Why blaming the rise of HIV on ‘gay sex parties’ is irresponsible and dangerous

#stigma

The Guyliner

Sometimes it’s wonderful to wake up gay and some days, well, not so much. My perfectly Instagrammed breakfast of eggs benedict was seriously spoiled on reading the Guardian and the Independent’s latest overwrought articles about ‘gay sex parties’ being linked to a rise in HIV diagnoses.

This story is trotted out in some form or another every few months or so, usually illustrated with a microscopic selfie of HIV itself or a blurry picture of a heaving Vauxhall club. For the uninitiated, here’s how these pieces usually roll: a ‘study’ is done on HIV rates, a journalist will trawl the sexual health clinics or ask charities for statements until something is said that will make a good headline. Usually a finger points firmly at a supposed increase in gay sex parties, a Roman orgy remixed for the Vauxhall generation.

The piece is printed, society safely compartmentalises HIV as a…

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Body Ownership

Carmen Cordis is a rad CHATpdx Sexpert, Activist and Leader in Portland, OR. 

I’ve recently encountered a lot of people, whether they identify inside, outside, or on the fringe of the alphabet soup community (LGBTQQAAPIT-S and any I missed, in no particular order), who have given me an ultimatum, namely that I must make some kind of physical or surgical alteration (of other people’s choosing) to my body or appearance in order to “earn” their acceptance, approval, respect, charity, or support.

I am taking a stand against our culture of non-binary-gender-phobia, body-shaming, photographic alteration, unrealistic body image fixation, cissexism, transphobia, and discrimination based on gender identity, gender presentation, sexual orientation, or bodily appearance.

Carmen Graphic

I am a living, breathing, feeling human being with a heart, a brain, a plethora of dreams, a past, a future, and a story.

I am not someone else’s narrow vision of a quickly-labeled “other” identity that ceases to exist outside of those narrowly imposed boundaries.

I was born with human dignity.  My gender is my own; it does not belong to anyone else.  It cannot be ripped away from me and reshaped by someone else, because no one else owns it.

Likewise, My body is my own. No one the right to make serious, irreversible, potentially harmful or deadly decisions regarding MY BODY but me – and those I designate as my agents in the event that I desire assistance.

Because of the culture of fear, my body has been made into my worst enemy for as long as I can remember.  I also tend to avoid conflict and prefer mediation or compromise in order to diffuse conflict.

Unfortunately, at times I have lost the control of my own body because someone other than myself decided to own my body or change it to suit their desires.

Willingly, or unwillingly, I surrendered my body to someone else, sometimes to avoid external conflict, and found myself waiting for the hell to be over when I began to drown in the internal conflict I created by capitulating.

Carmen Own Post

Too many times, I have tried to destroy my body, in order to satisfy the demands of a fear-hatred culture, and to escape from the hell of conflict by giving up and throwing in the towel, saying, “Okay.  You win.  Are you happy now?”

I no longer wish to propitiate those people who would delight in my destruction.

I deserve to be happy, and one step toward my happiness is to own my own body.

Please consider my words the next time you notice someone (perhaps yourself, even) making serious entitlement claims to someone else’s body, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Please consider my words the next time you notice someone else making serious entitlement claims to your own body, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Do not surrender to anyone who would delight in the destruction or invalidation of your essential self, the self of your definition and determination, the self of your life experience.

No one is infallible, but maybe by educating each other we can make a better world, one step at a time.

Carmen Dignity Post

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A Poem By Patricia Lockwood

Trigger Warning: Rape, Consent, Sex

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A Poem By Patricia Lockwood

Trigger Warning: Rape, Consent, Sex

Rape Joke

The rape joke is that you were 19 years old.

The rape joke is that he was your boyfriend.

The rape joke it wore a goatee. A goatee.

Imagine the rape joke looking in the mirror, perfectly reflecting back itself, and grooming itself to look more like a rape joke. “Ahhhh,” it thinks. “Yes. A goatee.”

No offense.

The rape joke is that he was seven years older. The rape joke is that you had known him for years, since you were too young to be interesting to him. You liked that use of the word interesting, as if you were a piece of knowledge that someone could be desperate to acquire, to assimilate, and to spit back out in different form through his goateed mouth.

Then suddenly you were older, but not very old at all.

The rape joke is that you had been drinking wine coolers. Wine coolers! Who drinks wine coolers? People who get raped, according to the rape joke.

The rape joke is he was a bouncer, and kept people out for a living.

Not you!

The rape joke is that he carried a knife, and would show it to you, and would turn it over and over in his hands as if it were a book.

He wasn’t threatening you, you understood. He just really liked his knife.

The rape joke is he once almost murdered a dude by throwing him through a plate-glass window. The next day he told you and he was trembling, which you took as evidence of his sensitivity.

How can a piece of knowledge be stupid? But of course you were so stupid.

The rape joke is that sometimes he would tell you you were going on a date and then take you over to his best friend Peewee’s house and make you watch wrestling while they all got high.

The rape joke is that his best friend was named Peewee.

OK, the rape joke is that he worshiped The Rock.

Like the dude was completely in love with The Rock. He thought it was so great what he could do with his eyebrow.

The rape joke is he called wrestling “a soap opera for men.” Men love drama too, he assured you.

The rape joke is that his bookshelf was just a row of paperbacks about serial killers. You mistook this for an interest in history, and laboring under this misapprehension you once gave him a copy of Günter Grass’s My Century, which he never even tried to read.

It gets funnier.

The rape joke is that he kept a diary. I wonder if he wrote about the rape in it.

The rape joke is that you read it once, and he talked about another girl. He called her Miss Geography, and said “he didn’t have those urges when he looked at her anymore,” not since he met you. Close call, Miss Geography!

The rape joke is that he was your father’s high-school student—your father taught World Religion. You helped him clean out his classroom at the end of the year, and he let you take home the most beat-up textbooks.

The rape joke is that he knew you when you were 12 years old. He once helped your family move two states over, and you drove from Cincinnati to St. Louis with him, all by yourselves, and he was kind to you, and you talked the whole way. He had chaw in his mouth the entire time, and you told him he was disgusting and he laughed, and spat the juice through his goatee into a Mountain Dew bottle.

The rape joke is that come on, you should have seen it coming. This rape joke is practically writing itself.

The rape joke is that you were facedown. The rape joke is you were wearing a pretty green necklace that your sister had made for you. Later you cut that necklace up. The mattress felt a specific way, and your mouth felt a specific way open against it, as if you were speaking, but you know you were not. As if your mouth were open ten years into the future, reciting a poem called Rape Joke.

The rape joke is that time is different, becomes more horrible and more habitable, and accommodates your need to go deeper into it.

Just like the body, which more than a concrete form is a capacity.

You know the body of time is elastic, can take almost anything you give it, and heals quickly.

The rape joke is that of course there was blood, which in human beings is so close to the surface.

The rape joke is you went home like nothing happened, and laughed about it the next day and the day after that, and when you told people you laughed, and that was the rape joke.

It was a year before you told your parents, because he was like a son to them. The rape joke is that when you told your father, he made the sign of the cross over you and said, “I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” which even in its total wrongheadedness, was so completely sweet.

The rape joke is that you were crazy for the next five years, and had to move cities, and had to move states, and whole days went down into the sinkhole of thinking about why it happened. Like you went to look at your backyard and suddenly it wasn’t there, and you were looking down into the center of the earth, which played the same red event perpetually.

The rape joke is that after a while you weren’t crazy anymore, but close call, Miss Geography.

The rape joke is that for the next five years all you did was write, and never about yourself, about anything else, about apples on the tree, about islands, dead poets and the worms that aerated them, and there was no warm body in what you wrote, it was elsewhere.

The rape joke is that this is finally artless. The rape joke is that you do not write artlessly.

The rape joke is if you write a poem called Rape Joke, you’re asking for it to become the only thing people remember about you.

The rape joke is that you asked why he did it. The rape joke is he said he didn’t know, like what else would a rape joke say? The rape joke said YOU were the one who was drunk, and the rape joke said you remembered it wrong, which made you laugh out loud for one long split-open second. The wine coolers weren’t Bartles & Jaymes, but it would be funnier for the rape joke if they were. It was some pussy flavor, like Passionate Mango or Destroyed Strawberry, which you drank down without question and trustingly in the heart of Cincinnati Ohio.

Can rape jokes be funny at all, is the question.

Can any part of the rape joke be funny. The part where it ends—haha, just kidding! Though you did dream of killing the rape joke for years, spilling all of its blood out, and telling it that way.

The rape joke cries out for the right to be told.

The rape joke is that this is just how it happened.

The rape joke is that the next day he gave you Pet Sounds. No really. Pet Sounds. He said he was sorry and then he gave you Pet Sounds. Come on, that’s a little bit funny.

Admit it.

Patricia Lockwood is the author of Balloon Pop Outlaw Black (Octopus Books, 2012). Follow her on Twitter at@TriciaLockwood.

http://www.theawl.com/2013/07/rape-joke-patricia-lockwood

Sex, Texts & Moving On

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“I have 700 friends on Facebook, 36 of whom I consider exes … These people aren’t just ex-boyfriends but they’re ex-something, weighted with enough personal history to make my stomach drop when they message me or pop up in social-media feeds. Which is pretty often.”

“The ex who appears in your OkCupid matches. The ex whose musical taste you heed on Spotify. The ex whose new girlfriend sent a friend request. The ex you follow so you know how to win him back. The ex you follow so you know how to avoid her in person. The ex you watched deteriorate after the breakup. (Are you guilty or proud?) The ex who finally took your advice, after the breakup. (Are you frustrated or proud?) The ex whose new partner is exactly like you. (Are you flattered or creeped out?) The ex whose name appears as an autocorrection in your phone. (Are you sure you don’t talk about him incessantly? Word recognition suggests otherwise.)”

“The ex whose new partner blogs about their sex life. The ex who still has your naked pictures. The ex who untagged every picture from your relationship. The ex you suspect is reading your e-mail. The ex you watch lead the life you’d dreamed of having together, but seeing it now, you’re so glad you didn’t.”

—————————————————————————————————————–

Have blogs, texts or FB ever made things complicated? Or made it harder to move on? For ya’ll who say yes, this is some real talk: 

http://nymag.com/thecut/2013/07/texting-exes-social-media-generation.html

The desexualization of bullying – A deeper look at bullying’s sexual undertones

Posted on February 16, 2012

by: Kris Gowen, originally posted on Kris Gowens Blog

 

Kids Bullying

You Can Stop Bullying

I was going to try to come up with a fancier more accessible title, but I can’t right now. But I sure better by May! I’ve been invited to speak at an bullying awareness event in Austin Texas this May. While I jumped at this opportunity to share my work (and support my friend who is organizing the event), I quickly realized that I am no bullying expert. But, for better or for worse, not being a total expert on a topic as not stopped me before…

I am an expert on adolescent sexuality and sexual development. I also have a pretty good handle on youth and technology and how that impacts their development (hence, this blog). So, how to use my strengths in the context of this upcoming event? Tie all of these issues together — sexuality, technology, and bullying. I have found my comfort zone!

What’s odd is that while so much of bullying has a sexual undertone or is blatantly about sex or sexuality or at least gender, most bullying curricula, anti-bullying campaigns, etc., do not acknowledge this important association. Bullying is seen as harassment, teasing, isolation, and assault. But under no circumstances should one put the word “sexual” in front of any of those terms and call it bullying.

Why this separation? Why not discuss sexual harassment while discussing bullying? Where is the conversation about sexual respect and self-worth in curricula that addresses the need to be nice to others? Are (anti) bullying experts afraid to talk about sex? Does it complicate things too much? Does it narrow their message?

Whatever the reason, I think it’s important to accept the fact that a lot of bullying has to do with sexuality. An obvious example is about name-calling due to sexual orientation and/or gender expression (and the “Think Before You Speak” campaign does a good job of calling this out). But what about sexting under pressure? Spreading rumors? Calling someone a ho or slut? These are unfortunately very common ways to bullying another, but where’s the conversation about the sexual components?

I hope to be able to speak more eloquently about this topic in the future. For now, I will continue to explore this rift and see if I can’t begin to bridge the gap between my interests and the important work done to decrease bullying among youth.

 

It’s your turn, what do you think we should do to change this? How has society removed Sexuality from bullying? Is this a bad thing? Comment and share your thoughts and then share this blog with someone you know.

Bully Victim Bystander

Stand Up Against Bullying

 

Let’s make (our relationships) better!

Let’s make (our relationships) better!

Every year we all sit around the television, watch the countdown and at the stroke of midnight (if we’re lucky) someone attractive next to us will give us a huge kiss. Apart from Valentine’s Day, I would say this is the day I see the most people smooching at the same time. After this kiss we say aloud what we have all been thinking about for weeks; our new year’s resolution. Each and every year we vow (without consequence) to do something less, more or not at all. These wishes range from being nicer, traveling more, seeing more friends, being a better sibling, losing weight and some of us to being better partners. However adding that extra spark to our relationships can be easier said than done.

So, in line with the holidays and beginning of a New Year, I thought I’d pull together an easy list of some possible action steps you might take to improve your relationships in the coming year. This year let’s all create resolutions for our relationships with the people we love and care about.

Now I know we are all incredibly busy. With the excessive demands on our time it can sometimes be easy to ignore our relationships, but this unconscious devaluation of love can really harm us in the end. And for those couples who have been together for a long time, it’s even easier to settle into comfortable routines and patterns (I call this the relationship slip) at the expense of attending to and nurturing our relationship with our partners. This kind of carelessness can really make your relationship sour and boring, possibly leading to a host of other problems that can erode the foundations we have all worked so hard to keep. So for the rest of this blog, put down your cell phones, log off of Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, My yearbook, Twitter, or any other social media site you may be multitasking with and pay full attention to the next few paragraphs.

Want copious amounts of love in the New Year?

Conscious intention toward putting consistent energy into your relationship is crucial for its long-term success. So why not, as a couple, create your own list of New Year’s Resolutions for your relationship and make sure to keep each other accountable to it? In fact, the actual act of the two of you sitting down and developing a list would be a great first item, something the two of you could creatively do that fosters togetherness and mutual brainstorming on ways to super-charge your connection. The two (or possibly more) of you are creating a vision for your relationship, and the pure act of doing that begins to cement more intimacy between you as you have common goals to pursue and successes to celebrate along the way. This resolution can be simple, but make sure to make it something that you can actually achieve. This doesn’t mean make your goal low, but surely something that you can work towards. Something like:

“in 2012, we as a couple will do the following for the benefit and love of each other,”

Or “this year we will accomplish the following goals together to further solidify our love for each other”

I made a list of 9 simple things that can be on your list, but make sure to also think of your own make them as fun as you can and decorate them when you are done.

1. To listen to each other without interrupting and tell each other when we fear we aren’t heard.

2. To take notice of the “little things” (that can actually be the most important things) we do for each other and acknowledge the effort we put into the relationship.

3. To make more time for each other and restructure our schedules so that we have more quality time and availability to go out on dates and enjoy each other (this could be once a week, every 2 weeks or even for 5 minutes every day).

4. To make love to each other with more passion, intensity, and creativity (safely, of course).

5. To create a scrapbook of memories of our life together that will act as a legacy of our relationship (arts and crafts can be great for building passion. Like Martha Stewart says, “it’s a good thing”).

6. To make sure and “check in” with each other every day to stay centered and focused even when life gets hectic.

7. To surprise each other with simple reminders that we love and cherish each other (a note on the bathroom mirror or a heart written on the snow covering our car, maybe even flowers sent to our schools or jobs).

8. To keep/make more friends who support our relationship and we can go out with.

9.To ensure that we each have both an individual identity and an identity as a couple to bring about more balance/health to our partnership (Having outside interests, hobbies, and passions will help bring more novelty and freshness to joining lives).

And the list can go on and on. Fine-tune these, as well as the ones you’ve come up with so that they are specific, concrete, and measurable. This way, you both know exactly what you have to do to accomplish the goals you’ve set because they’re spelled out with no “wiggle-room” for sabotage, and you’ll ensure that they’re achievable. Prioritize your items and only focus on a few initially so as not to get too overwhelmed. Keep the list in multiple places, near the front door, the bedroom, the bathroom even on your smart phones or post them to each other’s Facebook pages as a reminder of what you agreed to.

Maintain these tasks, and your commitment will soar to new heights! Reward yourselves for jobs well done and from time to time check-in with each other to gauge how you’re doing and if any revisions or additions need to be made. What are your thoughts about healthy relationships. How do you make yours better each day?

-Ernesto Dominguez

Let’s make (our relationships) better!

Every year we all sit around the television, watch the countdown and at the stroke of midnight (if we’re lucky) someone attractive next to us will give us a huge kiss. Apart from Valentine’s Day, I would say this is the day I see the most people smooching at the same time. After this kiss we say aloud what we have all been thinking about for weeks; our new year’s resolution. Each and every year we vow (without consequence) to do something less, more or not at all. These wishes range from being nicer, traveling more, seeing more friends, being a better sibling, losing weight and some of us to being better partners. However adding that extra spark to our relationships can be easier said than done.

So, in line with the holidays and beginning of a New Year, I thought I’d pull together an easy list of some possible action steps you might take to improve your relationships in the coming year. This year let’s all create resolutions for our relationships with the people we love and care about.

Now I know we are all incredibly busy. With the excessive demands on our time it can sometimes be easy to ignore our relationships, but this unconscious devaluation of love can really harm us in the end. And for those couples who have been together for a long time, it’s even easier to settle into comfortable routines and patterns (I call this the relationship slip) at the expense of attending to and nurturing our relationship with our partners. This kind of carelessness can really make your relationship sour and boring, possibly leading to a host of other problems that can erode the foundations we have all worked so hard to keep. So for the rest of this blog, put down your cell phones, log off of Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, My yearbook, Twitter, or any other social media site you may be multitasking with and pay full attention to the next few paragraphs.

Want copious amounts of love in the New Year?

Conscious intention toward putting consistent energy into your relationship is crucial for its long-term success. So why not, as a couple, create your own list of New Year’s Resolutions for your relationship and make sure to keep each other accountable to it? In fact, the actual act of the two of you sitting down and developing a list would be a great first item, something the two of you could creatively do that fosters togetherness and mutual brainstorming on ways to super-charge your connection. The two (or possibly more) of you are creating a vision for your relationship, and the pure act of doing that begins to cement more intimacy between you as you have common goals to pursue and successes to celebrate along the way. This resolution can be simple, but make sure to make it something that you can actually achieve. This doesn’t mean make your goal low, but surely something that you can work towards. Something like:

“in 2011, we as a couple will do the following for the benefit and love of each other,”

Or “this year we will accomplish the following goals together to further solidify our love for each other”

I made a list of 9 simple things that can be on your list, but make sure to also think of your own make them as fun as you can and decorate them when you are done.

1. To listen to each other without interrupting and tell each other when we fear we aren’t heard.

2. To take notice of the “little things” (that can actually be the most important things) we do for each other and acknowledge the effort we put into the relationship.

3. To make more time for each other and restructure our schedules so that we have more quality time and availability to go out on dates and enjoy each other (this could be once a week, every 2 weeks or even for 5 minutes every day).

4. To make love to each other with more passion, intensity, and creativity (safely, of course).

5. To create a scrapbook of memories of our life together that will act as a legacy of our relationship (arts and crafts can be great for building passion. Like Martha Stewart says, “it’s a good thing”).

6. To make sure and “check in” with each other every day to stay centered and focused even when life gets hectic.

7. To surprise each other with simple reminders that we love and cherish each other (a note on the bathroom mirror or a heart written on the snow covering our car, maybe even flowers sent to our schools or jobs).

8. To keep/make more friends who support our relationship and we can go out with.

9.To ensure that we each have both an individual identity and an identity as a couple to bring about more balance/health to our partnership (Having outside interests, hobbies, and passions will help bring more novelty and freshness to joining lives).

And the list can go on and on. Fine-tune these, as well as the ones you’ve come up with so that they are specific, concrete, and measurable. This way, you both know exactly what you have to do to accomplish the goals you’ve set because they’re spelled out with no “wiggle-room” for sabotage, and you’ll ensure that they’re achievable. Prioritize your items and only focus on a few initially so as not to get too overwhelmed. Keep the list in multiple places, near the front door, the bedroom, the bathroom even on your smart phones or post them to each other’s Facebook pages as a reminder of what you agreed to.

Maintain these tasks, and your commitment will soar to new heights! Reward yourselves for jobs well done and from time to time check-in with each other to gauge how you’re doing and if any revisions or additions need to be made.

Happy New Year and I wish you all happy and healthy relationships in 2011. So tell me, what’s on your list?

-Ernesto Dominguez