Bevin's Blog I'm blogging the relentless pursuit of my joy

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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I’m raising money to sustain QueerFatFemme.com! If you have enjoyed this blog, please consider a gift subscription in any amount.

Folks who donate $30 get this amazing 11 x 14 poster, custom designed for QueerFatFemme.com by James Leander.

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2013-09-09

Making Changes: My Interview with Grace Chu on her Year of Celibacy

About a month ago I ran into my friend Grace Chu and she told me that she had been celibate for nearly a year and that it has been wildly successful in terms of grounding her and focusing on her photography. She popped open her smart phone to show me an email from a huge publication asking for her to photograph something.

Now, Grace Chu is all about internet anonymity of her photo, so just know that she’s a hot dyke–the kind that every gay girl I knew in college would have dropped to her knees for. She’s really social and has an endearing awkwardness. Also, I have totally noticed over the last year that she seems a lot more serene, grounded and happy.

I checked in again with her last week and I asked if I could interview her on the occasion of her official one year of celibacy and I hope you enjoy her insights!

Photo by Grace Chu
Photo of me by Grace Chu.

What inspired you to get celibate?

Around a year ago, my ex and I broke up, and like every other idiot after a breakup, I started looking around immediately. I’ve seen people fire up OK Cupid minutes after a breakup. (Like, gurl, really?) But it’s natural to want to maintain a level of closeness with another human being when you’ve become accustomed to it, and when you’re in an impaired emotional state, sometimes you don’t make the brightest of decisions. So right after I had a dumb fight with my ex over who could show up at what girl party, I was in a bad mood and decided that I was going to get into trouble, and you know “YOLO, so whateva!” I brought a girl home, and it turned out she’s so drunk and high I ended up having to peel her off the floor as soon as we got to my apartment. So I gave her some water, and after a few minutes of almost incoherent conversation, and without getting into identifying details, I discovered that this girl was in a dangerously bad place. And she’s in my house. And AH MAH GAH, nothing happened but was I really going to go there? Is this real life? I know she’s mental, but I’m also a factor in this situation, so egad – I must also be mental! Nothing good can come out of the pairing of two people in a bad place. Ever!

How long did you initially plan to be celibate? Did you have any parameters around your celibacy (for example, making out is okay but no sex/it doesn’t count as sex if it’s outside or something)?

It wasn’t really a plan. After the above-mentioned disaster, I decided that the best thing to do was take a break from all the madness of dating, focus on my work and nurture existing friendships. Clearly, my judgment was impaired due to physical and emotional neediness, so I figure I’d get back out into the dating scene when I was emotionally at 100%. The parameters you mentioned didn’t even cross my mind. I just shut out all unhealthy distractions or band-aid solutions, period. This also included cutting loose friends and associates that were toxic or gave me anxiety. It was more of a life-cleansing period of time. Simplifying my life. Cutting the fat. Celibacy just came with the package. I don’t really consider making out “hooking up” but I haven’t made out with anyone since last October. No one believes that, especially those who saw me make out with just about everyone during my 20s, but it’s true!

What was the first month like? What activities did you start out doing to fill up your previously used dating/cruising time?

I don’t know what came first, the chicken or the egg, but right around the time I decided I was going to focus on myself, my night job started gaining momentum. I was picking up new photography clients right and left, and people were offering me gigs outside of my comfort zone, and I really just didn’t have time to think about anything else. I still have a day job as well. At some points that first month I really missed having intimacy, and I wanted to claw my eyes out, but I just didn’t have the time to dwell. Photography is really competive in New York, and if you miss an opportunity, someone hungrier is quite willing to take your spot. Whatever little free time I had left I devoted to friends who have been with me for years. If, god forbid, everything in my life falls apart, those people are the ones who are going to be around, come hell or high water.

Dusty by Grace Chu
I love this photo of Dusty by Grace Chu!

Did you turn down any dates? Were girls pounding at your door now that you weren’t available?

I didn’t give myself opportunities to be approached, so I really have no idea if anyone intended to ask me out. When people complain that they’re being harassed for dates, a lot of times that’s bullshit. Some people who complain that they’re being holla-ed at all the time secretly want the attention and give out mixed signals. You have the power to let people in or not, by your words, by your body language. You can set boundaries immediately. Also, I’m generally aloof and not touchy feely or flirtatious to begin with, so no one really asks me out unless I’m on a dating site. It stinks when you’re looking, but since I wasn’t, my default demeanor was a blessing. I contemplated going back on Ok Cupid for a hot second but the thought of having to sit with a stranger and pretend to be interested became increasingly unappealing as time went by. During this time, I got into a better and better place financially, professionally and emotionally, so I didn’t want to mess with the formula. If your life ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Did celibacy get easier over time?

Yes, think of it like getting over a drug addiction. (Ok, I was never addicted to sex – I’ve actually been with only five people in the last ten years, with periods of down time – but this just happened to be the longest period. I’m just trying to make an analogy!) You’ve seen Trainspotting? At first heroin withdrawal gives you acute pain, but over time, the physical pain goes away. It’s all mental after that. And then you just stop thinking about it.

Did any new interests develop as you had more time to pursue them?

Photography and the day job take up 80+ hours a week now. The last two months have been especially rewarding and lucrative. I have some exciting projects coming up!

Latrell Johnson by Grace Chu
Photo of Latrell Johnson by Grace Chu.

What surprised you most about your year of celibacy?

Well I learned quite a bit. A lot of what drives people to pair up is a result of societal pressure, like you’re not a whole person if you’re single and not intimate with anyone. That’s ridiculous. You can find fulfillment in so many ways, and if you’re spending time chasing phantoms and trying to make the wrong people the right people, you’re taking away time and energy from other activities that could bring you happiness – and the people who you already have in your life that love you.

I’m going to go on a bit of a tangent now, and it’s going to be kind of heavy. My friend passed away from cancer this past year, but before she died, around fifty people from around the country showed up at her birthday party. She made such an impact and was such a decent, generous and kind hearted person that people recognized it dropped everything to come spend time with her. A week before she died she told me that she wished she had spent more time trying to find a boyfriend – or working on making her old relationship work. (That relationship, by the way, was unhealthy bordering on abusive, so I am happy she didn’t.) But in the last days of her life, she was surrounded by so much love and laughter, more than anyone could ever imagine. I guess you had to be there, but I was blown away. Sometimes all we need to do is take a step back and realize we are already loved and connected and to appreciate it.

Since I’m no longer in a fog, I’ve become more in tune with what works with me in terms of friends, and possible lovers. I reflected on what didn’t work for me in the past and what kind of emotional makeup in other people is healthy for me. Some people, as nice as they might be, just don’t work with me on a fundamental level, and that’s fine. I’m much more in tune with other people’s energies now, and I am aware of and I am assertive about my own boundaries. It’s like being fitted with glasses when you’ve been myopic.

Photo by Grace Chu
Photo by Grace Chu.

How does someone know they should adopt a period of celibacy? Would you recommend this to others? Any advice?

I mean, if something is causing more harm than good, cut it out of your life. This goes for everything, not just dating and sex.

What are your plans around breaking the vow? Do you have anything lined-up?

Yeah, I’ve got honeys on the speed dial ready to go! Just kidding. I don’t have any plans, really. I’m definitely back to 100% emotionally, so while I’m not actively looking, if something happens by chance, so be it. Many times, we use sex or intimacy as a way to heal ourselves or escape or fill some sort of emptiness, when it should really enhance your life. My life has become pretty damn sweet, so I guess if someone comes along who is also in a good place, and we end up clicking in that way, I suppose things could get sexy – but it has to happen organically or as a happy accident.

This past year, after taking the pursuit of sex and dating off the table, I’ve become closer to some people who had just been acquaintances, and some new fabulous people have come into my life. It was refreshing to get to know people as people in a leisurely manner without stress or expectations. I am also good friends with my ex now! Everything just becomes easier and lighter when you’re grounded and in a good place.

Photo by Grace Chu
A photo of me, Nicky and Jacqueline by Grace Chu.

I am super impressed with Grace’s ability to identify what wasn’t working in her life and take steps to change it and become more in tune with what makes her tick. The process of becoming real–shedding the layers that society puts on you or that you put on yourself to get the attention you think you want–is really hard. But I think once you get more in touch with who you really are you’re able to attract genuine, lasting partnerships (if that’s what you want) into your life.

If anyone out there has a story about changing something that didn’t work for you, please get in touch with me! I’d love to interview you!

2013-08-26

Getting a Rapid HIV Test at the LGBT Health Clinic

My straight BFF says she’s annoyed when she gets screened for STIs because it’s often as a result of a break-up and she thinks you should get banged after you get a clean bill of health, as a reward. Except you sometimes get this stuff taken care of at the end of the road because maybe you were cheated on or you realized you had some miscommunications with someone about fluid bonding and probably you should get tested for your own peace of mind. And then there’s no one to bang you when it comes back clear. Just maybe a little bit of relief and an iced coffee when you don’t get a call that anything is wrong.

Herstorically I have gotten my Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) tests as part of my annual pap smear. And I say annual but I really mean when-I-was-sure-it-had-been-over-a-year-and-I-got-around-to-scheduling-it. So probably ever 18-24 months, unless there was a risk factor situation like a break-up, cheating, etc… I haven’t had health insurance for almost two years and in these lean times I often regret all the time I had health insurance and I squandered it by not doing things as much as possible that at the time I had the financial ability to get done.

If you ask me I'll say yes please to you today. #anicat
My cat, ALF.

I’ve always had similar experiences. Small office, used to seeing straight people, who are monogamous/married/parents or otherwise not particularly sex positive in any way. I have had to explain why I wanted a full panel of STI tests many times. I don’t think you should have to explain why, if you’re at the doctor you should just be able to get tested for what you ask for. It’s mildly infuriating but I’m at a point in my life now where I don’t let it get to me. I just calmly say, “Because I’m a responsible sexually active adult, that’s why, now test me.”

So this time I needed to get screened, I took my uninsured responsible sexually activish* self to the local LGBT health clinic that I feel fortunate to have as a resource. I was curious what it would be like to get screened there, in an environment that is actually sex positive and won’t look shocked when I tell them I’m a lesbian. They even have all of the check boxes about sexual orientation on the intake form. I even felt free to check off both lesbian and queer.

There are no sweet potato chips at meijer
Me, in a Midwestern pharmacy!

After the intake I saw a counselor who asked me a lot of questions I didn’t expect. This was my first experience at a sex positive environment getting tested, I’ve barely ever talked about my safer sex practices in a doctor’s office, let alone at length with a counselor. It was kind of cool, because even if you know all the stuff you think you should know sometimes you wonder and it’s nice to have someone give you feedback.

She asked me some startling questions about what my support system was and whether or not I was suicidal. I didn’t expect it to get into my mental health. But that’s part of the risk factors when doing an HIV screening and they cover their bases at the health center. She asked me if I wanted to have a rapid HIV test, where the results are available that day or if I wanted to do a blood draw. The difference was that the rapid test would only cover me through April, not through present day and the blood draw would cover me through the week prior. I decided to do both, to “cover the spread.”

She pricked me on the finger for blood and it unexpectedly hurt pretty bad. I was bruised for a couple of days. I said, “Ow ow ow, sex hurts.” Because I make a lot of jokes when I am feeling awkward.

After my poke test, I went in to see a doctor for blood draws and urine for everything else.

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My dog, Macy.

I didn’t schedule a pap at the same time because I was afraid I couldn’t afford it and there’s a sliding scale that the clinic doesn’t determine until you go in. But the doctor suggested I come back to do a pap because I had an abnormal pap two years ago. Callen Lorde is now suggesting paps every five years based on the CDC’s recommendations about waiting up to five years for a pap smear, but not if you’ve had an abnormal screening.

I had to meet with the counselor again, once all of the blood was drawn, to go over the results of my rapid test. It was nice to get the results in person, since usually test results are “if you don’t hear from us it’s clear.”

I made another appointment to go in for the pap (now that I knew how much it was it was significantly less scary financially) so I scheduled my follow-up results appointment for the blood draw with the same counselor. The pap was interesting because the new doctor was a lot more brusque and not compassionate in any way. I have a lot of coping mechanisms around the medical industrial complex but times like that, when your doctor is kind of cold and not very nice about you not having prior medical test results with you (no one asked me to bring them in), it feels extra vulnerable when you’re doing a medical exam that is as personal as a pelvic.

Also at that visit I had a new weird interaction about weight at the doctor’s office. No one mentioned my weight at all except when the nurse asked me how much I weighed last time I weighed myself. I had a break-up (I usually can’t eat much when I’m devastated) and I’ve been doing this anti-candida eating so I’ve lost some weight and I’m at a pretty low number for me. I told him the number without the background and he looked me up and down and said, “I don’t see it.”

It was weird. Like a backhanded compliment of “Your number is high but you don’t look like you carry that much weight.” I used the moment to casually say, “Everyone carries weight really differently, it’s impossible to eyeball someone’s weight.” But still, so weird, that I’m at this low for various reasons that aren’t really by choice and he’s indicating the number is still high. But luckily he didn’t tell me I had to lose weight or die or anything. Just such a weird interaction. Can’t just getting my weight be the only conversation we have about it? Or can it be accompanied by the health practitioner asking, “Do you have any concerns about that number?”

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Me with my friends’ adorable baby wearing pants as a hat. Maybe when she’s older doctors will tret the whole patient and not just numbers on a scale. Photo by Suzanne.

I’m still waiting on those results and hoping the pap finds nothing abnormal. I hope that writing this up helps encourage other folks who need to get screened (or have been nagging themselves about getting screened) to call up wherever and make it happen. I find these things much less scary when I know what’s going to happen.

I also wanted to pass along this personal narrative from Scarleteen about safer sex practices amongst folks who have queer sex, it touches on a little how-to, barriers to talking about safer sex and advocating against the invisibilizing of STI risk amongst female assigned at birth folks who have sex with other female assigned at birth folks.

*When the nurse asked if I was sexually active I said “sorta.”

2013-06-28

Eight Things to Keep in Mind For Your First Sex Party

There are a couple of not safe for work photos in this post…

It’s Pride Week and the close to Gay Stamina Month and what better thing to talk about that makes us really gay than… sex. My friend Elisabeth even addressed it in her wedding column!

A few friends of mine are preparing for their first ever play party, so I’ve been doling out advice right and left. It’s called “play” but sometimes folks interchange the word “sex” or the acronym “BDSM.” Whatever you call it, it is a social occasion in which folks are free, perhaps even encouraged, to engage in public sexual or kink behaviors. It’s a good place for people who are exhibitionists and voyeurs, as well as people who want a dose of sexual energy in their lives. There are a bunch of different reasons folks might want to go to a sexy party, a few of which I’ve addressed below. I believe being good in bed is one third chemistry, one third listening to your partner and one third skill. Sex parties are great places to learn new skills and better sexual communication.

I only attend sex parties sporadically and rarely play with strangers–and I don’t play unless I really feel like I want to. When I want to feel agency over myself as a sexual being I like sex parties a lot for that. The energy is usually really good and liberating and it often feels like a way to reclaim my body after a break-up, even if I don’t play at all. And I’m always looking for ways to do that.

My first play party was about a decade ago. I was still living in Philadelphia when I made the trek to Throb on the Lower East Side. It was a queer women & trans play party, the likes of which I had heard about in dyke literature–Michelle Tea books, On Our Backs magazine–and the fringes of my sex positive friend groups. I was in a monogamous relationship (with some make-out freedom) and I’m not sure entirely why Seth was okay with me going without her but I think it was an adventure I felt in every part of my twenty-four year old heart that I needed to have.

I think it was a release party for Sugar High Glitter City and I was too shy to ask Shar and Jackie to sign my copy. I found that first party intimidating but liberating, and not as scary as I thought but still scary in a this is a really new thing I don’t know how to be sort of way. Over the years I’ve become really fond of parties that hire a good DJ (nothing kills my boner like bad music) and have at least one room that feels like a regular party and isn’t very serious. I like to chat with folks and sometimes people are very serious about kink. I’m not. I remember having folks tell me “I heard you were flogging so and so at Switch and making her recite Britney Spears lyrics.”

Like I said, I don’t go to play parties often but I enjoy them. There are some folks who make this a huge part of their life–taking weekend trips all across the country to go to parties. So this list is just some suggestions from my perspective and I encourage you to ask other folks for their ideas as well.

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I consulted my friend Felice Shays about her tips as a long time player, author of Brutal Affection, and the person who flogged me for the first time during a demo carnival at Throb the second or third time I went. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

1. Brush up on consent practices.

Just because someone is at a party doesn’t mean they want to engage in play or sex, or engage in it with you. They might just be there testing the waters or just not that into you or what you want to do. Remember, without no there is no yes. But also, they might just be shy and want to, so it is worth asking and being prepared to hear “No” or “Yes” and remember that asking is the victory, not the outcome.

Some parties have explicit consent policies and practices–you should read all of those before you get there so you have an idea of what to expect. I suggest reading the Learning Good Consent Zine to any person who wants to engage in sexual activity with another person ever (i.e. everyone), but it’s especially good to do this before you go to an explicit play space. Also my tips on How to be an Ally to Your Fat Lover are relevant here, too. Be body positive!

The Myth Party is one of my favorite play parties ever and I suggest cruising their “rules and security” section. They are very thoughtful and awesome. I appreciate that everyone there adheres to these consent policies because it makes me feel comfortable as a queer woman who has sex with folks of non-normative bodies and genders to know that the multi-gendered partiers are all on the same page as I am with consent.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

2. Brush up on your talking to strangers.

I’ve written extensively here about how to get over shyness and ask people out on dates. The same principle applies at a play party–nobody ever died of awkward.

Felice suggested making it a goal to talk to at least one person you don’t know. I had the goal to talk to five people I didn’t know at the single’s mixer I went to a couple of months ago. It’s hard to talk to strangers (even for some extroverts) especially in a sexually charged/awkwardish environment. But probably everyone else is feeling a little nervous, too. Even experienced players get nervous, awkward and consider leaving. Best just to dive in and get through it so you can get to the good stuff!

Felice also said, “If you see something or someone interesting talk to them. Wait until they’re done w whatever or whomever they’re doing.” It’s normal to feel like a weirdo in unfamiliar social settings but remember a play party is just like a regular party. Use a little grace and finesse about when and how you talk to people. Be appreciative not creepy.

Take advantage of cruising wristbands and use that as your opening with people. “I notice you’re looking to engage in S/M play as a top…” Submit party here in Brooklyn has a whole cruising wristband system.

The one-liner that works best in my experience at play parties is, “Would you like to negotiate something?” An ex of mine said going up to people at parties is like shooting fish in a barrel because most folks at women/trans events are too shy to make the first move. Be bold, the rewards are plentiful!

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Felice is a mega-tron babe. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

3. Go with a specific desire in mind but no expectations.

This was from my roommate, Damien Luxe. I think it’s a great idea to have a desire so that way when you do talk to someone or they talk to you and the question comes up whether or not you want to negotiate something, you have things in mind. Examples might be, bondage, flogging, spanking, sex, making out, cuddling, watching porn together, watching scenes together, doing each other’s make-up, learning how to do something.

But going with no expectations is really important. If your getting laid is the only way you’ll feel successful at the party, you probably won’t be successful. Going with the flow and being open to genuine connections is probably better. I learned how to just let expectations go and be appreciative of the experiences I’ve had and wound up much happier (be this at conferences I thought would be total boink fests, and dates I’ve thought were sure things but then there was no chemistry).

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Felice giving a glitter spank demo at Rebel Cupcake. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

4. Interact with the host!

Felice suggests “Find the host and ask for a tour and or offer some help.” Getting the lay of the land is really helpful right away. Often volunteering at events is a really great way to meet people you may want to negotiate play with. It’s a good ice breaker, too, and can help you feel more brave, as these parties are all about stepping outside your comfort zone.

I was the Mistress of the Parlor for a play party my friend Trent threw a few Pride weekends ago called “Transaction.” I got to greet people and play matchmaker and ice break. I loved that job! It didn’t get me laid but I think I was secret monogamous at the time so I wasn’t really looking for action.

If you think the host is hot (and probably they are, and very good at what they do), Felice has some specific advice. “Don’t wait til an hour before closing time to ask the party host to flog you or fuck you – they’re possibly cleaning up condoms or wiping down equipment or fucked or flogged out already.”

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I was searching desperately for a photo of LeRoi Prince in Captain Kirk drag to illustrate a point later on in this blog entry but I had to settle for this insanely hot photo of them in a vest and shirt. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

5. Dress in a way that makes you feel confident and sexy.

I’m not so into the leather scene aesthetic of black tank top/tee shirt and black jeans and black boots. Or camouflage anything. Sure, I like 90s style on the right person, but I just think that’s a “safe” look and good style really makes you stand out. How about gray skinny jeans? Your boots should be fabulous. If they were two-toned cowboy boots that would really turn my head.

When I was still pretty new to kink stuff and going out a lot after the end of my engagement, my bestie Rachael came to town to teach me to flog. When deciding what to wear to the party we went to (I think it was Switch at Paddles, may it rest in peace) she highly endorsed me wearing a gold dress. “It’s important to stand out,” she said.

Lots of folks default to the standard slip dress or lingerie, which is fine if that is your aesthetic. But I don’t shy away from a costume and was pretty proud of what I wore to do that hostessing gig at Transaction, which is the same outfit I wore to Femmecee Rebel Cupcake a couple of months later.

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From Rebel Cupcake, August 2010. The fact that I was 31 at the time is sort of startling because it doesn’t feel that long ago and I still have all of the elements of that outfit in my wardrobe. Photo by Nogga Schwartz.

Corsets are good, wear great underwear and “consider shaving your personal bits or whatever else you consider primping before you get there,” says Felice.

Most play parties have a place to change, and people often make use of this. No one expects you to arrive “ready.” This is one of those great examples of a place where you can bring multiple outfit changes. At a party I went to with a sweetheart in service to me (and I was performing) I had three pairs of shoes and took advantage of having someone to lean on while I changed heels several times.

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Finding that photo of me meant finding a photo of my darling Miss Mary Wanna from 2010, too. What about wearing a hot apron and fishnets to a play party? Photo by Nogga Schwartz.

6. Mindfully imbibe.

Lots of parties are BYOB. Some are sober (keep your eyes out for that). But be mindful of using alcohol and other drugs when you’re playing. It really messes with consent and boundaries and you don’t want to do something you wouldn’t soberly decide to do with your body or to someone else’s body. There are many other chances in life to get fucked up and a play party doesn’t need to be that place.

But, you know, if you need a beer or a makers on the rocks to ease into things, go ahead. Just be forewarned that there are people who won’t play with you if you have been drinking or using other drugs.

Also, drink lots of water. Felice: “Drink water. Use lube. Drink water.”

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I’ve worn this outfit to play parties, too. This is my dear friend Anne!

7. Pack your toys!

Lots of parties have the big equipment, like beds, crosses to lay someone on, cages, etc… But you have to supply the flogger, canes, dildos, vibes, whatever. What you might want used on you is a great thing to bring because not all tops come carrying all that they have in their repertoire of skills. And if you have something you want to use that’s a good thing to maybe flag with casually in a back pocket. Just a thought for cruising purposes.

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Drae Campbell at Rebel Cupcake NO PANTS NO PROBLEM. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

8. Kiss somebody.

Felice says simply, “Kiss somebody!” Making out is fun and no big deal. I used to throw make-out parties all the time and they were really fun. I had all these games and got people in huge groups (50 or so) to play where it forced them to interact with people and either kiss, make out or friendly handshake and it was a way to negotiate play and also meet new folks.

In summary, sex parties are totally a fun way to play with energy and get really into your body and your desire. I highly endorse a couple of them before you decide they aren’t right for you. And if they are, you might find yourself on Fet Life getting all up in it every weekend like the sex hobbyists I know.

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The time we had a makeout contest at Rebel Cupcake NO PANTS NO PROBLEM. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

Folks in New York who want to give play parties a try I suggest:

July 11th–the hardly ever happens so catch it while you can Myth Party. It’s like the nightclub of the future, where folks are dancing and mingling but also fucking and playing and wearing Star Trek costumes.

It’s a great answer to the problematic nature of “who exactly is women and trans” because it’s not. It’s a fluid gender party where the needs and comfort of queers of all bodies, genders and ethnicities is privileged. You have to apply to get an invite and it’s definitely, definitely worth it. Especially if you just go to be at a party with sexual energy and aren’t sure whether you want to play. I went as a performer last time and was super impressed with it and felt no impetus to get down with my sweetheart, but felt welcome to. She and I had fun playing with a new dynamic, and briefly playing fetch with one of my roommate’s houseboys who was playing the part of Rover that evening. Pet play may not be my thing but it’s all play, and sometimes fetch is fun no matter who is doing the fetching. These parties are about experimenting and being free.

July 13thUnchained. It’s new, I’ve never been, but a trusted friend of mine went and gave it their stamp of approval so I am passing it on.

Every last SaturdaySubmit. It’s a Women and Trans party I’ve been to many times. They have a great in-house DJ (Angel Boi). The space is a basement, which sometimes smells like basement and is not my favorite olfactory experience but it’s a fun group of folks that seem to change every year or so I make the trek to the basement.

2013-06-14

Untapped Cruising Territory: The Park Slope Food Coop

As a person who believes strongly in abundance, I know that out of 8 million New Yorkers there are plenty of pockets of queers I don’t know. They say life begins at the end of your comfort zone and I am on a journey to explore queers in the city from places outside of my comfort zone. Untapped cruising territory.

I’ve long postulated that the Park Slope Food Coop, a fairly legendary place in Brooklyn, is teeming with queers I don’t know. I mean, it’s teeming with people I do know since I can count thirty members who are friends of mine without really trying. But since most of those folks I know from social situations and everyone has to grocery shop, there’s probably a ton of members that are hot queers I wouldn’t otherwise run into.

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The event: My friend Victoria needed to get some grocery shopping done for a big party she was throwing and she knew I wanted to come check out the Food Coop. I already know about the strict membership work requirements (if you can’t get someone to cover your shift your penalty is two workshifts and it goes up exponentially from there), the abundance of cheaper organic groceries and how you can’t shop without being a member. But you can visit.

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Why this is untapped for me: I’ve been hearing about this place the entire decade I’ve lived in New York City but never stepped foot inside.

The outfit: Given that Victoria texted me as I was walking home from the gym I had about five minutes to get ready. One of my exes was a member of the Coop so I figured I’d play to my audience and wear something really “girl next door” since that’s what she liked. This is really how I think sometimes, playing to my audience in these sort of leaps of consciousness, My ex who shops there liked this kind of aesthetic so probably someone else will. No make-up, casual clothes, not typical cruising gear, but we work in the situations we have.

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The Wing Femme: Victoria is a perfect Wing Femme. She’s very friendly, outgoing, positive about the possibilities of me getting laid and knows the Coop well.

Before we went in she looked at me and said, “Bevin, remember, it’s not all twenty- and thirty-something queers in there.” I think she had low expectations for my cruising at the Coop theories.

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The scene: I had to bring a state-issued ID with me in order to be signed in as Victoria’s visitor. She also had to sign a form that I would not shop while I was there, and I got a neon yellow date-stamped visitor badge. We started our adventure upstairs, where Victoria returned a soda stream canister to receive a deposit. (Deep discounts on soda stream canisters is a big plus for the Coop.) She then checked for open workshifts as she is a free wheeling FTOP member and doesn’t have an assigned shift.

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I ran into many folks I knew while I was there, including upstairs. But we had a lot of grocery shopping to get done so Victoria and I hit the floor and got serious about some produce. Almost immediately a dude started a conversation with us while we were discussing tofu and tempeh. He piped up, “You know they also have a different kind of tempeh in the freezer section that doesn’t have preservatives. And these tamales!” He held up a frozen tempeh tamale triumphantly.

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I couldn’t believe the true Portlandia hilarity of having someone talk about tempeh so fervently at a food coop.

At first I was disappointed that the only cute people I saw were people I already knew, but then this hot forty something silver haired masculine of center person with good glasses arrived in the produce section while Victoria and I were discussing brussels sprouts quantities and I nudged Victoria. She raised her eyebrows at me.

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Victoria has told me about the recent Coop controversies, including whether or not they should discontinue providing plastic bags in the produce section. I guess your options are bring your own bag or free ball it. I noticed that the hot butch was bagging her produce in reusable organic cotton bags made for this purpose. Without thinking, I just asked her about the produce bag controversy. And then I was engaged in conversation with this hot person and I didn’t know where to go with it after we talked about produce storage in the refrigerator.

It was like going fishing and catching something by accident and fumbling to grab the net and dropping it in the lake.

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But the incident did tell me that shopping for groceries with people you work in cooperation with makes for easy and accessible conversation. No need for a pick-up line when you can just talk about reusable organic cotton produce bags, you know? It was like the twenty teens version of the beginning of the Tales of the City book where everyone goes to cruise in the grocery store in late 70s San Francisco.

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While we were there I spotted four more hot queers I would want to pick-up. It was great! I think that totally qualifies as “teeming” with hot queers. Also you learn a lot about someone by what they buy at the Coop.

I was also totally into the products sold at the Coop. I embarked on a new whole foods lifestyle with a cleanse eliminating seven of the most inflammatory foods a little over a month ago and there are tons of products I can eat. (Corn, sugar and soy are in, like, everything. But not so much at the Coop!) Also there’s a pretty baller bulk foods aisle with a ton of bulk loose teas and about one trillion tiny bags of nuts.

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It was crowded in my estimation, though people kept telling me it was a pretty light day crowd-wise. I couldn’t really imagine how it could be more crowded. There were so many people crawling all over the place, because member workers were doing shifts restocking things and being in the way, there were people shopping and big palettes of restocking stuff on the floor. As our time at the Coop continued I couldn’t really figure out where to be. If you lingered in front of a product someone would invariably ask you to move. There was nowhere to be that wasn’t in the way. I think this could have been easier if there weren’t so many people on the floor working at the same time. I don’t think this is a size thing, because even the smallest small child would be in the way, but situations like that are super obnoxious when you live in a society that’s always giving you shit for being too big. I was trying to wait in line with Victoria and her huge cart and I got asked to move so many times I thought I was doing a folk dance. This might be the single reason I wouldn’t join the Food Coop.

Most people were all business about shopping, but since I was there to cruise I was all smiles and most of my smiles were returned by people. I even caught some Femme visibility from this cutie twenty something queer wearing a pink shirt when I had to do a little awkward dance with them while trying to get to the bulk foods aisle to assess the tea varieties available (if I’m going to become a member this is an important thing for me to know). And then when I was done doing our awkward dance I winked at them.

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Checking out gave us the opportunity to chat up yet another worker member of the Coop, and I got to scramble to find enough boxes to put all of Victoria’s spoils of victory in. We had to go through the check-out line, stop in a different cashier line to pay and then stop by this other hot queer checking the number of parcels we had against our receipt. It was complicated, but I guess that’s cooperative grocery shopping.

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The verdict: Sold. There are so many cruising opportunities at the Food Coop. There should totally be mixers at the Coop for folks to meet each other. Also, working on your work shift totally gives folks the opportunity to chat with each other. I mean, there’s also a lot of potential awkwardness (shopping for groceries during a break-up sometimes means crying in public, what if your ex shows up, etc…) but I guess you could just go to the place down the street from you.

I don’t know if I’ll join the Coop myself. It costs $100 to buy in and it’s two busses away from my house which is not even a little convenient, but I like knowing I was right about the potential cruising hotbed sitting right there in the middle of Park Slope.

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FYI they sell the Diva Cup for basically half-off retail.

2013-05-10

The Healing Awesomness of Crygasms!

Three years ago someone I respect and love very much, a lesbian event producer who is a pretty big name in a certain set of lesbian circumstances, was shocked that I hadn’t watched any episodes of the Real L Word. I was baffled that she had even seen it and her advice to me was, “You should at least watch one episode and know what they’re putting out there and calling lesbian.”

I took it as a fair point and it so happened, days later I was in a hotel room with Showtime and the Real L Word was on. I watched the one requisite episode and was horrified that the episode began with interviews of the cast about girls crying during sex. One of them in particular stood out with her horror about girls crying during sex. It was so shaming and judgey, I felt so gross about it. I was unimpressed that a show about lesbians was so sex shaming.

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Look, it’s Fancy Feast in a big TV! Real Queer Word! (Even though Fancy is actually into boys, she’s real queer.) Photo by Courtney Trouble.

I wondered how many fresh or curious queer girls were watching the episode and felt ashamed or bad about crying when they were having sex. I felt sad for them. Crying during sex isn’t just “being a chick” or “being needy,” as was characterized in those interviews, it’s a great physiological reaction that often means different things for different people. And, if it happens when you’re having sex with someone, it probably doesn’t mean what you think it means!

Luckily, I feel pretty secure in my sexuality and I didn’t let that person’s judgement affect me. In fact, I feel like it says a lot more about her sex life than anyone else’s. But I want to make it clear to the world, to anyone who has felt like a weirdo about crying during sex that crygasms can be awesome, normal, magical and healing.

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More Real Queer Word shots by Courtney Trouble. Dreamboat Johnny Valentine manages a couple of awesome blogs, including a tumblr about vintage butches!

I’ve cried maybe a dozen times in my life during sex, with about maybe four of my sex partners, and they were all people who were lovers for some length of time. I’m not sure what the alchemy is but it’s got something to do with my overall life emotional state, the quality, vigor and angle in which I’m being penetrated and a certain level of intimacy that sends it over the edge. Sometimes it’s a weeping after it’s over, sometimes it’s just a straight up sobbing cry fest.

Since it doesn’t happen very often, I never thought about how or when to tell my lovers that it might happen and what they should do when it does. But then I was having such unsavory reactions sometimes that I thought it was a good idea to warn people. Not like, make a big deal out of it, but once I’m at the couple months with someone mark I mention casually what might happen and what I’d like them to do if it happens.

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The divine Courtney Trouble.

I went through a couple of times where the person sort of freaked out and stopped having sex. One time someone just stopped and then made the crying about them and it actually wasn’t about them at all and I was sort of annoyed and offended. That ended up with me comforting and reassuring them, while still feeling sort of bereft and emotional. (Which, also, helped me see a real disconnect in how we were relating and was one of the last times I slept with that person.)

What I ask of my lovers now, during a casual moment mentioning that hey I might cry sometime, is that they stay in the act and then later check-in about it. Usually I don’t want them to stop, and I’m the kind of person who is aware enough of my boundaries and am a good sex communicator if I need to stop. Probably I want a power cuddle after. The tears are cathartic in some way, and relate to the release I feel during sex anyway. Also, I reassure them it’s probably not about them.

Since it usually happens with someone I really know well, I was shocked when it happened to me once the second time I slept with someone. We were on like hour five and I thought to myself, “OMG I cannot cry in front of this person so soon,” and I willed it to stop. I still remember the song that was playing, I’m not sure if those Mumford & Sons had anything to do with it.

Crying is really good for you. It’s a good release emotionally, and it is a great activity to unblock the heart chakra. I’m not looking to crygasm every time but I’m not really afraid of it when it happens. I really like that quote, “The cure for anything is salt water, sweat, tears or the sea.” I think all of those could be well-intermingled with sex.

If a crygasm happens with you or a partner, pause and check-in about whether you want to continue, and know that the crying might not be a bad thing. It’s totally natural and happens sometimes! But also be ready for them not to want to continue. Maybe it’s a deep trigger for them and they just need to stop. Or maybe it’s just they’re so tired they can’t keep from crying (have you ever been so tired you can’t stop crying?)

Crygasms during sex are natural, normal and awesome and if I had the Real Queer Word I would make that explicit on that show.

ADDENDUM!

The night this was published I hosted Yes Ma’am and a bunch of people were talking about this blog post! My friend Jacqueline said the funniest thing, “If I ever cried during sex and someone stopped fucking me, I’d not only be a fat, crying person in their bed, I’d be a fat, crying, angry bitch in their bed!” I laughed for a long time. See why it’s good to check in with your partners?

2013-04-08

Lean into the Discomfort and Breathe: 10 Strategies for Moving Through Grief and Loss in the Wake of a Break-Up

I love to match make for my friends, and occasionally this comes in the form of me logging into someone’s OK Cupid account while we’re hanging out and soliciting people for them. It’s often a lot easier to hit on someone if your friend is doing it for you.

One of my besties let me loose on her iPad and OKC profile last Fall and reported that she ended up getting a few dates from my efforts. Ironically, one of these dates ended up talking random shit about me to my friend. This date said she didn’t like “Bevin or Sarah Jenny,” another party promoter friend of mine, because we “seem happier than normal,” in a way that was about maybe we didn’t deserve to be happy all the time. (My friend, of course, stood up for me and isn’t going out with this girl again. When the date was informed that Bevin was the reason they were even on the date the girl about died.)

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Me and Sarah Jenny in November. I want to point out that SJ and I are both fat femmes who promote parties but we’re really different people and don’t look much alike. I want to believe this girl didn’t say we’re “happier than normal” because we’re both fat and maybe don’t deserve to be happy because of that. I think being happy in a society that tells you that you should hate yourself is a radical act.

I take this (and most) criticism from people who don’t know me with a giant grain of salt. This statement says more about the person than it does about me.

I’m sure a lot of people perceive me to be very happy, perhaps event “happier than normal.” Most people who are not my close friends or even my acquaintances only have a really limited view of my experience. On my blog and in public I tend to focus on the positive, joyful things about my life. That’s a choice I make to live in a positive framework. But, please do not mistake that I am living a happy 24/7 lifestyle because that is far from the case.

Right now, for example, I feel like dead flowers in a vase. My resting state is sort of wilted and sad. The person I had been keeping company* with for a few months in an intensely connected, spiritual, sexual, emotional, intellectual powerhouse kind of way broke up with me two weeks ago. I am heartbroken and focused on healing. My creativity has been sapped and I’m back in a familiar yet different place of heartbreak.** I contain a lot of conflicting emotions at once, which is a hard place to be in because it can feel like a war is going on. I love her and want her to be following her path which, right now, excludes a relationship. I also love us and want to fight for us.

In helping other heartbroken and healing folks out there, I made a list of strategies I am using right now to get through when the only way out is through. My friend Elisabeth told me last week, on a particularly bad day when I listened to too much Taylor Swift (she helps until she hurts), “Lean into the discomfort and breathe.” Much easier said than done, but I know it can be done because I am actually doing it right now.

I am also using things that have been helpful from the Heartbreak MFA post I wrote in 2010 and from Zoe’s Break-up Survival Guide that she wrote in 2007. At least all of this collective pain is turning into a break-up survival treasure trove.

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At Rebel Cupcake/Sweet Fox Mariah Carey tribute last week. Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

1. Remind yourself that Feelings are temporary and Feelings aren’t facts.
I know feelings are temporary. I know this from a strong belief but also I know this because I am living Feelings on about a six hour cycle. If I feel really shitty right now probably in about six hours I’ll feel less shitty or differently shitty.

2. Be in the present moment.
When I can get into the present moment fully, I can sometimes distract myself. And sometimes I just really let loose and have a lot of fun, dance with my whole body or engage in a full gut laugh, or a full experience of art. But those in between times are a killer and the sadness seeps in.

I never knew how to “be in the present moment” (which sort of sounds like new age hooey, but it really works) until I practiced it. Here’s a beginner trick. Look around where you are and do an inventory of noticing things. Like when I’m walking/traveling my Feelings are the most dominant so I try to check in with my surroundings. “Look, there’s a cute bird,” “Look there’s a place where the wires look like they spell a lyric to a Bruce Springsteen song,” “OMG that sunset is painting the sky full pink and orange how beautiful.”

3. Stick to the plan even when you don’t feel like it.
Making sure I have plans outside the house with at least one other human and at least once a day has been crucial. I work for myself by myself, my beloved roommate has been on tour this whole time, so I can get really lonely, especially because of that void left by the person you used to talk to multiple times a day. Even though sometimes these plans outside the house involve a lot of internalized kicking and screaming, faking it till I make it often means I end up having a great time and usually/almost forget about my heartbreak for several minutes at a time.

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During the entire performance at Rebel Cupcake last week I felt elated. I realized during the second act, “Good lord I haven’t felt bummed out in over a half hour!”

4. Name your feelings.
I’ve learned that Feelings just need attention sometimes in order to move through them. Being okay if I can’t name them at the moment and maybe just getting into the quality of the feelings. “Sucky” and “bummed” totally suffice in this category.

5. Take excellent care of yourself.
Going to the gym, doing all of the regular self-care work I usually do but treating it like my job is crucial right now. I actually have a really hard time eating when I’m emotionally distraught and I’ve been scheduling meals out with friends a bunch so that I can distract myself enough to eat. And at home I make sure I have V8 and smoothies and vitamins so I can just get something in there even when I don’t feel like eating.

Have you ever written out a list of what it means to take excellent care of yourself? Maybe now is a good time to start.

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The genius of Shane Shane. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

6. Doing whatever spiritual work makes sense to you.
I’m a really spiritual person, so much of these things fall into my regular self care, but some are special things that might fall into “treat yo self.”

Here’s a list of spiritual activities that help me:

Prayer
Meditation
Tarot reading
Astrological reading
Past life reading
Yoga
Meeting with a spiritual group
Doing rituals by myself or with a group***
Attending or listening to services (I don’t belong to a religion but appreciate spiritual wisdom in many forms and listen to services via TV or podcast by folks who preach positivity)
Going out to sit in nature and watch birds, the ocean, the trees or whatever
Gratitude lists (there is so much to be grateful for)

Tarot reading with Jacqueline. #babestagram #lesbianteabasket
Jacqueline reached out to me upon hearing about my break-up to offer her tarot services. We met up at Teany and now are blossoming a new friendship! Also it really helped me sort through my stuff.

7. Feel your feelings right now. Be a liberated hot mess.
There’s a lot of empowerment from feeling your feelings as they come. I’ve been crying a lot, wherever whenever, just to let it out, and thus have added to my old lady chic by stuffing tissues in my bra, every pocket and keeping my fancy hankies in all my handbags. I already did that hanky thing, it’s just more diligent.)

I’ve been very honest about my feelings to everyone. Obviously I’m a social butterfly, but the thing about me is that I cannot stand small talk. I also know how empowering it is to be honest about how you are and so I just let people know. Sometimes I soften the blow by making a joke out of it. (“This is my lot in life as a lesbian.”) But even though I soften it being real about my experiences helps me get through it. Authenticity is a very important value to me.

I’ve learned stuffing my feelings as a coping mechanism, hiding from them or doing that classic escapism, rebounding, just makes me have to feel them worse later. Feeling shitty comes with a late penalty. I’d rather just get the grief over with.

Sometimes I feel a little bashful about how sad and needy I am right now, but I know I have people who are safe spaces for it. Spunky has done a lot of watching me cry on google video chat when there’s nothing more to say. (Also, though I am wary about being an energy suck, I actually got a great compliment from someone about how positive I am being in my grief.)

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I was sitting like this eating with my friend Bridget before the party started and Hana walked in and said, “All I can see is tits and barbeque.” Tits deep in BBQ is one of my favorite things to be.

Reaching out for help has been great for me, and letting people who have capacity to lend an ear, text, dinner out come to me has been really successful. Using facebook filters has been a great way to all-call for this. Also, it’s nice to get sympathy from people (and I got a lot of sweet, supportive comments on the “I’m going through a break-up I can’t stop crying” post). That first day when I couldn’t go more than a few minutes without crying, my eyes were so puffy I could barely see, I was supposed to go to a dinner party. I debated going (especially since my ex had been invited so there would be all those weird “She was supposed to be here” realizations) but then I realized that this group of people is part of a spiritual work group I’m in, they support me, and if I had to keep running to the bathroom during Seder to cry they would get it. It turned out that it was a perfect distraction, and I didn’t have to worry about “sparkling” with these women, I could just bring my sad self.

It’s incredibly amazing how, if you learn how to receive, times of heartbreak can really show you how loved you are.

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Moment of woo before Rebel Cupcake. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

8. Doing new things with your appearance.
I rarely wear my hair “flat” to my head because I like big hair. But I’m just trying a new thing because new things while I’m feeling intense discomfort help me feel better. And also there’s a lot of empowerment in reclaiming your body after a break-up. I am vaguely considering going all the way blonde.

9. Proceeding with unconditional love.
I used to play the victim role big time in my break-ups. Learning to acknowledge my loss without vilifying a person in it is a new experience for me. I am hurting, that is my truth. She can’t be in a relationship, that is her truth. I learned a lot from this relationship, including what it is like to really experience unconditional love and conflict from a loving place. I want that to be our experience in a transition place from sweethearts to whatever we’re going to end up being, whether that’s friends or Boston Friends**** or just people who were very connected once but don’t really interact anymore.

This is very difficult work, unconditional love. Especially when that’s not always modeled well, in families, in past relationships, even in the media. How often do you see exes who remain friends in popular culture? How often is it complicated? (Also, as an aside, I think we can all agree that Rayna and Deacon on Nashville are totally Boston Friends.)

My friend Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha told me today, “I hope you are being sweet to yourself and opening your heart to transformation.” That’s what I’m intending to do with this break-up. Transforming myself through love. I think with love all things are possible, even hope from a really sad place.

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10. Throwing yourself into a big art project.
This was mentioned in a previous break-up post, but this time around I’m combining my love for traveling in the wake of a break-up (my last one had me heading out on a cross country road trip two weeks later) and my love for consumptive art projects to get through loss. My friends Sarah Jenny and Avory of Hey Queen asked me to produce the decor for the “Queens of the Road” themed party this weekend the day after my sweetheart broke up with me. I thought it was a very serendipitous call to action and I’m knee-deep in hot glue, maps and glitter getting ready for this upcoming weekend.

*Our actual relationship status. Our previous relationship status was “dating or whatever” after I said, less than a month into it, “If we’re still dating or whatever this summer I want to go…”

**It’s sort of crazy how much I can open myself up to loving even more after every heartbreak! And then I feel hurt again when it’s over in a new and different, yet somewhat familiar way. It is a comfort to remember I got over this before, in bigger and worse break-ups, therefore I know there will be gifts waiting for me on the other end.

***A ritual I did recently, after I pulled a tarot card that told me I needed to exfoliate, was to rub my skin with oil, soak during a long, meditative bath, then took great fist fulls of epsom salt and scrubbed my skin invoking newness into my life. I rinsed off and smoothed it all out with lotion.

****My new friend Jacqueline gave me that expression for “More than Friends.”

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This is my “Know Your Own Strength” tattoo. Photo by Kelsey Dickey. Tattoo by Jason June. New year’s intention by me.

***
I’m fundraising to sustain QueerFatFemme.com and my art projects! Please consider supporting with a gift subscription (and getting some great prizes) if you have been touched by this site!

2013-03-30

Q and A with Author of Rye, a Genderqueer Erotica Novel

Sam Rosenthal asked me to take a look at his new, self-published genderqueer erotica novel called Rye. It is a really awesome method to love your body and reclaim your sexuality by consuming porn, erotica and images that reflect your body, gender and sexuality. Rye features a genderqueer main character as well as a polyamorous relationship, both things that aren’t depicted in mainstream sexuality.

I did a Q and A with Sam about the process of bringing Rye to life! Enjoy!


This is the book cover!

BEVIN: What was your inspiration to write the book?

SAM: I’ve been the songwriter for 10 albums with my band, Black tape for a blue girl. I write lyrics, which are short stories. I went to a reading of erotica, and thought, “Hey, I could do that, let me give it a go.” So I started writing. I liked the process. I found that I wasn’t just writing sex, I was creating characters that I cared for, and situations I found intriguing, funny, sexy. So It became a lot more than erotica. There’s a lot about labels and identity, fitting in and finding ourselves.

BEVIN: What made you decide to pursue self-publishing? Was it to preserve the content? Were publishers unwilling to embrace genderqueer sexual heroes?

SAM: I never seriously considered trying to find a publisher. I’ve always self-released my music (I run my own record label, Projekt), so it’s natural for me to do it this way. But yeah, really, I didn’t want to submit RYE to publishers, to wait a year for their rejections, or their attempts to tell me how to rewrite my book as they imagine it. The hell with that. Rye is my story. After I finished working with my editor, I had the novel I wanted. I didn’t need input from a publisher.


This is Sam.

BEVIN: Which character is most relatable?

SAM: Well, I guess it depends one who is doing the relating, right? If it’s those of us who know queer people, than it’s all of them. If you’re asking somebody totally mainstream, than maybe it’s none of them. I had some straight (but Kinky) people say, “Um, I don’t know if I’d want to read that, I don’t like stories about gay people.” What? Gay people? Straight people? Queer people? We all have the same kinds of emotions, and conflicts… It’s a story about people who are falling in love, worrying about their boundaries, and uncovering themselves.

BEVIN: Is a lot of your book based on real life experience or is it all purely your imagination?

SAM: I think that any novel has real life experience weaved into it. Some of it definitely happened, some of it sort of happened, but not exactly the way I describe it. Writing is sort of taking little bits of reality and poeticizing it, and making it more focused and intriguing. So at some point, I kind of lost track of the real events that might have kicked off a scene, as I worked it into the story-line. I also have to admit that a lot of what happens is life as I’d love it to happen, ya know? A lot of things spontaneously happen to Matt and Rye and Rain, things that would take way more planning and luck, in real life.

BEVIN: Give one piece of advice to folks who want to learn to get in touch with their genderqueer/trans/fat/dis/abled bodies and have better sex.

SAM: Let go of your ego. Stop listening to everything you tell yourself about who you are and how you do things. Your ego wants to keep in control and keep things stable. While your heart and your inner self wants to play and explore and discover.

If you’re interested in checking out Rye, visit the website to order the book directly from Sam (only $10!), or you can download it for your Kindle from Amazon if that’s your thing for only $5!

2013-03-11

Plus Size Underwear for All Gender Presentations

I wrote a guest post at Autostraddle about Plus Size Underwear! Peek under skirts and pants and find out how to be well-dressed underneath your clothes! I write from the perspective of how I wear and buy underwear, but I also have a hearty section of what I like to see on masculine of center folks (though I don’t wear that kind of underwear).

Plus Size Underwear for All Gender Presentations

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Peeking under a skirt. A little Bevin on Devin action. Photo by Courtney Trouble.

2013-02-22

FAT SEX WEEK: Sex Playlists and Fat Appreciation

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 but there is sexual language on one of them.)

Hey friends! First of all, check out this AMAZING revisioning of the famous “Your heart is a muscle” woodcut my roommate, the talented and amazing Damien Luxe made!

Valentine by Damien Luxe

Click this link to learn about the image, the history and intention behind the piece (and to share on Tumblr if that’s your venue!!)

She showed this to me in the middle of the night the other day when I was having insomnia. It’s really gratifying to live with such a genius. Love you Damien! Thank you for all you do to make the world a more wonderful place for femmes and freaks!

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Damien! Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

I love listening to music, especially in the bedroom, and I don’t think any FAT SEX WEEK would be complete without some mood music!

Once upon a time I posted about my 90s R&B Automatic Make-Out playlist. I know for a fact several folks have enjoyed getting make outs from the mood it provides.

All of my playlists are made for moods and specific timing (because I tend to lose track of time easily in the bedroom). Till My Fake Eyelashes Fall Off is the most classic sex mix I have. The origin of the name is Kyla The Great saying “Can I just get a Femme to fuck me till my fake eyelashes fall off?”

For a fun quickie I use I Stand With Antoine. I also use my 90s R&B Automatic Make-Out Mix for times when a cheesy make-out is in order (and it lasts a long time and the rhythm is good, it’s also great for a party). Take Your Boots Off and Humble Me With a Fierce Heart ended up being one of the most heart-opening connected slow down sexy time mixes I’ve used.

I’m also really into cruising Spotify to find my friends’ sex mixes even if they don’t label them as such. My pal Danny posted this one under the unassuming name of a date in April and it is a great sex mix.

I have a couple of playlists on my itunes for use in certain circumstances that have classic rock on them. Classic rock is great for BDSM. (Good rhythm, sexy songs.)

Speaking of classic rock, have you ever made a whole fat positive playlist? There’s a CD for that. Here’s a link to Whole Lotta Love: An All-Star Salute To Fat Chicks.

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Abby Fantastic at Rebel Cupcake. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

Shifting gears to talking about folks who like fat chicks…

A friend of mine asked me the other day what identity she could use to describe that she likes fat girls almost exclusively. It’s really an interesting question because sometimes having a name to identify something is really helpful. I know finding queer, fat and femme as identity labels that didn’t box me in but gave me tethers to other people like me was crucial to me developing a sense of self appreciation and love in a homophobic, fatphobic, misogynist world. What about folks who are attracted to people that our society deems unattractive?

[I think it’s also important for me to mention here that my primary sexual attraction is to fat folks, and specifically includes fat femmes.]

There’s a lot of self-loathing that can come out of people who internalize fat oppression who are attracted to fat people and date fat folks anyway. The self-loathing from being attracted to fat folks results in fucked up and controlling behaviors, and I know I can get an amen from other fatties who have gotten out of those relationships.

It is empowering to have an identity. It’s empowering to read about other folks who date fat people in spite of what society tells them is sexy or attractive. It is empowering to recognize that society tells you to be attracted to one thing and to swing your authentic preferences another way and work towards body empowerment.

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Me and my darling, amazing, friend Victoria. Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

What I find hard about it is that “chubby chaser” and “fat admirer” are current labels that, to me, seem to be fetishes and not appreciation. I don’t want someone to find me attractive because I’m fat or in spite of being fat. I want someone who is attracted to me because of how being fat is part of who I am and also because I’m a babe. Not because it’s a deviant sexuality to like fat girls.

I love fetishes and open sexuality but since most American women are above a size 14 doesn’t that make us not that unusual?

I’ll be real, I do the recon work before I will pursue someone to find out if they specifically like fat femmes, whatever I can find out about their relationship status and/or polyamory situation. Because, in queer masculine-privileging community lots of folks don’t date femmes OR fats and I like to do some research. This is why it is always good to keep your pals updated as to what’s going on with you romantically. And having a term for being attracted to fat folks is helpful in these terms.

What about Fat Appreciator as a term? I’ve heard other friends of mine say, “I like big girls” or “I like fat femmes” as a way of just putting it out there without an identity, but both express an appreciation for fat people (well, certain gender expressions of fat people). I actually really appreciate when whole social groups are very vocal of appreciation for fat bodies.

It’s also important that labels for fat appreciation are also sensitive to the fact that all people have bodies and it’s not about privileging one type of body over another, but it is a way of giving some love and attention to a type of body that is not privileged in our fatphobic society.

So, now that FAT SEX WEEK is winding down, dear readers, I’d love to find out what you think. Should we stick to just euphamizing adoration of the rubenesque form or should there be a word that reclaims the adoration of fat bodies from a fetish context? Add a comment below and let me know what you think!

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Me and Fancy Feast being fat witches at Rebel Cupcake. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

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