Tag Archives: Queer

A Letter To My Allies

(Use of word “faggot”.)

Dear Allies,

Thank you for supporting me being honest about my sexual orientation (pansexual) and gender presentation (nonconforming to the expected male presentation). For me your support seems like a no brainer (I mean, come on, why should you care if I enjoy giving blowjobs and wearing velvet dresses?) but I recognize that some of you have had to overcome a lifetime’s worth of teachings about how homosexual sex is gross and men wearing dresses can only be viewed in terms of comedy so that’s pretty nice of you. Good job on being nice to me about issues that do not actually impact you.

With all this being said there is something I think we should go over.

Allies, sometimes y’all are really irritating. Sometimes I’m tempted to throw up my hands and say, “Enough! I’m done with straight people and done with people whose sex and gender and gender presentation all match society’s expectations! You can all go fuck yourselves for all I care because I am done interacting with you lot.” However not only is this impractical it’s also unproductive. I’d much rather change society than moving to an isolated mountain where you all can’t get to me; which means that I need to teach you what I makes someone a real ally to me.

Here are the ground rules that I expect from my allies:

  1. Don’t Tell Me How I “Should” or “Really” Identify: The labels I use are ones that I feel most at home in, that I feel best represent me. If you’re Straighty McStraight-Straight from Straight St. then I don’t want to hear your opinions on what labels I should be using. You could have a degree in Gender or Queer Studies but if you’re straight I’m not going to let you tell me my identity. Once you know how it feels to live my life that’s when you get to talk to me about my identity/labels.
  2. I Get To Reclaim Slurs, You Don’t: I have a friend that calls me a faggot and I call him faggot as well. If almost any other person called me a faggot I’d probably punch them. My friend and I use such language to each other not only because we know that we both feel safe but because our use of it becomes a “Fuck You” to anyone who has used it as a slur. If you want to use the word faggot around me then talk to me about it first. It may be that I’m comfortable with you using it but I’d rather have you ask then assume. Furthermore if your friend uses a slur as a label that still doesn’t give you permission to use it casually around me or to apply it to me. I respect your friend’s identity but we are two different people.
  3. When I Say “Stop” You Stop: This really should be a given but from my own experiences it isn’t. When we’re talking about gender or sexuality and I get uncomfortable I can shut this motherfucker down. It doesn’t matter if we’re joking around or having a serious conversation, I retain my right to unilaterally stop a situation that makes me feel triggered or unsafe or hurt. Frequently it will have nothing to do with you and everything to do with my own psychological discomfort so know that it’s not personal.
  4. Don’t You Dare Come Into My Safe-Spaces: When it comes to sexual orientations and gender presentations the majority of the world is probably a physical and emotional safe-space for you. In response to this I need to go to spaces that are intentionally created to be safe for people like me. These spaces are safe because people like you aren’t in them. Again, it’s nothing personal but I need the opportunity to be with people like me. You know, like how almost anywhere you go you’ll find other straight and gender-conforming people just like you.
  5. I Am Not Your Punch line: Please, for the love of all that is holy stop trying to make jokes about my identity. Society is full of these jokes and not only do I find them not funny but I find them actually painful. Throughout our relationship I’ll let you know what I’m comfortable with you joking about but unless I say it’s ok please shut your mouth.

Got it? Good.

I know, I know, these four rules seem so utterly basic that it seems almost silly for me to write them down like this but that’s the sad part. This sad part, this utterly tragic part, is that these seemingly obvious rules are violated in my life on a regular basis. On a regular basis I find my identity questioned or my safe-space violated by people who are trying to be my allies and that’s just not cool.

If you read this list and thought, “Oh good! I’m an ally of Samuel and I’ve done none of these things!” then I need you to think long and hard about all of our past interactions. I’m surrounded by wonderful allies but I’m hard pressed to think of a single one who hasn’t broken at least one of these rules at least once. Now that I’ve shared this with you please be mindful. Please remember that sometimes I’m too afraid or too hurt to speak up so you need to take a level of responsibility for your words.

Of course we all make slip-ups. Sometimes we don’t even know that we’re hurting one another but it’s important that we have these conversations to make sure that there’s as little hurt going on as possible. Allies, be aware of what those you support tell you they need or want. Be mindful that sometimes it’s painful or embarrassing or frightening for some of us to tell you that you’re being a shitty ally so don’t assume silence is approval. When you feel that you need to ask questions then ask them (Try to be respectful about this part.) and honor the answers you get.

Thanks a bunch.

Yours,

Samuel A. Zaber

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[NSFW/18+] Stop Shitting on the Bottoms

(At some point I was going to title this post “Let’s Hear it for the Bottoms” but that’s way too classy for the likes of me. )

I have had it up to here (Note: I am holding my hand way above my head.) with how our society views male-identified people who enjoy taking penises/strap-ons/what-have-you-who up the butt. I am tired of bottoming being seen as inherently subordinate or somehow emasculating for men to take pleasure from being on the receiving end of anal penetration. I am extremelytired of how certain elements of the gay-male culture have taken these positions on bottoming and somehow codified them into “gay laws” or something (Yes, I am mostly thinking about white, cisgender gay men right now.)

The paragraph you’ve just read is an old complaint. I’ve felt it myself and heard it from others for years but I’ve recently felt moved to vocally speak out on this. On January 28th a music video went up on Willam Belli’s Youtube page that began to pick up attention around the web (There are over 5 million views on it right now.) Here’s the video (Probably not safe for where you work):

It’s really not a terrible music video but it casually brings in some of what I’m talking about.

 

My hackles were first raised pretty early on when the narrators point out that this Boy put “versatile” (As opposed to strict bottom or strict top.) on his Grindr profile and then say, “Versatile, Yea, OK. Girl y’know you’re super Gay.” Here’s the thing: BEING A MAN AND ENJOYING THE SENSATION OF SOMETHING BEING PUT INTO YOUR BUTT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH “HOW GAY” YOU ARE. Got it?

 

I’m a pansexual male who has spent lots of time in various queer communities where there are plenty of gay guys. One thing that I keep noticing is this habit of some of these gays to form a hierarchy based off of how “straight passing” they are. (Another thing- It seems like most of these hierarchy obsessed dudes are also very much in the main-stream gay culture which is heavily white and cisgendered and not very friendly to others.) The issue that I have with this hierarchy (besides being stupid) is that it feels like it was created to give “straight passing” guys a sense of superiority.

 

YOUR EXACT SEXUAL ACTS DON’T DEFINE YOUR SEXUALITY. THAT’S NOT WHAT SEXUALITY MEANS. YOU CAN BE A STRAIGHT WOMAN WHO PREFERS TO WEAR A STRAP-ON AND DOESN’T LIKE TO BE PENETRATED AND THAT DOESN’T MEAN SHE’S NOT STRAIGHT.

 

And that “Never gonna bottom” breakdown? Am I the only one who feels like the singers are almost bragging about how they’re a top? If my interpretation of that section isn’t totally wrong then they’re continuing this idea that it’s shameful to bottom. That whole bit of them running after the Boy and pointing their fingers at him and telling the whole world that he’s a bottom? That whole bit felt like they were accusing him.

So here’s my take away from this- There is NOTHING WRONG WITH RECEIVING DURING ANAL PLAY and doing so TELLS YOU NOTHING ABOUT THAT PERSON OTHER THAN THE FACT THAT THEY HAPPEN TO ENJOY RECEIVING DURING ANAL PLAY. If you like bottoming then you should bottom. If you like topping then you should top. If you like doing both then you should do both. If you like to frot then you should frot.

And m’dear Tops, cool it with the bottom mocking because without bottoms you’re stuck with expensive Fleshlights*.

*Of course if you like Fleshlights better than human butts then that’s great too. Enjoy what you enjoy!

[NSFW/18+:] e[lust] #44

Welcome to e[lust] – The only place where the smartest and hottest sex bloggers are featured under one roof every month. Whether you’re looking for sex journalism, erotic writing, relationship advice or kinky discussions it’ll be here at e[lust].  Want to be included in e[lust] #45? Start with the newly updated rules, come back April 1st to submit something and subscribe to the RSS feed for updates!

 

~ This Week’s Top Three Posts ~

 

Everyday D/s

Honesty sometimes feels like manipulation

Blood, life, sex

 

~ Featured Posts (Molly’s Picks) ~

Grief and Sex

Bringing Others into a Dom/Sub Relationship

 

All blogs that have a submission in this edition must re-post this digest from tip-to-toe on their blogs within 7 days. Re-posting the photo is optional and the use of the “read more…” tag is allowable after this point. Thank you, and enjoy!

 

Thoughts & Advice on Sex & Relationships

Adventures In… Lube-land
ORAL SEX, AS STANDARD AS THE WHEELS ON A CAR 
PolyAnna’s Musings: Radar Love
A productive morning
Livia Has a Crush
Terms of Fatness

 

Sex News, Interviews, Politics & Humor

Thoughts: Feminism, Sexism and Submission

 

Thoughts & Advice on Kink & Fetish

Deep subspace – sexy or scary?
Django Unchained: the suffering black female 
What the hell is ‘NORMAL’ sex anyway?
Before
All About the Collar
Dirty Little Secret
Honesty

 

Erotic Fiction

Master’s Valentine’s ToDo List
The Passion of First Encounters.
Ma’am’s Turn (First Meeting Part 3)
Nipple torture and girl love
The Boundary
I’m in the Mood
Skin
Memories
Lolita Twenty-Thirteen, Part Two
Want
A Quick Preview

 

Erotic Non Fiction

Lindsey’s Orgasm
Blog Jammin’
Postponing the Inevitable
Watching Has its Own Rewards
A Farewell Torment
Writhe
I want to lick your pussy
Cap D’Agde 2012 Foam Party
Dirty Hot
Eighty-Five Minutes
Saying Goodnight
Hundreds of orgasms
our open marriage- mina’s date
1+1+1= My first threesome
Writing Sex Scenes
Beginnings and Endings
Glass Bottle
One Cole the Dane + One WeVibe Salsa = Orgasm

 

Blogging

Epiphora’s beginner’s guide to sex toy review
Very Inspiring Blogger Award

 

Eroticon

Erotic Eroticon
Finessing Sex- A Snippet Of Fiction
Eroticon Highlights
Bite Me

 

Poetry

In the Back Seat of the Bus
Transmogrification
Gelüste
Oiled Seduction

Review: “Trans/Love: radical sex, love & relationships beyond the gender binary”

I don’t know when I first heard of Trans/Love but I do know that at some point I got it into my head that it was a collection of beyond the binary erotica. Last week a friend met me for coffee and they lent me a copy for my train ride up to Vermont. I read the first story somewhere South of Brattleboro, Vermont, and went, “Meh.” As I plodded through the second story something clicked in my head and I went back to read the introduction. I was entirely wrong: These were not erotic stories but rather personal essays of, to quote the subtitle, “radical sex, love & relationships beyond the gender binary.” In that moment everything changed. I had been reading as if I was reading erotic stories designed to get me off and once I realized that these were non-fiction essays I found them intensely more engaging.

I’m not going to review every single essay in this anthology. Frankly I think that these essays work together to create a beautiful entity. I’m not saying that there aren’t any that can stand on their own but as a whole these essays weave tell stories from the East Coast to the West, from people of varied ethnic backgrounds, from privileged and not-privileged backgrounds, and from a variety of identities. There are 29 stories, the majority only a few pages long, and they touch upon almost any non-binary gender and sexual identities you can think of. From this highly enjoyable collection I’d like to showcase a few that I found to be particularly wonderful.

You know what we need more of in our progressive and positive communities? Acceptance and representation of “other” bodies. Joelle Ruby Ryan’s “Fat, Trans and Single: Some Thoughts from an ‘Othered’ Body on Control, Alientaion, and Liberation” talks about their experiences as a “fat, single, genderqueer, transfeminist, writer, teacher, [and] activist.” Beyond discussing the experiences of fat or otherwise differently bodied queers they also do an excellent job of addressing bi- and asexual erasure.  For some this essay might be a wakeup and for others it might be a reminder but no matter what it’s a damn important essay.

Speaking of building inclusive communities- There’s a two-and-a-half page excerpt from Imani Henry’s play B4T (before testosterone) that tells of a non-binary sexual encounter between two people of color. Alright, it’s actually so much more complicated than that but I’m going to say that you need to read this piece to fully take it in. Jennie Kermode’s “Getting It Out In Public” tells the story of their discovery that they are intersexed. Their story is interesting as is but I highly appreciated their discussion of their intersex identity as I feel that this is an identity that is far too frequently left out.

It might be the fact that I’m baby/toddler crazy at the moment but I am in love with the two family-with-children focused essays in this anthology. “Milk, Please” by Patch Avery is a lovely meditation on fatherhood, queers in “traditional” family models, and being brown in America. “Out Loud and Pride Six Months Before Surgery” by Dee Ouellette is also lovely but focuses on her experiences as a “queer tranny […] mother” and her own process with adopting the labels that felt right to her.

“City Hall,” the story of Phyllis Pseudonym’s green-card marriage, gave me the warm-cuddlies all throughout my body. This snapshot of her life, the few hours in the morning that follow along with her wedding, was, well, well it gave me a hope for my own romance. Besides finding her writing to be enjoyable to read I also found myself envious of her relationship. Alright, maybe not envious since I’m happy with my life right now but it gave me comfort to know that there are other people in the world who are looking for the same sort of relationships that I am.

I don’t want to say that I had a favorite essay but, um, yeah, I’ve got two favorite essays. While I was touched and inspired and brought to tears and to laughter throughout this collection there were two that I found particularly relatable and significant. Don’t know if you’ve picked up on this yet but I’m fascinated by the act of sex and how sex is important to us as individuals. “Made Real” by Sassafras Lowrey and “Resexing Trans” by Kai Kohlsdorf are both on this subject. Please just read them, they come highly recommended by me.

Look, I really think you should read Trans/Love. Buy it, borrow it, steal ( well, no, don’t steal it), do what you need to do to get your hands on it. This anthology is important, and not just for members of the queer community. There are so many topics and themes brought up that don’t receive enough attention from us, whether we’re queer or straight. For many of you this slim collection of the stories of people from a wide variety of marginalized sexual/gender identities will end up educating you and expose you to new ideas. Some people might be afraid of the words “radical sex” on the but if you can handle HBO or George RR Martin then you can easily handle Trans/Love.

Trans/Love; Morty Diamond, ed.; copyright 2011; Manic D Press, pub.

An Open Letter to Alison Bechdel (Review: “The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For”)

Dear Alison Bechdel,

By Michael Rhode (101_3633 Alison Bechdel) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Thank you.

I know, I know, you’ve received ten-thousand letters like this but let’s make it ten-thousand-and-one, shall we?

I grew up a queer outcast in a very heterosexual little rural farming town. My exposure to any sort of queer identities was limited to the occasional “let’s be nice to people” discussion in class. At a very young age I identified as not comfortable with how I related to heteronormativity. True, I didn’t always have the vocabulary to express my thoughts on my gender/sexual identity but I was aware enough to recognize that I was different.

I didn’t have the sorts of role models that my normative friends had. Where were the male superheroes that wore pink and why couldn’t Luke and Han make out? (Answer: Because Luke’s a weenie and Han and Leia are bad-ass soul-mates.) What I did have was 7-Days, the alternative paper that my parents brought home every two weeks. I thank my agnostic deity(ies) that I was introduced to 7-Days while in elementary school. Not only did their “Hot2Trot” personal section help guide me through puberty but it introduced me to your comic.

When I read Dykes to Watch Out For I had role models, I had superheroes. A bearded dad in a utility kilt and a transgender teen and people of color (I’m from the second whitest state in the union so this point is particularly important) and liberal intellectuals and queersDykes to Watch Out For was my exposure to the idea that queers came in all shapes and sizes and that we didn’t have to confirm to stereotypes. Yes, I was a male with same-sex attractions but that didn’t mean I had to be limp wristed and lisping (though I do have a bit of a Jon Inman wrist). There’s nothing wrong with happening to share characteristics with society’s ideas of queers but you helped me see that I didn’t need to let it define me.

For a young boy who was being introduced to sex primarily by his male, similarly aged friends (all of whom had very cis-centered, heterosexual, patriarchy themed ideas about sex that they wanted to share) Dykes to Watch Out For also expanded my ideas about what sex could mean. Your cartoons regularly covered discussions about sex as well as depictions of responsible and healthy sex. I can distinctly remember reading a strip featuring masturbation and realizing, “Oh! I can do that! And that’s not a bad thing and in fact it seems like it’s a good thing!” So on behalf of the sexually frustrated adolescent who relied on masturbation to help get him through years of celibacy I must offer you a tremendous THANK YOU.

One thing that I can’t thank you for is inspiring in me the idea that I could easily find a community like the one you wrote about. First of all I assumed that all the action in DtWOF took place in Burlington, a mere forty-five minutes from my house. I believe it was sometime when I was in high school and your book Fun Home was being promoted that I found out that the city was probably somewhere near Michigan. (I was actually really upset when I found this out.) Even with the knowledge that Burlington wasn’t the city you were writing about I still figured that if I went to a medium/small-sized liberal city then I’d find the queers. Well, Ms. Bechdel, I went to the University of Vermont for a year-and-a-half and didn’t meet as many queers as I would’ve liked. My own antisocial nature and reluctance to interact with humanity might have been a stumbling block but if Mo could find friends like that then why couldn’t I? (Side note- I’m now in Amherst and there are a lot more active queers so things might not be as bleak as I once thought.)

Reading The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For brought me back to my days of smuggling a 7-Days into my room and losing myself in the black-and-white lines of Mo and Co.’s endless pursuit of life, liberty and the perfect lentil soup. I tore through The Essential (even setting aside the book on Catholic priests in Protestant England I was currently reading, so you know, it was pretty serious) only to find myself reaching the end far too soon. When I closed the book I could feel my heart sinking as I realized that the lives of characters who I love and adore were frozen in perpetuity. The ending wasn’t all pain though as I found the fire you helped to light all those years ago suddenly flare up as it feasted. Not only was there a rekindling but a new fire was lit. I’m older and a different person than when I first read DtWOF and I’ve found new ways to connect with the work. Now I’m super-charged and ready to take on the patriarchy. I’m looking for my own Mad Wimmin Books and searching for my own Stuart/Ginger/Clarice (Hey, it’s not my fault you wrote such wonderful characters that I want to be in relationships with.) It’s time to be subversive and time to be radical and time to kvetch over hummus.

Thank you, Ms. Bechdel.

 

Yours most humbly and sincerely,

Samuel Aloysius Zaber

The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For; Alison Bechdel; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Company, copyright 2008.

Sexual Desires: Not Just For Men

Sprint put out a new ad featuring NBA star Kevin Durant and here it is:

I was actually really, really, really into this commercial when I first started watching it because I thought we were going to see a woman having a sexual attraction to a dude. What? Women have sexual urges? But that’s only for teh mens!? Then we see that the mom is all excited because her husband can now clean out the gutters. Silly us thinking that women could be sexual.

Yes, I’ll totally admit that I’m an emotionally volatile person and that when I first saw this commercial my mind immediately went to, “FEMINISM! Let that woman have her own sexual desires!” Maybe I’m missing part of the joke. Maybe the joke is that this woman is excited not only because she likes her husband’s new reaching abilities but maybe she’s also excited about his body. Curious to see if there were other reactions similar to mine I turned to Google and wasn’t happy. The entire first page of search results that I got were just websites posting the commercial along with a sort description, not exactly the critique or discussion that I was looking for. Desperate for any discussion I went to the comments section of YouTube and found… nothing. Aside from the usual trolls all the comments were just about how funny this commercial is*.

I don’t think I’m entirely immune to humor. The set up is that we think the mom’s thinking about sex but then we find out she’s thinking about housework! Hilarious! This humor seems to be very similar to that of Porn for Women, you know, that book of “beautiful PG photos of hunky men cooking, listening, asking for directions, accompanied by steamy captions: ‘I love a clean house!’ or ‘As long as I have two legs to walk on, you’ll never take out the trash.'” (From their Amazon page)

Alright, so there’s an element of satire to these pieces but I’m concerned that this represents our society’s overwhelming attitude toward’s female sexuality. Yes, we are admitting that sexual appetite’s aren’t only for men but we still cling to the “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”-model. Porn for men? Grunting, pounding, rough. Porn for women? Muscly men wearing tight jeans and moving slowly to terrible background music. Obviously this isn’t all porn but our media seems to think this is most porn. Admitting that women have sexual urges is a step forward but confining their sexual urges to a very limited role isn’t so great.

In fact why do we need to give certain types of sexual urges to people based off of their gender? Men can be into slower, more “soft” porn and women can be into more grunting and pounding. Of course, these two gender roles completely ignore gender-neutral, gender-queer, third-gender and every other gender identity out there. Basically I’m extremely pissed off that in this day and age we still assign sexual desires because of someone’s gender. Let’s just admit that you can like what you like! And not only that but what you like is allowed to shift and change. Some days I’m interested in porn that involves power-play and some days I’m into porn that focuses on oral sex and some days I’m not interested in porn what so ever. So Sprint (and anyone else who buys ad-time or ever interacts with another human ever), please, please, please stop reinforcing these outdated ideas about sexual desires. Thanks.

Here are two things that I like:

xkcd: Porn For Women

There’s also this piece from CollegeHumor about the male stars in porn films (mildly NSFW):

(Am I completely alone in this? Is there a large male/female** divide in porn? And if you think there is a divide do you have any non-anecdotal evidence? Want to tell me I’m full of shit? Comments are really, really welcomed.)

Also- I’ve got a bunch of new things in my Etsy/Redbubble shops. Check out the links at my blog post on my website: hypatiaofvermont.com/news. I’ve got rent and stuff to pay and would really appreciate any support, that includes telling your friends about the cool stuff I’m selling. Thanks!

*I also looked at the “behind the scenes” video that Sprint put out. Nothing.

**Ugh, binary, GENDER DOES NOT EQUAL BINARY. I just feel like this conversation so often boils down to a strict binary and we should really start having a conversation about being inclusive. Going to write that blog post at some point.

Does It Matter If Emily Dickinson Was Gay? It Does To Me.

Last Friday’s episode of Studio 360 was excellent. FUCK YEAH “Emily Dickinson & The Outsiders.” The section on Emily Dickinson was particularly enjoyable for me as I’m kind of a major Emily D. (Insert your, “He wants the ‘D'” joke here.), like a massive fan. For several minutes I happily bopped around, indulging my NPR- and Emily Dickinson-Nerd, and then there was the Billy Collins interview…

To be fair, it wasn’t everything that Billy Collins said. Listening to Mr. Collins talk about his sexual encounter with the removed poet (fictional encounter, just so we’re clear…) was fine but then the interviewer mentioned the fact that Mr. Collins doesn’t regard speculations about Emily Dickinson’s sexuality as important. As a matter of fact he’s quoted as  saying that such speculation is “unprofitable gossip.”

My hackles were instantly raised when I heard that quote and it wasn’t until I reflected on it that I realized why I was so angry. I’m not straight (surprise, surprise) and the fact that I’m a sexual minority makes Emily Dickinson’s sexuality very important to me. Shortly after discovering the 19th century poet when I was fourteen or so I came across a reference to her possible not-straightness. Was I excited to find this? You can bet your candy covered ass I was. Emily Dickinson the Lesbian was so exciting to me because I felt less alone. To a young high school student in rural Vermont with few queer heroes around it was thrilling to see that I could be queer and also achieve greatness. Making me feel less alone and able to achieve greatness? I don’t know about you but I think that’s a pretty awesome thing for a queer teenager.

Of course, Emily Dickinson might have been straight. She might have been asexual. She might have been bisexual or pansexual or, or, or… The point isn’t that I needed (or need) to know one way or the other, the point is that she could have been Not Straight. It was (Why do I keep using the past tense? It still is!) important to me to know that I could have a hero and that she didn’t have to be Intensely And Obviously Straight.

I don’t know Mr. Collins’ sexual orientation and that’s a-OK with me. He could have any sexual orientation and find questions about Emily Dickinson’s sexuality “unprofitable gossip” and I’d still be totally on board with that. Even if we were to hypothetically say that he and I had the same sexual orientation I wouldn’t expect us to agree on the importance of Emily Dickinson’s preferred fucking partners. We’re allowed to have our own opinions, we’re allowed to not vote along party lines. When I started this post I was ready to rip Mr. Collins a new one for disagreeing with me but I’m at peace with it now. Just because something was a major part of my adolescence doesn’t mean that it needs to be important to Mr. Collins.

It’s alright, Mr. Collins, I harbor no ill-feelings to you over this little incident.