Category Archives: community

Radical Sex Communities As Cult Institutions

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When it comes to sex and sexuality, the word ‘community’ is very popular. For example, I considered myself a part of the BDSM community for a very long time because it provided a place, structure, and group of people with whom I could seek revelatory experiences with sex. Over time I’ve come to question the word ‘community’ and how it’s used. It’s often disputed in an all or nothing way which I think fails to capture the situation. Human behavior is not black and white. It never has been, it never will be. There are a confluence of factors that go into the way that people lead their lives and it is not my place to say that someone will or will not experience a sense of community, nor can I speak to the impetus that brought them there. Some people will come and go, others will come and go and come back again.

I’ve been doing an extensive study of religion lately and a lot of it has been very illuminating for the structure of sex communities. Sex is a state of altered consciousness and as such, it has a lot in common with religious communities. Emile Durkheim, for instance, speaks of religion as a “manifestation of social solidarity and collective beliefs.” In their estimation, members of a society create sacred objects, rituals, beliefs, and special symbols to integrate their culture. Even this can be too simple because there is so much diversity in cognitive and phenomenal displayed in any given religious experience.

Some define religion as something that necessitates communion with the supernatural, others do not. The reliance of symbol and rite as a means to organize abstract concepts in terms of concrete symbols to make speculation possible is a key component but may not always be seen. Again, the diversity of religion and its expression makes a definition hard to pin down. There are the ideas and beliefs we hold deep in our hearts and there are our ways of relating them to others around us. As I continued reading, I realized that in many ways the BDSM subculture is very much a ‘religious institution’ by the more broad definitions that highlight their social and cultural implications. This is no surprise: sexuality and sexual rites have been parts of religion since ancient ages. I think also of how common it is to hear someone describe good sex as, “seeing God” whether or not they were believers in an extra-corporeal entity.

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Women By The Wayside

I just read a fantastic essay called ” Green Screen: The Lack Of Female Road Narratives And Why It Matters” by Vanessa Veselka. One one hand, I had to smile and nod at the writer who questioned the lack of female road narratives because in so many ways she’s also describing the invisibility of whores with agency. What else is the street based sex worker but the quintessential “woman by the wayside?” Veselka introduces her piece with the shockingly large number of “Jane Does” recovered at truck rest stops and questions why the women who work at the businesses with the dumpsters where they are found never seem to recall any of these incidendents. I read between those lines with the solemn knowledge that sex commerce, either as a profession or an immediate survival tactic, is probably in the background of these stories.

Covering a fourteen-county area, I asked every senior truck-stop employee I could find about a hitchhiker found in a dumpster, but no one had ever heard of her. I broadened the scope of my questions: Had they heard of any homicides in any area truck stops over the past thirty years? They didn’t remember a thing. But what I was learning from the FBI painted a landscape of extreme violence, one that matched the world of my memory. By 2004, so many women had been found dead along the interstates that the FBI started the Highway Serial Killers Initiative to keep track of them. There were girls found in dumpsters, behind truck stop diners, off the side of the road on truck turnarounds—the national database listed over five-hundred Jane Does in or near rest areas and truck stops alone. Some of these were the very truck stops I was now passing through, and yet I couldn’t uncover even rumors of past murders. The strangeness of this crystallized when I visited a Pennsylvania truck stop where I knew for a fact that two women had been killed, one found only yards from where the woman I was speaking to worked. Still, she “had never heard of anything like that.”

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Pride and Shame

Bradley Manning pride contingent from a past parade.

Bradley Manning pride contingent from a past parade.

I don’t get out to the BIG San Francisco events these days. Where once my eyes looked up and watered over from hope and stray glitter, now they tend to look elsewhere for SF Pride and Folsom Street. There’s all the waste, the trash, the dominating force of Big Booze ™ shilling Absolut Vodka and Budweiser, and the huge crushing crowds, terrible food, and the heart palpitations all of this gives me. No, I don’t care to see a parade of massive corporations demonstrating how tolerant they are despite whatever implications their brand and profits might mean for people, animals, water, and the globe at large. No, I don’t care for the tons of plastic crap manufactured with pride.

Daniel Ellsberg

Daniel Ellsberg

Pride and Folsom have had brave sexual components because of the illegality of what they were displaying in public. It was a protest. I’m all for Bacchanalia, believe me. It’s also important to remember that it was about taking something that people were being arrested and brutalized over and putting out in public view. It was about challenging how and why people were being marginalized for what they were already doing in private. Blowing someone in public was the reminder that the sun didn’t turn to blood, the streets weren’t suddenly cracking open, and there was no legitimate reason why people were being pulled from their bars and bedrooms and subject to a criminal record and all the damages therein.

I heard about “Gay Shame” when I was in college and I didn’t disagree with them totally but I wanted to have my day in the sun, a party celebrating something that had isolated me as a kid and a teenager, and most of all a good goddamn time. I wanted to put down my politics, pick up a beer, and just let it all go. Those Gay Shamers seemed a little uptight and political to me. Sure, corporations had some pretty bad policies but having Bank of America come out to the parade meant that others would to, right? Mainstream acceptance meant safety. If those stodgy old banker dudes could see why an event like pride where they knew there’d be drag queens and naked guys in cock rings and little baby dykes stomping around in their first pair of big black boots and a miniskirt trying on subversive in public for the first time ever then surely “we” were winning, right? Right? There were too many politicians in convertible cars waving to the masses for us to be losers.

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Link Love

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Bawdy Storytelling Photos by Neuoptik Photography

Masters of psychedelic art: My household growing up had a lot of Peter Max and I always enjoyed the bright tertiary colors and flowing lines. Not surprisingly, art that appeals to someone tripping also appeals to kids. Although a lot of folks might want to decry this genre because of its illicit associations there is a tremendous amount of skill and theory applied here. It’s worthy of study and appreciation in all states of consciousness. It’s also had a massive impact on popular art since its inception.

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No fap isn’t a challenge, it’s a way of life.” As a logical counterpoint to Reddit’s constant stream of ‘fap material’ is a forum of young men dedicating their time and energy to not fapping as a new take on the old idea of preserving masculinity by abstaining from masturbation.

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100% Men is a Tumblr dedicated to depicting companies and corporatations whose leadership is 100% male.

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The Mysterious Island Of The Dolls in Mexico is creepy and compelling to look at.

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Men should read Hegel before dating is a short video from the coming documentary “Monogamy and its Discontents.”

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High school student calls out Pam Stenzel for slut shaming. Her school principal is a total tool with bad ideas on educating teens who engages shaming behavior of his own. Wellesley welcomes their incoming student after the debacle over Twitter. I wrote about Pam Stenzel in 2009 after bearing a grudge from having to watch her horrible “Sex Has a Pricetag” videos in junior high and high school. Pam Stenzel is a lying liar who lies to teens about sex. She makes students feel bad about themselves and their sexuality. May she be known for what she is. I wrote about Stenzel in 2009.

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Salvador Dali’s wife Gala was known as the “demon pride” and is said to have outdone him with her own set of sexual perversities, megalomania, and lust for cash.

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The Revolution Will Not Be Funded is an anthology that questions the impact of the non-profit industrial complex on enacting social change. I think it’s crucial to consider this and I’ve certainly had my own clashes of this nature.

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The Mating Octopus in photos. For all you cephalopod lovers out there.

ImageTriptychs by Mattie Brice explores labels and labeling through the lens of gaming and other personal identifiers. As always, she’s brilliant voice in the gaming community and radical bloggers at large.

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Of Sex And Drugs

Despite the porn, I’m terribly naive about why our society has conniption fits when it comes to talking about sex and drugs. Both are very taboo and subject to numerous pieces of legislation and come with deep currents of conscious and unconscious stigma.

Trying to develop a career as a “professional” in either field is a tenuous path. Semantics mark the difference between the suit and coat crowd and the plebeians or worse yet the crackpots. Those who aspire to join the suit and coat crowd can be spotted at their industry’s events with marked civility to the crackpots by their subtle but very nearly ritualistic social performances best described by Roland Barthes and an avian behavior graduate student sharing drinks at happy hour.

In the drug world, the people talking about sex are regarded as the way to ruin the legitimacy of things. The ones who don’t get “the bigger picture.” In the sex world, those who talk about drugs can also ruin the legitimacy of things. Legality is a major issue. Drugs could blow the whole house down.

When you already have to speak in sotte voce about a very fundamental reality, the introduction of another pretty much leaves you to the fragments and the faintest lines of symbols creating galaxies of the inferred. This is the blend of religion, and of disease. The orbit is farther out with a much more tenuous grasp on gravity. The stakes are closer to death and not because of something inherent to them so much as their relationship to codified law that has a very class distinct application on the masses. Having “made it” is so often defined by the cocaine of an appealing ass. It’s not the Benz, it’s the room for a buzz that never ends and never has consequences.

Class is marked by the consequences you face for your own humanity.

Sexuality has been my trade but I keep my personal cards kept more keenly to myself. I do think ones pleasure practices are as sacred (for whatever that word means) as ones spiritual practices. I don’t think I really get a say over how any given individual choose to guide their perception of the world by chemical, religious, technological, biological, material, or what-have-you-tools so long as there aren’t material world consequences on other non-consenting people. You can’t just steal some shit. You can’t just instantly use someone as a tool of your experience. The fact that we imprison people for getting high is, in effect, a thought crime.

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Anarchists & Zines

street grafitti reading 'exercise empathy' on a light pole

So out in Oakland I made my way out to the East Bay Anarchist Book Fair which was a nice treat for a rainy day. I really value talking about social resistance and sharing literature and music and words with one another. The Humanist Hall in Oakland was the hosting venue who are tolerant hippies ready to take on the manarchists and chain smoking in the back.  It was also nice to match some faces to names and to get to re-know a friend I from college. It was strange and wonderful to realize that Laika Fox and I were taking our clothes off in Rocky Horror way back in the day. There’s something supremely awesome about crossing paths again and realize that political wheels in the mind can also be directed into swiveling hips and shaking tits.

This was a cool spread and I really do enjoy being in far left spaces. A lot of this material is niche and harder to find because it doesn’t have mass distribution. It’s true that you can access most of these ideas and many of the zines and books online but it’s also really empowering to create a space to see that others are browsing, too. I picked up books on anarchist queers, I bumped into a Syringe Exchanger that I met years ago at an HIV test training. I had been the one to roleplay his first practice positive test disclosure to and I was the intimidating one who had already been doing it for a long time. I remembered him instantly. I was so proud that he was still fighting the good fight. I totally love and support syringe exchange and overdose prevention and naxolene distribution. Sensible drug policy, to me, has always included overdose prevention as a part of first aid and CPR training. This should be integrated into all of our emergency care models.

Bash Back & Self Defense

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A Tower Of Babel

Mt, Wilson observatory, iPhone photo from the trail. 14 miles up and down, 4,700 ft elevation gain.

Politics is the art of articulating control and some voices have more profound global impact. Our modern age has given us dogma in legal language codified as legislation that was born of cowardice, forged in privilege, and wielded against the marginalized.

The “Tower Of Babel” is a great Judeo-Christian story of incredible relevance here. This was the story that made me doubt the existence of god but also awoke a kind of panic about authority within me. The Book of Genesis, in general, turned me off from the idea of God because it reminded me too much of Stargate. As a text the Judeo-Christian Bible does pick up quite a bit with all kinds of great philosophy and tremendous insight. But as a child I could not get behind the fascist god of genesis. The story of the “Tower of Babel” presented us with a humanity that came to gather after god’s genocide with the flood. Now, ostensibly, you might think this was the lesson of the flood–to learn how to love one another again, to work beside one another, to share a common language.

I have always interpreted this to mean sharing the language of love. This sounds hippie-dippie but stay with me: think of the time a stranger went out of their way to help you out with something simple. Maybe you were a little lost and in need of directions, maybe it was a quick freebie snack, maybe it was someone who didn’t make you feel like shit when you had to mention a boundary about personal space and genuinely accommodated the situation with humor. That was a time when you shared the language of love with someone and it does let you peek into a view of what those from “Shinar” experienced.

When people are taking the time to be present one another as individuals with a different contexts that require calibration for full communication they tend to get a lot of shit done. This is why you may have been subjected to work retreats even though that’s an industry in and of itself that has forgotten the purpose of the exercise. Another quick glance into the extent of empathy would be those rare and precious moments when you feel uncertain where your body stops and your lover’s begins.

The people worked together to build a tower to God because they shared a language, a purpose, and a plan to accomplish it and they were getting shit done. “A tower to god” is a symbol from my understanding. Perhaps, though, it was a tower. I look to our space programs and global space stations, I see the beginnings of a Tower of Babel. When you get to such heights you stop splitting so many hairs about the differences between individual humans because you’re united as earthlings exploring the cosmos. That’s the dream we seem to come back to across the ages, at least.

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Gratitude

I can turn the information and knowledge I have/have access to into action. I can make the choice to eat fresh whole foods and drink fresh and clean water. I am grateful.

I can hold my lover and my life partner in public and we can safely assume we won’t be hurt or scorned on the basis of our love alone. I am grateful.

I can read books, visit museums, and listen to live music close to whenever I want. It is often free or very cheap. I am grateful.

I fall asleep next to my favorite person in the whole world with a galump of a dog at our feet. I wake up the same way. I am so grateful.

I can easily escape into natural wilderness. I am grateful.

I am often gifted presents to explore and enhance my sexuality, material and immaterial alike. I am grateful.

I feel safe from the threat of falling bombs and ongoing violence and turmoil of war and acute disaster. I am very grateful.

People across the country and the world are interested in my words, ideas, and art. I am grateful.

There are people in my life who lend their love and support to me as I continue to grow personally and professionally. I am grateful.

I have untold worlds and experiences to great in my life. I am grateful.

I am able to put time and effort into my health and fitness. I am grateful.

After 4 years of wearing a cheap pair of plastic Costco glasses with so many scratches I got vertigo, I got fancy vintage glasses. I am grateful.

Although I live somewhere with troubled leadership, racist police, poverty, and violence I am surrounded by incredible culture, immense diversity, and new methods of living that I cherish. I am grateful.

People that I cared about passed away this year but their love, lessons, and memory are with me. I am grateful.

Other people pushed boundaries and prejudices before I arrived on the scene that have contributed to the ways in which I am safer to be who I am. Their work came at the expense of blood, sweat, tears, and often life. I am grateful.

I enjoy products and material goods that come from the resources and labor of others. There are people who remind me to stop and think about the actual work that went into things that make my life easier than it would be otherwise and they make me feel uncomfortable to think about ugly truths. I am grateful.

I don’t really know why we get around and tell a fictional narrative about the relationship between Indigenous people and European immigrants and slaughter turkeys en masse. After rough patches with my family due to my lifestyle, I can sit at a table and share a meal and work towards practicing love. I am grateful.

There was a long drive between where I live and where I went for the holiday and I drove the distance in a car. For the convenience, the independence, and the knowledge to be critical of my use of this destructive tool, I am grateful.

For every emotion I’ve ever had, even the most painful ones I can remember, I am resolutely grateful for everything they have taught me and for the grounding reminders that I am a human being in the company of other human beings.

Thanksgiving is hella problematic, there’s no way to deny. Some say that counting your blessings keeps you passive. I disagree. It is in counting our blessings that we count our greatest tool and take inventory of our growth and our support. In honor of a day in which we (theoretically) take stock of some of our privileges and resources, these were some of mine. I guess the pledge

 

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Dawn Of The Dykes

It was 2007 and I was about to graduate from college with a B.A. in hand. I actually skipped the traditional cap and gown for a 50s inspired red and white polka dot dress and a pair of sunglasses but that would happen a few months down the line from one of the biggest collegiate staged queer shows in the country. The “Queer Fashion Show” had actually started out when some gay men decided to host a fashion show to show off their designs. Well, one thing led to another and soon the it became a blowout extravaganza with a cast exceeding 100 and an array of dance, film, song, spoken word, skits, and maybe one fashion entry a year. It was where you wanted to be if you were out in the redwoods of Santa Cruz.

I had been part of previous casts. I danced in a queer retelling of “The Taming Of The Shrew” rebranded as “The Taming Of The Gay” in which a homophobic king reigns over the land with “gaygents” who always entered and danced to Prodigy monitored the kingdom for gay activity, including that of the young prince. In a stunning turn of events, one of the “gaygents” was actually the superheo (and director and choreographer of the piece) SUPERGAY who leads a team of rainbow clad freedom operatives to take on the gaygents, free the prince, and then marry him in a double ceremony with his lesbian sister.

I was also in a piece titled “Drag King Divas” where a huge gender queer cast performed in ruffled tux shirts, oversized bowties, and superfag dance steps to Motown hits. For my time on the catwalk I went to FU Tattoo and got myself a corset piercing by Pat Blackstorm who was a great piercer and willing to work with my weird situation. Another project was about body image and I was in a cast split into those of nearly naked and covered in trashbags thrown out onto the catwalk and ripped out of the bags to be shamed for our obvious flaws and adorned with giant signs before we revolt and tear everything up in an act of self-love and teamwork. That piece was the subject of a parody the following year which was a source of needed humor.

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Mayhem Loves: Oakland Museum

Black Panther print on display at the Oakland Museum

I love the city of Oakland. Certainly not its leadership and definitely not the corporate entities and banks squatting on vacancies and keeping property value low to ease the growing pains of gentrification, and the violence that comes with poverty and oppression can certainly be scary. What I love are the people, the revolutionary spirit, the diversity, and the sheer amount of culture exuded on any given day or block in town regardless of the grit that surrounds it.

The Oakland Museum Of California has impressed me very much with its sleek and social justice oriented curation in all its exhibits from natural history to its rotating galleries. Although it is a small museum in comparison to San Francisco’s incredible offerings, the Oakland Museum has an edgy heart and one hell of an eye for design. In many ways, it’s the same reason why I’m a huge devotee of the Oakland Airport over the horror show of SFO. I go for small but packed full of a proper punch.

Huey P. Newton on trial for murder at the Alameda County Courthouse in Oakland across the street from the museum.

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