LGBTQ Conference & Whores

A few days ago I had the opportunity to go to a conference for work all about providing competent and effective care for the LGBTQ community. It was really rad; I wanted to go last year and it just didn’t happen. But this year my work paid for me to go, so boo-ya!

My favorite professor from my MPH program happened to be presenting one of the workshops on representing trans* folks in a just and fair way in research and clinical practice (meaning, asking appropriate questions in surveys and on intake forms to effectively and justly represent the trans* community). I knew that I was going to end up talking to her about my the stripping/school debacle, and I especially knew it when she started about sex workers during her workshop. In fact, she referred to “whores” during her presentation, and then I really knew I was going to have an honest conversation with her (I trusted her to be using the word whore appropriately). Another attendee raised his hand:

“I noticed you used the word ‘whore.’ I’m used to saying ‘sex worker.’ Is it okay to use the word ‘whore’?”

“Well I use it because that’s what a group of my friends who are/were whores used to refer to themselves and the labor they did.”

She made a good point about the word “whore” being another reclaimed word (much like queer and dyke), and that some workers may prefer it while others may prefer something else. In terms of being “of” the community versus not being part of the community and using the word, it seems really important to ask those you are referring to what their preference is. Words like whore and queer and dyke can sound nice or hurtful depending on the context- while they may be used affectionately among people within the community and even with those who know them well, they can still be used as insults and threats. Play it safe and ask before using words and labels that have a complex history.

I did end up talking to my professor, and she gave me more support and “Fuck those people,” “You’re too good for that bullshit,” and “Stay strong” conversation. It felt really affirming to have further support from an academic- especially as she is the first academic I have talked to since the ordeal in December.

The rest of my day was pretty good. Here are some highlights:

-Being in a conference all day with a bunch of queer people was awesome. While the conference was for providers of all orientations who work with the queer community, there were a ton of queer providers in the room. And I was overwhelmed by all of the hot queer women!

running-eagle-falls-The lunch keynote was by a Native American man who works with the Two Spirit communities in Montana and also does HIV prevention and education on the reservations. It was really cool. I also learned that Running Eagle, for whom a water feature is named in Glacier National Park, was Two Spirit.

-My second workshop was supposed to be on navigating sexual health conversations with LGBTQ youth. I was super excited for this one, and it wasn’t very good. We talked about microaggressions and multigenerational trauma and how those things prevent youth from accessing the sexual health care they need. Unfortunately we barely scratched the surface and it wasn’t as meaty as I was hoping.

-My last workshop was on trauma and addiction, and I loved it. I love the physiology of trauma and oppression. Did you know that your hippocampus, which regulates memory formation and storage and your flight/fight/freeze response, shrinks when it you are discriminated against or oppressed or traumatized? Chronically high cortisol (stress hormone) damages your hippocampus. So interesting! The presenter referred to it as “oppression illness.” flat,550x550,075,fLuckily, you can repair past damage through psychotherapy, exercise, and certain medications and plants. There has also been a paradigm shift in treating addictions. The past approach was: “Addiction is something people do to feel good and be hedonistic. Just stop!” The current approach is: “Addiction is something people do to feel normal and like everyone else.”

-The closing keynote was fairly horrid. The speaker was some public health bigwig who does work around tobacco prevention in the LGBTQ community, and ended up coming out as trans*. But the identity is not some excuse for being arrogant and making tasteless, offensive jokes. I was offended through the whole thing and left ten minutes early.

All in all, it was a good day. And I got paid to go, so it was even better! 🙂

What Do Fantasies Symbolize?

I have more questions as an answer:

Does it matter? Is it a requirement to figure out what a fantasy might “mean” in order to use it to achieve pleasurable, fun, and satisfying sexual experiences?

I worried for a hot minute a couple of years ago what my submission fantasies might mean. Did they mean I wasn’t a “real” feminist? Did it mean that I wanted to be dominated by men in my everyday life but that these desires were being sublimated into the sexual realm? I know for myself that this is not the case at all. My nonconsensual fantasies run in the same vein: I don’t actually want to be raped. It’s something to remain tenuous and ethereal. What about gangbang fantasies? While I have acted on them, I again have zero desire to actually be raped by multiple men at once. My desires are about sexual hunger and fulfillment with multiple people, about using my body to its maximum capacity.

Hotwife fantasies similarly get a lot of attention for where they might “come from” or what they “mean.” My question again is: what does it truly matter? If sex is consensual, pleasurable, and leads to growth or fun, then I’m not sure it really matters in order to have a good time.

I understand having curiosity about our fantasies, and while it would be magical to have some special deck of cards that told us what different sexual fantasies say about us as dreamers, it doesn’t exist. It’s up to you to paint the picture of desire and fulfillment and what it all means.

Normaling

This post has been percolating in my mind for a few days, and I’m just getting around to writing it.

J and I have been normaling: ripping up carpets and painting and going to Home Depot have been, largely, exciting and fun. Because of all of the changes in our lives in the past six months, we have also been much more sexually monogamous of late (and I say “much more” because the frequency of extra-dyadic sex for us has gone way down in the past few months, but not down to zero). We’re still nonmonogamous at heart (J still checks the Craigslist ads and I still fantasize about others) but I also know that for me, my desire for others goes way down when I haven’t gotten my fill of J.

It’s been hard lately. He’s commuting two hours each day during the week and is understandably totally exhausted. And I’ve been in the pit of body image horror. Put exhaustion and emotional wreckage together and I think it makes sense that sex is difficult to attain.

But back to the normaling thing. I just love this scene from 30 Rock- leave it to Jenna and Paul to kinkify “normal” (vanilla, straight) relationship-y things. I feel like they’re on to something.

What do you think? Are you able to find the sexy and pleasurable and connecting parts of everyday vanilla life? Can you maintain some separateness and mystery in the midst of totally-togethering activities?

Word Gets Around

It is so gratifying to know that people talk to each other, and that my story of school and stripping has gotten around. I received an email from a former fellow student who heard about my story through another student and put two and two together, and wanted to make sure I was okay and offered to give me any support I needed. They and I had had only one class together, but I had disclosed my stripping experience to them and felt really supported by them. It was really nice to hear from them and to know that they found the courage to reach out to me.

And then, I met someone through the sex worker outreach coalition who is starting the exact program at the school that I just withdrew from. So of course we had to talk about it all. Since she is a former sex worker, she is also trying to decide how much disclosure she feels safe making in her new program and moving forward in her career. (No surprises: she feels pretty darn unsafe in disclosing her past work experiences)

Hearing her get fired up on my behalf, and on behalf of all workers, was gratifying and intensely pleasurable. It gave me chills.

Social network + solidarity = one happy Katie

Solidarity-Hand-Tree-blog-770x380

Links to Share

Want a sexy Wednesday pick-me-up?

See photos of exotic dancers from the 1890s here

See this for descriptions (with awesome cartoons!) of different animal mating rituals here

(I don’t know how accurate all the information is, but it’s entertaining and interesting nonetheless!)

If you want something more dense, this article is definitely worth reading: The Scientific Quest to Prove Bisexuality Exists

There are a ton of passages in this article that I liked, but I like this one in particular:

To their credit, both Rieger and Savin-Williams were thoughtful in their conversations with me about the challenges of studying bisexuality. Savin-Williams, in particular, said he was mostly interested in understanding the “incredible diversity” among bisexuals. He told me about one young man he interviewed whose arousal looked “extraordinarily gay” in the lab. But he was romantically interested in only women. “He falls madly in love with girls all over the place,” Savin-Williams said, “and it’s not because he hates the ‘gay’ part of himself. He just connects romantically and emotionally with women in a way he doesn’t with men. Will that change? Perhaps. But right now he’s not 50-50 interested in men and women — it’s almost like he’s 100 percent and 100 percent, but in two different ways. Most of the time sexual attraction and romantic attraction will overlap, but for some bisexual people, there’s a discrepancy between the two.”

Rieger nodded. “People constantly surprise you,” he said, recalling one young man who announced that he was “50-50 bisexual” but who only showed arousal to women in the lab. “His arousal was like a perfect straight guy,” Rieger told me.

“Sounds like he’s romantically attracted to guys but sexually attracted to women,” Savin-Williams said. “I think there’s a lot more sexual complexity and nuance among men than researchers have assumed for years.””

Any fun links to share with me?

Picking Your Third

My latest DA post is live: “How to Pick Your Third for a Threesome

Read on for my intro:

“You and your partner are ready to dive into some sexual explorations and want to invite another person into your bedroom. Who should you pick?

When J and I invite people into our bedroom, we do so based off some broad principles (which we have talked about before inviting others into our bedroom, and in some cases, figured out together after a disappointing experience).

1. Are we both attracted to the person?

Even if we are going to have an MFM in which J and the other man are not sexually into one another, it’s still important that J be intellectually and mentally connected to the other man.

Determining if we both dig someone else’s vibe, physically and energetically, is an important first step.”

Do you have certain criteria for inviting someone into your bedroom for a threesome?