The 411: Founded in 1997 and made up of more than 50 businesses, groups, individuals and more, The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom has been the go-to supporter for people who participate in consensual alternative sexual behaviors.
Have you ever been afraid your boss will fire you if he or she found out you like BDSM?
What about your family? Have you been worried they will shun you if they discovered that you and your partner are swingers?
Discrimination and concerns like these are just some of the reasons the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) was formed.
Founded by Susan Wright, the NCSF brings together kink and non-monogamy educational groups, therapists, domestic violence centers and other professionals to stand up for the legal rights and privacy of people who take part in these types of activities.
“Our goal is to fight discrimination against people who are kinky or non-monogamist,” she said.
We spoke with Wright to discuss the organization’s most impactful services, how people can overcome prejudices in their lives and the team’s plan to get all of America, and even the world, involved in the discussion.
Your rights. Your privacy. Your freedom.
The NCSF may be a small nonprofit, but they’re still able to create some incredibly impressive initiatives that make a real difference.
Their one of a kind media outreach program works directly with newspapers, TV stations, online outlets and more to get accurate information out there about alternative sexuality, especially when it comes to consent.
“Consent is at the heart of what we do, and you have to make sure that you have consent ahead of time. In this day and age, people look at sex as you make the move and see if you get a no,” she said. “With kink, you can’t do that. You actually have to verbalize what you want first and then be able to speak it and map out the game you’re going to play before you start playing it.” ...
The Tom of Finland Foundation has collaborated with artists and designers to satisfy a new generation of collectors.
From Michelangelo to Rauschenberg, gay artists can be found at any major museum. Meanwhile, Tom of Finland’s “dirty drawings” of bulging bikers, lumberjacks, and leathermen seemed forever confined to the back rooms of gay bars — not the hallowed halls of white-walled galleries. But a new window display at Colette Gallery on one of Paris’s most fashionable streets is aiming to elevate the work from hardcore to haute. The new exhibition of Henzel Studio’s luxury handmade rugs — which will also feature designs by Nan Goldin and Richard Prince — is the result of the tireless efforts of the Tom of Finland Foundation to promote the artist’s legacy.
But the trend doesn’t stop with pricey tapestries. With gallery exhibitions, linens, a line of athletic apparel, and a new biopic about the artist in the works, we’re experiencing a full-blown Tom of Finland renaissance.
“We just received a beautiful letter from a 21-year-old Polish guy telling us how he discovered Tom in the last year, and how good it makes him feel,” says Durk Dehner, president of the Tom of Finland Foundation. “And we could have gotten that letter in 1976 or 2006. It’s what made me work with Tom to start this: listening to young guys who said his work gave them a positive identity — that they weren’t the only gays in the village.”
Dehner always knew the work of Tom of Finland (a.k.a. Touko Laaksonen) was special. Inspired by one of the artist’s erotic drawings he saw at the Spike, a New York City fetish bar, in the ’70s, he wrote Tom a fan letter. They became friends, and Dehner helped create the foundation in 1984 in his Los Angeles home, where Tom lived for his last decade. Originally intended to preserve the work of the artist, who died in 1991 at the age of 71, the organization soon expanded to “offer a safe haven for all erotic art in response to rampant discrimination against art that portrayed sexual behavior or generated a sexual response.”
With the motto “Let’s keep it fun,” Dehner threw parties in the ’80s and ’90s to celebrate Tom’s images, but interest began to wane. Then, in 2006, the Judith Rothschild Foundation donated five works to New York’s Museum of Modern Art. “Tom of Finland is one of the five most influential artists of the 20th century,” Harvey S. Shipley Miller, a Rothschild Foundation trustee, said at the time. “As an artist, he was superb. As an influence, he was transcendent.” ...
The Metro Council on Tuesday gave final approval for a zone change that will block a swingers club from relocating to Madison.
The council voted unanimously — without discussion — to disallow private clubs from land zoned for office uses. It's a direct aim at The Social Club, which has sought to move to 520 Lentz Drive in Madison from its location on Division Street.
The final vote on third reading Tuesday came after dozens of opponents had flooded the council chambers two weeks ago to rally against a club they say wouldn't project a positive image of the community.
The club's attorney, Larry Roberts, has threatened a lawsuit against Metro if the city were to block the club's move via zoning.
Meanwhile, state lawmakers have been advancing a separate proposal to restrict private clubs because of the dispute in Madison. Identical bills passed in committees in the Tennessee House and Senate on Tuesday. The state approach would keep private clubs at least 1,000 feet from schools, churches and parks. ...
A sign on the front door warns: “Must be 21 to Enter.” It doesn’t portend a traditional shopping experience.
Yes, the Leather Man carries an array of intimate adult devices and ephemera, and is not for the uptight. But it is far from being just a gay “sex shop,” which many passers-by assume.
In April, the Christopher Street store will celebrate its 50th anniversary, a remarkable achievement for an independent mom-and-pop (or in this case, pop-and-pop) in the gentrified West Village.
But the half-century milestone, and the store itself, encompass much more. The Leather Man, which predates the 1969 Stonewall riots, traces the evolution of modern gay culture, from substrata of society to mainstream.
Among the leather items the store makes and sells are button-down uniform shirts, chaps, jock straps, teddy bears, whips, belts and traditional motorcycle gear like “The Wild One” jackets and boots. The dressing rooms even have black leather curtains.
The shop is renowned for its tailored-to-fit pants, nonpareil in their construction and authenticity, and staff craftsmen will customize virtually anything. Love a harness but want the studs silver instead of black? No problem.
The Leather Man is now in its most bustling season. It is the go-to outfitter for participants in the annual bacchanalian dance event known as the Black Party: Imagine Pan and Caligula producing a rave for gay men. It will take place this weekend in a Brooklyn warehouse, and a lot of harnesses will be involved.
“It’s like our Christmas,” said the manager Max Gregory, who has been with the store since 1995.
The level of customer service at the Leather Man is akin to a department store in a 1930s Hollywood film, albeit kinkier. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly no matter how personal or extreme a patron’s inquiries.
“That’s what’s enabled us to stick around for 50 years,” Mr. Gregory said. “During the last decade, with the rise of online stores, the market has been flooded with cheap fetish stuff. The quality of the leather and the customer service people come here and get exactly what they want.”
That clientele is singular. “There are different types of customers,” said AJ Afano, a designer and salesman at the shop. “From Metallica listeners, to your basic sirs and boys who are part of the leather scene, to people who just want a nice leash for their Chihuahua.” Apart from the fetish community and leather dilettantes, the store also caters to a sizable swath of fashion insiders.
“They make jackets and pants built to last,” said the fashion consultant Nick Wooster. “There is nothing disposable or trend driven about them. It’s leather and can last forever, and it came out of uniform culture, which factored prominently in the gay archetype. But it’s a fashion inspiration today for all men’s wear designers and buyers.” ...
A case study in polyamorous relationships in the capital city
BY COLIN HANNER
A couple sits at a high-top table near a bar at the Courtyard Marriott hotel on the west side of Columbus. I met Andy the previous day, and he introduces me to his wife, Megan. They’ve known each other 15 years, have been married for 10 years, and love their child. They’re laughing, talking, and ripping labels off seasonal beer bottles.
A family sits one table over, engrossed in their phones and tablets. They don’t say much, occasionally looking over their shoulders at people passing the lobby. There’s a heated pool nearby, and kids scurry through the main hall with goggles around their heads and floaters on their arms, their parents trailing behind.
Andy is a nurse in the military, and this past year he was deployed for a few months. Unlike many servicemen, he didn’t have to leave his wife and kid alone while he was away. Instead, he was able to rely on one of his buddies to keep watch over his family.
“I had a partner who was already there to look out for their interest in my absence, and that provides me with a great deal of comfort,” Andy says, sighing while expressing his gratitude. “It’s tough to go somewhere for four months of your life and leave behind your responsibilities.”
His stand-in caretaker’s name is Connor, and he sits next to Andy and Megan at the high-top, chiseling at the remnants of a beer label with his fingernails. He’s married to a woman named Rachel, and they are awaiting the birth of their second child.
Connor is also Megan’s boyfriend.
The family at the adjacent table glances over every now and then, picking up tidbits of our conversation and looking at one another with bug-eyed incredulity.
The three of them are polyamorous. Poly, as it’s commonly known, is the practice of being romantically involved in an open fashion with more than one person at the same time. Some may pose the question: isn’t this just swinging? Both poly and swinging are under the non-monogamous umbrella, however, swinging may only involve sharing partners sexually and nothing more, while poly often has the potential to become binding and long-lasting. But if someone participates in “poly for play,” which emphasizes sex, or identifies as “swolly,” both swinger and polyamorous, the lines become blurred. The distinction is ultimately up to the individual.
There are so many configurations within the lifestyle that some proponents label it “poly geometry.” For example, a man is married to his wife. He might have a partner, his wife may also have a partner, and their partners may have husbands and wives, as well as other partners. At every intersecting relationship, there are interchangeable possibilities.
Maybe the man has several partners. Maybe he has none. Maybe the woman has a partner who has several lovers, who in turn have wives and husbands. Maybe a man or a woman doesn’t have relationships, labels, or levels, but identifies as poly (poly anarchist). There are those who may place certain partners in a hierarchy and then divide emotional investment into corresponding relationships. Others don’t do any of those things; take what you know about relationships and throw it in a blender. It’s a lovers’ Rubik’s cube, the shifting parts interlocked yet ever-changing, except there’s no predefined perfect combination. And it’s not devoid of specific morality; for some people, The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Adventures is the Bible of non-traditional relationships. ...
Remember witnessing #thatawkwardmoment on Girls when Allison Williams' butt was motor-boated? Or what about watching Christian Grey tease Ana Steele with a flogger for the first time? There’s no denying it: We're seeing more adventurous sex acts in pop culture...and some of them may leave you wondering if you should give them a try.
If you're looking for a little nudge of encouragement, know this: Getting your freak on might help rev up the passion between you and your partner, says Jane Greer, Ph.D., a New York-based marriage and sex therapist and author of What about me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship.
Find out whether these moves are for you—and how to give them a try:
As seen on TV: This is oral stimulation of the anus, á la Marnie Michaels in Girls.
Should you try it? This wild move is good for women and men who already love receiving oral stimulation and don't mind or are curious about booty action, says Jenni Skyler, Ph.D., of The Intimacy Institute in Boulder, Colorado. The anus has a high concentration of nerve endings, so it can be a huge erogenous zone for some, says Greer.
Give it a go: Have your partner gently rub your anus with his fingers while he's going down on you, says Skyler. Then, when you give him the green light, he can start using his tongue around the anus or even in it—if you want, of course. Make sure you give him direction on how much pressure you like and how fast you want him to go, says Skyler. “Communication is key with all of these practices,” she says.
As seen on screen: The first time Christian and Ana in Fifty Shades of Grey get busy with a flogger (those whip-like things with tassels hanging from them), it's super sexy and gentle. But you know at some point it's going to get really rough—exciting, right?
Should you try it? If watching Christian and Ana go at it in the Red Room turned you on—rather than frightened you—you might like to give flogging a shot, says Skyler. In order for you to really nail this, though, you need to make sure your partner's completely on-board. "One thing that the movie does not do a good job of demonstrating is complete consent," she says. If either one of you thinks you might not like this, back away from the flogger. ...