Archive for September, 2010
- September 9th: Billy Lucas, 15, in Indiana, killled himself over anti-gay bullying.
- September 13th: Cody Barker, 17, in Wisconsin, killed himself over anti-gay bullying.
- September 18th: Seth Walsh, 13, in California, hanged himself over to anti-gay bullying, then spent ten days on life support before being pronounced dead on September 28th.
- September 23rd: Asher Brown, 13, in Houston, TX, killed himself over to anti-gay bullying.
- September 29th: Tyler Clementi, 18, of Ridgewood, NJ is presumed dead after jumping from the George Washington Bridge after being humiliated online for his sexual orientation.
That’s five. Five people, five boys, who could have grown up to be part of our world, part of our community, part of gay activism, or who could have, at the very least, grown up. Five boys since school started less than a month ago.
This isn’t new, of course. That’s On July 9th, Justin Aaberg, 15, in Minnesota killed himself over to anti-gay bullying. His mom is attempting some activism in dealing with her grief, but clearly we need more.
Whatever we’ve been doing isn’t working well enough yet, because this keeps happening.
I don’t really know what to say about it, I’m just moved by these stories rolling in, and Kristen, a former middle school teacher, has been upset about it all day, and we’ve been thinking.
Here’s some resources I found, places working on specifically this issue.. If you’ve got money to throw their way, and if you’re moved and shocked and outraged and sad like I am, I’m sure they would not mind your support.
- I’m From Driftwood: true stories by gay people from all over
- The Trevor Project: help prevent teen suicide by promoting mental health and positive self-esteem. Nationwide 24/7 online chat or phone hotline 866-488-7386 for gay youth.
- The brilliant book, Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws by Kate Bornstein (aka Auntie Kate). Read it, if you haven’t. Give it to a teacher you know. Send it to your high school’s librarian. Put it in the hands of those who need it. See also hellocruelworld.net and #stayalive.
- Dan Savage and his partner Terry have launched the It Gets Better project, which is a fancy way to say they have a YouTube channel asking for video submissions to gay youth telling them that it gets better. I know things don’t just magically “get better,” and that there are many, many factors keeping people oppressed, but it is so important that kids hear that life goes on, gets better, changes, that there is support out there for us. Below is Dan & Terry’s kickoff video.
What else? What can we do? What are you doing?
Welcome to e[lust] - Your source for sexual intelligence and inspirations of lust from the smartest & sexiest bloggers! Whether you’re looking for hot steamy smut, thought-provoking opinions or expert information, you’re going to find it here. Want to be included in e[lust] #21? Start with the rules, check out the schedule and subscribe to the RSS feed for updates!
This Week’s Top Three Posts
On Making Sex Last: Cheerleading & Open Relationships - as long as the possession stuff can be fun and consensual, and not interfering with each other’s sovereignty, I think the two—cheerleading and possession—aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.
Owned – I had almost forgotten that while here, with him, I was HIS plaything. I was OWNED by him. We had discussed this. I knew the rules. I must not forget again.
The sheer indecency of what we are doing – Is he looking for what I’m looking for? Surely so—all men want that, don’t they? A flaming succubus that comes only in the dark to bring unworldly pleasures and leave behind strange lingering dreams that spice their dutiful daytime lives.
Featured Post (Lilly’s Pick)
Stop Hating on Campus Sex Education – Clearly, there is a need for this education, because if it doesn’t come from sexuality educators, it comes from word of mouth (which can often provide incorrect information), or from the internet, or from trial and error.
Hey guess what! Sideshow is just around the corner.
Next week, Tuesday October 12th, Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival will feature six readers on the subject of MASKS—what we wear, why, and how that changes throughout our lives or throughout our different identities.
We’ll be doing a special raffle for everyone and anyone who attends, with prizes like Rachel Kramer Bussel’s recent book Orgasmic, a cock from Vixen Creations, another cock from Tantus, and Ivan E. Coyote’s new book, Missed Her, and spoken word CD.
What’s that? Didn’t you hear that Ivan E. Coyote and S. Bear Bergman are reading at the November 9th Sideshow, along with Jessica Halem, on their 2010 Dangerous Mammals tour?
I’m practically beside myself! I’ve admired Ivan and Bear’s work for a long time, and though I’ve met Ivan, it was years ago, and I can’t wait to meet Bear. It’s going to be a great night.
There aren’t very many more Sideshow readings left in 2010, but we’ve had an incredible lineup so far and we’re gearing up to bring you all sorts of new and exciting folks in 2011. Mark the dates on your calendar—second Tuesday of every month!
See you in October?
Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
Tuesday, October 12th @ The Phoenix
447 East 13th Street @ Avenue A
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm
Free! (We’ll pass the hat for the readers)
RSVP on Facebook!
This month’s theme is MASKS, starring:
Broch Bender (Seattle Spit)
Kelli Dunham (Queer Memoir)
Natalie Illum (Mothertongue)
Mardi Jaskot (Queer Conventions)
Sarah Schulman (Ties That Bind)
Check out reader bios and photos.
Hot on the heels of the Butch Voices NYC Regional conference, Portland is hosting their own Butch Voices this coming weekend, October 1-3. And I’ll be there!
I debated attending Portland’s conference—after all, these conferences are regional, so why attend in a region so far from where I live? But I adore the West coast, if you’ve been following Mr. Sexsmith’s Other Girlfriend you know the love affair I have every time I go visit a city on the I-5 corridor. It’s where I grew up, it’s the culture I know and feel most at home in, it’s what I crave and miss, and, eventually, I think it’s where I’ll end up. (Not sure when, exactly, but it seems right to be headed back that way, eventually.) So it feels important to me to attend.
I’ll be there Friday for the SWeLL performance, and then at the conference on Saturday, and reading my new butch poem, “Unsolicited Advice To A New Butch,” at the spoken word event on Sunday. Here’s the details:
Everyone is the expert of their own life. Everyone knows themselves, their stories, their triumphs, their heartaches, better than anyone else. We all come from somewhere. We all have had struggles, heartaches, successes, breakthroughs, knockdowns, sideswipes, joy, that have brought us from the people we used to be to the person that we are today, and we butches have our own unique and similar stories. The rewards of starting to tell these stories, to write them down, to have others witness our stories, can be massive. The power of words to name what has happened in your lifetime can be spiritually and psychologically healing, can bring together communities of like-minded people, and can even write our selves into existence and change the world. Join writer, blogger, and activist Sinclair Sexsmith in a personal writing workshop about bringing out own inner stories out, finding the stories of our lives that are begging to be told, trusting the wisdom of our own inner voices, and finding the courage to share our stories with others. We will discuss blogging, places to read your work, editing, basic craft, and other inspirational butch writers. Bring paper and something to write with, there will be writing prompts.
Sunday, October 3rd, 2pm to 5pm
at In Other Words, 8 NE Killingsworth, PDX
Free and open to the public!
Gender/Queer is a spoken word/poetry event, that will happen on Sunday, October 3rd at In Other Words. Start time is 2:00pm and we’ll burn a fire under your feet till 5:00. The event will feature an open mic, as well as several featured performances. This event will be emceed by our PDX favorite MC Sossity Chiricuzio, notorious for her fabulous work with Portland’s one and only Dirty Queer.
The goal of this event is to offer a stage for the voices of butch identified women, transmasculine studs, aggressives, and any other individuals that find their identity on the gender queer continuum. We are also welcoming all allies to participate in this event. Gender/Queer offers an opportunity to shout out our stories through art and poetry and encourage a community oriented activism that demands social and economic justice as well as equal rights. It is a stage where artists can freely express their work on queer identities, sexualities, wants, desires, politics, you name it.
ASL interpretation provided by DHOR
I won’t be making it to the LA Conference, though I’d love to. Next time, maybe.
See you in Portland!
And it was fantastic.
I want to tell you all about it, and I barely know where to start. It was thrilling to work on a committee which was so invested in working, and whose skill-sets were all so complimentary. Primarily, I worked with promotion, copy, images, and event planning & promotion, as well as hosting some of the events over the conference weekend too. Which tend to be the things I’m good at, and the things I most like to do, in terms of putting on an event. There were a lot of logistical details that I was less concerned with, personally, but the rest of the Core Committee was so on top of it, I didn’t have to worry about it—I could just do the parts I was particularly good at.
It’s the first time I’ve been such a key organizer for a regional conference, and I had a wonderful time. I learned a lot about organizing and producing big events. I think I might go into a little bit of withdraw after working so closely with the other organizers—Kelli, Kawana, Lea, Paris, Emma, Emilie—I’m hoping we can organize a post-event gathering to debrief and talk about what’s next. (There’s already some discussion about another New York regional conference in 2012.)
But: what happened at the actual conference?
The Friday Night Social Event
Friday night kicked off the conference with Speed Friending at Anti-Diva. I was surprised and impressed at how many masculine-of-center folks came out for that. It was great to have a kick-off event where everyone came with the assumption that they would meet other people, everyone was more open and talkative than usual. We planned on having Melissa Li perform an acoustic set, but there were some technical difficulties and Melissa never did go on. But oh the rest of us did … on and on, talking to each other and about the conference the next day and about the other events that were planned for the weekend. Many folks were in from out of town, and not everyone who came planned on attending the entire conference, but was interested in meeting butches (for various reasons).
Just about as I was ready to retire, a text came in from Kelli, conference “chair,” if we had one of those, to both myself and to Emilie, along with a photograph of the conference space: we had a wall! A genius contractor had saved our asses at the very last minute by coming in to help us divide up the very large QEJ Performance & Conference space into three separate spaces where we could hold two workshops, registration, and the hospitality suite. Not only did it look amazing, it ended up being constructed out of cardboard, twine, and tarps. It was more than I would have expected—when I arrived on Saturday morning—and it was perfect. Em and I were so thrilled, we actually high-fived—a move I do not usually participate in, but it was apt.
And then the conference started …
After getting things up from the car and helping to open up registration, the first thing I did was to attend a workshop with Corey Alexander called Doing Relationships with Emotional Armor: For Stones and Our Partners. I’ve flirted with stone identity, and definitely have some emotional armor, so it was interesting and intense to bring those things to light and discuss them openly. It was a difficult subject to begin the conference, but set the tone for the depth and personal level of discussion throughout the day.
I took a brief break to prepare for the Cock Confidence workshop I was leading in the third workshop block, and then joined the impromptu discussion. Conference organizers intentionally left some physical space empty such that active discussions could happen, either folks could bring up new topics they felt weren’t being addressed or could continue discussions started in the workshops if they felt inspired to do so. So a few people decided to lead an open discussion on responsible masculinity, which was very fruitful and touched on many topics and conundrums of masculinity that I frequently contemplate. It was great to hear other perspectives on these things that often really get to me, that I spend days thinking about, or talking about, or writing about. The question of “What is responsible masculinity?” was posed, and much discussion of misogyny and feminism commenced. One of the major points made was the ways that expectations can be oppressive, and that though our identities may appear to be something someone knows and can identify, and therefore draws all sorts of conclusions about (e.g., masculine of center -> butch -> top -> dominant -> dates femmes), that one has to actually ask and observe that particular individual to see if any of those things are true for them—and they may not be!
We also discussed butch competition and policing, and how to build more butch community. Someone said, “The only way to eliminate butch competition and enhance butch camaraderie is to acknowledge each other.” Which, I think, was beautifully put and I wholeheartedly agree. We spend a lot of time circling each other silently, and it is a thin line, if at all, between that and competing.
Next, I ran downstairs to Cock Confidence & Strapping It On, which is a workshop I’m doing many times this fall (already at Purple Passion and Conversio Virium in New York and Good Vibrations in Boston). I was greated by a packed room, and people just kept streaming in—it didn’t hurt that I had two Aslan Leather harnesses, three Vixen Creations cocks, and one Tantus cock to give away, I’m sure!
I started in on my workshop contents about confidence and communication when there were a few questions and comments, rapidly, from attendees. I’m paraphrasing here, but basically what was said was, “What about butches who bottom, and the ways that can be seen as emasculating?” and then, “What about women who are survivors of sexual assault, and for whom penetration is difficult or traumatizing?”
Whoa. Big, huge topics.
Which I will gladly write about here, I have plenty to say about them (watch for future/soon essays), but on which I was not prepared to speak, or lead a discussion. I had a lot of (prepared) material to get through, so I explained that, and said, those are both way important questions and I would love to have a discussion about them, that I was not prepared to hold the space for that discussion now. But, I proposed, I will do some talking about toys, do the raffle, then adjourn early and folks can go off and explore another workshop, or stay here for Q&A and we can discuss those things. I also said: Thank you, for bringing that up. I am used to doing this workshop at sex toy stores (mostly with an audience of hetero couples) so those questions are definitely Cock Confidence 301 instead of 101, and I love that the Butch Voices NYC crowd really raised the caliber of the discussion.
Thank you for that, all of you who were there.
I think the room understood my point, so I kept moving on. I talked about toys, my favorite and the most popular harnesses and cocks, answered some questions, and pulled names out of the bucket to see who would take home some new toys. I’m going to work on a Cock Confidence Product Guide and let everyone know the things that I recommended and where I recommend getting them.
The conversation, when it continued, was a much smaller group and we ended up more CR-style, discussing our personal challenges and experiences.
It was definitely the best Cock Confidence workshop I’ve ever facilitated, and it was so much fun. Wish I could give away toys every time I do that workshop! To be clear—I give away these toys, and I work with these companies as a sponsor (of sorts) of Sugarbutch because I adore their toys so much, not the other way around (I don’t adore their toys because they’re a sponsor). I’m pretty picky about the toys I give away, and while I have tried out all sorts of products, even if I suspected they would be awful, I won’t give away things I think are awful.
Butch Representation in Media
Off I rushed to the Media Panel, where I moderated a discussion about butch visibility, mainstream media, working in the media, and how we use the media to further authentic images of ourselves. It was a great discussion with Madison, Grace, Mamone, and Dasha, and the attendees had many questions and comments about race, participation, othering, and success. I didn’t feel like we had a point that we really hammered home in this workshop, but then again, we didn’t really have a point that we set up to make when we formed this panel, so that was okay.
At the end of the panel, we went around the room and everyone there introduced themselves and did their thirty-second elevator pitch about what they do. It was fascinating to see the caliber of talent we had in that room, all together.
The Community-Building Keynote
The keynote at Butch Voices NYC was non-traditional in that we didn’t want to have one singular person speak for all aspects of masculine of center communities, and since it was a one-day conference we didn’t have time—or money—for multiple keynote addresses. So Kelli and I planned a community building keynote ceremony that was a commitment to our butch voices, and it turned out beautifully. It was incredibly moving, from start to finish.
It all started with a pebble, a river stone—everyone received one at registration. I took them from my own rock collection (remember my this I believe poem? “rocks in my pockets”?) I counted out 180, which didn’t even make a dent in my collection, to make sure we had enough for everyone, then added a few handfuls more for good measure. I have collected rocks over the years from just about any place I have visited, from Bournemouth in England to Ocean Shores in Oregon to Washington state to Southeast Alaska, where most of the rocks are from. The pebble beaches are the best up there. It’s become a bit of a collection, that therefore I subsequently have no idea what to do with. It doesn’t make sense to display them, not really, not beyond a few rock stack formations here and there, so they’ve been in a box for years. Seriously. A box of rocks. Useless and taking up valuable New York City apartment space. I’d be glad to donate them to a garden or beach, but most green spaces around New York are so manicured it doesn’t make sense to leave them there.
But a ritual—it was a perfect use for (some of) them. I was so pleased to pass them on in that way.
Before we started the ritual, we spent a moment with the Memory Wall we had constructed to add names to, people who are no longer with us but who came before us and whom we want to remember. And right away, the room got heavier, we focused, I felt immediately moved.
We all got a rock when we checked in at registration. The seven of us organizers stood up to explain about the ritual, what we were going to do and why, each taking turns. We explained that the rock had absorbed our personal experiences of the day, our individual voice and perspective, and that we were going to add that rock to the collective pile of our community’s experiences, similar and related, yet different and varied. We invited anyone who felt moved to participate—allies too, but whom were also invited to witness if they felt so inclined, as we need witness to our statements, commitments, and very existence—to come up to our make-shift alter, one at a time, and speak aloud the sentence, “My commitment to my butch voice is,” or “my commitment to butch voices is.” Folks were invited to substitute whatever words they wanted to for “butch,” if that wasn’t their identity word of choice, such as queer or genderqueer or stud or aggressive.
I wasn’t prepared for how moving it would be. I wrote the majority of the script that we read (which only dawned on me about halfway through the ritual, I wrote the keynote), and the whole time I was just crossing my fingers that it wouldn’t be cheesy, but would be honored and respected and come across the way I wanted it to. It did—and it went beyond my expectations, like much of the conference did, above and beyond. It was moving, enlivening, big. Many of us teared up. Many of us said hard things that would not have been easier to say in other places, but which felt safe to reveal. Many of us murmured or clapped or responded as each person who felt moved came up to place their rocks in the wooden bowl on the make-shift alter.
Paris closed the ritual by having everyone repeat a line that Kelli and I came up with, based on the Core Initiatives of the Butch Voices conference: “Our commitment is to stand together, to take care of each other, and to make the world a more just place.”
And with that, everyone could take a rock home with them, if they felt so inclined, and we adjourned.
What a day.
I’m still reeling from it all.
And yet … right after the keynote, Kristen and I rushed downtown to get to Bluestockings Bookstore for the Butch Voices Speak Queer Memoir/Sideshow mash-up reading/performance. I posted photos and a wrap-up of it over on the Sideshow blog today, but expect more photos from Syd London (official Butch Voices NYC photographer!) as those get processed.
And more articles, more thoughts, more things from me, too, as that all gets processed.
I feel so much gratitude toward the folks who came and were involved. I’m thrilled to have been a part of it.
The Butch Voices NYC Regional Conference is almost here!
The conference itself is tomorrow, Saturday the 25th, with registration opening up at 9am and workshops beginning at 10am. I’m doing a Cock Confidence workshop at 1:30pm tomorrow, and I have two Aslan Leather harnesses, three Vixen Creations cocks, and another Tantus cock to give away. I’ll also be showing off the brand new hot-off-the-presses VIP Super Soft pack-and-play cock that is barely even released.
I’m also modering a panel called “In the Public Eye: Visibility in Media” with some fabulous folks: Denise Madison from GirlzParty, Grace Moon from Velvet Park Media, Gina Mamone from Riot Grrrl Ink, and Dasha Snyder of The D Word fame who writes at Digital Goddess.
But aside from my own involvement in the panel, there are many more things going on! Tonight is a social event to meet & greet conference attendees at Speed Friending/Dating at Dixon Place, tomorrow is a special Queer Memoir/Sideshow Reading Series Mash-Up at Bluestockings Bookstore, and there’s a special Butch Voices Submit play party in Brooklyn late tomorrow night.
I don’t know if I’ll make it out to play, but I’m really looking forward to meeting people, hanging out, and talking about butch things all weekend. Kristen is baking her “face off,” as she is prone to saying, making her famous rosemary sea salt chocolate chip cookies, savory corn and cheddar muffins, and a special treat for someone’s birthday tomorrow.
If you miss these events, there’s another Butch Brunch on Saturday, October 16th which will be a nice follow up to the conference for those who miss the company of other butches.
To tie up this nice countdown, I’m featuring a recent novel from 2004 called Crybaby Butch by Judith Frank, published by Firebrand Books. It won the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Debut Fiction in 2005. My (lesbian) book group read it about a year and a half ago, and we all liked it quite a bit—which is hard, usually novels especially are hotly contested. I remember there being some disapproval of how the femme partners were depicted (as controlling, fairly stereotypical “women”, perhaps with not enough depth) but we liked the butches.
Here’s the premise, from the publisher’s website:
Drawing on her experience as an adult literacy tutor, Judith Frank’s first novel traces the difficult and sometimes hilarious connection between two butches of different generations – a middle-class, thirty-something adult literacy teacher and her older, working-class student. With a disparate group of adult learners as the backdrop, Frank examines, with warmth and wit, the relationship between education and gender, class, and racial identity. Judith Frank is a winner of the Astraea Foundation’s Emerging Lesbian Writer’s Fund prize in fiction. A professor of English at Amherst College, she lives and writes in western Massachusetts.
There are not very many books out there with “butch” in the title, and even fewer of them published in the last ten years. It’s a good read that is complex and interesting, engaging and emotionally enthralling. A few folks mentioned Crybaby Butch in the comments when I featured Stone Butch Blues two weeks ago, all of them with praise for the book.
So now that I’ve gone through some of the major butch books, tell me, which ones did I leave out? Are there others I should have featured?
The Woodhull Freedom Foundation is hosting the first annual National Sexual Freedom Day today, and along with in person events in Washington, DC, there is a blog carnival you can participate in if you feel inspired to write about sexual rights and freedom.
The questions are: What does sexual freedom as a human right mean to you? and What legislative or social changes would you like to see to promote sexual freedom?
There are very few things we humans have in common. Our cultures clash, we speak different languages, we hold opposing values, we worship contradictory gods—but all of us have a body. All of us have a body with similar patterns, something vaguely person-shaped, with variable configurations of skin and size and style, with varying degrees of stamina and strength. We don’t all like to do the same things with our bodies, but we are all born, and we all die. We all experience the world through the confines of this corporeal flesh, these five senses, these minds, this aging process, these fascinating ways that our various systems—digestive, nervous, circulatory, respiratory, reproductive, endocrine—constantly work to maintain.
What we do with our bodies while we are here, while we have this lifetime to explore this world, is our choice. It is, in fact, our defining choice; what makes our lives truly ours.
The details are as variable as there are people on this planet—our genders, our sexualities, fashion tastes, what we do for work, what we do for fun, what sensations are enjoyable, how our senses function, what pleases our eyes or ears or mouths or fingertips. But that’s the fun part, isn’t it? That’s the part we get to make up as we go along, that’s the part that we get to change as frequently as we like, that’s the part we get to constantly be curious about and explore, every morning when we wake.
Some of us discovered young that we are sexual beings. That when we come, we tap in to energy beyond ourselves, we release through our muscles in ways that are inaccessible otherwise, we feel connected to ourselves, our lovers, the world around us.
The tantric belief is that this fire, this energy that we tap into when we are sexual is life itself, is life force itself, is not just sexual energy, but all energy. Sure, there are plenty of other ways to tap into that life force than to have sex—but for some of us, sex is the most fun, the most rewarding, the most liberating exploration or hobby that we can have.
Remember Dedee in the 1998 film The Opposite of Sex: “It was clever of God or evolution or whatever to hook the survival of the species to [sex], because we’re gonna screw around.” Screwing around is hardwired in these bodies of ours, especially when our hormones get going. That’s what our bodies crave, want, desire. I’m beginning to think that using sex to sell all that advertising isn’t solely as nasty or manipulative as the feminist theory says it is. Yes, this culture uses sex to sell irrelevant things, but there’s something else underneath that: everything really is about sex.
And for some of us, for me, for example, when I’m not having it, I think about it constantly. I want to know where it’ll happen next, who it will be with. I obsess, I write, I think. I crave the release that my body and mind goes through when relating to another person—another body—that way. I crave someone who is particularly aligned to my orientation so that we can fit together like puzzle pieces and start lifting each other up, taking each other higher, pushing each other’s boundaries, making it safe to do things and explore things that we haven’t otherwise done before, or perhaps that we have, but want to do again.
That’s where the body comes in: when we can strip away all of the crap that culture shoves on us about sex, all of the conflicting messages, all of the virgin/whore dichotomies, all of the macho masculinity size-king bullshit, all of the shame and guilt for our desires, we can start listening to our bodies, really listening, to what bubbles up from inside. What would feel good right now? Full body rope bondage? A Whartenberg wheel? Melting wax dripped all over your back? A really good, hard fucking, just taking your body, using it, with disregard to your pleasure? Impulsive, public displays of affection? Kissing, and more kissing, and more kissing?
What does your body crave?
I think most of us can barely answer this question honestly. Most of us would have to dig through too many layers of shame and symbols and bravado and performance to get down to what we are really craving, what we really desire, what our bodies are truly asking for.
To be able to get down to that craving, then to articulate that craving, then to have someone we could safely confide in about that craving, then to actually play with that craving—that is sexual freedom.
It could be as simple as knowing that my body is asking for a glass of water, or knowing that it’s time to rest, or it could be as complex as a type of relationship, or the physical location on the planet where I build my home. There are dozens of things related to our inabilities to listen to our bodies deepest desires, and yet so much of what keeps us from that skill is sexual shame.
What change would I like to see come of this? I would like to see people listening to their bodies. There is no way to put that through legislation, exactly. Perhaps there are more round-about ways, and for that I admire politicians who are capable of speaking the languages of government and instating laws of protection and celebration.
But the rest of us …
I think we need to keep listening, way down deep, letting desires bubble up, and practice speaking them aloud, or at least saying them to ourselves, writing them down. I want to see us all making choices which honor our unique experiences and move our bodies down the paths of our lives with less violence, less shame, less fear, less confusion, less suffering. I want to see us celebrating the deep knowing of who we are, where we’ve come from, where we’re going, who we are walking the paths with. I want to see us learn from BDSM groups and teachings about body safety, playing safely, teachings like Safe Sane Consensual or Risk Aware Consensual Kink. I want to see us learn from feminist theory about the sexualization of little girls and the commodification of women and the belittling of the power of our sexualities. I want to see us learn from trans and genderqueer communities about what is “real” and what is constructed, and keep unraveling what it means to be a human being in this world.
There has been much change in the past ten years since I’ve been heavily involved in sexual activism and studying my own culture, trying to explain the reasons so many of us are so messed up about our bodies and about our sexualities. I know there’s more change to come, and I believe this work, organizing National Sexual Freedom Day or writing online about sex and gender or exploring some new toys to enhance your own sexual play or becoming curious about your own body’s inner desires all comes down to the tiniest of moments, the tiniest of changes, in listing to oneself, and taking one’s inner wishes seriously.
What say you, folks? What does sexual freedom as a human right mean to you?
So I know all I’ve been talking about is the Butch! Voices! Regional! NYC! Conference!, but I do actually have other things going on aside from that. Like tomorrow, at Purple Passion, I’m teaching a cunnilingus workshop!
A Dyke’s Secrets of Cunnilingus
with Sinclair Sexsmith
Thursday September 23rd, 2010 from 7pm – 9pm
at Purple Passion
211 West 20th Street between 7th & 8th Avenues in NYC
All attendees get 15% store discount before and after the workshop.
Cost: $20- class size is limited so prepaying is advised.
Among other things, we’re going to be using some techniques from The Low Down on Going Down to strengthen our tongues and mouths so we can have more precision and stamina. One of the ways we’re going to do that is using some Cheerios to help us with our tongue placement.
Now doesn’t that sound like fun? Come on out (for something OTHER than gender discussions) and have a good time. Purple Passion is a great store full of many inspiring things you don’t yet have in your collection, I promise.
So when Carrie at Aslan Leather sent me the Rubber G, I also got the Leather Pleasure Harness, one of Aslan’s signature harnesses, and to me the most versatile. It has various configurations: two-strap, one-strap, driver pad or not, variable sizes of O-ring. The straps are thin and high quality leather, the craftsmanship, as I’d expect from Aslan, is lovely and detailed.
It has become my current go-to harness. It’s what I pull out when I want to play, it’s what I use.
This harness is leather. Beautiful leather. Buttery soft, well-treated leather. There’s nothing wrong with this leather whatsoever. Oh wait—yes there is: it’s porous, and absorbs liquid. For that reason, as with many other leather harnesses I have known and loved, I do not expect this harness to last.
2. Metal (Buckles & O-Rings)
I continually stress the quality of construction in Aslan products, and of course this is no exception. It’s lovely: there are buckles on both hips around the waist and sliding O-rings on the other two (or one) straps.
3. Style, Shape, Padding
This harness comes with a “driver pad,” the bit of padding that would sit behind the base of the dildo against the wearer, but I’ve removed it so there isn’t as much separating me from my cock and my girl. The straps are a little thin, which personally I like, but you may not—I do find they can dig in a little bit. I love the convertible strap style, and if you for example aren’t sure whether you prefer one style or the other yet, this is a great one to buy because it’s easy to change for one to the other as desired. It’s very adjustable and fits hips from 26″-44″ (and the larger version fits up 56″) comfortably.
I’m still in search of a harness this simple that is not leather, or perhaps just a harness with a replaceable or removable center strap that is not leather (probably rubber). But this is getting closer!
I’ve got a slightly customized Rubber G that I still need to report about … the center strap is a bit thinner, and I do like that better, and oh the rubber is growing on me. I love how easily it cleans up.
PS … Did I mention that Aslan Leather sent me a harness to give away at my Cock Confidence & Strapping It On workshop at Butch Voices NYC this weekend? Hope you got a ticket, because registration is sold out. I hear if you come early with a lot of patience you might (might) be able to get in. Thanks Aslan—can’t wait to draw a name and send someone home with a new toy.
Oh, I’m so glad you asked.
We have three major co-sponsored events outside of the Butch Voices day-long conference. You all know the conference details already, right?
Butch Voices Regional Conference in New York City
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Queers for Economic Justice Performance and Conference Space
147 West 24th Street, New York City, NY
The day-long conference will include workshops, panels, a butch hospitality lounge as well as a very special keynote celebration of our history and community of butches. Plan out your day by looking at the workshops offered and the schedule.
But what else is going on, outside of the day-long event?
First, Friday night kicks off the conference with a social event designed for us to all meet each other, make friends, or possibly hook up.
Speed Dating and Friending with Butch Voices
Friday, September 24th from 8-10pm
At Anti-Diva, Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street, NYC
Join us for queer speed meet and greet socializing brought to you from Velvetpark, hosted by Diana Cage and Grace Moon at Anti-Diva! Also featuring an acoustic performance with musical guest Melissa Li whose music has been featured in Curve and Bitch magazines, and has been nominated for an OUTMusic Award. Check out her current band Melissa Li & The Barely Theirs at www.melissali.com.
FREE for folks who have pre-registered for the BUTCH Voices NYC Regional Conference
Fundraiser proceeds will go to BUTCH Voices NYC Regional Conference
And if you found a date or a new friend or a good buddy or just didn’t have enough time at Dixon Place to get your groove on, come on over to Brooklyn after that for a dance party:
Que(e)ry II Dance Party
$5-10 sliding scale
2 for 1 admission for Butch Voices attendees with secret code (sent to those who have pre-registered)
Blackout Bar, 916 Manhattan Ave., Greenpoint
A celebration of queer librarians and those who love them. You don’t have to be a queer librarian; you just have to dance with one! DJ CP * DJ EMOTICON * DJ ADAM E. MILKSOP * DJ SHOMI NOISE * Queer-Lit Drink Specials * Shushed Raffle * Hot GoGos * Real-Live Reference Librarians! Proceeds benefit: The Leather Archive & Museum (CHI) & The LGBT Community Center Library & Archives (NYC)
Then, Saturday after the conference, we’re going to hightail it down to Bluestockings Bookstore for a very special Queer Memoir/Sideshow: Queer Literary Carnival Mashup reading series:
BUTCH Voices NYC 2010 Queer Memoir/Sideshow Mash-Up
Saturday September 25th at 7pm
172 Allen St, New York, NY
$5 suggested donation
The first ever regional gathering of BUTCH Voices in NYC will bring together self identified Butches, Studs, Aggressives and other folks who identity as masculine as center as well as many allies for conversation, workshops, entertainment, and good ol’ fashioned butch bonding. The Butch Voices Queer Memoir/Sideshow Mash-Up will bring together writers and storytellers to share in this celebration.
QUEER MEMOIR is an NYC based storytelling series that works to give voice to our collective queer experiences, and preserve and document our complex queer history. Queer Memoir is curated and hosted by Genne Murphy and Kelli Dunham. SIDESHOW: The Queer Literary Carnival is a reading of serious literature for ridiculous times, curated and hosted by Cheryl B and Sinclair Sexsmith.
With Queer Memoir storytellers:
Ryann Makenzi Holmes, 26, Bed Stuy, Bk, NY — entrepreneur, student, biker, skater, DJ boi — was born in Washington, DC and raised primarily in Largo, Maryland. She currently attends Baruch College in New York, working tirelessly towards the “coveted” MBA. She resides in Brooklyn, where she attributes the inspiration for her first entrepreneurial endeavor, bklyn boihood, a community organization dedicated to the empowerment and visibility of masculine presenting queer and trans folks of color.
Morgan Mann Willis is an east-coast/uptown original; a homolicious, AGstudboi; a writer, teacher, student, woman-lover, cat-lover, bus-taker, part-time poet, full-time love machine who spends her days and nights spanking New York City’s sexy ass. Sometimes she teaches in prison, sometimes in jail, sometimes on street corners, but most of the time she’s being schooled by life or is busy dreaming up schemes to become several different varieties of amazing.
Emma Crandall recently moved to Brooklyn from Atlanta and teaches writing at Temple in Philadelphia. When not in transit, Emma writes about gay culture in her own precious scribblings, as contributing editor at Velvetpark, and, formerly, as co-creator of the blog Breeders Digest: Helping Straight People Help Themselves. She prefers life in melodrama, outfits on the complicated side, and Stevie Nicks on the rocks, with shawls.
And Sideshow performers:
Philadelphia, PA native Renair Amin is no stranger to the arts. As an author, she has written for various print and on-line publications. Her work also appears in the Nghosi Books anthology, Longing, Lust & Loving. As a spoken word artist, Renair has graced national stages, including New York City, where she hosts Speak Your Myne, a monthly open mic showcase of her creation. In 2006, Renair formed Pmyner, Ltd., a literary entertainment company for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender performance arts community. In 2010, Renair Amin was named one of the Top 5 Lesbian Entrepreneurs by LezNation Magazine.
Kestryl Cael is a dandy trans butch performance artist with too many stories to tell. Hir one-queer-show, XY(T), has toured across the country, delighting and discomfiting college students and soccer moms. Ze was a member of “The Language of Paradox,” a performance ensemble founded and directed by Kate Bornstein. Cael’s writing appears in anthologies such as Kicked Out, and ze is half of the performance duo, PoMo Freakshow. Ze is currently developing ’348,’ a solo performance piece about the troubled teen industry, torture, and a hot pink sweatshirt.
But wait! That’s not all! If you’re still itching to go out after that, there will be a special Brooklyn-based sex and play party for women & trans folks late on Saturday night:
The city’s hottest sex and SM party for the women and trans community will feed your appetite, whether you’re a voyeur, experienced player, novice, or just curious, you’re sure to find something to satisfy! Come use our huge collection of equipment including slings, bondage equipment, spanking bench, plenty of private cubbies, shower, tub, live sex, and and hot porn! New boot black station! Wanna drink? We’ll keep yours cold! SPECIAL GUEST: DJ Mistress Roxxxy!! Wondering how to meet people? Wear an action wristband! ~ Lots of private spaces ~ women/trans only please be sure to check our gender policy.
Doors open at 10pm, bring your Butch Voices conference ticket for $5 off
Featuring a very special Deep Throat demonstration with Leah at 1AM
FOR MORE INFORMATION, questions, or the location call 718-789-4053 or email [email protected]
And if that isn’t enough, well, there will be another Butch Brunch following the conference in October, on Saturday the 16th. All of these events are open to the public, to masculine of center folks or our allies, and you don’t have to be attending the conference to come to these events (though you do get in free, if you have your conference registration proof). See you there!