically) to a wider range of sexual and romantic partners. 

6. Be vers

It’s 2019. Being a top or bottom only is so passé. Do it all. Be a millennial, renaissance man! Besides, being vers makes you a better lover because you’re aware of the mechanics of both types of sex.

7. You can say “no” anytime before or during sex

You can always say no anytime before or during sex without an ounce of shame. If you don’t feel comfortable, you have a right to stop having sex at anytime. Is it awkward to kick guys out of your house? Yes, it is, but it is worth the awkwardness. If you’re not into it, and he’s being aggressive, tell him to GTFO.

8. Figure out your own method of cleaning your butt

There are plenty of ways to get a deep clean. Figure out if a douche (or some other way) is the right way for you! While I douche, I’ve heard of some folks using ear syringes to clean out because it’s less forceful.

9. Never feel embarrassed, ashamed, or awkward about asking a guy’s status

You should never get uncomfortable or feel bad for asking a guy what his status is, as well as asking him to use a condom. In the era of PrEP, there is definitely a little bit of condom-shaming, but while you shouldn’t judge them for not wearing a condom, they shouldn’t judge you for wanting to wear one.

10. Use lube

Lube is your best friend. The more lube the better. You want to be turning that bed of yours into a Slip ‘N Slide! Additionally, it’s important to see what type of lube feels best for you. Some guys prefer water-based, whereas others prefer silicone or a hybrid mix of both. 

11. Explore your kinks

We all have some form of kink. Something a little more exciting that we’re into. Explore them now. There’s literally no reason to wait. And no matter how “weird” you think your kink is, there are literally thousands (if not millions) of guys who have the same one. You’re definitely not alone.

Complete Article HERE!

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Queering sex education in schools would benefit all pupils

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All power to the pupil activists drawing attention to the lack of information about LGBT issues in sex education in England

‘Being LGBT+ in school can be an isolating experience.’

By

All I remember from my relationship and sex education in school is phallic objects, condoms and everyone being terrified of pregnancy. Looking back it’s clear how disjointed and inadequate this was at a time when I was struggling with the complexity of being a black, queer, working-class boy navigating life inside and outside school.

If I had been given information about the kind of relationships I would later come to be in and given the space to think critically about my gender it would have made my road to self-acceptance a less bumpy one. It was also a missed opportunity to address toxic elements of masculinity such as suppressing emotion or objectifying women. Modernising the sex and education curriculum wouldn’t just make LGBT+ people safer, but would benefit the wellbeing of all students.

So when I found out that young south Londoners had put this particular new year’s resolution to the Department for Education, I was elated. Students put banners on every secondary school in Lambeth, demanding that relationship and sex education (RSE) in schools be inclusive of LGBT+ relationships and for it to examine gender and stereotypes. When you consider that inclusive RSE isn’t mandatory in schools in England, hasn’t been updated for well over a decade and almost half of young people no longer identify as exclusively heterosexual, it’s clear it’s time for a much-needed overhaul.

The demand is there. According to a report published by the Terrence Higgins Trust looking at responses from 900 young people aged between 16 and 25, 97% of them thought RSE should be LGBT+ inclusive, but the vast majority (95%) had not been taught about LGBT+ sex and relationships.

This isn’t the only front the current RSE is failing on: 75% of young people were not taught about consent and 50% of them rated their RSE as “poor” or “terrible” with only 10% rating it as “good”. In this context, the shocking 22% rise in cases of gonorrhea between 2016 and 2017 is sadly unsurprising.

I spoke to one of the students responsible for this action; they are 17 years old and asked to remain anonymous. When asked why they felt this action was necessary they said: “Being LGBT+ in school can be an isolating experience … I have experienced ignorant remarks from students and teachers alike. We wanted to do this visual action to draw attention to what feels like a hidden issue, but the impact of which I and many like myself feel on a day to day basis.”

‘An inclusive RSE curriculum could mean LGBT+ identities could be celebrated.’

Only 13% of LGBT+ young people have learned about healthy same-sex relationships. Those who do receive inclusive education are less likely to experience bullying and more likely to report feeling safe, welcome and happy according to Ruth Hunt, chief executive of the LGBT+ equality charity Stonewall.

The feeling that this is a “hidden issue” comes as no surprise given the long history of active exclusion of LGBT+ people and their experiences from public life. In 1988, the Thatcher government introduced section 28 which stopped local authorities from “promoting” homosexuality in schools. It took 15 years for this piece of legislation to be overturned, but many teachers still don’t know if they are legally able to openly discuss LGBT+ topics, and many feel that they lack the expertise to do so.

The reason inclusive RSE isn’t mandatory is because sex education as we know it today was introduced by a Labour government in 2000, but section 28 (the law that banned “promoting” homosexuality) wasn’t overturned until 2003. It is humiliatingly out of date. An inclusive RSE curriculum could mean LGBT+ identities could be celebrated in a place they were once erased and demonised.

Thanks to campaigning organisations such as the Terrance Higgins Trust, the government has committed to making RSE lessons compulsory in all secondary schools in England and relationship education compulsory in primary schools. This was meant to be rolled out in 2019, but has now been pushed back to 2020. Whether this will cover LGBT+ relationships and gender adequately remains to be seen, as the finalised guidance that will be used by schools to deliver the RSE has yet to be published.

The rollout can’t come soon enough. LGBT+ people are more likely to experience poor mental health in the form of depression, suicidal thoughts, self-harm and substance misuse due to the pervasive discrimination, isolation and homophobia they experience. This shake-up of RSE could be an important step towards changing this.

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.

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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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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Study: Even more Americans identify as something other than heterosexual

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A new survey finds the number of people who identify as bisexual, pansexual or homosexual continues to rise

A United States study has found that more people than ever before identify as something other than heterosexual.

The study by YouGov, a U.K.-based data analytics firm, found that one-third of 18 to 34-year olds identify as something other than completely heterosexual — a figure that has increased by 5% since 2015.

Carrie Baker, director of Smith College’s Program for the Study of Women and Gender, told Newsweek that society’s increasing acceptance of LGBTQ relationships has led to an increasing rise in people being more open about their sexuality.

“Really it was not that long ago that same-sex behavior was illegal in this country,” said Baker. “As our culture opens up same-sex sexuality as a possibility, more people are likely to experiment or to acknowledge those feelings or act on them.”

She also explained that an increase in same-sex couples being depicted in movies and television, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court ruling for same-sex marriage and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” have helped spur conversations that allow people to feel more comfortable with their sexuality.

The study was conducted by having participants rank themselves from a 0 to 6 on the Kinsey scale, 0 being completely straight and 6 being completely gay. The data collected was then compared to a similar study conducted in 2015.

Of the 1,096 people surveyed, 25% labeled themselves as something other than completely heterosexual, an increase from 20 percent in 2015. Twenty percent also picked a 1-5 on the Kinsey scale, meaning they’re bisexual, pansexual or fluid, compared to 16% three years ago. Those who listed themselves as exclusively homosexual — or a 6 on the Kinsey scale — increased 1% over 2015.

Baker said that these results show that sexual attraction is on a spectrum, which she attributes to young people’s openness.

“Circumstance can influence sexuality,” she said. “I also think the young people are thinking less of sexuality as sort of rigid and binary and more as on a continuum and as fluid.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Trying to figure out where you fit on the sexuality spectrum?

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Dabbling in these tests might help.

Human sexuality spans too wide a scope to possibly be covered by a single test.

Be attracted to whomever—don’t stress about tests and scales.

By Sara Chodosh

Alfred Kinsey’s spectrum of human sexuality shocked the world when he published it in 1948. His book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male featured extensive interviews with 5300 people—almost exclusively white males along with a paltry number of racial and ethnic minorities about their sexual histories and fantasies. The second volume, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, came out five years later and made equally shocking claims about the inner lives of 5940 women, also almost exclusively white.

Kinsey’s ethical standards were questionable, especially by today’s standards—much of his research involved sexual contact with his subjects—but he also introduced the world to an idea that previously had little publicity: Human sexuality isn’t confined to the binary hetero- and homosexual standards; rather, it exists on a broad spectrum. Today, most people know that as the Kinsey Scale (though that’s just one way to measure sexuality). It runs from zero to six, with zero being exclusively heterosexual and six being exclusively homosexual. A seventh category, just called “X,” is often interpreted as representing asexuality.

It’s by far the best-known sexuality scale, both for its creator’s fame and for its simplicity, but it’s far from the most accurate or most helpful. In fact, it probably wasn’t ever intended to be a test for participants to take themselves.

Kinsey and his colleagues (among them, his wife) generally assigned their subjects a number based on the interview they conducted. This may be surprising. Many people, sex researchers included, mistakenly believe it was some kind of psychological test conducted exclusively to determine someone’s sexuality. But in a 2014 journal article James Weinrich, a sex researcher and psychobiologist at San Diego State University, dug back into the original Kinsey reports to investigate and found that only a small portion of Kinsey’s subjects were asked to assign themselves a number on the scale. “It was a self-rating only for those asked the question—those who had significant homosexual experience. Otherwise, it was assigned by the interviewer,” he writes.

Since most people’s score on the Kinsey Scale wasn’t their own assessment, it was more or less based on the subjective decision of the expert conductors. That means those online quizzes purportedly telling where you fall on the Kinsey Scale aren’t official in any way.

But that’s not to say that they can’t be useful. Plenty of people—perhaps even most—question their sexuality at some point in their lives. It’s natural. And it’s equally natural to feel anxious, unnerved, or uncomfortable about having feelings that you’re not sure how to categorize or think about. Society has a plethora of negative judgments for anyone who deviates outside of the cisgendered, heterosexual bucket.

Of course, no one has to fall under specific labels. Many men interviewed for sex research, for example, avoid using the term “bisexual” even if they’ve had multiple sexual encounters with other men. San Diego State’s Weinrich spoke extensively with Thomas Albright, one of Kinsey’s original collaborators, who painted a likely far more accurate picture of how the interviews went and the challenges that the study presented. He wrote that a significant percentage of men in the Kinsey sample self-reported that they had “extensive” homosexual experiences, but when asked to rate themselves (men with homosexual experiences were the only ones asked to rate themselves) would self-identify as a zero (exclusively heterosexual) on the Kinsey scale when first asked. If pushed, they might push that back to a one or perhaps a two even as they acknowledge that they receive oral sex from other men.

While just one example, it highlights some of the inadequacies of the Kinsey Scale and of many other attempts to quantify human sexuality. One is that all answers are self-reported, and so rely on people to self-examine. Another is that there may be a disconnect between the attractions a person feels and the label they identify with. Perhaps they only have romantic feelings for people of the opposite sex, but are sexually aroused by men and women.

All of this intricacy is only magnified when you add the spectrum of gender identity. Transgender people, those identifying as gender-fluid or really anything outside of the traditional binary genders are often left out of these sexuality scales.

If you’re questioning your own sexuality, looking at some of these scales might be helpful in getting you to consider aspects of yourself that you might not think of. And if you’re not yet comfortable confiding in another person, these tests and quizzes may be a way of testing ideas and identities. Probably the healthiest way to explore would be with a psychologist who specializes in sexuality (you can find one here, as well as locate all manner of bisexuality-aware health professionals), but if you’re not ready for that step or can’t afford to see someone, these scales may be of some use.

The Kinsey Scale

The oldest and most basic spectrum, the Kinsey Scale is a straightforward numerical scale:

0 – Entirely heterosexual 1 – Mainly heterosexual, little homosexual 2 – Mainly heterosexual, but substantial homosexual 3 – Equally hetero and homosexual 4 – Mainly homosexual, but substantial heterosexual 5 – Mainly homosexual, little heterosexual 6 – Entirely homosexual X – “have no sociosexual contacts or reactions” (Kinsey didn’t use the word “asexual,” but modern researchers interpret the X this way)

Kinsey and colleagues allowed for intermediate numbers, like 1.5, along the scale in keeping with the idea that sexuality is a smooth spectrum. The Kinsey Scale is nice and simple—and that may make it useful to some—but it also focuses on behavior. Cisgender -women who have some unexplored feelings towards other cisgender -women or towards a transgender -woman may not find a place for themselves on the scale if they’ve never acted on those feelings.

The Klein Sexual Orientation Grid

The KSOG tries to remedy some of the nuance that’s not included in the Kinsey Scale. Rather than a single number line, the KSOG is a grid that asks you about sexual attraction, behavior, and fantasies along with emotional and social preferences (and even a few more variables) along a scale from 1 to 7. Importantly, it also asks about these variables in different time scales—past, present, and ideal. (It’s easiest to understand if you take a look at the grid on this page). Perhaps you have historically thought of yourself as an exclusively straight, cisgender male, but now feel some sexual attraction to men like yourself, though you still feel emotionally attached only to cisgender -women. There’s a place for you on the KSOG. There’s also a place for a cisgender -woman who feels equally attracted sexually and romantically to men and women.

It’s downfall is gender identity. In two studies of the KSOG, researchers asked non-cis participants to evaluate the scale on its ability to capture their own sexuality. Many felt it did not. One wrote that “it still does not capture my sexual expression as a genderqueer transwoman for whom the labels “same” and “opposite” sex are incoherent.” Another noted that “As a person who is gender queer and who prefers the same in partners, I have a hard time figuring out if I am homosexual or not! It depends on the solidity of your gender category which I don’t have.”

Multidimensional Scale of Sexuality & MoSIEC

As a reaction to the Kinsey Scale’s limitations, researchers in the 90s developed the MSS and later a more modern version called the Measure of Sexual Identity Exploration and Commitment (MoSIEC). It’s now one of the few (or perhaps the only) scale in the official Handbook of Sexuality-Related Measures.

MoSIEC measures sexuality across four subscales—commitment, exploration, sexual orientation identity uncertain, and synthesis—where participants score themselves on each of 22 statements based on how characteristic they find it. So for example, statement 1 says “my sexual orientation is clear to me,” and you as the test-taker would score yourself on a scale from 1 (very uncharacteristic of me) to 6 (very characteristic of me).

The MoSIEC questions are really intended for researchers, not self-exploration, so we’ll give you the warning here that this isn’t supposed to be a take-at-home quiz. But if you’re curious, you can find the full questionnaire on pages 101-2 of this pdf. The subscores are the averages of the scores for the questions in each subscale, but they’re not divided evenly nor are they in any particular order. For example, the “exploration” subscale is made of up questions 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 12, and 19. A higher score indicates “higher levels of the measured construct present in the individual” (we did warn you it was for researchers!).

Again, this isn’t a tool intended for lay people, but if you’re really motivated here are the breakdowns for the subscores:

Exploration: 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 12, 19 Commitment: 10, 11, 15, 16, 18, 20 (#15, 16, and 18 are reverse-scored) Synthesis: 4, 7, 13, 17, 22 Sexual orientation identity uncertain: 1, 15, 21 (#1 is also reverse-scored)

The final option: no scoring at all

All of these measures play into both our desire to categorize ourselves as well as our peers, and the necessity of measuring sexuality when it comes to research. But numbers, like labels, can’t possibly capture the complex nature of human sexuality. A quiz or a test can prompt you to consider important questions, but it can’t give you any concrete answers. Don’t stress if you don’t feel like you belong in any one category—nobody really does.

Complete Article HERE!

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Non-Binary Folks Share Advice for Coming Out as Gender Non-Conforming and Accepting Yourself

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Struggling to come out as your authentic self? You’re not alone.

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With Pride Month coming to a close, Lifehacker has released a video featuring folks discussing coming out and the process of identifying as non-binary. The individuals include Nandi Kayyy, Dane Calabro, Divesh Brahmbhatt, and Kei Williams, all of whom use the pronouns they/them, but describe their gender identity in a variety of different ways. The video touches on gender, sexuality, identity, and the struggles of coming out as non-binary.

Simply put, gender non-forming is “a term used to describe some people whose gender expression is different from conventional expectations of masculinity and femininity.” Similar terms like genderqueer, gender fluid, non-binary, and gender variant express the recognition of a gender spectrum that exists beyond the male/female binary.

Another important distinction is the difference between sex and gender, two concepts often used interchangeably with each other. Sex is simply the medical assignment made at birth based on a baby’s external anatomy. Gender however, is how you feel inside, your sense of self. Sex and gender are entirely separate from sexuality/orientation, which is about who you are(or aren’t) sexually or romantically attracted to.

Despite being acknowledged across cultures and countries, the concept of gender variance is still widely misunderstood and dismissed. While gender variance has existed for centuries, many people struggle with upending and exploring identities beyond the binary.

It’s hard to break out of a system that’s been reinforced as a cornerstone of our identity since before we’re born. Just look at the rise in popularity of gender reveal parties, where parents and families gather together to cut open a cake or bust a pinata or smash a watermelon in an alligator’s mouth to get those pink vs. blue results.

But progress is happening: states like Oregon, Washington, New York and California have passed laws officially recognizing a third gender, and gender variant characters are appearing in popular culture (one of our faves, Steven Universe, gets a shout-out in the video).

For some people, gender identity is a fixed constant, while others experience gender as a fluid and ever-changing experience. There’s no wrong answer and no wrong way to identify: everyone moves at their own personal velocity. If you want to learn more, check out resources like GLAAD, The Non-Binary Resource and the Trevor Project or reach out to your local LGBTQ center.

Complete Article HERE!

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More young Americans now identify as bisexual

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One-quarter (25%) of people identified as something other than completely heterosexual, compared to 20% of people in 2015.

By Jamie Ballard

[F]ewer Americans today identify as completely heterosexual, according to new data from YouGov Omnibus. People were asked to place themselves on the Kinsey scale, where 0 is completely heterosexual and 6 is completely homosexual. The scale was invented by Alfred Kinsey in 1948 as a tool to study human sexuality. The original study used several methods to determine where someone would fall on the spectrum, but YouGov simply asked people to place themselves on the scale.

The same series of questions was asked of YouGov panelists in August 2015 and June 2018, and the results show that in 2018, more people say they’re not completely heterosexual. One-quarter (25%) of people identified as something other than completely heterosexual, compared to 20% of people in 2015.

Just over two-thirds (69%) of Americans identified as “completely heterosexual” in the 2018 survey, a drop from 78% of people who identified as completely heterosexual in the 2015 survey. About half of people in the 18-to-34 age range (55%) said they were completely heterosexual, compared to 67% of 35-54 year olds, and 84% of people aged 55 and up.

But despite what seems like an increase in sexual fluidity, less than half (40%) of people said that the statement “Sexuality is a scale – it is possible to be somewhere near the middle” came closest to their view. A nearly-equal amount (42%) said that the statement “There is no middle ground – you are either heterosexual or you are not” came closer to their view.

Women and men were equally likely (18%) to report that they’d had a sexual experience with someone of the same sex. In 2015, one out of every five women (20%) reported having a same-sex experience, compared to 15% of men at the time.

When asked about the possibility of being in a same-sex relationship, women (15%) were almost twice as likely as men (8%) to respond “definitely” or “maybe, if I really liked them.” Women also tended to be more open to the idea of a same-sex sexual experience, with 17% saying they thought it could happen, compared to 7% of men.

Complete Article HERE!

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Gay and bisexual male teens use adult dating apps to find sense of community, study shows

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June is PRIDE Month

By Darcel Rockett

[F]inding one’s community is integral to adolescent development. The members of that community create space for relationships to grow.

For some teens, that community is found on dating apps meant for adult gay men — apps that only require a user enter a birth date that coincides with the site’s legal terms of service.

A new Northwestern Medicine study (published in the Journal of Adolescent Health) found that more than 50 percent of sexually active gay and bisexual boys ages 14 to 17 use dating (also known as hook-up) apps like Grindr (21+) and Scruff (18+) to find new friends and boyfriends.

Data was gathered through online surveys taken by 200 sexually experienced teens in the United States and is the first known study on the topic.

“I was surprised we didn’t know this information when we started the study, but a lot of folks don’t do research on people under the age of 18, especially on LGBTQ teens under the age of 18, for a variety of reasons,” said Dr. Kathryn Macapagal, an author on the study and research assistant professor of medical social sciences at the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “But we found that teens in this study were super excited that somebody was paying attention with what was going on in their lives and how these apps played a role in their sexual development and coming-out process,” she said.

Macapagal says gay and bisexual male teens turn to the apps to meet others in that community because they feel there are few opportunies to do so where they live. App features might also appeal to those not as open about their sexual identity, or who are navigating dating and sex with same-gender partners for the first time.

“Youth who use these apps are, many times, also looking for partners on Facebook, Instagram, Tindr, etc.,” Macapagal added. “If you’re using something like Grindr, the likelihood of you having a sexual relationship with this person is higher. But we also found that although you might have had sexual relations with these folks, these folks might have turned into friends, they might have turned into boyfriends. So there is some evidence that youth are getting lots more out of these apps than just sexual relationships.”

Dr. Hector Torres, chief program officer at the Center on Halsted, an LGBT community center in Lakeview, said he found the study to be “alarming and surprising.” So did Denise DeRosa, mother of three and cyber-safety consultant from Bethesda, Md.

“The fact that they’re on at all is definitely concerning,” she said. “There should be some type of mechanism to prevent this. As much as we parents can do, we can’t do everything, so I think these apps have to take some of the responsibility for making sure that their environment is safe – that there’s some sort of functioning guardrail to keep anybody under 18 from using it.”

DeRosa said she understands why a teen seeks out connections, but she is adamant about being careful when doing so online. She suggests parents step up their game to find out what their teen’s favorite apps are and which ones they stay on the longest.

“I wouldn’t want anyone to go meet someone without really, fully vetting these people or maybe telling a parent,” she said. “That’s where the dangers are, and I think that kind of goes across whether you’re heterosexual, homosexual, transgender or lesbian — we don’t want 14-year-olds seeking to date people 21 and older.”

But Torres cautioned that pressing for better youth protections on hookup apps, is probably a losing game. He said it’s too easy for less scrupulous apps to jump in and serve LGBTQ teens.

“Sexuality in adolescence is such a force that, no matter what we do, it’s going to happen,” he said. “The sex or hooking up apps are scary because of their bluntness and access, yet Facebook, Snapchat and other apps are often used the same way. We just don’t study them as much.”

When asked about the study results, Grindr offered this statement: “Grindr does not condone illegal or improper behavior and we are troubled that an underage person may have been using our app in violation of our terms of service. Grindr services are only available for adults. Grindr encourages anyone aware of any illegal or improper activity on the app to submit a report either within the app or via email.”

As with any social media site teenagers use, there are benefits and drawbacks. For example, the study found that teenage boys who used the apps were more likely to seek out important sexual health services, such as HIV testing.

“Gay and bisexual adolescent boys account for almost two-thirds of HIV infections among teenagers in the United States, but unfortunately sex education and HIV prevention tailored to their needs is almost nonexistent,” Macapagal said. “The sooner we understand the role these apps play in the lives of gay and bisexual teen guys, the sooner we will be able to tailor sex education and HIV prevention efforts for this population and help them live healthier lives.”

The study also highlights just how little parents, educators and health care providers know about how teens spend their time on apps and online technology that is constantly changing. This may have parents feeling they have little to no control over the situation, but Torres said they do have control over communication.

“If parents have good communication with children and know that their children want to meet more people like them, and they can meet that need, then the app becomes less necessary,” he said. “And there are places like Center on Halsted where young people can meet other young people and entertain themselves in a healthy environment and develop skills, and it’s supervised.”

Torres said it helps to have honest conversations with teens: What does it mean to have sex? If sex is going to happen, with whom should it happen? When should it happen? What are the risks, and how can you best protect yourself?

“What we do know from studies of heterosexual adolescents is that communication with parents can really help in sexual health and well-being,” Torres said. “And what happens with the LGBT community is that parents may be less comfortable talking about sex, and even less about these apps.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Sexuality especially taboo for LGBTQ and sex shouldn’t be closeted for anyone

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By C.L. Quebedeaux

[W]e’ve all been told at one point or another about the significance of sex. Whether it was to help us prepare for sex or deny it altogether, these conversations are always brought up. Learning about of the significance of sex in the human experience is a discovery that every person should be able to go through individually. Sex is an important part of humanity and should be acknowledged in that way.

Everyone goes through a point in life in which they are forced to acknowledge the existence of sex. We are sexual beings by nature. No matter how much we are taught to deny it or think of it as a mythical thing, sex is nonetheless an integral part of the human experience. Whether we are sat down and lectured by our parents or we find information in a magazine or online, humans discover the idea of sex eventually.

There seems to have always been a stigma surrounding sex that assigns it to a rather taboo place in our minds. Through various religious and social institutions, humans have been programmed to view sex as a secret. Rather than embracing this part of our nature, we are taught to pretend that it doesn’t exist, that we do not have these innate urges within our bodies.

The denial of the human body and its pleasures taught to us often leaves people with reservations about their own sexuality. If a person is taught the sexual urges they experience are not holy enough or are not within the realm of acceptable sexual behavior, they end up alienated from their own body. The constant denial of sexuality leads people to either avoid the experience entirely or to the most extreme ends of sexual experience.

The queer community for so long has been a specific group that has been denied the right to the sexual experience. For so long, queer people have been told that their sexual urges and desires are not legitimate enough to be embraced or discussed in society. The queer response to this suppression was the overt sexualization of queer culture. Because they have been denied the right to sexual pleasure for so long, the queer community embraced sexuality to the extreme.

Because of this response, queer culture is now stigmatized to seem like an animalistic center of extreme sexuality. This characterization has led queer culture to be pushed even further into the taboo categories of society. The explosion of queer sexuality caused by society’s suppression of the queer existence is now used as a reason to ostracize the community even further.

The societal movements to put sexuality in a closet ignore the nature of humanity and sexuality altogether. When we deny a fundamental part of ourselves, we lose the ability to embrace ourselves and our bodies for what they are. Sexuality is an important part of the human experience that should be accepted as a part of our nature.

Sex is an expression of the human body and its passion. To deny this is to assume that these passions and these natural urges do not mean anything. To assume that sex is an aspect of humanity that should be suppressed is to neglect its necessity.

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What does queer mean?

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The word “queer” remains controversial, but while some still do find the term derogatory, most LGBTQ+ people have proudly reclaimed the anti-gay slur and use it in a positive light.

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[I]n the English language, queer dates back to the 16th century, and was possibly derived from the German word ‘quer’, which translates as ‘oblique’ or ‘perverse’.

Originally defined as “odd”, “strange” or “peculiar”, the term “queer” took on a more sordid meaning from the mid-20th century when it was used to pejoratively refer to those with same-sex desires, especially gay men.

But, with the rise of LGBTQ+ activism in the 1970s and 1980s, some gay rights campaigners positively reclaimed the word “queer” as an umbrella term for gender and sexual minorities.

Today, queer is widely used by millennials as an inclusive term to refer to anyone who is not straight and/or not cisgender.

But, for some people, particularly older generations, “queer” still carries negative connotations.

Just last month, Twitter banned some users who had described themselves as “queer,” facing a backlash from those who had reclaimed the term.

Definitions

According to Brian Lewis, whose book British Queer History was published in 2013, the word “queer” today has three primary uses.

He explains: “’Queer’ is used in three main ways: as an act of reclamation from homophobes; as an umbrella term for the micro divisions of the LGBT+ community; and as a marker of sexual fluidity in opposition to heterosexual and homosexual binaries and identities.”

For Lewis, the term “queer” is “one of the most useful—and controversial—categories of analysis in the study of sexuality.”

Similarly Alan Butler, a research fellow in history at the University of Plymouth, who is also secretary in the LGBTQ+ arm of the Oral History Society, recognises this contradiction.

“’Queer’ has had multiple meanings through time,” he says. “Currently it’s framed by many as an umbrella term for people who exist outside of heteronormative and cis gender norms. For many people though it’s been derogatory and still is.”

Meanwhile, Justin Bengry, who lectures in and convenes the Queer History MA at Goldsmiths, University of London, the first course of its kind in the UK, says: In academia we often use ‘queer’ as an umbrella term.

“As an inclusive term to include the widest range of gender and sexual diversity in the past and the present.”

He continues: Some activists too have positively reclaimed ‘queer’ as an inclusive term that welcomes people beyond the LGBT spectrum or whose identities fall outside those categories.

Some people don’t want to be identified by LGBT categories – they reject being cateogrised and being labelled.

Queer and same-sex desire

Early recorded examples of queer meaning same-sex desire include a letter written in 1894 by John Sholto Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry.

Bengry talks about a letter he has read dating from the 1930s where the writer talks about being “queer” in reference to his desire for another man.

He explains: Even though he’s writing in terms that are similar to our understandings of ‘gay’ today, there are still important differences in the past. But he’s certainly writing about same-sex desires.”

The mid-20th century and negative meaning

From the mid-20th century onwards, however, the term “queer” started to take on a negative meaning and was used to pejoratively refer to LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly gay or bisexual men.

Bengry says that by the mid-20th century “queer” was being used in a way that was “derogatory and venomous and negative.”

Butler explains: “In the 1940s, 50s and 60s, the term was very prevalent and used to describe and often put down LGBT people.

“It tended to be associated most closely with gay men and was used as an insult. The continued through the 80s and 90s and even today some people use it as an insult or as a term of hatred.

Reclaiming the word “queer”

As Lewis writes in his book, British Queer History, from the 1980s the word “queer” began to be reclaimed by “radical grassroots activists in organisations like Queer Nation and ACT UP (in the US) and Outrage! (in Britain).”

These individuals, Lewis writes, “began to deploy it as a calculated and edgy act of reclamation.”

By reclaiming the word “queer”, says Bengry, LGBTQ+ rights activists redefined themselves – and hit back against those who had used the term to insult them.

He says: From the 80s and 90s, with the development of a more radical activism and queer theory, ‘queer’ really came to be redeployed in opposition to the venom of its use in the past.

“Queer people now said: ‘No, this is our word, and we’re taking it back … we’re reclaiming it for our own purposes and activism.’”

Using queer with caution today

But Bengry says the “strongest association” that “many people alive today” still have is of queer being used “threateningly, dangerously, as a weapon, aggressively.”

Consequently, he says, we must act with awareness when using the term “queer.”

He continues: “Many people were physically assaulted and emotionally harmed, and that was the word that accompanied those assaults.”

“That threat and violence is still incredibly resonant for them. It’s something that we all have to bear in mind when we use [queer] today – we can be re-traumatising people by using this word.”

As Bengry points out, the term “is useful and complex”. He adds: “Some people today actively claim it as an identity. It also recognises a much greater diversity of experience and identity than any other term.”

For Butler, “queer” is particularly a taboo word in Plymouth, where he teaches, because of a homophobic murder in 1995. After the crime, someone sprawled the homophobic graffiti “no queer’s here” at the scene of the murder.

Still, Butler is happy that, at least outside Plymouth, the word “queer” has been positively reclaimed.

“If something perceived as an insult is owned and celebrated by you then it loses its power in terms of hatred,” he says.

Complete Article HERE!

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You’re probably not ‘totally straight,’ according to new research

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Society tends to be less accepting of men who are sexually fluid.

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  • There is a new type of sexual orientation called “mostly straight,” according to new research.
  • This sexuality entails identifying as straight but occasionally experiencing same-sex attraction and arousal.
  • Men have a harder time coming out as mostly straight because society is less forgiving of male sexual fluidity.

[I]f there is anything to be gleaned from the past thousand years of human interaction, it is that human sexuality has never been simple.

And now, we have more scientific literature to back up the claim. According to recent research from Ritch Savin-Williams, a psychology professor of human development at Cornell University, there is a spot on the sexual spectrum that is not straight, gay, or bisexual — it’s called being “mostly straight.”

Savin-Williams’ conclusion stems from research on sexuality that he conducted and published in a book titled “Mostly Straight: Sexual Fluidity Among Young Men“.

In one study Savin-Williams worked on, participants who identified as men or women were shown pornography. By measuring the dilation of their pupils — an indicator of sexual arousal, as proven by a previous study of his published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Savin-Williams and his team were able to conclude that women were aroused by pornography featuring women with men and women with women. Men had similar results, which Savin-Williams calls being “mostly straight.”

This is not to say that no one is straight. “I wouldn’t say that [no one is totally straight] and I never have, despite press reports,” Savin-Williams told INSIDER. “I believe the vast majority of men are exclusively straight.”

Sexuality is a spectrum, but society doesn’t always allow room for male transgressions.

Savin-Williams is not the first scientist to deal with the idea that sexual preference isn’t quite as rigid as was previously believed. Many people already know about the Kinsey scale, the near-ubiquitous system that allows people to gauge their sexuality on a sliding scale, which revealed that people do not always fit exclusively into heterosexual or homosexual categories. In fact, according to Savin-Williams, the Kinsey scale allows space for people who might identify as mostly straight.

The Kinsey scale.

“Because the seven-point Kinsey Scale was a continuum from exclusively straight to exclusively gay/lesbian, there was an obvious place between exclusively straight and bisexual leaning straight — Kinsey 1s or mostly straight,” Savin-Williams told INSIDER.

But men have largely been excluded from the sexual fluidity narrative.

“Very few researchers seemed to notice these [sexually fluid or mostly straight] individuals, except with women,” Savin-Williams told INSIDER. “Then, while interviewing straight men for a study, I discovered that a number of them said that they were not exclusively straight, but mostly straight. These self-reports were confirmed by their confidential surveys and by their physiological reactions to watching porn: their pupils dilated to men masturbating, not as much as their pupils dilated to women masturbating, but an elevation nevertheless.”

This exclusion is due to the fact that, as Savin-Williams said, conventional society doesn’t allow much room for variance or growth in male sexuality.

“Men are affected by the belief that any level of same-sex attraction must mean you’re gay. Our culture likes our men simple — gay or straight,” Savin-Williams told INSIDER. “We give women greater freedom to be flexible, to be affected by the environment; they can act ‘masculine’ and not be labeled lesbian but men can’t act ‘feminine’ without being thought gay.”

Women have sexually fluid representation, but men don’t get as much.

This is certainly true in popular culture. It’s hard to come across a movie or TV show these days that doesn’t feature a complex, sexually fluid female character, like Eleanor Shellstrop on “The Good Place” or Petra Solano on “Jane The Virgin.”

Male characters have some sexually fluid representation “Jane The Virgin,” for example, has a male character, Adam, who is bisexual) but, generally, male figures in popular culture are relegated to one of two binaries: 100% straight or 100% gay.

Savin-Williams believes that the answer to helping men and women becoming more comfortable with mostly straight men relies, in part, upon “more famous people coming out as mostly straight,” he told INSIDER. “Josh Hutcherson began this years ago, but few have followed. I would love to see more young men come out as mostly straight to their friends and families.”

More pop culture representation wouldn’t hurt, either.

“There are more mostly straights among the millennial generation than in previous generations, largely because there’s an incredible acceptance and celebration of sexual, romantic, and gender diversity. Young people believe in the spectrum of sexuality and romance,” Savin-Williams told INSIDER. “There are already more mostly straight women and men than bisexual and gay/lesbian individuals combined. Mostly straights need to be freed from their closets — how about a movie or two?”

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