The Exact Right Word: National Coming Out Day and Chosen Identities

For #nationalcomingoutday, here are some words I use to describe myself and some identities that I have actively cultivated:

white
butch
queer
writer
survivor
genderqueer
masculine of center
poet
teacher
bookworm
introvert
HSP
hedonist
working artist
social activist
able bodied
Pacific Northwestern American
Daddy
Master
cock-centric
college educated
2nd generation woo
Buddhist
foodie

For a while, I kept a list of words in the back of my journal, making a note to myself anytime I heard myself say, “I’m a _____.” I would write it down and think about it, pondering if I really am that thing or if it was a passing moment of identifying as such. Some of the words that came out of that are survivor, introvert, and hedonist, as well as the more often-used social justice ones, like butch and queer and dyke and gendequeer.

There are some other words—like lesbian, dyke, and trans—that are almost the right word, and which I sometimes use and sometimes identify with, but that aren’t always precisely right.

There are a few more that are complex and I hesitate to list, like yogi and tantrika, because while I do practice yoga and tantra, I haven’t quite been able to reconcile the cultural appropriation that surrounds me with those activities enough to be comfortable to use the identity labels to refer to myself. (So for now, I go with 2nd generation woo.)

There are a few more that I aspire to, but don’t quite have yet … like gardener and runner, which are identities in progress but not quite integrated. I do have a garden (finally!!), but I frequently forget about it. And I did run two 5k races in the past two years (hurrah!) but again, that habit doesn’t feel consistent, and isn’t quite an identity yet, just an occasional burst of interest.

And what’s the word for someone who tends to be depressed, or who struggles with depression? I don’t quite want to say neurodivergent or depressive, those seem too intense. Something a little more mild that says that I tend toward internalizing emotions rather than externalizing, and tend toward feeling down rather than feeling up (anxious). Or maybe this is a case where I have to reclaim a word, or use something that seems overly harsh and is misunderstood (like depressive).

There’s a lot to think about on National Coming Out Day … I’m particularly interested in identities, and what we call ourselves, and how we claim our power in these words and communities, but I also recognize that for many people, being associated with the identities that have marginalized them feels an awful lot like being marginalized all over again.

I believe that we should find the precise right words that are big enough to contain all the multitudes of us, and not sacrifice our selves to fit into labels which constrict. I believe the identity should conform to us, that we shouldn’t conform to it. And I believe that labels and identities and words that describe ourselves should always be the starting place, not the ending place, of the conversation—a place of opportunity to know more and ask questions and listen, not a place to fill in our own assumptions and determine the truths of others.

I’ll leave you of the Mark Twain quote: “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning-bug.”

What identities do you claim? What words do you use to define yourself?

Happy Pride! Last Chance Submissive Playground Sale

It’s pride weekend! Right now as I type this from the warmth of my sunny bedroom, hundreds and hundreds of gender radical folks are gathering in Delores Park in San Francisco for the pre-Trans March gathering, and then the Trans March, and then the Trans March afterparties. And then tomorrow’s the Dyke March (with a similar schedule), and Sunday is the big ol’ mother-of-em-all, the Pride Parade.

I get a little weepy around Pride, just like I get weepy around my birthday or other Big Events that mark the passing of time and cause me to reflect on community and friends and chosen family and survival.

Being an introvert with misanthropic tendencies, I usually don’t attend big Pride events. After a few times of going and being just pretty miserable and waiting for them to be over, I learned that it’s better to stay home and have an Introvert Pride all by myself (or with a few friends).

I also remember that Pride marks the anniversary of Stonewall, which was a riot started by drag queens and trans folks against police in New York City. It might be a commercialized, commodified celebration now, but it has radical, marginalized, and empowering roots.

“Hey wait, I want to hear about the sale!”

Yeah. Let’s do this thing.

So because I love community (in my introvert-misanthropic way), I want to invite you and a friend to sign up for the Submissive Playground—this weekend only!—for $200.

That means: YOU + your friend who is also into submission = take the course for only $200.

The course is much more fun when you can make study dates or compare homework!

What do you get? The DIY (formerly and lovingly called the Broke Ass) Package includes:

  • Materials! Videos to watch, erotic stories to read, how-to articles,
  • Submissive Journal worksheets (like the one in the Submissive Starter Kit, except more elaborate)
  • Experiments! Every module has guided experiments for you to go try—on your own, or with whatever resources, doms, or play partners are available to you
  • Calls every other week to reflect on each module’s tasks, report your progress, and ask Mr. Sexsmith questions
  • Access to message board to discuss the homework and tasks with other submissives, for continued group feedback, discussion, connection
  • Submissive community, and deeper connection to the kink world
  • Digital certificate of participation

Are you unsatisfied right now? Become insatiable. Become delectable. Become confident in your submission to go after what you want.

This is the way to figure out where your heat is, and what really gets you going. Maybe it’s more dirty talk in your sex life, more spankings, more humiliation, more rules/procedures … or maybe just more play. Submissive Playground will help you start being a more conscious sub. You’ll start saying yes’ consciously instead of being taken advantage of (you know, without your consent, in the bad ways). You’ll begin to create healthy submissive patterns that don’t leave you tired, uninspired, and unsatisfied.

Registration for Submissive Playground summer school in July & August closes on Monday, June 30th! This is the last chance sale to sign up!


Sorry! This deal is no longer available

And hey, if you’re out there right now, having a great time in the grass and sun with all the eye-candy of trans and genderqueer folks all around you, I hope you have a wonderful time.

Define: Sovereignty

A few weeks ago, Miss Calico tweeted about the craziest thing in her feedreader. For obvious reasons, neither she nor I would call most of the sex stuff that I’m sure we both read on a daily basis “crazy,” so what does that leave really? LOLcats? Perez Hilton?

Well … one of my indulgences, which I’ve mentioned before, is that little stepchild genre of self-help (which I stand by is a combination of spirituality, psychology, and philosophy, some of my favorite topics), and there are of course an abundance of blogs writing on those kinds of subjects. Most of them never stick around in my reader for more than a few weeks. I get bored, I get the idea, I move on.

A recent addition to my little indulgence via RSS has been The Fluent Self by Havi Brooks. The Fluent Self might be the “craziest thing” in my reader. I mean, she co-owns her company with her duck, Selma, and often talks about being the pirate queen of her pirate crew. So you have to be the kind of person who appreciates someone else’s slightly wacky reality in order to connect with what she’s doing.

Havi mentioned “sovereignty” in an entry the other day, and then again today, and it’s so relevant to my emotional work, I’ve got to write on it for a while.

Sovereignty […] is the quality of owning your space. It’s feeling so safe being you, that you can’t be shaken from yourself. […]

Your most important job? Take care of yourself. Because when I’m looking out for my physical and emotional well-being, I can do my best work. And when I’m depleted and exhausted, it sucks for everyone. My external systems — just like my internal practices — keep me grounded so that I can keep working on the sovereignty thing. It all comes back to taking care of yourself. And safety. And finding ways to access that canopy of peace.

Sovereignty cassarole. And more about shoes. By Havi Brooks on The Fluent Self

I love discovering words to explain emotional states that I’m working on. If there’s a word for it, it feels like it’s a real thing, like it’s a little button I can push to dispense that particular kind of strength or flexibility or whatever that I’m working on. I mentioned “grace” recently, too, and the new definition of that word that I came across (also in a self-help book). If I’m having a strong reaction to something, having the shorthand of “have some sovereignty here” or “just need a little grace, a little grace, a little grace,” is really helpful. It’s the ability to take a whole big giant concept and distill it into a single word, which makes the mantra easier to grasp in moments of need.

This state of sovereignty is one I’ve been working on extensively. I don’t know why exactly (though I have some guesses), but for whatever reason, I have been really prone to giving that up – to letting others make choices for me, to allowing myself to be imprinted upon, to be taken over. I didn’t know I was doing this. If you asked me five years ago, I would have probably said I had no idea what you were talking about and of course I don’t do that. But, sigh, that’s what Saturn Return is for, after all.

Later, Havi writes, one of the things that helps stay in this state of sovereignty is to know your triggers. “For me and my HSP self, it’s loudness that sets me off.” She’s mentioned this before lately, as she’s currently battling jackhammers, and I was thinking about this just the other day. I went with Kristen and my sister to a taping of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and they were having some technical difficulties, so it was more of a wait than usual, and they had the music completely cranked up so loud I could barely hear Kristen sitting next to me, and I started to panic a little. I wanted to leave. Suddenly I felt so claustrophobic and anxious and like I would rather be anywhere else. This feeling calmed down and left as soon as they turned it off – but it just got me thinking, and made me remember, that when my senses are assaulted, I don’t deal well. There are times when it’s okay, I guess, I like going dancing in clubs, I like concerts (though not all concerts – ask me about the AC/DC story sometime). My senses are just so often under assult here in New York City, it’s hard for me not to have that panicked assaulted feeling constantly. Earphones help. Books help. Using my commute and transportation as a meditation helps. I guess I just have to keep building in self-care around this overload of the senses, and try to get some systems – internal and external – in place to keep myself grounded and unshaken – in sovereignty.