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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Rants and Raves: Female Empowerment in Rave Culture

*Names changed

Our motto is PLUR: Peace, Love, Unity and Respect. We borrow this philosophy from the hippies. Our drug culture stems directly from the 1960’s, just with new lingo. We brought back the sexual revolution of second wave feminism. Or so I thought.
Yeah it's a blog urging rave ladies to stand up for respect, maybe it's just unclear. Feel free to edit it.  A picture like this?
We wear outrageous, themed lingerie costumes. We wear rainbow bikinis, fuzzy leg-warmers, and neon fishnets. We express ourselves in the way we never can in our daily lives at work and school. But we are not dancing topless at Woodstock. We are not free.

Chelsea’s boyfriend told her not to gogo anymore because he believes they are basically strippers and treated as such. However unlike strippers (many, not all), gogos are not forced into their jobs by anyone or anything, nor are they exploited by it. But even these beautiful, talented, untouchable dancers are not free from degradation. Chelsea had enjoyed her gogoing days but was happy to agree to her boyfriend’s request.

Michael asks, “When you go out in your corsets and miniskirts, are you really that surprised when you get raped?” Katie, Jessica and I facetiously agreed that yes, we are ‘surprised’ whenever we get raped. But on a serious note, I was truly surprised to find this rape culture perpetuated in rave culture.

We have our own brand of victim-blaming; if you react too strongly to unwanted groping at the hands of high kids, you are causing drama AKA being un-PLUR. I’m, forced to laugh it off, yell, “Fingering me is not a dance move!” and write ‘NO MEANS NO’ with Sharpie on the backs of passed out drunk guys.

This is not the movement I thought it was. Rave culture is expanding and we need to preserve its integrity. We must demand the R(espect) in PLUR from those who may grope and degrade us. They are intimidated by the freedom of our bodies. We, the ladies of raveland, are beautiful forces of nature, dancing spirits, and fierce goddesses. We will not be inhibited. This is our dance floor too. Revolution: Rave Is Queen.

 

This Blog Post by Hannah Westberg