Posts Tagged ‘history’

Visions of Sexual Freedom

December 7, 2009  |  miscellany  |  10 Comments

Need a fabulous gift this holiday season? Don’t know what to get your (least) favorite boss or your Grandma? Well! Here ya go: the New York City Sex Blogger 2010 Calendar: Visions of Sexual Freedom.

You’re welcome.

This year’s calendar features 16 bloggers, including myself, Audacia Ray, Calico Lane, Abiola Abrams, Jamye Waxman, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Melissa Gira Grant, Elizabeth Wood, and plenty of other hot pinups, and benefits Sex Work Awareness, a fantastic non-profit organization that puts on the annual Speak Up! media training workshop.

This year, I was photographed with Audacia Ray by Amanda Morgan and featured in April – which has my birthday, Sugarbutch’s inception date, and Dacia’s birthday.

ss_cal
Me, my photo in this year’s calendar with Audacia Ray (photographed by Amanda Morgan), and Kristen (and her amazing princess dress) at the Sex Blogger Calendar Party in New York City. Photo by Nick McGlynn (thanks!), more photos from him in this set.

The theme for this calendar was “SEXUAL FREEDOM,” and while Dacia and I were discussing what to do, we both were inspired to feature something very New York-y, since New York has been a big part of sexual awakening for both of us. I moved here almost five years ago now, and my sex life and sexuality has changed significantly since I did.

We talked about iconic photographs and couples that we could imitate or reproduce, and eventually settled on the famous shot of the sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square. Amanda was totally game for it (though she insisted that we shoot early in the day so we’d have the best light), I hunted down a sailor suit, Dacia queered up her nurse outfit, and voila, there’s the shot.

Vj_day_kissThe original photograph, V-J Day in Times Square by Alfred Eisenstaedt, was taken just after the radio announcement that World War II was over – that the US had “Victory over Japan” – on August 14, 1945. This is a significant time period particularly for queers in the US, as World War II brought people massively congregating in coastal cities like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. For the first time in US history, more people lived in urban environments than in rural environments, and suddenly, queers were finding dozens, hundreds of others like us. This led to those sudden “oh my god I’m not alone” revelation moments, the increasing recognition of the systematic marginalization of us because of our sexuality, and, ultimately, activist organization and the birth of the gay rights movement!

Post-WWII and the subsequent activist movements – like the second wave of feminism – also gave rise to all sorts of new sexual activism, which is absolutely the root of the work I do today. Safe sex, STI information, sexual health, sexual choice, sexual advocacy, sexual agency, ability to have control over how many children we have and how far apart they are, birth control, knowledge, BDSM skills, gender theory, power theory … all of that is built upon earlier movements. And all of those movements, and their intersections, allowed me a significant study of gender and sexuality that has lead me here, to Sugarbutch, and to the 2010 New York City Sex Blogger Calendar.

I bet you can think of a couple people on your holiday list who have been nice enough to get a gift like this calendar, hmmmm?

All proceeds from the calendar, don’t forget, go to Sex Work Awareness which puts on the annual Speak Up! media training workshop. Help support the efforts of this wonderful and much-needed organization through the purchase of a calendar!

Calendars ship upon order and cost $20 a piece plus $3.25 for shipping. And – as a special holiday bonus – through the holiday season, when you buy the 2010 Sex Blogger Calendar you will also get a free MP4 download of the 25 minute director’s cut of Audacia Ray’s film Dacia’s Love Machine, which debuted last year in Berlin. (Link to download will be provided on checkout.)

sugarbutch’s second anniversary

April 29, 2008  |  miscellany  |  13 Comments

2nd birthdayToday celebrates the second anniversary of the beginning of Sugarbutch Chronicles. Two years ago, I was stuck in a Lesbian Bed Death relationship and felt like I was withering away – we were together four years, and we’d had sex five times during the last two.

That relationship is why I started writing smut. I had to do something with all the sexual energy built up, so I decided I’d either a) write it down or b) go to the gym, and while I did develop a nice workout habit, the smut started growing more and more.

This is how Sugarbutch Chronicles began -discussing  Bed Death, Standard Variety:

What I’m trying to say is this: I’m not getting the sex that I want. No, scratch that: I’m not getting the sex that I need. My basic human needs, basic woman needs, basic self needs, include sex. If asked, I would say at least three times a week, though I can be a little flexible about that. I understand, having had some experience as a couple, that that can’t always happen. But I also know that it can, and does, when both people make the effort.

I’m not exactly sure how I let it get as far as it did - I can’t ever imagine letting it get to that place again.

It wasn’t until Callie came along that I was shocked out of my complacent unfeeling depressed stupor and back into a sensual, feeling reality. I’ll always be grateful to her for that. For the six months Callie & I were together, this writing project turned into two main things: writing about the sex Callie and I were having, and then processing through the difficult emotional “conflicts” that kept coming up. I didn’t have community in New York when we were together, so I had very few friends to go to and talk to about her. Sugarbutch became a major outlet for my psychological explorations of our relationship.

But after that ended, it became something else: exploration of my single sex life, mostly. And as that has developed into something more intentional and less, uh, free-for-all, I’ve been writing less about my own personal dating and sex than I am about gender and sexuality in general.

Going into Sugarbutch’s third year, that’s the general direction I’m going to continue to aim. I’ll still going to write about my own personal processes and developments, but I’d like to focus on more personal essay styles with distinctive reoccuring features (like eye candy) and, of course, smut.

Is there is anything specific you’d like to see more or less of? What’s most useful to you here? What’s least useful? What do you love, what do you skip over without reading? If you have ideas, if you have general praise or critique, I’d love to know.

nostalgia for the butch/femme dynamic

February 26, 2008  |  essays  |  4 Comments

Sometimes I hear people say they wish they lived in the 50s and 60s so they could experience the butch/femme dynamic, or they “miss” it even. Team Gina has that line in their song: “Sometimes I miss the butch/femme dynamic / ’cause only girls in carharts make me panic.” When I think about it, it’s kind of odd, coming from a couple of twenty-something girls. It’s an interesting sort of nostalgic feeling for a time that we didn’t actually witness.

Can you really miss something you didn’t actually live through? Seems like there’s a better word for it than “miss” or “nostalgia,” because it’s actually longing for another time. But it’s deeper than that – it’s a historical connection to that time, an inhereted lineage that I really do miss and sometimes long for.

Though the gender revolution/s that are currently happening – especially around butch/femme – are a resurrection of something of the past, maybe it’s actually more more accurate to call it something new – a similar idea resurfacing in a new way.

I certainly didn’t grow up with any sort of model of the butch/femme dynamic, not in my own family – where actually there was a strong rejection of gender roles, falling on the not-rare 70s feminist argument that gender inequality is based on gender difference and gender expression. And yet, I feel connected to the butch/femme dynamic, I feel like a part of it, both currently and along some sort of historical axis.

I’ve been reading Riki Wilchin’s book Queer Theory, Gender Theory lately, and one of her major arguments (so far) is that gender activism got pushed out of both the feminist and gay liberation movements of the mid-1900s because of the ways that the conservative right backlash was using gender deviation as personal attacks against the people in the movements. Now that both of those movements have come so far, and been so successful, we are finally able to unearth this genderphobia that has been prevalent all along and attempt some activism around that.

What’s interesting about that to me is the ways that genderqueerness had to go underground, hidden, shameful, through these liberation movements, and now we – quite often it’s the folks like me, twenty-something, queer, children of the revolution movements of the 60s and 70s – are picking up the torch in our own, new way. And hell, the gender revolution happening seems more radical now than that butch/femme nostalgic time for which some of us long – look at the trans movement, the trans rights, the genderqueer and intersexual activism and knowledge that is getting more and more mainstreamed.

a star on my wrist

November 5, 2007  |  journal entries  |  5 Comments

Last week, as I mentioned, Belle got two new tattoos, small ribbons tied in bows over her hip bones. I’ve been feeling particularly inspired to get my own tattoos lately as well, my first choice would be to get the flock of birds I’ve been wanting for almost two years now, but since that is probably going to be more expensive than I’m able to do at the moment, I may settle on a small star on the inside of my right wrist.

I’ve even attempted to make consultation appointments for these two tattoos, to try to figure out how expensive they’d be and how long they’d take, but I haven’t been able to find The Right Artist yet.

So when I saw Belle’s new tattoos, and heard that the guy in Williamsburg is quite reasonably priced, I was practically ready to get tattooed the next day.

Of course, I am not really that impulsive. And I decided it was more important to pay bills (and go on a date on Saturday) than to get a tattoo. But I am really ready for it, for both of them, and I’ve really got the bug for some new body modification, something to mark this huge transitional space that I’ve been in for the last year.

I told Belle about this star tattoo and she got all excited, and has wanted some star tattoos of her own. And yesterday, she got them done: five small stars at the top of each of her breasts, basically under her bra strap. They look incredible.

More about that later.

The star on the wrist has been something I’ve wanted for a while, more than two years, but I’ve been hesitant because I often get comments about how generic that is, how common, and wouldn’t I want something a little more unique. Which has given me great pause in the past.

But upon thinking about it for the last few days, I’ve decided that that is entirely the point: this tattoo symbolizes a connection to the lesbian – and, specifically, butch/femme – communities and history, and I like that being stamped that way is specifically about my placement within and conmnection to that community.

It’s hard to find many resources about this star on the wrist as a symbol of butch or queer identity, but there is a particular passage in a book Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold which I do recommend:

During [the 1940s and 1950s], the cultural push to be identified as lesbians – or at least different – all the time was so powerful that it generated a new form of identification among the tough bar lesbians: a star tattoo on the top of the wrist, which was usually covered by a watch. … The community views the tattoo as a definite mark of identification … the Buffalo police knew [that] the people that had the stars on their wrist were lesbians and they had their names and so forth. That it was an identity thing with the gay community, with the lesbian community. … The stars presage the methods of identity created by gay liberation. In fact, the mark has become something of a tradition in local circles and has seen a revival since the 1970s.

From “Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: The History of a Lesbian Community” by Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy and Madeilne D. Davis, © 1993, p189.

I think I cut out the part where they talk about it being a blue star, but I tend to hear that associated with this legend. I also hear there was a group of women suffragists that called themselves the Blue Star Cadets in around 1920.Mine, though, I’m not sure if I want it blue. I’m not sure I want something so obvious on my wrist. And after I saw this image of white stars on the wrists over on Flickr, I was totally sold on the idea of doing it in white ink. I don’t want mine to be exactly like that – I want it smaller, probably solid white, and just one wrist. But I really love the way it looks. Almost like a scar. Perhaps a hint of blue would be nice, pay homage to those who came before me, my history, my lineage, my inheretance.

top 10 things I love about being gay

August 22, 2007  |  essays  |  6 Comments
  1. There’s that whole fucking women thing. Yeah, I like that.

  2. It challenges all sorts of compulsory hegemonic systems and encourages new ways of acceptance, tolerance, living, and loving

  3. The community! We have such fighters, artists, activists, lovers – I love our arts and culture, our philosophies, our theories

  4. Drag kings, drag queens, and queer burlesque

  5. That we are a lineage of kisses; because we do not inheret our legacies through our blood-related families, we must claim our heritage through our desire, love, play, and kisses

  6. Getting over the “ick factor” – which is what I’d call a lesbian’s aversion to men (and masculinity) or a gay boy’s aversion to women (and femininity) – and creating alignments with all sorts of genders within the queer spectrum

  7. The synthesis of feminism, gender, and sexual revolution

  8. The brilliance and hilarity of our (mainstream) queer celebrities – Ellen, k.d., Harvey Feirstein, John Waters, George Michael, Jenny Shimitzu, Rosie – and our media – Better than Chocolate, But I’m a Cheerleader, Bound, Queer as Folk, Brokeback Mountain, Will & Grace … and dozens more. They really are forging through.

  9. The Pride Parade & Dyke March. Stonewall. Knowing where I come from. Honoring traditions, and making new ones

  10. I do have a great toaster oven from all those young’uns I’ve converted …