Monday, December 27, 2010


Rebirth Brass Band is one of the most well-known brass bands in NOLA. They can bring anyone to the dance floor -- yo mama, yo girlfriend who don't dance, yo second cousin twice removed you haven't seen in ten years. This is exactly how I feel about being back in NOLA today :)

Sometimes, it doesn't hit me that I live here until I'm driving down St. Charles or Louisiana and I'm struck by the majesty of the oak trees... or I'm walking through the Quarter, or headed to a Saints game, or dancing in the streets at a festival, and then, it's like lightening strikes -- how could I want to live anywhere else?

Home (after) the Holidays

I'm home in NOLA for two days, then back on the road again. My kittehs are attached to me; they insist on staying by my side and sleeping on top of me. Either they missed me or they're cold, who really knows? It's nice to have some unconditional snuggling, though. The cold is bitter this winter. It always feels like it goes straight down to my bones, and I find I struggle so much to get out of bed or leave the warmth of my house, especially after dark.

This holiday season was something between great and a mass fiasco, depending on the day. Argh. I wrote a short story back in 2006 about struggling to go home to see family over the holidays, and four years later, every word still rings so true.

My mom and I have such an on/off relationship. I'm formally estranged from over half the family -- haven't seen my father in almost ten years, and haven't seen his parents in at least five years. But Christmas usually means going to Shreveport for my mom's family, and there's a huge gap there -- they're pretentious, racist, sexist, homophobic, and always eager to put down everyone around them for their own advantage. I'm not perfect, by any means, but I try to live a life in opposition to all of those values. It's stressful and painful to be around them, to suck up my queerness and keep my mouth shut, which is mostly because if I run away or get angry, my mother freaks and our relationship unravels even more. I hate going home to listen to them bicker and moan about each other, especially on the one day of the year that everyone should suck it up and get along. I avoid seeing family for all these reasons, and it's not helpful that my mother still hasn't come to terms with my being queer, and insists that I hide that part of my life from my family. Hiding? I'm over that shit. We just don't talk about it. But of course, when my degree and my career and pretty much my whole life has to do with social justice, sex and sexuality, trans advocacy, HIV/AIDS prevention, and addressing public health disparities in sexual minorities... well, there's a bit of a gap in "approved" conversation topics. I hate that I can't be genuine around my family. I hate that being around them makes me miserable. But that's just the reality of it.

To make things more complicated, this is the first Christmas I've been single in years and years. I usually have a girlfriend to call or leave to hang out with. When I lived in Shreveport, I could check out and go home when I needed a break from too much family. But when I'm visiting and staying with my mom, I don't get that time to check out and center myself. I could justify suffering through family because I was so looking forward to spending time with my girlfriend. But this year, not having that excitement and that distraction sort of sucked.

To put it in a nutshell, my  mom got pissed at my brother and I on Christmas Eve, then proceeded to not talk to us for 24 hours. She got drunk at Christmas, acted like an asshole to everyone, refused to open her presents, told us we were going on a family trip as a gift then flat out refused to go with us, and refused to talk to us about why she was angry. To top it all off, because she's passive aggressive as hell, she left Christmas without telling us, locked herself in her room, then called me the next day to ask why I didn't talk to her on Christmas. I swear, it was like my mom was fifteen. I was so, so, so glad to leave town and head back South.

On top of all this, my cousin started asking her brother if I was queer a month ago, and he contacted me, asking if I would talk to her. So, for Christmas, I got to come out to my little brother and my youngest cousin. Thankfully, both were cool about it. My cousin is turning out to be really awesome; we had a great conversation about how she's pro-choice (yay!) and keeps getting in arguments with pro-life kids at her Catholic school. Plus she's made it a point to stand up for her gay friends who are harassed by Catholic kids and told they are going to hell. So good to know that even in the soul-sucking atmosphere of my family, my generation has some hope. It's awesome that I'm finally breaking down those walls, and I feel like I am forming stronger relationships with my brother and my cousins, even as my relationship with my mother seems to be deteriorating again. Yeah, yeah, God and windows and doors and shit.

The saving grace of this holiday season, though, has definitely been my friends. I saw so many old college and high school friends in Shreveport over the holidays, which was amazing. I'm so very looking forward to this week, but I can't write about it until after the fact. I think my real Christmas was not the 25th, but the holiday parties at friends houses, the night of Solstice at my house, Carrolling in the Square with 8,000 people and dinner afterwards at Green Goddess, Thanksgiving with friends, decorating with my roommate, and all the other moments when I could be the most genuine, when I was surrounded by people whom I adore and respect. Over coffee and drinks, over homemade gumbo and Whole Foods brie wheels, over cigarettes and movies and crab cakes and brass bands, over Saints games and phone calls, over laughs and tears and brutally honest, soul-baring conversations... that was my Christmas. A mess of holiday moments, all spread apart and unconventional, but genuine and rejuvenating in their own way.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


The steam is climbing the windows. I glance up and realize that I can’t see out of the back windshield anymore – the glass is coated in a thin layer of condensation. With my pointer finger I draw “I Love” into condensation, but “You” doesn’t fit. Water runs down from the letters, as if they’re leaking. You watch, carefully, eyes rimmed in black eyeliner. You lean across me to write “you” across the other letters, and then scribble them out, all together, blending into one big mess.

We laugh at our creation, and settle across from each other, backs to opposite sides of the Suburban.  Even in the dark I can see the soft contours of your naked body, peeking out from the blanket, reflecting in the low moonlight. It’s freezing outside; the weather has fallen from seventy degrees to fifty in a week. Inside, we’re in our own world. You crawl across the back seat, toward me. I’m leaving kisses in the condensation on the windows, careful to rub them out so my mother doesn’t see them in the morning. You catch the hair falling in my face, brush it back, and land your lips on mine. I love the pillowed, satin touch of your lips. There’s a hint left of those round mints that you carry everywhere, tucked inside your hand sewn bag.

I pull you down, off your hands and bony knees, down into me. Down, down, down. “I’m cold…” There’s a hint of whine in your voice.

“Pull the blanket around you, silly.”

“What happens if we get caught?”

“We won’t.” I’m not confident in this fact. I never am. But I won’t convey it.

“You always say that.” I punctuate your sentence with a kiss.

I haven’t really thought about what happens if we get caught. If we were straight, the cops would call our parents and drag us home, leaving our parents to punish us for our sins. But I haven’t the faintest idea what a Louisiana cop would say to two sixteen-year-old girls, parked far out in a rural field, playing around naked in the back of an SUV. In all honesty, I don’t ever want to find out. But it’s a risk I’m willing to take. It’s the only way I get to touch you, to taste you, to wrap myself up in you. I crave your hands on my body, hourly, daily, and in those few hours we get alone together, I want nothing more than to spend every moment burying into you.

I move to change the subject. “Are you still cold?”

You look at me as if you’ve forgotten you ever had a complaint. “No…?” It’s hard not to laugh at your indecision. I try to hold it back, but it comes out as a snicker.

“What.” This time, the whine is clear.

“You’re cute.” A smile peeks out.

“And you know it.” She laughs. I’m playing with her, all in jest, with a hint of truth.

Our bodies are side by side, wrapped in a blanket. I kiss you, again, running my tongue across the tops of your bottom teeth. My hand finds your hipbone, protruding, the sharp points where the curve of your side stops before diving deep into your stomach. I push against your hips, slightly, and you fall over onto your back. I trace my tongue down, run the tip around your areole. I can barely make out the soft pink skin in the dark. I’ve almost got the buckle undone on your studded belt, when you slide the patched jeans straight down your hips without bothering to unzip them. Showoff. I slide my hand up the inside of your skinny thighs; no wonder you’re freezing, there’s no body fat to keep you warm. But the core of your body is radiating heat, your cunt unfazed by the cold night air. I can feel your cunt sweating through your thin panties, in the space between your hips, and a part of me wants to lap my tongue there. But we’re still young and stupid, so inexperienced. I don’t know what I’m doing yet. I run my finger around the soft outer labia, and you jump, sensitive, shorn, but then come back, melting into me. If you were a kitten, you’d purr so softly. But instead I get a soft moan, very quiet. I haven’t yet learned how to ask you what you like. You haven’t yet learned to ask for what you want. It’s a tender dance, reading your body, and I’m learning how to fuck you inch by inch, day by day, at times groping in the darkness.

I pull my sweatshirt off and my jeans, trying hard not to lift the blankets. You curl up, trying to hold in what warmth you can. We can’t help but laugh. There’s nothing more ridiculous that scurrying in and out of clothing, in a space barely four feet wide and three and a half feet tall. I lay my body over yours, intertwining our legs, and I can feel the heat of your body feeding into mine. I’m amazed by the simplicity of our bodies, how easily we can connect and disconnect, jumbling into a mess of arms and legs and cunts.

We don’t talk, but our mouths spark together in the dark. I get dripping wet, just from kissing you (a trick I’ve still managed to maintain, years later). I can get lost in your lips, as cliché as it sounds. I worry that I’ll crush you, but my hips fit neatly, interlocking with yours. Your come falls so close to the lips of my cunt, dripping down my inner thigh and igniting nerves I didn’t know I had. You’ve got your hands all over me, so fast that I can’t even keep up, grabbing and stroking and sliding. I feel awkward, trying to remember to touch you as I kiss you, to divide my attention between doing and feeling, giving and receiving. I can feel the tips of your fingers, and I’m grateful you haven’t clipped your nails too close every time you dig them through my back. (I still love that.)

Under the blankets the heat is rising, atoms of our bodies vibrating against each other, skin rubbing together, creating friction and force. I reach down to touch you but you stop me. I haven’t learned how to penetrate you the way you like it yet. God, I’m still so new to this. But we don’t know yet what we haven’t learned – instead, we’re still in love with what we know, in love with the way our bodies create heat. You’re dripping down my thighs, soaking wet, slippery wet. My clit hits the edge of your hipbone, and I grind into it, instinctively, nerves shooting off haphazardly. You taste like heaven and powdered sugar, whatever the hell that means, and you pull away to bite down into the thick muscle on the side of my neck. (I know now that I learned what I like early, and I owe you for some of it.) I’m fucking helpless, melting into you, muscles tensing, and I can’t help but let out a high, long moan. Your body stiffens in response, and I giggle and move my lips closer to your earlobe, where I can moan straight into your ear. No one can hear us here; it’s only our own insecurities that hold us back.

The blanket has encompassed us, enclosed us, and I shift, grinding against you, grinding into you, slowly, rhythmically. The heat is rising, rising, and our bodies become slick and slippery with sweat and come mixing. When your cunt touches my thigh, the nerve bundles combust, turning the soft, sensitive skin into satin. My moans become higher, louder, out of my conscious control now, and when you moan softly, too, I can’t stop, I can’t hold back, it’s climbing and climbing, and I can feel your body stiffen as mine does, and the light burns so fucking bright as we come at exactly.the.same.time.

Talk about choreography.

I can feel your heart beat, and simultaneously, I can feel mine. Yours is faster, jumpy, like popcorn kernels in a frying pan. Our hearts are separated by only a few thin layers of skin and muscle, a handful of ribs. My head fits so comfortably in the cradle of your clavicle. I feel like you can take all of me in your arms, your body wrapped around mine, even though I outweigh you by a good twenty pounds. Oxytocin washes over me, and I fall into a half sleep, warmed in your bare skin and the soft, sugar sweet emotion of being so completely immersed in you. There’s no doubt, no fear, no anger. That comes later, in another time, another universe, another life. But for now, there’s just here. Now. I can feel you chest rise and fall as your heart slows to a simmer.

I wake from my drousy state at the sound of “Reveille” playing on my cell phone, the signal that my mother is calling, the signal to jump up and answer or face a litany of questions and anger later.


“Hi.” My mother’s voice comes cold, sobering, across the line.

“What’s up?”

“Where are you?”

“At the coffee shop. We’re leaving soon. I’ll be home in a few, I just need to drop the girls off first.”

“So you’ll be home before curfew.”

“As always, mama.”

“Ok. See you soon.”


You’ve risen and begun to dress, slowly, methodically, still fighting off the haze. I slip into the driver’s seat, balancing precariously, and wipe away the steamy condensation that covers the windshield. Through the dirty windshield I can see the stars forming a giant map across the sky, so clear away from the city lights. There’s nothing around us but cattle fields for miles and miles. I can see the straight twelve miles to the horizon, where the earth seems to fall away, illuminated by an almost full moon. You climb across the backseat, falling clumsily into the front, knocking over my cell phone and our purses. You’re slow to retrieve them, but you find yourself and get settled. I reach over to run my fingers through your hair one last time. Then I turn the car keys, listening for the turning of the engine, and drive back into the city, toward our separate homes and the coldness of two empty beds. 

(Oh, to be seventeen again)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Musical Love

A friend I met at Easton Mountain posted this on Facebook, and I think it's really beautiful in its own quirky way.

Also: This. Lyrics aside, the video and uplifting tone of this song make me so happy.

And finally, because I love trios, this.

Fabulous song. Fabulous movie. Oh, how I need to watch this again soon.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Rooster's Crow

Had a beer with a friend tonight, and our conversation is haunting me in many ways. I realize how drastically my coping mechanisms have changed in the last year, which I suppose is a form of self-preservation -- when one response doesn't work in reaction to trauma, develop a new response. At least, that's what I've found myself doing, whether I was conscious of it or not.

Two weeks ago, as I started conducting interviews and needs assessments for the transgender health project I'm working on, I realized I was internalizing a lot of my frustration and the pain felt by those I was interviewing. The more I asked questions, the more I realized how truly fucked up the system is. I knew that the healthcare system is fucked, and I knew that trans people face a wall of stigma, discrimination, ignorance, and abuse. But I started to grasp that and that the LGBT organizations which claim to help trans people are often the source of the worst damage. Bad information from good sources is detrimental -- it causes breeches of trust, puts trans people in compromising and unsafe situations where they expected to find knowledge and safety, and it further alienates them from finding good resources. Exclusion and discrimination by those who supposedly "belong in community with them" leaves them feeling further disconnected and unable to find support.

Sometimes I feel like I'm watching everyone in this community play politics and fight for funding, recognition, and personal prestige as those already on the fringes lose the most. It's so frustrating. It makes me angry and angry and angry and angry. I hate that I can't reform from within the community, and yet, I can't always reform from outside, either. It's an uphill battle, and I have such a love/hate relationship with the leaders, organizations, and donors in the NOLA LGBT/queer community -- and, for that matter, in the national gay rights movement.

And yet, I keep coming back. I come back because I feel drawn in, because there's a need, because I have experience and passion. I come back because it's personal. I come back because it's a paycheck, a thesis, a project. I come back because the people affected are those I love. I come back because I'm a masochist. Ugh.

As I try to decide what my next move in life is -- and whether to go to nursing school -- I worry about whether I have the strength to keep doing this kind of work. I worry that I will burn out, because the pressure, the politics, and the day-to-day frustration of working in non-profit, in low-income services, in direct services, is intense as hell. But on the other hand, I can't see myself doing anything else. I honestly cannot visualize myself as "happy" (or semi-content) and working in a job that doesn't involve working against social  norms, against discrimination and stigma, against the system, all with the goal of lending a hand to those who need help the most. I can't quit caring. I can't walk away. Every time I do, I come back. I worry that nursing will be opening the door to another life-long commitment of caring, of investing in people, of giving too much of myself. I worry that what I will see will hurt, because it will sometimes.

But I don't think I could fulfill my life with anything else, either, because there will always be a part of me that cares too fucking much to walk away.

I think sometimes that the nice part of taking breaks to work in the service industry is that I don't take my work home at night -- I leave it at work. I don't stress out every day or feel overwhelmingly frustrated by categorical grants, clients who can't put food on the table, clients who neglect their children, or clients who have to fight their OB/GYN to get him to respect their birthing choices. I just put pizza on the table, and I'm done. But really, I'm bored as hell if I'm not involved, so that's not a long term solution, either.

But my coping strategy to the overwhelming, crushing frustration of seeing how fucked up a system is and how many people are being hurt, over and over, by the system was.... to go get drunk. Yep. At 1pm in the afternoon. Massive fail.

That's (recent) coping failure #1.

I wonder if it's the system that needs to change, or if it's me. Probably both. My reaction definitely needs some tweaking if I want to stay in this field -- somehow I've got to learn to survive without internalizing, because that simply makes me anxious and angry. But I do know that part of the cure for this is to make positive inroads -- because the discrimination and stigma can be eliminated, which leads to less frustration and personal craziness.

(Recent) coping failure #2 is totally different. A friend, someone who I count as relatively close, though we've only known each other a few months, asked me whether I slept with someone. I denied it twice, then finally admitted to it, and she told me she was really hurt that I felt like I had to lie to her.

I don't think I really processed what it meant to lie to her either time I did it. Hell, I'm not sure I put any thought into it. Immediately after, I wanted to get defensive -- I wanted to tell her it wasn't really any of her business, which is what I should have said instead of lying. But I lied, and there's no justification.

After months of my ex accusing me of lying, over and over and over again until it became easier to just deny everything and tell her whatever the hell she wanted to hear than to keep crying myself stupid, I find that my relationship with lying has changed. Drastically. I always used lying as a method of self-protection, especially with family members. But now I am so quick to deny or lie about anything and everything that even remotely makes me feel uncomfortable, that I don't even know what the hell I'm lying about anymore. Usually, it's anything emotionally painful -- such as my amazing ability to sugarcoat the hell out of everything shitty that happened in 2010.  I don't even look at it as lying, really, but just self-protection. I don't talk to anyone about everything; I spread things around between a handful of close friends who each get parts and pieces of what's really going on. I don't talk about how hurt I am or how angry I am or how painful healing has been.

Massive (recent) coping failure #2 -- communication.

Oh lordy, I don't even know where to start on that one. I know roughly two people who communicate relatively well, and by that, I mean comparatively better than everyone else I know. I know this is one of those life-long growing pains. But damn, lying isn't a solution to discomfort, fear, or uncertainty. And really, the specific situation was pretty low-key, and the question didn't even bring up any emotional response -- simply me, wiggling out of the fact that I don't like direct questions about my interpersonal actions. But my problem is, when shit gets intense, I shut off or internalize it and keep moving until I don't feel the pain anymore. See also: not the most effective coping method. Ugh.

I am glad she called me on my shit. I do sincerely apologize to her for lying and for hurting her. No "buts." I really need to work on this stuff, and not in a cursory way. I need to make some serious changes, and I need to remember that when I face discomfort, running the other way isn't a valid response. If anything, writing about it helps, because it forces me to be introspective and get really personal. But it's also intense to put things like this out into the stratosphere and hope that the response is grounding, not terrifying.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


The ribbed texture of the concrete wall grates on my upper back. “Does it hurt?” you ask. I want to tell you that the resistance feels good. I want to tell you how much I love being pushed. But even if you’re trouble, you’re still new. There’s much to learn about me, and that side will come out in due time.

In my heels I almost look down to you. Almost, but not quite. I’d look down if I wasn’t rolling my eyes up, around, uncontrollably, because you’ve bit down into the muscle up the side of my neck. I want to resist, but I can’t. You bite down harder, harder, into the thin layers of my epidermis and then suck the heat off as you release me. A breath of air slips out between my lips; I had no idea I was holding it in. I hear the moan as it escapes, and my ribs expand to fill my corset.

I knew you were trouble when I met you. All right….all I had was a hunch. But my intuition is good, even if I don’t listen to the feelings often enough.

I looked down and there you were, climbing up the winding staircase, my fantasy reversed. In my head it’s me coming down, the train of my dress lingering on the previous step, hand on the rail for balance. That fantasy doesn’t belong to us – never will. But there you were, skinny tie in hand, climbing slowly toward me. I looked down on you. I swirled the wine in my glass and for a moment, I froze. Your smile caught me, the grin of the cheshire cat, curling up at the edges. That’s when I was sure that you were trouble.

“What do you want to do tonight, after we leave here?”

My answer came, simple and unassuming. “Whatever you’d like. We could get a drink or go dance. What are you thinking?”

Your eyes sparkled, but I heard the tease in your voice. “No. What do you really want to do?”

I looked directly into your eyes, unflinching. I wish I could say it was the five glasses of wine talking, but the truth is, even sober I’m direct.

“If I had my way, I’d take you home and fuck you right now.”

The warmth of the Quarter rushed at me as we walked down the cobblestone streets. Even in fall, the heat lingered, almost unfazed. You took my fingers in yours, and I realized the heat didn’t belong to New Orleans, but to us. You stepped ahead, and I stopped, pulled your hand taunt, twirling you into me. Your laugh bounced off eighteenth century windowpanes, across iron balconies. We were steps away from where twenty-seven men died in a gay bar arson. We stumbled on streets marked by duels, once filled with Spanish women heading to market and Creole aristocrats vying for the hands of ladies in parlors. Now this block was marked by tourist bars and purse-snatchings, backroom massage parlors and girls earning their tips dancing on the bar. Our past, our reality, for better or worse. The steps of thousands of couples tread here before ours. The driver of an SUV honked and whistled at us. I pulled you in closer, wrapped your arms around my waist. You pushed the falling hairs away from my face. I worried, I worried, I worried – would we get jumped? Harassed? You kissed me – and the cars, the drunken frat boy crowds, the tour buses and stumbling tourists –


I could feel only the parting of your lips.

We grabbed beers and put them in go cups. Sloshed them on the streets, though I was careful not to let my heels and newly painted toenails get wet. Music came from every open door, not the roar of big, live jazz, but the overplayed moans of top 40 and rap. We were on the wrong side of the Quarter. She is a goddess of many faces, but I strayed from these cisgender, homophobic, privileged, tourist traps and their drunken unpredictability. I pulled you through the streets, pausing to cross, to kiss, to spin, to laugh. Pausing to look into your eyes again and remember that you are Trouble. To remember to forget to remember.

We slinked into a back alley, shuttered by the hotels and office towers of the Business District, and I pulled you into me, you pushed me into the wall, I felt the defiance, physically, emotionally, sexually, but I found your mouth just the same. Open. Messy. A bare hint of hops. Eyes closed, I wrapped your tie around my wrist and pulled you in, closer. Your hands fell against my thighs and I resisted, slightly, as you pushed my hips back into the concrete. The breaths came fast and hard, now, harder when you bit, louder when you tugged my hair, pulling my head to once side to better sink your teeth deep into my neck. My moans came louder, faster. A single car sped by, lights flashing across us for a split second, glancing off the black silk of my dress.

I slid my fingers down, deep, into your back pockets, pulling you down into your center of gravity. I found your earlobe with my tongue, bit down, clawed my nails into the triangle of your shoulder blades. A lone man walked across the nearby intersection, and my eyes darted away from him. I clutched you tight, hoped he didn’t see our shadows wrestling. You buried into my chest, breathing the thin layer of sweat across my chest, and I felt your fingers dancing up the inside of my thigh, spreading my legs ever so gently. The man passed out of sight, and you pulled my lace thong to the side. Your two fingers slid in, deep, fast, sharp, and I sucked in a huge moan. My silk dress grated on the concrete. I felt my knees give in, weight falling in to my heels. Your fingers curled, lighting up each nerve ending, twirling in, out, the soft calluses on your thumb rubbing circles around my clit. When you bit down, hard, on my bottom lip, I started to beg, whimpering “more” as my hips shook, ribcage almost expanding out of the corset with each breath, moans sticking in my throat until the air leapt out. 

More. More. More.

Your fingers picked up a pulse and I felt the muscular wall of my cunt straining tighter. In. Out. Around. Deeper. Reaching in, hard, pushing my g-spot, twirling, in, slipping out, open, closed, around, in. In. My breaths came fast. I held the loudest moans in, but even the soft ones bounced off the concrete and steel. You bit down, once more, teeth catching on the thin line between pleasure and pain. My eyes rolled up, closed, cunt clenched, and electricity connected every nerve ending in my body.

The breath came out slow. Your eyes shined, almost too bright, caught in the glare of the streetlamp down the block. I slid my hands between your pants and your skin, dipping tentatively into your sides, and pulled your 
hips into mine hard. My gaze came thick, spread like fog across the streets. Yours came tentative, cocky, unassuming, unsure, wound up, all at once. 

“Why do you cause me so much trouble?” 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Carre Me Home

I don't often make it to the Vieux Carre on Saturday afternoons. I should make it a point to do so -- even with the masses of tourists, it's my favorite day to go downtown. I met with a friend today at Cafe Envie, an open-air coffee shop on a corner, and I'm so very thankful we chose to meet downtown. There was a small festival across the street at the old U.S. Mint, and the salsa and merengue music was infectious. I wanted to dance in the streets! It was a gorgeous, cool, breezy day, and after our meeting we wandered through a few thrift stores and down to Jackson Square to visit a friend who was selling his art. All the artists, street performers, and psychics were spread around the Square walkways, and I was grateful that I only had $3 in my wallet or else I would have purchased several pieces. I wish I could put the Quarter into words. It's old worlde and new, artistic and messy, all structured by the simplicity of a grid. It's a charming place. I love that I can't go two blocks there without experiencing live music, the smells of fresh seafood, and puppy kisses.

Once upon a time, I fell in love with this city. I fell in love with a girl, simultaneously, and for a long time I think I confused the two. I thought of this city as hers -- or ours -- in a lot of ways. When we broke up, I grieved that attachment. But part of the challenge (and the delight) of the last few months has been my own process of rediscovery. I'm finding that fried plantains are just as good without her. The streets shine just as much in the wake of an afternoon rainstorm. The Pontchartrain still calls to me when I'm feeling lost and lonely. I love a beer at three in the morning -- maybe even more so than I did before -- on the porch surrounded by friends.

I have a nasty tendency to nest and hole up at home when I'm in relationships. Partially, that's because I keep so busy -- always going with work and school and volunteer projects and queer events and... -- that when I get a free moment, I want to spend it with whomever I'm dating. When I'm single, my priorities change, and I redirect that energy toward a social life. I look outward, instead of inward. I've met so many amazing people in NOLA because I'm taking chances, spending time building relationships, and connecting into the people that have become a transient, local family to me. I've had several people ask if I'm "dating" -- but the truth is, I don't want to. I don't want a partner. I don't want to pour energy into looking for one. I want to wander, dance in the streets, and enjoy what it means to wake up alone. I want to touch on each museum, each festival. I want to try all the foods (!) and I want to paint in the park. I want to dance on the bar and drink in alleyways. As a friend (or her mother) says, "being alone doesn't mean being lonely." It just means... being.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Whirlwind.

So far I have tried my best to explain the erotic energy retreat to three people, and though I feel as if I am doing my experience no justice, all the responses have been really positive. I must be doing something right?

Easton is such a jewel in the mountains. It reminded me strongly of summer camp, but the cold breeze whipping through the mountains at all times provided a stark contrast. It was unreal how quiet it was there -- my first day, after setting down my bags, I wandered down to one of the ponds. Two Canadian geese flew over my head, and I could hear the sound of the wind rushing over their wings, simply because there was no other noise. It was surreal.

The workshop, CBE, pushed a lot of my boundaries -- emotional, physical, sexual -- in a place that was both safe and consent-focused. As I explained to a friend, the workshop begins with some basic consent skills and emotional trust exercises, then builds to help participants explore their comfort and knowledge of their physical bodies, leading ultimately to really intense connection with the sexual self. The workshop was structured very specifically to help participants learn their boundaries and connect with themselves and each other, though living in residence with the same group of people really helped me to get to know them in unique ways. I can see how it would be great to not be in residence -- just to go home, chill, and turn off each night. But one of my favorite parts of the weekend was the impromptu -- conversations about gender, sexuality, and identity over dinner, telling stories in the sauna, and late night discussions with the girls I stayed with.

I really enjoyed the chance to get to meet so many amazing women of different ages and backgrounds, each of whom had felt driven to Easton Mountain. How do you explain to friends, family, and others why you would choose to take a weekend and fly, train, or drive to a remote location to an erotic energy retreat? How do you explain that choice to yourself? And on the flip side, how do you go back into the world, having occupied an intensely spiritual, sexual, and emotional safe space, secluded in the mountains, and explain what you experienced? I don't have the answers for this. I know that, as the director of the workshop explained, the experience can leave you feeling expanded, though the world (and us) are constantly expanding and contracting. Pieces of the workshop, for me, will always exist at Easton. Other pieces have threaded so intricately into my life, into my thoughts and actions, my memory and future, that I see this work as a stepping stone at the beginning of a journey, not a door at the end.

CBE was a healing place for me. It was also a reminder that, as hard as it might be, we have the power to heal ourselves. I tend to turn to my friends for healing, which is important in its own right. But sometimes I must learn to turn inward, to listen and not run, to pay attention. CBE was at times, a scary place. Some of the exercises pushed me into emotional and physical places, outside of my boundaries. CBE also brought out a lot of things about myself, and my body, that I had forgotten -- how much dance has disciplined my movements, my own reservations about intimacy and receiving, the pleasure and pain of stretching my body and my mind, and the rawness of sex when it is unexpected and unpredictable.

I'm grateful for the experience. I'm grateful for the women who came to Easton, grateful to those who opened their lives and allowed me to explore in very personal ways. I'm grateful for the friendships and connections I made, and for the chance to walk away from my life for a bit and come back with a complimentary but new perspective. I'm grateful for the tools I learned, and I'm grateful that these places, these spaces, exist. Whether I get the chance again to go back to another workshop or not, I think this is important work. As Sinclair said, there is a connection between workshops like these and other types of sex-positivity, because they share the values and vision of creating a world where sex and sexuality are embraced as a positive force in our lives, a part of life and body to be explored and enjoyed, not a realm of shame, fear, denial, and pain.

The whole weekend, I was reminded of this quote, which is one of my most favorite:

“I am not arguing here for free sex or for more sexual expression, quantitatively speaking. I am arguing for living dangerously, for choosing to take responsibility for working through the possible consequences of sexual feelings rather than repressing sexual feeling and thus feeling more generally. I am arguing that our capacity to transform…the world is rooted in our capacity to be alive to the pain and anger that is caused by relationships of domination, and to the joy that awaits us on the other side [in a relationship of mutuality and equality]. I am arguing that to be alive is to be sexually alive, and that in suppressing one sort of vitality, we suppress the other.” -- Judith Plaskow

Thanks(Giving) for Sex Ed

In the early 1990’s, there was a massive legal battle over sex education in the school district where I grew up. A very conservative group of Christians had convinced the school board (hell, they probably were the school board) to adopt an abstinence-only program. Another group sued, claiming this curriculum forced religious beliefs on students and taught students incorrect information.

What came out of this massive brew-ha-ha was the mess I, a ninth grader, had the pleasure of experiencing. My school was the second best public school in the state, but yet, my teachers could be suspended or fired if they answered students’ questions about sex, bodies, and sexuality. Several of my fellow students went on to study at Ivy League schools, yet we were taught from books with lines blacked out about how condoms prevented only 22% of pregnancies if used correctly. My school offered over ten AP classes, but also taught us that “automobiles” were a leading cause of sex.

In other words, we were a very well-educated bunch, but we hadn’t a clue when it came to sex education.

My parents were even less helpful. My mom didn’t even explain sex; she thought letting me watch R-rated movies and giving me an American Girl book about “your body” was enough. She bought me some pads and told me to ask my friends how to use tampons. She said, “don’t get pregnant.” My dad left when I was 12, teaching me that the most valuable relationship skill I could cultivate is how to emotionally shut off when things get difficult.

I became sexually active young. Thankfully I stumbled through early sex experiences with few permanent scars. I didn’t use a condom the first time I had penis-vagina intercourse with a man. I didn’t know that oral sex could spread STI’s. When I started exploring my attractions for women, I had no idea what I was doing. None. I had no relationship communication skills, which quickly backfired as I learned the hard way with my first girlfriend. I thought jealousy was a requirement for relationships; I thought it was better to talk behind her back about how I felt than to talk to her.

I survived without an STI, without getting pregnant, and I still talk with my ex. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it out of high school without getting raped. I don’t know if sex education could have changed that, but I do think it could have changed my response. I was under the misconception that women are raped by strangers, not by their friends, their dates, their acquaintances. For years, I thought I had simply “hooked up” with a friend when I was blacked out. I wasn’t introduced to the idea of consent until I was 18 – three years after being raped. Three years after that healing process should have started. Three years too late for me to do anything to prevent the rape.

After years of stumbling in the dark, running into brick walls, and making up answers to questions, I started doing some serious research. I educated myself. I found factual, intelligent resources like Scarleteen, and I started passing the information on. My friends would email me, asking where to get STI tested and how to put on a condom, and I went looking for the best answers. I started a hotly contested sex column at my college, implemented a Safe Sex Week, and pushed the Resident Advisors to make condoms available in all the dorms – not simply across campus at the health center. I got HIV/AIDS tested, and I accompanied anyone who needed a friend to hold their hand at the clinic. I started a Safe Zone program on campus for queer and questioning students, and I challenged professors to think about how the exclusion of LGBT people from history, sex education, health curriculum, and other disciplines hurt students by denying them information. I started exploring my own sexuality in healthy ways – exploring consent and kink, experimenting with new sex positions and partners, examining my understanding of monogamy, jealousy, and communication in relationships.

At the root of what drove me to keep pushing boundaries, to keep educating myself and others was a need to not see my friends stumble in the dark. If you don’t know how to protect yourself, you won’t. If you don’t know how to get tested, you won’t. If you don’t know how to navigate consent and set your own boundaries, you won’t. Knowledge is powerful. It takes knowledge to plan to not get pregnant, to plan to prevent STI’s, to plan to get good healthcare. It takes knowledge (and practice!) have great sex and build strong relationships. Scarleteen is knowledge. Scarleteen is the best resource for fighting the bullshit and lies our schools (and sometimes, our parents) taught us.

We need more information, not less. We need to become empowered through knowledge, not denied the ability to make informed choices. We need love and real answers. We need all sex education to be like Scarleteen.

Scarleteen wouldn’t exist without the donations of people who care about helping young people. Please make a donation. Please give the gift of sex education. Give youth the help and information they need.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

as is

School. School. School. So much chaos. Came home from New York and jumped straight in – I’m so far behind! It’s crunch time, and I’m signing on for 16 hours next semester (!). Feels like I’m looking down the barrel of a whole lot more madness. But it’s time to set that aside for a moment and reminisce on the last week.

New York City was a whirlwind. So much fun to see friends from high school and college. I fell head over heels for Central Park. I love the contradictions of New York. I love that the city is full of nuance. There are a million cracks and crannies, hidden stories, pieces of art and ironwork, cafes, corners. I love the distinctions of the neighborhoods, and how even, in a city of 8 million people, a neighborhood can feel small.

I feel like we had a quick fuck, when it should have been a much longer affair. I’ll be back, I promise. It won’t be another seven years. I’m thinking two years, at the maximum, and honestly, I’d love to go back next year, while I still have friends I want to see and free places to crash. In my wildest dreams, I want to live there, for a minute really – a few months, a year or two tops.

Strangely, leaving town really cemented for me how much I belong to NOLA right now. I found myself constantly expounding on the beauty of the city, the diversity of people, and my experiences here. I found references to NOLA hiding everywhere, often in the most bizarre of places. I’m very drawn here, right now. Maybe that will change, or maybe I’ll wander away and find my way back. Who knows? Maybe I’ll forever be polyamorous – drawn across the country by my loves for New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans, along with many smaller destinations in between. I don’t think I could ever fully give my heart, soul, and mind to one city – instead, my heart is in San Fran, my mind in NYC, and my soul in NOLA. I don’t believe that I must only have one love, thankfully.

I want to talk about the erotic energy retreat, but I’m exhausted. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. I must make more time to blog tomorrow…

Sunday, October 31, 2010


I’m hanging out at the house, trying to pack for my trip in three days, but my cat has decided that my lap is decidedly more comfortable than the window seat. If he wasn’t so adorable…

As part of this workshop, I’ve been told to do some preparatory homework – thinking, if you will, about what it is that is driving me to go across the country for a weekend.

I like lists, so it's easy to start there. 

Things I’m bringing: layers of clothes, new comfy yoga pants from Target, two (or more?) books, the remnants of a shattered heart, a whole lot of curiosity, a craving to experience the leaves falling in upstate New York, a lot of confusion about where I am and what I want next, a newfound sense of community and addiction to New Orleans, an irrational fear of losing my luggage or getting mugged, a dream of seeing the Stonewall Inn, a crazy libido, some moneys, two scarves, a lot of indecision, a history of sexual assault, an interest in kink, a body exhausted by work, and my camera and new CF card.

What motivates me to do this:

Good question.

Renaissance. I’m in a very pivotal place in my life, and though at times it feels like I’m free floating and directionless in a terrifying manner, I am forcing myself to dream and jump in and play with new experiences. I’ve never been to upstate New York, I’ve never been to a workshop/retreat with a group of strangers, and it’s been years since I’ve had to do the kind of emotional and introspective work these workshops require. Plus I’ve never done this kind of “work” in a way which embraces eroticism and sexuality. Yet, all of these things interest me intently. There’s a national (and maybe international?) network of people who are playing with sexuality and queerness in ways I’m fascinated by. I’ve let this part of my life wane in the last few years, and I want to reconnect with my interests and what other people are doing with sex education, kink, sexuality discussions, conferences, readings and workshops, erotica, and other venues.

Intertwined into this mess is a need for healing. I’m still reeling from the pain and chaos of ending a relationship over the last few months and all the insanity in between. I wish I could simply go to Albany and leave all of that pain there, but I know better. Healing is a slow and intensive process. I’m moving through it – I went from miserable, to functional, to ok, and now I’m grateful that the bad days are fewer and further between. But I still have those days, and I will have them after I get back. I do think having to really put myself in a place to work through that anger and pain and frustration, to face it when I’m sad instead of brushing those feelings aside, will be a big step in this process. I need to find places where I don’t feel the need to be a hard ass, where I feel safe enough that I don’t shut off, where I’m challenged to move past the protective defenses and into confrontation. So that’s what I hope to achieve: movement forward.

I’d love to say that maybe I could come back from Albany and know where to go next. I have some big decisions to make – to go to nursing school or not, to finish this degree at UNO or transfer, to to stay in NOLA or move, to apply for new jobs or take out loans, how much I need to or want to work, etc. I have some minor decisions, too, which don’t always feel so minor – what to do about Elles, whether to walk away from a potentially sticky situation, whether to go home for Thanksgiving, etc. I don’t know if I’ll find the answers to any of these questions in New York, but I think emotional, physical, and psychological journeys can coincide. At the least, I’d love to have some clarity – or blind confidence that things will be ok. Heh. Those aren’t the same thing, but really, I’ll take either at this point.

What else do I want from this workshop? To become more comfortable with my body. To find the drive to rediscover horseback riding, yoga, painting, and other interests I have let slide. To start exploring tantric, or at least, get some foundation for doing so. To relax. To meet new people. To check out of my daily life for a bit. To start investing in this blog more, writing more, exploring erotica more. 

On that note, this is my second day off in three weeks, so I don't want to spend the time writing. And it’s fucking Halloween! So I’m off to start packing, go watch the Saints game, and hopefully wash my costume in time for tonight. :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fort Worth, TX Councilman on "It Gets Better"

Dallas Pride was my first pride ever -- and I returned twice more. Texas, like Louisiana, gets a lot of shit for being conservative, hick states where queers aren't welcome. But the truth is, we're here and we're out and we exist -- as do our allies. Nothing melts my heart like hearing a devout Southern Baptist talk about how wonderful gay people are. There are huge pockets of support which extend even into rural areas, often in the most unexpected places. Listening to Councilman Joel Burns' speech reminds me of all this truth -- that we're here, we're everywhere, we're loved, even if some days it doesn't seem that way.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Someone To Know You Too Well

You’ve been haunting my thoughts lately. I tell myself that this is recent, this is new, this too will pass. This memory will fade and whatever happens between us will happen – and as I immaturely want to control it, I must not. I must let go and walk away and not think about you. There are a thousand possibilities – who knows. 

Maybe someday you’ll be a good friend, and we can look back and laugh. Or you’ll be a lover, and this will be a part of our history. Or you’ll become a distant moment that I file away and recall only on similar occasions, on a fluke, when it’s convenient.

I wish to know that answer now, but I can’t.

I wish. I wish my son were not a fool. I wish my house was not a mess. I wish the cow was full of milk. I wish the house was full of gold – I wish a lot of things…

(For some reason, my night is written in Sondheim musicals)

I am perplexed by how alive and alone are two sides of the same coin for me.

Sleep to Dream

It's almost bedtime, and my thoughts are running wild and chaotic. What a strange last few days. I have much to say here, but neither the focus or the will to really do it. I'm determined to finish writing Number 9, but after the Saints defeat on Sunday, I simply haven't had the motivation. I tell myself tomorrow, but the truth is tomorrow doesn't seem to ever come.

A friend mentioned Written on the Body by Winterson this weekend, and the book seems to have gotten stuck in my head. It's been years and years since I read it, or really anything by her, though once upon a time she was my favorite author. I credit Written on the Body as a big part of my coming out process. The book is written from a first person perspective, though the protagonist has no defined sex/gender identity. At the time I read it, I wasn't comfortable with the idea of being sexual (or even romantic) with another woman. But reading the book forced me to explore my own feelings and thoughts about gender roles, sexuality, and sex in very mind-blowing ways. Granted, I was fifteen. But it was most definitely what I needed at the time. Ironic that this has all popped up around National Coming Out Day (today).

I cried this morning, when I woke up before my alarm and read the FB and twitter updates of many of my friends. I have some friends on FB I didn't even know where queer -- old camp friends, etc. -- and seeing these people who grew up in small town Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, proudly proclaim to 300+ people online that they're here and queer still blows my mind. I spoke with two close friends last week about the LGBTQ community in NOLA, in Louisiana, about the struggles we face and the challenges that hold back this community. On a microcosm, many are small and yet so pervasive -- one or two family members who hold someone back from being out, a boss that might or might not be accepting, a fear of the those who lurk in the French Quarter streets at night, etc. But the macrocosm is devastating in a different way -- the pay gap for women (and especially gender non-normative women), the racial and class divides in this town, the lack of a LGBTQ infrastructure through organizations and groups, the lack of venues for queer women, the lack of everything from healthcare to social support for trans people, pervasive (and often school-sanctioned) discrimination and bullying, etc.

I don't know why this year has hit hard -- I always wax poetic on LGBTQ holidays, but I guess the rash of suicides has just hit home. It's 2010, and groups like HRC and (our local) Forum For Equality and Gay, Inc, have put marriage and adoption at the top of the agenda, while teens are blowing their brains out. I get that it's not an either-or thing; nothing is that simple. But money is power, and the issues we choose to support with our time and money are the ones which get the most press and recognition. Thousands of people in California came out against Prop 8. In the last few weeks, five kids (that we know of) have committed suicide and where is outcry? It's coming, but it's not as well funded. This movement doesn't have the PR machine. But I'm grateful to see things like the "It Gets Better" Project. I'm glad people are reading, listening, hearing, and asking questions -- What can we do? What are we doing wrong? How can we give these kids hope?

I don't know. But we've got to start talking and listening. We've got to find a way to hear the stories of these kids, and not the post-mortem version. We've got to build a support system, an infrastructure, and we've got to start yesterday.

The suicides also brought up two of my own friends, both from high school, who've committed suicide. I'm certain neither of their deaths had anything to do with their sexual orientation or gender identity. But to think they both cut their lives off at 19. Argh. I wonder often who they would be if they were still here. If I'd still run into them from time to time. If they would find happiness. Death always leaves a hole, but suicide leaves a different kind of missing. It's been over three years, but damn, I still think about them. 19 is too young.

What are we doing? Not enough. Never enough, if this is still happening. Social change is slow, yes. But just as women found that Edna Pontillier's escape hatch was not the only one -- Nora Helmer was onto something -- LGBTQ teens have to discover the same. Death isn't a solution. There's so much more to find in Door #2.

Come out, come out, where ever you are. I'm grateful today, especially, for my "family." I'm grateful for my ex-boyfriend, Steven, the first person I came out to -- and a friend who gave me the support I really needed. I'm grateful to the psychiatrist who told me, contrary to my mother's wishes, that my being queer was just fine. I'm grateful to the straight allies, to groups like the ACLU and SPLC, to parents and family members of queers, to advocates, to those who love quietly and those who fight out loud. There's so much gold on this end of the rainbow.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Take Me Out Tonight

corset: check.
black tie cocktail dress: check.
strappy shoes: check.
jewelry: still undecided.

$150 ticket I scored for free: check.
Open bar: check.
Dinner: check.
Awards: eh. We'll slip out the back.

I love getting dressed up and going out!


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wound Tight

At one of the many wine-fueled living room discussions from my old apartment, I remember one of the girls asking whether we thought giving or receiving sex was more intimate. We debated this topic out, and there were mixed responses in the room. My answer didn’t take much thought. For me, receiving has always been more intimate, and, at times, more challenging.

I can bury my mouth or fingers in someone else all day. Seriously. But it’s another level to let someone else pull open the layers of my body and mind and fuck me senseless.

When I first became sexually active, I was always very dominant with men. I liked the feeling of turning someone else on until they lost control, using my own body and mind to elicit an involuntary response. That kind of power was a rush. It’s an undeniably terrifying lesson to learn at such a young age. I have often used my body, my voice, my mind, to push the people around me. Only as an adult has it become increasingly important for me to control my own tendencies to dominate. I try to fall more gracefully now, to reign that urge into becoming a healthy response, not an overwhelming one. I fail sometimes. It’s an ongoing process.

Even at a young age, being on top, being in control, was about more than power. Dominance was a protective measure. Dominance left me with the illusion that I had more agency, more control over how much of my own body and mind I was opening up to someone else. It was a false prophet, leading me to believe I could protect myself.

My attitude and actions changed drastically when I started dating my first girlfriend. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was on even ground with someone. I had nothing to prove, no role to fill – because there wasn’t a prescript for how two women in a relationship thought, acted, fucked. Or at least, I felt like there wasn’t a prescript because I had not yet been socialized into a queer community. I learned much more about giving and taking sexually. More importantly, I learned to let my guard down and expose myself to pleasure, to heartbreak, to infinite possibilities.

But the reality is, I still have a lot of deep-burnt issues about control and agency, consent and release. These concepts are so interwoven that it’s hard to imagine picking them apart.

On most cars, there’s a kill switch that kicks in when you accelerate to 100mph. Sometimes 120mph. Your car can, indeed, go faster. But manufacturers place a safety limit, so that an engine literally will not accelerate more after reaching that speed.

I’m learning that I, too, have a safety kill switch. When I’m fucking someone new for the first time, I often can’t come. The sex can be spectacular. My body can be totally aroused, and I can get so close. But, as if there’s an internal switch I can’t control, I’ll lose my orgasm just as I’m getting there. It’s incredibly frustrating, and often leaves me feeling so many things – guilty, confused, and out of touch with my body. It’s difficult to explain to a partner that it’s not her, it’s me. Really.

I’ve encountered this before, years ago, but the truth is, I had forgotten about it in the four years I was in a relationship. In retrospect, I never could come to full orgasm with a guy. It wasn't not about sexual orientation, because I was attracted to the guys I dated and screwed around with. But I wasn’t comfortable letting go of myself and my body. I faced the same issue with later sex partners (and girls before we dated), but usually I could overcome it. In my memory, this became a few separate incidents, not a pattern. But I'm obviously wrong. It is a pattern.

I’ve met quite a number of girls in my life who’ve experienced the same thing, though often in a slightly different context. Many of them have expressed that they’ve never reached orgasm ever, or never reached orgasm with a partner. I’m not in that boat. But I think there could be correlations.

I definitely think it’s deeply psychological, and it’s a remnant of protection – a way for my body to close off, to keep from sharing my own intimacy. While I love to receive, to submit, there’s a lot of trust required there. Any consensual sexual act requires trust – trust that your partner will respect your choices and request, trust that your partner will listen to your body and your words, trust that you’ll be treated the way you want to be, trust that you’ll be safe from being harmed.

Problem is, this happens even when I'm consciously consenting, even when I trust my partner completely.


(Always a but.)

My body apparently feels differently.

I don’t know if it’s a remnant of being sexually assaulted. I don’t know if it’s the reason many women I know can’t orgasm. But I suspect it has something to do with letting go. I suspect it’s an internal fear – do I look ok? Does my partner judge my body? Is she/he enjoying it? Or even a more deep set, less obvious fear – one of relinquishing control of your body, your reactions. I’ve met many women who were embarrassed by the sounds or the faces they make during orgasm, the way their right leg shakes, the fact that they ejaculate, the chance that they might queef, or really, any involuntary bodily response.

Sex is messy and personal. These things are going to happen! And while I’ve apologized for many of my own reactions at different points with different partners, the truth is, those fears hold us back.

But even when I’m not caught up with these thoughts consciously, my body still cuts off. I can be completely committed and engaged in sex... and yet, nothing. This ridiculously frustrating motor kill switch is holding me back, not really protecting me. It’s hurting my ability to enjoy sex and my ability to respond to a partner. It’s fucking with my sex life, and it’s got to go.

So while I don’t really have an answer yet on how I’m going to overcome whatever is holding me back in this situation – hell, I don’t even really know for certain what or why my body responds like this – I do hope that naming the problem is step one.

In truth, I love to have my boundaries challenged. I still love to be dominant, but I equally love to submit, to be restrained, to be pushed to a grey area between pleasure and pain. I like to play with power in consensual ways, and I like to have my ideas of agency and control discussed and challenged. Sex can be as psychological as it can be physical, and I like to fuck with both – pardon the pun.

I'd even go so far as to say that at times, my own protective instinct closes me off to the point of being borderline stone -- open and willing to fuck someone else, but not to be fucked. The truth is, I don't like it there. I like to be fucked. I like my layers and complexities to be picked apart until I'm engaged in every part of sex, even the most raw and intimate and scary acts of exposing myself to someone else. That, in itself, is a turn on. Protective shields don't protect me -- they limit me from experience, exposure, opportunity.

But right now, my body is really fucking with me, in a not-so-fun way. I’m hoping this is something I can work on in Albany, as it’s definitely something I want to get to the bottom of soon.

Monday, September 27, 2010

It Gets Better

Dan Savage, author of the Savage Love column and a couple books, has started a new project in response to yet another suicide by a gay teen. He created a YouTube channel where LGBT people can post their videos discussing their coming out, their lives, and how, in growing up, it gets better. It’s not always miserable and hopeless to be queer, even though it can really seem that way.

Honestly, I don’t have any experience with video. Arg. And my computer, though it claims I can video using my built-in webcam, doesn’t seem to want to. I suspect I am missing a mic.

Plus, I simply prefer writing.

In fall 2004, I was a senior in high school. I’d been dating my first girlfriend for over six months, and my best friend had just passed away in a house fire. It was a very emotionally tumultuous time in my life. Looking back, I remember only bits and pieces, like driving to school on crisp fall mornings with the windows down and having hot sex in the back seat of my Camry, parked in a dark alley. I remember my girlfriend’s parents threatening that if she came out, her mother would lose her job, and the time when her younger sister outed us to all of her friends in an attempt to fit in. We didn’t really know anyone else who was gay, and I felt very alienated – I had no idea there were ways to connect to other LGBT people. The highs were incredible, and the lows were very, very dark. I was coming off a semester of drinking and popping pills every morning before class, but my girlfriend was one of the reasons I stopped playing with drugs. I was head-over-heels in love.

I had a hare-brained notion that I should come out to my mother, in hopes that my honesty would bring us closer. God knows I was so fucking wrong. Instead, our already miserable relationship worsened. She dragged me to a psychiatrist, insisted that I was in a phase triggered by the sudden death of my best friend, and used her shame and yelling to drive me deeper into the closet. My close friends, the few who knew about us and were supportive, were a solace. But losing the last few family members I had left, after my family had already been split by divorce and rivalries, was overwhelming and terrifying. My friends who were Christian took off pretty quick, and those that stayed faced disapproval from their parents for hanging out with “gay kids.”

I remember thinking my cousins would never speak to me again. I just wanted to move out, run away, but I had nowhere to go. I counted down the days to college, when I could get away from my mother. I was so overwhelmed some days, and I really couldn’t imagine how things could get better.

And then I went to moved out, went to college, and got a job.

Practically overnight, I had a bed I could fuck in any time I wanted. I had the money to support myself – to some degree – and I could go see my girlfriend for a whole weekend without asking permission and facing judgment, shame, and anger from my mother. I could call her anytime I wanted, and not fear that if her number showed up on my caller ID that I would face another two days of fighting. I felt liberated. I could come out on my own terms, and define my life in a new place. And I did all of those things.

It definitely gets better.

I don’t have all my shit together, and I never will. I don’t want to pretend to be a role model for anyone. I still struggle with coming out, at new jobs, in unfamiliar or scary situations, in dealing with family. But not for a second would I take back being queer.

I’m so blessed. I have so many queer friends and straight allies in my life. I have stopped putting stock in my biological family, which has never been supportive for really any reason, and learned to build a chosen family of friends who I actually enjoy spending time with. I get to play any role in the queer community that I wish, and I have taken on many – as a political and social advocate, as a member of LGBT organizations, as a researcher, as a geek who loves queer history, as an employee of an LGBT org, as a protester, as a supporter of queer arts and culture, as a volunteer, and now, I suppose, as a writer. I love that everyone in this community can choose their level of involvement – but at the end of the day, being queer – from who you fuck to how you speak out and everything in between – is subversive and beautiful.

I wake up every day, grateful to have not chosen suicide when I was 15, 16, 17. I can’t tell you the number of times I faced death as a viable option.

I can tell you there is so much to come, so much that you just haven’t experienced yet. Amazing, mind-blowing sex. Visiting cities like New York and San Francisco, where the gay flags on balconies signal “home.” Pride parades. Laughing about with queer friends over a bottle of wine or a few beers. The thumpa-thumpa of the club. Drag. Watching someone open their eyes and ears as they learn about what it’s like to be queer. Movies like Imagine Me & You. Seeing a gay kiss on-stage. Falling in love. Tiny, hidden gay bars where everyone is like family. Queer theory and queer history.

And there are all the not-so-gay things. Like the chance to go to school. The jobs you could have, the people you could meet. The friends you’ll make. The chance to reconcile with family members, who often do come around after a few months or years. The places you’ll go.

There are so many possibilities, so many opportunities. There’s so much worth living for. You only get once chance, so enjoy it while you’re young. Enjoy it when you’re old. Tomorrow does get better.

Someday, it’ll be you writing to the next generation, telling them the same. 

If you're struggling with being LGBT/queer and need someone to talk to, please call 866-4-U-TREVOR. The hotline is operated 24/7 by the Trevor Project, a non-profit dedicated to crisis and suicide prevention among LGBT youth. You can find out more or donate to the Trevor Project on their website,

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Number 9 (Part I)

She gives me a long glance from the second step of the stairs. Her left toes point down, dragging the bottom step, and she is swinging her weight against the banister. There’s a playful look in her eyes, and they linger on me, just a second too long. I want to yank her long, dark hair back, and bite right under her jaw line.

But I’m sitting on the couch, holding my beer, and trying to figure out what the hell this look means.

Do I follow her up the stairs? Do I stay on the couch and knot my eyebrows together? Do I pretend like this visual exchange didn’t just happen, and go back to the conversation with her roommate? I take another sip of my beer. I wish sometimes I was better at this game. Damn it. Looks aren’t a credible substitute for communication.

I down the rest of my beer. Here goes nothing. At least it’s a good excuse to leave if there’s nothing at the top of the stairs worth staying for.

I’d love to say that I hate being right, but that’s a big fat lie. The door to her room is cracked open, letting out a soft light into the dark hallway. Downstairs I can hear the echoes of our friends still talking about the game. 

It’s the season after the Saints won the Superbowl, and yet, those boys can still put me on the edge of a heart attack. Last two minutes of the game… and it was anyone’s guess. If Hartley hadn’t pulled it together and kicked a winning field goal in the last two SECONDS of the game, we would have bit the dust to the 49ers in San Francisco. But we didn’t. A thousand miles from home, 35 mile-an-hour winds, and those boys…

My hand falls on the door, and I push it away. She’s standing by her dresser, trying to unclasp her silver necklace, and staring at herself into an oval mirror. She’s wearing nothing but her Saints jersey, black with the gold “9” on the back, and a pair of black strappy heels. I can see the lacy edge of her panties peeking out from underneath her jersey, right where her thighs meet her ass.

I’ve forgotten about the whole game.

She can’t get her necklace to unclasp. I walk up behind her, and she flips her hair to the left side, away from me.

“Can you help me…?” She asks, staring into my eyes again. I can’t even meet them; I’m too focused on the curve of her ass.

“Um. Of course.” I unclasp her necklace, and she pulls the hair tie down, letting her dark curls fall. I step in, an inch too close, and I can feel my hips against her ass. I can’t help myself. I run my fingers over her skin at mid-thigh, sliding both hands just underneath her jersey. I’ve got a firm grip on the high arch of her panties, where the lace falls across her hip bones. I look up and meet her eyes in the mirror. She’s standing strong, watching my hands while hers still clutch her thin silver chain and fleur-de-lis charm.  

“So tell me…” She tilts her head even more to the left, and I run the tip of my nose up from her collarbone to just below her earlobe, and finish off by biting deeply into her earlobe. Her eyes roll back, but she hasn’t moved any other inch of her body.

“So tell me,” I continue, “What is it that you like?” She looks down, pulls open the drawer of a large jewelry box, and trades her silver necklace for a pair of steel handcuffs. I’m not sure if she’s going to cuff me or ask me to cuff her at this moment, but I’m definitely intrigued. She pushes me back with her hips, bends over a dresser to her left, and pulls out a gorgeous glass handle leather whip, a pinwheel, some condoms, a box of gloves, and a bottle of lube. She clicks off the only lamp in the room. It takes a moment for my eyes to adjust, but the streetlights outside her window are just enough to illuminate her silhouette in the dark of the room.

This is getting more interesting every second.

She’s setting up everything, neatly, on her bedside table. And she still hasn’t said a word while I watched. She finishes and turns back to me.

“Hi.” Her voice is low and sultry.

“Hello?” I’m still not sure what she’s looking for.

She puts her hands on my hips and pushes me toward the bed gently, until I’m falling backward onto  the mattress. She climbs on top of me, resting her hips on mine, and I can feel the four-inch heel of her shoe brush against my legs. She could dig it into my thigh, if she chose, but she doesn’t. She leans over, bracing herself with her arms, until the gold “9” on her jersey has fallen against my chest and her nose is inches from mine.


She doesn’t give me time to respond, but leans in and kisses me so deeply that I lose my breath. My hands grope for her thighs in the dark, sliding up and up. Under her jersey I can feel the rounded curve of her ass slide into the depth of her lower back and the arch of her shoulders. I can feel the power, the strength in her upper back. She’s got me locked down, and even though I’m a good thirty pounds heavier than her, I’m not going anywhere. Her hair is falling in my face, tickling. Her lips are so soft, almost too soft -- sugar sweet kisses. I can feel the sharp edge of her shoulder blades, and I dig in, deep, fingernails almost to the bone. I don’t want sweet, gentle kisses. I want to do this the hard way.

She lets out a low moan as I finish dragging my fingernails through her skin. Without warning, she grabs both of my arms and pins them above my head. Will she cuff me? But she doesn’t. What does this girl want?
She leans down and bites my neck instead, still pinning my arms. She shifts her hips so she’s holding me down even tighter; I’ve got nowhere to go. Her teeth move up my neck, latch onto my earlobe, and bite down. And then she whispers… “take me.”

So that’s where this is going.

As fast as she clamped down on me, she releases my hands, and I rock my hips up, flipping her deftly onto her back. Her wrought iron headboard provides the perfect hold for cuffing her hands above her head, and I’ve got her pinned and cuffed securely before she can take back her request.

“What do you use for a safeword?” I ask.


I can’t help but laugh. Seriously? “All right.” I giggle. “Bacon it is.” It will do the job, I suppose.

I lean back on the bed, lifting my weight off her. I sit back and spread her legs, pushing the tender insides of her thighs apart, until I can see where the lace meets.

I look into her eyes, and my gaze turns hard, taunting. I have my hands on her calves, holding them to the bed. The rest of her body is taunt with expectation. Her jersey has hiked up around her stomach, and her hair has fallen across the pillow. But even in a fully submissive position, her eyes still sparkle; she’s given freely of her body for me to take, but she’ll enjoy every second of it.

“Don’t move. Don’t talk. Don’t moan. If you say a word, I’ll stop. Do you understand?” It’s my turn to give orders.

She opens her mouth to speak, hesitates, and nods.

“You can say ‘more’ or ‘less.’ Those are your choices. But that’s all you get.” She nods again, and her eyes widen.

I pull the pinwheel out, and start at the ankle strap of her heels. The forced curve of her foot accentuates off the muscles in her calves. I’m looking forward to pounding her as she kicks those heels up in the air. But not just yet.

The pinwheel has a diameter of spikes, sharp enough to break skin with some serious pressure. I roll it, up, beginning at her ankle and slowly making my way up to the soft inside of her thighs. When the spikes hit her tender skin, she sucks in a huge breath and arches her back, and I think I can hear a soft “more” escape between breaths.

I slide her jersey up across her breasts. She’s left her bra somewhere, though I’m surprised it took this long for me to notice. I can’t stop myself from sliding my mouth onto her left nipple, catching my teeth on the barbell, and pulling gently as I scrap my teeth over the silk skin. This time I’m not imagining things; she bucks her hips against me and moans loudly.

I let go immediately. “I told you to be quiet.” There’s no joking tone in my voice. “Do you understand? I will stop if you moan or move.”

She lies perfectly still; all I can see is the faint rise and fall of her chest as she breathes.

I run the pinwheel up the side of her body, digging in softly, and roll the spikes underneath the curve of her heavy breasts, across the soft flesh of her stomach. The metal of barbell through her belly button piercing glints in the light, and I catch my teeth on it, biting and twisting. The skin here is less sensitive, and I’m not afraid to apply enough pressure to make the barbell tug on her skin. I’m sure she can feel the nerves firing, a thin line between pleasure and pain.

This is all just a slow build up. 

If you can't tell, I'm a Saints fan. Who dat. :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's official. I think...

Salacious. What a great word.

So, can I officially call myself a sex writer if I get published? Yes? No? Not until I get paid? I'm figuring there won't be a consensus here.

Oh, well.

Either way. I'm super excited.

Oh, and even better -- there will be illustrations. Not mine, mind you -- I'm not skilled at drawing people. But it will be so interesting to see my words interpreted by another artist. :)

I'll post more when I find out when the magazine comes out.


sexual freedom

It’s National Sexual Freedom Day (wow, there’s a day!), and in honor of this great day, the Woodhull Freedom Foundation is hosting a blog carnival.

So it’s time to pick up a pen (or, really, my keyboard), and get down to the dirt of why I care about sexual freedom.

This week, I watched two different TV shows, both about parenting young children – “Modern Family” and “Parenthood.” Ironically, both contained plot lines where a couple was faced with how to talk to their young child about sex. In “Modern Family,” the five-year-old (or about that age) daughter started asking her parents about sex – specifically, if she came from her mom’s vagina, how babies are made, how eggs are fertilized, what the daddy “does,” etc. In “Parenthood,” a mom found a photo of a naked woman downloaded on her computer and believed her ten-year-old son to be the culprit.

In both shows, the parents had discussions about what to say to their child, and in both shows, there was a uniting theme: shame. One couple agonized about how many years it would take for their daughter to “live down” their explanation of sex – and the father speculated that waiting another 5-6 years before talking to her would be appropriate. The mother winced at any mention of the word “vagina” and “penis,” though she did try to push for honesty, while the father kept trying to change the subject. In the other show, the father told his wife that a mother talking to a son about sex would “scar him” and embarrass him; they both avoided discussing the subject and used bad euphemisms to try to get their points across. Granted, there were some comedic moments, but both couples implied that discussions of sexually are innately scary, embarrassing, shameful, and worth avoiding.


I’m fascinated by sex and sexuality because they are an integral part of most everyone’s lives, and yet, in America, we have such a love-hate relationship with sex. We use sex to sell everything, from cars to clothes to shampoo… and yet, many women couldn’t find their own clitoris, and most people can’t have a frank conversation about sex without using some euphemisms or making bad jokes.

Sexual freedom for me is the ability to discuss sex, to have sex, to navigate what sex means in our lives in an open and honest way. I want to live in a society where we accept sex and sexuality as a part of our lives – not dominant, not non-existent, but integral. I want to live in a society where we don’t speak of sex as shameful – where words like “slut” don’t exist, where “masturbation” isn’t whispered, where condoms aren’t behind glass lock boxes. I definitely think this kind of repression hurts. Countries like the Netherlands, where sex is discussed at an age-appropriate level with children and contraception is widely and easily accessed, doesn’t suffer the same teenage pregnancy and STI rates that America does. I think children without a sense of shame about their bodies and their desires lead happier, healthier lives. And I definitely know, from statistics and experience, that queer kids who grow up ashamed of their sexuality and their sexual practices suffer from higher rates of depression and suicide.

Sexual freedom means talking about consent – as a theory, as a practice, and as a personal interaction. It means talking about rape – and working to end rape and sexual assault. It means talking about sex in nuanced terms. It means discussing that sexuality is different for each individual, as is sexual practice, needs, desires, and expression. It means easy and affordable access to STI testing, gyno services, HIV/AIDS testing, contraception, barrier protection (like condoms), and doctors who are educated and communicative about sex, sexuality, and your body and mind. It means learning, teaching, sharing.

Sexual freedom is power. It is the right to consent or not to, to be abstinent or sexually active, to be monogamous or poly, to be queer or straight – and all of those choices and states of being to be respected and validated.

Sexual freedom is the ability to express your wants, needs, desires. To have those desires validated and met, in a healthy and consensual way.

Once a week, I volunteer with a women’s shelter in town. It’s a great place with an amazing staff, a really inspiring method for helping women and their families, and the only trans-friendly shelter in town. I could talk all day about this place. But this week, I met a new woman at the shelter. Let’s call her “Georgina.”  She’s from a small Southern Louisiana town, where the sheriff’s office flies the Confederate flag right next to the Louisiana flag. Yes, Virginia, places like this do exist in 2010. Georgina ended up at the shelter with her baby girl, “Stella,” after being fired from her job, kicked out of her home, and basically, run out of town…all because she is white and had a baby with a black man (out of wedlock), and she has continued to date black men.  Her family, friends, and neighbors put her out on the street because they didn’t agree with her sexuality due to racist motivations.

I want a society that doesn’t allow this to happen. Sexual freedom is bound up, tightly, in equality – racial equality, gender equality, and queer and trans equality. There’s a lot of emphasis in the gay rights movement on “love.” But I think for that movement to become queer – to align with Stonewall, to align with eliminating HIV/AIDS, and to align with the needs and rights of people across this country – this movement must also focus on sex. We aren’t just talking about the rights for people to get married or have children. We’re talking about the rights of people to hook up with whomever they choose, and to do so without judgment and shame. And yet, many try to distance the gay rights movement from talking about sex for fear of losing support from straight allies. Really, isn’t sex where this a lot of this started in the first place? And isn’t sexual freedom just as important as the freedom to love – as if the two can be separated?

In 2005, in Lawrence v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that sex, in the privacy of one’s own bedroom, is not a state or policed issue. But yet, many people still enforce a measure of shame on sex – the act itself, the gender of the couple, the race/ethnicity of the couple, the marital status of the couple, and even the motivation of the couple. It’s people like Georgina and Stella (and hundreds of thousands of kids in abstinence-only classes) who lose when shame and hatred are held as more important than love, freedom, and humanity.

We all could benefit from more sexual freedom (and more sex!). :)