Fringe Benefits

This is the final post in my 2019 Pride Month series “Proudly Reaffirming Identity, Diversity, and Equity,” exploring present-day issues facing the LGBTQ+ and allied communities.

A joke: What do you do with knotted hose? You let the kinks out.

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TERF Wars

This post is part of my 2019 Pride Month series “Proudly Reaffirming Identity, Diversity, and Equity,” exploring present-day issues facing the LGBTQ+ and allied communities.

It’s a logical dilemma, I told my friend Cole. We’ve been friends for over a decade–we met in an online writers forum and though we’ve never met in person, I consider Cole one of my closest friends. When you share your writing with someone, an intimacy develops that rivals romance, and Cole has not only shared but inspired my stories.

Cole is also trans, and while I was investigating transgender issues more deeply and hitting mental blocks of my own to better understand trans experiences, Cole was kind enough to let me lean into the discomfort and talk about the hard things.

Cole has also given me permission to share some of the words we exchanged, for which I’m especially grateful: Not only did their words help me understand things more deeply, they also said them far more eloquently than I ever could.

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Screwed at a Festival

This post is part of my 2019 Pride Month series “Proudly Reaffirming Identity, Diversity, and Equity,” exploring present-day issues facing the LGBTQ+ and allied communities.

I wrote about sex, but I didn’t write about what I wanted to write about: I got distracted by a different conversation–still a conversation that needed to be had, but not the conversation I had intended. The topic evolved naturally, and I knew despite its conclusion, I wasn’t finished yet. Once wasn’t enough. We’d need a second encounter.

Maybe you noticed it, too? I (hopefully) hooked readers by quoting people who think Pride parades and whatnot have become too sexual–but then I didn’t speak about Pride any further. And since last weekend was Pridefest in Milwaukee (and it was a busy weekend), I feel more compelled than ever to talk about it.

Because, well, let’s say I got screwed at the festival. Just not like you think.

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Sex Sex Sex Yeah

This post is part of my 2019 Pride Month series “Proudly Reaffirming Identity, Diversity, and Equity,” exploring present-day issues facing the LGBTQ+ and allied communities.

“Pride is too sexual,” I hear them whispering. “I’d never take my kids to that.”

Or maybe the age-old classic: “Not in front of the children!”

So queerness–at least being gay or bi or lesbian–is reduced to being purely about love, and sex is a side subject that everyone skirts around because, well, children. But let’s all remember one critical fact: those children? Made by sex.

So let’s talk about sex.

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Pageantry in Leather and Lace

Imagine this. You’re sitting in the middle an an auditorium, an amphitheater, felted seat cushions pressing into your bottom and back. Before you, enshrined in a single spot light amid a sea of delicate shadows, the MC takes a bow as he finishes his opening remarks and then takes his place at the podium downstage left.

He brings his lips close to the microphone; he smiles. Video cameras catch the contours of his face, his perfectly coiffed hair, and project his visage onto giant screens.

“Are you ready to meet the contestants?”

The crowd replies with cheering and clapping, at the edge of every seat in anticipation.

One by one the contestants come forth. A few from the US–New Jersey, Philadelphia, three different cities in California–and from Europe in Italy and France, Sweden and the Netherlands; two hail from Latin America, introduced in the MC’s flawless Spanish and Portuguese. One contestant has even come from as far as Israel.

Except instead of women, the contestants are men. And instead of dresses and swimsuits, they’re wearing jock straps and leather harnesses. This isn’t the Miss Universe Pageant. This is the 40th annual International Mr. Leather Competition.

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Five Fast Facts About HIV

In a recent interview, Charlie Sheen disclosed his HIV+ status. I think it takes a lot of courage to do this because, despite science to the contrary, the disease is still stigmatized, both socially and legally, in ways that it shouldn’t be. However, I have to reprimand the reporter for asking questions such as, “Have you knowingly, or even unknowingly, transmitted the disease? Have you ever had unprotected sex since your diagnosis? Have you told each of your partners about your status before sexual intercourse? What risky behaviors did you pursue? And do you know how you contracted the disease?” These are invasive questions that, to me, are just as bad as asking a trans person about genitals and surgery, or maybe even worse.

So let me just say a fast few things about sex, safety, and HIV.

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15 Answers to 30 Questions for Straight Guys

Summer school started today and while I aimlessly wait for textbooks to arrive in the mail and for my professors to get the course websites up and running, I decided to browse Facebook and see what’s going on in the world–or at least in the lives of twenty friends Facebook selected at random, which for today, can be my entire world.

I came across this Buzzfeed article called “30 Questions for Straight Guys” and thought it’d be a fun read. Except when I opened it, I quickly realized directing these questions only to straight guys ignores the fact that gay guys are, in fact, still guys.

To set restless minds at ease, here are 15 answers to 30 questions for straight guys.

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Sexy

Sometimes I lie.

I was walking across campus–I leave for Alaska in 36 hours, and with advising, doctor’s appointments, and laundry to do, I know precisely where all my time must go–when I was approached by a woman handing out flyers for an event tonight.

“Have you heard about the Sexperiment?” she asked.

“No,” I said. “Could you tell me more about it?”

Except I had heard about it.

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When Our Names Expire

There’s a man in my writing class who is perhaps one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met at N.C. State. He’s a little scruffy, has an adorable smile, and says some pretty cool things sometimes. For our second round of short stories, his protagonist was gay, and it made me think, here’s my chance to see where things could go.

So after class, I told him again how believable the character’s voice was (because honestly, it was) and then I asked, “Are you gay?”

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