Here’s the Deal: People Can Label Themselves However They Want

Alphabet Soup

Last week, The Huffington Post published a commentary by a 19-year-old female, Brie, titled “I’m Demisexual: Here’s What That Means.” In it, the writer describes demisexuality:

“I don’t feel sexually attracted to people in the ‘normal’ way. I’m demisexual (that’s on the asexuality scale), so I honestly can’t feel attraction toward people unless I already love their personalities and minds along with a few other special snowflake qualities.”

Of course, I couldn’t help but notice a good amount of my gay-identifying social media friends sharing the article, mostly poking fun at the author’s “need” to label herself as a sexual orientation that was, in their opinions, “fictitious.” As one person put it, “We’re going to run out of letters of the alphabet to describe people soon. What’s it now? LGBTQD?”

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The Problem With SlutWalk’s New Name

march-to-end-rape-culture-940x540

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.

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SEXx Philly to Demystify The Stigma of Blowjobs, Hookup Culture, More

SexX

Did you know May is National Masturbation Month? Although you won’t find any cards at Hallmark to commemorate the holiday, you can celebrate in a way that won’t leave a mess!

This evening, GALAEI, Sex With Timaree, and the William Way LGBT Community Center present the first annual SEXx Philly Conference from 6PM-9PM. It’s essentially a TEDx-style event that’s meant to break the stigma behind talking about sex in public places.

“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.

For more information, visit the SEXx website.

HEY, CHIRL: Help, I’m Scared of My Boyfriend’s Sex Toys!

HeyChirl.1The 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.

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SURVEY: Sex is the Question

Photo by Think Stock

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.

It’s called Sex is the Question. It’s private. It only takes a few minutes to answer. And it even makes a donation to the It Gets Better campaign.

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.

What are you waiting for?

Click here to take the survey.

Hip-Hop Artist Comes Out

Courtesy of Y-Love

“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):

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Weekend Roundup

Friday, May 4

Equality Forum continues today with the National Legal Panel (4 p.m.) and National Politics Panel (5:30 p.m.) at the National Constitution Center.

Guys Night Out goes on a gallery crawl in Old City (5:30 p.m.). The walking tour sets out from the William Way just in time for First Friday festivities.

Out filmmaker Kelly A. Burkhardt opens “Atomic Age” at Ven & Vaida (6 p.m.). Click here to read our exclusive interview with the artist.

See Tom Jacobson’s play The Twentieth Century Way (7:30 p.m.) at Plays & Players Theatre through the weekend (there’s a matinee Saturday at 2 p.m.).

Tabu hosts a drag show (8 p.m.) for Equality Forum with special guest Osher Sabag, a performer from Israel.

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What We Love: Outside the Frame

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.

Weekend Roundup

Friday, March 23

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 libertineidol@gmail.com in advance.

Sisters is hosting a happy hour vodka tasting with Smirnoff (6 p.m.) and DJ Sandi.

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Gay Choice Debate Heats Up

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.

Check it out:

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