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Action Alert: Leather & Grace Calls for Emails to Unitarian Universalist Leadership

on Thursday, 27 December 2012. Hits 898

Include Kink in Nondiscrimination and Diversity Education

Reposted for NCSF Coalition Partner Leather & Grace:
The Board of Trustees is the top governance body of the Unitarian Universalist Association, overseeing administrative operations, and setting policy in between General Assemblies.
Leather & Grace, an education and advocacy organization for UU kinksters, and a Coalition Partner of NCSF, is asking members and supporters to email UUA Trustees to include kink-oriented people under the Association's non-discrimination policies, and to urge UUA staff to begin wider education efforts on BDSM and other forms of alternative sexual expression.
Some key points to include:
  • Unitarian Universalism has been at the forefront of defending justice and equity for sexual minorities; the UUA first endorsed GLBTQ equality in 1970, developed groundbreaking curricula on sexuality education and diversity awareness, included a nondiscrimination clause for HIV-positive people in its employee manual as early as 1986, and has been at the forefront of the movement for marriage equality. Unitarian Universalist principles affirming the inherent worth and dignity of all people demands nothing less.
  • Despite this history, a number of UU kinksters have faced discrimination which has denied them equal treatment within their congregations, even forcing some to choose leaving.
  • Many ministers, seminarians and religious educators have stated they feel they have no guidance on how to deal with the subject of BDSM/kink/fetish sexuality, especially with the increased media attention given to this issue.
  • Some UUA employees have confided that they do not believe current policies protect them from discrimination or harassment; it was even reported that some UUA staffers were witnessed making disparaging remarks about the Leather contingent at Boston Pride marches.
  • We understand that implementing the educational element of this proposal will take time and effort. Leather & Grace stands ready to provide resources to assist with this.
To make it easy for you, we've included the email addresses for UUA Trustees and key staff in condensed format – just copy and paste where you'd put the recipient's address.
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To contact Leather & Grace, our email address is This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; our website is http://leatherandgrace.wordpress.com

"Op-Ed: Kink as the Next LGBT Rights Frontier"

on Thursday, 20 December 2012. Hits 1071

Why handcuffs and submission may lead to even more LGBT liberation

The Advocate

The people have spoken: gay is OK. The recent election gave us political and legislative victories for the LGBT community, including same-sex marriage in three states and Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay U.S. Senator. On television we have sitcoms like Modern Family, and The New Normal, which portray gays and lesbians as good friends, neighbors, and parents. Finally, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo emerged as leading advocates for same-sex marriage and shedding the homophobic image associated with professional sports.

Now, there is only one thing left to do: get kinky. Incorporating kink into the LGBT movement--and here I mean bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism (BDSM), as well as the alternative sexualities community like the polyamorous--begins to include all of those struggling for sexual freedom. And, a kinky LGBT movement allows us to think about additional groups to include and form a coalition in the fight for causes that affect a larger collective.

A kinky LGBT movement would mean a long overdue return to the Stonewall Riot-era advocacy in which community identity celebrated difference. Like many identity-based social movements, incremental change was necessary for laying the groundwork of acceptance by the broader public. As protestors became lobbyists, the face of the LGBT movement became male, white, privileged, and arguing for traditional marriage. Radical transformation became assimilation into mainstream society and its institutions.

The strategy is working but the concessions made are at the expense of many. In theory, anyone in the community should reap the benefits for any LGBT rights victory. However, sexual and gender minorities of color continue to suffer a unique sort of discrimination and victimization, perhaps due to the image of what it means to be gay, that has emerged. Integrating kink into the LGBT movement may reignite a more inclusive agenda by recognizing the highly varied sexual and gender diversity within the greater community.

Challenging the status quo through non-normality is not new for many queer radical advocates. The deviance of kinkiness creates an opportunity for several marginal groups to align and frame causes with larger appeal, such as “civil rights.” For example, University of Chicago Professor, Cathy J. Cohen, believes that queer politics offers an opportunity to examine power and not exclusively based on heteronormativity and consider the possibility of “progressive transformative coalition work”. Kink, unlike queer, challenges more axes of oppression, allowing the LGBT community, specifically, and other groups (e.g., race, class, and gender), more broadly, to question their marginalization. In other words, non-normativity unveils the universality and commonalty of grievances and aspirations for social change, and in this case, BDSM and alternative sexualities touch on larger frames, including equality, privacy, and intimate association.

Attempts to move the LGBT agenda down an expansive road is not without risks. Claims of equality are universal in many respects, but I fear that BDSM and LGBT would be simultaneously everywhere and nowhere; we must preserve fundamental values, histories, and identities that defined and connected these communities in the first place. A far-reaching agenda may also obscure the causes that are unique to particular groups.  BDSM is pathologized in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and criminalized under assault and battery law, whereas homosexuality is not. And yet, a heterosexual BDSM practitioner can marry and adopt children, whereas gay and lesbians in many states cannot.

Finally, bringing kink to the fore provides greater potential to challenge the institutions that normalize inequality and structure society. This theoretical rumination and political strategy forces us to question why social structures developed the way they did and whether they need to persist. The LGBT movement has played it smart by highlighting its similarities to the heteronormative majority. We can all agree that the defining marriage as a union between man and a woman, or defining family as two parents of different genders, are merely social constructions meant to preserve status quo and those in power. As I see it, current progress, while noteworthy, is not enough. To be content with the current state of affairs would be satisfaction with immobility in sheep’s clothing.

Bottom line, it may be bondage that is liberatory.


JILL D. WEINBERG is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at Northwestern University, a research associate at the American Bar Foundation, and an instructor in the master's of sports administration graduate program at Northwestern University. She is an associate editor of Law and Social Inquiry.

NCSF Action Alert – The Advocate

on Thursday, 20 December 2012. Hits 2342

 

Please contact The Advocate and protest their removal of their Op-Ed by Jill D. Weinberg entitled “Kink as The Next LGBT Rights Frontier: Why handcuffs and submission may lead to even more LGBT liberation” posted on December 17, 2012.

The comments were very negative against kinky people and demanded The Advocate remove the Op-Ed because it was harming the LGBT movement. The Op-Ed was up for less than 12 hours before The Advocate removed it from their website.

Please contact The Advocate and respectfully tell them that their silencing of this important issue leads to more persecution and discrimination against kinky people. Tell them you want to see more coverage of kink issues in The Advocate. And tell them that 1 in 3 people who identify as kinky are persecuted because of it, and the question of “Kink Rights” as the next frontier should be taken seriously.

Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Online: http://www.advocate.com/contact (The Advocate website is refusing links from the NCSF website, so please use the email address above.)

To see the Op-Ed, you can go to the NCSF blog: https://ncsfreedom.org/?option=com_zoo&task=item&item_id=658

or to the Google cache:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2012/12/17/op-ed-kink-next-lgbt-rights-frontier

"James Franco New Movie: 'Interior. Leather Bar' To Premiere At Sundance In January (VIDEO)"

on Wednesday, 19 December 2012. Hits 603

Huffington Post

What has James Franco been up to lately, you ask? The 34-year-old actor is set to publish a poetry book in 2014, but we're more interested in a recent collaboration with San Francisco filmmaker Travis Mathews.

Their film, "Interior. Leather Bar," will premiere at Sundance New Frontiers program in January. Originally titled, "James Franco's 40 Minutes," the "homo-sex-art-film" is an homage to William Friedkin's 1980 thriller, "Cruising," starring a young Al Pacino. Forty minutes were cut from Friedkin's racy film, but the results still prompted censor Richard Heffner to reportedly proclaim, "There are not enough Xs in the alphabet" to rate it, the filmmaker once told the Guardian.

Watch the trailer below, and let us know what you think of the project in the comments section:

James Franco New Film Interior Leather Bar

The Rev Mel Show: Interview with Susan Wright

on Monday, 17 December 2012. Hits 536

"Op-ed: Kink as The Next LGBT Rights Frontier"

on Monday, 17 December 2012. Hits 3315

Why handcuffs and submission may lead to even more LGBT liberation.

The Advocate

The people have spoken: gay is OK. The recent election gave us political and legislative victories for the LGBT community, including same-sex marriage in three states and Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay U.S. Senator. On television we have sitcoms like Modern Family, and The New Normal, which portray gays and lesbians as good friends, neighbors, and parents. Finally, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo emerged as leading advocates for same-sex marriage and shedding the homophobic image associated with professional sports.


Now, there is only one thing left to do: get kinky. Incorporating kink into the LGBT movement--and here I mean bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism (BDSM), as well as the alternative sexualities community like the polyamorous--begins to include all of those struggling for sexual freedom. And, a kinky LGBT movement allows us to think about additional groups to include and form a coalition in the fight for causes that affect a larger collective.

A kinky LGBT movement would mean a long overdue return to the Stonewall Riot-era advocacy in which community identity celebrated difference. Like many identity-based social movements, incremental change was necessary for laying the groundwork of acceptance by the broader public. As protestors became lobbyists, the face of the LGBT movement became male, white, privileged, and arguing for traditional marriage. Radical transformation became assimilation into mainstream society and its institutions.

The strategy is working but the concessions made are at the expense of many. In theory, anyone in the community should reap the benefits for any LGBT rights victory. However, sexual and gender minorities of color continue to suffer a unique sort of discrimination and victimization, perhaps due to the image of what it means to be gay, that has emerged. Integrating kink into the LGBT movement may reignite a more inclusive agenda by recognizing the highly varied sexual and gender diversity within the greater community.

Challenging the status quo through non-normality is not new for many queer radical advocates. The deviance of kinkiness creates an opportunity for several marginal groups to align and frame causes with larger appeal, such as “civil rights.” For example, University of Chicago Professor, Cathy J. Cohen, believes that queer politics offers an opportunity to examine power and not exclusively based on heteronormativity and consider the possibility of “progressive transformative coalition work”. Kink, unlike queer, challenges more axes of oppression, allowing the LGBT community, specifically, and other groups (e.g., race, class, and gender), more broadly, to question their marginalization. In other words, non-normativity unveils the universality and commonalty of grievances and aspirations for social change, and in this case, BDSM and alternative sexualities touch on larger frames, including equality, privacy, and intimate association.

Attempts to move the LGBT agenda down an expansive road is not without risks. Claims of equality are universal in many respects, but I fear that BDSM and LGBT would be simultaneously everywhere and nowhere; we must preserve fundamental values, histories, and identities that defined and connected these communities in the first place. A far-reaching agenda may also obscure the causes that are unique to particular groups.  BDSM is pathologized in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and criminalized under assault and battery law, whereas homosexuality is not. And yet, a heterosexual BDSM practitioner can marry and adopt children, whereas gay and lesbians in many states cannot.

Finally, bringing kink to the fore provides greater potential to challenge the institutions that normalize inequality and structure society. This theoretical rumination and political strategy forces us to question why social structures developed the way they did and whether they need to persist. The LGBT movement has played it smart by highlighting its similarities to the heteronormative majority. We can all agree that the defining marriage as a union between man and a woman, or defining family as two parents of different genders, are merely social constructions meant to preserve status quo and those in power. As I see it, current progress, while noteworthy, is not enough. To be content with the current state of affairs would be satisfaction with immobility in sheep’s clothing.

Bottom line, it may be bondage that is liberatory.

UPDATE: The comments were very negative toward this Op-Ed and the concept that kinky people might need help because they're being persecuted. Several called for the Op-Ed to be removed because it reflected badly on the LGBT movement.

NCSF was raising awareness about this Op-Ed on our Facebook page, and a handful of kink activists began making comments along with NCSF staff. The Op-Ed was deleted from The Advocate along with the comments approximately 12 hours after it was posted.

The entire text of the Op-Ed is above, and you can see it on the Google Cache: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2012/12/17/op-ed-kink-next-lgbt-rights-frontier

Guest Blog: “BDSM Contracts: When the Law Doesn’t Protect You, Protect Yourself”

on Saturday, 15 December 2012. Hits 1789

By Tiffany D. Jones, M.A.

In BDSM, a slave/master contract is an important element to ensure that parties know and understand their respective rights and responsibilities within the context of their consensual relationship. Further, as experienced practitioners of BDSM well know, the drafting, negotiation, execution, and enforcement of such contracts is part of the fun and fantasy of BDSM.

However, BDSM practitioners should not forget that the legal system will not enforce slave/master type contracts no matter how well and emphatic they are written. Worse yet, some players will inevitably want to attempt to manipulate for their own purposes the language of such slave/master contracts. Thus, it is important for BDSM practitioners to take steps to keep their slave/master contracts confidential and to prevent even those who one day might sign such contracts in earnest, from turning on their play partners when their relationship may no longer be as trusting. Participants who enter into a BDSM contract should only do so if they have the intention of honoring the agreement. However, in the BDSM world as in the real world, things change, feelings change, desires change, circumstances occur, etc.

Moreover, when things are in writing, there are inherent risks that the document, rather than benefit parties, could be used to harm one or more of the individuals in terms of custody, divorce, employment, criminal and civil disputes. Regardless of the motivation for drafting and signing a BDSM contact, think in terms of potential forthcoming problems and as well as unforeseen, individual protection.

Cultural anthropologists can provide insight into protecting identities of subjects. Those involved in BDSM can learn techniques utilized by anthropologists to provide protection and anonymity for themselves. On the one hand, think in terms of ‘protection from others’. What if a child, neighbor or relative has discovered your BDSM contract? What if one party dies? Or what if a family member was searching for evidence to use for a custody dispute?

One way to protect both parties is similar to the protection techniques utilized by anthropologists. Code your contract using code words and lock the code key in a different location. For example, if Zeb signed and dated a contract pertaining to ownership, punishment, servitude etc., those parties’ drafting the contract may use “Green” for Zeb, “moon” for ownership, “banana” for punishment etc. In the event, the signing parties forget the code, they simply find the code key locked away. Any person not a party to the contract would face a challenge proving or decoding its content.

On the other hand, consider the need to protect ourselves from each other. Without being paranoid, and in an attempt to prepare for the worst, consider the issue in terms of assets, children, or other investments. If you have anything to loose, and we all do, consider adding a disclaimer to your contract. Whether you are Leopold van Sacher Masoch or John Doe, a disclaimer on the contract can specify that the contract is null and void by either party at any time, or that the contact is non-binding and up for reconsideration, or that what is stated above is agreed upon by both parties but is for entertainment purposes only and not to be used for legal purposes.

Slave and BDSM contracts are as old as masochism and sadism itself. As risk aware consensual kinksters, we must draft and sign contracts with consideration. Those who enter into contractual relationships must consider the risk of others discovering our rules, and the potential of our partner using our own words against us.

Tiffany Jones, M.A. is a registered psychotherapist and has been a sex and relationship coach for the last 11 years. She started Denver Sexology LLC in 2005 to help individuals and couples who are struggling with intimacy issues and seek to improve their sexual satisfaction. She is a kink friendly professional.

 

"BDSM Comes to Harvard"

on Tuesday, 11 December 2012. Hits 927

Where Ivy League kink comes from.

Newsweek

Last week, national media outlets were titillated by the news that Harvard University had formally recognized a ­student-run BDSM group (short for bondage, domination, and sado­maso­chism). The idea of buttoned-up Crimson coeds discussing their fondness for fetish challenged the conventional image of the Ivy League university, home to the best, the brightest—and now, the kinkiest.

Joining the Composers Association, the Mathematica Club, and about 400 other student organizations, the Harvard Munch will now get money to host gatherings and guest speakers. While conservative pundits on Fox roasted the school for giving money to this “marginal” group, the larger BDSM world welcomed the news. “Within the next decade, I think we’ll see a huge number of colleges and universities providing safe spaces for their students to explore alternative sexuality, just as they have done for LGBT groups,” said Mollena Williams, an educator in the kink community.

50 Shades of Crimson

Harvard is hardly the first university to have sanctioned such a group. Columbia University’s Conversio Virium (that’s Latin for “exchange of forces”) became the first university-recognized sado­maso­chism club in the country in 1992. Iowa State University has its long-running, student-funded bondage club, Cuffs; Vassar College has the Sex Avengers, which holds an annual “Masturbate-a-thon”; and the University of Chicago has RACK (Risk-Aware Consensual Kink).

“Munch” isn’t as much of a non sequitur in this list as it sounds. The term goes back to the 1980s, when a small group of bondage enthusiasts began meeting at a restaurant in Palo Alto to casually discuss spanking, flogging, and the like. Despite the connotations it might have, the term “munch” in this context is simply an amalgamation of “lunch” and “meeting.”

Munching isn’t exclusive to cities and college campuses either. One of the ­longest-running munches is based in Louisville, Ky. Many members of the Harvard Munch were introduced to the BDSM community through the Cambridgeside Galleria Munch, according to a former member. Anschel ­Schaffer-­Cohen, a founder of Tufts Kink, encourages members to check out Cambridgeside’s Munch. “It’s the textbook introduction to the community,” he said. “I went to munches and made friends. It’s a safe venue to meet people with similar interests.”

And anyone concerned that the munch is a sign of rampant campus promiscuity can rest easy. In an informal video survey by The Harvard Crimson asking students whether they would rather join Munch or the pro-abstinence Harvard College Anscombe Society, support was surprisingly evenly split between the two.

Latest Reader Comments

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