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!). :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

These Lights Will Inspire You

Taking a leap of faith. Going to upstate New York for a workshop. Hoping this experience is worth the time and money and effort it will take to go. I'm not sure what to expect, other than the usual butterflies mixed with excitement that punctuate any new experience. But I do know (more or less) what I am looking to find. Plus I'll most likely fly into New York City for a day or two before the workshop, and fly out a day after. I miss New York City constantly; it's been seven years too long since I've been there. Life has changed so drastically since 2003 that I know I'll be seeing the city from a radically different viewpoint. But I can't wait. I have so many great memories from our trip, and now I have good friends to visit there, too. I love, love, love New York City. Almost as much as I love New Orleans, though there are more differences than similarities, so I suppose it's a pointless comparison. 

Anyhoo, this is the workshop I'm attending...

Celebrating the Body Erotic for Women - a residential workshop

Easton Mountain, upstate New York near Albany - Nov. 5-7, 2010
With Lizz Randall
Live in community with like-minded women in a safe, serious and playful space that respects boundaries. Embrace pleasure and experience your body as powerful, expressive and sacred. The class expands awareness and sensation through a process of breath, movement and touch. Each woman’s choices and rhythms are honored and celebrated. This workshop is for women of all sexual orientations and ages who are ready to learn about their own power to illuminate and enjoy sexuality and sensuality.
During the program of carefully designed embodiment practices women will:
  • explore the innate wisdom of the body
  • expand awareness, sensation and pleasure through conscious breath, movement, touch, and communication, where each woman's choices and rhythms are honored
  • learn how to more deeply tune in to your body, mind, heart and spirit: to receive more fully from yourself and others, and to give without losing yourself
  • learn to give and receive full-body massage and to focus on the healing potential of sensual/spiritual energy
  • learn from your own and others' unfolding, and feel awed witnessing and supporting our uniqueness and commonalities
The program begins on Friday evening 6:30PM with dinner, runs 9AM-6PM Saturday, and 9AM Sunday ending at 6PM.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Saying "No"

There are a lot of different stories bubbling lately, both erotic and not, both intensely personal and not. Unfortunately, I am not a one-track person; I digress easily, ramble often, and multi-task always. None of these traits are strengths in writing. If there are too many ideas, I struggle to write, because I must focus on one topic and ignore the rest of the clamornings. But this week I feel pushed, shoved really, to focus on a problem I can't seem to conquer... how to say "no."

"No" is a word of power. It's about consent and ability; it concerns agency in a way "yes" doesn't always.

I worked through college at a fine(r) dining establishment, run semi-corporately, and we had a rule -- to always say "yes" to any customer's request. Customers had power, or at least, corporate and management for the restaurant gave them power. Management told us that saying "no" meant punishment, or even possibly getting fired. So we bowed to the every demand of every customer, and of course, management. I said "yes" to unreasonable requests, to personal questions, and at times, to sexual harassment. I didn't have the power to say "no" without losing my job. I could not say "no" to racist jokes or angry, demeaning rants. I couldn't say "no" to anything.

I grew up in Mississippi until I was fourteen, the daughter of two parents born and raised in the deep South. I was socialized in a culture of debutantes, Junior League, and very gendered notions of what a woman's role should be in society. My mother didn't know how to say "no" to my father, even as he became increasingly aggressive and violent toward others, even as he gambled and lost a small fortune in the stock market, remained unemployed, and drained her bank account and my college savings dry. Saying "no" meant divorce, and my mother, her family, and many of her friends carry antiquated ideas about women with young children who leave their husbands. Even now, after her divorce, my mother doesn't know how to say "no." She works herself into the ground, as a secretary/bookkeeper to her brothers' firm and a caretaker to her family. She is constantly in a state of frustration and stress, and I cannot say how many times I have asked her -- why do you not refuse? Why do you not refuse to manage the personal accounts of your brothers, to run at your mother's every whim, to work for much less than what you should be paid? But she feels she must fulfill her obligation, as a sister, a daughter, a mother. She must put family first. She must pay back the unspoken and uncounted debt she owes her family for taking her in as a divorced woman. She doesn't feel like she can say "no."

I grew up learning that a girl, a woman, says "yes." A mother, a wife, especially has no room to say "no." She must say "yes" to her family's needs and desires, putting her husband and children first, because "no" is not what a "good" wife or mother says. It's about agency, a very gendered notion of who should and who should not have agency.

The only time a girl can say "no" is when facing a boy who wants to sleep with her -- simply because males have libidos which take their agency, leaving girls with the power (nee the requirement) to say "no." But sex and agency and consent are tricky. A girl can say "no" and still get harassed or even raped; she can say "yes" and still be slut-shamed. So there's really no "no" there.

Against this backdrop, which has influenced me in ways I can't imagine, I have a "yes" personality. I like to help. I like to get involved, and God knows I have too many interests, making it difficult (if not impossible) to invest in all of them. I do well in the service industry (and in non-profit) because I like to say "yes." I like to make people happy. I like to provide comfort and support. I don't like to argue, don't like to confront. These are all traits our society associates with femininity, with women's roles.

I have been an older sister figure to many passing through my life, often when they were in a state of crisis or change -- coming out, growing up, leaving relationships, dealing with stress. I have provided an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on, sometimes out of love, and other times out of my own feelings of obligation. I have trouble saying "no" to someone in need.

I have trouble saying "no," period.

I didn't know how to say "no" to my boss at a non-profit agency when he made sexist, racist, ableist, transphobic, and generally hateful comments to me and to others in front of me every day. When I said "no," he increased the attacks -- and I didn't feel like my refused was even heard. So I left a job I loved.

I don't know how to say "no" to my mother when she makes hurtful comments -- when she rejects my friends, when she puts me down for being queer, when she acts like an asshole to other family members in front of me. I avoid her. I ignore her. I internalize the stress, run away, and try not to explode.

And now, at the end of a four year relationship with someone who has become increasingly dependent and lecherous, I'm learning again that I must find the ability to say "no." When I did say "no," all she would have to do is keep pushing -- and I would eventually say "yes." But now, as I have let her, enabled her, to wear me down, to leave me constantly stressed and angry, I am learning that I have to re-learn consent.

All relationships have a component of consent. I understand that abuse is, intrinsically, nonconsensual-- even the strongest person can feel trapped. I get that addiction is, unfortunately, much the same way. There's an element of self-policing, a panopticon-level of fear. I am afraid, because "no" in my relationship with her often leads to fights, to confrontations, to pain, to guilt. Saying "no" for me is inextricably intertwined with guilt, whether with her or with anyone else. I say "no" to a sick co-worker who wants me to work for her, and I am assuaged with guilt. I say "no" to my mother, and there are waves and waves of guilt.

I said "no" to her today, and as I write this, I am trying to stay angry enough, to stay rational enough, to know that I don't have to feel guilty -- it is my agency to protect myself from being used. I have every right to say "no."

She'll call today, tonight. She'll show up at some point, and I'll still be struggling. I can only run so far for so long; I cannot avoid her. I cannot avoid my own guilt.

Nor can I afford to keep avoiding the damage she is inflicting on my life. After watching her do to me the same thing my father did to  my mother, I am determined to learn to say "no."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Being Alive

Mist came first, then rain, so slow that the drops could be followed as they fell. The men and women continued their groping dance as the klezmer bands poured their music through the streets. Young girls captured fireflies in cheesecloth nets. They peeled open the bulbs and painted their eyelids with the phosphorescence. Boys squashed ants between fingers, not knowing why.

The rain intensified, and paraders drank themselves sick on homemade vodka and beer. People made wild, urgent love in the dark corners where houses met and under the handing canopies of weeping willows. Couples cut their backs on the shells, twigs, and pebbles of the Brod’s shallow waters. They pulled at one another in the grass: brassy young men driven with lust, jaded women less wet than breath on glass, virgin boys moving like blind boys, widows lifting their veils, spreading their legs, pleading - to whom?

From space, astronauts can see people making love as a tiny speck of light. Not light, exactly, but a glow that could be mistaken for light - a coital radiance that takes generations to pour like honey though the darkness to the astronaut’s eyes.

In about one and a half centuries - after the lovers who made the glow will have long since been laid permanently on their backs - metropolises will be seen from space. They will glow all year. Smaller cities will also be seen, but with great difficulty. Shtetls will be virtually impossible to spot. Individual couples, invisible.

The glow is born from the sum of thousands of loves: newlyweds and teenagers who spark like lighters out of butane, pairs of men who burn fast and bright, pairs of women who illuminate for hours with soft multiple glows, orgies like rock and flint toys sold at festivals, couples trying unsuccessfully to have children who burn their frustrated image on the continent like the bloom a bright light leaves on the eye after you turn away from it.

Some nights, some places are a little brighter. It’s difficult to stare at New York City on Valentine’s Day, or Dublin on St. Patrick’s. The old walled city of Jerusalem lights up like a candle on each of Chanukah’s eight nights. Trachimday is the only time all year when the tiny village of Trachimbrod can be seen from space, when enough copulative voltage is generated to sex the Polish-Ukrainian skies electric. We’re here, the glow of 1804 will say in one and a half centuries. We’re here, and we’re alive.

~ Jonathan Safran Froer, Everything Is Illuminated

Monday, September 6, 2010

an evening at the fly

There’s a place down here in New Orleans we call “the fly,” a strip of public park along the Mississippi River. Any local will tell you it’s the best place to be during sunset; you can see the sun fall inch by inch into the West Bank. I met her there on a lazy Sunday, right as summer was turning into fall.

I pulled up just as she was climbing out of the car, picnic basket and blankets in hand. Only girl I knew with a damn picnic basket. She sauntered when she walked, and I watched the silhouette of her hips swing as she made her way down to the river. She’s got short cropped hair and these silver sunglasses that make her look fierce, but one look in her eyes gives it all away.

I followed her down, where she’d stopped almost at the edge of the grass, and curled my arms around her waist.


“It’s good to see you.” I nuzzled into her neck, right under her ear. “It’s been too long.”

“I know.”

“How’s it feel to be back in NOLA?”

“Good. Damn good. Hot. But I missed this city like mad.”

“I missed you like mad.”

“Feeling randy, hm? You could say hello first.”

“I did. And I’m not hitting on you, just being honest…”

She turned to stare me down. “Ok. So I’m hitting on you a little bit. But you look good.”

“Thanks.” She gave me a peck on the cheek. “Now sit down and tell me what you’ve been doing for two years. Surely you haven’t gone through every girl in NOLA.”

“Quite the contrary. Well, the Saints won the Superbowl… and there was an oil spill… and yeah. That’s about all I remember from the last year. What girls?”

She laughed, and I pushed her sunglasses up from her eyes. Blue. Clear, clear blue.

We ate and talked, made fun of the raw food vegans in Portland and relived bad memories of running into ex’s in the bars. The usual. We cleaned out the six pack of Abita I brought and the loose beers she had hidden from her roommate. I found myself melting into the hillside next to a woman who would always be more than a friend but never as much as a lover, someone who I could laugh with. The sun fell, and we were still talking. I sat up to take another drink of my beer and noticed that she was shivering in her thin t-shirt. I shifted my legs out and pulled her over toward me, into my lap where I could wrap my arms around her. She grabbed the extra blanket she’d brought, and wrapped it over herself.

“So tell me, did you miss me?” I was fishing. Slowly.

“Sure. Of course.” She pulled me in tighter.

“How much did you miss me?”

“Enough,” she said playfully.

The sun had fallen behind the shadows of the West Bank, and twilight was closing in quickly. I could feel the darkness creeping up from behind us, hedged by soft purple clouds. I slid my hand under the blanket and down her thigh. I kissed her neck, softly, then again, this time biting down just enough to feel her tense up.

“May I?”

“May you what?” she taunted.

“May I?” This time I punctuated my question by sliding my hand at the edge of her shorts, right across her hipbone, and biting gingerly on her neck.

She let out the quietest gasp. “Yes.”

I rubbed my hands down her sides and across her thighs, digging my nails through her loose t-shirt and cargo shorts. She leaned her head back, and I caught onto her earlobe with my teeth. Under the blanket I could feel the heat radiating from her body. I bit into her neck, sucking her soft skin, and she curled her back into me, deeper, arching her chest up. I slid my hand up her shirt, under her bra, and pinched her pierced nipple. Her nipple hardened under the steel ring. If I could have thrown her down in the grass, I would have. Instead I bit deeper into her neck, grazing my teeth and sucking the edge of her collarbone.  I pressed the tips of my fingers across her hips, pulling her shorts down, sliding my fingers right down the edge of her hip bones. I reached for the edge of her panties, and she moaned right into my ear. I unzipped her shorts; I could feel her soaking wet through her panties. I dipped my finger into her cunt, teasing her with a light touch.

“Please,” she whispered.

“Please, what?”

I pulled my finger up to my mouth and licked the tips, reached back down, and rubbed her clit between my index finger and thumb. Her whole body shook uncontrollably.


“Tell me what you want.”

“You know…” She gasped as I flicked her clit mid-sentence. “You know what I want.”

“Show me.”

“How?” I found her hand under the blanket and guided her fingers toward her own cunt. She touched herself and moaned, and I let a giggle escape.

“Just like that.”

I pulled her thighs further apart, slipping my hands inside her shorts and drawing my fingernails up the sensitive insides of her thighs. Her hamstring muscles were tense, and I could feel the muscular cut defining her inner thigh. I wanted to run my tongue up along that definition, all the way to her cunt. But instead I pulled her closer into me. She had sunk her fingers deeper inside, letting out quiet moans as she began to slowly grind her hips in rhythm to her fingers. I moved my hands across her body, cupping her breasts under her bra, right where the curve began. She closed her eyes and fucked deeper, harder. It was intensely hot to feel her grinding against me. Her moans became deeper, and she began to breathe harder, almost gasping for air.

“Show me how you like it, baby. Don’t stop.” I bit into her neck once again, deep enough that she yelped, but it quickly turned into a moan. “Don’t. Stop.”

Her moan became almost guttural, and her whole body froze, except her fingers, still rubbing up against her g-spot, vibrating her cunt as her body tensed. I felt the orgasm when it hit her, felt her back tighten as she arched up and out. She grabbed my hand and squeezed until I couldn’t feel the blood in my fingertips. As suddenly as she came, her body relaxed, melting into a heap.

I leaned back into the grass, and she rested her head on my thigh. I was almost too turned on to handle her there, but I tried to force my body to relax, under the pretext that I could finish what I’d started later. The grass felt good against my bare shoulders. She was still breathing hard, and I watched her chest rise and fall.

“Is that what you wanted?” I asked when she had caught her breath. The sky had turned indigo blue, and I could see a few stars beginning to peek through.

She laughed. “Is that what you wanted?”

“I just wanted this.” I spread my hands out to embrace the night sky. She pulled her body up on the grass next to mine, and we lie on our backs under the stars. I could hear the whistle of a tugboat plowing down the river in the distance. 

Sexual Healing

Decadence has come and gone, but I'm still reveling in the high of an amazing weekend. For those of you not from around here, Southern Decadence is a festival that has its roots in a party thrown by 17 friends in 1972 as a gay-going-away-costumed-gala. It's a wonderful way to end summer. Now the festival draws over 100,000 people, the vast majority gay men, though this year I'm proud to say the festival has become much more diverse. It's a weekend of events, from burlesque to hard-on contests. There are queens and kings and leather daddies and bears and freaks of all sizes, shapes, and colors living it up in a city that embraces every minute.

It's always an amazing feeling to wander the French Quarter on Decadence weekend and see the flags out, everywhere, in gay and "straight" bars. Though the best bars here are full of people who don't really care who you fuck or how you fly your freak flag, Decadence turns most Quarter bars into out-and-proud venues. I spent the weekend partying with new and old friends, many of whom are locals, though others came in from NYC, Shreveport, and Dallas to join the fun. I'm blessed to say I spent time with everyone I hoped to see.

From Ani Difranco's acoustic set (which seems like a surreal dream) to brunch with awesome Centenary alums and dancing to the beat of the brass band in the parade, this was an incredible weekend. Late Friday, when I was closing down my favorite bar with a group of friends around 4am, I heard this incredible brass band version of "Sexual Healing." I used the play the Ben Harper cover of this song when I had a radio show, and for me, this song will always be a reminder of the sun setting over campus. It's comfort and love, New Orleans-style. After so many years living in places where queer is an afterthought, a sin, a misfortune, a slur, an embarrassment... it is so fulfilling to live in a city where there is not simply acceptance, but LOVE. And freaks :)

I leave you with a photo --