This post might be a bit awkward and I can’t figure out how to write it without bumping up against a few stereotypes, but I’m gonna go ahead with it anyway. If I offend, please let me know.

I keep hearing people – mostly women, mostly straight – referring to the queer guys in their lives as “my gays”. I get the sense that it’s generally intended as an affectionate, term of endearment. Nonetheless, it makes me uncomfortable. Something about the possessive article in combination with the use of “gay” as a noun makes my brain twitchy. I wonder how I might feel if a white pal referred to me and their other friends of colour collectively as “my blacks”. I’m pretty sure I’d feel uber-generalized and kind of slavish to boot.

But that’s just my perspective on the phrase. It’s totally possible that my discomfort is about my own historical/social baggage around ownership and identity. I can’t imagine a context where I would ever feel okay referring to people as “my gays”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that people aren’t okay being referred to that way.

Has anyone ever referred to you as “my gay” or “my gays”?  If so, how do you feel about it. Is there specific ettiquette around its use – i.e. a phrase that’s cool, but only coming from a close friend? If you and I are friends in real life, is it cool if I just refer to you as “my friend” or barring that, some hilarious nickname?

Thanks!

 

Every Friday I ask you a question of the week. You can answer often, occasionally or not at all. And if you have something to say but you’re feeling shy, you’re always welcome to comment anonymously.

 

 

Porn: Do you enjoy it or avoid it? Are there erotic media that you prefer over others?

It’s no secret that this gal likes porn. My teens and early twenties were all about exploring, discovering and basically grab-handing anything with explicit depictions of sex. I took a long time but I’ve learned to distinguish between the stuff that turns me on in a fun pleasurable way, the stuff that turns me on but leaves me feeling kind of icky and the stuff that doesn’t do anything for me at all.

I almost always watch pornographic films with my partner. We both love movies, we both love sex and porn is pretty effective when we want to jump start the frisky times. Except for gay porn. That’s all me. On  rare occasions when my guys take off and leave me on my own for a  couple of days, I like to chill out with a big bowl of chips and some hot guy-on-guy action.

Erotic books are my go-to for solo pursuits. Nothing enhances wanking like words. Smutty scenes in paper romance novels were my gateway to porn. When I was eleven or twelve I had a Harlequin-esque novel stashed under my mattress. All of the sexy scenes were dog-eared for quick access. From there I moved on to explicitly erotic/pornographic novels. There was a lot more sex but my masturbatory frequency doesn’t mesh well with long form fiction. Too much stopping and starting. Sexy short stories are perfect for me. A quick hit of literary inspiration and then my mind and hands are free to wander.

I almost never buy pornographic magazines. I find static pictures don’t do much for me.  I’ve also heard there’s porn on the Internet but generally I steer clear. I know there’s stuff I’d like out there, but the thought of navigating Webland to find it intimidates the crap out of me.

My favourite porn medium might be comics books. Comic serve my desire for visual stimulation AND fulfil my craving for dirty words and phrases. Colleen Coover’s Small Favours is one of the best discoveries I have ever made. .  It’s cute, explicit fantasy that makes me hella happy and hella horny at the same time.

I was meandering ’round the Twitterverse the other day and saw a friend had linked to Chloe Curran’s recent article: Get Out Of My Gay Bar Straight Girl!

Straight Girl: two words definitely apply to a certain adorkable someone.

It’s a strongly worded title and the ensuing rant pulls no punches. Not that Curran’s a straight-hater. She explains that:

I get it: Straight people don’t come to gay bars because they want to hate on gay people. They come because as the empowered majority, they feel entitled to access every space in the world.

I’m not here to argue for a ban on straight people in gay clubs; that’s discrimination, and clearly wrong. However I will ask you to a) rethink the entitlement you feel to occupy every space and b) respect that no matter how much you “love the gays,” sometimes gay people need to be amongst their peers and therefore apart from you. 

Um…yeah. I can’t speak to any other gay-club-going-straight-person’s motives but I’ve enjoyed getting my dance on in queer spaces for years. Until I read this article, it never occurred to me that my presence might feel intrusive and/or disrespectful regardless of how awesomely accepting I believe myself to be. Looks like the entitlement thing applies to me as well.

Also? This:

“My girls and I just want to dance without being bothered by lame guys dancing up on us,” you’ll cry incredulously, eyes a’ flashin’ and gum a’ snappin’ with (what you think to be) righteous indignation, “Why is that so wrong?”

I admit, I’ve totally been that gal. I’ve sought refuge in gay clubs, using them as dance-sanctuaries when I wanted to flee from dudes who thought crotch grinding was an appropriate introduction.

I would never snap my gum, though. The odds that I’d swallow it and choke are too high.

Now I’m thinking about it and yeah…that shit ain’t on. I would never go into a synagogue and be all “Hi, folks! I’ve got some sick cantor music on my iPod but it’s just not the same as live davening. I’m gonna chill here with y’all because even though I’m not of your faith, it’s cool because I am TOTALLY DOWN with the Jews.”

I’m not beating myself up or saying I’m a horrible person. This is just a situation where I wasn’t aware. Now that I am, I’ll try to be more respectful of people’s need to have a little time and space away from the dominant culture. That doesn’t mean I’ll never set foot in a gay bar again, but it might best if I wait for an invitation before I boogie on in.

If you have a moment, I encourage you to read the entire article. Then come back here and tell me what you think. I’d love to get some other opinions on this, particularly from my queer readers. How do you feel about straight people hanging out in gay bars and other queer spaces?

In the meantime, I’m thinking I should open a club specifically for dance-lovin’ ladies, where come-ons are strictly forbotteen. There’s clearly a market for it.  I can call it “No Hitters”. Huh? HUH? Who’s with me?

Lana Wachowski – who, along with her brother Andy brought us The Matrix and Cloud Atlas – speaks about her experience as a trans woman.

This is a longish video, but I strongly encourage you to make time for this. Wachowski is witty, wise and all kinds of inspirational. I love this speech. I hope you do too.

 

Many thanks to reader John for alerting me to this video!

Photo by Wadem

 

I was facilitating a session on sex-positivity last weekend, when something occurred to me: I’ve never written a post about sex-positivity.

That’s a pretty big oversight on my part considering the I bandy the term around these parts with gleeful abandon.

Sex-positivity is a philosophy I saw being modelled at Venus Envy. It was an attitude towards sex that I admired and sought to emulate. It wasn’t until did my training at PPO that I learned that it was an entire social movement with its own name and everything!

Sex positivity has and continues to change my ideas about people, choice and the role sex plays in our lives. It influences everything I do as a sex educator. For me it’s a big, life-altering idea – one that’s too massive to cover in one post, so this will be the first in a series of two. I’ve named them Sex Posivity For Beginners since I’m still near the start of the learning curve myself.

Sex positivity came about in opposition to a philsophy known as sex negativity. In my opinion sex negativity is pretty unawesome but I kind of need to start there, so that’s mostly what this post will be about.

Sex negativity is based on an assumption that sex and sexual pleasure are inherently harmful, immoral and dangerous or a sacred experience that can and should be possessed. Sex negativity requires that sexual desire be largely ignored and supressed except under specific circumstance like a marriage or for the purposes of procreation.

Sex negativity assumes that there are morally superior/inferior sexual orientations, gender expressions and social constructs. For example, in our society, monogamous, heterosexual, cisgender people are typically given more privilege and experience greater approval than people who are poly, queer and/or trans

Sex-negativity also posits that there are right and wrong, or at least better or worse kinds of sex. In a sex-negative framework the where, when, why and with whom of what constitutes better vs. worse sex are meant to apply to pretty much everyone without regard for personal desires or circumstances.

Specific social sanctions around sex have relaxed over time but as a whole our society is still pretty sex-negative. Sometimes, so am I. I’ve been influenced by sex-negativity my whole life. And even though I’ve discovered this rad new sex-positive philosophy, I haven’t become some radically enlightened, different person with a different brain. I still accept and perpetuate sex negative thinking, often without realizing I’m doing it. I’ve tried to become more aware of my own sex-negative attitudes but it’s definitely an ongoing process.

Something I have noticed is the way situations involving sex are often evaluated very differently from similar situations where sex is not a factor.  Here are a few examples of what I mean:

 

Lying vs. Cheating

This happens: Reese is married. Reese enjoys shopping but isn’t always completely honest about what was bought or how much money was spent.

Society says: It’s not ideal. Still, people fudge the truth about money all the time. Reese’s partner shouldn’t end the marriage over it. They should work it out.

Meanwhile…

This happens: Jordan is married. One day at an office party, Jordan flirts with a co-worker and they wind up making out.

Society says:  What a douche! Trust has been irrevocably broken. Jordan’s partner is totally justified in leaving this terrible marriage.

 

Illness vs. STIs

This happens: Sam gets the flu after sharing a big bowl of popcorn with a friend who had the flu.

Society says:  We hope Sam feels better soon. The flu sucks but what can you do? Sharing food is normal. These things happen.

Meanwhile…

This happens: Alex contracts chlamydia after having sex with a friend who had chlamydia.

Society says: Alex has an sexually transmitted infection. How embarrassing! And gross!  Alex is probably SOOO ashamed but too bad. These are the risks you take when you have sex.

 

Straight vs. Queer

This happens:  A man and a woman are sitting on a bench near a playground full of children, holding hands. They share a quick kiss on the lips.

Society says: That’s nice. If the children have questions, their parents will probably offer some simplified explanation like “those people are in love,” with age-appropriate answers to any follow-up questions. This will make everyone happy…especially the children.

Meanwhile…

This happens: Two people of the same gender on a bench near a playground full of children, holding hands. They share a quick kiss.

Society says: Inappropriateness! Now the children will ask questions! Queer people are only defined by the type of sex they have, so we can’t possibly explain what just happened without opening a big Pandora’s box of sexual orientation and activity. That couple have no right to be smooching here! It’s confusing for the children! WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?

 

Bankers vs. Hookers

This happens: Pat needs money to live. Pat works as a mortgage broker at the bank. Pat has no particular love of money or financial transactions but they are good at it. Pat does not feel any strong connection to clients when processing their mortgage applications.

Society says: Pat is a responsible, productive member of society. Being paid to do math is totally respectable. Working in a bank is fine, even when you don’t love it. Pat’s gotta do what Pat’s gotta do.

Meanwhile…

This happens: Sal needs money to live. Sal works as a prostitute in a brothel. Sal does not have great passion for every client but is sexually skilled. Sal does not form strong emotional connections with clients after having sex with them.

Society says: Sal is an amoral, destructive member of society. No self-respecting person would ever accept money for sex. Having sex with someone without any  significant emotional investment is soul-destroying. Sal is all scarred and damaged, yo!

 

Friends vs. Lovers

This happens: Jesse is very socially active and has many friends. Jesse friends are a diverse lot. Jesse enjoys playing baseball with some friends, attends a monthly book club with an entirely different group of friends and next month Jesse’s going to Florida with some pals from university. Everyone involved is aware that Jesse has lots of friends. Everyone is okay with it.

Society says: Have fun, Jesse! (N.B. society does NOT cite the increased risk of contracting a communicable disease as reason for Jesse to have fewer friends or social interactions!)

Meanwhile…

This happens: Sidney is sexually active and has several partners. Sidney’s partners are a diverse lot. Sidney enjoys frequent sex with a cute co-worker and recently hooked up with someone at a party. Sidney also has a fuck buddy in another city and they connect a couple times a year. Everyone involved is aware that Sidney has multiple sex partners. Everyone is okay with it.

Society says: Too much sex, Sid! You’re being kind of slutty. And by slutty we mean dirty and bad. (N.B. Sid will likely get an earful about promiscuity and an increased risk of contracting an STI.)

Your personal reaction to any of these scenarios may be different from the society says. Not every person in our society is sex negative, nor is everyone sex negative all the time. But generally speaking there is an assumption situations involving sex will be  problematic and we attribute those problems to the inherent “wrongness” of sex. And yes, sex can be risky and/or have negative consequences. But are those risks unique to sex? Are those negative outcomes because of our attitudes about sex or because of the sex itself?

Enter sex positivity!

Sex positivity defines sex as fundamentally healthy and a potentially positive human drive. It still places sanctions/boundaries on sexual activity – namely informed consent. And it also acknowledges that sex may not a positive experience for everyone or that some people choose not to participate or even have a desire for sex.

But sex positivity tends to emphasize pleasure, personal agency and individual expression as important elements of sex. Sex positivity doesn’t rank sexual activities in terms of their “rightness” or “wrongness”.  It’s a lot about honouring people’s individual desires and respecting the sexual choices people make.

And there’s more…much, much more! As I said, I’m a beginner myself. I’m only starting to get a sense of how sex-positivity challenges many of my assumptions about sexuality and how that in turn will affect my work and my life. But I am a full-on, sex-positivity fan-girl!

In Thursday’s post, I will write more specifically about what sex-positivity is and ways I’ve learned of putting the theory into practice. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether Democrat or Republican, American voters seem to love having a family man in the White House. However, POTUS The Fifteenth, James Buchanan has the distinction of being the only swingin’ bachelor to rule the U.S. of A.

Prior to his presidency, Buchanan was briefly engaged to Ann Coleman but Coleman broke off the engagement and died soon afterward. Buchanan lived for fifteen years with his dear friend and eventual vice-president William Rufus King. Many historians have theorized that Buchanan was gay with veep King serving not only as the President’s second in command – but a life-partner as well.

 

Don’t let Ottawa’s buttoned-up exterior fool you. This here government town has got lots of HAWT happening, you just have to know where to find it.  Here’s a list of some cool, sexy events coming up in the nation’s capital.

Photo by Neal Jennings

Capital Pride August 17th – 26th

Ottawa’s celebration of queer life in the capital. There are tons of great events happening around the city. I’ve listed a select few below, but for the full list of activities check out the Capital Pride website.

 

August 16th

Jer’s Vision Boat Cruise

Join us for a luxurious tour of the Ottawa Canal aboard Paul’s Boat Lines.  The voyage will include refreshments from Peller Estates and Beau’s Brewery, not to mention scrumptious appetizers. Tickets available at info@jersvision.org

Time: 7 pm

Place: Government Centre Docks

Cost: $25 (includes open bar).

 

August 17th

Repo: The Genetic Opera – Stop, Drop and Drag

Shadowcasting is when a live ensemble recreates a movie on stage, while the film is playing behind them. It is the ultimate melding of Film and Theater, with the cast complimenting the action on screen, and subtly contrasting it with their own unique vision. As such, you are really getting two shows for the price of one! Don’t be afraid to come dressed in drag.

Time: Doors – 8:30. Show – 9:00

Place: Club SAW

Cost: $10

August 18th

Ottawa Slut Walk

The freedom to wear whatever you want rules! Slut shaming and victim blaming drools! Blaming the victim is a systemic problem that requires a change both in social climate and policy. Awareness and education will help to bring about these changes, and that taking to the streets is an effective means of drawing attention to the issue.

Time: 1:30-4:30

Place: The Canadian Tribute To Human Rights

Cost: FREE

 

August 19th

SHAG With Pride

The Sexual Health Advisory Group (SHAG) is a youth-to-youth sexual health education initiative from the Youth Services Bureau.  SHAG enthusiastically invites all youth ages 16 to 24 to join them for a totally FREE event during pride week for an evening of cupcakes, BBQ, sexy DIY crafts, a Venus Envy workshop, Kondoms ‘n Karaoke, and sex positivity.  BYOWG (Bring Your Own Water Gun!)

Time: 4 – 7:30 p.m.

Place: Jack Purcell Community Centre, Rm 101

Cost: FREE

 

August 20th

OPS Pancake Breakfast

Ottawa Police Services flag unfurling and followed by a lot of pancakes – NOMS! A fundraiser in support of The AIDS Committee of Ottawa.

Time: 6:30 a.m.

Place: Ottawa Police Station (Elgin Street)

Cost: FREE (Donations welcome!)

 

August 21st

Picnic In The Park

An LGBTQ+  family event that includes a BBQ, crafts, games, activities, a photo booth, face painting, a community information booth and a splash pad!

Time: 4 -7 p.m.

Place: Hintonburg Community Centre

Cost: FREE

 

Pride Week Karaoke

Get your croon on with my favourite karaoke cowboys. Dog and Pony Sound present mo’fun, mo’singin’ and mojitos during this fun filled karaoke night.

Time: 9:30 p.m.

Place: The Lookout

Cost: FREE

 

August 22nd

Trans-Queering Your Sex

Interested in a transperson, gender-queer o rnon-conforming person?  Want to experience “nontraditional” sex and desire not based on stereotypes?  This is the workshop for you! Open to all. Seminar hosted by Ignacio Rivera (NYC).

Time: 9:30 p.m.

Place: Venus Envy

Cost: FREE

 

August 24th

Proud Chix Dance Party

Join the LIX Chicks on Friday for their eighth Women’s Pride Dance at the Ron Kolbus Centre, Lakeside Gardens, Britannia Beach.  The Proud Chicks Dance Party is the largest and most popular women’s dance during the Ottawa-Gatineau Pride festivities.  The dance features a fabulous DJ, a large dance floor, access to Britannia Beach, a licensed outdoor patio, and hundreds of proud lesbians.

Time: 9:00 p.m.

Place: Lakeside Gardens, Britannia

Cost: $20

Ottawa Femme Formal

Ottawa Femme Family is proud to present Ottawa’s first-ever Femme Formal! Think of it as a femmecentric prom for femmes and our admirers! Femme music + femme hotties + femme admirers = a hella good time! Dress to impress.

Time: 11 p.m.

Place: Raw Sugar Café

Cost: $10

 

August 25th

Dyke March

Ottawa Dyke Day 2012 is rapidly approaching and the Dyke March Committee has been working hard to put together a great day that celebrates the dyke community.

After the speakers we will depart and march from the Human Rights Monument to Dundonald Park located at Somerset and Lyon St.  Our marching route will be -> Lisgar -> Bank -> Somerset -> Dundonald Park.

Time: 12:30

Place: Human Rights Monument

Cost: FREE

August 26th

Pride Parade

The main event! The Parade travels through the downtown core, along Wellington Street, down Bank Street, and turning onto Laurier to end at Ottawa City Hall’s Marion Dewar Plaza. With over 35,000 spectators in 2010, we expect an even greater crowd this year to celebrate Pride.

Time: 1 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gilbert Baker – sometimes referred to as “the Gay Betsy Ross” – is the artist and civil rights activist who designed the Rainbow Flag, a popular symbol of queer pride.

Baker first raised the  Rainbow flag during San Francisco Pride in 1978. The original version had eight colours, each with it

photo by Benson Kua

s own symbolic significance: hot pink to represent sexuality; red to represent life; orange to represent healing; yellow to represent sunlight; green to represent nature; turquoise to represent magic and art; blue to represent harmony; and violet to represent spirit.

The flag as been modified from Baker’s original design several times.  Because of challenges related to mass producing hot-pink and turquoise fabrics, a six colour version of the Rainbow flag is the version most commonly seen today.

Don’t let Ottawa’s buttoned-up exterior fool you. This here government town has got lots of HAWT happening, you just have to know where to find it.  Here’s a list of some of the cool sexy events coming up in the nation’s capital:

Friday, August 3rd

Centretown Movies and Planned Parenthood Ottawa presents The Birdcage

What better way to start off your long weekend than with an outdoor screening of this campy, comic classic? All proceeds go to Planned Parenthood Ottawa (who just happen to be my employers). Huzzah for sexual health resources and paychecks!

Time: 9 pm

Place: Dundonald Park

Cost: Pay-What-You-Can

 

Ottawa Slowdance Night: Summer Love Edition

Get your up-close-and-personal grove on as the DJ spins (almost) all slow songs. Don’t have a date? No worries. There are designated dancers just waiting to fill up the slots on your dance cards. (For real, there are actual dance cards!)

Time: 9 p.m.

Place: Raw Sugar Café

Cost: $10 at the door

 

Monday, August 13th

The Naughty Bits Book Club

Ottawa’s favourite sex shop wants you to do some hot summer reading. Grab a copy of this month’s selection – A Queer And Present Danger, then jam on down to Venus Envy to discuss your favourite naughty bits.

Time: 6:30

Place: Venus Envy Ottawa

Cost: FREE

 

Wednesday, August 15th

Senior’s Night Out!

Get ready to mix and mingle! This twice monthly is a chance for LGBTA folk over 50 to get together and have some fun!

Time: 7:30

Place: Burgers On Main

Cost: No cover. Cash bar.

 

August 16th

Strip Cheese

Ottawa’s sauciest burlesque vixens take it off to some the cheesiest rock anthems, power ballads and love songs of our time!

Time: Doors at 8 p.m. Show at 9.

Place: Maxwell’s Bistro

COST: $10 at the door.

 

If you’ve got the lowdown on some sex-positive, queer-inclusive happenings coming up, feel free to drop me a line at nadine@adorkableundies.com or go right ahead and list them in the comments!