As a woman pushing 30, I’ve been called a slut more times than I care to think about.
Most women have. Cruelly by partners. Casually by gossips. Playfully by friends. Randomly by strangers.
I’m not sensitive to many words, but this one has always bothered me, has always lingered in the air a couple extra seconds. Drop the dreaded “C word” on me and I won’t blink, but “slut” — a tidy little package of judgment, shame and manipulation — has always felt unusually heavy.
When SlutWalk Philadelphia debuted in 2011, I didn’t necessarily like the name. It made me, like a lot of people, uncomfortable at first — and it should have. Like the word, the SlutWalk has pretty uncomfortable origins: A protest march that eventually went global, it began in Toronto after a police officer advised women to “avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” Instead, women decided to take a little stroll together in fishnets.
I have no real interest in “reclaiming” the word – you can keep this one, among others. But if it’s going to be used against us, I’m personally in favor of harnessing its power to call noisy, unladylike attention to the idea that what we wear somehow determines that it’s OK to harass us.
“We need to continue to have safe, accessible, and fun spaces to have honest conversations about sexuality,” said Elicia Gonzales, the event’s co-coordinator and Executive Director of GALAEI. “In a society that is plagued by sex-negativity, we wanted this event to bring communities together to have intentional sex-positive conversations.” Gonzales and her co-coordinator, Timaree Schmit, aim to build that type of safe space at the event.
Attendees can expect to hear renowned speakers from across the nation chat about everything from senior citizen sexuality, blowjobs, webcam models, and the “power of bottoming.”
All attendees who want to take part in the event at the William Way Community Center (1315 Spruce Street) must be over the age of 18. Tickets, which are on a sliding scale of $5 to $10, benefit GALAEI and William Way; snacks and beverages will be available.
The holidays are here, which means it’s time for our annual fight over whose family we spend them with. Is there any fair formula to decide?
Chirl, first off, be happy that both of your families want you present, and, more important, that you want to be with them. (I’d rather endure a Gilbert Gottfried show than suffer Arthur’s aunt and her comments about “the gays.”) Easiest plan: Alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas every year (if one of you is Jewish, the other gets Christmas), then spend New Year’s away from both clans. You’ll need a drink by then anyway.
My new guy is awesome in every way—except his taste in music is that of a 12-year-old girl. Can you really date a man who loves Miley Cyrus?
Chirl, unless he’s playing “The Climb” during sex, what’s on his iPod is moot. You can always find friends to go to see Dropkick Murphys with. Finding true love? Not so easy. Invest in good earphones and be thankful his worst trait is that he listens to music from iCarly.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) want to know even more about men who have sex with men. Whether you’re gay, bi or questioning, a new online survey has been launched – the largest of its kind – asking questions that will help researchers seeking new ways to fight HIV, AIDS and other STDs, and to better understand men’s sexual health.
The survey also provides feedback. Once it’s completed, you’ll be able to compare answers with others, and you’ll even receive educational material to help inform you about sexual health – completely anonymously.
Gay and bisexual men account for more than half of all new HIV infections in the U.S. alone, according to the CDC.
“Negative’s relative and critics are minimal,” raps Y-Love – also known at Yitz Jordan – a Hassidic hip-hop artist who taps into a mix of English, Arabic, Hebrew and Latin in his rhymes. The 34-year-old from East Baltimore has enjoyed a unique experience growing up with a Puerto Rican mother and Ethiopian father. He eventually converted to Judaism, a religion that has fueled many of his lyrics for the past few years.
He’s recently released a new single, “Focus on the Flair.” But this week he also has another message for the world: “I’m gay.”
“I’ve never been conflicted about my sexuality,” Jordan tells Out. “Any conflicts that have come up in my life have come up because of other people’s homophobia. I’ve always known when to be in the closet and when not to.”
The musician admits that current events have dictated his decision to come clean about his personal life. “I want mine to be the last generation of LGBT Americans that remembers what a closet is,” he says in a press statement. “I want kids in 20 years to sit annoyed through LGBT history class to learn about that long ago time ‘when gay people used to have to lie,’ much like segregation is a far-off time to many of today’s middle-class black youth.”
Check out his latest video (yep, that’s him in drag):
Deen tells the story of coming out as transgender to his Muslim family (photo by Joseph Moran)
Deen is a Brooklyn-based performance artist who, like Cher or Madonna, is known on a first name basis. These days, audiences can find him in Philly performing in his one-man show Draw the Circle at InterAct Theatre (2030 Sansom St.). What makes his story so unique might have been the part about when he came out to his parents as a lesbian at 19. But the heart of this story explores what it meant later, coming out as a transgender man in a Muslim family.
Tim Miller takes on gay marriage in America (courtesy of InterAct)
In the show – which runs now through April 8, Deen plays a diverse cast of characters – including his mother, father and partner as part of a four-week festival called “Outside the Frame: Voices from the Other America.” Deen’s among several experimental performance artists who explore complex and compelling stories about sex, gender, race and society.
Also included in the festival (which runs through April 22) is Tim Miller, a gay performer whose workshop was recently canceled at Villanova University over concerns that he would conflict with the Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality and gay marriage. He opens his newest play – Lay of the Land – (April 12), a witty look at the “state of the queer union,” which follows his adventures to 45 states and counting.
Miller is also hosting a week-long performance workshop (starting April 9) that will guide participants for several days in using personal memory to create an original piece for the stage.
For more information about the festival, click here.
Saga: The Rock Opera is looking for a few good singers and actors. Written by Philly’s own Erik Ransom, the show is holding auditions at the Plays & Players Theater (4 p.m.) through the weekend in time for the June 27th opening. Please send resumes and headshots to firstname.lastname@example.org in advance.
Cynthia Nixon caused a fire storm recently when she said that for her - being gay is a choice. Since then, many advocates have criticized the Sex and the City actress (she’s currently starring in Wit on Broadway), saying that calling it a choice is dangerous as so many young LGBT people are taking their lives.
We discussed the controversy yesterday in an essay about bisexuality – and why for some people – choosing to be with someone of the same-sex could be a choice. But certainly not for everyone. Just ask your straight friends whether they chose to be heterosexual.
The Talk‘s Sara Gilbert – who’s openly lesbian – shared her two cents, making some thought-provoking points that we, too, can get behind. But what we really want to know is when Vicki Lawrence (that’s Mama from Mama’s Family) kissed a girl and didn’t like it.
Cynthia Nixon (perhaps best known as Miranda from Sex and the City) recently told a reporter for The New York Times that in her experience, being gay is a choice. And that to dismiss the possibility that someone would actually choose to be gay is to somehow pander to all the homophobes out there who think homosexuality isn’t worthy.
Photo by Think Stock
“Why can’t it be a choice? Why is that any less legitimate?” Nixon said in the interview. “It seems we’re just ceding this point to bigots who are demanding it, and I don’t think that they should define the terms of the debate. I also feel like people think I was walking around in a cloud and didn’t realize I was gay, which I find really offensive. I find it offensive to me, but I also find it offensive to all the men I’ve been out with.”
Does she have a point?
Even prior to the modern gay rights movement, researchers like Alfred Kinsey have suggested that there’s a sliding scale when it comes to attraction (and most people fall somewhere in the middle). But for someone like Nixon – who’s publicly dated both men and women – does it make more sense to identify as bisexual rather than gay or lesbian?