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"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. ...

"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....

"A Composer and His Wife: Creativity Through Kink"

on Wednesday, 24 February 2016. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

The New York Times

By ZACHARY WOOLFE

The OkCupid message Mollena Williams received in December 2013 was, in some ways, standard. It was complimentary: “Wow — your profile is great.” It was confident: “I am an artist, very successful (probably member of the top 10 or 20 in my genre in the world).” It was polite, signing off with “warm wishes.”

 

But something was a bit out of the ordinary, speaking to its author’s interest in domination and submission. The central desire? “I would like to tame you.”

 

The writer was Georg Friedrich Haas, whose powerfully emotional, politically charged music and explorations of microtonality make him one of the world’s leading composers. His work had brought widespread acclaim, but his personal life was troubled, with three failed marriages in his wake, when he met Ms. Williams, a writer and sex educator who specializes in alternative lifestyles. Shortly after he messaged her, the two began a relationship and were married last fall.

 

Composers do their work offstage and largely out of the public eye. But all music is influenced by its makers’ personal lives and, in many cases through history, their grappling with sexuality. Tchaikovsky’s struggle with his homosexuality helped create music of agonizing longing.

 

The Austrian-born Mr. Haas, 62, a music professor at Columbia University since 2013, has recently been increasingly open about the unusual nature of his marriage, which he says has dramatically improved his productivity and reshaped his artistic outlook. He will be the subject of a two-concert American Immersion series on Wednesday and Friday presented by the Austrian Cultural Forum, which includes the American premiere of his “I can’t breathe,” a dirgelike solo trumpet memorial to Eric Garner.

 

In a joint appearance with his wife, who now goes by Mollena Williams-Haas, late last year at the Playground sexuality conference in Toronto, then in an interview this month in the online music magazine VAN, he has “come out,” as he put it, as the dominant figure in a dominant-submissive power dynamic. Mr. Haas has chosen to speak up, both because Ms. Williams-Haas’s sexual interests are widely known (her blog, The Perverted Negress, is not shy about kink and bondage) and because he hopes to embolden younger people, particularly composers, not to smother untraditional urges, as he did.

 

The fundamental feature of their relationship is not obviously sexual, Mr. Haas and Ms. Williams-Haas, 46, said in an interview at their airy apartment near Columbia, with expansive views of the Hudson River. “It’s not caning,” he said. “It’s the fact that I need someone who is with me when I work.”

 

Their marriage can seem, in this regard, distinctly old-fashioned, and not in a Marquis de Sade way. While the terms they negotiated at the start of their relationship do not prevent her from pursuing her own professional and personal life, Ms. Williams-Haas devotes much of her time to supporting the work of a man — “Herr Meister,” she has nicknamed him — for whom a “good day” is one in which he composes for 14 or 15 hours.

 

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“She makes my life as comfortable as possible,” Mr. Haas said.

 

Ms. Williams-Haas, who described the situation as feminist because it is her choice, said, “I find intense fulfillment in being able to serve in this way.”

 

She conceded the discomfort many may feel with a black woman willingly submitting to a white man. “It’s a struggle to say, ‘This is genuinely who I am,’” she said. But she added, “To say I can’t play my personal psychodrama out just because I’m black, that’s racist.”

 

Mr. Haas said that he felt liberated after what he described as a lifetime’s and three divorces’ worth of suppressing what he once considered “devilish” desires. The change has altered his music in ways both quantifiable and more ineffable. He said that his productivity had roughly doubled since meeting Ms. Williams-Haas, which will delight his fans.

 

And while his work has not lost its moody, queasy darkness, he identifies a new hopefulness in it. His 2015 opera “Morgen und Abend,” for example, ends with a scene of a dead father unable to communicate with his living daughter. “Before I met you,” Mr. Haas said to Ms. Williams-Haas, “this end would be very desperate. Now this end is full of ‘Yeah, we have to die, we have to leave, but the life of love still remains.’” (Michael White, writing in The New York Times, called the opera “a serious and sober, though ultimately radiant, imagining of what it might be like to die and pass into another kind of sentience.”)

 

Mr. Haas contrasted the effect on his style to the struggles of Schubert and Tchaikovsky with homosexuality. “What you perceive is not the fact that they desired men,” he said, “but the sadness about the impossibility to make love a reality. And I think that has been part of my music. The fundamental pessimism. You never will get what you want because it’s not possible to get it. That is how my life has changed so intensely.” ...

"Curious About Bondage? 9 Things You Need To Know Before You Go There"

on Tuesday, 16 February 2016. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Self

By Zahra Barnes

If you immediately think of Christian Grey’s 50 Shades of Grey Red Room when you hear the word “bondage,” there’s some good news: it doesn’t always have to be that intense! (But of course, it can be if you want it to.) Even if you find the idea of the B in BDSM (bondage, dominance and submission, sadomasochism) intriguing, you don’t have to dive in headfirst. Instead, sex experts recommend dipping a toe into the bondage pool before you really give it your all. Here, one shares some insight into how to start exploring the world of bondage.

 

Related: The Best Sex Position For Your Zodiac Sign

 

1. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Embarking upon a new sexual adventure makes talking about what’s going on more important than ever. “Let them know if you’re feeling uncomfortable, and ask how they’re doing periodically,” Jess O’Reilly, Ph.D., Astroglide’s resident sexologist, tells SELF. It might also be a smart idea to come up with a safe word, which is a word or phrase either of you can say when you need a time out from the intensity.

 

2. Don’t get too caught up in copying what you see in the movies.

Or in pornography, or any other staged bondage depictions you may come across. “They may be beautiful, but they represent expert bondage scenes performed under supervision, and the models may have only held that pose for a few seconds,” says O’Reilly. Instead, take it slowly and don’t think you have to experience pain or intense anxiety for it to qualify as bondage.

 

3. Understand the difference between being tied up and tied down.

They may sound interchangeable, but they’re two distinct things. Being tied up means having a body part restricted, like having your wrists tied together, says O’Reilly. On the other hand, you’re tied down when you’re attached to something else, like a chair. Very good to know the difference when you and your partner are talking about your sex fantasies!

 

4. Only restrain one part at a time.

While keeping an open mind during sex can definitely be a good thing, trying too many things at once is an easy way to become overwhelmed. That’s why O’Reilly suggests experimenting by restraining only one part of your body at a time rather than going for the whole shebang. “You don’t need to be tied down spread-eagle to enjoy the erotic appeal of bondage,” says O’Reilly.  ...

"An Interview with Georg Friedrich Haas"

on Friday, 05 February 2016. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Van

BY JEFFREY ARLO BROWN

I studied composition with Georg Friedrich Haas in Basel from 2011-2013, his last years there before his move to New York City, where he teaches at Columbia University. In my Master’s recital, a musician showed late and an instrument I built broke, and I had trouble facing the—very supportive—audience. He managed to make me. Our last lesson, afterwards, was dedicated to subject of personal confidence.

Maybe this talk reflected a change in Haas at the time, too. As his new wife and partner, Mollena Lee Williams-Haas put it in a speech to Playground Sexuality Events, “he is freshly out as a kinky person.” We spoke by phone and email about this change and its effect on his life and music.

VAN: WHEN I EMAILED YOU ABOUT DOING THIS INTERVIEW, YOU RESPONDED THAT YOU WERE A DIFFERENT PERSON FROM THE TEACHER I KNEW IN BASEL. WHAT DID YOU MEAN BY THAT?

 

Georg Friedrich Haas: For decades, I tried to suppress and reject my sexual orientation. I thought of it as immoral. Then I decided to embrace it. I was incredibly lucky to find a partner who is willing to embrace it with me. This weight—I’ve carried it for decades, now suddenly it’s gone. That has caused a very fundamental change in me.

HOW DID YOU MEET MOLLENA?

 

The way things started wasn’t especially romantic. We met online, on OK Cupid—it wasn’t even a special website.

YOU BOTH HAVE DECIDED TO BE VERY PUBLIC ABOUT YOUR SEXUALITY.

 

Yes, she is very open about it, and since I’m her partner, I’m automatically present in public too. This is very much a part of the change in me. I don’t need to be ashamed of my orientation; I don’t mind if it’s discussed in public. But I’d like to go one step further. For four decades, I suppressed something. I had three marriages, all of which were doomed to fail, even though at least some of my ex-wives were fantastic people. My three children have a father whose interests are irreconcilable with normal family life. My life, and the lives of the people close to me, would have been better if I hadn’t suppressed my orientation. Now I’m living my sexuality openly—and an important part of that is, I want to encourage people a few decades younger than me to embrace and accept the way they feel. I don’t want them to try and suppress their feelings for decades like I did.

HOW HAS THIS CHANGE AFFECTED YOUR WORK?

 

I’m able to write more than I ever could before. And when I’m writing, I feel more concentrated, at ease, lighter than I used to. I no longer need composition as a form of psychotherapy. Instead it’s become a spiritual act; in exploring the world of sound, I venture into places...other people look for that feeling in religion. I can focus my entire life on music. My partner is submissive, which means that she makes her own wishes subordinate to mine. And a side effect of this is that I have someone by my side who takes care of all the problems of daily life for me. I’m able to dedicate 100 percent of my time—well, maybe 80 percent—to composing. I spend the the rest of my time on my personal life and on teaching.  ...

"ARE NON-MONOGAMOUS COUPLES HAPPIER?"

on Saturday, 26 December 2015. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Maxim

by Ali Drucker

Bob Dylan had it right when he said "The times they are a changing." While a few decades ago the idea of a polyamorous relationship may have been largely unheard of, more Americans than ever are accepting of the practice (although a majority still oppose it) and psychologists estimate that up to 5% of Americans are in consensual, poly relationships.

 

This is potentially for good reason. A recent study published in The Archives of Sexual Behavior is perhaps providing further proof that less traditional configurations of love and sexuality may have some benefits we hadn't yet considered.

 

The study, which compared "mate retention behaviors" between monogamous and consensually non-monogamous (CNM) couples discovered that when it came to satisfaction with the primary partner, both types of relationships reported equal levels of happiness.

 

But non-monogamous couples did express a notable difference in one key area: communication. According to the study, "...Monogamous participants reported less satisfaction with the amount of communication and openness they had with their partner compared to CNM participants’ reports of their primary partner." Despite the idea of "sharing everything" with your partner, polyamorous couples tend to be more open and sharing than their monogamous counterparts. I guess communication really is that important. ...

"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. ...

"A love note from one slut to another"

on Tuesday, 20 October 2015. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Daily Californian

BY TAYLOR ROMINE

 

When I met Zed, he was wearing a pirate costume, restraining my friend with his faded red rope while slyly smiling at her but also with her. The smiles exchanged were heart warming — playful yet stern.

 

I fell in love with him in a way I like to have sex: fast and hard.

 

I don’t particularly care for relationships. Around the one-year mark, I get bored — bored of knowing that my interactions with my partner are repetitive cycles, that our life mimics what society expects of us and that I can have sex with only one person, of one gender, for the foreseeable future. So after ending my last relationship, I promised myself I wouldn’t repeat this cycle again.

 

I had a couple of partners when I met him, but none of them were serious. Zed was different. At the beginning of our courtship, we discussed what we each would want from a relationship while affirming that we were both polyamorous — in multiple, consensual relationships simultaneously. We had no intention of being emotionally committed, but it quickly happened anyway.

 

When some explain what polyamory is about, they tell those who are unfamiliar with it that it is “legalized cheating.” The issue with this approach is that it situates the negative repercussions of cheating within what could potentially be healthy relationship dynamics. Previous boyfriends have cheated on me, and my issue wasn’t the physical component but that they didn’t communicate their needs with me. Of all those times of lying and sneaking around behind my back, what hurt the most was that none of it was necessary. The pain of betrayal could have been prevented by a conversation.

 

Throughout my dating life, I have always lacked the jealousy that seems to be normal in other monogamous relationships. My previous boyfriends have criticized my lack of attention when others flirted with them, but I didn’t particularly care. As far as I’m concerned, I shouldn’t have to manage my partners’ responsibility to me, and if they are no longer interested, they can leave.

 

One of my favorite parts of being polyamorous is that I don’t participate in that jealousy. Although we are dedicated to each other, we are also very relaxed about our affection toward others. He swipes through Tinder frequently, and I encourage him to openly discuss his experiences. I would rather know specifically what is happening than be in the dark, coming up with imaginary scenarios that never occurred. I have proven to be more lazy than he is, which has resulted in him being more active in his “sluttery,” as he jokingly refers to it. I occasionally contemplate sleeping with others, but ultimately, the search of another partner is too tolling (especially given my desire to hook up with queer folk, which is often trickier than finding heterosexual men). ...

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