Boss Up with Bevin Your dream life is at the end of your comfort zone

2015-07-24

Additions to the Queer Lexicography: You’ve Got Toptions

Wow things have been a little hectic around here! It’s summertime in NYC and I am working hard on my East Coast bucket list. Last weekend I went to a Bluegrass festival in the Catskill Mountains about 2 hours North of NYC, this weekend I head to Atlanta for pre-wedding preparations for one of my besties, I went to two queer weddings in June (one of them at a summer camp in PA!), did NYC Pride (aka Gay Stamina month), produced Rebel Cupcake for the last time and a couple weekends ago took an overnight trip to Fire Island! On that trip I caught up with my friend Avory who loves a clever turn of phrase as much as I do and inspired this edition of Additions to the Queer Lexicography!

AvoryAvory on their birthday after the incredible Bjork concert! Avory serves great fashion and great turns of phrases.

Toptions. This is the idea that you have a lot of different Tops to choose from. And yes, I’m talking about Tops in a sexual way not a sartorial way, but feel free to use it that way too, especially when talking about fat friendly crop tops! Being open to Toptions means being in a mindset of abundance. I think a lot of people out there lament that they do not have a lot of Tops to choose from. Believe me, as a Femme who is Top leaning, especially when it comes to public play, I know that there are lots of Tops out there. I feel like going into any situation where you may want to play, you’ve got to be open to possibilities, talk to lots of folks, explore your Toptions (or bottom possibilities) and have a mindset that there are lots of people out there waiting to be explored!

I spent so much of my early twenties totally convinced no one would be attracted to me that I barely tried. I often clung to the edges of play parties, dance parties and whatever other cruising environments I was in not interacting with folks. I’ve learned that there are lots of Toptions out there, you just have to leap into small talk with folks and feel things out. Being there is often not enough to open the door, you gotta break the ice. Small talk doesn’t cost anything but time and maybe a little annoyance. And, as Rachael says, if you’re going to have to get through 9 rejections to get to 1 yes, get through them as quickly as possible!

You booed up with the first person you met on Fire Island? You are really missing out on all of your Toptions!

Related post–my theory of Butch abundance!

abundanceI believe in abundance so much and want to be reminded of it all the time so I have it tattooed on my wrist! A scarcity mentality is draining to me! Also, I’m repping Wide Eyes Open Palms my favorite latte makers, in Long Beach, CA!

Fuckit List. It’s like a bucket list of who you want to fuck! I have a few people on my Fuckit List and I know we’re all going to be gay for a real long time so that helps me to have some perspective and patience. Also I’ve talked to a lot of older queers about their sordid pasts and have heard many juicy stories about finally being single/available at the same time and getting to do it to that person they’d had their eye on for 15 years.

Also when going to a queer event or place and you know who you’re going to run into, having a Fuckit List in mind of possexibilities is a good way to be prepared and manifest abundance.

Freddy is monogs now, but I’ve got them on my Fuckit List.

nailsMy nails from the cold brew photo… relevant to my abundance mindset and inspired by sunsets in LA!

Shark Week. An incredible euphemism for your period. It’s vicious and bloody! Lasts about a week. Get it? I loooove it. It’s also great because it can be kind of masculine (though Femmes shark it up pretty magnificently) and it’s always nice to have a masculine version of a period euphemism!

200069_10150172750922079_5109552_nI can’t talk about Shark Week without Miss Mary Wanna doing her shark burlesque act! Photos by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake!

This one has been spinning out there for awhile and somehow I always thought people were talking about the Discovery Channel. I don’t know, I don’t have cable, I know people really like Shark Week. But when I heard it multiple times during a few months I was like, wait a minute, Shark Week? And I finally asked.

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OMG it’s Shark Week and all the ibuprophin is gone. This is a nightmare.

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Manses. I can’t believe I never talked about Manses before, but Glenn Marla introduced me to this awesome masculine of center euphamism for period. Get it.

It’s my manses and I hate that all of the products come in pink. Get it together Kotex, people of all sorts of genders get periods!

MacyBevinbeachReading on the beach at Fire Island (Cherry Grove) with my dog Macy!

2014-10-01

Are you Single and Ready to Manifest Your Dream Date?

Earlier this year I did a few sessions of relationship coaching with Christine Dunn-Cunningham, better known as the Lesbian Love Guru. She’s so kind, sensitive and smart. Christine had some incredibly valuable advice for me and Dara about how to communicate better and to have a more fulfilling relationship. What surprised me about the process of her coaching was that we both met separately with her via phone, working on our own stuff so that we could get together and create more harmony.

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This approach makes me confident Christine is a great singles’ coach. I think a lot of times we get in our own way to finding the kind of love and sex relationships we’re looking for. As queers, women, people of size, people of different abilities and all sorts of marginalized identities, we’re not taught that we’re worthy of love. We’re not taught how to be open to love from a self-confident and self-aware place.

I kept picking the wrong folks who were emotionally unavailable and didn’t have what I wanted. When I realized I was repeating the same pattern again and again I buckled down and did some hard work on myself. I know it was doing that work on myself that opened me up to love with folks who were a better fit for me.

For a limited time, Christine is offering an exciting package deal for folks who are ready to do the work to open themselves up to the right love relationship.

Her new online workshop, “Manifest Your Dream Woman*: How to Attract the Love of Your Life” is for single women who are ready to find lasting love. She’s created a simple, proven 4 step process for attracting the woman of your dreams. It’s a powerful, exciting process guaranteed to get you moving forward in your love life!

Christine will take you by the hand and personally lead you through the entire process step-by-step. Over the course of 30 days she’ll empower you to manifest your dream woman – someone who is just right for you!

Get Started Here!

In the workshop series, get ready to:
*Create a crystal clear picture of the kind of relationship you really want…and discover the secret to getting it!

*Identify emotional blockages that keep you from getting the love you want and learn how to easily move past them!

*Experience a massive perspective shift that will allow you to effortlessly attract the love of your life and keep her!

*Enjoy the unstoppable self-confidence you need to be yourself and attract a woman who loves you exactly the way you are!

*Find loving support every step of the way – motivating, encouraging, and sharing experiences with each other to create the ultimate support system along the journey

*Get re-energized and excited about your love life again, certain that your dream woman is on her way to you!

Christine is a dating expert and coach and she’s helped women all over the country find love and create deeply connected, passionate relationships.

Along with the program you’ll get great bonus content including a private 30 minute one-on-one “Love Life Transformation” coaching call ($297 Value), “Perfecting Your Online Profile” Program ($47 Value), and…

Special guest coaching call with ME, Bevin Branlandingham, sharing my secrets for loving yourself and enjoying unstoppable self-confidence! (Because in the words of icon RuPaul, if you can’t love yourself how in the hell are you going to love somebody else…)

IMG_6671My beloved friend Jess got this RuPaul shirt air brushed in Pigeon Forge, TN when we went to Dollywood!

So if you’re struggling in your dating life – if you keep dating the wrong women, feel frustrated by the dating process, or even lost hope that you’re special someone is out there – join Christine in her “Manifest Your Dream Woman” workshop and get ready to completely transform you love life!

Click here to reserve your spot (space is limited!)

Karen C.’s feedback to Christine:

“After attending your [Manifest Your Dream Woman] workshop last Aug, I came home and found her. Yay!! Without a doubt, I attribute finding her to your workshop.  Finally, I really knew what I was looking for in a partner, where to look and tada!, I found her. Thanks!!!!”
Eteranally Grateful, Karen C.

If you’re ready to find your special someone, click here.

*Christine’s work is for all self-identified women. She’s worked with singles, couples, poly situations, and folks of all genders and sexualities. Also, during my coaching call I’m going to use the term “Womanifest your dream woman.”

2014-04-03

Untapped Cruising Territory: NPR Singles’ Mixers

Awhile ago I started a blog adventure to go to regions of NYC looking for queer cruising opportunities I hadn’t explored. I believe life begins at the end of your comfort zone and I really think that’s true for dating in this wild city. In a time when I was totally not cruising I ended up finding a gem I wanted to report back to my readers! Even in times of temporal monogamy* I’m looking out to try to get my readers laid!

The event: I’ve been working with a business coach on my attorney business to try to develop a sustainable, more reliable income for myself. My artwork suffers when I am having to spend too much time hustling for cash, and the whole point of having my law practice is so that I can support the body liberation social justice work I love to do. Part of the business coaching is developing business contacts as steady streams of client referrals as well as learning how to do more networking for clients.

IMG_8139_120710The event space. Photo from WNYC.org.

Under her guidance, I was in the process of developing an email to friends to ask for networking events they knew of. All of a sudden, as though a message from the Goddess, I heard an advertisement on NPR for a lesbian mixer. It was so perfect! The event promo on the radio made it sound like a networking event and the event page on the WNYC website made it sound like a singles’ mixer. I was already sold either way.

Coupled with all of this, my girlfriend is a great networker at networking events and volunteered to go with me and coach me on networking. So I was all set to plunk down $40 per ticket (the price was definitely helped because it is a benefit for public radio) to try out some professional networking with other lesbian NPR listeners. A better group of potential clients I could not have asked for.

Why this is untapped for me: Well, the price tag for one. I’m not one to spend $40 for a concert ticket, let alone a happy hour networking thing. Also, I’m totally going to admit loving and listening to NPR but I’ve never given to a pledge drive. (There are so many things I wish I could go back in time and do when I was working at a law firm making real money–donating to public radio is totally one of them.) I’m a total fair weather listener to public radio and I admit that.

Also, I don’t go to a ton of events marketed to lesbians since I actually identify as queer, though I do enjoy “lesbian” as a cultural identity. I was curious what kind of crowd this would create, though, so I was interested.

The Outfit: I went into the event thinking this was to get clients and not as a singles’ mixer (or as an event to write-up for my blog, otherwise I would have tried to get press tickets) so I didn’t take photos. However, I wore one of my super favorite lady lawyer dresses with some vintage cat pins on them. Hey, I was playing to my audience and lesbians love cats.

5752937889_3210240f0f_bI wore this outfit, though this picture is from a couple of years ago, I think I did similar hair and had a different pair of cat’s eye glasses. In my dream job world I wear vintage style dresses for all lawyer outings, which is only true about 50% of the time.

The Wing Femme: In this instance I wasn’t technically cruising so I didn’t have Wing Femmes, I actually had one dedicated Wing Butch (my girlfriend) and an intermittent Wing Butch (Leo). My girlfriend was actually great at this, she showed me how she introduces herself to folks at things like this, starting out doing most of the talking for me, a few of the folks in between she helped me tag team and then the last couple of introductions I did on my own. She was quite great at teaching me professional networking. I don’t love professional networking because I don’t love small talk. This is what makes me a great talk show host but not necessarily great at mixers.

The Scene: The scene was actually pretty fun! I saw a few familiar faces from the queer Brooklyn nightlife scene and some folks from some magazines I know. My astrologer Katie was there (who is single and was looking to meet folks**) and so were a few other folks I have met in my time as a queer New Yorker for over a decade. But what was more refreshing was how many folks I didn’t know!
700_3247Photo courtesy WNYC.org

The age range was wild–a few folks in their 20s, pretty heavy on 30s and 40s and then a good amount of lesbians over 50. But what was even better was that everyone seemed to be having a great time and really interested in meeting people.

I was definitely in the minority of being there for professional networking. At least 70% of the folks I met were definitely trying to meet people to date. I still made some good connections, though, and learned a lot about how to navigate professional networking events should my friends help me identify some of the good ones in NYC.

There was also a really great lesbian trivia game emceed by Caitlin Thompson. It was really, really funny. I was actually shocked when our team didn’t win the trivia game because we got almost all of the questions correct.

700_3034 (1) Photo courtesy WNYC.

The winning team got every question correct. I am in awe of that teams lesbianitude and knowledge of current lesbian events.

Folks were talking all night, and my single butch friend Leo said she got hit on a lot. I felt like the energy in the place was really good and a lot of people there got what they were looking for.

The verdict: I might have gotten a client (I at least got a good lead for a client, we’ll see if she retains me). But more importantly, for you, dear readers, I think the WNYC singles’ mixers are a winner! You can check out the scene for yourself in this slideshow at WNYC.com!

I heard (on NPR this weekend) that there is an OKCupid algorithm that says that if you agree with your partner about the answers to three questions it is a predictor about whether or not you will be a compatible couple. The questions are:

Do you like horror movies?
Have you ever traveled around another country alone?
Wouldn’t it be fun to chuck it all and go live on a sailboat?

(It’s totally worth reading the OkCupid blog entry about why those questions work to predict compatibility. Data! It’s sexy!)

However, I think that whether or not you both like NPR is a good predictor of being compatible because the idea of spending Sunday mornings (my very favorite time spent as a couple) are totally awesome spent brunching while listening to Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me.

I really should donate to NPR.

WNYC is producing singles’ mixers for people of all orientations all the time (and lots for over 40s)! Check out their listings and maybe also donate to public radio before it’s too late and you pursue a career as a social justice artist.

*My then not-girlfriend and I had a temporary agreement during January about not exercising our non-monogamy, which some might call monogamy but I vehemently called “Non-practicing open relationship” so as not to compromise identity. At the present moment we’ve rearranged to a free ass pass arrangement during chemotherapy, but, lez be honest, getting laid is a lot of work and so is caretaking and self care.

**Katie generally likes femme of center folks, but people of all gender presentations who are stylish and fun get her attention.

2014-02-13

My Second Session of Relationship Coaching with the Lesbian Love Guru

This is the second entry in a series about my experience Relationship Coaching with Christine Dunn-Cunningham, the Lesbian Love Guru. Follow the lesbian love guru tag on the blog to catch all the entries!

My not-yet girlfriend and I had our second session of relationship coaching the week after we began. Christine suggested we continue our coaching separately. It’s counterintuitive to how I pictured this coaching would occur; I imagined we’d both be together on skype with Christine, but instead we each take thirty minute separate calls with her. Since we tend to be together when it happens, the other hangs out in the living room with music playing.

Being out of earshot enables real talk with Christine about what’s happening. Often if you explained a problem in your relationship to a third party, you would use really different language than if you were together. I find it a relief not to think about Dara’s feelings when I’m explaining something. I feel like I can get right to the solution without spending extra time sugar coating an issue.
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Prior to the second session we had each filled out intake forms for coaching and sent them to her as well as one another. The intake form reinforces Christine’s confidentiality agreement.

The issue of confidentiality is paramount to this [coaching] relationship. My understanding is that nothing in this [coaching] relationship is to be discussed outside of our conversations. There are times when references to others may be helpful, however I would not ever mention a name or person that would lead someone to infer the discussion was about you as a client.

The rest of the intake forms were about our future visioning, setting out goals and what we think is limiting us. I liked that we shared them with each other because sometimes it’s good to see what the your sweetie is expressing in terms of goals for an ideal love life and how they see their future. What if your big goals are really incompatible? That’s important to talk about!

In my one-on-one session with Christine we focused on what was going on for me at that moment. This had a little less to do with my relationship and more to do with how I was feeling with my own time management. One of my goals this year is to get more structured about how I use my time. I am also really worried about caregiver fatigue because Dara has breast cancer and I’m her primary caregiver. Time management is important because I need to make sure I prioritize my self-care, which is easy to let fall by the wayside when you’re only dealing with things that are “bleeding.”

20140213_124617At her first chemo appointment, as the awesome nurse Erin at Sloan-Kettering was “pushing” the first dose of chemo poison, Dara sang Alice Cooper’s “Poison.” I would have gone with Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison” which might do more to explain our communication issues than anything else.

Even though caregiving isn’t all that taxing (yet), it is a lot of time. After her surgeries was a lot of letting her rest and heal while I took on the lion’s share of the housework. Making sure we’re eating whole, healthy foods is another thing I’ve taken on 90% of the time. Her cancer diet is pretty restrictive, which means most of what I make is from scratch. Add to that we both work to only eat humane meats, which requires special trips to the butcher. I feel extremely grateful for my work from home lifestyle because when I plan well I can be cooking while working. But my time management can really use some improvement so that the planning part of that intention actually happens!

20140212_203059I highly suggest this infinitely customizable pizza casserole recipe, passed along to me by my dear friend JLV.

Christine suggested a Tony Robbins tool called “Rapid Planning,” which helps to ensure what you’re doing is in line with your priorities. I’ve begun implementing it in stages and so far it is helping me be mindful of my priorities. Just because something is urgent (bleeding) doesn’t mean it’s important and I need to remember that.

She also taught me a grounding exercise. When I got on the phone I told her I was feeling really spazzy and she did a meditation with me that was really quick and powerful. She’s offering an MP3 of the grounding meditation on her website for free if you click the link. I love a guided meditation and am totally keeping this on my phone for when I need a 30 second reminder that I’m right here, right now, one with the universe.

Dara and I usually talk about our sessions afterward–highlights and tools. She got a tool to work on for homework about how she responds to my emotions. I have really Big Feelings sometimes* and my face is a billboard–I usually don’t want to express myself right away but I can’t help it! Often what I feel immediately isn’t what I feel ultimately once I’ve had time to digest my reaction. My emotional reactions have historically been very difficult for Dara to handle, as she hates disappointing me or hurting my feelings. This has been difficult for many of my past loves.

20140213_111246I thought it was important to wear something cute to chemo.

Christine suggested a tool she calls “Holding the Bucket” where Dara doesn’t actually have to do anything but witness and recognize my feelings. She doesn’t need to take them on or feel bad for hurting me. I actually love this tool because it gives me a chance to have my Big Feelings and later apply the tools I have to respond instead of react and engage in my process without worrying about her reaction.

“Holding the Bucket” helped Dara prepare for a difficult conversation she wanted to have with me that we did some more work on getting geared up for during our third session. Dara said it helped her see that she didn’t have to take my feelings so personally, since they were about me and my process not necessarily about Dara.

Dara also told me she had been triggered by something that happened between us the night before this session. It was a relief to be able to talk to someone who was such an impartial party and a great listener.

I am really enjoying my experience working on my relationship with Christine’s help. I was pleasantly surprised at how skilled she is at working with folks on an individual level. She works with singles, couples and poly permutations. Experiencing how she is able to guide me one-on-one, though it’s centered on things coming up in my relationship, definitely enforces how awesome she is with singles looking to break down their limitations on finding and experiencing the love relationships they want.

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Christine offers a limited number of free introductory thirty minute calls every month. Twelve of you signed up last month. If you want to try her out, click here and sign-up! You’ll get to know Christine and find out if she’s a good fit for you, as a single, couple or poly permutation! (Even though she’s a “Lesbian” Love Guru she actually works with all gendered folks on all parts of the gender and sexuality continuums.)

*In my natal chart I have a Scorpio Moon.

2014-01-23

I Got Back Together with My Ex and Started Relationship Coaching with the Lesbian Love Guru

This is the first entry in a series about my experience with Relationship Coaching with Christine Dunn-Cunningham, the Lesbian Love Guru. Follow the lesbian love guru tag on the blog to catch all the entries!

In November of 2012 I started dating someone who I thought was just going to be a friend with benefits. That turned into a super deep connection I wasn’t expecting. Neither of us did. I went with it and we fell into a “thing” we were calling “keeping company,” a delightfully old fashioned term she picked up from her uncle’s description of his courtship of her aunt thirty plus years ago. We had a lot of fun together but ran into a lot of static around a few areas, including communication. It took me until months after it ended to realize that how disparate our semantics often were. She would be saying one thing, using the same words I would use, but mean something completely differently than I was understanding. Like we’re both calling something an apple but really I mean a peach.

8868390850_f762dea0b1_oLast May. Photo by Grace Chu.

Things ended at the end of March when the fact that she didn’t want to be in a relationship, and hadn’t wanted to be in one in the first place, meant we needed to break-up. In our first iteration, things were just always so hard for us together emotionally, and when you don’t want to be in a relationship you don’t want to do the work to be together. She was also preparing for an epic, possibly forever, road trip. Selling all of her possessions, getting some part time consulting she could do remotely, and staying with loved ones a few weeks at a time. A life in an RV I’ve been visioning for a long time, a tiny version of which I took in 2011, but she was going solo.

I had thought we could eventually transition to long distance in some way, and we fell back into an “ambiguous” relationship status within three weeks of breaking up. Eventually that fell apart, too, she left town and I thought I’d never talk to her again. By the end of that ambiguous period I had my own reasons for not wanting to be in a relationship with her. Our mutual frustration lapsed into a long period of radio silence.

I recognized that the grief I was feeling about the break-up was incommensurate with the loss. I started doing some spiritual work through the help of Katie at Empowering Astrology. She helped me cut emotional cords and end what she described as a karmic cycle Dara and I were in.

Cut to October, when we had a pretty organic reconnection. She was back in NYC for a couple of weeks and we met-up and made peace. I thought maybe we could try “benefits without friends,” as a way to just focus on what always worked with us. (Sex.) I could slot her into my life the way a few treasured friends have; when we’re in the same town we sleep together if our relationship statuses allow for it and the rest of the time we’re just casual friends that text every now and again. This was a mildly complicated idea for me because I knew I was still in love with her I just couldn’t be in a relationship with her.

8867777135_1606770681_bPhoto by Grace Chu.

Life threw us a giant curve ball because when Dara was in town she happened to visit her GYN for her annual exam and they found a lump. She was diagnosed with breast cancer after she had gone back to LA (where she was at the time) from her NYC visit. (She’s been video blogging her experience with cancer.)

What does it mean when your ex gets diagnosed with breast cancer? I didn’t know. I knew I was still in love with her, that had never changed. I knew I didn’t want her to be my girlfriend because I’m really dedicated to loving unconditionally and to want her to be my girlfriend would mean I would require her to change… and I didn’t want to do that. So I resolved myself to just be there for her as much as I could be. “Open heart and good boundaries,” became my mantra. A witchy friend even prescribed a tincture of Ocitillo which I serendipitously found in a South Brooklyn apothecary.

We hung out when she got back to NYC to start treatment. It was really great and really easy. We hung out again. And then another time. The quality of conversation, the ease at which we were able to tread topics that would have been hard or hurty before was surprising. I was able to do the things that I liked to do to support her–cooking nourishing meals, being sweet to her, giving massages. As well as encouraging her to relax and do self-care, two things she is now learning how to do post-diagnosis that she’s never prioritized before. The ways in which I thought I needed her to change kind of melted away, and somehow I was different, too.

I was a little confused. I mean, when does your ex become your lover again? She has breast cancer and sex is life affirming. And all the in between moments were so magical. I kept telling my friends I felt like Dara and I were in a different dimension.

There was other stuff, too. I kind of thought I could be there for her but there’s no way she could show up for me, having cancer. And then my December 2013 took hold, three friends passed away in the span of two weeks and the week before Christmas I unexpectedly and quickly had to put my beloved cat ALF to sleep just six months after his brother Bear passed. And through it all Dara was a champion–supporting me, handling logistics, making sure I could bring Macy with me to the vet when I had to rush ALF to the kitty ER for his final moment. After my fiance and I broke up I swore I wouldn’t get serious about someone again until we had gone through a crisis together. Being with Dara in this iteration feels like we’re running a gauntlet–except we’re laughing, holding hands and getting through it in this hopeful and happy way I never knew was possible. Like if we can be this good in a crisis how nice will life be when we can just work and travel together?

1497957_10201768063297968_397615989_oAfter her first lumpectomy surgery (she had to go back in for a reexcision lumpectomy two and a half weeks later) I was in the recovery room with her and we made a game about how silly of a photo we could create with found hospital objects. Together we conceived her Rudolph look.

With the heady mix of old intimacy and new relationship energy, I suggested we might want to get relationship coaching. In fact, neither of us is willing to call each other “girlfriend” yet because we want to eliminate fears of slipping back into old communication patterns and the stuff that was so hard before. It hasn’t happened yet, we’ve done a great job of communicating through rough spots; often we just stop a conversation that feels like it could get sticky and awkwardly back out of it. But it could happen, and a professional might help us set the kind of foundation we never had before.

Enter Christine Dunn-Cunningham, the Lesbian Love Guru, who I met over the summer. I was thinking of working with her as a single person who wanted to open myself up to finding the future Mx. Branlandingham. When Dara and I were starting to become a “thing” again, I read some of the Lesbian Love Guru blog entries (full of incredible tips) and this one about High Quality Quality Time totally helped me. In the entry she suggested having a conversation where you figure out which activities create the deepest sense of connection between both of you. So I had that conversation with Dara one day cuddled up in bed. Thinking about what I needed in a connected moment helped me ask for that the next time we were both having a rough day. (The connected activity for me was praying together, by the way.)

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Hanging out in this week’s blizzard.

The success I had with applying the tips from the blog entry definitely told me that Christine would make a great coach for us. And there’s a huge difference from following advice in a blog and working directly with someone to create a program for you. That’s why I love coaching!

We corresponded via email and she offered me one of her free introductory sessions.

I talked to her on the phone during the session and she explained that her coaching can take different forms. Sometimes she works just with one of the people in a relationship, who then takes the work back and applies it to the relationship. Sometimes she works with both partners separately and sometimes she works with them together. I had originally envisioned the two of us on Skype with Christine building capacity for our communication, but she said she would want to start with a session where the two of us spoke to her on our own to get our perspectives.

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Christine also has experience coaching folks in polyamory, which was great for us because some of our stickiness is around establishing a foundation where we can create some kind of non-monogamy or polyamory that works for both of us. I’ve never successfully done non-monogamy in a primary relationship and Dara has been practicing polyamory for twenty years.

Even though she’s called the “lesbian” love guru, Christine actually coaches folks of all genders, on the trans spectrum and some straight couples. Because at the end of the day, relationships are relationships.

During the first session where we each spoke separately, Christine asked us for each of our versions of our first iteration, what areas of growth we wanted in our relationship and what we were hoping for out of coaching. Dara remarked afterward that she felt “heard” about our first iteration for the first time ever. Christine is really easy to talk to and is great at asking the right questions to open you up.

I’m excited to work with Christine moving forward. I’ll be blogging about the experience so stay tuned!

Christine is offering a limited number of free introductory sessions to readers of my blog (with folks later in the game on a waiting list). The first session is great–it’s a great way to see if she’s a match for what you want. Again, Christine works with established couples and single folks and people of all genders and sexualities (even though the landing page is geared towards women specifically). She’s really great and in that introductory call you’ll walk away with tangible stuff you can apply to your life to help you open yourself up to a great relationship.

Also, this week Christine and I were both featured in the Happy Healthy Lesbian Telesummit. Hopefully you got to catch our interviews when they were released, but if you missed them you can download them as a package (along with a slew of other great interviews about money, nutrition, love, travel, healing and body love). Click here to view more details

2014-01-15

Guest Post: How to Be a Good Ally to My Crippled Arm

My bestie Jacqueline Mary is disabled in a way where it is not readily apparent to the naked eye. Her arm was shattered in a bike accident a couple of years ago and the initial surgery restored only a small percentage of function in her arm. But because she still has her left arm and most people aren’t particularly observant, it’s not obvious right away that there’s anything different about it. She often has to tell people not to touch her arm, especially strangers in public, and sometimes people we know don’t even believe her and continue to poke, touch, even punch her in the arm because they think she’s joking. She’s also in a lot of chronic pain that has gotten worse over the last couple of months.

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She posted the following note to Facebook and I really loved it. Not just because she’s my friend, but also because I thought it was an exceptional example of stating your needs and asking for help–I believe vulnerability is a sign of strength.

What was a huge bummer about it was that she reposted it several times to her Facebook feed and it only got 10 likes. Whereas the day before when she posted about being hungover she got 30 likes. It speaks to a lot, especially to how uncomfortable people are about disability and vulnerability.

I’ve learned a lot from Jacqueline about disability lately and the most distasteful one was that men often use it as an opener to hit on her. GROSS!

Blanche side eye

So here’s a dating pro-tip: if you see someone has an injury or a cane, don’t use it to make conversation to hit on them. Hit on them in a different way. Get creative. Here are some ideas.

Every person who has chronic pain or a disability has different needs and asks around it, but most folks really want to be heard. So if a friend of yours is asking for help or being vulnerable, a simple “like” to say you heard something, or even (my favorite) a comment heart (<3) is a sweet gesture. I hope you like the following piece by Jacqueline Mary.

This is a brief PSA about the status of my arm – I’d appreciate some likes on this (aka- i read this, that sucks).

Things are not at all great. My radius is no longer attached to my wrist, which means it’s just kind of floating around in there. My hand is quite literally dangling off my ulna. In the last 6 weeks, my pain levels have risen pretty dramatically and my mobility has lessened even further. I’ve been to the clinic several times for this, but since I’m going to Bellevue and they’re seeing me for next to nothing, this is going to be a long process. They’re looking into surgical options and trying to see if anyone is crazy enough to cut me open without knowing what’s really happening in there. My MRI failed because of the amount of metal in my arm (which I’m told over and over again is exceptional).

The result of this is that I need my friends to understand. Guys, I’m tired. Fucking exhausted. Being in pain every moment is a huge head trip in so many ways, but the most noticeable is that it sucks all your energy away. Aside from actual physical fatigue, I’m mentally fatigued. What I need to do for my arm and what I need to do to survive are at war. The strength it takes to not just quit my life and stay in a comfy bed with my arm elevated is really wearing on me. This makes me, basically, bitter and cranky. I apologize.

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In addition, my arm is extra fragile these days. Even a tiny bump creates big pain. This means that I don’t want to go to things where I’m sure it will be jostled. I’m actively trying to avoid anything with crowds (especially shows, unfortunately). I’m driving most places these days. I can’t ride my bike anymore. The train, when it’s busy, is pretty awful for me. Please still invite me to things, but understand that I may decline for what looks like no good reason.

I’m wearing ace bandages a lot more these days, and it’s looking like I may turn back to the sling. Both of these are scary and stressful, as it’s much more of a physical indicator of my disability than I’ve had in a long, long time. This results in even more unwanted attention from assholes on the street. It also creates an appearance of being weak, which is extra scary because, well, I am, and it makes me feel like a bigger “target” to be attacked. However, if any of my creative, DIY, or textile manipulating friends want to make me a beautiful sling and/or wrap, I would seriously love that. Especially if it didn’t look like a sling and therefore made me feel a bit safer.

I know that most of my friends don’t have experience with disability, but I appreciate that you’re trying. Here are a few things you can do to make life a little easier on this crip:

1. Don’t touch my left arm. Ever. Don’t push it, don’t pull it, don’t try to hold my hand on that side, and don’t insist I hug you with both arms. Don’t be insulted if I pull away from you, I’m most likely in pain, aka not trying to get away from you. (And, for the love of god, don’t fucking tell me my scars are beautiful and/or give me character. Don’t downplay my disfigurement.)

2. Help me out. Offer to carry things for me. Insist. Help me open jars, doors, envelopes, even my coat. If you see me trying to do something stupid and struggling, offer to do it for me. I know, I know, I can get pissy when you offer, but offer anyway. The pissyness is a result of feeling bad about needing help, not a result of your offer.

Another GREAT way to help is walking on my left side if we’re in a crowd. I’d much rather have a trusted friend on my bad side than for it to be open to whatever dickbag wants to knock into it. Take the lead, guide us to a safer place, and don’t be afraid to yell CRIPPLE COMING THROUGH!

Also, feel free to call people on their shit if they’re not being kind or a good ally to me. I’m so worn out from having to tell people “Don’t touch me there, don’t push me, that hurts, THAT REALLY HURTS,” just to be met with giggles. It’s not a game, I’m not playing, and it’s not funny to me. Think of it as a matter of consent.

3. Be understanding. If I’m cranky, late, or cancel completely – I’m sorry. I can’t do all the things I want to do as it is, but it’s getting much harder lately.

4. Be kind. I’m tired. I’m sensitive. I’m touchy. Just be sweet to me. I try to not be sensational about these things, but I still have pushback where people seem to think I’m exaggerating. I’m not. I know I mostly look fine, which is why things have gotten to this point before doctors would take me seriously.

Guys, I’m fucking scared. There isn’t really any other way to say that. Every time I go to the doctor, they manipulate it which makes it hurt even worse. I will not go back on painkillers. The “best” option I have is a surgery where they will take apart my entire arm (from the elbow down) and completely restructure it. This means another hospital stay, recovery time, physical therapy, and a bunch of other things I don’t have the time or money for. I have no idea how I’m going to manage that, but I trust that I’ll figure it out when the time comes.

So yes. This was a “brief” PSA about the status of my arm. Thank you for reading. Feel free to ask questions if you have any, but mostly I’m just very grateful to have friends who will read this, get it, and try their best to accommodate my bullshit.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey for the Rebel Cupcake Leather Family Photo Booth.

Jacqueline is going in for major arm reconstructive surgery tomorrow morning. She’s going to have a piece of her hip inserted into her arm! The recovery period is going to be intense and require a lot of cabs. It’s so hard to know how to help, but here’s a concrete ask you can probably help with (or signal boost)!

Folks reading this in any city served by Uber cabs–a smart phone cab hailing service that allows you to call a car with your smart phone, which is actually a lot easier in NYC than calling a car service. Uber is offering a special where if you sign up now, as soon as you use your first free $20 ride (that’s right, it’s free for the first ride with this sign up), Jacqueline’s account will get a $20 bonus. Which means a free ride to or from work for her! You can help her just by taking a free cab ride!

Sign up for Uber here, Jacqueline’s referral code is uberjacqueline but should be automatically entered when you click that link!

These are the North American cities Uber serves–I love it and it’s pretty easy to use, especially the UberX service, it’s even just a little bit cheaper than a standard Brooklyn car service.

ATLANTA BALTIMORE BOSTON CHARLOTTE CHICAGO COLUMBUS DALLAS DENVER DETROIT HAMPTONS HONOLULU INDIANAPOLIS JACKSONVILLE LOS ANGELES MINNEAPOLIS MONTREAL NASHVILLE NEW JERSEY NEW YORK CITY OKLAHOMA CITY ORANGE COUNTY PHILADELPHIA PHOENIX PROVIDENCE SACRAMENTO SAN DIEGO SAN FRANCISCO SANTA BARBARA SEATTLE TORONTO TUCSON WASHINGTON D.C.

And if anyone has a lead on how to build a clamshell for Jacqueline to lounge in during her recovery, or the money to finance putting 100 pink and white balloons in her bedroom let me know.

2013-12-17

Link Farm: Marriage is not a Coupon to Redeem, International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, Supporting a Loved One through PTSD

I have three things to share with you today that I’m pretty excited about. The first is an article I wrote for Autostraddle to celebrate the launch of their fancy new redesign! It’s all about marriage rights for queers and how marriage isn’t our only option.

“Marriage is like a chlorinated community pool that we now have access to. I think that people forget that queers have been swimming in the ocean the whole time. We have always had to be creative about how we create our love relationships and, now that we don’t have to be creative, I hope we still can be.”

Check it out on Autostraddle!

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This dress is the closest thing I have to a wedding gown right now and I love it so deeply. Gratuitous shots of two of my favorite people and heroes, Barbara Carrellas and Kate Bornstein. The documentary about Kate is available to tour to schools and festivals, get in touch with Sam the director–I saw it last weekend and it is phenomenal.

The second thing is that it is December 17th, International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. It’s a day of remembrance and solidarity for folks lost this year. Sex work is work, and it can be extremely dangerous as media, laws and other social constructs create a society in which sex workers are not seen as people who deserve protection and are disposable. Working to legalize sex work is something I’ve been interested in since I was in law school over a decade ago. Right now I work with Desiree Alliance, an organization that brings together harm reduction, direct services, political advocacy and health services for sex workers.

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Me and Jacqueline at the Desiree Alliance Conference last summer. The next one is in the Summer of 2015.

To borrow from my friend Fancy Feast, who says it so eloquently:

I would be nowhere without the sex workers in my life. Today and every day we need to be doing what we can as allies and advocates to make their work safer. That means all sex workers everywhere, not just the white ones, not just the cis ones, not just the ones with college degrees. Every. Last. One of them.

You can learn more about December 17th events and projects here.

The third link I wanted to share was this article about Supporting a Loved One Through PTSD or Panic Attacks. I’ve been going through a lot lately both on my own level with many deaths (three in total) and then also as a caretaker and supporter of a person with breast cancer. As of this morning, I’m maybe going through the process of putting down my other cat (I put down Bear six months ago). It’s a lot! And the last three weeks have been kind of a huge emotional roller coaster. I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a difference in care and support and I liked this article and thought it might be useful for folks who look at someone going through a hard time and wonder what to do. For me, right now, it’s just folks being there and being willing to listen.

Often in the midst of the episode, the distressed person doesn’t necessarily have their full vocabulary and can’t articulate exactly what they need in that moment. Afterwards, they may avoid talking about it out of embarrassment, fear, or a desire to preserve the peacefulness of the present.

So how do you learn what is helpful?

If you’re like my partner, mostly through trial and error. However, this cartoon inspired me to draw up a list of tips, taking from my own preferences as well as those of some friends. They’re not universal, but they’re a starting point, I think, for the right mindset.

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My friend Avory cuddling ALF on Friday night.

2013-10-24

FEMME SEX WEEK: My Experience with Getting Femme Visibility on the Streets

After the success of FAT SEX WEEK and GAY SEX WEEK it only made sense to round out the trifecta with FEMME SEX WEEK. Check out the tag to see all of the entries in this topic and check back soon for more amazing Femme sex talk!

This weekend I was in front of the camera for a lifestyle shoot for the New York Toy Collective (more on their products and a behind the scenes video from the shoot later on in FEMME SEX WEEK). One of my favorite parts of a photo shoot is the chance to hang out with folks I don’t see much and meet new people with an immediate ice breaker–working together on a photo shoot.

While I was getting my make-up done somehow the topic turned to people getting picked up on the street, namely how one of the other models had been picked up on the street and on the train, in the same day, by two different femmes. One of which they ended up sleeping with. I was so impressed! It feels like an urban legend, a hot Femme just rolling up on a cute queer and making their desire known in an intentional way–AND WINNING. (Where winning, here, is both of them getting laid.)

Erica singing about sex toys. @NYToyCollective
Erica, pictured here, is singing a song about sex toys on that ukelele.

I’ve noticed over the last year or so that I have had an increase in my own queer visibility on the street. I tend to tweet about it whenever it happens because I’m usually alone and it’s so remarkable to be a Femme presenting person getting a dyke head nod or a wink on the street from a queer presenting person. It rules! It’s like that inner 20 year old in me who wore nothing but baggy Old Navy men’s clothing to appear more “andro” because I thought that’s what would get me attention from other queers is finally getting what she always wanted. To be seen.

I’m also an intrepid queer explorer so as soon as this visibility started happening to me I went into self-examination mode to determine what I was doing differently.

My dyke head nods, winks and smiles happen usually when I’m alone and lots of places I don’t expect. Especially at the intersection of Brooklyn Avenue and Atlantic Avenue, when I’m wearing no make-up and some kind of “running around”outfit, I feel like I see all kinds of masculine of center queers who give me the nod.

I delight in the queer acknowledgement and then sit back and examine what I was wearing, doing, or “coding”to be queer. I’m feeling my most authentically queer when I’m really performing my gender, and that is in a huge, over the top kind of way that I mostly only do at certain parties. (See:every Rebel Cupcake, Swoon and Hey Queen.)

Lifestyle. @tuckmayo backstage at @NYToyCollective
Me and Tuck during the photo shoot.

Then I think about my hair. Is it because I have weird, loud hair (that’s about as loud and weird as I can get away with and still be a practicing attorney)? And I see other hot Femme presenting people out in the world with loud hair but it doesn’t necessarily code them as queer.

But what I have figured out is that it’s not so much how I present it’s what I do. And it’s that I finally learned how to casually flirt with people with an eyebrow raise or a smile or a wink, which is what is eliciting this response of “I see you and I wink back.”

I spent a decade trying to figure out how to flirt and express desire. Being called “too much”or “coming on too strong” many times, I kind of put the kibash on it. And before I was “too much” I would let my fear of rejection stop me from asking people out, flirting or being at all forward with people. Up until a couple of years ago, I had no idea how to be in the middle ground. And, as in all things, expressions of desire are a balancing act.

What I’ve done is finally,, finally absorbed my own advice of “Nobody ever died of awkward,” and what Rachael was always trying to teach me about flirting. “It’s never a bad time to make someone feel good.”

Backstage at new york toy collective @NYToyCollective photo shoot.

Flirting with someone on the street is not a big deal. And I’m not talking about catcalling, harassing or yelling at someone. I’m talking about a little eye contact and a smile to say, “I see you queer and I think you’re hot.” This often goes unnoticed by the person, but sometimes it doesn’t. And I get that head nod or acknowledgement. It’s kind of like that awesome Butch/Femme “dance” dynamic that people talk about, only here it’s queer on queer and it’s just about really seeing and appreciating each other.

So as I relaxed into the understanding that expressing desire didn’t mean I was proposing marriage, that I’ve done the work on my self-esteem to know that my self-esteem doesn’t rely on other people, I have nothing to lose in thst circumstance. It’s now become a kind of reflex, I see a hot queer on the street and I do the head nod or the smile that let’s them know that I see them. And sometimes they see me seeing them!

Maybe I’ll work up to the kind of impressive work that the Femme used to pick up that hot model on the train (they are really hot, by the way). But in the meantime I’m appreciating the ways in which I’ve eroded my own feelings of Femme invisibility in this tiny way and I’m maybe brightening the day of some anonymous hot queer on the street by non-verbally acknowledging their hotness.

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FEMME SEX WEEK continues through next week with some exciting interviews, toy reviews and porn!

If my site has ever helped you get a date, learn how to love yourself more or feel at home in your body, would you consider donating? My fund drive has some really amazing prizes and I’m working to fund my art so that I can finish my memoir and keep putting the kind of energy into this blog that I love to do. For $100 you can get a laptop dance from Drae Campbell. (This prize is too hot for Go Fund Me, so donate the $100 through paypal to queerfatfemme at gmail).

2013-10-21

FEMME SEX WEEK: Excerpt from my Memoir for International Fisting Day

After the success of FAT SEX WEEK and GAY SEX WEEK it only made sense to round out the trifecta with FEMME SEX WEEK. Check out the tag to see all of the entries in this topic and check back soon for more amazing Femme sex talk!

It’s International Fisting Day, an online celebration created by queer porn mogul and star Courtney Trouble and queer porn star Jiz Lee to bring awareness to an important sex act that uses the whole hand!

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Jacqueline, Me, Miss Mary Wanna and Courtney Trouble in a cab.

It may seem kind of flippant to have a whole day dedicated to fisting, but it’s actually born of the struggles Courtney has had as a pornographer getting distribution for films that involve fisting. Even though it’s a really common sex act, especially amongst queers, it is maligned in a list of potentially “obsene” and therefore possibly illegal sex acts. You can read more about fisting in pornography and Courtney’s activism around distribution of films in her State of the Fist address.

In terms of my contribution to the Fisting Day lexicon, I want to provide an excerpt from my memoir. It’s not yet published (I am very close to finishing the first draft and am looking for a publisher) but fisting featured prominently in a few stories I tell in the book and I spent a lot of time figuring out how to communicate the mechanics of fisting in this excerpt. Enjoy!


We were making out until the beach combing trucks came. With that heady mix of chemistry and alcohol, I knew with every fiber of my being that I wanted to sleep with her.

When we got back to my place I was really glad I had prepared for my date.

We were rolling around on the bed, getting sand everywhere and she basically said “None for me, thanks,” with regards to receiving any fucking, because she had her period. Our clothes came off quickly and at some point she had her (relatively small) hand inside me but I couldn’t really feel anything. I asked how many fingers she was using and she said, “One…”

I laughed. I always laugh a lot in bed. Sex is silly! There are so many weird things to talk about.
“You can start with three.” Picking up her free hand I said, “Um, your hands can probably fist me.” I didn’t use the term Size Queen with Jen Small but I was definitely thinking it. And I certainly don’t have any shame being one. Some bodies are built to pass a child and the pursuit of pleasure can accommodate a lot with enough patience and lube.

Jen Small did some more fumbling and I started laughing again. My hands flew up to my mouth and I tried to stifle my laughter. “I’m not laughing at you! I’m laughing at me!” I tried to reassure her as my laughing continued. Jen Small wasn’t very insecure and she seemed to understand.

I explained, “I was assuming you know how to fist someone. Have you ever done that before?” I realized, at twenty five, she might not have fisted anyone. I certainly hadn’t had any fisting on the giving or receiving end by twenty five.

Valentine by Damien Luxe
Image by Damien Luxe. Read about the history and intent behind this piece here.

She shook her head no. I did a thirty second fisting demonstration for her. Using my left hand as a prop vaginal opening, connecting my thumb and forefinger making a circle. I shaped my right hand into a duck bill “fist,” with the top of the bill my four fingers and the bottom of the bill my thumb placed in the center, scrunching the whole situation as thin as possible and inserted my duck billed hand into the left hand circle, twisting it to fit.

If I were doing this demonstration for a friend I would also include some tips for maneuvering the fist to graze the g-spot as it is working its way in, positions that work best for accommodating something bigger than your vagina is used to, and probably end the demonstration with a fist insertion/jazz hands flourish. But I didn’t finish my demonstration with any of these bells and whistles because I was anxious to get Jen Small’s hand back in there.

I had also never been in the position of sleeping with someone with less experience than I had and wanted to ensure she was at ease. I always want to make sure the folks I sleep with feel safe being their authentic selves in bed. So instead of the jazz hands flourish I said, “But you don’t have to do it if you are uncomfortable!”

“No, I really want to!” she said. And she did.

P.S. I also found this post on my tumblr for folks with long nails who want to fist people!

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I have more fun things to include in FEMME SEX WEEK coming up this week and next. If you’d like to read a longer excerpt from my memoir, I’m giving away a whole chapter (it’s lots of dyke drama and fat politics) at the $50 level for my fundraiser to support QueerFatFemme.com.

Introducing the Lesbian Love Guru

This summer I had the good fortune to meet Christine Dunn-Cunningham, better known as the Lesbian Love Guru. I was a little bit skeptical (that name is some big britches to fill!) so I settled in, Queer Oprah style, to ask her what she knew about lesbian relationships. I was really impressed with her advice! She had a lot of right-on perspective about how important it is to put work into your relationships.

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She’s launching a new program called “Relationship Magic: How to Re-Ignite, Re-Invent, & Re-Define your relationship to create deeper connection, love, and passion!” Christine asked me to share the program with my readers. She’s going to be giving away 3 videos filled with things you can use to create fulfilling relationships no matter what relationship stage you’re in.

The videos are free and include the following:

How to create more quality time with your significant other
How to avoid common relationship problems
How to create more passion in your relationship
How to get your needs met easily

She’ll also be doing a paid program for lesbian couples ready to “Completely re-ignite, re-invent, and re-define their relationships to create deeper connection, love, and passion.” This will be on a members-only website with 8 online video workshops, an interactive forum, and 6 group coaching calls with Christine, the Lesbian Love Guru, where members will get additional content, support and be able to ask her questions directly.

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More from the Lesbian Love Guru: “In the program couples will learn how to re-invent their communication patterns so they can work as a team to create a fulfilling and fun life together. I’ll show them the secret to re-igniting the passion in their relationships even if it’s been gone for years. And, I’ll help them create a deeper connection where both partners get their needs met and feel supported in their relationship. I’ll also be giving away a bunch of bonus content including my ‘Date Your Wife’ program.”

I had a chance to look through some of the Date Your Wife content when I met Christine this summer and it was legit–a lot of magic is lost when we take for granted the kind of intimacy and fun created in the context of dating.

The video content is free, relevant to folks no matter what relationship status they’re in and you can sign up here. You can also comment on the videos to win prizes, like $25 Amazon gift cards.

The Lesbian Love Guru also offers individual one-on-one coaching and couples coaching. She’s lively, inspirational and fun! She’s also a graduate of the Tony Robbins Mastery University and a Certified Extraordinary Coach, Peace Process Master Practitioner, Reiki Coach, Instant Miracle Coach, and Certified Rapid Coach. And she knows her stuff because she’s been there and did the work to turn her own marriage around to create a fulfilling and satisfying partnership.

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Christine and her wife Liz.

This post was in partnership with the Lesbian Love Guru but all words and sentiment are mine!

2013-10-14

How to Make the Best Use of Your Wing Man / Person / Ma’am

A few months ago my dear friend Fannon was visiting town and we were out at a dance party. Searching for a better DJ, we decided to bounce to a different party in Bushwick. I agreed to go if I was assured a ride home because Bushwick is far. Because a car was involved we managed to get a couple of passengers, one of which was talking at length about wanting to hook up with a babe. “No problem, I’ve got you covered,” said Fannon and was totally ready to get on the dance floor and help out this person she’d never met before.

Me and Fannon and Nicky
Me and Fannon (left) and Nicky (right).

The person found someone they were interested in and Fannon was ready to do the work of a good Wing Man and then the person chickened out. I was so disheartened for them–to find interest in someone but to be too afraid to use the resources that fate (or maybe the Goddess if you want to get spiritual) had put in front of them seemed like such a missed opportunity. Just because of fear! This was a great opportunity for the Nobody Ever Died of Awkward pep talk but to no avail, this person was stuck in their fear place.

Fannon and I had a great time anyway and a long conversation on the ride home about how to make the most effective use of a Wing Man. Fannon holds herself out to be a powerhouse Wing Man and I thought those tips might be a great resource for my readers who might be a little too shy to snare someone on their own. Or for readers who want to become better Wing People!

In this piece I’m using the term “Wing Man” as it is in the popular parlance, but I come to it from the perspective that all genders are magical and this term could easily be Wing Woman, Wing Wym, Wing Person, Wing GenderNonConformingIndividual, etc…

Joe
I thought since I was talking about being a Wing Femme in this post I would play the part and offer the services of my blog to my friends. I asked for folks who were available on a Facebook post and a few of my pals took me up on it. This is my friend Joe who rules and gives good date. He lives in Queens.

It’s also important to say up front this isn’t about tricking people or not being genuine. It’s about using your friends to help you get through social anxiety (that many more people have than you think) and your friends helping you be your best, most vibrant self in the face of the inevitable nerves when you’re around someone you find attractive!

Splitting the Herd

Often people go out with their friends, even when they are cruising for people to meet. This is great but it is also an impediment to meeting people because it can be hard to talk to your person of interest if their friends are surrounding them! Wing Men are great for splitting the herd! Your friend goes in and starts talking to one of the people hanging out with the person you’re interested in, sort of isolating the person you want to talk to and bam! They create the opening you need to talk to the person you want to flirt with.

Fannon says, “Girls are rarely at bars alone, right? So sometimes the wingman just needs to distract the friends of the girl your friend is focused on so she can introduce herself without her friends acting as obstacles. This usually only works when your friend who you are wingmanning for is confident in her ability to introduce herself without getting all tounge-tied.”

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This muscley heartthrob is Jesse who lives in Philly and is available. According to Jesse: “ISO bossy femmes, sweet boys, curvy queers. As for the streets!? The streets are mine! My heart is extraordinarily particular. But I crush A LOT.” Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

I’ve also used this where your friend goes over and brings people back to you if you’re hanging out at different tables at the bar. It’s definitely a lot less intimidating to go up to a group where you’re not really attracted to anyone. The rejection stings less on a Wing Person with nothing on the line!

Wing People could use the line, “I was hoping I could introduce you to my friend,” and that’s a great way to pique interest and merge the herds so that your friend can get to know their desired person.

Playing the Middle School Game

It’s soooo cheesy but sometimes it really works to have a Wing Man tell someone you think they’re hot. It really takes the sting out of rejection when someone rejects you to your friend. At least your embarrassment isn’t visible to the object of desire.

Tamara
This is Tamara, she’s available and lives in New Mexico.

Sometimes your friends do this nonconsensually before you even have the chance to ask and in that case maybe it’s more of a casual yenta than a Wing Person but it helps! You can also get all the dirt you need. For me it’s whether the person is available, into femmes and into fat girls. I know if I have those three covered it’s basically whether the chemistry is compatible.

A good friend of mine (who is a complete and total hottie) was complaining this summer that three people in a week’s time came up to her and said their friend thought she was hot. She responded to each that she was flattered and that their friend should approach her. Yet NONE of them did! It is super important to totally follow-up on the diligent work of your Wing Person! My friend is both a babe and approachable, and getting past that next-level shyness might have actually gotten one of those friends a make-out.

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Miasia, from Washington DC, performing at Rebel Cupcake. She’s available for dates, is smart and delightful and has one of the most infectious laughs I’ve ever heard. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

Fannon mentioned making sure that you point out your friend accurately, lest you point to someone and they think you’re talking about someone else! This actually happened to me once a few years ago where my friend approached this hot fat butch I was into and said her friend was into them and they looked (seemingly at me) and said, “Oh, I’m not feeling it.” And then the hot fat butch asked me on a date a year later. When I asked what was up about that they said they thought she was pointing to someone else!

I’m also intentionally using the term “available” rather than “single” because people can be available (hello, polyamory/nonmonogamy) and people can be single and not available (for example, a period of chosen celibacy).

Abby
This is Abby who lives in Baltimore.

Pep Talks on the Go

I use Wing Men all the time. I don’t seem like on the outside it but inside I am wildly awkward around people I find attractive. Especially if I’ve got a full-blown crush, I feel like a mess. The single best thing my Wing Besties do for me is to provide pep talks and remind me that I’m a babe. You can totally use Wing People that aren’t even at a venue with you if you’ve got your phone and they are on text alert. I’ve even called friends right before a date just to get reminded that everything is okay.

I’m also a big fan of the social security blanket I get when I’m around people I am comfortable with. I feel much better stepping into my fierceness. I know this may seem weird because I get up on stage in front of thousands of people and am completely at home. But stage presence is a lot different than cold calling strangers one on one! I’m doing a thing now where I get Wing Men to go with me to professional networking events because it helps me feel more vibrant.

So just letting your Wing Folks know that you might need a pep talk is a great idea before you go out cruising, or asking for that help when you need it before you approach someone.

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This is Alix who lives in San Francisco, is available, super kinky and very much a Leo.

Go Digital!

There’s a new app coming out in November called Wing Ma’am. It’s basically the queer grindr. Using GPS technology, people turn it on and it shows who is out cruising nearby. One of my BFFs met his boyfriend on Grindr so I have some high hopes for how this will work in the queer community. Imagine going to a bar and whipping out your phone and knowing in a few clickies which hotties at the bar are available and what they’re looking for? It’s like having your Wing Man do the work of finding out whether the hottie is single at the click of a button. But in order for it to work friends have to get their friends on it and get it to spread. You can sign up for more information on their website. The developers are also really open to conversations about aspects of it, here’s a link to their contact form. I’ve definitely been talking to them about making it more broadly gendered and using inclusive language.

The app is also going to have event listings and whatnot, so it will be completely relevant as a community building tool even for non-available folks!

Laura
This is Laura, she’s available and lives in Brooklyn.

Tag and Release!

I am a huge fan of using Wing Men to tag and release. If I am talking to someone hot and I have to run off (as a party promoter this is pretty common because I need to do rounds, pay out my performers/staff or handle some kind of issue) I really love introducing the object of my desire to one of my Wing Femmes and having them keep them entertained. Number one, this is a great way to get dirt on them that you’ll hear later, number two it also, selfishly, keeps them occupied so other people won’t get to them! Yeah, yeah, the more the merrier but sometimes you want to put your name on a cupcake you’ve only gotten to have one bite of before someone swoops in to eat the rest!

Make the Wing Man Relationship Clear

I’m a lucky Femme that is surrounded by attractive people of all genders and presentations. This often means in heteronormy ways that people assume my masculine of center friends are my dates which is totally not true. (I’m 100% available right now, BTW.) If you’re Wing Manning it up for someone make sure to drop the “My friend” dripping with emphasis on buddy or whatever you need to do to ensure that the object of lust is aware y’all are just platonic.

ORRRR if you’re polymeowmeow, it is super important if you’re flirting with someone (or flirting on behalf) that the person understands your availability. I often assume if someone tells me three times about their polyamory that they are flirting with me and this is about 75% accurate.

Leah
This is Leah who is available and lives in Vancouver!

Get Their Attention

Fannon suggests this gem for the Wing Man. “Pretend it’s your friend’s birthday which gives the all points permission to ask someone out or tell them they are cute. If they hit it off and start dating, your friend just turns it into a ‘I didn’t know how to approach you and thought that would make it easier,’ which hopefully gets an “Awwwww, that’s so cute you needed a wing man” response.” While I’m not the biggest fan of lying to get people’s attention, this is cute and vaguely harmless.

Fannon also mentioned a great pick-up line (which only works if the person is available, you don’t want to anger someone’s girlfriend accidentally). “Encourage your friend to use the virtually fail-proof ‘Hey, I’ve never done this before but I think you are really cute, wanna make out?’”

Eavesdropping

Sometimes a Wing Man is good for eavesdropping to find out more information. I think the approach of actually meeting the person is a little more effective, but if you’re not ready to even make that move sometimes having your buddy just stand nearby to get a sense for what the group is doing at the event is helpful. Maybe there are common interests you could spring a conversation from?

Designated Friend

Fannon also said a good Wing Man will “Stay slightly sober so you can manage logistics and provide liquid courage for your friend.” It’s kind of like being a designated driver for hitting on people. It’s also nice to have a friend tell you, “No you’re not too drunk to talk to a new person,” or, “Yes, you are too drunk to talk to a new person. Stay right here and have some water.”

I hope this lighthearted list of ways to use your Wing People helps out folks who might be a little too shy to talk to strangers at events! Also, before you go out there refresh yourself with some ways to broach the subject of crossing the friend line I wrote about in Just Text Them.

If you’re interested in any of the available folks featured on this post, email me and I’ll put you in touch! queerfatfemme at gmail

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2013-09-30

Great Places to Visit as an NYC Tourist that also Make Great Dates

There are a million different things to do in NYC at any particular moment. Getting good at ignoring FOMO (fear of missing out) is crucial to sanity while living in this bustling metropolis. When planning a venture with a visiting tourist, often the same considerations come to mind for planning a good date! You want a stunning location that shows off the sexy meat and bones of this city but also is a fun thing to do that doesn’t mean you have to stare at someone the whole time. I’ve assembled ten of my favorite things to do with dates and/or friends from out of town.

1. Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory at the Fulton Ferry Dock

Okay, so the destination here really isn’t the ice cream, it’s the view. Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Fulton Ferry dock underneath the Brooklyn Bridge are gorgeous! It’s my favorite view of the city, a sweeping cityscape of downtown. You can see the South Street Seaport from there as well as all of the cute boats going by. Wait in line for the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory if that’s a delicious addition to the outing, or just bring a picnic and sit on the benches along the pier and watch the river, the people and the lights if it’s nighttime. Skip Grimaldi’s, a wildly well-known pizza place that is pretty good but I don’t think worth a 90 minute wait for a table. Grab a pie in the middle of the workday if you must, that’s the best time to get one quickly.

If you want to take a wander nearby DUMBO has some cute shops, bookstores, chocolatiers and the second location of , a favorite cake shop of mine.

Bk ice cream factory

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The view from Brooklyn Bridge Park during movies under the stars. Image from BrooklynBridgePark.org

2. Prospect Park in the Fall

Yeah, yeah, Central Park is awesome. But for something that’s easy to get in and out of and doesn’t take a huge hike, Prospect Park is amazing. Especially in the Fall when all of the super tall gorgeous trees create a fireworks show overhead and dump a gazillion leaves that you get to walk through and swoosh with your legs like a young child! It’s a great date with a dog and it’s easy to just pop in for a fifteen minute gander or take an hour to walk around the park. There are entrances to the park in lots of Brooklyn neighborhoods that make it convenient for later dinner plans if that is where your date may end up. It’s taken me years of living in Brooklyn to really understand all the awesome Prospect Park has to offer, and I definitely think that Fall is the best time in there. Also, sometimes there are food trucks and people love food trucks.

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My roommate Damien thinks that the pond in Prospect Park is great for dates and I had an awesome hang out along the edge of it with a bunch of friends late last Spring.

3. Barcade on a Sunday
Barcade is a bar and arcade (clever, right?) in Williamsburg. They exclusively stock 80s video games, which works for me because Ms. Pacman is my jam and I will totally beat you at it. My BFF Brian just had his birthday party there and tipped me off that Sunday afternoon is the best because it isn’t crowded. They have really nice skylights and incredible beer if that’s your jam. When I was a drinker I enjoyed their selection and I felt like the prices were good Brooklyn prices for delicious pints. The games are still only a quarter each. I suggest Rampage as a good game to play with a team–especially a date!

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Photo by Nick Andriuolo.

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Photo by Nick Andriuolo.

4. The Whitney

There’s no shortage of great museums in New York City, but the one I’ve consistently enjoyed is The Whitney. There are really incredible exhibits, I am a big believer in audio tours at museums and enjoy the free with admission programs that the Whitney offers via loaner ipods. It is a lot to explore more than one floor on a visit so I suggest very comfortable shoes and a plan that involves sitting somewhere immediately following. I once went there on a date with an out of towner and we had a lovely tea afterward at a nearby Starbucks, but the cafe downstairs in the Whitney also has some snacks. It also gives you some great stuff to talk about with your date or visitor during your debrief/resting your weary legs!

5. Late night Williamsburg Pig Tour

I’ve done this date a few times so I hope my previous dates don’t find it generic that I’m laying it out here. If you’re up and partying in Williamsburg (the neighborhood in which I host Rebel Cupcake, as well as the site of three gay bars–Sugarland, Metropolitan and This N That) it’s a great idea to go get sustenance once your partying is over. And Williamsburg is that neighborhood that reminds you that NYC really doesn’t sleep. The other neighborhoods sleep, by the way.

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There’s Bagelsmith, at Bedford and N. 7th, this awesome bagel shop that has my favorite NYC bagels. I love to go get one and walk three blocks to the waterfront for the amazing view! It used to be a lot less obstructed but condos got in the way in the last five years. But you can still wiggle around them and catch the view. I also like the pizza place on Bedford and N. 7th (pay attention to whether the street says N or S or you’ll get real lost in Williamsburg). The guy who takes the orders makes the same snarky jokes all the time and it can be kind of off-putting if you’re from out of town but just go with it and eat a delicious piece of pizza piled high with awesome toppings (they sell by the slice or whole pie and it’s awesome when a by the slice place has creative choices).

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Legit late night pizza dining by Dana.

There’s also a falafel place open really late and a consistent taco truck. Neither is my favorite but you could really make it a pig tour and hit as many of the late night stops as you can if you’re famished.

6. DiFara Pizza

Now there’s pizza you get in the middle of the night and pizza you get really quick because it’s a dollar and you’re hungry. And there’s pizza you travel to the middle of Brooklyn to wait over an hour for and you’re grateful that you are able to put in the time to honor such an incredible masterpizza. DiFara’s is in Midwood, a historically Orthodox neighborhood well into Brooklyn, and it’s produced every time in the same methodical way by the same guy who snips basil on top of it. It’s completely delicious and my favorite pizza in NYC. It’s a great New York thing to do because standing in line for pizza! And also it’s so legit. Call ahead to make sure they’ll be open (I got burned once on a Monday) and bring a small group and don’t expect an easy shot at a seat, and bring your own tupperware to bring some home if you don’t want to lug a GIANT pizza box.

7. Sleep No More

I have written about Sleep No More here before. It’s a great show and I loved it–a choose your own adventure multi-floor vintage hotel where a version of MacBeth unfolds before you in a non-linear form. Through dance. I went to a haunted house in Times Square this weekend (aptly called Times Scare) and it cost $14 with a groupon and that was exactly as much as it was worth. I couldn’t help thinking that it was so much less scary than Sleep No More (SNM is deeply psychological). And when thinking about good Broadway shows in town, SNM blows them all out of the water. I saw it six months ago and I still think about it–that’s great art!

8. Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden really shines during the Spring when the cherry blossoms peak. But even if you go at another time of year, it’s so gorgeous. There’s a koi pond, lots of places to hang out on a bench in nature, a super cute gift shop with great plants and seeds (I have some seeds that are actually working on my fire escape). It’s free on Tuesdays, so there’s no risk if you do it then, but I think it’s worth the ten bucks for entry. They won’t let you bring a picnic, though, so plan to eat ahead of time. Cheryl’s Global Soul is nearby and has good sandwiches for a weekday lunch. On weekends their brunch wait is epic, so I would steer clear.

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9. Coney Island Fireworks

Coney Island is one of my favorite places in NYC because it marries weirdness and the beach and rides and kitsch. It’s a good place to go during the summer, I’ve tried cold weather Coney and it’s not as fun. It’s a great date, I once had a date convince me to pop my Wonder Wheel cherry in spite of my aversion to ferris wheels but I’m totally into it now. Perfect Coney date/out of towner activities include: getting a corn dog at Nathan’s, the Wonder Wheel, photo booth strips (there’s a machine at the base of the Wonder Wheel), getting a beer at the Coney Island Side Show bar (Coney Island Lager is delicious), playing whackamole, sitting on a bench watching the waves. During the summer every Friday night there are fireworks that are free! Bring a sheet for the sand, a flask and get a big soft drink to drink from.

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My friend Leo snacking up before Coney Island fireworks.

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Wonder Wheel at night.

10. Staten Island Ferry (+ art on weekends)

The subway doesn’t go to Staten Island so they built the Staten Island Ferry and it’s FREE! It’s a great way to get a view of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Lower Manahattan. There’s also lots of good art around the Ferry terminal on the weekends if you want to hop out of the terminal, but you could just do the round trip. The whole adventure without a side detour can be up to 90 minutes with ferry wait times but it is very cheap and worth it. Also they serve beer on the Ferry if that’s important to you.

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When my mom and Grandmother were in town I took them on a sunset Staten Island Ferry tour!

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Even the wait in the terminal is pretty gorgeous!

For more great tourist spots in NYC check out What to do in NYC as a Tourist!

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