SYFY WIRE: SFSX IS CHANGING SEX WORK REPRESENTATION IN COMICS

The opening pages of SFSX read like a queer, sex-positive dream. The wide range of human sexuality is on display with couplings and groupings that run the gender expression gamut. A neon sign proclaims that you've entered The Dirty Mind. And as the art shows an orgy in motion, a religious organization known as The Party breaks down the doors, wielding batons and shotguns and declaring they're "here to rescue you from yourselves." The event is broken up and as half-naked people are beaten and dragged by their hair, our narrator and her future-husband escape in their underwear, running through the night toward freedom. The juxtaposition of The Party and the sexy overall narration tells readers they're in for an adventure.

From the very first panel, SFSX makes it clear that readers are in for a tale that is both horrifying and horny — and, at every turn, this incredible comic delivers on that promise.

Over the course of the seven-issue arc, we follow the narrator of the opening pages, Avory, as she grapples with her new life after the Party destroyed The Dirty Mind and arrested their leader, Jones. Avory and her husband George have chosen to assimilate, to hide among the buttoned-down and the complacent. Not surprisingly, she finds herself at odds with her old friends who have kept The Dirty Mind alive for the last three years, unbeknownst to The Party. When George is arrested, Avory turns to the Dirty Mind crew for help and though they're reluctant at first, they decide to recover not just George, but Jones, too.

Read the Full Article Here: SFSX IS CHANGING SEX WORK REPRESENTATION IN COMICS by S.E. Fleenor

July 30th, 2020

 


VICE: How to Find a Sex-Positive Therapist

Layla, a 30ish queer sub who enjoys domination by her partners—her name has been changed for her privacy—has been in therapy for about five years. She first sought therapy when she divorced a long-term spouse and began exploring a relationship with a dom. Layla's first therapist assured her that her treatment plan was "kink-friendly"—a designation Layla felt was crucial to her emotional well-being and progress. How that was expressed in practice, though, didn't feel understanding or inclusive of Layla's sexuality at all.

“My partner has been very key to my recovery in that he has been there both emotionally and, when I have needed him to be, in a dominant way," she said. "But I soon realized that if I discussed my kinks or my dom/sub relationship [with my therapist], she was extremely uncomfortable with it—she told me [my dom] was controlling.”

"Once it became clear my kinks in general were an issue, I stopped telling her anything more,” Layla said. “I wasn’t ashamed of being submissive and didn’t want to change. I’m glad that I wasn’t primarily seeing my therapist about sexuality, because the emotional result may have been much more damaging."

The widening cultural acceptance and exploration of different sexual identities, and consequently more clients and their partners needing to address questions in the context of counseling and therapy, has caused an uptick in kink- and non-monogamy-informed therapy. With this expanding market comes mental health clinicians who market their services as sex-positive—some who are qualified, and some who have little experience with kink in terms of their practice, but understand that there’s demand for kink-friendly therapy. Many of the latter variety of therapists are ill-equipped to treat these clients and rarely have the background to address inquiries surrounding kink because of their own clinical understandings of and training around deviance and mental illness, according to Psychology Today. Instead, they benefit from a growing client base —without the perspective necessary to treat them effectively.

Kink sexualities are vast and nuanced, meaning that if a client is seeking care for sexuality or if it comes up as a secondary concern, there are varying levels of kink awareness and treatment. Because kink, particularly, is often based on power dynamics, it’s easy for a clinician to pathologize these behaviors, when, in reality, they are often positive and healthy modes of sexual expression. Even if a client is actively concerned with the impact kink has on the rest of their mental health, consensual kink behavior does not equate to a mental disorder.

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How to Find a Sex-Positive Therapist by Penda N'Diaye

July 22, 2020


AUTOSTRADDLE: Can Queer Businesses Survive COVID-19? Here’s How Some Are Trying

I couldn’t tell what caused my tears first, now turning cold in the salt air. Was it the glare off the Pacific Ocean, one of the few places close to my home that felt both beautiful and accessible during shelter in place? Or the sunscreen sweating into my eyes, after the short hike my housemate and I had just completed? Or was it the news about the permanent closure of The Stud’s location at 399 9th Street in San Francisco. Since March, when shelter in place orders first rolled into effect, through the panic shopping, the masked walks, and the various ways my community was showing up through distance and digital connection, my friends and I had a refrain: When this is over, I can’t wait to go to the Stud. But a game of gay gossip telephone revealed the Stud’s closure, before their official announcement. All this, in the midst of quarantine, trickling into Instagram feeds a little over a month before San Francisco Pride on June 28th. A few days after their official announcement, George Floyd would be killed by a Minneapolis police officer sparking a wave of protest and rebellion in the name of Black life.

While the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic had felt draining for many essential workers (including myself), the scale of the governmental ineptitude in responding to the crisis hadn’t quite registered. The bare minimum in terms of financial protection having been achieved, initiatives to support struggling businesses stopped far short of what was needed. According to Honey Mahogany, a member of The Stud Collective which cooperatively owns the bar, the collective knew the bar would have to move, and began looking for a new space to move into once their year to year lease was up at the end of 2020. Despite finding this new location, coronavirus protection measures meant many gay bars would be closed for their busiest months, which, as Mahogany says, “left a very long time before the end of the year,” putting The Stud in an unsustainable situation. Lex Young, who runs The Stud’s financials, seconded the pain of losing the income of the Summer and Fall months to sheltering in place, noting how, for so many queer people who work in the service industry, “everyone’s busy month where they make all their rent was just coming up.”

The domestic economic crisis sparked by the spread of coronavirus in early 2020 has permanently shaped the lives of queer people, whether or not they own a business. While the Stud’s collectivization didn’t fully protect it from feeling the financial burden of months of lost income, it did at least “disperse the risk” Young says, making the process of moving out of their physical space, fielding media requests, and pivoting towards putting on online shows a much more streamlined process. The Stud’s width of programming comes from its collective members’ passion for developing so much creative work, members like Chloe Miller, who serves as a manager, bartender, organizer of the Stud Pin Archive, and de facto bar historian. Some of this broad programming has shifted to digital platforms, like The Stud Stories podcast, and The Stud’s Drag Alive twitch channel, which livestreams weekly drag shows, raising funds for performers, as well as the collective fund for opening a new physical Stud space. The culture of building power, sharing resources, and shaping the community around a business also drives Bluestockings, located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, which has been collectively owned and operated for over twenty years. For this bookstore and event space, “the community that runs and uses the space is our priority.”

One of their priorities as collective members has been operating the store on “Crip time” the concept coined by disability justice activists that prioritizes people’s need for rest and physical safety. The collective members say that while these foundational ideas of accessibility have “always been built into our work as a collective,” it’s of particularly importance because of the global pandemic. For those volunteers and collective members at Bluestockings, individuals who are sick and disabled could work from home when they needed to, and didn’t jeopardize someone’s health for the sake of having someone in the store. Many businesses have been forced to operate under this accessibility, or risk losing the physical community they’ve built. While this model of shifting toward digital platforms and online livestream events has been occurring since before the coronavirus pandemic began, for Dia Dynasty and Lucy Sweetkill, the co-owners of the private BDSM space La Maison Du Rouge, their weekly Periscope broadcasts have become a staple of their broad community building. Their live streamed events encompass anyone “kink adjacent or sex worker related” including “writers, bloggers, activists, people who are actually of the community in the way of femme dommes, and kink educators.” From recent interviews with Ashleigh Nicole Tribble, also known as Ashleigh Chubby Bunny, who discussed how kink informed her view of the power she held, to a group stream with Troy Orleans, Mistress Marley, and SxNoir about the intersections of sex work and Black liberation activism, La Maison Du Rouge’s weekly livestreams have carried the power and educational potential of the dungeon onto digital platforms. Sweetkill and Dynasty also host interpersonal gatherings, which have been on hold since COVID, and were forced to cancel one of their upcoming kinky clothing swaps, where a portion of all clothing donated goes to street based sex workers. Within sex working community there are individuals who hold more or less privileged positions, yet Sweetkill notes how generally, sex workers often show up in solidarity for other causes, because as criminalized laborers, they understand what it means when “a system does not want you there.”

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Can Queer Businesses Survive COVID-19? Here’s How Some Are Trying by Sloane Holzer

July 21, 2020


PORTLAND MONTHLY: This Meal Delivery Service Provides Healthy Food to Portland’s Sex Workers

We’ve all heard it: “Portland has more strip clubs per capita than any other city in America.” With twice as many strip clubs as public restrooms, the City of Roses boasts everything from intimate rock ’n’ roll to entirely vegan-themed clubs. Despite their widespread popularity and protection under Oregon state law, strippers are often faced with challenges that are anything but sexy. Access to healthy food is one of them.

Restaurants in Portland are legally required to serve food if they serve alcohol, but late-night dining options are limited. Many smaller clubs don’t even have chefs past 8 or 9 pm, and greasy menus make it difficult for strippers to find something other than deep fried drunk food to eat on the job. The fact that very few restaurants are open by the time they get off work, coupled with limited public transit hours, only exacerbates the problem.

Early last year, one woman set out to fix it.

Nikeisah Newton began preparing healthy to-go meals from her kitchen for her own circle of stripper friends. Newton, a chef, started making to-go meals for her former partner, a stripper and full-time student who hardly had time to cook for herself between gigs. Many of Newton’s friends who were DJs, cocktail waitresses, dancers, and bouncers were all in the same boat. Her partner would routinely bring healthy meals with her to the club, and when she was met with interest and positive feedback from others, she couldn’t help but share her realization with Newton: “You know, they would pay you if this was a delivery service,” she said. Flash forward to January 25, 2019, Newton’s first official delivery as Meals 4 Heels, Portland’s first late-night clean meal delivery service tailored to strippers and sex workers.

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This Meal Delivery Service Provides Healthy Food to Portland’s Sex Workers By Lauren Carlos 

Published July 17th, 2020 


THE NEW YORK TIMES: Trump Administration Erases Transgender Civil Rights Protections in Health Care

The Trump administration on Friday finalized a regulation that will erase protections for transgender patients against discrimination by doctors, hospitals and health insurance companies, a move announced on the four-year anniversary of the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando and in the middle of Pride Month.

The rule, which does not differ much from a proposed version released last year, is part of a broad Trump administration effort across multiple areas of policy — including educationhousing, and employment, as well as health care — to narrow the legal definition of sex discrimination so that it does not include protections for transgender people.

The Affordable Care Act, the 2010 law often known as Obamacare, established broad civil rights protections in health care, barring discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in “any health program or activity” that receives federal financial assistance.

 

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Published June 12th, 2020

 


DAZED: ‘No Justice, No Booty’: The Strippers Striking for Racial Equality

It’s a sunny Wednesday afternoon in Portland, and chants of “no justice, no booty” ring out as a group of strippers in patent platform boots march through the city. Holding signs that read, ‘Hire Black strippers, tip Black strippers’, and ‘No reform, no perform’, they’re striking in protest against racial discrimination in Orgeon’s strip clubs.

Organised by activist group, the Haymarket Pole Collective, the demonstration is one of two weekly rallies that have been held since June 19, as part of the PDX Stripper Strike, bringing together dancers, DJs, bartenders, managers, and strip club owners.

“The thing I’ve heard over and over,” Cat Hollis, the group’s leader, tells Dazed, “is that it’s the most fun they’ve ever had at a protest. We usually have a sound system blasting music, and people wearing eight-inch high heels to walk the mile routes.”

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'No Justice, No Booty': The Strippers Striking for Racial Equality by Brit Dawson

Published July 3rd, 2020

 


KINK WEEKLY: Kink in the Time of COVID

I would be hard pressed to find something less sexy than a global pandemic. Between heightened emotions, tremendous fear, heartbreaking tragedy and social isolation, we have been thrown into a world that is not only unfamiliar, but unwelcoming. The very ground that we walk on has collapsed and we are experiencing a version of life that no one could have prepared for. Whether we are single or partnered, this shift has resulted in significant changes to our erotic and sexual lives. Relationships that were once solid are now rocky, sex lives that were once full and exciting are now dull and for many, expression and practice of kink is now stifled.

With dungeons closed, play parties halted and general human to human contact at a minimum, it is increasingly harder for kinky folks to feel connected in a meaningful and fulfilling way. Shifts in the hierarchical structures and foundations of many D/s relationships are leading to an increase in relationship tension and overall emotional and sexual dissatisfaction. What I have witnessed in the last few months both personally and professionally is a shift in all interpersonal relationships but none more powerful than those where kink plays a major role.

While much of what people are feeling can be traced back to the financial, physical, and emotional strain that the lock downs have had on our well being, there is a piece that remains virtually hidden from the typical discourse about life in the time of Covid. The “how are yous” and “how are you holding ups” are usually meant to gauge how an individual is coping and the typical, perhaps unconscious, intent of those questions is to open the door to complain about the stressful state of our current lives. What is missing from so many conversations are the questions about how their relationships are being impacted, particularly those that exist in a hierarchical structure.

 

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Kink in the Time of COVID by Elyssa Rice

Published June 28, 2020


ADVOCATE: Vulnerable LGBTQ+ Sex Workers Targeted Again by Politicians

The modern queer liberation movement began 51 years ago with the Stonewall Riots, where Black and Brown LGBTQ+ consensual sex workers and homeless youth demanded a space to congregate and freely express themselves. Today, the internet is the quintessential refuge for this community to work safely and share vital survival tactics. However, the Senate Judiciary Committee is poised to vote on the EARN IT Act, a death blow to internet privacy, and the end of needed online mediums the most marginalized LGBTQ+ communities rely on to survive. Like its predecessor SESTA/FOSTA, which has already endangered countless consensual LGBTQ+ sex workers, preventing the passage of the EARN IT Act is a matter of life or death for our community.

Well-connected advocates claim the “Eliminating Abuse and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technology Act” will combat online child exploitation. In reality, it gives Attorney General William Barr and his office carte blanche authority to establish coercive guidelines that will force online platforms to moderate and censor content. Further, Barr wants to use EARN IT to coerce platforms to create backdoors for law enforcement to access encrypted data. This will destroy any sense of privacy that marginalized communities have to live free of intrusion from law enforcement. If online platforms do not follow Barr’s guidelines, they could lose their liability protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which would make them susceptible to lawsuits. To avoid liability, many platforms will simply ban all sex-related content and communications.

LGBTQ+ sex workers create online networks to keep fellow community members safe, minimize harms, and fight exploitation. I know, because I was a young queer sex worker before becoming an attorney, and I now work alongside many sex workers on advocacy efforts. EARN IT, like SESTA, which many lawmakers now regret, is one of the most pernicious attacks on the community I’ve seen, and passing this law would be an abrogation of allyship with queer people for any lawmaker that supports this bill. LGBTQ+ young people are up to eight times more likely than their peers to trade sex for survival for a multitude of reasons, including employment discrimination, housing instability, for sexual liberation, and the many existing biases transgender community members encounter. Thus, being pro-LGBTQ+ requires recognizing the humanity and needs of queer and trans sex workers. This is a priority for countless queer advocacy groups, including the Human Rights Campaign and the ACLU. Simply put, elected officials cannot be both pro-LGBTQ+ and pro-EARN IT.

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Vulnerable LGBTQ+ Sex Workers Targeted Again by Politicians by Jared Trujillio

Published July 1, 2020


BITCH MEDIA: Love No Limit, Masturbation Opens Women up to Power, Play, and Pleasure

Pleasure is a human right; sexual pleasure is natural, not nasty; and self-pleasure (through masturbation) is a radical act, especially for women. Because I so deeply believe in these ideals, I spend as much time as I can advocating for women to experience the kinds of pleasure they deserve. Too often, women are fed scripts that tell them orgasms are some kind of arbitrary thrill that must be delivered by someone else. Rarely are women told that orgasms can be like happy pills—releasing endorphins into the brain that can better our mood—or can help our bodies relax enough to fall asleep. Self-pleasure can help relieve stress, and it can create pathways toward other kinds of pleasure. And since it’s National Masturbation Month, I decided to speak with one of my favorite sexuality educators, Goody Howard of Ask Goody, about why masturbation is so important—whether solo or coupled—and what the best tools are for the trade.

“My favorite benefit of masturbation is that it helps connect us to our pleasure,” says Howard, who has been teaching sex education and sexual health and helping women learn how to cum for more than 12 years. “When you know what feels good to you and communicate it to your partner, it makes you a better lover and makes the sex you have with others even more satisfying.” Self-pleasure is radical for women because, as Goody mentioned, it helps us understand how our own bodies work and what makes them feel their sexual best. The more we know about what brings our bodies pleasure, the more we’re able to center our pleasure when we share our bodies with others. It puts us in the driver’s seat. It teaches us that our pleasure deserves priority.

Get Started with Solo Play

In Howard’s view, it’s never too late to begin practicing masturbation. “The best way to ease into solo play is to indulge in something arousing (a book, song, memory, or good ole porn), put some lube on your hands and vulva, and explore,” she says. My own suggestion to beginners is to get more comfortable with their bodies. Sometimes the greatest masturbation sessions begin with self-touch and mirror time—concentrating not only on the parts of your body that tingle from touch, but also on the parts that make you feel beautiful and sexy. Not only can this kind of play lead us toward pleasure and orgasm, but it can also remind us that our bodies, no matter how they are formed, are beautiful and worthy of passion and praise.

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Love No Limit, Masturbation Opens Women up to Power, Play, and Pleasure by Josie Pickens

May 28, 2020


EBONY: [TALK LIKE SEX] Race Play Ain't for Everyone

Within the “kink” community, there are subgroups catering to specific interests and fetishes. Within these safe spaces, people can comfortably express their alternative desires among like-minded people who won’t dismiss them as weirdos. While some might seem extreme, they’re mostly innocent and harm no one. Still, some fetishes garner more controversial attention, and “race play” is definitely one of them.

Mollena Williams, an internationally known and respected writer, lecturer and authority on race play, defines it as “a form of consensual, sexual role-playing in which the actual, perceived or assumed racial/ethnic/national identities of the participants are specifically the focus of the scene.” She adds that race play “can include the fetishization of a specific racial feature (skin color, hair texture, facial features).”

Within the adult entertainment industry, there’s a high demand for movies and images depicting various forms of interracial coupling. A quick Google search for “interracial sex” yields tens of thousands of links to websites and movie clips catering to this fetish. Some scenes include White female starlets unapologetically use the “N-word” with Black male partners, who respond favorably and often with more vigor. Cuckold scenes often involves a White man whose White wife has sex with a Black man in front of him, to his apparent “shame.” There are even scenes with White men wearing confederate flag attire having sex with Black women.

 

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Race Play Ain't for Everyone by Feminista Jones

July 23, 2013