Archives for posts with tag: sexuality

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

Last week I saw a new psychiatrist and I was very nervous.  I hate seeing new psychiatrists and having to answer all their questions.  But this time I was prepared.  I had written out a page of information that I anticipated my new doctor would like to know.  I really suggest doing this as a coping strategy for seeing doctors-it makes for a much more productive session.  Usually doctors ask if you have ever been sexually abused (I have) and about the nature of that abuse.  I do not like talking about it at all.  I decided to take charge of my fears and so I was the first to bring up my sexual history.  Talking fast, I told him that a year and a half ago I had gotten pregnant and then had an abortion, but he interrupted me before I could finish my story.

You don’t have to tell me about this.  Anyone can be sexy.  I only care if you think you were acting out of mania.  Otherwise, don’t tell me. Being sexy is not crazy.

I was nearly speechless-I’m not used to doctors not wanting to pry into my personal life!  I told him that I did think my actions were due at least in part to mania or my borderline personality disorder and it’s true, I do.  But I have been thinking about his comment and it has provided me the opportunity to rethink how I think about some of the major sexual events in my life.  Before, I was viewing everything as a negative and that it was proof of my mental illness and of being unstable.  And while I do think that my mental illnesses did play a part in why I made some impulsive sexual decisions, the truth is is that I am human and humans have sexual desires.  For instance, I got pregnant, because I had unprotected sex.  I knew better and yet I continued to have sex.  For a long time, I pathologized what I did-I blamed my actions on the impulsiveness that marks having Borderline Personality Disorder.  It was the only explanation I could come up with that would explain why I would do something so “stupid.”  If you go back father into my past, then there are the times when I was a freshman and a sophomore in college and I was “friends with benefits” with several guy friends.  For a long time, I rationalized that I was sick with the moods of Bipolar II and that was why I acted the way I did-I was either severely depressed and wanted comfort or I was manic and impulsive.  All of these things were true.  But it is also true, that college students often experiment with their sexuality.  “Friends with benefits” is not a term only reserved for the mentally ill.  I was a young woman with a sexual drive.  Sometimes I wanted comfort and sometimes I felt impulsive, but so are many other nineteen-year-olds.  Likewise, many young women sometimes have unprotected sex.  It may not be smart, but it isn’t that uncommon either.  Yes, it is helpful to look at what part my illnesses play in my mistakes, but my illnesses are not all of who I am.  I am a sexual being.  I have sexual needs.  Besides, I don’t even regret most of the “benefits” I had in college.  It’s time to stop looking at my sexuality through the lens of mental illness and start accepting that it is okay to be a sexual person and that all people make mistakes.  Because of my pregnancy, I take sexual intercourse more seriously.  I have an IUD now.  I am working on being less impulsive and I recognize that some of my impulsiveness comes from my disorders, but some of it comes from my being human.  I am human.  I am sexy.  I have mental illness.  I am in recovery.  My sexiness does not equal craziness, but is a natural part of my being.

This blog is called, “Sexual Healing” for a reason-by talking about my sexuality I am taking out my pain and bringing instead some healing.  Writing about what I have been through also helps give me some clarity and insight.  A few weeks ago, I got to witness some sexual healing that happened during my book club that was really wonderful and special.

Seven months ago, I created a feminist book club and advertised it on meetup.com.  I wondered if anybody would attend and there were a few meetings with very low attendance.  But now after several months with a steady attendance, I am sure that my book club is a success.  We get along really well and we stay and talk so long that we had to move our location to one that stays open later!  That certainly gives me a good feeling.

Like I’ve said, we’ve been having really great meetings for several months now, but at the March meeting I think I helped to create safe space.  “Safe space” is a term often used in feminist circles meaning that a group of people respect each other’s experiences, opinions, and confidentiality.  The members recognize their own privilege and are willing to step back to allow the more disenfranchised members to talk.  They try not to use oppressive language and hopefully all of these things help bring a feeling of inclusivity and freedom of expression.  It’s a tall order and unfortunately, it doesn’t always work.  I started a book club and I wanted us to go deeper into the feminist material and be more intellectual than the other book club that I belong to.  Secretly, I also wanted us to become a freeing feminist community, but I also knew that that may not happen.  To my wonderful surprise, I think we may be on our way.

The funny thing is, is that we never discussed our group as being a “safe space”-we were just going to discuss books, but a feeling of safety seems to have evolved out of the space naturally.  I credit this to the wonderful women in my group.  We all seem to internally monitor how much space we are taking up and we purposely try to draw the ones that are more reticent to speak their truth.  I am proud to say that I also credit myself for speaking my truth.  The topic turned to reproductive rights and I wanted to talk about my abortion, but I was a little afraid-not because I was afraid that they wouldn’t approve, but because it would make me vulnerable.  I am so glad I did, though!  Fortunately, I am stable enough to be able to talk about my experiences without getting extremely emotional or triggered and I was able to clearly share what was on my mind.  My vulnerability was rewarded when the newest member, who was sitting right next to me, then opened up about her abortions.  Then another started talking about being a young mother and her reasons.  We then proceeded to talk for at least another hour about reproductive rights, our hard choices, relationships and life lessons.  Being abandoned by men was a common theme, but there were also stories of men who stepped up and were supportive of their wives’ decisions.  We talked about tough times, but we laughed too.  We had started out that evening as a book club that dared to call itself feminist and I believe our feminism helped us heal.  I went home that night with a feeling of wholeness and healing such as I had not experienced in a long time.  Just thinking about it makes my heart feel full.  Blessed be.