Non-Monogamy Relationship Styles

With speaking about relationships, the last couple weeks, I felt it appropriate to end this week talking about non-monogamy. This was a decision based on some of what I had been writing combined with ideas friends have proposed and a couple comments on a singular post. I want to make it clear that I do not advocate for any specific type of relationship, it is something I am still navigating. I still have the storybook fantasy of finding someone to spend my life with, even though I realize it is a fantasy and also an ideal that is implanted by society. I do not agree with the line of thought that monogamy is a modern invention, there is a lot of historical proof that shows humans have pair bonded long before the church and its influence of marriage and commitment. So, let’s see what we can turn up in this article.

The focus of this article will be the distinction between open relationships versus polyamorous relationships. To do that we need to establish some definitions and groundwork to help clear the waters, as it were. Psychology Today published an article titled Seven Forms of Non-Monogamous Relationships.  They are defined as Cheating, Polygamy, Open, Swinging, Monogamish, Polyamory/Polyfidelity, and Relationship Anarchy. Obviously the two we are focusing on are in this list, but the others do bear some consideration. Monogamish is a term that Dan Savage help popularize, and while is a form of non-monogamy, still holds to some tenants of monogamy. The difference is that is still has aspects of an open relationship with more strictures in place. They could be things like only a one-night stand is allowed or only while one partner is out of town. Polygamy bears a special note of definitions; it is simply a relationship or marriage of more than two people. Polygyny is a one of its forms and where a man marries and is committed to multiple women, at the same time. No partners are sought outside the union, unless they are to become a new additions to the unit. You can read more about Relationship Anarchy on the link above. With these in mind let’s move on to the topics of focus.

An open relationship is loosely defined as consensual non-monogamous relationships based on a committed couple.It essentially means that both partners in a relationship agree to sexual relationships with other people. This is not the same as polyamory, the reason is based on the fact that in an open relationship, there still is a committed couple. They simply agree to not be exclusive with one another. The previous article I wrote did speak to how gay men who are in committed relationships do advertise as an “open relationship,” often times without prior knowledge or consent of their partner. This in fact is cheating and still considered a non-monogamous relationship. The foundation of it being a committed relationship does not change, only the function of being allowed to include outside partners under specific guidelines that have been addressed. People who identify as an open relationship say that it can be group play that includes both partners, could be sex with friends or strangers, engaging in a specific kink that the other partner may not share, or variations on them. The point is that it is based on a committed relationship dynamic where communication and ground rules are important. You must be clear in your communications and understandings or it may lead to tension and issues later.

A polyamorous relationship is loosely defined, by Merriam Webster, as “the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time.” Others would go a step further and say that it is a  relationship style that allows people to openly conduct multiple sexual and/or romantic relationshipssimultaneously. The core difference is there is no one set committed couple that this is based off of. It allows multiple people to engage and interact openly and consciously of the fact there is no exclusive nature to the dynamic. Typically, all participants are aware of and agree to this. That doesn’t mean that you cannot revisit the same partner multiple times, it only means that the intimacy shared is during those sessions and doesn’t require a deeper connection. That also doesn’t mean that a large group of people can’t continue to create and emotional connections with those involved and maintain relations, therein. In fact, in polyamorous relationships this is called polyfidelity. Attachments can even form by those affected by the poly relationship and are often called polyaffective. The article linked above goes into better descriptions of those aspects.

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At first glance, you are probably sitting there and saying that you don’t see a difference and I agree that it can be a bit convoluted in trying to understand the differences. Let’s try an easier way without all of the technical terms. An open relationship is something a couple usually decides to do or try. It could be done for a way to spice up the love life, allow for pleasure to be sought in a relationship where one person cannot provide it anymore, maybe due to medical concerns or etc.,  but both still have a committed love for one another, or to offset for a particular fetish or kink one person has and the other cannot accommodate. Most would say that polyamory is a lifestyle for them, they simply aren’t hardwired to be with only one person. They could argue it isn’t a biological choice for them. As such, they will never have just one person they settle down with. Poly people may even develop a small circle of ‘friends’ that they rotate between due to trust and feeling safe, but it isn’t exclusionary. They are free to move to others at any time.

As I haven’t dated in almost seventeen years, I don’t advocate for any specific side. I think emotionally, each of us has different needs at different times. Those needs evolve as we mature and can change with the people we meet and learn more about. What is important is what works for you and communication with those you come into contact with, no matter your relationship needs. Discuss expectations with your partners, let them know where you are coming from and listen to them. It is not a one and done communication style, you have to have that revolving doorway. Life is to be lived and experienced, without it you will never know what you like or dislike. Do it responsively, as with all things.

Can You Have Intimacy In Casual Relationships?

Looking at how “relationships” have changed over the years is an interesting study. As we move forward, now, it seems that casual relationships and open relationships are becoming much more common. Is this the new way of human interaction? Do we get what we need from these random encounters that don’t for any kind of attachments? Is Intimacy still important and can we even get it from these more casual interactions? There are still a lot of things that have to be considered in how these proceed or how they work for each person involved.

Intimacy is defined as: close familiarity or friendship; closeness or an intimate act, especially sexual intercourse. As broad as this definition is it still speaks to a closeness and close familiarity. Intimacy comes from repetition and understanding of the people involved. Psychology Today wrote an article titled The 7 Elements That Define An Intimate Relationship and discussing how it is different from a casual one.  Let’s take a look at the steps they outline in their article. 1.Knowledge – it is the sharing of information, we hold dear to us, with another person without judgement. With someone we trust we share deeper information that we do with a person we just meet and sleep with. But why is that? Can we not open up more to even those fleeting encounters? Many people fail to take the time to learn about the person they take home for the night and make it as quick as possible. 2.Interdependence – is a reinforcing dynamic where choices and desires are based on the dependency of the people involved. Think of it as your actions and reactions influence the person you are with and in turns influences you to make choices based on them. 3.Care – showing concern over the other’s well-being, how stress is affecting them, and safe keeping. This relies on communication that happens once routines and trust is established.  4.Trust – this is the backbone to any relationship and is a must for all seven of these tenants to hold together. It is hard to give trust, but when we do it can become very implicit. It is what allows us to let someone become very close to us, to know us at our very core. 5.Responsiveness – recognizing, supporting, and understanding the needs of the other person, during times of stress or happiness. 6.Mutuality – This is the point where the closeness changes the couple from “me” to “we” in how they relate to things. 7.Commitment – Ah the big “C.” The word that can strike terror into people and send them running. The word that people feel can limit a relationship from being more. But commitment isn’t all bad, it allows the other tenants to grow and strengthen. It gives us a sense of safety and surety. A shelter in a storm and the strength to continue when we think we can’t.

Are these all indicative of a monogamous relationship or can they be achieved in a casual one? There is no right answer to that, unfortunately. None of these tenants will guarantee that a relationship with the same person every day will last and be perfect. These are only tenants that an article states are part of an intimate relationship. If commitment is the biggest reason you pursue an intimate relationship, then you may be doing it for the wrong reasons. Each one is just as important as the other but not all have to be there for an effective relationship to happen. Intimacy can happen in casual relationships just as well as in committed ones. It comes down to the types of casual relationships you may have. The website VeryWellMind helps define some of them in an article they call, Casual Relationships: Are There More Than One Kind? They list four types: One Night Stands, Booty Call, Fuck Buddies, and Friends With Benefits. We will only look at a couple for this article. Fuck Buddies and Friends With Benefits both come from people who meet more frequent than just a hookup. These are people that you aren’t in a committed monogamous relationship with, but you also know will be there for you, when it is needed. You have that trust in knowing that you both know what the other likes and how they think. You can be responsive to their needs because you know them deeply and can support their choices healthfully. Many times, these relationships fill the very void with have without the strings that may come from a more committed relationship.

Booty Calls, Fuck Buddies, and FWB all give us the intimacy we need while allowing us to remain open to other relationships, as needed. And also allows both parties to see each other in non-sexual terms and maintain a friend base with other people. These types of relationships can be beneficial for someone who has a high stress job that requires a lot of travel, the type of setting that would not be conducive to creating a family. Not being home can create a stressful situation for the other person involved. Not having them there when times are rough or needed support. A FWB can be the needed assistance to help manage those situations. It is important to point out that these types of relationship are completely normal. If both parties are aware of the boundaries, it can be a great place to experiment, have fun, and be satisfying.

The down sides can be when the friendship and sexual line gets murky. There is also the aspect where one person may start to develop deeper feelings when the other does not. While it can be a good break after coming out of a long-term relationship, the cautions must be navigated to prevent hurt feelings. It is important that you have an open line of communication to the partner(s) you are with, be open with the person, share your feelings with them, and respect them for the person you and they are. It can provide sexual satisfaction and the needed intimacy you are looking for in a relationship.

The problem with intimacy, causal relationship, open relationships, and commitment all stem from beliefs we have been taught at a young age. We are told that random sexual encounters are about engaging in carnal lust and not what a “good person” should do. That we should be looking for a partner to settle down with. Then we are taught that affection should be saved for that all elusive person and relationship. So casual sex becomes furtive and quick, feeding a need then getting out before you have to get invested in the person. Who says that is the way it needs to happen. Sex is intimate, by its very nature, opening yourself up to another person to assist you in feeling pleasure takes a lot of trust, so why not go all the way. Look them in the eye, take your time for foreplay, cuddle with them, and take time for after care. It is how we want to be treated, so offer the same courtesy. Take time to see how they respond to your touch and kiss. Watch how their bodies respond, breathing changes, and be in the present. Intimacy will come from that because you are taking the time to share something so personal with them.

Intimacy comes from you as much as it does the other person involved. It can be achieved but you must start with communication. That is the key to any relationship. Understand what you want and what they want and talk about how you both can contribute to each other. You both are individuals seeking similar things, so treat them with the respect you want and expect. Be honest with yourself before you start and as you go along. No one can tell you what your relationship is or what is the right kind. Most of it is by trial and error but know that there are two people involved in it and can get hurt just as easily.

Have Relationships Evolved?

Have Relationships Evolved?

Are relationships, as we used to know them, a thing of the past? I will be 46 this year, that is hard enough to face, and I realize that my ideas of love and relationships are quickly becoming outdated. A quick glance through most hookup or dating apps will show you a buffet of people who aren’t looking for anything serious or just dating. And there is an increasing number of people that say they are in open relationships. As I am scrolling through all of these profiles on an early weekend morning, I am left wondering who these people really are and what is it they are looking for out of their lives. Then as I am thinking this, I am left to wonder what I am looking for and if my ideals are the problem.

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Fairytale Beginnings

I would say that most of us have gotten our ideas of love and relationships from those that are closest to us, that would mean our parents, mostly. Whether their relationship was good or bad creates our jaded view of how we perceive love. Throw into the mix fairy tales, Hollywood, and our friends experiences and it becomes a hodge podge, like a Jackson Pollock painting. Is any of it right or wrong? How do we differentiate what is or isn’t? It all starts with how we see ourselves, what we see as our ideal mate, the traits we find desirable, and how we want to be treated. The truth is that there will never be that perfect or ideal mate. To understand what we want in both a relationship and a person requires us to do a bit of soul searching and it feels that many of us no longer want to take that requisite time. Instead, we see the world changing before us in so many ways and feel that we need to evolve and catch up, but we haven’t even decided what we are catching up to.

Why have we moved away from relationships, is it a fear of intimacy? Or is it a fear we may miss our perfect match/better match? Honestly, these two things are as old as dating itself, it just seems that they are larger now. And I somehow always meet the overly cliched guy that says he is way to evolved for a relationship. His spirit is too wild to be held down by just one person, that kind of modality is too boring for him. What, exactly, does that even mean? It means you have no care of anyone else’s feelings just what your cock is telling you to do. Hell, just say “My name is Stephen and I am an unhinged slut,” I would respect you more. Sometimes, I would like to peek in their head and see what chain of events led him to this point. It’s the instant gratification syndrome, probably had a parent that constantly gave into their very whim, told them just how amazing they were, and no one would be good enough for them. Or they were constantly rebuked by their parents and were left not being shown enough love that they felt their only way to justify themselves was by getting those feelings from as many as they could. A constant hole to be filled, yes pun intended.

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Modern Relationship Types

An article on XDViral.com talks about the five types of modern relationships. It is an interesting view on how they have changed. The first is the Friends with Benefits relationship. Many of us are familiar with it, but it is becoming much more prevalent. It’s not confusing, it simply is what it says two people who have no true commitment to one another getting together for the simple act of sharing human connection. The problem is that at some point the relationship changes and often the friendship cannot be resolved. Next is the one they call Relationship Weekend. This one is a bit of a new term for me, but essentially, it’s a relationship with no real boundaries and only accessible by their free times. The downside is that there is rarely an emotional connection. Then we move into the Open Relationship, where the participants do not feel that monogamy should be the defining factor or love. It is the ability to have intimate connection with people that do not require the deeper feelings or emotions. The trust comes from where your feelings lie, not with interactions with others. Distance Love is the next type of relationship we are seeing more often. Basically, where you fall in love with someone that is separated from you by distance. These often lead to feelings of frustration and may only get together every couple of months to help satiate those feelings. The last one is what this calls the One Shot, more aptly known as the hookup. It is where you both meet and have some kind of response and decided to get together. Is anymore needed to describe this one???

Now before I go further, let me quantify this a little bit. I do believe there is a possibility to have a healthy open relationship and be committed to another person. That type of dynamic takes complete trust and love from the both people. It also requires a lot of rules to function at optimum level. At the same time, I have seen plenty relationships implode from being “open.” Especially if one partner starts to work around the rules and is getting attention in a way, they feel their partner no longer can provide. Again, it take complete love and trust, many of us are not in a place to be able to give or receive that. So, typically when I see open relationship the first thing that runs through my mind is that it is one sided open. What I mean is that the person proclaiming an open relationship is the only one who think it is, in fact, open. They are the ones that are saying they need you to host or “we are open, but we don’t tell one another.” That is the red flag, the fireworks exploding in the dead of night, the klaxon going off warning of impending danger. To quote Ghost,“Molly, you in danger girl.” Stop, drop, and roll the fuck right out of there. Don’t sit there in quiet judgement of me saying this, I did quantify it with I could believe that an open relationship can happen. But you also need the honesty of it all to make it work.

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The reason for an open relationship is left to the couple to decide, only they know if it will work. Some will argue for an open relationship because being in a committed relationship cannot prevent them from being attracted to another person. If attraction is the only reason you want an open relationship, then neither it nor your current one will work. Attraction is a chemical reaction to a given set of circumstances, how we choose to act on them is a choice. It is true that you can’t stop attraction, that’s why you can be attracted to the smell of roses and also mint toothpaste. But you really can’t brush your teeth with a rose. Just because you are attracted to another person doesn’t mean you need to fuck them; you can appreciate them from afar. Hell, that is what they make museums, it allows you to appreciate art that isn’t in your own home. A variation on the open relationship, but without the commitment to just one partner is the polyamorous relationship. This would be where a person has many sexual relationships without the fully vested emotional aspects. Each relationship can be treated as equal but separate. This, like an open relationship, is a type of relationship works best when all parties involved understand the nature of the dynamic and have open lines of communication and trust.

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What’s the T?

Sometimes I feel many of us will get into a relationship out of fear of being alone. This seems to happen more the older we get. We don’t want to think about being older and alone, so we find someone we can tolerate and make a go at it. This type of relationship can often be another version of the open relationship pitfall. These are the ones that will talk about how they and their partners play alone, but know they are doing it. One of the partners may concede to this setup so as not to lose the safety of the situation. It is amazing how fear can make you do things that are not in your normal repertoire.

The end result is that somewhere along the way, we lost the dedication to love and being in love. We became a society of instant gratification and as such have been the worst enemy to ourselves. It is far easier to meet someone on a site like Grindr, go to their or your place, trade body fluids, and the go on your way than taking the time to learn what someone likes, show your vulnerable sides, and develop a bond with them. Many of us have forgot what those connections feel like and the states of euphoria they can cause. Are they for everyone? Surely not, they never were but they do not diminish what they are for those who seek them out. The foundation that remains important for any is communication, this is where we need to focus our intent. Talk to those we are involved with on any level. Express what you want and feel, talk about the differences and see if you have a mutual meeting point. If not, parting ways as friends isn’t bad either. Then end is that you have grown and learned something new about yourself.

 

 

Relationship Realness

A friend posted a meme on Facebook recently on “toxic monogamy culture.” First, I will give a short rant how much I hate the over usage of the word “toxic” when applied to any culture. There are times that it is a valid expression and then there are time in which someone uses it as a means to validate their claim over another. The inherent usage of the term toxic relationship is predicated on the fact that one side is wrong or harmful to the existence of those others inside of it. The flaw is that relationships and the ideals of them are based on the people involved in them as much as the values they were raised with. That makes both sides equally as bad. Toxic masculinity, for instance, is used to describe a particular set of masculine values that have been passed down from one generation to another that promotes misogynistic behaviors towards others that the male in particular is believed to be below them. Before we go any further, let’s look at the body of the meme, in question.   

(What I mean when I say “toxic monogamy culture”

    The normalization of jealousy as an indicator of love

    The idea that a sufficiently intense love is enough to overcome any practical incompatibilities

    The idea that you should meet your partner’s every need and if you don’t, you’re either inadequate or they’re too needy

    The idea that a sufficiently intense love should cause you to cease to be attracted to anyone else

    The idea that a commitment is synonymous with exclusivity

    The idea that marriage and children are the only valid teleological justifications for being committed to a relationship

    The idea that your insecurities are always your partner’s responsibility to tiptoe around and never your responsibility to work on

    The idea that your value to a partner is directly proportional to the amount of time and energy they spend on you, and it is in zero-sum competition with everything else they value in life

    The idea that being of value to a partner should always make up for a large chunk of how you value yourself.) 

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When viewing this meme out of the context, in which the author intended, makes it really hard to say if it is valid or not. Your knee jerk is to read this and go “OMG, I so agree with these points. That is totally how I feel and how I should be treated.” Again, the context is not shown here, so it may or may not fully apply to you. Relationships are complicated and dynamic; they should never be undertaken until those involved know what they are getting into. What’s more interesting is if you were to strip off the header “what I mean when I say, ‘toxic monogamy culture,” and replace it with a title about how to work on a functioning relationship, the who tone changes. And many more would probably disagree with it all together.

Monogamy, in and of itself, is not toxic or bad. Monogamy is simply a status of a particular relationship. Monogamy is defined as a practice or state of being married to one person at a time, having sexual relationships with one partner at a time, or the habit of having only one mate at a time. For the majority of us, it is the default mode our parents and society has taught us to be. But it is also found in nature. Many animals only have one mate their entire pair bonding lives, look at a large majority of the bird population. Swans and penguins are good examples of this phenomenon. In fact, there is nothing wrong with wanting to find one person to spend your life with, to have them as someone to navigate all that life offers, together. That ideal is not toxic, it is one that many people desire.  

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The other problem I have with this meme is that is places any blame being implied, therein, on the person having the feelings. Most relationships are rarely solely about one person being the one held to blame. Relationship are about how things are connected to one another and how they behave towards one another. So, the very definition is about a unit working together. Do relationships do that? Many times, they do not and yes is it because of some kind of break down between the parties involved. If one feels they are always being wronged, then it can lead to that breakdown. The point is that it requires effort and constant nurturing. Like I said they are complicated and dynamic, so to must you be to fully be involved in them.

Jealousy is a horrible emotion rooted in desire for not having what someone else has or is perceived of having, unfortunately it is a quality of humanity. How we choose to overcome it is what allows us to grow from it. It is a wasted emotion that is rooted in fear and hard to dispel because it can make us turn a blind eye to the truth. I will not begin to say here is how to cure it. That comes from personal growth. “Love can move mountains” as Celine Dion sang, but love must be shared in a relationship and with someone you are compatible with. Many times, we see a “mate” and think they are perfect for us, we start dating and are caught up in the whirlwind emotions and think we have fallen in love. Then little things start to creep up, habits we do not mesh with, styles that are contrary to our own, and even behaviors that can be bad. These are the things we should have taken time to learn in the courting phase of the relationship. Once we think we are in love, often we feel we can change someone or look past those issues. The sad truth is if they are counter to our own feelings, we will not be able to get over them. They will only become more focused. Again, this is less about toxicity and more about personal development.

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A committed relationshipis an interpersonal relationship based upon a mutually agreed-upon commitment to one another involving love, trust, honesty, openness, or some other behavior. Whereas, Exclusivity, in dating, is the point in which parties involved agree to not see anyone else but those involved in the relationship. So, they line saying that committed is not synonymous with exclusivity isn’t exactly true as one can’t be had, almost, without the other. Typically, in many dating situations, exclusivity comes before the committed relationship. You decide at one point you like the parties involved and you may state or think to yourself you are going to be exclusive with that person or you both agree to it. Then it moved to a committed relationship. Is that to say that a committed relationship cannot have an open clause? No, in fact you can, as long as both parties are in agreement to it. It can be healthy if the proper notions are kept. In my personal experience, I have seen far too often that when someone lists, they are in an open relationship it is more often than not that only one person considers it open. It becomes the avenue to sleep with other people behind their backs.

Have You Met These Guys?

I admit, I haven’t been fully vested in the dating scene for a hot minute. A lot of reasons really, like survivor’s guilt which lead to apathy in general and finished up with lack of interest in the BS that guys seem to give on every app and dating site out there. I got back into thinking about dating again last year, after my birthday, due to feeling lonely.  And really the scene hasn’t changed and leads me to question the why’s of it again. So, what do you do when the dating scene is so repetitive?

Dating

The group over at Thought Catalog put together an interesting list of the 12 Types of Gay Men You Will Encounter While Dating.  I can tell you that I have encounter no less that four of these types, truth be told the first six are like the returning cast to my cavalcade of dating hijinks. Let’s look at the leading men of that list. Since moving to Cleveland, the Flake has been the most reoccurring character in my life. We all know that one, you make plans everything seems cool and at the last minute something comes up and they cannot make it. “My family just came in from out of town,” or the one you know they are out of excuses to use “oh, I forgot I have a procedure that I have to get done” How in the hell do you forget you have a medical procedure until twenty minutes before you are supposed to show up? Gurrl, Bye!!! But is that the end? No, they call back the next week and apologize and get all sincere making you feel bad for realizing they were a liar and want to set something else up and you do. What happens next? Second degree burns, that’s right he cancels again. That sounded less bitter in my head.

Not to be outdone by the Flake is the loveable called the Obsessive. This little ball of feel good medicated reality is the one you go out with just once and is calling you before you get back to your car. At first it seems cute, he is so into you. Sending you texts saying he misses you, can’t wait to see you, and he likes what you are wearing right now. Then you show up to his place and your trip back from the bathroom you notice a door ajar with flicker candles, thinking that the night is about to take a fun turn you open the door to scope out the setup. Then it hits you, the wall is completely covered with pictures of you, some from your pics from your social media, then some of you sitting on your couch, shopping at Old Navy, and the awkward pic of you yawning this morning. Wait is that a piece of your hair on the dresser and why is there a doll that looks strangely…. OMG get out!!!

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Hey, congratulations you survived. He didn’t go all Fatal Attraction on you, if you got the bunny in the stew pot, I am sorry. It is usually at this point that I decide to wind it back in a bit and rethink my strategy. The next option that usually follows up is what that article calls the 0 attraction, but bored and desperate. And after not dating for about six years, let me tell you that desperation does start to set in, especially when it’s been two years since you have seen anyone naked but your reflection. Mr. Zero Attraction seems like a good thing, all the fun of going out with someone, having dinner and drinks, but none of the messy have to worry about whether sex is going to happen or a restraining order. If you are lucky, the conversation could at least be tolerable. Typically, you are so disinterested that you are focusing on how good the specials from that trendy restaurant you went to. By the end of the night, the guys is oblivious to the fact that the night was just a step above being in  your PJs binge watching something on Netflix. He picks up the check, you both walk to the car, and then you hear it. “I had a great time, would like to see you again.” Time to come out of your comatose state and realize what he is asking before you simply agree. Mainly, because by the time you get him you will have pornhub.com/gay pulled up on your phone and entertaining thoughts of how you could tie up rough trade for the night.

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We all talk about how we want to find that normal guy. That one man as elusive as a unicorn or quality gay porn with a storyline. The sad part is a lot of us didn’t come out until later in life, so we are just like a teenager in the dating scene. We wouldn’t know normal if it was driving us to the church to get married. Hell, we barely know what we like. We look at this guy who is gainfully employed, seems like he won’t dress up in your clothes and try to take over your life, and is truly interested in what you think and say, all we see is a big flashing sign that says BORING!!! You pass them up on any app or bar because they do not stand out, he’s not the most attractive and doesn’t flash himself around. That should be the very reason we make it a point to talk to them and put a ring on it.

All I am saying is, for the most part, couples have it made. They already have found someone they get to go home with every day. They no longer have to play the dating field to see what turns up. Are couples without problems? We will get to that next time; however, they do not have to worry about the catch and release program that is dating. Do any of you have any dating horror stories you would like to share? Drop them in the comments below, would love to hear and commiserate with you.

 

The Importance Of Being Visible

The Importance of Being Visible

I want to extend the deepest thanks to every trans/gender non-conforming person who has shared their personal stories through my blog. Each of you are a string in the larger fabric that is the LGBT community. Your stories are more important than any of us realize, the difficulties you have experienced are the similar to others and could be the difference they need in feeling their own worth. To each of you who reads this, remember that you are part of that fabric as well. I hope that the stories and information I share can be of some use to you. I hope that you realize you are not alone in this world, there are others like you and have went through very similar things. We have survived through sheer force of will and determination. Lean on us for the strength you may need, there are those of us who give it willingly.

With all the huff and hype the media and political figures put out, they want you to think that transgender people are a new concept. That their interests only became more relevant after marriage equality started. We all know that trans people have been part of human history since the beginning, just like lesbians, gays, and bisexuals. The battle for transgender rights has been a long, hard struggle and activist Samy Nour shows just how long this battle has been going on. “Imagine how the conversation would shift if we acknowledge just how long trans people have been demanding equality,” he says.

Having these talks with people is never a comfortable situation, and it shouldn’t be. When things become comfortable, we tend to overlook what causes issues and try to gloss over them. Being an advocate for a community will always be that struggle to make others understand what is outside of their normal views and lives. It is how we prove that each of us has worth and is just as meaningful as the next person. LB Hannahs is a genderqueer parent and shows how they manage and negotiate the discomforts of everyday life.

The more our stories get in front of people, the more it forces them to realize that they already know someone like you or me. This puts a face with a label and forces them to look at us in a differently. It is harder to hate groups of people when there is emotional attachment to them.  And educating them on how long the struggle for acceptance and equality has been going on will hopefully change their minds. It is left to us to be the stewards for the next generations of LGBT people. How we choose to fight today will affect how they live tomorrow. The struggle still starts with the education of our community. If we don’t understand the struggle, there is no hope of being able to unite and fight.

Again, thank each of you for trusting me with the stories you have shared. It has been my honor and privilege to share them with our community. My hope is to keep doing this for as long as anyone has a story they want to share. It is a means for you to be visible, even if you choose not to disclose your name. Your story is the important part of visibility, that is what can and will affect another someone else.

Having Enviable Courage and Strength…

Often overlooked in our LGBTQ community is the Transgender community. In this administration where much of the legislation being changed, seems to have a direct correlation to Transgender rights, I feel it is important to be able to share some of their stories. It is time for us all to set our differences and beliefs aside. We must unite and fight this administration before it removes any more from us and we lose all the progressions we have made. We have already seen the Trans ban that has been passed by this administration, we cannot rest until every right being taken away from us is returned. That requires us coming together as one community, no matter our points of view. Each of us live our lives on our own means. We are forced to make a living and must, in doing so, be ready to fight how it best serves our greatest good, do not judge someone by their words as much as their deeds or actions. Remember that I share stories of our community and how we/they live in it. Names are only changed when asked to do so, words are only changed for spelling or ease of flow. So, join with me as I share their stories and let’s celebrate their fight and stand with them. Be supportive, without judgement.

 

I would like to introduce you to Arianna Jade, a 28-year-old transwoman who lives in the Cleveland area.  She is an unabashed and unapologetic voice for trans people to their lives on their own terms. She is as comfortable with who she is personally as she is in her porn career. Arianna doesn’t live by the definitions of others, whether it be her personal life or her professional career. To use a quote from one of her social media pages “Accept no one’s definition of your life but define yourself.”

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Tell me about yourself. Name, age, where you live, and what you do.

My name is Arianna Jade Devor I’m 28 I live in Cleveland Ohio from Miami FL and I am a Veteran of the Air Force and I model. I am also a transgender pornstar. You can find me on Instagram at itsariejade, Facebook, and if you like, on my PornHub channel.

What does transgender mean to you?

To me, transgender means defying the “normal” gender roles and expressing yourself how you truly feel inside your heart, mind, and soul. Being your true authentic self despite the hate and prejudice you will face for this choice. Keeping true to yourself and most of all having an  enviable courage and strength for doing so.

What are some common misconceptions you face about Transgender men and women?

That trans women are gay and trans men are lesbian, that those who judge us think we are all weird or have something wrong with us.

How should someone ask a Transgender person which pronouns they prefer?

I like them asking me, directly, what pronouns I prefer.

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Do people ask you if you have had any surgeries and how does that make you feel?

Yes, and I, personally, am comfortable with it. I have answered many questions to inform people about my breast augmentation procedure, to a whole spectrum of people.

What are things that we should avoid doing with Transgender person?

Just be considerate and sensitive to how they feel. Everyone’s comfort level is different, and boundaries should be respected.

What has been the hardest part of your transition so far?

Realizing I don’t needs another people’s acceptance, if I am to accept and love myself. To be transparently honest about me.

Tell me about your normal day? – being a parent of a Transgender child/ Transgender person-

I get up. Walk the dog, do my makeup, pick out my outfit. You know the same things everyone else does.

I am a cisgender Gay male, and always want to know how to be a better ally for trans*individuals. What are some things I can do to aid in trans* visibility and helping to create a safe environment, based on your personal experience?

Talk to us, call the representative of the Trans Community at your local LGBT Center, and get active in our community. We have tons of cool events and social informational groups to offer.

How can people best support Transgender children?Let them make choices for themselves without judgement

Do people question your sexuality when you tell them you are Transgender?Most assume, as a trans female, I only like men. In reality I’m a pansexual, I don’t limit my choices to biological sex, gender, or gender identity.

In a couple of your vids you have the label she-male or tranny, why do you choose that as a label?

I got into porn, with a gay porn company, after I left  the military in 2014 and I also escorted on the side. I am passionate about my career in porn, even more so I’m now comfortable with my body. I choose labels for my videos based on popular tags  used in transgender porn searches or that is part of a role play being acted out. And hey, check out my PornHub channel.

With stars like Scarlett Johansson being offered a role as a Trans man in Rub & Tug, what are some common misconceptions about Transgender people portrayed in Hollywood?

Oh, this is a triggering question as the way Hollywood portrays most trans surpasses offensive and goes straight to derogatory and demeaning,

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What gives you strength day to day?Knowing how far I have come in my short 2-year journey, living as my true self

Can you describe for me why it is important that our laws and people treat each other equally?

Because no one ever got anywhere being mean to someone look at history it proves peace prevails and we are stronger united as one.

There is no one way to live our lives. To say that how one person chooses to be is wrong and is no different than those passing laws that affect us daily. You may not agree with word choices that others use to survive, but it is a means of raging against the very system that forces us into little boxes. Arianna lives her life with the strength and conviction of a fighter, making her own choices. She doesn’t ask for approval, only the breadth to be able to make them for herself. It is a lesson we can take from her, no matter our view points. Arianna shares qualities of some of our early pioneers; the ability to walk their lives without fear of acceptance of others and to blaze their own trail because it is the only way forward. Even Marsha P. Johnson did not start out to be a fighter or leader, her life wasn’t a golden image of who a trans person should be. She simply lived. We can ask no less of our fellow brothers and sisters.