Welcome! I’m Tai Quyn Kulystin, the creatrix of Purveyor of Pleasure. I am a educator, artist, occultist, harlot, and gentlefemme about town. This blog is my personal exploration of gender, sexuality, spirituality, kink, and the pitfalls of an overanalytical nature.
I currently identify as a queer fat genderqueer polyamorous switch and prefer the pronouns ne/nem/nir or they/them. I spend a lot of my time thinking about sacred sexuality, sacred kink, relationships, queer theory, depth psychology, sexological bodywork, and so much more. I'm in a long-term live-in relationship with my partner Onyx, and I also have a few other relationships and lovers. Read more about this site & me→
Call for Submissions: Lesbian BDSM Erotica Anthology [Title TBA]
To be published by Cleis Press in fall 2011
Editor Sinclair Sexsmith is looking for hot, sexy, well-written stories about kinky sex between queer women, from bondage scenarios to power play to role play to sadism and masochism to sensation play for a new anthology of lesbian BDSM erotica. Looking for characters with a range of age, race, sexual experience, gender identity and gender expression: butch, femme, genderqueer, gender-non-conforming, dapper, and others will all be considered. Cis women, trans women, and genderqueer characters who identify with the lesbian community are welcome. Stories should have strong literary voice, characters, tension, and rising action. All characters must be over 18. Prose only will be considered, no comics, graphic stories, or poetry. For examples of what I am looking for, see Tristan Taormino’s collection Best Lesbian Bondage Erotica.
Deadline: January 1, 2011
How to submit: Send your story in a Times New Roman 12 point black font Word document (.doc) with pages numbered of 1,500 to 5,000 words to firstname.lastname@example.org. Double space the document and indent the first line of each paragraph. US grammar required. If you are using a pseudonym, provide your real name and be clear under which you would like to be published. Include your mailing address and a 50 words or less bio in the third person. Publisher has final approval over the manuscript.
About the editor: Sinclair Sexsmith runs the award-winning personal online writing project Sugarbutch Chronicles: The Gender, and Relationship Adventures of a Kinky Queer Butch Top at www.sugarbutch.net. With work published in various anthologies, including the Best Lesbian Erotica series, Sometimes She Lets Me: Butch/Femme Erotica, and Visible: A Femmethology volume 2, Mr. Sexsmith also writes columns for online publications and facilitates workshops on sex, gender, and relationships. Find her full portfolio and schedule at www.mrsexsmith.com.
Yesterday (October 11th) was National Coming Out Day. If I had been on top of things this post would have come out then, but I’m a little bit behind on just about everything at this moment. I used this day to reflect on my identities. Here are some of my thoughts.
I’ve been out for quite a while. Unless this is your first time here and/or you haven’t read the about page yet you should already know that I have a long string of labels I like to use in order to describe my identities. I am a genderqueer fat femme drag queen fagette and pomo queer intellisexual polyamorous switch. I am also an occultist, sacred whore, astrologer, and all manner of other things. Specifically NCOD refers to coming out of the proverbial closet, or LGBT(QQIA) people coming out, so I focused on my identity string.
I’ve talked about this before, but the main reason why I use so many identity words strung together like I do is so that it is nearly impossible to pigeonhole me into one identity or another. Instead, it forces people to acknowledge the way the identities blend and interchange between them, and how my identities are fluid. At least, that’s my theory.
I don’t really have a story of coming out to my parents. I remember being a teenager telling my mother I was bisexual. Her response? “Oh. I thought you were a lesbian.” And that was it. During the triad with Marla I told both of my parents about her and our relationship configuration and they both responded without judgment, just asked practical questions about the situation.
Coming out, ultimately, is an ongoing process both for me and, really, for everyone. While there are people who fit into the stereotypical way that a certain identity or another looks there are just as many if not more people who are not so easy to categorize with a look. For those of us who are not blatantly obvious we have to come out over and over again, to just about everyone we choose. This is compounded by the fact that I present femme most of the time and have a cisgendered male partner so we are often mistaken for a straight couple even though neither of us is straight.
This isn’t to say I walk up to new people and give them the string of identity words I used above, but it does mean that there are times I have to come out, sometimes coming out multiple times to the same person.
It can be exhausting, but I appreciate the ability to live stealth as well, so I can be privy to those possibly bigoted conversations and attempt to put in my own two cents, and as a result maybe change some minds.
One thing that continues to amaze me is the ability someone has to be an inspiration for others simply by being themselves. By doing what is right and good for you others can be inspired to do the same for themselves, and I love this. Every time you come out is an act of courage. Feel free to come out in the comments.
More thinking about my post Tired from the beginning of the month has lead me to this: if you don’t know, ask. Don’t ever be afraid to ask. While it’s not always enjoyable to me to explain how I identify to someone that doesn’t mean it’s not highly appreciated. I would much rather have an hour long conversation (or even five-minute) about my identities than have my gender, sexuality, spirituality, or anything else assumed. You know what they say about to assume…
For the most part I’m pretty open when asked a question directly. I don’t skirt around things and I will take a question at face-value and answer exactly what was posed. I might not offer up additional information, but I am not shy about answering questions when asked directly. While I don’t always enjoy talking about myself (I know, that may be hard to believe considering that’s most of what I do on this blog) that doesn’t mean that I would rather not be asked about something. If I can clarify something or explain something I am always happy to, as long as I have the time. I also try not to assume that the other person will know what I’m talking about.
This doesn’t mean I think they are stupid, but because I use terms in mostly academic ways and since I don’t know if they have read something I’m referencing in my identity or explanation I try not to make assumptions either way and opt to ask questions myself. “Have you heard of…”" “Have you read…?” etc. If not I try to explain as fully as possible, and even if so I often will still mention some of the basic ideas of what I am referencing to make sure we are on the same page. I do not assume anyone is on the same page as I am, but that doesn’t mean they are not as smart as me or any other nonsense like that. Knowledge on one specific subject has nothing to do with intelligence.
Specifically what I was referencing in Tired had to do with two types of people. People with whom I have had conversations regarding identity who then turn around and seem to ignore everything I have expressed about my identity regardless. Or people assuming they know my identity without asking or having a conversation about it. It is difficult for me in either of these situations to come out and say “I don’t identify that way.” I’m just not a confrontational person and it is often difficult for me to assert my identities. I realize not being able to do that is my problem, but I do think that making assumptions about someone else’s identity is never a good idea. Similarly, disregarding a conversation about an identity is also not a good idea.
It’s hard work to have identity conversations in general. I realize this. It’s difficult to ask someone a question about their identity, you can’t always know how that question will be reacted to. Just keep in mind that when you ask make sure to ask something regarding identity rather than pinning an identity to it already such as “how do you identify?” versus “are you a [insert identity here]?” You can use specific terms such as “What is your gender identity?” “What pronoun do you prefer?” “What is your sexual identity?” as well, though the slightly more open-ended “how do you identify?” may get you the widest variety of options.
Please, ask questions, ask clearly, ask for definitions of things if I or someone else uses a term in a way that is unfamiliar to you. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. It is far better to ask than to assume. While there may be the occasional person who is offended that you would ask or who doesn’t think it is any of your business that doesn’t mean everyone would be. That said, also think about what you are asking and of whom. Should you be asking complete strangers about what genitals they have (though this isn’t the same as gender identity discussed previously) or who they like to fuck? Maybe it is, depending on the context of wherever you are at the moment, but maybe it’s not. Be smart about it, segue into it, make sure it is appropriate, but don’t be afraid to ask if you sincerely want to know and don’t.
Similarly, if you identify with something out of the norm please don’t scare people away from asking questions, if they’re asking that’s at least a step above assuming your identity and questions are an excellent time to educate them and open their minds. Who knows what kind of chain reaction you might set off. If they ask in an inappropriate way then tell them so politely and educate them as to how to ask in a better manner next time. I can’t say I’m perfect at this, but I’m trying.
It is not easy on either side of the conversation. Sometimes I just wish I could fit into societal standards in one way or another and not have to worry about things like this, not have to figure my identities out in order for me to enjoy them and understand them. I get tired of explaining the same thing over and over to the same people, sometimes I’m tired of explaining in general even to new people who are genuinely interested, but that doesn’t mean I would rather not be asked. I’m glad to challenge normalized ideas and maybe, just maybe, open a mind or two.
One year ago I wrote an introduction to Marla. We had already been talking for a few weeks previous to that. In so many ways it doesn’t seem like it has been a year, but in others it seems like it should have been far longer. Everything happened so quickly, she was living with us less than six months after I first introduced her, and then everything split apart just a few months later.
She once asked me if I planned on writing a post to commemorate our anniversary. This isn’t what either of us had in mind.
In some ways it makes me extremely excited for what the next year will bring. Where will I be in March of 2011? What will be happening and what will I be thinking? How will my identities and thoughts and passions have changed and grown and evolved?
In some ways it makes me sad that I have not posted as much this past year as I wanted to or wish I had, but I also know that was a product of the situation. I just couldn’t write about what I was thinking and feeling, for various reasons. I was highly distracted. I know I write about her quite often, but it’s difficult not to write about someone who had such an extreme impact on every aspect of my life as she did.
I will be moving back to Seattle in five short days, hoping that the situation I am coming back to will encourage me to write rather than the opposite, though I also hope to be far more busy so I may have to finally learn how to prioritize (and judging by the half-dozen drafts I have open while writing this that may take a bit to do). I am a different person now than I was a year ago, in so many ways. I’m looking forward to what the next year will bring.
My life is a series of changes, a series of hits and misses, ghosts and corpses. I’ve lost a lot and gained what I’ve taken. This time next year I won’t be this girl anymore, I’ll be something new. I’ll be a new image, a new collage in the making. But no matter who I become next I will always remember the people I’ve been and all the pieces I’ve kept. – We the Living Photography [image]
I’ve known John Leo for the better part of the last decade (eight years? More? Less?) though it’s been a good five or so years since I’ve seen him. We’ve been in touch recently via Facebook and I am super excited at the chance to see him and meet his partner Sophie and see them perform! They are going on tour with their show Peg-Ass-Us, a musical romantic comedy about pegging looking at “queer sex for straight folks.” How fantastic is that?!
They’re coming up here to Juneau and also to Seattle and Portland, so if you’re in either of those wonderful cities (and I know some of you are) you definitely need to check them out. They’re also based out of Brooklyn, and have performed in major cities all over, so even if you’re not in Seattle or Portland you should get them on your radar and see if you can see them next time they’re in your town!
They’re also on Facebook, Twitter, and have their show listed as an event on FetLife for the Seattle show and the Portland show so you can get all social networky with them especially if you are able to go or even if you’re not!
The show information:
John Leo and Sophie Nimmannit, a real-life couple, have crafted perhaps the silliest, most heartfelt romantic comedy about strap-on anal sex ever. Their beginner’s guide to “pegging” (as coined by Savage Love readers) – complete with sing-a-longs, how-to’s, puppets and soul-baring striptease – offers a hilariously penetrating look at queer sex for straight folks. But as the lesson probes deeper, it devolves into a lover’s quarrel that tickles qualms, exposes scruples, liberates desire and comes to a climax where everyone gets off.
After a month-long run as Artists-in-Residence at Dixon Place in New York City, Pack of Others takes their sex-ed kink comedy Peg-ass-us on the road, spending February 2010 – “Creative Romance Month” and “Safer Sex Awareness Month” – on tour in the Pacific Northwest. Join us!
“a real audience pleaser; it’s frank, illuminating and theatrical, no matter how you like your bacon”
–“Stage Notes” by Tom Murrin, PAPERMAG
“Sex-Ed at its Best!”
-Drs. Carol Queen & Robert Lawrence
(featured educators, Bend Over Boyfriend video series)
“This little theatrical workshop on sex, relationships and intimacy was informative, amusing, clever, touching and sexy all in an hour.”
~Ty Stover, Indy.com
Feb. 5th-6th – Juneau, Alaska
The Hangar (in the Wharf) Ballroom
Egan Drive, Merchants Wharf
Shows at 9pm
(includes Special Performances of Juneau’s
Off the Hook Honeys (Burlesque),
Snaptastic! (Buffoon) in “Your B*tch is Next”
Feb. 14th (Valentine’s!)- 17th – Seattle, WA
11th Ave at E. Pike St
Seattle, WA 98122
Shows at 8pm
Tickets $15 (general admission), $10 (students/seniors)
(Monday 15th, Pay What You Can)
Advance tickets: www.annextheatre.org
Feb. 19th-21st – Portland, OR
125 Northwest 5th Avenue
Portland, OR 97209
Shows at 8pm
Tickets $10 advance, $12 at the door
Advance tickets: www.somedaylounge.com
In case you need more convincing, here’s their youtube video too!
This question has been running through my head over and over since everything happened in November. I’m still processing everything, but life must go on in the meantime as much as I want to pause it and analyze and figure things out before continuing I, unfortunately, do not have the ability to do that, so I’m taking everything one step at a time.
Ang just wrote a post on Things People Say about polyamory and what it entails, when she posed this question on twitter “Finish this sentence: “For poly to work, everyone involved must…………..”" I immediately responded “…communicate and be honest, especially with themselves.” These aren’t the only things that are required, but they are what immediately came to mind, specifically because they were our downfalls.
I think honesty was one of the big things missing from the triad. Ultimately, dishonesty is what ended up splitting us so suddenly, but it had been a problem for quite a while, and for all of us to an extent I think. I know there were times when I was dishonest, specifically to myself but through being dishonest with myself I was dishonest with the others. It is so easy for me to deceive myself, though I used to be much better at it than I am now as I’ve purposefully worked at eroding that skill set.
No one is able to be honest with themselves 100 percent of the time because that’s just not the way our brains work. What we think we want in one minute could be wrong, a distraction, or simply part of the process of moving us toward the ultimate realization. Or maybe it is what we want in that moment, we just don’t want it later. Our brains work in convoluted ways and often will not let us know the whole truth that is going on inside us until it is too late.
It’s often difficult to tell the difference between dishonesty and change in some cases as well. There were many times within the triad relationship when I was wondering about things, worried about things, or thinking about things in a way that was contrary to how I ended up feeling. Were those times when I was being dishonest or simply something that changed in me during the course of the trilationship? Probably a little of both.
I will be honest and say that there have been many times lately and in the past when I have wondered if I am still attracted to males. Aside from Onyx there hasn’t been another I have really been attracted to in a long time. Being with a female again reminded me of just how attracted I am to females. On the one hand I don’t want to limit myself, but on the other I find my understanding of my desires evolving as I do.
There was a period of a few weeks after the triad dissolved that I was feeling decidedly asexual, no doubt as part of a coping mechanism to the shock of everything that happened and the need for me to get space and take time. I used that time to evaluate a lot of things about myself and my desires, and realized while my desires have remained fairly constant my ability to articulate them has definitely changed.
For a long time I have called myself intellisexual but maybe not fully embraced the meaning. I’m attracted to intelligence and intellect, to individuals and all the things that make up an individual rather than the body that individual inhabits. For as long as I can remember I’ve had a bit of an indifference to genitals, by which I mean I don’t find genitals in and of themselves sexy or arousing. I can’t look at a picture of a cock or cunt and be that attracted to it without knowing the person behind it. This rang home for me when Onyx visited.
Before the triad split it had been a while since Onyx and I had sex, and the times we did after Marla moved in with us were not only few and far between but also often strange and unpleasant for one reason or another. There were a lot of negative emotions going on and a lot of things coming between our relationship with one another, so our sex as well as our relationship suffered from it dramatically. This was a major factor in my wondering about being attracted to males, I believe, since we weren’t fitting together and he is one of the only males I have any sort of attraction to the conclusion for my brain was to think maybe I should just give up males altogether.
When we were talking about him visiting I was nervous because of this, I didn’t know if I was going to be attracted to him again, I didn’t know if it was going to be a farewell visit or a reconciliation. After the split and before he visited there were instances when I was masturbating and he came to mind without my conscious invoking of him, which made me more secure in his coming up here. I figured one way or another something would be determined by his visit.
I still look at images of cocks and cunts and have very little attraction, but when he was here I was definitely attracted to him. There was a spark between us that I hadn’t felt in many years, since way before we moved to Seattle. We had amazing chemistry once upon a time, but the pressure we put on ourselves, getting used to each other, and getting to the point of taking each other for granted definitely changed our interactions for the worse. That chemistry was back full-force as the weight of the triad had been lifted from both of us and we both have been focusing on ourselves since everything happened. It was amazing once again.
For the moment I’m still sticking with the needing to be alone idea. We are pausing our relationship in a way right now in that we are separated by many miles, but still keeping in touch and planning on visiting each other regularly. For some people this would be a long-distance relationship, but that’s not what I’m comfortable terming it at the moment. I am taking time to figure out my life as well as analyze and discover aspects of myself long since forgotten, and I believe he is doing the same. We’re both working on rethinking the way we both approach our relationship so that we do not fall into the same traps and end up getting into a rut the way we have before.
We got too stuck in the idea of a relationship as the focal point of life rather than a support system or another person to create home together. We both need focuses outside the relationship more than we were getting before, and that is what we’re getting now being so far apart and not living together. He has been my home for so long, but we were going about it the wrong way. Instead of going off and having our own adventures so that we could come back together, share what we experienced and learned, and be stronger for it we got way too wrapped up in each other over the course of our relationship, especially moving to a new place together where I had trouble finding a job or an outside focus.
There was a long while when we talked a lot about needing to get out of our isolationist funk but we were having trouble doing it, which is when Marla came along and seemed to fill that need so perfectly. She seemed to fit in with us so well and came right at the perfect time, and although everything crumbled in the end the experience was extraordinarily valuable. Among many other things it showed me just how strong my bond with Onyx is, that I haven’t been willing to give him up despite the opportunity, which, quite honestly, surprised me.
There are still a lot of things to figure out, and for that I’m glad we have lots of time and space to work on everything. I’m glad to keep as many options open as possible, and do wish that things had happened differently, but I think everything has worked out for the best.
Femme–an identity that has caused controversy, celebration and ridicule–is now the topic of a two-volume set from Homofactus Press and editor Jennifer Clare Burke titled Visible: A Femmethology. Femmethology calls the LGBTQI community on its own prejudice and celebrates the diversity of individual femmes. Award-winning authors, spoken-word artists, and totally new voices come together to challenge conventional ideas of how disability, class, nationality, race, aesthetics, sexual orientation, gender identity and body type intersect with each contributor’s concrete notion of femmedom. - from femmethology.com
This month of April marks something I’ve been waiting for quite some time: the Femmethology virtual blog tour! Today is lucky enough to be my day, and so I’m sharing some of my feelings and insights related to the Femmethology. Visit Daphne Gottlieb tomorrow for her day, and all the sites at the bottom of the post on their days.
First, a little about the Femmethology: Visible: A Femmethology
Femmethology is essential—a roadmap of Femme Nation, an index, an anthropology, a manifesto, and a googleology. – Dorothy Allison
Visible: a Femmethology is a two-volume anthology of essays revolving around femme identity.
Not that I had forgotten my femme identity, I just had been focusing more consciously on my fagette identity than my femme because it was new and in a way easier to focus on because it’s more visible (though only slightly). The identities in no way are opposites, they are complimentary, but they are also different. Reading through the Femmethology in a way re-connected me with my femme identity.
The biggest benefit of the Femmethology, in my opinion, is that it helps remind us that we are not alone as femmes. While some of us have many femme friends and a wonderful support system the rest of us do not and we have to navigate the world without much reassurance and reminders that there are so many of us out there feeling the same things. This is one of the reasons I started The Femme’s Guide in the first place, to emphasize that there are many of us out there, and while we’re all different we are also all the same.
I was moved many times throughout the two volumes. There were authors I knew well or moderately well, from various avenues such as Sinclair Sexsmith, Sassafras Lowrey, and Tara Hardy. There were many other authors that I didn’t know anything about, but I was able to get to know something about them through their stories.
Many stories touched me to the core, rocked me, and left me dazed and contemplating my own stories and my own identities.
I feel that Visible: A Femmethology is not just a book or anthology meant to be read, though it certainly is that as well, it’s also a look into each of these femme’s lives and voices, an adventure into different types of femme-ininity and different experiences that all somehow are similar because of this identity we all embrace and inhabit. It shows the vastness of femme while also showing what unites us.
It screamed “you are not alone” to me right when I needed it.
From the Introduction to the anthology: “Femme means I won’t compromise on complexity. … Above all, my femme is not your femme, which is the good news. … Femme means my sexuality, my partner choices, my definitions and my gender presentation might not match your labels.”
The incredibly sexy and absolutely awesome NoFauxxx.Com is having a Holiday Photo Contest! You can win some delicious queer porn, and who doesn’t want that? Anything from NoFauxxx is hot, sexy, and delicious. I have a review coming soon of them as well!
Win a Free Year-Long Membership to NoFauxxx.Com for you and a friend!
Holiday Photo Contest Info from Trouble:
We want to give you, and one of your friends, one of the best holiday gifts you can get – free queer porn! All you have to do is send us a photograph that shows your definition of “QUEER.” We will judge the photo on artistic quality and content readability – and we will post all of the entries in a special gallery on NoFauxxx.Com!
Here are the rules.
1. YOU MUST BE 18 OR OLDER TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS CONTEST. Please include a photo of you holding up your ID (with date of birth clearly readable) along with your photo submission.
2. Photo can be of anything, but it has to include YOU and a symbol of your definition of “queer.” You do *not* have to be naked, however you are also free to be as naked as you like, and doing anything you like in the photo just as long as it is legal!
3. Please use your own ideas, we’re looking for something unique and one of a kind! We are looking for photos that have emotional content – we want to look at the photo and say, “Oh! This is what ‘queer’ means to this person!”
4. Please fill out the additional questions on the form, such as how you took the photo, what gave you the idea, and what your definition of “queer” is.
Models, members, and fans are all eligible to win. Photos must be self-shot or self-directed, and taken specifically for this contest. Photos from a professional photo set probably wont win this one!
If you are ready to enter this contest, please fill out the submission form now!
Working Title: Sexual Ability: Embracing the Intersection of Sexuality and (dis)Ability Editor: Shanna Katz, M.Ed, Human Sexuality Education, Widener University Contact: email@example.com Submission Deadline: March 31, 2009
Even as we approach the end of the first decade of the 21st century, there is still a large gap in people’s minds when they think about sexuality as it relates to people who are disabled, whether cognitively or physically. While some studies have been performed regarding the potential for differently-abled people to lead satisfying sexual lives, in which satisfying seems to center around the ability to orgasm, very little has been written about the experiences involving the sexualities and experiences of people who identify as handicapped/disabled/differently-abled, as well as their partners.
People of all ability levels are sexual beings. Sex is hard enough to navigate and negotiate when one fits in with society’s notions of what a sexual being is, but once you add in the concept of ability, it can become quite challenge. This anthology, Sexual Ability, seeks to bring forward the stories, challenges and experiences of differently-abled people and their partners, putting a face on the trials that so many valuable members of our society must face. By sharing the experiences of the disabled community in relation to sexuality, Sexual Ability hopes to challenge people’s viewpoints, foster discussion and conversation, and open doors towards a shift in the social constructions surrounding sexuality and disability.
Essay submissions should be well thought out, and written in a scholarly manner. Acceptable submissions can be in the form of short research papers, non-fictional accounts of personal experience(s), discussions on issues regarding sexuality and disability, etc. Fictional pieces/erotica will NOT be considered. Each author may submit a total of two (2) essays for consideration.
Some topics that authors might consider (but are certainly not limited to) include;
Coming out to a new partner and facilitating the “disability discussion”
Reclaiming words surrounding sexuality and disability, such as “crip,” “handicapped,” etc.
Issues within the medical community; talking with doctors about being sexually active when you’re differently-abled.
Having to create new sex techniques, positions, conversations, or having to re-define the traditional definitions of sex, etc.
Disabled and queer, disabled and of color, disabled and religious; reconciling multiple identities alongside sexuality.
Re-conceiving your sexuality after loss of previous abilities, either solo or with a partner.
Ability and kink; negotiating within the BDSM community when differently-abled.
Sexuality and ability through out different cultural experiences.
Portrayal of disabled people in the media (film, TV, art, advertisements, etc) and the connection to sexuality.
Disability rights; the fight for them, and how they affect sexuality amongst the disabled community.
Birth control/contraception; getting it, using it, adapting it, as well as pregnancy/adoption/abortion.
Creating your identity as a disabled person who is a sexual being; how did it evolve, and what was your journey.
Any other subjects you feel cover the topic of sexuality and (dis)ability.
By March 31, 2009, please send:
Your 2,000 – 6,000 word submission, as a word document attachment. It should be titled as such: SubmissionTitleAuthorName.doc (example: SexualAbility.ShannaKatz.Doc). Submissions must be received in 12 point Times New Roman font and sent in via Word documents (other files and cut/pasted text will not be accepted).
Your complete contact information, including legal name, pen name (if you have one), phone number, email, address, and website (if you have one).
A 50-100 word biography about yourself.
Please submit the above to: firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line of “Sexual Ability – Submission.” Submissions will be read and reviewed as received, but decisions will be made final by July 2009. Please note that accepted submissions will be approved on a tentative basis, pending editorial board approval once the anthology has secured a publisher.
Questions can be directed to Shanna Katz at email@example.com or please visit the Sexual Ability MySpace page at www. myspace. com/sexualability.
Please distribute widely. Feel free to post on blogs, websites, social networking sites, listserves, etc.
A note: I would not dare to define what disabled/handicapped/differently-abled meant to anyone. Please do not ask me if your disability counts; if you or your partner identify as such, then I welcome your submission to this anthology.
Though I did write about the election, I have been meaning to talk about Proposition 8 in California. I attended the rally to protest the LDS church’s involvement in Prop 8 here in Salt Lake City last Friday, we met up by the LDS Temple and marched around it. I do believe that this has been a great catalyst for the queer rights movement lately, and I also think that marriage is just one small aspect of what we need to be focusing on, but having one goal to rally around does help organize a movement.
I saw this last night, as I have become an avid watcher of Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow (conveniently on right after another) in the last few months, originally because of the election but now I seem to have become a bit of a liberal political media junkie (not hugely, but a little). This has been popping up all over today, and it’s something that touched me strongly enough that I would like to share with you. He makes some of the best, strongest, and most organized points against Prop 8 that I’ve seen on TV, because it is a personal rights issue and a love issue not a religious issue.
Finally tonight as promised, a Special Comment on the passage, last week, of Proposition Eight in California, which rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry, and tilted the balance on this issue, from coast to coast.
Some parameters, as preface. This isn’t about yelling, and this isn’t about politics, and this isn’t really just about Prop-8. And I don’t have a personal investment in this: I’m not gay, I had to strain to think of one member of even my very extended family who is, I have no personal stories of close friends or colleagues fighting the prejudice that still pervades their lives.
And yet to me this vote is horrible. Horrible. Because this isn’t about yelling, and this isn’t about politics. This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it.
If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don’t want to deny you yours. They don’t want to take anything away from you. They want what you want—a chance to be a little less alone in the world.
Only now you are saying to them—no. You can’t have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don’t cause too much trouble. You’ll even give them all the same legal rights—even as you’re taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can’t marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn’t marry?
I keep hearing this term “re-defining” marriage. If this country hadn’t re-defined marriage, black people still couldn’t marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal in 1967. 1967.
The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn’t have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it’s worse than that. If this country had not “re-defined” marriage, some black people still couldn’t marry black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not “Until Death, Do You Part,” but “Until Death or Distance, Do You Part.” Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.
You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are gay.
And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing, centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children, all because we said a man couldn’t marry another man, or a woman couldn’t marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage.
How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the “sanctity” of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?
What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don’t you, as human beings, have to embrace… that love? The world is barren enough.
It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.
And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling. With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?
With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate… this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then Spread happiness—this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness—share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of love. All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate.
You don’t have to help it, you don’t have it applaud it, you don’t have to fight for it. Just don’t put it out. Just don’t extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don’t know and you don’t understand and maybe you don’t even want to know. It is, in fact, the ember of your love, for your fellow person just because this is the only world we have. And the other guy counts, too.
This is the second time in ten days I find myself concluding by turning to, of all things, the closing plea for mercy by Clarence Darrow in a murder trial.
But what he said, fits what is really at the heart of this:
“I was reading last night of the aspiration of the old Persian poet, Omar-Khayyam,” he told the judge. It appealed to me as the highest that I can vision. I wish it was in my heart, and I wish it was in the hearts of all: So I be written in the Book of Love; I do not care about that Book above. Erase my name, or write it as you will, So I be written in the Book of Love.