We wouldn’t have to “come out” if it wasn’t assumed that we’re straight to begin with.  – Anonymous

How do you come out as having a girlfriend if you don’t want to make a big deal about it?  

Answer: I don’t know.

I recently went on a wonderful summer beach vacation with my extended family – all seventeen of us!  

Obviously, I can’t come out about being in a poly relationship if my dad doesn’t know but I thought I could come out about having a girlfriend.  Now, all of my immediate family and a few others know that I am bisexual but not all of my extended family knows.  I thought and thought about how I would let them know without causing a movie scene.  It seems that one sees the big dramatic announcements when people are not sure if they will be accepted – fortunately for me, I know I will be and already am accepted by my family.  Sooo, I do not feel the need to make a big announcement with some dramatic pause.

I thought I had a stellar plan – I would just talk about us some times and slip in the words, “my girlfriend, _____.”

EXCEPT there is a generational thing I had not thought about – older women refer to their girls who are friends as “girlfriends” much more often than younger women do and so THEY DID NOT CATCH ON!!!   It was so frustrating.  At times, I felt like screaming, “Do you want me to cause a scene?!”

I finally spelled it out for one of my aunts.

It is hard living in such a heteronormative world and I think I finally know where the stereotypical gay drama comes from – we have to be or else we’re invisible.

I don’t have any answers.  I tend to hide from big drama and so I don’t want to do the stereotypical thing.  It seems like it would be very awkward.  But I guess a little awkwardness sometimes is what’s needed.  Maybe next time, instead of saying, “my girlfriend,” I’ll say, “my lover.”  Surely there can’t be any second guesses then, right?

 

People are not possessions.

Polyamory just means more people to love.   (Me)

There is nothing more awkward to me than fighting between the people I love.  I am a people pleaser by nature, which can sometimes get me in trouble.  I struggle with standing up for myself, setting boundaries and being assertive, although I am getting better.  Two stereotypes I encounter often are that life within a triad is somehow magically free of jealousy or that our times together are nothing but wild orgies.  Neither are true.  What IS true is that we have made a committment to always stay with each other, even when times are tough and to be willing to talk things out.  We are compassionate with ourselves and each other.  We are willing to acknowledge jealousy and yet not let it be the end.  I really don’t understand why people say so often to me that they could not do what we’re doing because they would be too possessive or jealous and I feel like protesting, “but people aren’t possessions!”  I really do not see the morality in jealousy.  Jealousy is used as an acceptable reason for why someone should not be polyamorous, but to me, it is a weakness to work on.  To me, a far more acceptable answer is just to say that one is not interested.  That’s okay to me.  People are allowed to have different interests in different lifestyles – I guess I just don’t see polyamory as being so wild as I see it being so loving.  

Another awkward thing is meeting a significant other’s family!  On the Fourth of July I had a great time with my people.  One of the things we did was go to see my boyfriend’s family.  Now he and my girlfriend are getting married, and as some of his family is very conservative, I had to be introduced as the close friend.  It was weird – I felt like an awkward teenager all over again.  The family was very warm and accepting.  They asked no questions, which surprised me!  I ended up having a pretty good time but I couldn’t help but wonder what they were thinking some times or whether I would be out one day in the future.  I try not to dwell in those personal questions too long though, as there is no answer yet and it is really not any of my business to know the future or what other people are thinking about me.

As the two of them talk about marriage and I am faced more and more with stereotypes and the supposed conflicts of religion, I want to offer First Corinthians 13:4-7 from the Bible.  This is the Bible verse probably used the most at weddings and I just do not see how it does not also apply to relationships with more than two people:

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Now some say that this verse really applies to our relationship with Christ and not towards romance, but if we are called to be like Christ towards one another, then I don’t see the difference.  All relationships should be based in love, no matter what kind of relationship it is and there is no limit to the amount of love that one is supplied, except by our own human biases.

Treat everyone with lovingkindness.  Seek for greater understanding.  Continue to draw respectful boundaries where need be.  

Blessed be and Goddess bless.

 

This post is cross-posted with my recovery blog, Hope Is Real!

 Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” 

― Audre Lorde

A week ago, I was still really struggling and sad about The Pulse Shooting.  Ok, so I’m still struggling and sad about it but I was much more so that day.  I decided to do a memorial service during the two LGBT support groups that I facilitate where I work and I had written something long and angry.  Fortunately, I had a therapy session before the service and it was so helpful.  “I want you to feel how connected you are,” my therapist said.  She reminded me that I needed to be part of my community, the importance of not hiding and taking care of myself.  I felt bolstered up, being reminded of the interconnectedness of all people and I left knowing that I needed to rewrite my service.  I majorly edited what I wrote, which was a mix-match of several blog posts, and ended it with a question about self-care.  In our quest to make sense of the horror, we need to reach out, support each other, and take care of ourselves.  It is essential for our survival.  Here is what I read last week:

The point of recovery is not to be perfect.

The point of recovery is not to never feel pain.

We are grieving.  

The best way to feel better when something tragic has happened is to allow yourself to go through the grief.

Ignore the grief and it will gradually catch up with you.

The point of recovery is not to never be anxious but not to be crippled by it.

The best way to allow myself freedom is to let myself grieve.

In our grieving, let us remember that we are all connected.

We have community.  We are not alone.

Grief is natural but let us not isolate in it–let us come together and be there for each other.

Let us not wallow in misery but take care of ourselves and for each other.  What do you do to take care of yourself, your emotional, physical, and spiritual self?

 

 

This post is cross-posted at Hope Is Real!

I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living.  And you…And you…And you…Gotta give ’em hope.  ~ Harvey Milk

I pass as straight most of the time and so I have a lot of privilege in many ways.  But still, I possess a lot of fear related to my queerness.  It is a level of fear that I think a lot of people don’t realize.  For instance, for the past sixteen years I have attended a church with a lesbian minister that is attended by a lot of LGBTQ people, which means that for the past sixteen years I have feared that someone will bomb or otherwise terrorize the place where I worship.  That may sound extreme to some but hate-filled shootings and bombings are on the rise and have been for a while now.  I don’t have ease of mind before telling someone about my pansexual poly relationship for the first time.  I have not had any negative reactions so far but I know I will one day.  One of my strongest memories is how homophobic the first college I attended was.  (Although I must give a shout-out to the wonderful friends I made there – we really tried to support each other as much as we could.). Because of that religiously based homophobia, I am extremely wary of people that talk about hellfire.

And yet, it’s not all about me.  Today fifty people were killed who frequent an LGBT nightclub and I really do not care if the person was connected to ISIS or not.  To me, there are plenty of hateful organizations that rail against queer people and it easily could have been from another group.  

Today, at a supposed to be fun bicycle event in Atlanta, two separate homeless men who probably have a mental illness were holding signs and yelling about repentance and how we all have sinned.  Another man, obviously homeless and having a mental illness, sat beside me outside and proceeded to tell me about how he would break the neck of any person that bothered him.

They’re right – we have all sinned and we do need to repent.  One of the men spoke about how he sleeps outside and my heart broke.  I was triggered beyond belief by their words and yet I was still full of compassion for them.  Our nation does need to repent of our greedy ways.  Our ways that place money above mental healthcare, guns above homes, judgment above tolerance.  We need feminism because older white men are the group with the highest suicide rate, we need tolerance because it seems that people no longer know how to properly communicate.

We need hope.

I don’t have any solutions.

My wish is that people would care more and that people were taught in schools how to respectfully dialogue with one another.

I try to be an example but I cannot be everything.

I tried to go do something fun today and just ended up getting more triggered, more mournful.

Maybe that’s the point. Sometimes life sucks and it cannot be ignored.  If we, as a nation, are confronted by our evil, then maybe we will have to do something about it.  

Why don’t we require people to take a gun safety class when they buy a gun?

Why don’t we require gun owners to properly store their guns?

Why do we let people with a violent history, including domestic abuse, keep a gun?

Why don’t we encourage thoughtful dialogue instead of making everything sensational?

Why can’t we teach comprehensive sex education in school that also addresses sexual orientation instead of pretending that abstinent only sex ed will somehow magically prevent pregnancy, regret, and disease?

Why do we let the media only follow hateful men?

Why do WE follow the hateful men?

How can we hear the news and still be bringers of hope?

I doubt the men who were screaming about repentance today even knew what had happened.  In my mind, I was brought back to college when it was common for a student to go to another and say that they were going to hell for being gay.  Where my feminist student group continually had to re-hang our flyers, as they were continually being torn down.  Where the gay-straight alliance had to meet at a professor’s house in secret because we were not allowed by the school to officially meet on campus.  And who decreed that?  Good ol’ founder of Chick-Fil-A, Truett Cathy, who threatened to take away his money from the school if there was an official gay-straight alliance on the grounds.  Nowadays, his son, Dan Cathy, allows the alliance, as long as the students only gather for social purposes and not for activism.  How very Christian of him.

I am Christian and yet I hate Christians.  When hearing the loud repentance proclaimers, I often wonder if the old prophets weren’t just assholes.   Yelling at me to repent when I am already hurting seems like an asshole-ish thing to do.  Or maybe, like these men, they were all mentally ill and didn’t know how to best express themselves.

I don’t know what to do with these feelings, except to try to be the best that I can be.  To not let the loudest speakers take away my soul and all of my joy.  To continually love, even when hard.  To continue to be a sensitive, emotional person in pain.

We all need a hug today.  Let the violence stop with you.

 

The first rule of Bi Club is that you can talk about it all you want, because most people won’t believe it’s real anyway. 

– Lindsay King Miller, Ask a Queer Chick: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life for Girls Who Dig Girls

Amazing how skin and eye color come in many shades yet many think sexuality is just gay or straight.

– DaShanne Stokes

My 35th birthday was May 9th and I had a fun time celebrating it with my parents the day before.  The day of my girlfriend and boyfriend made me a dinner that nearly had me rolling on the ground from foodgasm ecstasy.  A few weeks later, I gathered a good crowd of my friends and we had Sunday brunch at Lips, a drag show restaurant for their Drag Gospel show. It was hilarious and such a good, affirming time with friends. 

(Mother Bubba D.Licious)

Except for one part-they tried to make us invisible.

I’ve been to a couple of drag shows before and I knew that they always ask the audience who’s straight and who’s gay or lesbian.  I figured I would have to identify as bisexual since pansexuality is still not as well known.  Except they never asked!  They asked if there were any lesbians and one women responded saying that she was bisexual.  And then it was over. The drag queens never formally asked the group if there were any bisexuals in the building, which was a deep shame as practically half of my group identified as such.

Our identity was erased and it felt like a betrayal considering we were in a queer space.

I decided then and there that I was not going to be erased on my birthday!  I had not intended to participate in the part where the birthday guest gets on stage – an extra ten dollars – but I immediately marched to the line and I’m glad I did!

I sat in the birthday chair with a piece of cake and a flaming candle in my lap.  I was asked:

Do you have a boyfriend?

I replied:

Yes. I also have a girlfriend!

The crowd laughed and cheered in delight. I smiled broadly.  The drag queens paused.  One of them reached out and snuffed out the candle with her fingers:

Well, honey, you don’t need to blow that out – we know you can use your tongue!

We all laughed and we took a picture of me and two drag queens sticking our tongues out.  Then I stepped down off the stage and kissed first my girlfriend and my boyfriend.

It feels good to be out.  It’s sad that I cannot always be.  This August, I’m going on a vacation with my extended family and I am a little sad as I know I will probably keep a part of my romantic life hidden.  

I want to have pride in my sexuality and my relationships but I am still hesitant to reveal myself to certain people. Pride is not about being militant or arrogant – it’s about having enough self-assurance that I will allow myself the gift of authenticity.  Authenticity brings pride, confidence, and goodness while hiding reinforces feelings of shame.

I want to be true to myself as much as possible and I will not be made invisible in a space that is a celebration of queerness.

The question is, will I let myself be truly celebrated and acknowledged everywhere else?

I honestly don’t know right now.  I know I will eventually…

There is nothing shameful about loving yourself. The shame is in NOT loving the unique and brilliant individual that you are.” 
― Miya YamanouchiEmbrace Your Sexual Self: A Practical Guide for Women

I am so glad that I am on Medicare.  On the other hand, Medicare is not the gold standard that everyone seems to think it is.  They did not want to pay for my IUD even though it is the birth control method that works the best for me.  Fortunately, I was able to file a formulary appeal and it was approved.  I suspect that my answer to the question, “Have you ever tried other forms of birth control?” Had a good part to do with it – my answer was, “I got pregnant.”  And really, how much more expensive is it to pay for the birth of a baby and the ensuing extra treatment I would need for my mental health if I went through with the pregnancy than just paying the $8OO for an IUD.  Still, $8OO is a lot of money for me, so I was ecstatic that the IUD was granted full coverage for me.

Me being me, I sent an email to my boss explaining that I would need coverage at a certain time so I could go get my IUD inserted and that this was SO IMPORTANT but I not only sent it to my boss but to every person’s email at every Peer Support and Wellness Center in Georgia.  Once I realized my mistake, I gulped and said, “Well, I really don’t have any secrets anymore…”

Later, I was talking with a coworker and said, “Well, I guess everybody at every center knows now that I have a good sex life…”

She said, laughingly, “And we all want to know your secret!”

Here’s the thing – I was not that embarrassed by my mistake.  In fact, I think it’s quite funny.  I have a part-time job doing mental health presentations around Georgia where I talk about my crazy history.  At this point, I am used to being authentic and many times, revel in it.

I believe authenticity is one of the greatest gifts we can give to the world because when we are true to ourselves, we give permission for other people to be the same.  If more people were more comfortable with showing their true selves to the world and if all of our realities were celebrated, then I think this world would be a much better place.

I no longer have any shame about living with a mental health challenge and being disabled – I am working on eliminating sexual shame too.

Having an active sex life when actively chosen is something to be celebrated.  Being in a non traditional romantic relationship in our world is definitely something to be celebrated, even if it appears odd to others.  For that matter, choosing celibacy or monogamy is something to be celebrated too if it is intentionally chosen.  I wish our society would allow us to feel more comfortable to dialogue about different sexualities and choices without judgment, condemnation or sensationalization.  I firmly believe that it is in respectful dialogue with different people that we can find the most opportunities for growth and freedom.

By the way, my secret to meeting people that I want to connect with, whether romantic or nonromantic, is to simply go ahead and pursue the things that I am already passionate about and to just be open to the possibilities that come with meeting others with similar passions.

That’s it.

Be open to pursuing your passions and be open to forming connections with people on the way.  Life is much richer that way.

 

My_secret.jpg

 

I love sex. Sex is extremely fun. It is fun to have sex with new people. It is also fun to have sex with the same person a bunch of times. Sex is fun when your happy or sad. There is pretty much nothing else in this world as fun as sex.  

– comment from debate.org on whether sex is fun.

 

A recent awkward sexual moment:

 

I’m doing the hopes, successes, and dreams portion of my mental health presentation last week to a group of parents who have children who have mental illness. I’m telling them some of my many accomplishments.  I tell them that I have two regular blogs, one is a mental health recovery blog and one is about sex, for fun.  I’m sort of rushing through this last segment, as I sense I am running out of time.  A parent then asks me, 

 

Excuse me, what do you mean, a sex for fun blog?

 

Oh! (I say, laughing.) I don’t mean, a sex for fun blog.  I mean, I just started a new blog about sexuality, so that I could have a writing project that is just for fun and not about mental health.

 

I still see confusion on the parents’ faces.

 

I’m bisexual and I just started facilitating two LGBT support groups at the center where I work, so I thought I would write a blog about sexuality, since so many are needing support about it nowadays.  I thought it would a fun topic.

 

The audience relaxes and laughs. My response has finally been accepted.  The man who had asked nods in approval.

 

That makes more sense.  I thought you meant a blog that is just about sex being fun, which it is, but…

 

Which It Is.

 

I understand that sex is not fun for everybody.  It didn’t used to be for me.  But why are so many people not talking about sex for enjoyment? 

 

 

Sex used as a weapon is what we see everyday in the media and in our places of worship and even by our schools.  We must beware of sex because it can result in diseases and pregnancy, shame and trauma.  We don’t talk of protection, boundaries and communication skills in order to have fun.

 

It is assumed that only men can have sex for enjoyment, while women are expected to serve but in my relationship, we serve each other.  In fact, often times it is the male that is serving me, as the bondage, pain, and domineering are done for my pleasure.

 

The LGBT community does need a lot of support right now. To me, part of that support is deciding for myself how I want to talk about sex instead of letting society dictate it for me.  

 

Sex is fun. 

 

I enjoy exploring my sexuality.

 

I enjoy the ability to give and take away consent.

 

I enjoy expressing myself sexually well.

 

I enjoy being my own sexual person.

 

I enjoy having sex on my own terms, whether with a stranger, a partner, or with myself.

 

I believe letting myself experience the pleasures of sex is a way to exuberantly love myself.

 

This has nothing to do with mental health recovery and everything to do with it at once.

 

I could not do any of these things when I was still in the throes of clinical depression or severe anxiety. I felt bound with shame, guilt, awkwardness, self-consciousness, and fear.  Now that I am better, I realize that the power to enjoy life starts with me and part of my life is sex.  

 

This country, this world, will not be totally free until we stop equating sex with patriarchal violence but with enjoyment, in whatever way that enjoyment consensually manifests for each person.

Come see me this Saturday at The Strand Theater in Marietta.  There will be an art show at 6pm, performance at 7pm and a Q&A at 8:15p.  It’s free, so go to Gmhcn.org to print out your ticket.  Watch a powerful performance of people telling their recovery stories in creative ways.

Call a jack a jack.  Call a spade a spade. But always call a whore a lady.  Their lives are hard enough, and it never hurts to be polite.  (Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of The Wind)

I think it’s funny how some members of the LGBTQ community get so attached to their one label.  People that are so attached to one name must be completely puzzled by me because my label changes from day to day.  I just cannot fit into a sexual box.  I say bisexual to people who only know the four most common terms, even though it does not most accurately define my sexuality.  Because I so prefer being around women, I sometimes refer to myself as lesbian even though I also have a boyfriend.  Some lesbians say that being lesbian is not a feeling but I disagree.  I am so sexually fluid that more than one label fits – I can go from feeling completely enamored with women to completely submissive to my sir.  I believe that both options are valid. 

Different labels that I use to describe myself on a regular basis:

             Bisexual

             Lesbian

             Homoflexible (liking both genders, but preferring those of the same sex)

             Pansexual

             Female Focused

             Queer

 Here is an excerpt from Whisper where I am explaining the sexual orientation of pansexual and another term that I formed for myself:          

BUT my favorite sexual label for myself is UNICORN!!

 

“I believe when we’re able to fully own and express ourselves, we are able to tap into a creative power deeply rooted from our sexual energy – our creative energy. It’s our core. We don’t understand the creative power we have because we’re so busy using it in all the wrong ways – or worse, not using it at all.” Lauryn Doll

Who knew that Whisper would turn out to be so delightful?  Right now, I am having several charming conversations at once about how hairy legs really do not dampen anyone’s sexual activity.  A bunch of men started chatting and telling me that yep, I’m right, and in fact, many men seem to not only be okay with female leg hair but find it sexy.  You see, the beauty industry really is just selling us a pack of lies.  (Now, I have no problem with shaving.  It just makes me sad to hear women that don’t want to shave buy the lie that they must in order to keep a boyfriend or have sex.  It just ain’t true.)

I had another wonderful conversation on Whisper a few days ago and it is encapsulated so many very wonderful things about my relationship that I asked the man I was talking to if it would be alright if I shared.  Happily, he said yes.  (Unfortunately, the first half of the conversation was somehow deleted.  To set up: I had just told him that I not only am in a triad but also have a lover on the side. He asked if everyone knew – a valid question.)

 

Let me say it again:

I wish more people were open to being this free.  It’s empowering to be with people who value autonomy, honesty, and good communication.

I really do.  The world would be a much better place.