Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sex-Positive, Part I: HIV Testing, Counseling, and Referral

I'm working on getting HIV Counseling, Testing, and Referral (CTR) certified by Louisiana so that I can conduct HIV testing. I've completed the training, and now I have to observe several individuals conduct HIV CTR before I can conduct the testing and receive my certification approval from the Regional Coordinator.

Tonight was my first observation. I watched three counselors provide the test for walk-in clients. In all honesty, I was a bit shocked by what I saw. Not because the counselors didn't follow the correct procedures and protocols -- they did. Not because of the results. Not because of the individuals who were tested or anything they said.

Let me back up.

It used to be, when you went in for an HIV test, the staff member would explain confidentiality and informed consent, take your blood or swab your mouth, and send you back to the waiting room (or, before the quick tests, on your way). After the test came back, a staff member would notify you with the results. Then, if you were lucky enough to test at an HIV service organization and not a doctor's office, the staff member would refer you for services if your results were positive.

Then someone intelligent dreamed up the concept of CTR. In CTR, you are tested. But while you're waiting the 20 minutes for the results to come back, the staff member ("counselor") has a one-shot chance at counseling and educating you on HIV. In other words, while you're nervous and captive and scared, the counselor asks you about why you came in, what your risk factors are, explains HIV transmission, helps you create a risk-reduction plan, explains how to use a condom and other barriers, and gives other information on prevention, where to get STD tested, and referrals for any other social services you may need. Considering the very minimal education most people in Louisiana receive on HIV and STDs, this method is kind of smart.

As a counselor, you're given a small window to talk with someone you've never met about their most intimate sexual habits, their drug use, their sex work, etc. You get a few minutes to get someone to trust you, listen to you, and most importantly, talk to you. You're often confronting all kinds of barriers -- social stigma about sex, homophobia, identity issues, gender, class gaps, race gaps, fear, misinformation, etc.

The most important lesson in CTR is that counseling is client-driven. It's not about the counselor. It's about empowering the client, helping him or her to identify their risks and identify ways to reduce those risks. It's about listening. It's about working in a partnership with the client, and making sure to meet the client on his or her level -- not above, not below. It's about leaving assumptions, values, and beliefs at the door as much as possible.

CTR takes some serious finesse.

So what shocked me the most about this process?

How incredibly negative the counselors were. Ugh.

One counselor would say, "You're negative, so that's good." The flip side of this, of course, is that people with HIV are "bad."

Another was telling me over and over again how he couldn't understand  why some clients will come in every month for testing. He was complaining that they obviously need to recognize and change their behavior instead of not using condoms and getting tested. Except... testing is a form of action toward prevention and knowledge. So while behavioral change is more pro-active, testing should not be condemned.

Another was clearly berating a client for not using a condom once. I could tell the client felt shamed.

One counselor doesn't ask the person's gender identity because he "can tell" if someone is trans. I'm sure I have several friends who could pass, and he would never know.

One counselor stated that "knowing the person you're having sex with" is a method of prevention. Not asking status, not asking about if they've been tested. But "knowing" them, which made really no sense to me.

Not one counselor talked about sex toys, BDSM, rimming, or any form of sex except oral and vaginal (for heterosexuals) and oral and anal (for gay men). Obviously, these sexual behaviors are common. They need to be discussed.

Two of the counselors did a half decent job talking about oral, but both treated the men as always receiving, never giving.

There was no mention or discussion of anal sex with a straight male client.

There was no mention of any barrier methods but condoms.

One counselor went on a tangent about how going out often is "bad." -- as if this somehow prevents HIV? Or helps a client feel anything but chastised...?

None of the counselors asked their clients to explain what they knew about HIV -- all of them assumed their clients knew basically nothing, and gave them only a cheap shot version.

All the language was gender-based around the partners the clients identified in the last 12 months -- which isn't always indicative of an individual's sexual actions.

All of the counselors quoted some form of inaccurate facts -- two counselors told clients that "New Orleans is #1 in new HIV cases in the country" and one counselor said "New Orleans is #1 in new HIV, gonorrhea, and chlamydia cases in the state." Nope.

(In 2009, Baton Rouge was #1 nationally in AIDS cases per 100,000 people. New Orleans was #3. 39% of people with HIV in Louisiana live in New Orleans. An estimated 4,500 people in Louisiana have HIV and are unaware of their status.)

Not one counselor used open-ended questions or allowed the clients to identify their own ideas on how to protect themselves.

There was a ton of value-based language -- that's "good" or that's "really bad." There is a place for this kind of language -- but "risky" is what should be used, not "bad." There's enough stigma around sex. Why put more?

I left the organization thinking a lot about what "sex-positive" means to me, and how clearly, the counselors whom I observed were not sex-positive. I felt like all of the clients left feeling like they'd just been given a verbal whipping on how bad they were at protecting themselves. It was definitely not about empowerment, nor was it about creating a space where clients could speak openly about any form of sexual behavior.


It's incredibly difficult to get a stranger to open up about their sexuality and sexual practices. Stigma and fear can be insurmountable barriers, and that doesn't begin to crack the list of reasons why someone might not talk.

How can anyone counsel and educate about HIV without being completely, honestly open and nonjudgmental about sexuality and sexual practices?

Every time a counselor quoted a false statistic, I questioned the validity of every other statement he or she said.

Assumptions about gender and sexual practices create barriers and limitations.

Omitting questions about sexual practices that aren't vanilla and omitting questions because of assumptions linking sexual orientation and sexual practice means that conversation is never started -- and no information is shared or learned.

Making value judgments about individuals' actions shuts a client down faster than anything.

I watched these failures in language use, in education, in judgment, and in assumption create walls which prevented the counselors from successfully helping the clients assess and reduce their risk for HIV. I came to a conclusion.

I strongly believe that in HIV Counseling, Testing and Referral -- and in any sex education environment -- sex-positivity is vital. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

e[lust] #25

Photo courtesy of Sadie
Welcome to e[lust] - Your source for sexual intelligence and inspirations of lust from the smartest & sexiest bloggers! Whether you’re looking for hot steamy smut, thought-provoking opinions or expert information, you’re going to find it here. And in this edition you can read all about the best sexuality conference of the year (ever?), Momentum, in a one-time-only Editor's Choice anomaly: I couldn't choose just one, so I chose them all! Want to be included in e[lust] #26? Start with the rules and subscribe to the RSS feed for updates!

~ This Week’s Top Three Posts ~

Where We Are - It was only supposed to be about the fucking. I don't know how I convinced myself that it could be. I fretted before we began, about how I could ever possibly separate sex from emotion.
The Edible Slut - His hand made an audible crack as it connected with her ass, loud in the dim bedroom. Did he really sink his hand into her hair, turn her head to face him, and shout, “Stop being such a brat!”
Beyond Bisexual - I don’t identify as bisexual, because I am interested in so many more people than just two of the variety of sexes or genders out there. Except, that is a word that a lot of people understand.

~ Featured: Momentum Conference Posts (Lilly’s Picks) ~

An Extraordinary Gathering (and a Gathering of the Extraordinary)

 Finally! A Real Momentum Post

 Inspired by MomentumCon

 #mcon Rehash


 Momentumcon, Part One

~ e[lust] Editress ~

To Be or Not To Be....Anonymous, That Is - If you’re out or decide to be out….you’re not just outing yourself. You’re outing them all. And did they give their consent? Probably not, I’d guess. And even if they did give their consent could they even have a clue what consequences there will be?
All blogs that have a submission in this edition must re-post this digest from tip-to-toe on their blogs within 7 days. Thank you, and enjoy!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pretty Is as Pretty Does

A few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend, Jamie, at a birthday party. (I have to set the stage a bit for this story to make sense.) The party was a mix of people -- around 10 queer women and the birthday girl's family, including her sister, cousins, parents, nieces and nephews, and others. Jamie and I were sitting on a swing in the back yard, overseeing a game of beer pong and shooting the shit over some beers. Jamie is thin, about 5'4, and more androgynous than me. I don't know if she identifies as butch, but she'd definitely be masculine-of-center. That day she had on jeans and a t-shirt, nothing fancy. I was dressed up for the St. Patrick's parade that morning, wearing a low-cut pastel green cotton dress and green eyeshadow, and I had beads from the parade around my neck and a green silk flower in my hair.

We were talking about having children and our own families when a young girl, around six-years-old or so, walked up to us. She had a t-shirt and shorts on, and her long hair pulled into a side pony tail. She sat down between us, looked at Jamie, then looked at me. She turned back to Jamie and asked, "Are you a boy or a girl?"

Jamie didn't hesitate. She replied quickly, "I'm a girl."

"But you look like a boy," the child insisted.

I don't remember Jamie's response, but I don't think she had one. The child got up, ran off, and found someone else more interesting to play with. Jamie turned back to me and began to talk about how much she hated when children asked her that question. "Can't they see that I have breasts?" she asked me, and then she got up to find another beer.

A minute or two later, the child returned. I invited her to sit down next to me on the swing, which she did. I gifted her some of the beads I wore from the parade, and she reached out to touch the flower in my hair.

"You're really pretty," she said.

I found myself choking. I wanted to say a thousand things. I wanted to rewind her gender education. I wanted to offer her an answer that didn't replicate the binary she had so succinctly recognized between her interactions with Jamie and I. I wanted to show her that I appreciated the compliment, but at the same time, offer her a space that didn't equate beauty with femininity. I wanted her to know that "pretty" isn't what she should aspire to, and that worshiping femininity as an ideal for beauty is dangerous and masochistic. I wanted her to know that my gender expression isn't the only valid one.

By then, she had run off. I wondered... who am I to decide what this child should believe about gender? Should I try to influence the way she looks at gender, when she's not my child? I tossed this question around for a few days in my head until I found an answer I was satisfied with.

Yes, we are influenced and educated by our parents. But we're also socialized by friends and family, by strangers, by teachers, by social structures and pervasive beliefs held by the dominant majority. We're educated by TV and the internet, books, movies, music. My thoughts would probably be but a drop in the bucket compared to how much media influences her ideas on beauty and gender. This child could one day be my neighbor, my child's friend, my co-worker... who knows. She'll be a voting citizen who decides if those who don't conform to the gender binary deserve rights and respect. She'll possibly be a parent, a teacher, an influence on another child. She's not yet old enough to truly decide if my opinion -- or anyone's -- is valid. But she's making these decisions every day, accepting and rejecting and buying in to beliefs and opinions. She's affected by those beliefs every day. Any and all influence matters. Her beliefs affect mine, my recognition in this society. So yes, it's a careful and thin road to walk, but I do think I should talk with her.


I remember, as a child, feeling fat. I was five, maybe six, years old, and I would sit on the toilet or in the bathtub, staring at my stomach, and hating it.

I remember my neighbor, Miss Susan, telling my mother that if her daughter, Jessica, didn't fit in a size four dress for homecoming, then she would make her lose weight or she couldn't go to the dance.

I remember the girls at summer camp making fun of me for not plucking my eyebrows when I was in 6th grade.

I remember my high school teacher, Mrs. W, catching me in the hallway and telling me that ladies don't wear clothes that show their shoulders. Instead, she said, I should learn to dress like a lady.

I remember dance class, as a child, when the leotards didn't fit me right and I couldn't move my feet and arms gracefully like the other girls. I was distinctly aware of how everything I did was ungraceful. I remember taking another dance class, at 15, at it was like those years of controlled movement suddenly sunk in all at once -- my body could do things it couldn't, years before. But in my mind, I still didn't have the talent, and sometimes, I still hear my teacher telling me that I'll never be any good at ballet, tap, or jazz.

I didn't do femininity right.

There are a thousand moments in my life that are and have been a lesson in gender. For me, for many women, most of those are negative. Girls shouldn't go barefoot or yell too loudly or wear pants with holes. Girls shouldn't have sex, because that's what sluts do. Girls shouldn't wear low-cut clothing or date boys with piercings or smoke cigarettes. Women shouldn't be single. Women shouldn't be childless. Women shouldn't hold the door for men. Women shouldn't walk alone at night.

That's not to say that men don't get lessons in gender -- of course they do! -- or that lessons for men aren't negative -- some definitely are.

The ideals for girls are extremes of femininity. Models. Princesses. Beauty queens. It's how companies sell make up and clothing, cars, beer, and just about every product on earth -- put a "sexy" woman on an ad, and you'll sell it. Women want to be her, men want to be with her. But what does she want? Does anyone care?

I'm reminded, every day, that I carry a certain privilege due to my gender expression. No matter how carefully I walk that line, no matter what my words and actions and beliefs are, my body is marked by gender cues and clothing, and those cues are read and responded to by people who believe strongly in a gender binary. I'm reminded that I face different risks, but more often than not, my gender identity is unquestioned and therefore, less marked and less risky. I'm reminded that the terms we use as compliments -- pretty, beautiful, charming, handsome, gorgeous, cute -- are gendered in a ways that make me profoundly uncomfortable. (I'm still learning how to create my own language out of what is available and to reject using these terms). I'm reminded constantly of my gender expression in queer bars that question my sexuality, and in heterocentric spaces where I pass but still get sexually harassed or feel extremely tokenized and isolated.

At the base of all of this, my experiences and those of many others I've talked to, I find that there's a very harmful ideal of who/what is feminine and who/what is masculine. No one -- trans or cis, male or female, queer or straight, genderqueer or androgynous -- can live up to a binary system of ideals. No woman will ever be "pretty" enough. Yet so many will do anything to achieve that. No queer community which defines its members as only gender normative (like some of Los Angeles bars) or gender non-normative (like places here where I get static) will provide a safe space for all those who are queer. Yet we define and identify those in our community by using gender cues.

If I have a child, I couldn't shield hir from media and strangers, from family members, from all the influences that teach us what gender is and isn't, what's acceptable for hir gender, and how to "properly" express gender. But I know that there are studies showing that adults respond differently to infants depending on their perceived gender. Our ideas of gender start at -- if not before -- birth, and those influences are so very persuasive and strong on young children who can't evaluate and reject opinions and ideas the same way adults can. If I have a child, I would want hir to understand and respect gender expressions of all types. I would want hir to embrace any -- or reject any -- aspect of gender ze wished. I would try my best to make sure ze doesn't feel crushed by a beauty norm ze can't live up to. I would want to offer more than two options, but instead, endless possibilities.

I would want my child to keep having conversations, keep questioning those ideas that we are told to assume.

What I know about gender, my own expression and gender as a social norm, comes from years of experiences and much unlearning. It is an ongoing process. I hope my understand of gender continues to evolve and change as I age, and yet, I hope having these kinds of interactions someday becomes less taxing.

I can imagine a world that doesn't operate within a gender binary. I can. I want to live to see it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


"Come over at 9:30pm. Let yourself in. Have your cock ready when you walk in my door."

That's all the text message said.

I can hear her footsteps echoing in the wooden stairwell next to my bedroom. My door swings open. She's got a nervous look in her eyes, but she plays it off well. "Hey baby. How're you?"

"Hi." I climb out of bed, in nothing but an oversized t-shirt and some cotton panties, and pull her into me roughly. I kiss her deeply and slide my hands down to her jeans, unbuttoning them and pulling her cock out. It's fast and smooth, all in one movement, and she pulls away a bit to assess what I'm doing.

"Sit down." I point to the chair in the corner of my room, a relic from a lifetime past, and I push her hips gently in that direction.

Now she looks really nervous. "What are you...?"

"You'll see." I pull out a coil of soft rope from underneath my bed, as she sits down.

"Put your palms together, and hold them out for me."

She's so obliging. I wrap the rope around and between her wrists, fastening them together. She's watching me with rapt attention, not sure what to expect. Holding the other thirteen feet of rope, I begin to wind it around her upper body and the chair back, restraining her neatly into the chair. She can breathe deeply and squirm a bit, but that's all the rope will allow her. I step back to admire my handiwork. Can't help it. There's something a bit sadistically beautiful about the way the light purple rope contrasts against her skin, across her dark blue t-shirt, and the way it pulls against the curves of her body.

Her fly is still unzipped; her dick is poking out, ready, waiting. I lean in to kiss her then get down to my knees, pushing her thighs apart. I start at her balls and run my tongue along her shaft, stopping at the head to slip her whole dick in my mouth.

That's all it takes. She melts into a mess. She's pulling against the ropes, moaning at the way I take her, almost sweetly, into the back of my throat. There's nothing that turns her on more than sticking whatever is available into my mouth.

I play with her a bit, licking the head of her cock, running my lips down her shaft, sucking her deep until I can't take it anymore. She'd come in my mouth in a heartbeat, if she could. But I'm not done with her yet.

I stand up, pulling the big t-shirt over my head. I reach down, pull my panties to the side, and remove the glass dildo from inside me. It's soaking wet; I've been clenching it so hard for the last fifteen minutes that the release is almost orgasmic.

"Oh you... how did you hide that from me?" She's been watching me in amazement.

I laugh and set the dildo on the shelf. "I still like to surprise you every once in awhile." I retrieve a condom from the dresser, tear it open, slide it on her. I climb over the chair, resting my thighs on the arms, and grip her cock, sliding it into the lips of my cunt. There's so much space between us that I can barely feet it against me, but the glass piece has left me so wound up that just the thought of her inside me is enough to make me drip.

Her nose touches mine, but she can't lean forward to kiss me. She wants to know what's coming next. What to expect. Where to go. As if she could go anywhere.

I kiss her, again and again until I'm too wet to play this game, and I stop to lean my lips into her ear.

"I'm going to untie you." She nods.

"You're going to take your jeans off. I'm going to get my bullet. I'm going to climb on the bed. Do you understand so far?"

"Yes, ma'm." Oh, so compliant.

"You're going to push me down on all fours. You're going to lube up your cock. And then you're going to slide inside of me and fuck me senseless. I want you to fuck me hard. Don't stop until I use my safeword. Can you do that?"

I lean back to look into her eyes. The edge of fear has been replaced by a desire, deep, rolling, an anticipation. She's so good at giving me exactly what I want. I pull the end of the rope, releasing the knot, and begin to unwind it and release her. With her wrists finally free, she slides her hands across my hips, pushing me deeper into her, and pulls my upper body forward to kiss her. I'm relinquishing physical control, and it feels amazing. She bites my neck, my earlobe, forcing the moans out of my lips.

"Yes, ma'm. I'll give you anything you want."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

People Who Tweet Are More Likely to Masturbate... least if those people have a profile on OKcupid. :)

Everyone is probably not as data-obsessive as I am. Even though it's almost antithetical to most of my personality -- I'm a hippie with a high tolerance for ambiguity and an artistic streak -- years of school and conducting research has somehow trained me to become super excited about data. There's nothing like an unexpected correlation to spark my intellectual curiosity.

Anyway, the folks who run OKCupid apparently love data, too. There are 7 million people signed up to OKCupid who freely submit information about themselves. It is a huge, gigantic, enormous data set ripe for mining. So these folks run correlations for fun and come up with some really interesting data. Granted, this isn't a random sampling of any population, so you can't generalize it and there's some methological weaknesses here. (I'm happy to explain all of this, if you're curious but haven't taken a behavioral/social sciences stats/methods course recently). 

They ran some crazy correlations on sex, like crossing religion and masturbation responses, women's body type by sex drive by self-confidence, and per capital national GDPs by people looking for random hook ups. Ha. I wish I was on this team, sitting around and thinking up this shit. I mean, what a fun job. 

Check it out - 10 Charts About Sex at OKTrends.

On a related side note, do you know why there's an increase in the murder rate in Chicago when there's an increase in ice cream sales?

(you're welcome to guess in the comments)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Reaching a Fever Pitch

The flame casts a truly beautiful glow across her face, her chest, her bare shoulders. She's concentrating, intently, on the candle she is holding in her hand. The flame is rising; it's almost two inches. I feel like I'm stealing a glance into a private moment, seeing something I shouldn't be privy to.

I turn back, in the pillow, before she can catch me watching.

I can barely see the flickering shadows on the walls out of the corner of my eye. I wish for a moment that we were doing this at night, instead of in the light of morning, but I seriously doubt this will be the last time. She has a hand on my back, holding me down gently, so that my whole body, nose to toes, is pressing into the black sheets.

"It's taking a bit to melt. Are you ready?"

How do I prepare for a pain I haven't experienced before?


I take a deep breath, trying to stop myself from tensing in anticipation.

The pain is exquisite. I begin to whimper, immediately, muffling the sound in the pillow.

It's not the sharp intensity of a needle, though it's focused into an equally small surface area. It's not the wide, warm, tingling friction of a paddle or a hand, yet, there's a similarity to the heat that fades quickly as the wax cools and solidifies on my skin. The sensation disappears so quickly that I find I miss it; I don't have the time to love it or hate it, but only to remember it.

She pours it in drops, beginning at my shoulder blades, across my upper back. The splatter feels wonderful, the pain skipping across nerves to land unexpectedly. I so enjoy the way the sensation spreads across my skin, in an increasingly wider surface area, when the heavy droplets splatter.

My whimpering increases with the pain, until it's almost a moan. It's quick and fluid; I don't have time to tense up between drops or even mentally retract from the pain. She stops to admire her handiwork. "There's a gorgeous X across your back."

How cruel. She knows I want to see it.

"Can you take more?"

There's no hesitation in my response. I don't even look up.

She drips it down, across the tattoo on my back, on to my ass. I'm scared for a moment that it will splatter in places I don't want to be cleaning wax out of, but she controls it deftly.

I begin to squirm from the pain and my thoughts end, as I can't seem to redirect my mind from focusing on the sensation. The heat spreads faster, becoming more intense, and I'm whimpering though the sound doesn't feel like it's coming from me. My skin feels like it is on fire at a very low heat, but the fire moves as each drop cools and dries and another droplet burns in succession.

She stops as I begin to struggle with the pain, squirming because I can't hold still. She blows out the candle, and sets it back on the mantle. My breath quiets again. The hardened wax drops feel like a casing on my back, the skin tight and untouched underneath. She traces the drops with her fingers, from my shoulders to my ass and back again, spreading across the small of my back.

"Can I see?"

She takes a picture with my phone, and the image is riveting. The droplets are tiny, most smaller than my pinky, but there are a mess of hundreds criss-crossing my back, almost hiding the black ink of my tattoo. It would be gorgeous intertwined with rope.

I turn to my side, and she leans down to kiss me, gently, in an almost surreal juxtaposition to the pain. I pull her in, roughly, and lean up to whisper in her ear.

"Fuck me."

"Yes, ma'm."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sex Toy Reviews and Contests!

7613 by cavazzola

Welcome to Pleasurists, a round-up of the adult product and sex toy reviews that came out in the last seven days.  If you like what you see and want more of it be sure to follow our RSS Feed and Twitter.

Did you miss Pleasurists #124?  Read it all here.  Do you have a review for Pleasurists #126? Be sure to read the submission guidelines and then use the submission form to submit before Sunday April 17th @ 11:59pm Pacific.

Want a shiny new toy?  All you’ve got to do is enter.

Scarlet Lotus

Monday, April 11, 2011

I Put On For My City

There's a section of I-10, the interstate that runs through New Orleans, that's raised up on the east side of the city. I usually drive it on my way home from night class, because there's nothing like seeing the Crescent City Connection bridge, the skyscrapers, and the glint of light off the river reflecting in the moonlight. Tonight, after watching "When the Levees Broke" for class, I hit the accelerator in my car, ramped up the interstate, and saw the city spread out before me -- the treetops over the shotguns of Treme, the tip of St. Louis Cathedral in the Quarter, the blocks of houses in MidCity, the skyscrapers rising out of the business district, the interstate split leading to Metairie, the West Bank, and Uptown. I almost cried passing the Superdome, thinking of the thousands of people trapped there during Katrina, the thousands more who flooded those doors for the Saints' games leading up to the Superbowl win, and the deep pockets and crooked politics of the Benson family who own the Dome. Oh, New Orleans. You've got a history like nowhere else. You shelter some of the deepest, darkest secrets -- a prison rate higher than anywhere else in the world, a culture of poverty, a host of class and race divides that cut to the core, harming all of us.

And yet.

I was born in Kansas City, Kansas. We moved when I was two. I was never given a distinct reason, but years later the truth slipped out -- my father lost yet another job, and unable (unwilling?) to support my family, he goaded my mother into moving to small town Mississippi, where he grew up. I spent the next ten years of my life there. It's a shithole of a town. There's more people living below the poverty line than above it. I grew up wandering cotton fields and eating fried catfish and never fitting in. Even as a kid, I couldn't handle the inequality around me. I couldn't understand why some people had everything and most people had nothing. In Mississippi, I was a child of my father's family, never an individual. Labeled by those who loved or hated him, as he always left a strong impression. I dreamt of nothing but when I would get out. When I was little and my mom was angry at the town, upset for being treated like an outsider because she wasn't born there, she used to call me Dorothy. She'd tell me to click my heels and take us back to Kansas. It became a distant dream for me, a Mecca. I thought maybe I would belong there. I have some good memories, some ties in Mississippi. I return to see family, to prove to myself that the city is still there. But mostly, it's a place I passed through.

When Mississippi (and my father) finally chewed us up and spit us out, my mom ran home to northern Louisiana. We moved into an neighborhood of mostly older couples, and I started public school (finally!). But the other kids saw me as a Mississippi kid with a twangy accent and horrible taste in country music. I was all wrong. North Louisiana never was home. It was a pit stop. I outgrew it quickly -- I became too radical, too queer, too artistic. I have ties, there, too, and oh, so many memories. I have exes and friends and ex-friends. I have family, too, but my mother and her relatives will probably never accept that my queerness and my outspoken activism are vital ingredients in my life. I couldn't get out of their shadow, and I couldn't find what I wanted in a town so restrictive. So eight years later, on the same day I arrived in north Louisiana, I left.

By providence and love and economics, I ended up in NOLA.

For a long time, I wasn't so sure I wanted to be here. Or rather, I wasn't so sure I was ready to stay. But I adore this city, from the way the pavement in the Quarter glints after a rainstorm to the stars rising over the Ponchartrain. I adore that people let me put my shit in their baskets at the Wal-Mart. I love the festivals, the music, the way people say hello on the streets. I love that art is a priority here; creation is a way of life. I love the people who put their lives and their time on the line to fight against the structures that make them crazy. I love that community building is part activism, part sharing a meal, part conflict, part politics, and all passion. I love when the stage lights up on Tuesday nights at the Pub, and I love the explosion of naked gay men at Bourbon and St. Anne at Decadence. I love beers on porches and red beans and rice on Monday nights. I love that people put roots here; they set down like the Oak trees in City Park. I love the transience of the hippies, the strength of families who have lived on the same block for generations. I love that this city is deeply Southern in a way that makes me feel like I'm enveloped by the familiar. I love that it's small enough I still run into people I know at the grocery store, and yet, large enough that I can still retain my anonymity on most days.

I will always wander. I will always need space to explore. I want to see too much, do too much. But, oh, New Orleans, you're the first and only place I can truly call home. I can't claim to be "from here" when someone in town asks -- it's a sin to claim heritage here if you weren't born here. But when I'm in Chicago or New York, when I'm on a plane headed to God knows where, and someone asks that inevitable question, my heart always skips a beat when I say, "I'm from New Orleans." And then I find myself launching into an often one-sided conversation about Katrina, about Mardi Gras and and neighborhood arts markets and trout almondine. I find myself repeating the stories of friends and queer family, and even telling tales of my own. I came here the first time when I was too young to remember. I came here in 2001 for Thanksgiving, right after my father left, because my mother didn't want to face her family. I came in 2005, two months before Katrina, and again in February 2006, Sept 2006, May 2007, August 2007, January 2008, March 2008, February 2009, May, June, and July 2009, and finally, permanently, August 2009. I felt drawn here, and it became hard to stay away for more than three or four months at a time. I still feel drawn here, connected, when I'm hundreds of miles away.

I'd marry this city, if I could. I hear that's not legal yet, thank God, since commitment never was one of my virtues. I still worry about finding a way to support myself after school here. I worry about floods and hurricanes. I worry about staying in Louisiana. But when I'm driving that stretch of I-10, and I round the curve where the city lays itself out before me... I can't help but know that I don't want to be anywhere else.

Chris Rose said it best, when he spoke of being a New Orleanian... "We dance when there is no music. We drink at funerals. We talk too much, and we live too large and, frankly, we're suspicious of those who don't."

(view of downtown and the Crescent City Connection from the West Bank) 

(view of downtown from the west side of the city, coming in from Metairie)

Friday, April 8, 2011

"Queerer than Thou"

This made my night.

I know all of these people. I don't think they usually all end up in the same room. But damn. This is exactly how it would go down if they did!

$25 EdenFantasys Gift Card Giveaway


Most wonderful of news.

One of you is going to win a $25 gift card to purchase some Adult Toys at

I know, isn't that fantastic?

I have even better news.

I don't want you to sign up for anything or join a newsletter or follow me on Twitter or trade me your soul or give me your firstborn.

Nope. None of that.

Instead, this what you have to do to enter the contest:

I'm going to write the beginning of a story. Right below this. First, you're going to read it. Then, you're going to answer the question by going to, picking out a sex toy (or a few), and leaving a comment saying which sex toy you would use and what position you would use it in. You must leave an email with the comment, or else there's no way I can contact you if you win. I'll pick out the most creative answer :)

The contest closes April 30th.


I pulled open the door and stopped short, unable to speak. She was standing in the living room, a few feet from the door, holding a coil of rope. I could barely make out the white of the rope in the dim light of the room.

"Hi..." I couldn't seem to get out another word.

"Hey." She moved closer to me, eyes on fire. Clearly she had been planning this, and I had no idea what was coming next.

"Follow me." I wandered through the house, past the kitchen, into her bedroom. The bed was already turned down, and the room was lit by a single lamp. She stopped next to the bed, turned around, and took a step toward me. I felt overwhelmed by her presence, a bit close for comfort, but I also felt drawn to her. She dropped the rope on the bed and reached forward, unzipping my jacket.

"Take this off."

"Yes, ma'm." I pulled it off, dropped it to the ground.

She growled over me. "Take off the rest."

"All of my clothes?" The words slipped out before I could stop myself.

"You know better than to speak unless I'm asking you a question."

I nodded.

"Don't do it again. Do you understand?"

I wasn't sure if I was allowed to answer. Was this a question? My thoughts spun. Yes.


"Excuse me?"

"Yes, ma'm."

I slowly slipped off my dress, unhooked my bra, slid my panties down around my ankles. I stood naked, stripped down, in front of her. She looked down on me from only a few inches above me, but in my exposure, it felt like she towered over me.

She put her hands on my shoulders and spun me around. She pushed me forward until I had my nose to the white wall, and she roughly pulled my hands behind me, locking my forearms into a box. I felt the ropes winding around my wrists, and within seconds, she had me bound, unable to break free. She wound the ropes across my chest, over my shoulders, building a chest harness. The ropes wound tighter and tighter, until I could barely wiggle the upper half of my body. She finished, hooked her fingers in the rope, and yanked back. I felt my body fall backward, and I jumped to catch up, unable to balance completely without her control. She laughed low and hard as I struggled. She backed me to the edge of the bed and threw me down, face first, into the dark sheets.

She climbed over me, holding me down with the weight of her chest and torso. I turned my head to the side, gasping for breath, and she leaned her lips right next to my ear.

"You've been such a good girl, letting  me tie you up without a word of protest. So I'm going to do something a bit unusual tonight. I'm going to let you choose what you want next. Do you understand?"

"Yes, ma'm." The words came out breathlessly.

"Ok. What would you like?"


....Go to Choose a toy. Leave a comment (or send me an email at describing what you chose, and how you (the submissive) would like her (the dominant) to use it on you. Creativity matters! Good luck. Don't forget -- get your comments in by April 30th!