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Articles tagged with: Sexual Rights

"Black Leather: Sex, Kink & HIV-Prevention within the Black Leather Community"

on Thursday, 21 April 2016. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

POZ

by Guy Anthony

I spend my life being as honest and transparent as possible. I, like many other Black gay men, have felt the brunt of the stigma attached to a skin pigment or sexual preference that we simply cannot change. We, of all people, have no right to judge anyone based on how they love, who they love, or how they choose to take ownership of their bodies. As a self-proclaimed sex-positive gay man, I must admit that the Leather and BDSM community was quite an intimidating topic to take on.

That was until I met 2016 Leatherman of Color, Khalid El-Bey, who happens to be an unassuming gentle giant - in leather chaps.

When he approached me a few months ago about raising money for my organization Black, Gifted & Whole, I was both confused and flattered. I didn't think we would be the type of organization he would be interested in supporting. I had an unsubstantiated theory floating around in my peanut head about who and what the leather community represented. My own fear of what others thought of my body prohibited me from being as sexually free and affirming as they. The fact that my body had been compromised countless times as a child crippled my sexual liberation.

As an openly HIV-positive Black gay man living in DC, I had to check my respectability politics. This is where the brightest of the bright shine, where the political savvy call Capitol Hill home. Who you're seen with and where you work are qualifiers for friendship. Should you dare to deviate from the proposed agenda of successful Black gay men here, you might as well pack up your Camry and head back to your humble beginnings. For this reason alone,  I celebrate people like Khalid, who say that I can love my body, eroticism and the lives of those most impacted by HIV--all at the same damn time.

Most gay men have heard of Onyx, but not many Black gay men. Why do you think there may be a disconnect between the Black gay community and the leather community?

We celebrated our 20th Anniversary in Chicago, IL during what was called BlackOut20 (BOXX) in the fall of 2015. We are a leather fraternity founded and operated by men of color yet we are open to anyone who is interested in the fellowship of our brotherhood. ONYX’s mission is to be an informational and social organization that addresses issues specific to people of color who choose to project the positive aspects of the leather lifestyle and support our community and economic initiatives. Our motto is: "Educate, Explore, and Empower."

I feel that many in the Black gay community initially think that we are a sex club and/or that leather is for only white people. ONYX has a long standing reputation within the leather community with members both nationwide and internationally.

For the record,  is the longest existing leather club for people of color and is known for its hospitality and infamous annual ONYX leather dance at International Mr. Leather (IML) Weekend in Chicago and our cocktail party at Mid-Atlantic Leather (MAL) in Washington, DC. ONYX is the longest existing leather club for people of color and is known for its hospitality and infamous annual ONYX leather dance at International Mr. Leather (IML) Weekend in Chicago and our cocktail party at Mid-Atlantic Leather (MAL) in Washington, DC. ...

"Asking For A Friend: Is Polyamory Just About Having More Sex?"

on Friday, 08 April 2016. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Polyamory can come with many partners and many misconceptions. Newsy's Cody LaGrow asks a polyamorous unit what it's really all about.

Newsy

By Cody LaGrow

Caroline is married to Josie. Caroline is also in a committed relationship with Adam. They share one house and two kids, and they all call the shots under the same roof. This is a polyamorous relationship.

 

Polyamory, the philosophy or state of being emotionally and sexually involved with more than one person at the same time, comes with many misconceptions. Caroline, Josie and Adam cleared up questions many may have about polyamory.

 

Newsy's Cody LaGrow: Do you think monogamy is unrealistic?

 

Caroline: "No. I hate the idea of polyamory and monogamy being pitted against each other. Obviously, one thing that makes polyamory different than monagamy is, in theory, you are having sex with multiple partners. But it's not just about sex. You are loving multiple partners. And that's really what polyamory is about. It's about love. And that expression of love usually leads to sex."

 

Cody: How often do you hear that you're having your cake and eating it, too?

 

Josie: "You hear it ... and that it's just different. I think a lot of people view us as these weirdos on the fringes of society, but to us, it feels weird to not have a choice. And just sort of default to monogamy because that's what everybody does."

 

Adam: "I found that monogamy, sort of, constrained my ideas about love. Like, I needed to find the one person for me. That is a huge thing to go about doing."

 

Caroline: "What do we in society call 'the one'? The one romantic person in your life, the one sexual person in your life, your best friend, the one person who is going to give you financial security, the one person who is going to give you family security, who you're going to have children with, who you're going to build all of these things with. And I think in a lot of societies and a lot cultures, we rely on more than one person to do that." ...

"6 Sexology Credentials You Need to Know About"

on Thursday, 31 March 2016. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

When you dedicate your professional life to working with human sexuality, you know from the beginning that you are working with a lightning rod topic. Have you ever been at a party, and someone casually asks you what you do? When you answer that you are a sex educator, a sex coach, a sex therapist, have you noticed how ears perk up around the room? People are fascinated, and people are opinionated. Like everything to do with the base level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, everyone has an opinion, and their own private battles, with sex.

 

We’re also still in the formative stages of an emerging trend – we’re seeing today the explosion in sex related information becoming available to the public at large. We’re seeing a proliferation of helping professionals specializing in sexual concerns. We’re seeing more people undertaking study of sexology in depth and building their knowledge beyond their own experience. Never before has the science of sexology and the knowledge it produces been more available to more people.

 

This is an extremely positive development. It means that people no longer need to suffer in silence alone. With the Internet in more homes around the world every year, even proximity is no longer a factor – people can access expert advice from professionals worldwide from the comfort of their own homes.

The other side of this coin, though, is that in this field terms are generally not regulated and standards of education vary. This means that, currently, anyone can call themselves a sex educator, a sex coach, or even a sex therapist. What we see now is highly educated and well trained professionals, mixed together under the same professional designators as pick-up artists and folks that have watched a couple of TED talks and decided that they are a sex expert.

This means that, if you are a human sexuality professional, there has never been a more important time to have credentials. You have invested a lot of time and money to develop competency in understanding sexual concerns and working with clients, and you have every right to want to set yourself apart from those that have not. It is therefore essential that you are aware of the sexology credentials available today, and have the information you need to decide which credentials are appropriate for you.

Here is an overview of 6 important sexology credentials available to human sexuality professionals today:

Kink Aware Professionals (KAP) Designation

The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) formed in 1997 with the aim of fighting for sexual freedom and privacy rights for adults who engage in safe, sane and consensual behavior. Today, NCSF has over 50 Coalition Partners, over 100 Supporting Members, and over the years has formed alliances with other organizations that defend sexual freedom rights, including the ACLU, American Association of Sex Educators, Councelors, and Therapists (AASECT), Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS), and the Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance, among others.

A key program of the NCSF since 2005 has been maintaining an online directory of Kink Aware Professionals. While sexologists and sexuality professionals are listed, the directory includes an incredible diversity of professionals – from accountants to doctors to realtors. The Kink Aware Professional designation signals to clients that a professional is accepting of diverse sexualities, forms of sexual expression, and sexual communities. The Kink Aware Professionals directory has grown to include over 800 professionals in the United States, Canada, and worldwide.

 

To receive the Kink Aware Professional designation, the following is required:

Membership in the NCSF, where there are 3 levels of membership available

Meet ALL requirements listed for Kink Aware Professional designation

To embrace the KAP Statement and to understand and agree to its terms

Once listed, Kink Aware Professionals can display on their own websites this status and membership, to show clearly their acceptance of diversity....

"Best and Most Beautiful Things Premieres at SXSW"

on Thursday, 10 March 2016. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Huffington Post

by Xaque Gruber

One of the year's most touching documentary films, Best and Most Beautiful Things, makes its world premiere this month at SXSW. A provocative and joyous coming of age portrait of precocious 20 year old Michelle Smith of rural Maine, she's both legally blind and diagnosed on the autism spectrum, but the film does not pander to that. She bursts off the screen as someone immensely relatable. You'll want to know her. This is a powerful, affecting journey into a young woman's mind as she searches for connection and empowerment by exploring life outside the limits of "normal" through a "fringe community."

I had the pleasure of speaking with the film's Executive Producer, Kevin Bright, who has succeeded in navigating the waters of both TV (he was Executive Producer of Friends) and film (his previous documentary work includes directing the 2007 film about his vaudevillian father, Who Ordered Tax?). Kevin executive produced the film with Claudia Bright.

Xaque Gruber: What was it about this project that attracted you? How did it find you?

 

Kevin Bright: My involvement with the project began in 2009 when I started a filmmaking class for students at the Perkins School for The Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts. Michelle Smith was in that first class and was part of a group that made an award winning film Seeing Through the Lens. I loved the impact the film had on these students, giving them the power to tell their stories to the world. Our director, Garrett Zevgetis, was a volunteer at Perkins who at that time was making a short film about the impact of Helen Keller on current Perkins students. After seeing an early cut, my recommendation was to focus the film on Michelle as a "modern day Helen Keller". Garrett filmed Michelle - it was a 20 minute short that became a feature film and now here we are with a premiere at SXSW.

 

XG: Let's talk about Michelle Smith. She is legally blind, on the autism spectrum and lives in rural Maine - with those details she seems plucked from a Stephen King novel. She's bound to win over many fans and hearts. Tell me what it was like working with her and do you see any of yourself in Michelle?

 

KB: Michelle is an inspiration to me. She could roll over and be a victim of her disability, instead she embraces it and challenges the rest of us to step out of our comfort zone and be open to different people and life styles, "unlearning normal" as Michelle says. Everyone falls for Michelle because she draws you in, makes a connection, but sometimes, can really shock you. Pity is not what she seeks, it is not in her vocabulary. ...

"Can You Be Asexual, but Also Enjoy Kink?"

on Monday, 15 February 2016. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Cosmopolitan

By Angela Chen

At first, Lily Zheng saw kink as a way to have great sex. "I thought of it like an escalator: First I would do bondage, then this and that, and then at the end, I would have the most fulfilling, amazing sex ever," said the Stanford University junior, who is also co-president of the university's kink club.

 

But when the sex at the end turned out to be a disappointment — "I was just lying on the bed, checking out my nails and thinking, 'This is silly and not fun'" — she realized that she wasn't interested in sex so much as the dynamics of dominant and submissive relationships. For her, sex is a tool in service of those relationships, not something she cares about much for its own sake.

 

Zheng is part of a growing community of asexuals, or people who are not sexually attracted to any gender, who are attracted to the kink scene because they like touch, relationships, sensation, and power dynamics — all reasons that have nothing to do with sex itself. Many say that because kink focuses so much on negotiation and consent, this environment feels safer than traditional relationships, where sex is usually expected. Still, says Zheng, identifying as both asexual and kinky initially felt like "a huge contradiction" because of the stereotypes around both subcultures.

 

Kink is often broken down into the four categories — bondage, domination, submission, and masochism — and has become more popular recently, thanks to Fifty Shades of Grey. But while its roots were in explicit sex, it has become more about general "connection," with people "having entire relationships where explicit sexual contact wasn't a part of it," according to BDSM educator Mollena Williams-Haas.

 

Asexuals, or "aces," often divide attraction into three categories: aesthetic, romantic, and sexual, with the last one being the most self-explanatory. Aesthetic attraction means finding someone physically attractive without necessarily being sexually attracted. Romantic attraction or romantic orientation (often broken down into homoromantic, biromantic, heteroromantic, panromantic, and so on) means wanting to be in a romantic relationship with someone regardless of whether you want to have sex with them.

 

Aces don't experience sexual attraction but some aces have a sex drive and enjoy having sex, some are sex-repulsed and don't enjoy it at all, some really love touch and sensation but dislike penetrative sex, and so on.

 

Still, asexuality is often conflated with being celibate, prudish or, as Zheng said, pointing to another stereotype, "hating to be touched." So it can be confusing when people encounter someone who doesn't experience sexual attraction or isn't interested in sex, but is still very interested in the kink scene.

 

Lauren*, a writer in northern California, says she is involved in kink because she likes "sensation-play, interactions, complex human relationship, a balance of power and control and trust." Lauren has been "tying up my Barbies since I was about 3, which is probably a warning sign" but found later that she was not really into sex, and has since had many kink partners that she's never been sexually attracted to.

 

Instead of being into BDSM for the sex, she says, "I appreciate this ability to step outside normal social strictures and explicitly say, 'We are going to very carefully negotiate the way we interact with each other to be safe and careful with each other.'"

 

Not all contact during a kink scene is sexual because it often depends on the person and the context, according to Lauren. For example, cuddling with one person can be sexual, and not at all with another. And aftercare, or the contact after a scene, typically should not be sexual at all. "It's kind of like you picking up your cat, and you're hanging out and bonding — you're having very intimate contact, but very explicitly not sexual and sometimes to the point that being sexual would make that really uncomfortable and would be undesirable," she adds. ...

"Bar Raid At Alamo Leather Contest"

on Monday, 08 February 2016. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

The Leather Journal

by Vonn Tramel

Attendees of The 2016 Alamo Leather Contest will certainly never forget!

 

Late Saturday evening, at approximately 1030, just a few minutes prior to the announcement of The Alamo Leather Contest’s Winners bar staff swept through the Mad Marlin’s basement and parking lot. They were instructing customers in the basement to finish their drinks and instructed to dump their drinks if they were in the parking lot. Soon thereafter contest producers abruptly announced Mr. Alamo Leather 2016 Shawn Fox and Alamo Bootblack 2016 Sugar Bear.

 

At this time the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and San Antonio Police Department proceeded to raid the north side establishment. It was announced at the beginning of the raid that persons with faces not matching their photo ID could be ticketed and or arrested. Members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and the event’s emcee bolted from the establishment. ...

"Beyond Safe Words: When Saying 'No' in BDSM Isn't Enough"

on Saturday, 12 December 2015. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Broadly

by Trudie Carter-Pavelin

Miss Jackie* sits in the back of a dingy Leeds café in England, sipping tea and speaking urgently. She describes herself as a T-girl (a transgender woman) who has been a veteran of the BDSM scene for over 20 years, save for a seven-year break in the early 2000s.

 

When she returned in 2010, she barely recognized it. Jackie moved to a new town and joined her local munch, an informal pub meetup for the community to socialise and play. "To begin with, the play was very mild, people hardly hit each other. After a while, this couple turned up from one of the other munches in the county, and just seemed to take over," she says. "The woman injured my foot, and flogged me on the back of the head, which is a real no-no. She was falling off her high heels because she was drunk, but she'd more or less appointed herself safety monitor."

 

This behavior went unnoticed by other, inexperienced members, whose knowledge of BDSM came mostly from internet porn. Jackie shudders when she recounts the couple. "They were pushing limits." The man is now banned from a number of British clubs, after an incident when a woman was tied up and touched without permission.

 

Miss Jackie soon became aware that much had changed since her departure from the scene. "I was topping for a friend who was a prostitute, and she seemed surprised that I was polite to her afterwards," she says with a tinge of irony. "She didn't realize that was the norm. She'd had experiences in London where people had forced ketamine on her, and kept her against her will for days."

 

In the BDSM community, to 'grass' or out kink abusers is to isolate yourself. When Jackie appealed to prominent figures to help, she was met with outright hostility. In one email exchange seen by Broadly, one of the country's most influential munch figures told her that any "perceived abuse" was likely just part of a normal master/slave interaction in a power exchange dynamic. "A decent master is not going to want to harm their property on any level," he wrote, much to Jackie's horror.

 

 

"I have never been the same person since I first read that," she says. "If a dom breaks the law, it's considered vanilla law, and nobody will acknowledge it." ...

 

... At the moment, the community is trying its best to self-police. Consent Counts is a network of kink activists aiming to do just that—to open a dialogue and introduce an ethical system of care to the scene. "BDSM subcultures need to develop an ethics of care for ourselves and others, and this can only be achieved through collective efforts and networks of support," a spokesperson explains. "In part this will act as a deterrent from abuse, and show potential abusers that their behaviour will not get buried in the sand and forgotten easily. A collective voice is much more powerful than that of an individual."

 

"All you need is love(s)"

on Friday, 20 November 2015. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Columbia Spectator

BY AIDAN GOLTRA

To manage her multiple relationships, School of Engineering and Applied Science junior Arya Popescu uses Google Calendar.

 

Like any other busy student, Popescu has work to manage, homework to do, and assignments to complete. But despite her busy schedule, Popescu found a polyamorous niche embedded within an apparently vibrant kink and bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism community at Columbia. Sitting with me at a table outside Hartley Hall, Popescu speaks rapidly and with verve about the community, making frequent use of hand gestures.

 

“I found out Columbia had a kink community and was like, ‘Oh my god, this is so awesome. In that context poly is normal.”

 

A standard definition of polyamory, often shortened to “poly,” is non-monogamy. However, according to Popescu, this definition is too broad. She explains that while non-monogamy could be used to label every incident of infidelity or random group sex, none of these acts fall under polyamory’s umbrella. In ethical polyamory, what often looks like and is judged like deceit in fact follows consensual, pre-determined rules.

 

It is perhaps these loose associations, along with a traditional allegiance to monogamy, that keep polyamory from gaining popular acceptance. According to a 2015 Gallup Social Poll, while acceptance of polyamorous marriage has more than doubled since 2001, approval remains at a mere 16 percent.

 

Throughout our interview, Popescu repeatedly said that she didn’t view one relationship model as superior, just different from one another. Still, she believes most people take a perspective on polyamory that is too informed by monogamy.

 

“Really the practice of ethical polyamory involves a lot of openness and mutual communication. Sometimes it’s like, ‘Oh, give me all the gory details.’ Other times, not so much. There’s this mindfulness and openness and active consent regarding relationship practices in the polyamorous community.”

 

For Popescu, this openness allows her to pursue a spectrum of relationships suited to her different desires and needs, ranging from platonic friendships to what she describes as a “primal” sexuality. On one hand, Popescu says her most intimate relationship is with someone who identifies as asexual. While she and Popescu have “played” together, Popescu says that for the most part, their relationship is platonic.

 

On the other hand, Popescu is president of Conversio Virium, Columbia’s BDSM and kink club. This involves being plugged into a large and private kink network, through which she can pursue many sexual, but less intimate relationships. Yet Popescu does not associate with these people much in her daily life.

 

Interested in observing the polyamorous scene of New York City at large, I visited Bluestockings Cafe in Midtown’s Astor Place, a bookstore where every few weeks the polyamorous club Open Love NY meets. “We try to create a nonjudgmental group that just so happens to love the same way,” Open Love NY Vice President Puck Malamud, whose pronoun is they, says. The group also aims to educate about polyamory through speakers and group discussion. ...

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