Looking For Light In The Darkness

The World can be a dark place, that’s for sure. Each time you turn on the TV, open Twitter or Facebook, check your Instagram posts, or even listen to your podcasts, there is always some note of darkness. This Administration is trying the damndest to roll back everything they can about protection status for our LGBTQ community. We need to break up that monotony with any ray of positivity we can. It is something I have been struggling with, as well.

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photo courtesy of sexualfreedom.org

Body positive and sex positive messages are so very necessary. Learning to love who you are unconditionally is key in being able to extend that love to others. Some have been fortunate enough to have our families bring them up in that kind of environment, but the majority of us have had to try to learn that where we can or if we can. I love looking for those kinds of people who promote that kind of message. Enter Corinne Kai, a sex educator and writer. Kai looks as the world through the lens of a pleasure activist and femme of center queer human. You can visit Kai’s Insta here where you will be treated with an array of beautifully shot images that are somewhere on the scale of feminine and LGBTQ. You can also find Kai on the “Femme, Collectively” podcast, here you can check out all their topics on gender intersection, sexuality, and healing. Be sure to check them out, their images are beautifully shot and guaranteed to get you to want to start changing your perception of your own inner beauty.

We all know that underwear can have a huge impact on how we feel about ourselves. A cute pair that is accentuates our curves in all the right places can make us feel like we are the sexiest person the planet. If this is you then Pyramid Seven Underwear is for you. Click their name to be taken to their Insta account. Pyramid Seven Underwear showcase that they “have underwear for everybody and EVERY body.” On their page you will be treated to fashion magazine quality images of all body and gender identity types. Their high quality fabric and array of color can definitely help give you a different perspective on body positivity.And I love supporting companies who support our community.

 

Being body and sex positive is important for our general and psychological health and unfortunately many parents aren’t equipped to teach their children about issues they, themselves, haven’t been taught to deal with. Are you a parent, know a new parent, or just want to help educate yourself in the possibility that you may be a parent then you need to check out Sex Positive Families . Sex Positive Families’ main goes is to “raise sexually healthy children one talk at a time.” This means discussing topics like consent and teach them in basic everyday ways of engaging with people. They also discuss some of the harder topics in new ways to make it easier for parents and children. Their belief is that shaping your child early will help them not have the issues we are today.

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Early and ongoing talks about sexual health can be powerful normalizers of a child’s experiences with their changing body, feelings, interactions with others and messages from the world around them. Parents and caregivers can wonder how much info is too much or when is the “right” time. Consider being proactive as a way to ensure a child receives the knowledge and safe space that helps them make informed choices from a place of awareness and not fear. . ⬆️Now available for download is our age-by-age guide with strategies for raising sexually healthy children from birth to beyond. Follow the bio link to snag your copy and start the talks that support the sexual health of a child in your world.

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Looking for culturally inclusive, sex positive, and an empowering LGBTQ group, the @altapride is for you. This is also one of the few blog out there that showcase gay and bi black men. They also cover a wide range of topics like HIV prevention and treatment, transgender issues, and anti-bullying. Scroll through and check out the insanely hot pics and gain some knowledge while your there. You won’t be let down.

Lastly, and certainly not least is Ruby Allegra. Ruby is a voice for an overlooked and marginalized community, LGBTQ people with disabilities. The media caters to a specific body type for all gender identities and Ruby becomes the advocate for those that don’t fit these molds. Ruby uses social media as a means of advocacy for those with both identities. Check out Ruby Allegra’s Insta here (https://www.instagram.com/rvbyallegra/?utm_source=ig_embed)

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I’m so excited and nervous to share that I will be performing as feature poet for @drawyourswordspoetry on December 6! There will be music from @effie.mp3 and some amazing talented folk in the open mic part of the evening! If you wanna come check it out, share some poetry or just hang with good people, it’ll be at @chateauapollo, doors at 7pm, $10 entry. This venue is accessible! 💗💙 Photo by @pamo.boutros . . . [Image descriptions: first image features Ruby sitting in their wheelchair in front of rows of desks and shelves in a library. Ruby is laughing with their hand partially covering their face, and they are wearing a pink tshirt under blue and white striped overalls. The second image is a promotional poster for Draw Your Swords, featuring a continuous line drawing of Ruby with a mint coloured background. On the left hand side is text reading “Draw your (S)Words: a night of spoken word. Chateau Apollo, 6 December, doors at 7, $10 entry. Featuring: Ruby Allegra (poetry), Effie (music).”]

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Changing perceptions isn’t easy but the first steps have to happen with us. Surrounding ourselves with more positive images helps us create a mindset that is conducive for loving ourselves for who we are at our core. When we do, we show that to the world and will accept nothing less from others. Start small and just learn to be at peace with who you are. If you find or have blogs or people you follow that offer you that needed body and sexy positive ideal, please share below in my comment section.

 

 

Everyone Else Is Doing It…

So December 17th will be Tumblr’s last day for porn. Those of you that may not know, Tumblr is a blogging platform that specializes in pictures, videos, gif, and smaller blocks of text. It is what would happen if Twitter and Facebook had a love child. It became the easy platform for small time pornography, as well as a means to share clips for other sites. Amateurs found it a perfect venue for their content and, if it happens, it will be sorely missed. With the approvals of SESTO (Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act) and FOSTA (Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act), many people who were using social media as a means of making a living may be forced into more unsafe areas.

Shortly after its birth in 2007, Tumblr quickly became a network for the NSFW community to post images and content without fear of being banned. If you were looking for quality clips, pics, gif, meme, and pirated videos, it was the go to place. If you were an amateur looking for e venue to showcase your material, Tumblr had an audience. If you were an aspiring porn star it was the perfect place to start building a follower base. Tumblr allowed you to surf the porn web anonymously and mostly safely. You could scroll through search list of almost any fetish or desire you may have and even create your own feed. From here you could repost items you found and build your own following. The limit was your imagination.

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As I mentioned in a previous post, Tumblr wasn’t against adult content and allowed it to be posted. The only caveat was that if you were a frequent poster of adult content you had to flag your blog as ADULT. Explicit content was frowned upon and often times did get deleted. Typically a post would be deleted if someone reported it or the algorithms they used found it. Their Toss expressed that explicit acts of sexuality would be removed, but in the past it was done with a light hand. This started to become more enforced this year when Verizon bought Tumblr.

Tumblr had led many tech companies in the fight to prevent telecoms from slowing the Internet for users who couldn’t pay for higher bandwidth speeds. Also allowing their users to be more determinate of what they posted created a fairly large target for them. They fighting voice for net neutrality started was quieted when their company merged with Yahoo. It wasn’t until they merged with Verizon that many posts started being silenced. Verizon is very much against net neutrality and very much backs the removal of adult content. Verizon also now owns AOL, this gives them a pretty large swatch of search engines and social media options to control flows for their benefit.

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This becomes important under this administration as we are seeing more and more measures put into place for censorship. “According to the National Center for Transgender Equality(NCTE), current laws already grant prosecutors ample powers to effectively bust sex traffickers and to investigate businesses that engage in trafficking. But the law could drastically expand the definition of the offense of “promoting” or facilitating trafficking to include many commercial websites disseminating information for sex workers, even educational guidance, opening them up to lawsuits or other pressure to shut down,” according to The Nation. This could give SESTO and FOSTA the ability to target sites that are offering education services under the guise of helping sex workers or traffickers.

The recent change to Tumblr is also affected other platforms, like Facebook. Facebook as recently changed its content-moderation protocols to crackdown on any sexually suggestive posts. Their policies have changed to include language for discussing sexual positions to posting erotic art. The previous iterations of the policies did not clearly make distinction between sexual exploitation and solicitation. So calling your ex a slut and showing pics they sent you would clearly fall under exploitation, while being in a group and saying that you are going to be at a local bar looking for fun, if interested wear a shirt with a unicorn could be under solicitation. Now, both scenarios are clearly defined under their new policy. This has seen an increase in posts being flagged and groups being deleted. I personally have had a friend been warned and posts removed for content that Facebook said used sexual slang.

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According to an article posted on Out (out.com) “In October, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit that works to defend free speech and user privacy, reported that in recent years “policy restrictions on ‘adult’ content have an outsized impact on LGBTQ+ and other marginalized communities.” Many LGBTQ websites and social platforms have felt the backlash from this, seeing YouTube channels being suspended or Facebook pages temporarily banned. These are places that offered safe information about sex to many LGBTQ youth. This in turn can lead to a heightened sense of not belonging and turning to other less safe means of learning about sex and sexual activities. Many of these platforms provided sexual education for the LGBTQ youth and showed that sex could be intimate and soft instead of being catered to the male gaze and phallic centric that a lot of porn seems to be shot in.

A couple months ago, Facebook was shown to have been blocking many LGBTQ ads based on its new advertising policy. Facebook claims this is a small error but it does show failures in the programming of algorithms they use to monitor their traffic. They truth of this is hard to imagine since Facebook, itself, isn’t know to be supportive of the LGBTQ community. Many are still feeling the backlash of the “real name” policy. A policy that did not allow transgender people to change their name as it wasn’t seen a their “REAL NAME.”

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Censorship like this isn’t the only limit. If you are in support for sex worker reform and post about any of articles that are about it, many social media platform see the words “sex worker” and oftentimes flag the post or suspend your account without explanation. There is fear that many of the algorithms used for scanning will not be able to differentiate between diagrams for condom usage, pelvic exams, or porn. This could lead to large problems with sexual educations sites that are legitimately hosted by organizations. Many of the early obscenity laws of America were centered on the teaching of sexual education and contraception.

Eric Leue, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition stated,  “Many people in straight, heteronormative communities don’t understand what the big deal is, because their lives and cultures are represented everywhere,” Leue said. “For those in queer, or niche, or fetish communities, Tumblr was one of the few accessible spaces to build communities and share content.” He also feels that large tech companies need to understand the difference between using algorithms for flagging content and outright banning content versus nuances of media and human regulation. Removing these items from apps stores and online media may not seem huge to the heteronormative segments of the population but it has a huge effect on the LGBTQ youth.

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It has not been thought of how this may affect informative educational blogs for the transgender community. Many transgender people have used the platforms like Tumblr and Instagram for showing their lives through transitional images and giving a voice to those who are struggling to find acceptance. These same sites will very likely be the ones that are flagged and banned because of images or text used. With the current president and administration pushing to change laws for LGBTQ it isn’t hard to see that many of these sites will land on the side of safety and remove this content

Censorship is alive and well in America. It is being used as a means of persecution of marginalized people. We have see platforms target images and posts based on to strict algorithm and heavy handed banning when, in fact, the content may not specifically fit the ToS of the platform. This same censorship seems to be targeting LGBTQ people in ways we didn’t think would happen, artwork is being flagged, educational sites are being removed, and our posts are being removed because someone or something things we are using suggestive terms that may relate to exploitation or solicitation. Its time we became more aware of the control these people exert without our knowledge. If not, many aspects of our culture could be removed before we even realize it is gone.

 

It Puts The Lotion On It’s Skin…

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Bear with me, as this will be a long road…

I am reminded of a scene from one of my favorite, albeit chilling, movies, Silence of the Lambs. In it, the villain, James Gumb, also known as Buffalo Bill, battles with the issue of seeing himself differently than the rest of the world does. He spends the majority of the movie stalking and killing overweight women in the attempts to make his one “woman suit.” He did this to change his outward appearance to align with how he saw himself internally. The point I am making is that most of us feel uncomfortable in our own skins, at some point. We spend our lives trying to change it in varying ways, good and bad. Society perpetuates the myth of what a person should look, feel, or be and then turns around and tells us that we should comfortable with who and what we are.

This is a hard post to write, how can I sit here and tell you to be positive about yourself when I, myself, and not very positive about my body. I do feel that every soul is beautiful in it’s own way and that each body is beautiful. That is great and all, but that doesn’t speak to those that feel as if they were born in the wrong body. It wouldn’t be fair of me to speak about the transgender issues of it, not being transgender. So, primarily I will be focusing about body issues We have seen an increase in body positivity promotion for women, more plus sized models are entering the industry. Clothing lines are realizing that women of all sizes buy their merchandise. These are all good step, even if they are small steps. Body positivity with men has also started being pushed forward. I can say that I feel this is sometimes underserved, but often times media focusing on men first.

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Being a larger gay male, I am reminded daily how body image is thrust into our faces. The ideal gay male is perceived as lean to muscular, young, fair-haired, perfect teeth, abs for the gods, and cake for days. Realistically, that is probably closer to 1% of the gay male population. Most days I wake up with an ok feeling about my body even able to lapse into a few moments of not feeling repulsive. I also am somewhat of an opportunistic nudist, what that means is few people know that side of me and I only take advantage of it when I know that no one is around or possibly would drop in on me. Recently, on a hot, humid summer day, I sent the better art of the day sans clothing. I have to admit; it is always a bit freeing when you can remove the restricted confines of clothing. I went about my cleaning chores, listening to music, and even lounging watching TV and just enjoying not wearing clothes.

That was all fine and great until I happen to be in the bathroom sweeping and catch a side glance in the mirror of myself. Then my mind starts working and all I see is the negatives. I want to hide and swaddle myself in some draping fabric that hides everything that I do not like, I romanticize about my younger days and that I was smaller than I am now, which isn’t entirely truth. I also look at myself and think how much weight I have gained in the last two years, until I look back on pictures from then and realize that it hasn’t been that much. This only makes me feel worse. Why isn’t it that I can’t look at myself with love and acceptance?

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We hold ourselves up to ridiculous standards that change every decade. From the late 1890s to the modern era, body image of men and women have went up and down. From curvy being desirable, thin and trim, taking its place, back to curvy, and only to be replaced with waif like images for women and absurd body proportions for men. This leads to fad dieting and surgery to try to correct these changing patterns, this doesn’t even scratch the surface of the mental health issues this can cause. I could sit here saying that we all should get over it and just accept ourselves as we are and love our bodies, but that wouldn’t be truthful.  Logically, I agree with it, though.

Each of bodies is beautiful and unique in their own way. They are amazing creations that should be celebrated and worshipped. But we don’t get that luxury because daily we are beat down with what others perceive we should look like. It isn’t us that need to change; it is the minds of others that need to change. They need to understand that we are beautiful. They should be working with us in that acceptance and celebration. It is they that should learn the love of who we are and instead of telling us we aren’t good enough.

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Since it is others that have forced this ill-conceived mindset of beauty, it is also up to them to change how they view the world. Granted, that is as much a hard sell as it is to say that we should ignore what other people think of us and love ourselves. We also have to realize that this ideal of perfection isn’t something that is completely attainable. I say we, when in fact I am also trying to make myself realize that very thing. I am 45, my body doesn’t bounce back that way it did when I was 15 or even 25. I can go through the regiments that many Hollywood stars do to make themselves appear more youthful and slim, but those also can be just as dangerous for the body. I know there are more important changes I need to make than whether I wear a size 30 in jeans or a medium shirt.

Things that have helped me in my acceptance are being nude more often. Sitting or standing in front of a mirror and just trying to look at myself without the lens of judgment, without saying or thinking anything It’s hard, some of the hardest thing you may ever do. The first few minutes are always us given ourselves scathing looks of judgment and scrutinizing what we see for the flaws we think we have. Focusing on something that stands out to us because we notice it every day. It is hard to shut your mind off and just take in what you see without judgment. I know that trying to quiet my mind and just be is VERY difficult. There are many things, physically, that I am self conscious over.

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American isn’t exactly the land of body acceptance either. The majority still passes judgment on those who frequent naturist resorts. They are perceived as perverts and as a den of sexual deviance. We are taught not to see the pulchritude of the naked body and to judge anyone who prefers to not be clothed. I’m not suggesting that you run out and join a nudist colony to help, because they can be just as bad. You can see ads of them promoting body positivity, but the people in the ads don’t reflect everyone, while often times their memberships are closer to the reality of life. They show beautiful late 20s to early 40s nude people with lean physiques, but you often hear members complain that the average nudist is 50+ and not the perfect body. We as the, general public, wouldn’t ever get to see that as we would probably not sign up because we don’t match the advertisements of the resorts.

How do we learn to be less harmful to ourselves? It is hard with how society reflects on beauty and attraction. There are not shortcuts to get there and I can’t tell you how to be more accepting of yourself, hell I cannot be more accepting of myself. But each day I try to love myself a little more I try to look beyond the things I cannot change and hold myself to my standards and not those imposed upon me. I fail, A LOT, but I pick myself up and try to carry on another day, another battle won no matter how small. My only hope is that you do the same.

 

“You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.”

–Excerpt for “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou

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