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

2013-02-15

FAT SEX WEEK: Seven Ways To Be a Good Ally to Your Fat Lover

After the success of GAY SEX WEEK on my blog in October 2011, I decided to produce FAT SEX WEEK to celebrate sex for all bodies. This is especially inspired to counteract all of the media about sex around Valentine’s Day that’s all heteronormative/couplehood-oriented/body hegemonic. It’s a week of body liberation and sex and it’s going to be really fun! Check out all of the FAT SEX WEEK magic!

(All the photos in this post are Safe For Work.)

I’ve been asked by people on different ends of the fat lover spectrum about advice being a good ally. From the “My lover doesn’t see how beautiful she is and won’t have sex with the lights on,” to the “My lover uses the term fat to describe themself but I’ve always thought of that as a derogatory word… isn’t it?” For FAT SEX WEEK I’ve highlighted some of the best ways to be a good ally to your fat lover.

This is all from my limited perspective, you should obviously be in good communication with your lover to find out what works for them and how they operate in the world. Communication is an essential sex toy!

This advice applies to folks of all sizes, not just thinner folks partnered (in all the myriad ways one can partner) with fat folks. And a lot of it is good advice for sex in general, regardless of whether or not your partner is fat.

1. Adopt the mindset that nothing about your partner has to change for them to be worthy of sexual pleasure.

Repeat after me: All humans are worthy of sexual adoration exactly as they are.

Not after they lose X amount of pounds. Not if they wear specifically enhancing or minimizing lingerie. Not if they develop a sexual prowess beyond their years. Not if they downplay the amount of people they have slept with.

I know a lot of people who have confronted sizism their entire life hold off on moving forward with the things they want to do because they are waiting for some “perfect” moment when they’ve “lost enough weight.” You won’t enjoy sex more as a thinner person if you haven’t learned how to enjoy sex at every size you are.

As a lover/partner of a fat person, adopting this mentality regardless of whether your partner has is good modeling for fulfilling sex. Adopting this mantra will help you be a supportive and caring person to every lover you have regardless of size, ability, age, etc…

2. Clean fatphobic rhetoric from your vocabulary.

No body shaming (of yourself or other people). Don’t talk about other people’s bodies in terms of good or bad body parts. “This model’s body is so awesome because she has a flat stomach.” Try being value-neutral or positive about bodies and food. No obsessive diet talk. Don’t say “Good” food or “bad” food. Learn what it means to not use fatphobic rhetoric and then put it into practice!

Taking a selfie at a dive bar. #rebelcupcake
Be food positive!

3. Learn all you can about body liberation activism and the fat activist movement.

There are so many great resources out there about the fat experience and body liberation practices. You can get started with Charlotte Cooper’s Obesity Time Bomb blog, the incredibly It Gets Fatter project for fat folks of color, Marilyn Wann’s Fat?So! book and Leslie Kinzel’s Two Whole Cakes. Also my blog is a great place, too. The tag body liberation is a good one, as is fat activism!

You learning about body liberation activism and not having to be taught by your partner is awesome. And even if your partner isn’t into body liberation, you getting into it will still help you become a better ally to your person!

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Hana, happy fat person! Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

4. and 5. Treat your relationship like a golden corral and your lover like a wild pony.

My friend Heather uses this metaphor for relationships and I like it on a lot of different levels.

If you treat your relationship like a golden corral, you’re making it like a safe and wonderful haven from the world outside. The media and people are constantly punishing us for being body non-normative, gender non-normative, queer, broke, poor, whatever. Your relationship should be a haven for that as much as possible! Think about ways in which it can be a safer space. Maybe watch TV with intention (or don’t watch it and have sex instead), or mute diet ads, or whatever you can. Mindful practices go a long way.

And treating your partner like a wild pony is about letting them be themselves and exactly where they are at in their personal journies with their body. It’s hard to have a body. It’s hard to learn how to be a self-loving person. I’ve been doing work on loving myself and my body since 2001 and I’m still working on it. No one is perfect. Maybe you’re even further down the body liberation activist path than your partner. Accept where they are at and let them be a wild pony roaming around, keep the corral golden, and every now and again pet them gently with some body liberation love.

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Fancy Feast, happy fat person, serving that Paula Deen burger thing. Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

6. Use affirming language for all body parts and especially body parts that are under attack.

I learned this body affirming practice where anytime you say something critical about a body part you immediately respond with an apology and a gratitude. “I’m sorry tummy for talking shit about you. I am so grateful to you for being so soft and comfortable.” Something like that.

I was thinking that if I was having a hard time with a part of my body it would be awesome for my partner to give it some extra TLC. Kisses, sweet talk, a massage, etc…

7. Be open to and positive about sexual accommodations for size.

One time I was in bed with a lover who used a strap-on harness with the base of the dildo on her belly. This is not the standard harness position, most folks have it on the genitals. But it made so much more sense for her body and my body, gave her a lot more leverage and control and was wildly successful.

I’m not sure if she came up with that accommodation herself or if she was taught that by another lover who had some fat sex tips up their sleeve, but I bet it was a revolution in her sex life and I was grateful for it. Being the kind of lover who can gently say, “Hey can we try it like this?” is going to set you up for success overall.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

Kitty Stryker (the swoon-worthy Femme I blogged about in the review for Lesbian Curves earlier this week) has some great Pleasurable Positioning suggestions in her Guide to Fat Sex. I especially love this methodology for making missionary style work:

Missionary position can be a bit difficult, especially if you both have bellies, as the partner on the bottom may feel smothered and the partner on the top might tire out quickly. There’s a few ways around this- one is to have the partner on the bottom wrap her legs around the top partner’s shins, meaning her legs are spread enough to make penetration easier and also encouraging the top lover’s body to press against her clit. Another way is have the penetrating partner sit back on their haunches during intercourse instead of leaning forward, therefore allowing some breathing room. If you’re the penetrating partner, support yourself with your hands rather than your elbows and lower yourself onto your lover’s body slowly. Finally the penetrated partner can put their legs over their lover’s shoulders for easier access and allows the bottom partner to push back against the top.

Ultimately, being a compassionate, caring, body affirming person will go a long way to being a good ally and lover to your fat partner(s)!

Stay tuned for more FAT SEX WEEK. Coming up this weekend and early next week, an interview with queer fat femme porn star Sophia St. James, a book review, and more!

The Miss Mary Wanna method dictates "take as many selfies as you want." #rebelcupcake
Fat selfies at Rebel Cupcake. Miss Mary Wanna says you can never take too many selfies and publish them all on the internets.

2012-05-29

Solicited Advice: Should I Email Her?

Hi Bevin,

So I am not sure if you put your email up on your website so that people could ask you for love advice, but I am going to try anyways! So here is the situation — I am a girl who is in my early twenties, my best friend goes to college up in Colorado and she developed a good friendship with a lesbian who I actually knew as well through years of playing club volleyball. I have gone to CO each year to visit my friend and the past two years I have gone there I have always flirted/made eyes at this girl (especially after a few drinks), and I developed a crush on her last year. I just recently went up to visit and had a very flirty exchange after going out and drinking (nothing happened but there was definitely something going on and she kind of hinted that she liked me) but nothing happened. It’s hard to explain this, but I really feel like she liked me, but I am just not sure, especially because I have little experience with same sex relationships and am not an open lesbian. Anyways, I left CO feeling a bit sad (they are seniors this year so I probably won’t be seeing her again) but her summer job is really close to where I live (just saying that it would not be out of the question to see her again). Anyways, I couldn’t stop thinking about her, so I even facebook friend requested her, I was hoping she would message me but I haven’t heard anything from her. I am considering messaging her and just saying hello, how are you doing or something like that, but I am also worried that my gut instinct is completely wrong and that I just developed all of this in my head and am crazy or something or even that she knows that i like her and would not appreciate me sending her a message. In a way I assumed that if she had felt as strongly for me she would have met me halfway and messaged me after I added her on FB, but then again she is an out lesbian and I probably come off as straight (other than my flirting–but that was also after a few drinks) anyways, could you give me any advice? Should I message her or just get over it? Thanks. [Name Redacted]*

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Blog posts are better with a photo and I have no photos of drunk eye flirts or volleyball.

[Name Redacted]!!!

I love giving solicited advice!

So, my advice is GO FOR IT. Re-read my entry about how nobody ever died of awkward.

The other day I was thinking about all of the friends I have who I at one time had crushes on or just wanted to make out with or something and I no longer feel that way and we’re just pals. It’s astounding how many people are in this category and how it’s so not awkward anymore that I totally forget that I once agonized over instances of drunk flirting.

And then there are the times that I went for it (especially via Facebook/MySpace in the olden days) because I’m so much better at being bold textually. And having gone for it I totally had big lusty/lovey relationships with folks who otherwise were too shy to roll up on me. Folks who lived far away from me who I had crushes on for years. One of those folks was the person I dated who passed away nearly two years ago and I am so so so grateful we had the time together we did and if I hadn’t been so bold before my visit to her town to proposition her for a make-out we likely never would have gotten together. Like, ever. Carpe diem. For real.

I think I said this in my nobody died of awkward post, but it’s still true–having someone not have reciprocal feelings for me is a really fast way for me to lose my boner for them. I mean, what’s the point if they don’t like me back?

So, anyway, much sex has been had because I was willing to make a move via email/facebook/in person or whatever. And most lesbians are pretty shy. This is why gay boys have way more sex than lesbians do. It is a mystery of the ages but I think women are socialized to be rolled up on and don’t make moves the way gay boys do. (Total generalization, but it is so true that you will have more sex with girls if you are willing to make the first move/s.)

As much as you think you’re “saying” by flirting, having drunk eye sex or facebook adding, you just have to count on folks to be mostly clueless and not pick up on signals.

So send her a flirty email that says how much you’ve enjoyed having eyes with her over the years and you want to see if she’s interested in making out next time you’re proximal. Whatever town that might be.

Good luck and thanks for reading my blog!

xoxox,

Bevin

(I actually wrote this advice back to her the same night. I had some time and the rambly earnestness was touching. I also didn’t address her not being out of the closet yet because she didn’t ask for advice about that! Also I got an email from her that she sent the message and received a favorable reply so let this be a lesson to you, dear reader, if you’re sitting on a potential email to a potential makeout. Send the message!!)

*Some details have been changed.

2011-06-20

So Much Loss

Filed under: Queer Oprah — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Bevin @ 10:07 pm

First of all, I am renaming Gay Pride Month. I am now calling it Gay Stamina Month. Everyone goes out twice as much, there are three times as many events. (The LGBT Bar Association had not one but FOUR pride events this month–that’s not even touching on the abundance of nightlife!)

And in the midst of this whirlwind of pride events and Real L Word people behind a velvet rope on exhibit at a nightclub, our community is rocked by the tragic and sudden loss of an incredible artist. Our friend Cheryl B. has passed away.

Cheryl B

I knew Cheryl first as a poet and the performer behind Poetry vs. Comedy, but I didn’t really get to know her until she dated my friend Kelli Dunham. She was a remarkable person and their love story is dorky and awkward and tender and glorious. I loved that Cheryl could be both sarcastic and sweet, which is a difficult combination. She was also an incredibly talented writer, evident most recenltly in her fabulous blog chronicling her journey with cancer called WTF Cancer Diaries.

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At Nerd Love with Cheryl, Diana Cage, Molly Dykeman and Kelli.

But mostly I knew that Cheryl really loved Kelli and she made Kelli very, very happy, which was the most important thing to me. I remember the first few times I saw her with Kelli I could tell how much she loved her. Sometimes when I go into people’s homes I can sense how much love there is and with Cheryl and Kelli it was palpable wherever they were. On stage being dorky and reenacting their first dates as the bears in the XTraNormal videos at Nerd Love in February, and in the hospital during visits. It was quiet and beautiful and shared glances and dedication to positive thinking and letters to hospital staff posted on their door about being responsible for the energy they brought into their space.

When Cheryl first got sick it was really shocking, and my heart leapt to Kelli and Cheryl. And I cried because it was so unfair, just like right now I am crying because it is so unfair that someone as loving, generous and wonderful as Kelli should have another loss like this.

This marks the third person I have known personally to pass away in the last three months, all under 46 years old. I am so shocked at how much loss my communities have experienced and grateful for how much love there is going around.

I am a person of faith but not religion. I had this beautiful image a couple of months ago after my friend V passed away of all of the beautiful women who are waiting for me beyond the veil or whatever you want to call the passage from this life. V was a Femme mentor to me–I knew her from afar the very first moment I laid eyes on her at Michfest. She was a beacon of Fat Femme adornment and I saw in her hope for myself. At the time I was so lost with my identity, with my body, I felt so isolated in the lesbian community and there V was, self-confident and strutting through a community she clearly belonged in.

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Here is V atop the truck in the Femme Parade a couple of years ago. Our friend VA is next to her on the left.

We met personally years later and she eventually, and often, called me her fashion icon. I was flabbergasted–how could someone whose own fashion inspired my emergence from my self-hating shell call me an icon? It was some sort of circle of admiration bending over onto itself and it was beautiful.

V was so full of love and joy for life. She was tender with everyone. Here’s a confession: I was still so intimidated by V that I never once asked her to take a photo with me. I am a person who obsessively photo documents my life. I am always asking people to take photos with me.* But for some reason I kept being intimidated about asking V, I have no idea why. I guess I once put her on a pedestal and it was hard for me to take her off. Also, hence why I have taken over two months to write about her passing because I was waiting to be able to say something “perfect” even though I know better–I know there is no such thing as “perfect” expressions of love or grief.

So the day that V died I vowed never to let my intimidation stop me from taking photos ever again.

I remember the last NOLOSE conference I was hanging out by the pool and everyone else was in a workshop but V was floating in the pool near my ex-lover Luscious. I was talking to V and she asked if I would take her photo with her iphone floating there–she was so happy, she wanted to capture that moment. So I went to her room and got her iphone and took the photo and won’t forget the look on her face and how she soaked up that bit of life like a piece of bread in a bowl of soup. I wish I had that photo, too!

And another moment. V was a really talented quilter. She brought a quilt she made and displayed it at the worker craft fair and sat in front of it. It was yellow and now when I think of her I often think of that image of her in front of that quilt.

Last week marked one year since Luscious passed away. I realized I am not partial to remembering birthdays or anniversaries of death. I think about Luscious every day and actually have been thinking a lot about her lately anyway. And then when people on Facebook** started talking about it, there I was hit with Big Feelings. It’s as though I don’t like the pressure of the one day that is supposed to hurt more than others. Or one day where you have to feel it bigger, like the feelings aren’t already there or something. But then it is that day and it does feel bigger and you don’t know why.

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Me and Luscious. Photo courtesy of Tanja Tiziana.

But that’s it. There are feelings and there are losses and shit is just sad. I used to be so afraid of grief and feeling sad. There was this time in my life where I made the decision to not be sad anymore. I spent most of my teenage years in this intense depression, mostly stemming from feeling very very bad about being fat. I read this book where the main character just hated herself and was miserable and I realized that I didn’t want to live that way anymore. That was the beginning of my life-long journey to love myself.

But what I unintentionally added to that was a judgment of myself about being sad. I worked hard to escape from feelings of sadness and grief. I learned how to rebound like a pro when I got dumped. I was so sad about my step-mom dying when I was 19 I couldn’t talk about her for three years without crying so I just didn’t talk about her. And she was and is one of the most important people to me. I learned how to not let myself feel sad. I learned how to cut people out and cut myself off from conflict when it hurt too bad.

I just read about Akhilandeshvari: The Goddess of Never Not Broken and it reminded me that all of the things I’ve gone through in my life are really important parts of my strength now. When I forget about that and when the sad, angering or frustrating things happen I fight against them because of the injustice.

Since last Fall I’ve been working really intently on healing losses from my childhood and my life. I had a devastating heartbreak and I didn’t try to romantically rebound for the first time since I started dating. I am learning how to grieve. How to really feel my feelings. How to trust my instincts. How to love myself through not feeling things “perfectly” and how being sad is really okay sometimes but that also gives me a huge impetus for joy in the little things. Being in the moment and present. Everything is temporary–and that’s the beauty. When you are sad it will pass. The crying jag in the car, it will be over. And it is so necessary.

I am sad at the loss all around. I think it is really unfair and I feel so much sadness for the partners and family and close friends of the people who have passed.

But I am in awe of all the love in these losses. I am so inspired by the love Kelli and Cheryl had for each other. I am so inspired by the love V had for everyone around her and the life she revelled in. I am comforted knowing that I loved Luscious as best and as broken as I possibly could and she loved me as best and as broken as she could during the time we had together.

And this is me, my process, my looking at the glass half-full. Because I’ve got just one wild and precious life and I choose to have a positive one, and see V in my spiritual posse of Femmes on the other side looking out for me and ready for me when my time comes.

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And I felt this loss, and the heaviness and busy-ness of last week and all the disco floors and ceilings and too many repetitions of that terrible Katy Perry song and my instincts are telling me to take a break from Gay Stamina Month. I’m going away. Wednesday and Thursday it’s me, my dog Macy, and some alone time at my favorite beach. And I’ll be feeling my feelings, my grief and my joy and my awe and my love for women who inspire me.

And here are three things that have brought me great joy in the last two days.


This video.

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This photo. The Prize Pig shirt from Heart Attack Culture is incredible.

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Finding this photo I took in San Francisco while filming for Kelli Jean Drinkwater’s Fierce Fat Femmes documentary. I was doing a performance art piece in this donut shop. I love this photo.

*I think our queer and fat and otherwise different communities are beautiful and this is the vision of the world I want to capture. Mainstream culture gets the magazines and tv shows and news reports and I think we should get as much exposure as we can–hence my drive to create media that inspires self-love for all people, regardless of their differences.

**Facebook grieving still feels hard for me to participate in, but I still totally read all of the things people post about V, Luscious and now, sadly, Cheryl.

2010-07-05

In Memory of Luscious

I found out a couple of weeks ago that a former sweetheart of mine passed away. It was very sudden. We do not know why (beyond knowing that it was not foul play), nor do we know if we will find out why.

I have been in a lot of shock and denial about it. I also believe that the stories that are hardest to tell are the most important to share, so I thought I would put down my thoughts and remembrances.

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Photo courtesy of Tanja Tiziana.

I met Luscious in 2005 at the NOLOSE conference. I always thought she was cute and regularly flirted with her, to no great reciprocation (she was incredibly shy in that way). I also always thought she was in an open relationship. Thanks to her erroneous Facebook status.

For New Year’s Eve 2008/9 I went on a girls’ road trip to Toronto to visit friends and eat our way though town. I thought it would be fun to proposition her for a casual make-out, which I did in a clever and carefully worded email sent a week before we left town. She said yes and proposed a night to hang out. She was a very talented chef and came in on her day off to the restaurant she worked at (Disgraceland–fabulous name). She cooked us an insanely amazing meal of fried chicken, poutine, fried okra, mac & cheese, corn dogs, fried green tomatoes… The gravy on the poutine remains the best I’ve ever had.

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After much stalling and making me wait patiently (not my strong suit), she finally kissed me and we made a date for New Year’s Eve. We began our affair all night that night and had instantaneously intense chemistry. That first night I remember her sitting up on the bed and coming up behind her to put my arms around her. She leaned into my chest and said “I feel so safe with you.” That is one of the most treasured compliments I’ve ever gotten from a lover.

We began texting fast and furious the days following my departure. We had a marathon phone conversation where she moved furniture so she could get cell reception to talk to me. She invited me back and being both impetuous and impatient, I decided to drive back up 10 days after leaving the last time.

We checked into love island and had an amazing time. She drove me around Toronto in the winter, showed me her favorite spot in the city, someplace right on the lake where she could sit and look at the city skyline and think, or talk to her BFF, Arun. I got to hang out a lot with Arun, who at the time was beginning to court my BFF, Zoe.

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Arun (next to Luscious on the right, also Gigi and Kaleb are pictured) remains one of my favorite people.

We loved many of the same movies, Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias were top choices. So we curled up to watch them on her bed-like concoction instead of a couch, which she called her “Flatress” and was more of an entity than it was a piece of furniture. She cooked me an incredible brunch. She complained in a facebook status update once that she wanted someone else to cook for her, so as a surprise for her I took a turn in the kitchen in lingerie and heels, making her muffins and bacon with brown sugar.

I met a few of her wonderful friends, but mostly we stayed on love island. She sent me home with cupcakes she bought for me from her vegan, gluten-free baker friends (they were seriously better cupcakes than I’ve had in NYC) and deviled eggs she made for my road trip.

One time she texted me “All I have to offer is my good palate, strong hands and big heart.” She had so much more to offer than that, but those were her most noticeable characteristics. She didn’t always speak up in big social groups, but she was incredibly giving to me in terms of intimacy. We talked a lot from the heart.

She was so kind. Even to people who weren’t particularly kind to her. One time we were in the grocery store, I was down the aisle a ways and this small child walked up to her and told her she was fat. I forget what Luscious said to the child but it was one of the most sweet and generous teachable moment responses I’ve ever witnessed.

She gave me one of my favorite cds, Dance Yourself to Death, who are her friends. I listened to it nonstop in my car for months.

On my next visit she curled up with me on the Flatress and showed me all of her photo albums, through her childhood and teen years. She was heart-open about so many things with me. She drove me to see places that were important to her history in Toronto and outside. She always held my arm when we were walking outside because she knew the ice terrified me. We had incredible sex.

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The problem with long distance is that it only works if the parties have compatible communication styles and abilities. She sort of dropped me suddenly, without warning. It was really devastating to go from a deep intimacy and fairly constant contact to next to no communication. About a month after our last visit and the sudden lack of communication we exchanged a couple of emails, but I still never really understood what she was doing or her intentions, and we came to no resolution because she never could tell me what she wanted from me or “us”.

I went back and re-read some of my journals from that time. I had forgotten how heartbroken I was over Luscious for quite some time. Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” on repeat heartbroken. Couldn’t stop talking about it for months heartbroken.

Though I still felt very sweetly towards her, as a matter of self-preservation I kept some distance and we mostly communicated through Facebook comments and status likes. I was always pumping Zoe for updates on Luscious when she would return from visiting her boyfriend in Toronto.

I emailed her in December when I found out she was having gastric bypass surgery. I know it can be really isolating and hard to make decisions about weight-loss (especially surgery) when you are in a fat activist community and I wanted her to know I was available to talk and supported her doing what she needed to for her own bodily self-determination. I also secretly wanted to open the door for communication otherwise.

I saw her again at the NOLOSE Conference in Oakland the weekend before she died. I went up to her and gave her a big hug and kiss on the cheek. We didn’t really talk beyond small talk though. It was hard to figure out what to say. We shared a lot of stolen glances, and the look on her face when I was on stage on Saturday night is something I’ll never forget.

I know right now I am feeling very confused, devastated, and needy. It feels so weird since I don’t live in her town and wasn’t an active part in her life. We were Facebook “likers”. In this day and age of Facebook and social networking it feels weird and hard that she has a Facebook account. It seems weird that I got a notice that she liked my status update on Saturday and then moments (?) later she was gone. It seems weird and also awesome that her Facebook page is now a memorial site for people to post about her.

It also feels weird to grieve someone who I was so intimate with, but who was no longer a current person in my life. I feel really grateful that many of my friends reached out to me when they found out. One of whom is my friend Kristyn, who also had former lovers die suddenly (multiple within a year) and she met up with me to talk about it. She said this really beautiful thing to me, the gist of which is the following.

As sex positive queers, it is really important to acknowledge that sharing your body with someone is a really sacred act. And even if you’re no longer sharing your heart and body with someone any longer, when they leave this earth there is still part of you that goes. It is really important to recognize that it is a significant and distinct loss.

At this point I am just trying to feel it. The first day I had some time alone after I found out I spent the day writing, working and listening to Brokeback Mountain soundtrack. I cried a lot and got it together to go to Rebel Cupcake. I dedicated the show and the party to her–a fat positive queer dance party with lots of good seating was exactly her jam. No one there knew her but it felt like something I could do for me. I am still finding ways to honor her and my grief day by day. Leah Lakshmi told me the night I found out “Shark, do the best you can to just feel your feelings.”

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She was really important to me and still is. I still thought about her every day. I hope that whatever happened that she wasn’t scared. I hope that she is someplace looking over us, and smiling.

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