Purveyor of Pleasure

Pleasure is my business, my life, my joy, my purpose.

Tag: becoming (Page 1 of 2)

On the Love of Self and Selfies

August-September 2015.

August-September 2015.

Selfies are the self-portraits of this current technological age. They tell you a lot about how the person sees themselves; how they want to be seen by others. The angle, the tilt of their head, if the smile is candid or staged, forced or relaxed, or even there at all.

In this age of social media we can (to some degree) control our image: how we are seen, what info about us and our lives is shared, and what is not. Sometimes. Sort of. We can try to tailor our image to fit into what we want to look like, who we want to be, or we can bare it all, our prides and our failings, letting the viewer or reader decide what to keep and what not to.

At the same time, we can only control so much. Other people will post about us, post pictures of us. Other people will see what they want to see, what they can see. What people see will always be filtered, not just through their screens, but through their own perceptions and life experiences, their own projections and assumptions. Do they have context for your words, your hair, your clothes, your all of you? Do they have to fight against their own or your own illusions to see you, or are you real and genuine? Are they real and genuine enough to see you?

How much are any of us related to reality?

I love posed professional-looking glamour shots, candid photos when no one knows a photograph is being taken, group action shots capturing an experience, and everything beyond and in between.

Sixteen. December, 2002.

December, 2002.

I used to hate photos of myself or having my picture taken, a reminder of this body I also hated. This Self I kept hidden and locked up from the world, buried beneath flesh and blood and muscle. Buried deep in some hidden corner of my heart. I tried, often desperately, to stay alive in a world that does not want my kind, which in a world that desperately needs us.

I was praised for emulating others and discouraged from expressing what I genuinely thought or wanted or needed. So I locked myself up so tight I often forgot to breathe. I forgot to move. I forgot to dance. I made a small space inside of myself where I could be free, and I called it paradise. It was a cage. Bits of me leaked out, because I could not help it, but inside I was frozen. Lonely.

I learned to adopt others’ ideas, others’ perspectives, others’ personae just to keep me alive. Though there were plenty of times I did not want to be. I thought for many years of the ways I could end what felt like the torture of living. I never really had access to knives sharp enough in the hardest moments, never a hand steady enough to apply the necessary pressure in the right places with knife in hand. Some kind of self-preservation sabotage, or cowardice.

Just one more day, I would tell myself. One more moment. One more breath. One at a time until the numbness takes over again.

Feeling nothing was often preferred to feeling everything.

The suffocating overwhelm of hopelessness was always more than I could handle.

Sixteen. December, 2002.

December, 2002.

Paradoxically, perhaps (in that way that life is), I found my outlet on stage acting larger than life and speaking four hundred year old lines about love, longing, pain, death, betrayal, revenge, cunning, magic.

I identified with longing: longing for love, longing for belonging. I identified with the uncertainty of desire for life, search for a sense of self, and mistrust of others. I identified with fighting to stay alive against seemingly insurmountable turmoil.

I let other stories, other characters, other personae infuse my being. They lead me back to some depth of myself where I had been hiding. Slowly. Only ever slowly. I got little glimpses of life then through these, glimpses of what life could be, though I never felt like I was part of it. Always a little removed, always a little numb, always a little (or a lot) the outsider. Always terrified of ridicule and mostly indifferent to praise, unable to really believe just about anything as real.

Although acting brought me back to myself, it was still more for others than it was for me.

I woke up one day and realized I was terrified of the world, of the other people in it, and, most importantly, of myself. I had designed a life around this fear, attempting to keep myself safe through hiding, locked away from the world in hopes that would mean I would no longer be hurt.

Determined to understand and integrate the fear, I began to investigate it. Where did it come from? What is real and what isn’t? Why do I act the way that I do? I had already been asking myself some of these questions, but did not realize just how numb I was. Just how locked inside. Just how broken.

June 2014

June 2014

I began to crack open the shell I had built up around myself over so many years, letting the outside in and the inside out. I embraced vulnerability, connection, change. I began feeling again. Deeply. Not just when I was having sex, but all the time. Sometimes more than I could bear.

Somewhere along the way I realized I was missing love for myself and trust in the world. The more I love myself the more I am able to take up space in the world, to be comfortable with who I am and what I am doing. It’s cliche, I suppose, but cliches are cliche for a reason. As I began to love myself more, I began to take selfies and revel in them. Or maybe it was the other way around.

A selfie, for me, is not just about finding the right pose, the right angle, though sometimes it is. It’s about sharing a moment in time, even if my smile often looks the same. It’s allowing myself to open up to myself, open up to the camera, open up to the viewer in a way I used to abhor. It’s showing myself off to the world. It’s taking my place in the world through allowing myself to be in it and take up (digital) space.

January 2016

January 2016

Never Finished, Only Abandoned

I just can’t seem to get anything fully out of me.

Or I just can’t finish anything.

I try to write and leave drafts abandoned. I have started reading so many books that I have never finished. I have wanted to finish so many things. But, since Grad School, I’m not sure I can complete anything anymore.

It feels like Grad School PTSD.

And probably it is.

I had to work so hard to finish that thesis. That Thesis Baby I gestated for far too long and that nearly broke me as it came out. I strained myself beyond my limits and cracked myself wide open, with thousands of micro-tears running across every inch of me by the time I was through. No part of me untouched by the intensity of such a labor.

I used to love to read, to write.

But the words don’t want to come out anymore.

I have all these ideas and stories in me that need to get out, but I’ve been trapped, afraid. Now I disassociate when trying to write or read for almost any period of time. I can do it in short bursts sometimes, but can’t seem to successfully get through an entire poem or blog or chapter, starting to get locked up and anxious, uncomfortable, unable to focus, unable to breathe. I numb myself, yet again, because that is what I know to do. Freeze, but smile on the outside. Act like everything is fine while I’m actually dying inside.

That’s hyperbole.

Somewhat.

So, I sit. I stare at the page or the blinking cursor. Or I re-read the same paragraph or sentence over a few times, reading the words but not comprehending the meaning. I grow uncomfortable, then I distract myself with something else. More distraction. More uncomfortable feelings. I’m trying to sit with my feelings these days, really let myself feel whatever it is that is coming up rather than pushing it down, ignoring it, pretending it does not exist. Sometimes that looks like not doing the things I want to do. Sometimes it means I end up wanting to do things I didn’t think I would. I am becoming more real, I think, the more I feel. The more I feel the more I am willing to feel. The more I am willing to feel the more I’m willing to be vulnerable. That’s what it’s all really about, anyway.

Vulnerability as the antidote to numbness.

Beauty and connection as the draw toward vulnerability.

Those cracks and micro-tears across all of me are healing into tiger stripes across my flesh. Which is not to say that I am a tiger1, just that they are decorating me, have become part of me, permanently changed me, and remain visible to others. More of my insides are on the outside now. That cracking open was a changing, a growing, I’m more open and willing to be vulnerable, not just via the written word, but with actual humans in the room with me. I’m not as locked tight up with perfectionism, self-doubt, and fear of others as I used to be even six months ago. I’m still afraid, certainly, and I still doubt, and I still hate myself at times for saying or doing the wrong thing, but the time without those feelings is getting longer, greater.

What does it mean to finish anything, anyway?

Is it even possible?

There’s that Da Vinci quote “art is never finished, only abandoned.” Maybe I just don’t know when to abandon something and move on. I was told, repeatedly, that my thesis would never contain everything I wanted it to, would never be what I wanted it to be. I had changed so much through the course of writing it that I would not be satisfied with the finished result. I kept putting off the delivery date: first December, then March, then June. I could have revised it more, could probably have revised it for years. By the time I set it down I was so tired, so worn out from the months of labor pains and the massive internal bleeding that I was just done. It came out of me and I couldn’t bear to look at it for a while. I didn’t know what to do with myself for a while.

Postpartum depression, I suppose.

Postpartum abandonment, really.

This is the first thing I’ve gotten so close to finishing in what feels like a very long time. Even now, though, there’s always more to say.

  1. tai-ger? []

On Graduating

After an amazing weekend where I put on (with the help of so many other wonderful people) the first temple in my home and the first where I was the lead, the hierophant, the ultimate-in-charge person, etc. I am ready to spend the day relaxing and focusing on my own pleasure. Art, reading, snuggling, and funny videos are all on the menu, as well as some of the delicious leftovers from the catered weekend.

The weekend ritual-workshop-retreat went delightfully. Much releasing, much expressing, much being, much phoenixing (it’s a verb, you know), and so much more. I infused some bits of my own personal mythology into the programming, shifted and shared some parts of my own self that are often reclusive, and witnessed so much bravery in vulnerability and beauty of those around me that I was brought to tears multiple times. And so much gratitude. Holy fuck, I have so much gratitude for everyone who participated, supported me, shared themselves, and helped to make it what it was.

Back in the end of June, in the last week of my Master’s program, the week before graduation, I described the sensations of anticipation that I was feeling as standing on a precipice. I was looking down at the darkness beyond the jagged cliff below, knowing that I needed to leap into it, and not knowing if I would fly or fall.

Kurt Vonnegut wrote: “we have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” I had been growing and constructing wings throughout the process of school, occasionally testing them and often falling flat on my face. I knew I needed to take that step. Intellectually I knew that the wings would hold me, but I had never had the visceral experience of flying. I was terrified. I could only do so much development in preparation for these jumps, these leaps into the unknown, the rest had to be done mid-air.

I jumped.
I fell.
I caught wind.
I flew.
Then I fell some more.

I have been developing and refining and fixing the wings as I’ve been soaring (and falling and soaring and falling and…) since the end of June.

This last weekend was another cliff. This time, my wings were stronger, more developed. I already had the experience of flying embodied within me, so I was not nearly as terrified. Or I was a different kind of terrified, the kind that propelled me forward.

This weekend was another kind of graduation for me, the culmination of the priestess training I started five years ago. It was a moving more fully into myself and my leadership, and attempting to do so mindfully, with humanity, with gratitude, with compassion, and with the backing of a community.

It was heart-opening and deeply awoke me to another layer of my own worthiness I had not accessed before. Like so many of us I have long struggled with worthiness, of feeling worthy of love and attention and belonging. I’m sure I will continue to struggle, this is not the end of it, but it was a step in the direction of wholeness.

Now, I look forward to the next cliff. Still terrified. Still moving forward.

A Second Shot

If you’re reading this and you haven’t read the previous two protected posts, I highly encourage you to go back and read them, it’s the same password.

Experienced my second shot of T last night. This time I did it myself (while supervised) in our temple rather than my doctor’s office and with Onyx and a couple friends around. It was a similar and also very different experience than the first shot (though I’m sure each shot will be its own unique thing).

Even though I’ve thought about this for so long and have felt confident that upping my testosterone is a good thing and what I want, I am still surprised at how good it actually feels to be taking this medicine. It feels like medicine for my body, soul, and spirit in ways I don’t even know how to articulate. It’s still really strange for me, though.

I know it’s really only been a week–and I want to give myself room for changing my mind about this in the future–but it feels so right. Surprisingly right. Way more right than I ever even let myself hope it would feel. I’m pretty much blown away by it.

I had a dream on Saturday night before my first shot that seems really obvious symbolism-wise and also blew me away. I was a little boy and I was playing in the yard outside of my house. I looked over and realized I had the shriveled-up, leathery carcass of a little girl next to me that I had been dragging around with me. She had been invisible to me, but I had been carrying her around for as long as I could remember. I realized I needed to bury her. I dug a hole in what I think was the neighbor’s garden plot, put her in, and covered her up. I knew she would be great fertilizer and beautiful flowers would grow on top of her.

I went inside, went to the bathroom, and then started running water for a bath. I looked at the floor and realized there were traces of her everywhere. There were very obvious marks on the wood floors where I had been dragging her around. I knew I needed to take the time to clean the marks up, to get rid of her. At that moment I heard the front door open and realized my dad was home (not my actual real-life dad, but my dream dad, who was not the same as my real life dad–this seems important to note). I felt a little embarrassed that he would see the marks the girl had left all over as I had been carrying her around with me, but then realized he probably could see her before, and that she was gone now.

I woke up a little confused and surprised that my subconscious was apparently ready for that. Maybe it was just trying to tell me that I am actually going in the right direction. Maybe it’s not as obvious as I seem to think it is.

On Writing a Thesis Focused on Embodiment and Emotions (thesis excerpt)

This is an excerpt from my Master’s thesis titled “Erotic Embodiment and Integration of Soul, Spirit, and Body: Toward a Sacred Erotic Psychology Healing Praxis,” it is a piece from the Introduction

To say it is difficult to write about embodiment is an understatement. Writing is a tool of the mind and splits us off from bodily experience. Language cannot fully capture the essence of being embodied, of being in a body, or of bodily sensations and emotions, but it can try. For the most part, language brings us out of our bodies and puts us apart from ourselves, especially language in an academic framework where one is compelled to be aware of sentence structure, word choice, proper citation methods, and so on. The question of how I can write an academic work on embodiment is one I have been grappling with since before I began writing it. The language that most closely aligns with the body is imaginal and poetic. With exception of the praxis chapter, my use of poetic imaginal language has been limited. I have not engaged with the imaginal and poetic nearly enough. Here is an attempt.

I really value each of the realms of spirit, soul, and body and the various ways they each manifest in the world, and I know that of these three realms the body is the most denigrated. This culture has a body problem. It has a problem in all three realms, really, but the way we approach the body is so much more backwards and twisted in my experience. We do everything we can to avoid focusing on our bodies, and that includes me. I have spent a lot of my own life hating my body, treating it as separate from my essential self, or ignoring its needs, feelings, and warnings.

My body has stiffened from the chore of sitting in front of a computer, writing (or attempting to write), while fighting against all the internal blocks I have against doing this work, my work. I can feel it in my shoulders and the back of my neck in the tension that creeps its way up and down from my head to my lower back. I get hit with it when I stretch, arching my back to hear the cacophony of crunchy popping sounds as my vertebrae realign themselves, and suddenly the release of tension sends a momentary throbbing spiraling up all the way to my temples. I can feel it in my knees and hips, the way I hold myself as I walk, where on my feet I place emphasis. I can tell when I am resisting the process and when I am not coming to my work with all of my strength by the way that I sit, passively and slouched or tall and engaged. I can feel it in how I am holding my teeth and tongue, the crack of my jaw when I yawn, the bend of my left knee when I take a step (am I fully bending it, or dragging that foot as I move?), or the pop of my right ankle when I get a twinge or stiffness in it that needs to be rotated out. My body tells me things, and I choose to listen to it or not, though the more I do this work the less I can ignore it. I notice the tension, I breathe, I move.

I do not claim to be perfect at my own methods, or to have mastered embracing the theories and praxis described in this thesis. In fact, what is driving me to do the work that I am dedicated to doing in the world, the work that this thesis is but a fraction of, is my own struggles with embodiment, connection, and belonging. I have been experiencing my own process as I have been writing about it, articulating only as far as I have been able to traverse my own self. Thus through this process I have had to feel my way through it just as much as I have had to work my way through it. I have had to nurture my own self, to build up the strength and self-love and self-compassion. To bring awareness to the things that I do, conscious and unconscious, and the patterns that I am enacting and reenacting within myself and with my lovers, friends, and family. I have gone through some major shifts and realizations within myself through this process, and also know that it is not over. This is just the beginning.

In going through this process of embracing my emotions and letting them flow, of excavating my own shadow and my own past, of working to understand the patterns laid inside of me back in the time of childhood and pre-verbal processing that still run me, of attempting to experience exquisite embodiment of the Self that is called Tai in this incarnation, I have had to confront most if not all of the parts of myself that keep me back. My self-sabotage. As with everyone, all of my issues are interlocking, threads in the tapestry of my life that interact and intersect, not just discrete problems that can be approached completely independently of each other. I have had to face head-on my own fear, grief, shame, anger, some nasty patterns of internalized oppression and repression. I have had to confront my fear of taking up my own space and what it looks like to put something so large as a personal sacred erotic manifesto into the world. This work details the entirety (so far) of my life’s purpose and my understanding of spirituality, sexuality, psychology, and their interactions with each other, and I am really taking up my own space by declaring my own mastery of it. I have also had to process and move through the grief I experienced surrounding the very sudden death of my father, and the emotional and psychological patterns instilled in me generationally and personally through him. I have recognized the shame I have held on to around being my true authentic self in a society that reviles people like me in multiple intersections of my identity. I have had moments of intense jealousy and shame around my relationship with my primary partner, and due to our interlocking patterns around intimacy and attraction we have, on occasion, fallen down the rabbit hole of destructive behavior.

Shame has been a large factor in my excavation process, and shame is necessary to face when doing this work. Emotions are necessary to face when doing this work of the body. To this end the work of Brene Brown and Karla McLaren have been indispensable to me. I have realized the amount of emotion processing that goes on in the face of change, and know that is a vital aspect of becoming. All emotions are particularly powerful, necessary, and important. They each have a reason for coming up when they do and a particular purpose or gift to share with us, if we are open to them. This entire thesis process has been an emotional one, and has impacted my body as such.

Feeling Deeply (thesis exerpt)

This is an exerpt from my Master’s thesis titled “Erotic Embodiment and Integration of Soul, Spirit, Body, and World: Toward a Sacred Erotic Psychology Healing Praxis,” it is a piece from the Theoretical Foundation chapter, Sacred Eroticism as Ontology section.

To further understand the self-deepening and embodied feeling inherent in the erotic, I turn once again to Audre Lorde1, who wrote:

[The erotic] is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire. For having experienced the fullness of this depth of feeling and recognizing its power, in honor and self-respect we can require no less of ourselves. . . . the erotic is not a question only of what we do; it is a question of how acutely and fully we can feel in the doing. Once we know the extent to which we are capable of feeling that sense of satisfaction and completion, we can then observe which of our various life endeavors bring us closest to that fullness. (p. 54)

Thus, feeling is the first step toward healing our disconnection from our erotic lifeforce and experiencing the power of the erotic. Through fully embracing our own erotic experiences of satisfaction we are given access to our deeper and full Self. Through this experience of feeling we can determine where we are numbing out, freezing, or paralyzing, and where we need to expand our experience of emotions, pleasure, and sensations. We can also discover where our passions and desires lie through this same process. This is a wholly embodied process that is also cyclical. The more we feel the more we are embodied, and the more we are embodied the more we feel.

Another natural byproduct of both individual and cultural erotic expansion is the emerging of an anti-oppressive ethic that is inherent in this type of engaging with and experiencing the world. Through this process of individual growth and becoming, we bring these developments to the culture at large. This encourages us as a culture and species also move toward sacred embodied living. An anti-oppressive ethic is referring to a life ethic, or a value-based ideology. In this instance, the value is equality, diversity, justice, and self-expression as well as opposition to suffering, inequality, and discrimination. This ethic arises through the understanding of and connection with one’s higher self and soul’s purpose because of the centering of pleasure, wholeness, and authenticity that occurs when embracing the erotic.

Both Lorde1 and Kraemer2 stressed the inherent experience of anti-oppression that embracing the erotic leads to. Lorde (2007) stated:

[One] important way in which the erotic connection functions is the open and fearless underlining of my capacity for joy. . . . This is one reason why the erotic is so feared, and so often relegated to the bedroom alone, when it is recognized at all. . . . In touch with the erotic, I become less willing to accept powerlessness, or those other supplied states of being which are not native to me, such as resignation, despair, self-effacement, depression, self-denial. (p. 56-58)

This shift in personal experience and willingness to oppose the programming of the culture at large is at the essence of this anti-oppressive ethic. There is a compliance and complacency that one is required to buy into when unconsciously perpetuating intersectional oppression, either outwardly or internally. This shift toward the erotic, or the shift toward understanding our own individual capacities for joy and our own sources of personal power, is a shift away from accepting the narratives of oppression and obedience ingrained in all of us from the dominant culture. Embracing our erotic natures is a move toward self-understanding, sovereignty, and authenticity. This occurs through the recognition of, acceptance of, and responsibility over one’s own desires, joy, and pleasure.

The closer we are to full-bodied feeling and wholeness of Self, the closer we are to understanding our own sacred erotic natures and reason for being. This is the ultimate goal of SEP3: to assist individuals, groups, and the world toward individuation and the understanding of their soul’s purpose. The particular way I go about this is through investigating the erotic, and the archetypal, mythological, and metaphorical relationships the individual has with the erotic and the body. To this end, sexuality, emotions, connection to and understanding of the sacred, archetypal engagement, past experiences, family dynamics, complexes, the shadow, personal and cultural experiences of power, and many other aspects of the Self must be investigated and integrated within the life of an individual to work toward embracing what I refer to as one’s Whole Erotic Self.

  1. Lorde, A. (2007). Sister outsider: Essays and speeches. Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press. [] []
  2. Kraemer, C. H. (2013). Eros and touch from a pagan perspective: Divided for love’s sake. New York, NY: Routledge. []
  3. SEP: Sacred Erotic Psychology, the interdisciplinary field that I am crafting/creating and working within. []

Personal Gender Praxis

In discussing gender with a friend a while back I came to the question: where is my default? They had recently shifted into a gender expression that is closer to their identity and mentioned that they were beginning to feel like they are not in drag every day. They have found their default. I chewed over this concept in my head before saying “I’m not sure I can wear anything that isn’t drag.” I don’t just mean this in the way that all gender is drag1, but in the way that I wasn’t sure if anything was more inherently true for me and less drag less copy than anything else. I’ve been constantly wondering: is there a way that I can express my gender adequately?

There are many aspects of presentation often/generally associated with femme or femininity–skirts/dresses, makeup, hair flowers, etc.–that I really really enjoy. I generally think that I’m pretty sexy in femme-type clothing. That is, when I’m not succumbing to internalized fatphobia and feeling down about myself. I really enjoy taking the time to do some elaborate makeup on myself, something artistic, something lovely. But none of these things has to do with my gender identity for me. All of these things are presentation. I definitely favor a femme presentation, and am rooted in that, but I still experience dysphoria and dissatisfaction with being seen as a woman or female.

I have solidly identified as genderqueer for over eight years now and was presenting genderqueerly as far back as high school, though I didn’t know the name for it then. During my first few years of acting I nearly refused to play female parts. And yet I still question it sometimes. I still wonder if I’m just “transtrending” or trying to seem different or unusual or to be a “special snowflake” or some other bullshit. And let me just take a minute to say how offensive it is for someone to use the term “special snowflake” to describe someone else’s gender. There’s something self-deprecating when people use it for themselves, but to use it toward another person is just rude and shows that you don’t actually appreciate their unique identity. More often than not I see it used by people whose gender falls into the binary or someone who would never use it for themselves, and it just reeks of disrespect. End rant.

All that said, despite the many times I request gender neutral pronouns from people in my life I almost never get them. I know that it’s “confusing” because I was DFAB and there are many aspects of my presentation that are femme, and that gender neutral pronouns are difficult to use and remember, and all of those things. I know that I fuck up with other people’s pronouns sometimes, especially when they are gender neutral, though I try to correct myself. The correction is what matters most, I’ve noticed, and not going overboard with the apologies when correcting.

Speaking of pronouns, I had an experience recently where, after mentioning that I really enjoy the ne/nem/nir pronoun set and making a self-deprecating comment about being a “gender hipster” because of it (that seemed to be taken at face value rather than as a joke. Oops), I actually had someone attempt to use that pronoun set when referring to me. They asked if they had used it correctly, and I, somewhat abashedly, sort of dismissed it in a “oh, sure, whatever, it’s all good” sort of way. It actually meant a lot to me that they attempted, but I was also already in an uncomfortable social situation around a lot of people I didn’t know and totally downplayed it. They responded with something that stung about me not actually caring about caring about the pronouns because I was so flippant about it.

Why did I do this? I have thought about the situation a lot, and what I can figure is because I am so just not used to getting the pronouns that I ask for. Almost ever. I’ve identified this way for so long and I’ve been requesting these pronouns for so long that it’s just exhausting to even attempt to police people into using them anymore, so I just sink deeper and deeper into not being seen. When I do get the pronouns that fit me used for me I am overjoyed because of those years of not being seen, but also because of all the times I’ve gotten them from someone, and then they forget the next time, and even if I say something or remind them it then starts slipping away each time I see them… well, let’s just say I don’t get my hopes up anymore.

It’s really difficult to get excited about something that I am just sure won’t stick around. This is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, though, too, since I’m not actually advocating for myself in this situation. Sigh.

I’m sure if I presented in a way that was read as more masculine it would at least be easier for people to remember not to “she” me. If forced to choose between masculinity and femininity, however, I choose femininity. I just am not a woman, and I don’t feel like I am cis female either. I have pretty solidly identified as a fem/me trans guy for the last few years. I’ve been seeing a therapist for a while and I’ve talked to a doctor about starting T, which is a possibility for me as all my tests came back in a way that means I’m in the clear (though there is a bit of family disease history that puts me in a little risk) and could start taking it if/when I want to. My doctor, therapist, Onyx and I have discussed it a bunch and have determined it would be best if I finished grad school and lost some weight before starting it.

Problem is, I am not convinced this will help my dysphoria or “fix” my gender problems, though it seems like a good potential start/attempt. There is something to be said about being able to be seen, however. Many of my identities put me in this liminal space between culturally acceptable binaries: bi/pansexual-queer, genderqueer, switch. I am femme-presenting easily-read-as-cis and partnered with a cis guy, and most of my identities are invisible. I don’t know if this will help me be seen, but I know I need to try.

  1. “[T]he more we go looking for that real gender, the more it recedes and in its place we find only other [people], who also stylize their bodies in very specific, learned ways we recognize. Woman is to drag—not as Real is to Copy—but as Copy is to Copy. Gender turns out to be a copy for which there is no original. All gender is drag. All gender is queer.” – Riki Wilchins in Queer Theory/Gender Theory, p. 134 []

Why Do I Do It?

The day of my first public workshop on gender came and went so I’ve been thinking a lot about why I want to be an educator. It was just a couple months shy of a year ago that I wrote “I want to be an educator, to teach topics that are interesting, to help expand people’s minds and knowledge base on a wide variety of topics.” In some ways I’ve been doing that for a while on here, expanding people’s minds and knowledge base on a wide variety of topics, but it’s definitely not the same as teaching a class on gender or sexuality out there in the big bad world.

So, what calls me to it? It’s not the money. It isn’t exactly a wildly lucrative job. Sex educators are not making money hand-over-fist, in fact many of us do not make much money at all doing what we love. It’s not the fame. I don’t see myself becoming an internationally renowned sexpert or anything like that, not that I would be against it should that happen, of course. It really is all about spreading the knowledge.

I really love sharing knowledge. Turning people on to a new fact, concept, or idea and/or expanding their consciousness and awareness is extremely gratifying for me. It is something I’ve always wanted to do. It is something I am called to do.

Really, I’ve already been doing that on this blog and my other projects for years online and now I’m overjoyed at this new step in my path: actually teaching classes and workshops. I will probably be teaching about one class a month as part of The Living Love Revolution1 which is seriously fantastic. I have many ideas for the future as well, including teleclasses and doing more skype and phone consultations for those who want coaching from me.

Speaking of, I’ve been working on a new professional site2 in the last few weeks and I’ve been working on writing a mission statement. I want it to express what I’m about and my purpose for doing what I do. It’s still in the works, being crafted by my mind one word at a time, but when it is ready it will be up on Joyful Pleasure.

  1. I redesigned the site, also, have a look! []
  2. it’s not done yet, but you can go look if you want anyway []

Aphrodite Temple

Life is moving along at such a pace lately that it’s difficult to keep up with writing about all the things I want to write about. Not that I’m complaining, really, but this hasn’t happened to me in a while. Nearly a month ago Onyx and I attended a Living Love Revolution Aphrodite Temple. It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind, but in a wonderful way. The temple was absolutely phenomenal and transformational in so many ways.

This was a two-day retreat, essentially, at a remote location outside of Seattle. There were somewhere between twenty and thirty of us there. We had been told about it before we went, of course, including having some of the activities described in a good amount of detail, but I don’t think either of us were really prepared for everything that occurred. In a good way.

I could feel a very noticeable energy shift in me from before the temple to after. I have felt far more open as well as more radiant, which often go hand in hand. I feel less timid about expressing myself however feels authentic for that moment, less anxious about what other people will perceive and more content with what I have to offer. I feel in touch with love, which was at least part of the point.

There was great emphasis on embodiment, autonomy, safe consensual touching, and getting what you need. It is all about getting your needs met and learning about how to ask for those things you need. It is about finding the beauty in yourself and everyone around you. It is also about Aphrodite, of course, and all these activities just aid in connecting with her more.

While we were there I felt somewhat disconnected with Onyx, or like I had to disconnect with him in order to be seen the way I wanted to. It’s something I didn’t experience at the play party we went to on March 4th 1, which says to me I may getting through that little blockage. It’s something I’ve held on to for quite some time, this notion and worry that I will be seen as less queer because I’m with him, when that’s really just silly. I have tried not to be ruled by it, but at the same time I have been.

I wasn’t opposed to the disconnection in the moment, exactly, but I saw it as a necessary part which irritated me. I think going through the experience of the temple, though, allowed me to let go of that and be able to connect with him more ever. I’ve been allowing my shy masculinity to shine through ever since I wrote about it and more and more since the temple itself. I think I experienced what it was to be seen for me in the moment which has just made me want to be seen like that more often.

I also didn’t experience any jealousy or anxiety about being disconnected and each of us being touched and caressed2 by other people, which was fantastic. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do with that going into it. It was remarkably easy, and though we were in the same room we rarely interacted with each other during the activities. I’m excited to see what happens in the future.

I loved it so much I’m now in the Priest/ess training program for it and Onyx and I will be going to the one being held in April. I want to go to the July and November ones as well, and would be surprised if that didn’t happen. I’m beginning to work quite closely with the high priestess, not just for the training but doing classes and workshops with her as well as working on websites for her. This is only the beginning.

  1. yet another thing I should write about… that one might fall through the cracks, though. We’ll see. []
  2. and in his case a little more than that []

Lights, Camera…

Not too long ago near the beginning of this month I answered a post in the Seattle Area Personal Ads group on FetLife (login required) for a project titled Process of Pain for Raise Your Fist Productions. It explores masochism, giving a taste of what pain is, what masochists and sadists love about pain, how we play, and other various things. I was very interested in doing this and Onyx agreed to be part of it as well, as a part of being in the documentary was agreeing to do a scene on camera.

Last Monday Amanda came over and we shot a breast play scene. Onyx pulled and twisted my nipples, slapped my breasts, pulled my hair, slapped my face, and made me come on camera. He also used crops, a cane, and nipple clamps on me. It wasn’t a super heavy scene, though there was a good amount of pain, and we didn’t fuck on camera but I did come multiple times. Amanda said she got some very nice shots. She’s filming other couples for this as well and I’m sure I will post about it again when it is done. I’m very excited to see the finished result.

It’s brought up a lot of interesting things for me, as I’ve always loved porn and for a long time I’ve had a fantasy about doing it, though I’ve not always had the body-confidence that I have gained over the last few years. I’ve been seriously considering exploring phone sex work again in the last couple months, I made a couple NiteFlirt accounts but have not yet utilized them to their full potential, and now after this experience I’m seriously considering getting into ethical queer pornography as well.

I say ethical queer pornography because that’s the only type I would be willing to do. This documentary was a great first step, I think, it proved to me that it was something I could do on camera, and I enjoyed doing so. I have a lot of theatre background and have been on stage and in front of the camera many times so I always kind of new I would be able to do it, but there was always some doubt. Now that doubt is gone.

I’ve also recently been reconnecting with my Goddess Babalon after a slight deviation from her path and I believe that getting in to sex work and pornography would be a great act of devotion to her. She was part of the reason I started exploring phone sex work two years ago as well.

Since filming I came across this quote while reading Demons of the Flesh: The Complete Guide to Left-Hand Path Sex Magic for the Sacred Sexuality Book Club Onyx and I are hosting at our place which first met today.

“The moral pornographer would be an artist who uses pornographic material as a part of the acceptance of the logic of a world of absolute sexual license for all the genders, and projects a model of the way such a world might work. His business would be the total demystification of the flesh and the subsequent revelation, through the infinite modulations of the sexual act… the pornographer has it in his power to become a terrorist of the imagination, a sexual guerilla whose purpose is to overturn our most basic notions of these relations, to reinstate sexuality as a primary mode of being rather than a specialized area of vacation from being and to show that the everyday meetings in the marriage bed are parodies of their own pretensions. –Angela Carter

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