By: Lori Beth Bisbey/Your Tango.Com
Who you love — and WANT — is about so much more than gender…
When asked about my sexual orientation in the past, I’ve found it easier to reply, “I’m bisexual” than to explain my more complex, and more authentic, orientation.
When I was 9 years old, I made myself a “bottle” to live in until my Master came and found me.
I grew up watching I Dream of Jeannie like lots of kids I was friends with, but none of them shared my fantasy of living in a bottle and doing whatever Master asked them to do. When we played together, they would talk about getting married and having a husband or a wife. Some of them didn’t talk much at all during these discussions (these girls later identified as lesbian).
My friends would sometimes look at me strangely. They did not understand what I was going on about. Why would anyone want a Master? I couldn’t explain it. I just knew that I wanted someone else to be in control and that when I thought about this, I became all hot and bothered.
When I would masturbate at night before bed, I would dream of being owned and kept and ordered to do all sorts of things. I didn’t know what those things were, I just knew that they were exciting. (Yes I did masturbate most nights when I was 9, but that is another story for another time.)
As I got older and started having sexual experiences, I was attracted to men, women and some folksthe somewhere in between.
However, I found myself most attracted to people who were dominant when it came to flirting and sexual play.
They have an energy, an edge and a presence that made me light up like a neon sign.
I was 15 when I discovered the Story of O in a second-hand bookstore in Andover, Massachusetts. I was attending summer school to study Russian and it was my first time away from home without constant supervision. I read that book so often that the binding broke and pages started falling out. When I was 16, I saw the film version and it had the same effect.
I realized the main factor in my sexual attraction to people has nothing to do with gender — and everything to do with power exchange.
Power exchange in a BDSM relationship is when a couple mutually and proactively agrees who will hold the power and control (i.e., who will be the Dominant or top) and who will surrender their power and control (i.e., who will be the submissive or bottom. This is exchange is made with the explicit acknowledgment of each partner’s consent, limits and boundaries.
It’s important to recognize that power exchange and dynamics exist within ALL relationships.
Within many classical, heteronormative relationships the man goes to work and controls the financial aspects of the relationship while the woman stays at home and looks after the kids, the residence and the social aspects of their lives. There is power on both sides of this dynamic, and neither is better or worse as long as the dynamic — the power exchange — has been decided and agreed upon with the consent and interests of both people in mind. To understand the power dynamics in your own relationship, take a few minutes to complete this exercise:
1. Think about your relationship (or your last relationship) and answer these questions:
- Who makes most of the major decisions?
- Do you make the major decisions together by consensus?
- Who manages the money?
- Who manages things relating to the home?
- Who initiates sex most often?
- Who is on top and who is on the bottom in the bedroom? Or do you switch?
If you answer “both of us” to most questions, you may have a fairly equal relationship. However, it is rare that both people manage ALL of these areas together. It would simply take up too much time. Usually, there is a division of labor and therefore one person may have power in one area and the other person in a different area.
2. Now think about your parents’ relationship and ask yourself the same questions.
Think about how power was apportioned in that relationship and the impressions that left on you.
Once you have done this a few times looking at a variety of relationships, you’ll have a feel for power dynamics and how you relate to them.
Remember these dynamics are generally fluid. Power in relationships can change over time and in response to specific circumstances.
For example, a man who is the breadwinner may lose his job and the woman may then becomes the breadwinner. When power dynamics shift, the relationships will often require some degree of adjustment. When they shift without prior expectation or agreement from both people beforehand, it can be devastating.
In a relationship that includes a consensual power exchange, the couple decides together who will be in control/have the power in which areas of the relationship.
Some people have a power exchange relationship in the bedroom only.
Others extend this further into other or all aspects of their relationship.
As I’ve experienced more relationships of my own and have given this concept more thought, I’ve realized that I, personally, am most turned on when I surrender power in many areas of my relationship.
Over time I’ve learned that sexual orientation is not binary — and it is not static.
Sexual orientation is an enduring pattern of sexual and affectional attraction. People are increasingly using a wider variety of labels to describe their own orientation, sexual orientation need not contain only one label (heterosexual for example).
I describe sexual orientation across three dimensions:
- From heterosexual to bisexual to homosexual (i.e., which gender(s) are you attracted to).
From Dominant to submissive.
From highly sexual to asexual.
(Remember that I am talking about orientation rather than gender identity. Gender is how I see and experience myself and does not necessarily apply to how I relate to or with others.)
In describing myself, as an example, I view my sexual orientation as bisexual, submissive and highly sexual.
The most intense focus within this orientation for me is the submissive one. For me, the best sex involves me giving up control to another person or persons — regardless of their gender. I have always been this way and this has been more important at some points in my life than at others.
Now that you have this information, what is yours?
Dr. Lori Beth is an intimacy/sex coach and psychologist who helps individuals, couples and polyamorous groups create their ideal lasting relationship(s). You can sign up for her newsletter and find out more about her adventures on her website and check out The A to Z of Sex podcast on iTunes. Write to her with your questions by clicking here.
Ben Carson thinks extending more public housing benefits to the LGBT community amounts to “special rights”
By: Nico Lang/Salon.com
Ben Carson doesn’t think the LGBT community deserves special rights.
Last week the retired John Hopkins neurosurgeon began his testimony before a Senate committee, which is considering his nomination to be the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Carson was asked by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, about his controversial statements about protections for the LGBT community. During his failed 2016 presidential campaign, Carson had claimed that the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision on same-sex marriage amounted to “extra rights” being conferred. Carson has repeatedly reiterated this belief — that LGBT equality affords the community undue, unnecessary privileges.
On Thursday the Trump nominee did not back down from that argument. “Of course, I will enforce all the laws of the land,” Carson said, adding, “No one gets extra rights. . . . Extra rights means you get to redefine everything for everyone else.”
What’s alarming about Carson’s statement is that he wasn’t being asked about his opposition to marriage equality. Brown, who serves as the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, was grilling him on whether he would protect the LGBT community from discrimination in federal housing, which Carson had dismissed as a frivolity. This is a grave reminder that Carson could do serious damage to federal housing programs by ignoring the egregious bigotry that queer and trans people face every day when trying to find something as simple as a place to live.
Carson, who has repeatedly made headlines for his incendiary, outlandish statements about the LGBT community, is no friend to queer people.
The “Gifted Hands” author is one of the nation’s most vocal opponents of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, whom he has described as practitioners of bestiality,polygamy, and pedophilia. During a speech he delivered at last year’s Pensmore National Symposium on Religious Liberty at Missouri’s College of the Ozarks, Carson warned that the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling was a harbinger of an “ever-growing government” that would lead to “utter chaos” as well as mass executions. “The peace we experience now will be a memory only,” Carson said.
The idea that granting same-sex couples the rights to have their relationships recognized and protected by federal law constitutes special benefits for a niche community is an old and favorite one of conservatives. It suggests, much as Sen. Jeff Sessions argued last week during a confirmation hearing on his nomination for attorney general, that gay people don’t experience discrimination. If they’re already being equally protected under the law, why do they need more laws granting them those same protections?
Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana who also mounted an unsuccessful 2016 presidential bid, had even used the “extra rights” reasoning to argue for targeting the basic civil liberties of the LGBT community. During a 2015 interview with “Meet the Press,” Jindal claimed that making LGBT people a “protected class” — borrowing phraseology from hate crime legislation — would amount to “extraordinary circumstances.” Claiming that there is now greater “tolerance” in society that makes such “special legal protections” unnecessary, Jindal had backed the introduction of a “religious liberty” bill in the Pelican State to let those running businesses deny services to customers on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, so long as the companies involved cite “sincerely held religious belief.” Numerous LGBT advocates have argued that this type of legislation is a clear pathway to unleash broad-based discrimination.
As the secretary of Department of Housing and Urban Development, Carson would have little authority to affect already settled cases on nationwide marriage equality. But if he feels that LGBT protections are unnecessary, that would give him the ability to harm particularly vulnerable communities that already experience extraordinary discrimination at every turn.
A survey from the National Center for Transgender Equality found that 20 percent of transgender people surveyed reported being denied housing on the basis of their gender identity, while 10 percent even said they have been evicted for being transgender.
This widespread discrimination extends to homeless shelters. When the Center for American Progress called local shelters to see if they would house a transgender woman, just 30 percent said they would do so. Twenty-two percent outright refused, and one center in Virginia said that having to sharing space with a “man” would spook the other residents, citing unfounded fears of sexual assault.
These practices should be illegal, yet unfortunately they persist. As the Center for American Progress has reported, LGBT people are not explicitly protected under the Fair Housing Act, also known as the Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. This law protects tenants under the basis of characteristics like sex, race, religion, or national origin but does not explicitly name gender identity or sexual orientation.
Last year the Department of Housing and Urban Development attempted to remedy this issue by introducing the Equal Access Rule so that housing units and homeless shelters that receive federal dollars cannot discriminate on the basis of gender identity. This provision, while a necessary step forward in ending the housing discrimination that leads to extremely high rates of homelessness among transgender people, will likely face a fight from the Trump White House.
Mike Pence, the vice president-elect, has already claimed that the incoming administration will seek to roll back protections for trans students put into effect during the Obama presidency. Last year the Obama administration issued guidance saying that transgender youth had the right to equal access in schools. under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
When it comes to public housing, Carson is unlikely to fight against the removal of equivalent protections for trans people. In a speech delivered at the Republican National Convention, he referred to “the whole transgender thing” as “absurd.”
Carson said, “For thousands of years, mankind has known what a man is and what a woman is, and now, all of a sudden we don’t know anymore.” He added, “Now, is that the height of absurdity? Because today you feel like a woman, even though everything about you genetically says that you’re a man or vice versa? Wouldn’t that be the same as if you woke up tomorrow morning after seeing a movie about Afghanistan or reading some books and said, ‘You know what? I’m Afghanistan [sic]. I know I don’t look that way.’”
These views are ludicrously ill-informed, but with Carson as a part of Trump’s Cabinet, they would have power. His perspectives would have the authority and influence to deepen the extreme marginalization to which transgender people are already subjected.
Trans individuals, particularly trans women of color, are more likely than any other group
to be the victims of a hate crime. They are disproportionately likely to live below the poverty line, be underemployed or not have a job at all people face higher rates of sexual assault, domestic violence, and suicide.
And all of this illustrates an important reality. This community doesn’t have extra rights. Trans folks have almost no privileges at all, especially under a hostile administration that seems to be on the verge of stripping them of access to life -saving medical care under the Affordable Care Act.
What Carson doesn’t understand is that trans people — and lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals — aren’t asking for extra privileges, just basic equality. They want the same things all of us desire: safe, fair housing and a life without fear. There’s nothing special about wishing to live your life without wondering whether you’ll be homeless tomorrow just because of who you are.
Stockholm is one of the world’s best cities for gay people, according to a new ranking.
LGBTQ travel site GayCities collected more than 23,000 votes from its members and named Stockholm as the winner in the Up-And-Coming category.
“Sweden has always been a the forefront of the LGBTQ rights movement, so we are proud to provide Stockholm with the Up-And-Coming award in the Best of GayCities2016,” Tim Winfred, director of marketing at Q Digital which is behind GayCities, told The Local.
The Swedish city was picked ahead of US hubs Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Richmond and Buffalo.
“As the only non-American location in the category, Stockholm received one-third of all fan votes and beat several other great cities,” added Winfred.
San Francisco took home the top crown as Best City of 2016, with Orlando in Florida winning City of the Year. The only other European cities featured were London and Berlin which were tied in the Best Singles Scene category, and Madrid, named a Foodie Paradise.
A major gay rights group earlier this year praised Sweden for recent work to promote transgender rights, and for creating more information for and about the young LGBTQ community.
The Nordic country did then fall from fourth to twelfth place in its ranking, however ILGA-Europe explained that the drop was more a result of other nations improving their policies than life in Sweden getting worse for gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people.
By: George Johnson/The Giro
Kim Burrell has added her name to a long list of religious leaders in the black church who have condemned the so-called perversions of homosexuality, all in the name of doing the “Lord’s work.”
“Anybody in the room who is living with a homosexual spirit, beg God to free you. If you play with it in 2017 you’ll die from it. If you play with it in 2017 in God’s house you’ll die from it. Y’all came to hear about carnal, I came to tell you about sin,” the gospel singer said during a sermon in a video posted online.
“That perverted homosexual spirit is a spirit of delusion and confusion and it has deceived many men and women. And it has caused a stain on the body of Christ. And those homosexual spirits have been angry and they come up against you [saying] ‘you gotta love everybody.’ Sit down you serpent.”
Burrell’s statements, however, speak to a much larger issue within the black community, particularly the relationship between black gay men and black women.
The social dynamic between the two groups is a heavily intersected one with many overlaps in views and exploration of femininity, sexuality and social perceptions.space“> Scholar and TV host Melissa Harris-Perry wrote about this completed relationship after the Pulse nightclub shooting tragedy in a piece entitled “To All the Straight Women Who Love Gay Men: Your Safe Space Is No Longer Their Safe Space.”
In it, she speaks on how, for many black women, gay culture, specifically the gay club, has become a “safe space” for them. How they can “maintain intimate friendships with beautiful gay men, basking in their appreciation of our femininity, jointly appraising male sexiness, seeking expert opinions on relationships, and invading party spaces. Here we dance, let loose, sing out loud, and enjoy ourselves without fear of predatory male sexual attention.”
I, too, share in this notion of black women I come to call my friends, my sisters, my aunts and my mother. There are countless times I know my friends, who are straight black women, have enjoyed the many pleasures and benefits that come with having a friendship with a black gay man.
There an unspoken synergy between black women and black gay men; an understanding of how their plights at many times intersect and create naturally formed bonds based on their lived experiences within the context of patriarchy and hyper-masculinity.
I was fortunate that my family fully supported my queer identity without reservation, and continue to not only support but be willing to learn more about the issues I face without the superficial lens from which the greater community sees sexuality. For many others, this is not so much the case, and black women (like Burrell) who have spoken against LGBTQ-identifying people only expose the hard truth: there’s much work to do to reconcile these often broken relationships between black women and their same-gender loving counterparts.
Despite these fractured relationships in our communities, on television we often see something very different play out. On TV shows, black women assimilate into gay culture; using gay lingo and expressions, and even enjoying fashion styled and/or created by gay men. Though it’s trendy to have a gay BFF on social media, black women don’t always show up in droves when it comes time to stand up against the violence and oppression of black gay men.
As we saw with Burrell, the same women who knowingly or unknowingly accept parts of the gay community are also quick to dismiss and condemn us. When Burrell delivered her sermon, surely she knew she was preaching to hell some of the most valuable members of the Black Church, including members of the choir and music ministry.
Straight black men who may express forms of femininity or express their sexuality in a way that would be deemed gay, too, are often shamed by black women who police their manhood or masculinity. Time and time again, we hear the term ‘gay’ used to condemn or insult a man. This type of condemnation is why straight black men, straight men in general, have embraced terms like ‘bromance’ and ‘metrosexual’ in an attempt to not carry the stigma and oppression that comes with any association with being black and gay.
Still, we’ve seen black female public figures backtrack their opposing or disparaging views of homosexuality after realizing much of their fan base and reach are off the backs of gay men of color.
Then you have the Black Church.
The institution of the Black Church plays an important part in this narrative, as the impact of the larger church community’s stance on homosexuality has profound consequences for black gay men and LGBTQ people. For me, having a relationship with God has always been difficult to reconcile when I was told constantly that, although we are all made in His image, some of us simply ain’t.
The “ain’ts” like me are an abomination, they say, and although we are welcomed in the House of the Lord, it is at the cost of so-called church leaders trying to convert us from our homosexuality. In the church, condemning comes as a part of the package, which is something I don’t subscribe to.
Unfortunately, many seek a relationship with God outside of the church because they find that there is no seat at the table available for us inside of it. What’s more troubling is that the stance of the Black Church bleeds into black homes. Divisions are made and relationships deteriorate, particularly between black mothers and their gay sons.
The hate speech that Kim Burrell displayed is not uncommon from what I and many others have encountered in our experiences with the black church. Church culture can lead many black mothers, and family astray in the relationships they have with children who question their gender and sex identity.
The Bible at many times is taken without context for the times it was written. When false interpretations of the Bible are used to preach against homosexuality at the pulpit–conflating religious hetero norms with one’s personal relationship with God–it can turn the faithful black mother and family against those the church says is an abomination. Black mothers do this even at the expense of losing their relationship with their gay black sons. The church, which should be a place of unity and coming together in the name of love, has far too long served as the benchmark for divisive speech, and dangerous rhetoric that promotes the dehumanization and devaluing of black LGBTQ people.
As black queer men, we often fight for those who would never fight for us. March for those who would never come to our defense or vigil if our fight against our oppression as black gay men ended in death.
Kim Burrell’s speech served as another reminder that there are far too many people who are viewed as leaders in our community that fail to understand that if ‘All Black Lives’ don’t matter, then NO Black Lives Matter.
It’s 2017. The time is now for healing and acceptance, not hating and rejection.
After winning the rightwing presidential primary, François Fillon will now be installed as the favorite to win next year’s presidential election. Here’s what you need to know about the open admirer of Margaret Thatcher.
He’s a big fan of Margaret Thatcher
Openly saying you are an admirer of the former Conservative British Prime Minister is normally risky business for a Frenchman.
She and Ronald Reagan are often seen as the bad parents of the neoliberal economic revolution in the 1980s that France has never really adjusted to.
But Fillon, who was Prime Minister under ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy for five years, likes the Iron Lady because according to him she got her country back on track.
“She is the symbol of an inflexible political determination to stop a situation of decline,” said Fillon back in 2014.
And in the run up to last Sunday’s first round vote Fillon hit back at his rivals who compared him to Thatcher in a bid to turn French voters against him.
“Some candidates wanted to be unkind by calling me Thatcherite, but it pleased me,” Fillon said. “At least she left her mark as someone who straightened out her country.”
“She’s a woman who has been elected three times. There is not a single president of the French Republic who has been elected three times, so she had the confidence of the British.”
The word “Thatcher” was trending in France the day after the first round in a sign the French public were trying to find out just how much Fillon was a fan.
He loves Thatcher because…
Fillon’s love for all things Thatcher is linked to his desire for a “total rupture” as a means to pull France’s struggling economy into the 21st century.
Like Thatcher Fillon wants to cut back state spending, or more to the point completely shred it and impose liberal economic policies.
He says he wants to make €100 billion of savings in five years. To do that he wants to cut 500,000 jobs in the French civil service, raise the retirement age to 65, scrap the 35-hour week for the private sector and raise the legal working week to 39 hours for civil servants.
In terms of the working week, he would simply set a maximum of 48 hours in line with EU law.
Some 20 percent of the €110 billion worth of cuts will be made by local authorities. Fillon also wants to put a lower cap on unemployment benefits.
He’s also a friend of business and wants to cut levies on firms to the tune of €40 billion and implement €10 billion of tax cuts for households. He also wants to scrap France’s wealth tax on the richest residents, called ISF.
To cover for these cuts, he wants to raise VAT by two percentage points.
Fillon also wants to scrap most of France’s labor laws, and leave disputes to be sorted out at sector or company level, to try and break the power of the unions.
Last month French right wing magazine Le Point made it clear it too was in favor of a dose of Thatcherism to turn the country around.
Fillon’s a follower of Trump when it comes to Russia
Not many mainstream French politicians have anything in common with Donald Trump but François Fillon does. He too is a fan of Russian leader Vladimir Putin and favors an alliance with Moscow to battle Isis in the Middle East, which the current French administration under François Hollande has avoided, due to Russia’s support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
“It’s clear Russia has its own interests in the region, but who in the Middle East doesn’t? Fillon wrote in Marianne magazine recently.
Fillon saluted Putin’s “cold and effective pragmatism” in the region.
For Fillon Islam is ‘a big problem’
The former prime minister might not be as obsessed by identity and the role of Islam in France as his former boss Nicolas Sarkozy, but Fillon still has fairly strong views that will not make the country’s Muslim population feel at ease.
“There are no problems with religion in France. There is a problem linked to Islam,” said Fillon.
In his essay “Conquering Islamic Totalitarianism” Fillon says the “bloody invasion of Islamism in our daily lives could provoke a third world war.”
However Fillon is not in favor of banning religious symbols like the Muslim headscarf in public, as Sarkozy suggested he was.
Earlier this year he provoked ire and ridicule dismissed the idea that France should feel guilty about its colonization of North Africa, saying “there was nothing to be ashamed about France just wanting to share its culture.”
“For Fillon, colonialisation was just like Erasmus,” read one sarcastic reaction on Twittter.
He’s anti-gay marriage and a conservative at heart
Fillon was the preferred candidate of the once influential “Manif Pour Tous” anti-gay marriage movement in France because he closely reflected their views.
Although Fillon says he will not try to overturn the legalization of gay marriage that was brought in in 2012, he does want a change of the law to prevent gay couples from being able to adopt children.
Fillon is also against surrogacy and medically assisted births for lesbian couples. On Monday feminists were reminding France that Fillon has said he regrets saying abortion was a “fundamental right of a woman”.
But he does want to boost family allowances and make the payments universal rather than linked to salary as they are now.
He does not believe France is multicultural
Fillon has insisted his vision of France was not as a multicultural country.
When asked whether he saw the future of French society as multicultural he said: “the answer is no”.
France has a history, a language, a culture, of course this culture and language have been enriched by the contributions of foreign populations, but it remains the foundation of our identity,” he said.
When asked during Thursday night’s debate if France was already a multicultural country Fillon said “No, in any case it’s not the choice we made, we did not make the choice of communitarianism and multiculturalism.”
“When we go to somebody’s house, we don’t try to take power,” said Fillon adding that immigrants must respect France’s cultural heritage.
He thinks colonization was just “sharing culture”
Fillon provoked anger and ridicule in equal measure earlier this year when, in a speech to supporters, he said that Franec should not be guilty of its colonial part in North Africa, because it was all just about “sharing culture”.
He also said he would change the history curriculum so pupils would “not be taught to be ashamed of their country”.
Oliver Jacques/ News Corp Australia Network
There was once a time in this country when people got married, then had kids.
But if you’re gay in Australia today, you’re allowed to adopt children, but forbidden from marrying the one you love. This makes no sense at all, especially since our prime minister once lectured us that families are stronger when the parents are “formerly, legally married”.
In November, the Queensland and South Australian parliaments voted in favor of allowing gay couples to adopt children. If passed by the South Australian upper house, same-sex adoption will be legal in every Australian state.
It’s hard to argue against permitting gays to adopt. Even if you believe that a child is better off with a loving mother and father, the fact is there are thousands of kids who have neither. There are 30,000 Australian children — removed from their birth parents due to abuse or neglect — who have been living away from home for more than two years. Many are drifting in and out of unstable single-parent foster homes. Few are likely to return to their birth families.
Adoption is very rare in Australia, for both gay and straight couples alike. Stifling bureaucracy and restrictive eligibility means the process takes on average four years. It seems sensible to make adoption easier and more accessible to non-traditional families. Kids who can’t return home would be provided with permanency and stability from an early age, rather than remaining in the child protection system.
Indeed, kids are being so damaged by constant instability, we’re having to institutionalize them again. You might think of orphanages as a relic of the 1950s, but the number of Australian children living in facilities staffed by paid workers has gone up 150 per cent over the past decade.
As a recent ABC Four Corners episode revealed, many of these kids are sexually abused or neglected again while in these institutions. Could a properly vetted, stable, loving pair of gay adoptive parents possibly be any worse for them than that?
Malcolm Turnbull has said that families are more likely to remain stable when the parents are married. It’s therefore crazy to allow gay couples to make a lifelong commitment to look after vulnerable children (in desperate need of stability), but prevent them from making a lifelong commitment to each other.
Same-sex adoption has been legalized throughout Australia, without the need for any plebiscites. The federal government must therefore move quickly to allow same-sex marriage.
Even if they don’t care about gay rights, won’t somebody please think of the children?